A political party-sponsored conference entitled ‘The Marine Industry at Work. Work for the Country’ has been staged in Rome by Italy’s Democratic Party. The event, which took place at the very end of February, was organised by the Left-leaning social democrats to highlight the benefits the country’s vast marine sector affords the economy as a whole.

“The senators of the Democratic Party will endorse all the initiatives that may support an industry, such as the marine industry, which has a very important role in Italy’s productive system”, said Senator Luigi Zanda, speaking at the conference on behalf of the party.

Fellow party member, Raffaele Ranucci, added: "The marine industry is one of our country’s most interesting industries. It employs 19-thousand people and has a turnover of about 2.5 billion euro. However, its turnover has dropped by over 58 per cent since 2008. This is why we need to support this industry by simplifying the relevant bureaucracy and providing tax benefits, which would produce a positive impact on employment in our country. The sea is indeed our country.”

Democratic Party members were joined at the conference by Aton Francesco Albertoni, president of Confidustria Nautica, and prominent industry stakeholders, Giovanna Vitelli, Pietro Vassena, Andrea Razeto, Antimo Di Martino, Roberto Perocchio, and Gian Marco Ugolini.

Albertoni alluded to the wrongs of previous populist governments, who have demonised yachting as a playboy’s pursuit in a bid for votes. Increasingly damaging policies have subsequently forced productivity and profitability of the world’s most prolific superyacht builder progressively down. This was acknowledged by Senator Marco Filippi who said politicians were no longer “in touch” with Italian citizens and that the bureaucratic process had become “unsustainable”.

But Albertoni said there is cause for optimism, if issues such as the obtuse application of VAT can be resolved:

“The Letta administration took some positive steps before last summer, now we need some good projects for our economic development. We need to re-launch the leasing sector, which has produced one billion euro in revenue from 2008 to 2012, and be allowed to apply the tourist VAT in our sector as well.  Senator Filippi concluded today’s convention by stressing that Darwin’s selection criteria needs to be used. In other words, the industries that have potential should be chosen and supported, so they may tow our country out of shallow waters. Boat tourism is one of these.”

The Azimut Benetti Group is the largest private yacht builder in the world and one of Italy's industrial flagbearers.

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