ECONOMY

Greece’s yacht fleet shrinking

Greek sea tourism is running the risk of losing the «battle of the Aegean,» as the professional fleet of touristic vessels with a Greek flag has continued to shrink over the last decade, falling from 5,250 vessels in 1995 to about 3,200 today, according to the head of the Professional Tourism Boats Association, Dimitris Vassilakis. He suggested during an event organized by the association that although Greece was the first country to adopt a specific policy for the development of yachting, from the mid-1980s its main competitors, such as Turkey, Croatia and small Caribbean countries, used certain aspects of the Greek policy and advanced much faster in legislation and infrastructure, particularly at marinas. Greece, on the other hand, is modernizing at a particularly slow pace. Already from the mid-1990s the delay in bringing up to date legislation and infrastructure in a rapidly changing world has caused this constant decline, while Turkish and Croatian fleets are growing and have become very important players in sea tourism. The association has asked the leadership of the Merchant Marine Ministry to speed up the modernization of the legal framework. It adds that it is unacceptable for a country like Greece to have 60 percent of its tourists during just 90 days of summer, when other countries with much worse weather conditions have managed to expand their tourism season.