ECONOMY

Yachting set to keep its course in growth

Yachting in Greece has enjoyed considerable growth in recent years, according to Hellastat, with favorable prospects for further expansion. The statistics firm stresses that Greece is among the first countries in the Mediterranean where yachting began to develop, along with France, Turkey, Italy and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). The sector shows impressive growth rates, with the 34 enterprises that rent out recreation boats having registered a 71 percent rise in turnover in 2004 compared with 2001. Most companies in the sector are active in renting sailing ships or catamarans of various sizes. Due to great differences in ship sizes, and in the demand for their rental, the sector’s companies have an average fleet of 30 to 40 vessels. However, the biggest firms possess fleets that reach up to 200 to 230 vessels, with the 100 vessels considered the minimum number for a company to supply the right mix of products and be competitive. The age of boats for rent ranges from three to five years old, with a maximum age of seven years. In 1998-2004, the average age of boats for rent stood at 28 months. The Hellastat survey highlights the dynamic presence of the sector’s big firms at the major yachting exhibitions, with those held in Paris and Dusseldorf being the most important, followed by those in London, Gothenburg, Stockholm and Hamburg. During these shows, new types of boats are presented by shipbuilding firms, orders are made and, crucially, some 70 percent of chartering deals are sealed with major international agents. Certainly another significant factor in the market is that in the last few years the use of the Internet has taken a considerable portion of bookings. The survey suggests that, while bookings used to be made via agencies, resulting in the reduction of each company’s revenues by about 30 percent, now increased Internet use and the direct leasing of boats from companies has pushed agents aside and considerably reduced the costs of yachting companies.