Cruise deal may drive business away

Major international cruise companies seem to be turning their back on Greece for the year 2012 as well, due to the government’s inability to set out a modern and attractive institutional framework for cruises to take place in Greece without restrictions on companies flying a non-European Union flag. Even the proposals – meant as incentives – announced yesterday by Maritime Affairs Minister Yiannis Diamantidis for non-EU-flagged companies, providing for a reduced boarding levy for those carrying a large number of passengers and the hiring of more Greek seamen, do not seem likely to save the day. At a meeting held yesterday regarding the contract that cruise companies will have to sign with the state, one of the reactions included that this contract follows «a logic that is not compatible with the sense of cruise deregulation and does not apply to any other EU country.» Foreign companies interested in doing business in Greece expected a simpler version of contractual terms but were met with a complicated set of conditions that they returned to the ministry with disappointment. Sources report that the contract will last between one and three years and will be the same for all companies, as the ministry has recommended, to the dismay of cruise companies. The contract’s terms include a minimum cruise duration of 48 hours and a minimum stay at the boarding port in Greece of eight hours. For every additional port reached, the boarding levy will be reduced by 7 percent. Meanwhile, cruise sources told Kathimerini that the decision by the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) to increase port levies from 4.70 euros to 11.60 euros will not help attract cruise ships to Piraeus. «The levy of 11.60 euros also includes the amount of 1.80 euros used for the payment of security for port installations and the safety of tourists, although already the port police is doing a perfect job,» sources said.

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