ECONOMY

Yacht symposium and show on Poros at end of another good year

Yachts and professional recreation boats valued at above 500 million euros are gracing the 6th International Yachting Symposium that opened on Sunday and lasts until Thursday on the island of Poros. Organized by the Hellenic Professional Yacht Owner Association (EPEST) and the Hellenic Yacht Brokers Association (HYBA), the symposium is being held along with the International Yachting Show on the Argo-Saronic island. Antonis Stelliatos, the president of EPEST, stated that the maritime tourism sector has seen considerable growth in recent years. Yacht bookings have increased from several markets abroad, with those of America and Russia showing the greatest interest. A study by survey company ICAP concluded that the sector will also show significant growth rates in the coming years. In the 2000-2005 period, the domestic yacht market grew by an average annual rate of 15.3 percent. Polyester boats covered most of the market (59.6 percent), followed by inflatable boats with 34.8 percent. Sailing boats made up 5.6 percent of the market. Current market trends and conditions show that polyester boats will record a 15 percent increase within 2007, as people are increasingly opting for this type of boat. The inflatable boat market will rise by 5 percent, while the sailing boat market should remain stable or move slightly higher. Sector professionals suggest that consumers deciding to purchase a recreation boat for the first time are turning now to the smaller polyester vessels (up to 7 meters long) as the cost of buying them is considerably less than that of dinghies of a similar size. Another study by Hellastat found that the increasing interest in Greece as a tourism destination, the successful staging of the Olympic Games and constant advertising activity by tourism authorities, along with participation at international shows, have improved the prospects of local marina operators and the broader sea tourism sector. Marina operators called 2006 a successful year, as sea tourism traffic has increased significantly. EPEST suggested that tickets sold for vessels with up to 49 passengers rose by 100-150 percent last year.