It has been an ultimately frustrating series of talks between the EU and Greece, with Greek PM Alexis Tsipras and EU leaders having reneged on their promises more than once. The 'no' vote is, many believe, a 'yes' to democracy and the resignation of Yanis Varoufakis has been a welcome outcome of this process. But the way ahead is ridden with hurdles and it is undoubtedly going to be a long journey to economic recovery for this maritime powerhouse.
In light of all the uncertainty, worsening economic situation and political tensions between Greece and EU leaders, will the marine industry, and more specifically the charter market, in Greece be affected at all? SuperyachtNews.com spoke to Michel Chryssicopoulos, partner at Cape4 Yachting and yacht owner Harry Vafias about the effects, if any, of the current Greek crisis on charter prices and cruising in the region. And although on tenterhooks on the outcome of the talks - both are confident that the yachting sector will suffer no great difficulties.
“It is important to clarify that, so far, the marine industry has not been affected and yacht owners are holding a neutral stance until the dust settles,” Chryssicopoulos began. “The current uncertainty is temporary.”
Chryssicopoulos’ calm attitude is in stark contrast to the worrisome views expressed by the international media, where fears are rife for Greek businesses that are struggling with the impact of capital controls.
“Whether on the sales side or on the charter side, Greece will become a very attractive pool for buyers and charterers alike.” Vafias echoed this view, telling SuperyachtNews.com, “There have been some cancellations of yachts and some cancellations in hotels, and maybe a small reduction in tourism, but this only works better for those who are coming to visit because there is potential they might find bargains.”
In addition Chryssicopoulos noted that the current situation would have no effect on the safety or well-being of those visiting.
Capital controls only allow resident Greeks to withdraw €60 per day. However, importantly, tourists will not be affected in the same way. The Ministry of Economy, Infrastructure, Shipping and Tourism in Greece has advised that there are no current restrictions on foreign bank cards and all foreign bank card holder tourists/passengers should have normal access to funds.
However, Chryssicopoulos advised that charter guests bring extra cash with them in order to avoid having to queue at ATMs, especially in more popular destinations. “What I would strongly recommend, is for the charter parties to deposit funds with a broker that can hold those funds in a foreign bank,” he began. “For example, Cape4 has legally held all of the client funds and APAs with a non Greek bank, therefore can proceed with business as usual.”
When asked whether tourists will be at all deterred by the situation, he said the short-term impact will be negative, “but mainly due to the way international media portrays the situation in Greece. It is only normal for a potential visitor to take Greece off their list until normality ensues.”
Vafias was certain that the crisis has not affected cruising in the region and in fact, he said, just two weeks previously, "there were no problems whatsoever; the Aegean and Ionian sea were full of yachts with Greek and foreign owners still cruising around.” The only issue at the moment is the closure of banks, but he suggested that any owner of a 60m-yacht visiting would have enough cash on board not to worry.
According to Inchcape Shipping Services the current capital controls do not represent a risk to any port operation for ships or their passengers calling under ISS agency oversight in Greece at this time, but explained that “remittances from Greek banks to any non-Greek bank are not possible and subject to approval from the Ministry of Finance.”
SuperyachtNews.com also spoke with Ioannis Kourounis, CEO of Istion Yachting, just prior to the referendum, who explained that, "It is a very good sign that, yesterday, all Greek leaders had a meeting and agreed on the necessity for an agreement with EU."
Despite the referendum result, there is a still confidence that Greece will reach a deal with the EU and avoid 'Grexit', but Kourounis added that, "In the case that things worsen, the only impact perhaps, will be a scarcity in some imported goods."
He also said that the reports he receives from other islands where his company functions indicate that everything is running smoothly and "tourists are relaxed, as they all realise that the crisis does not affect their holidays. In fact, we have noticed an increased demand for last minute charters in Greece this past week!"
In the meantime, the anticipation of superyacht traffic continues, with Athens Marina constructing a 180m alongside berth, one of the largest in the Mediterranean.
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