Taxes see yacht own­ers sail away

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY STATHIS KOUSOUNIS

The Greek Mari­nas As­so­ci­a­tion (GMA) has re­ported a num­ber of de­par­tures of for­eign-owned yachts due to the new charges im­posed since the start of the year on re­cre­ational ves­sels.

In­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions, as­so­ci­a­tions and unions ac­tive in the mar­itime tourism do­main have in­formed their mem­bers about the new in­creased tax­a­tion Greece has im­posed on yachts. The GMA has also been in­formed about cer­tain strong for­eign as­so­ci­a­tions, which have many mem­bers on their reg­is­ters, that may re­sort to the com­pe­tent au­thor­i­ties of the Euro­pean Union to protest the tax hike.

In­ter­na­tional re­ports also cite the pos­si­bil­ity that Greek tax and cus­toms au­thor­i­ties could bar yachts from leav­ing lo­cal mari­nas if their own­ers are un­able to pay the ad­di­tional charges. In that con­text they note that un­less the charges are paid this year, the obli­ga­tion for their pay­ment will be car­ried over to next year.

Ac­cord­ing to GMA data, yacht own­ers mostly from the United King­dom, Italy, France, Ger­many and Aus­tria have taken their boats from Greece to mari­nas at ri­val mar­itime tourism des­ti­na­tions such as Croa­tia, Mon­tene­gro and Tur­key.

In com­ments about the new tax­a­tion, own­ers say that it con­sti­tutes a coun­ter­in­cen­tive for sail­ing into Greek waters, that Tur­key will ben­e­fit and that there will be some rev­enue loss for lo­cal economies and mari­nas as well as for the coun­try in gen­eral. As an ex­am­ple, GMA says that the cost ac­cord­ing to the new charges for a 12-me­ter ves­sel dock­ing at a re­gional ma­rina in Greece would be 20 per­cent higher on av­er­age com­pared with last year.

The as­so­ci­a­tion fur­ther noted that when Italy ap­plied a sim­i­lar tax pol­icy of high charges in 2012, it wit­nessed the de­par­ture of 30,000 yachts. That de­vel­op­ment, it added, led the Ital­ian gov­ern­ment to ex­empt for­eign own­ers of pri­vate boats from the pay­ment of the ad­di­tional charges.

Ear­lier the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in Sar­dinia had also ap­plied high charges on boats, but that de­ci­sion was with­drawn when own­ers re­sorted to the Euro­pean au­thor­i­ties ask­ing for com­pen­sa­tion, GMA re­minded.

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