Greek sea tourism look to neighbouring states for cheaper bases

Greek sea tourism professionals look to neighbouring states for cheaper bases

09/03/2012

The traditional yachting business in Greece takes a turn for the benefit of other regional maritime countries.

By H.K. Tzanis for Southeast European Times in Athens — 09/03/12

 

photoYachts are increasingly moving from Greece to neighbouring Turkey, Croatia and Montenegro in search of better tax breaks, easier regulations, and refuelling. [H.K.Tzanis/SETimes]

A mix of uncompetitive pricing, over-regulation and red tape, now repeated at almost every instance to dissect the Greek economy, is directly blamed for a dramatic slump in sea tourism, a segment of the economy viewed as crucial for coming out of the crisis. This trend is apparently benefitting Turkey the most, although Croatia and Montenegro have also recently attracted their fair share of yachts and motorboats.

In terms of Greece, a policy of the previous socialist government in 2009 raised taxes and stepped up inspections of pleasure craft backfired, as official Hellenic Coast Guard figures showed that no less than 3,823 private vessels were declared „permanently moored“ in 2011.

„Tax criteria [for owning a vessel] were abolished in 2002, but with their re-institution in 2009, the number of vessels went from 11,500 to 2,600 throughout Greece,“ said Ilias Perimenis, the president of the national fiberglass manufacturers, traders and service providers in the boating sector.

„These types of criteria are a Greek invention. Their ‚reasoning‘ is only to collect revenue by the state; in practice, though, the state loses money as the manufacturing sector, for instance, which employs thousands of people, is being destroyed day by day,“ he said, adding that his group is waiting for the current interim Greek government to fulfil its promise to abolish the extra tax burden on owners and operators.

Turkey, however, appears to have lured a good many Greek-owned yachts, some of the sector’s seasoned professionals and, of course, numerous foreign-owned vessels.

Entrepreneur Stavros Gavrias is equally pessimistic, confirming that many of Greece’s sea tourism professionals are moving to neighbouring Turkey.

„There was one instance where tax inspectors boarded foreign-flagged vessels for checks, something that is very bothersome for the owners and crew. They [owners and operators] don’t care where they’ll take their vessels. They can work from anywhere, and many are travelling back and forth from Turkey,“ he said.

Gavrias, a contractor, also points to less-than-competitive rates as the biggest obstacle to jump-starting growth in the sector, and too much bureaucracy in constructing and operating high-end marinas.

„The most significant attraction is to have more, better and less expensive marinas in Greece. This means liberalising the sector for would-be investors. Turkey is more competitive in terms of prices, and correct services,“ he said, adding that the sector in Greece is desperately anticipating the draft law in making the building and operating of new marinas more attractive.

………

setimes.com

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Eurovision Song Contest im Mai

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CIA – Mi6 über die Geschäfte des Verbrechers Salih Berisha, mit Waffen und Drogen mit dem Iran und Baku
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Ilham Aliyev Crystal Palace in Baku

Ilham Aliyev – Crystal Palace in Baku

Dear friends of ESI,

A new ESI report Caviar Diplomacy: How Azerbaijan Silenced the Council of Europe Part One – which was published today describes how an authoritarian regime in Baku has managed to sidestep its commitments to the Council of Europe, silenced its critics and turned international election monitoring into political theatre.

This is the story of how Europe’s oldest human rights organisation has been neutered by a smart and ruthless policy. Azerbaijani officials referred to it as „caviar diplomacy“: a policy that began in 2001, not long after Azerbaijan joined the Council of Europe, the continent’s club of democratic nations. It gathered speed after Ilham Aliyev, who had served in the Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly (PACE), became president of Azerbaijan in 2003. Once the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline was completed in 2005 and the Azerbaijani state coffers were awash in oil revenues, the „caviar policy“ shifted into top gear.

The aim was to win and retain the stamp of legitimacy conferred by Council of Europe membership while preserving the authoritarian structures of an autocratic regime. Azerbaijan has not held a single competitive election since Heydar Aliyev, the father of current president Ilham Aliyev, came to power in 1993, following a coup against the first elected president. The Central Election Commission, in charge of organising elections, has stacked the deck so firmly in favour of the incumbent government that no political competition is possible, fair or otherwise. In the parliamentary election of 2010, not a single opposition candidate managed to win a seat.

How, then, could the head of the PACE election observation mission in 2010 declare that the elections had met international and Council of Europe standards? Why, when the human rights situation has steadily deteriorated since 2003, has debate in PACE on Azerbaijan become ever more anodyne, even complimentary?

Andreas Gross Andres Herkel Leo Platvoet Malcolm Bruce Christoph Strasser

Critics: Andreas Gross – Andres Herkel – Leo Platvoet – Malcolm Bruce – Christoph Strasser

Beneath the institutional failure, it is also a story about individuals and the difference they can make, for better or worse, within institutions like the Council of Europe. The cast of this story – the critics and the apologists – are Swiss, Belgian, British, German, Spanish and Turkish; they are liberals, social democrats, conservatives, nationalists and former communists. In Azerbaijan too many of them have betrayed the values and traditions set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. The result may well be the most serious crisis of legitimacy in the history of the Council of Europe.

Joseph Debono Grech Pedro Agramunt Paul Wille Mike Hancock Eduard Lintner

Apologists: Joseph Debono Grech – Pedro Agramunt – Paul Wille – Mike Hancock – Eduard Lintner

When Azerbaijan was admitted to the Council of Europe, despite well documented democratic failings, it was with the idea that Council of Europe membership would gradually transform Azerbaijan. Sadly, the reverse has occurred. The outcome is a tragedy for the citizens of Azerbaijan, particularly those brave pro-democracy activists who languish in jail as political prisoners. But it is also a tragedy for Europe, whose values have been trampled. For the PACE parliamentarians enjoying the benefits of caviar diplomacy are also sitting members of national parliaments across Europe. And it is certainly a tragedy for the Council of Europe itself, which urgently needs to recover the values its founders entrusted it with if it is to justify its continued existence.

Many best wishes,

Gerald Knaus

Gerald Knaus

Further reading