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Taxes force yacht owners sail away

By Stathis Kousounis

The Greek Marinas Association (GMA) has reported a number of departures of foreign-owned yachts due to the new charges imposed since the start of the year on recreational vessels.

International organizations, associations and unions active in the maritime tourism domain have informed their members about the new increased taxation Greece has imposed on yachts. The GMA has also been informed about certain strong foreign associations, which have many members on their registers, that may resort to the competent authorities of the European Union to protest the tax hike.

International reports also cite the possibility that Greek tax and customs authorities could bar yachts from leaving local marinas if their owners are unable to pay the additional charges. In that context they note that unless the charges are paid this year, the obligation for their payment will be carried over to next year.

According to GMA data, yacht owners mostly from the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany and Austria have taken their boats from Greece to marinas at rival maritime tourism destinations such as Croatia, Montenegro and Turkey.

In comments about the new taxation, owners say that it constitutes a counterincentive for sailing into Greek waters, that Turkey will benefit and that there will be some revenue loss for local economies and marinas as well as for the country in general. As an example, GMA says that the cost according to the new charges for a 12-meter vessel docking at a regional marina in Greece would be 20 percent higher on average compared with last year.

The association further noted that when Italy applied a similar tax policy of high charges in 2012, it witnessed the departure of 30,000 yachts. That development, it added, led the Italian government to exempt foreign owners of private boats from the payment of the additional charges.

Earlier the local authorities in Sardinia had also applied high charges on boats, but that decision was withdrawn when owners resorted to the European authorities asking for compensation, GMA reminded.

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