Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis yesterday heralded legislation foreseeing a charter of rights that would allow inconvenienced ferry passengers to demand compensation from shipping firms. Based on similar programs for air travelers, the charter would grant passengers the right to claim compensation – in the form of money and free accommodation – for delayed and canceled trips, Kefaloyiannis said, after discussing the initiative with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. The «passenger charter of rights» will be submitted in Parliament in the next few days and is expected to be implemented by the end of the month as the tourist season peaks, Kefaloyannis told reporters. Passengers will also be able to make claims for poor service, according to the legislation which requires that every passenger ship have a doctor aboard. Shipping companies could face penalties of up to 500,000 euros if proven to have breached the new regulations, Kefaloyiannis said. The minister also heralded plans to modernize 11 ports nationwide, noting that the country’s main port of Piraeus «has finally acquired an image worthy of the tourism product we want to sell abroad.» Some 7 million Greek and foreign tourists are expected to pass through Attica’s three main ports of Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrion over the summer, he said. «Already 2.5 million tourists and Greek citizens have been on 10,000 trips,» Kefaloyiannis said. Opposition PASOK’s spokesman for tourism and shipping, Christos Papoutsis, accused Kefaloyannis and Karamanlis of hypocrisy. «After destroying the national coastal shipping, allowing ferry prices to keep rising, making it more difficult for Greek families to afford a holiday… (they) met to talk about passengers’ rights,» Papoutsis said.