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November December 2019 Marina World

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NEWS FOCUS Karlovasi on the island of Samos offers typical Greek quayside mooring in a noncongested destination. Photo: GNTO/ D Rozaki Greek Minister of Tourism, Harry Theoharis Marinas to support ‘rebranding’ of Greek tourism Harry Theoharis, newly elected Greek Minister of Tourism, gives Marina World’s Greek correspondent, Eliza Salpisti, an exclusive interview. Q: The new Greek Government, elected in July 2019, clearly assigns top priority to the proper development of marine tourism through boosting infrastructure. This is supported by an ambitious strategic plan for the expansion and upgrade of marinas. Can you share with us the key aspects of this important plan? A: The fundamentals of Greek marine spatial planning were already set in the 1980s with the delimitation of sailing and sailing-for-leisure zones, in accordance with the ‘National System of Leisure Ports’ study conducted by the National Technical University of Athens. The legal framework of tourist ports was established in 1993 in destinations considered to have ‘brand name’ status in Greece. This added extra value to the tourism offering of these destinations and, in turn, attracted motor and sail boats in following years. It is a core priority of this government to materialise and implement a strategic plan that focuses on the upgrade of existing marinas and the creation of new ones. Our main aim is for Greece’s network of leisure ports to grow in order to boost the strength of marine tourism within the country’s tourism portfolio. In this context, our plan is twofold. First, we will take into account new industry trends and focus on the current market needs of our highprofile destinations. Second, we will take advantage of the development of new marine infrastructure to introduce and promote new destinations to the international market. With these objectives, the Ministry of Tourism is aiming to implement policies of sustainable growth for a set of Greek marine destinations that could attract a higher market share due to their natural beauty, cultural heritage and unique local features. Our plans include the redesign of existing marinas in order to modernise their facilities, increase berth capacity and upgrade offered services, this way supporting the overall rebranding of the Greek tourism product. Q: How exactly will this ‘investor map’ work in favour of attracting investment interest for all types of Greek tourist ports, be they marinas, shelters or anchorages? A: Our strategic plan for the infrastructure upgrade of our marinas will attract investment interest through multiple channels. First of all, upgrading and redesigning our existing infrastructure in accordance with the new trends in this field will make it more attractive to investors. At the same time, by introducing and promoting new marine tourism destinations, ideal for leisure boat routes, we will increase the attractiveness of the marinas, shelters or anchorages, especially to those investors who focus on high-yield/highquality non-congested destinations. Q: Investment opportunities in Greece are subject to overwhelming bureaucracy. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is determined to work against red tape, minimise bureaucracy and regain credibility. How does the Greek Ministry of Tourism, for its part, intend to address the increasing slowdown in decision making and approval processes for tourist port development? A: Although the investment procedures in Greece do suffer from overwhelming bureaucracy, the delimitation of tourist ports and - to be more specific - the processes concerning the approval and issuance of ministerial decisions are relatively fast and more efficient. I must also highlight the fact that the legal framework for establishing tourist ports has introduced the creation of a multi-ministerial committee that assists the Ministry of Tourism’s tourist port committee and acts as a ‘one stop shop’ for investors who are interested in entering this market. I also would like to make it clear that from the moment the application for the delimitation of a tourist port is ready to be submitted to the aforementioned committees, the time needed on our part to prepare the relevant ministerial decision is the minimum. Q: Greece’s main competitors in the yachting industry have been engaged in the development and management of well-organised regional tourist port networks, combined with the offering of quality services. As a country that is geographically ideal for such development, how does Greece intend to further exploit its advantages and gain the necessary infrastructure to win - November/December 2019 19

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