Islands face ferry cutback

With a possible crisis brewing in the heart of an industry which provides key tranport links for tourists and Greeks alike, ferry operators may soon have to slash their fleet in a move expected to hurt Greece’s most tourist-dependent regions. Shipping companies are being forced to withdraw 50 percent of their current fleet or 36 vessels by 2008 due to a law dictating that the permissible age of vessels be cut to 30 years from 35 today. The industry, however, is at a loss over how it can afford to replace these vessels given the state’s failure to obey European Union guidelines and deregulate the industry. The current political and economic climate, industry sources add, is proving a drag on investments to the sector. Fewer boats servicing the islands would mean that those areas would have poorer communication with the rest of the country. This would lead to other negative economic consequences, since islands would see a drop in the number of tourists that could be transported there.

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