Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum 2nd Day - Lack of political will is costing Greece a lot

posidonia_pjotoA lack of political will is costing Greece dear in lost revenue from sea tourism. It is also costing the country a golden opportunity to promote many of the positive things it has to offer at this time of economic crisis and unrest.
“At this time of crisis it is important to show the many good things of Greece. Yachting can do this, while being a great source of revenue, there has to being political leadership and a policy with encourages growth. Sea tourism will also generate economic activity and bring life to the country’s islands,” according to George Vernicos, Secretary General, Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises.
“Laws governing yachting are outdated and confusing and continually changing as they are continually amended through a series of decrees,” said Vernicos when addressing The Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum, June 22. “Rules should not be continually changed, taxes and other charges should remain the same. Instead the sector is beset with counter incentives,” said Vernicos, who is chairman of Vernicos Yachts.
He said these counter incentives had seen some 80% of the yachts based in Greece at the time of the Athens Olympics 2004 relocated to Croatia and Turkey, both of which have recognised the potential of sea tourism.
Unfortunately, as speaker after speaker, both from Greece and from abroad stressed the need for a stable government policy on yachting and marinas, and called for yachting and sea tourism to be included in the wider maritime policy there was no government representative present in the large audience.
Indeed, at the end of the first session of the day, the audience stood in protest at the seemingly lack of Greek government interest in yachting and sea tourism in general, with several of the international speakers calling on the forum’s organizers to draft an official letter of protest and disappointment and send it to the government.
Lawyer, Giannis G. Markogiannis, said “Greece could become a centre of sea tourism, but a stable updated legal framework is required. Increasing taxation has cost the sector many yachts and some 6,000 jobs since 2004.” He said in the case of private yachts “there is no legal framework whatsoever”, and for this reason many yachts avoid Greek waters. “In fact the Finance ministry is responsible for yachting”, said the lawyer.
Olga Kefalogianni, responsible for Sea Tourism, New Democracy Party, told the forum “tourism is the most dynamic sector of the Greek economy” and that every effort has to be made to remove the obstacles strangling its growth. She said there is “still too much state control” over tourism. She also lamented the “lack of communication within the sea tourism sector”.
Antonis Stelliatos, president of the Hellenic Professional Yacht Owners Association said there are 3,500 Greek flag private and professional yachts and that Greece is losing the opportunity to become the centre of sea tourism. “Competitors like Turkey do not need three or four ministries to get involved in simple decision making regarding an issue concerning a marina,” he said.
Oscar Siches, who manages marinas is Mallorca in Spain, was among speakers to comment on the lack of government participation at the summit. He noted: “There have been some 27 speakers, many of them from abroad, and any government people who attended left after 20 minutes and did not hear what was said and discussed. This is very sad.”
In his presentation, Siches said: “When it comes to planning a marina it is not the amounts involved, but the concept”. He said the marina has to be in harmony with the requirements of the client and those of the community where the marina is located.”
The Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum is organised under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Islands and Fisheries, the Greek National Tourism Organisation, the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping, the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE), the Hellenic Professional Yacht Owners’ Association and the Greek Marinas’ Association and is supported by the European Cruise Council and MedCruise. The Posidonia Forum is sponsored by the Piraeus Port Authority, Viva.gr, RINA, IPS, the Hard Rock Café Athens, the Athenaeum Intercontinental Athens, Louis Cruises and ELIN.

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