In late 2013 the Greek Yachting Association (GYA) was quietly established – one of many bodies recently formed to represent various sectors of the yachting industry and with founding companies including Atalanta Golden Yachts, North Star Yachting and Cape4 Yachting (and with Fraser Yachts as an associate member), many forecasted that the Association’s formation would be the catalyst for some healthy forward steps for Greece’s superyacht industry. The GYA has confirmed this prediction, having succeeded in counseling the Hellenic Government into the drafting of, and voting on the New Greek Yachting Liberation Law, consequently abolishing much red tape surrounding yachting in Greek waters.

Of particular benefit to superyacht captains and owners, the New Greek Yachting Liberation Law will see the removal of the necessity for yachts to go through a time-consuming and cumbersome procedure for obtaining a Commercial Charter License – yachts will now be able to use a simplified electronic registry system. Under the new regulations there will be a 50 per cent reduction in the minimum charter days requirement during a 36-month period, non-EU flagged vessels will be allowed to charter in Greek waters (providing they are larger than 35m, built of metal or GRP and can carry over 12 passengers), charter rates will be re-regulated and left to the discretion of owners and managers, and port fees of foreign-flagged vessels will be lowered to those for Greek vessels. Moreover, there will no longer be a need to request departure and arrival clearance from port authorities unless in exceptional cases and nor will there be a minimum requirement for the number of charter days (for yachts both paying VAT and those that are VAT-exempt).

The new regulations will also mean there are no more restrictions on day passengers visiting charter yachts during a charter and owners of commercial yachts will now be legally able to use their yacht privately without the need to draft a charter party or pay the previously relevant VAT. These are just some of the changes the regulations will induce but all of the above have potentially favourable implications for Greece’s appeal as a superyacht destination – something the nation is keen to grow given its extensive shoreline and countless charter opportunities provided by its many islands.

Tony Vamvakidi, chairman of North Star Yachting and the GYA’s West Med Liaison, spoke exclusively with about the impacts of these regulations and what the GYA will look to offer the superyacht industry in the future.

“Under the axiom that there is no substitute to local knowledge, the GYA is here to assist all our foreign collaborators wishing to [enjoy] yachting in Greece. By coupling them with the right certified GYA member, one can safely navigate the unchartered waters of the foreign territory. Couple this with local procedures, foreign language and different personality traits, and see for yourself why it is always safer and more cost effective to involve a local serious and sound professional into the loop,” explained Vamvakidi.

The GYA’s president, Atalanta Golden Yachts’ Michael Skoulikidis, has also announced that the association, cooperating closely with MYBA, will be hosting an annual charter show, the inaugural event of which, entitled the Mediterranean Charter Show, will take place from 3 to 7 May, 2014, in Greece’s coastal town of Nafplion and, in the context of the new regulations, will host an informative session on Greek maritime law.

An exciting and much-awaited step forward for a nation with so much to offer the superyacht industry, the establishment of the GYA and its influential role in upcoming legislation has the potential to put Greece back on the industry map.

The West Med Liaison added that the GYA hopes to support the industry in a way similar to MYBA and other accredited associations, and added: “We anticipate Greece reclaiming its righteous position as the leading yachting and homeporting destination of the world.”

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