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2016 Jan Feb Marina World

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The magazine for the marina industry


INDUSTRY UPDATE: GREECE Greek Minister outlines marine tourism policy Marina World correspondent, Eliza Salpisti, interviews the Greek Alternate Tourism Minister, Elena Kountoura, to determine government policies to boost future marina development. Salpisti: Over the last decade, efforts to increase berthing facilities in Greece have been supported by EU funding programmes and the State. Nonetheless, Greece still has a long way to go to create a satisfactory number of berths, modern facilities and quality services. Given your significant interest in alternate forms of tourism and in promoting Greece both as a tourist and investment destination, please share with us any investment incentives the Ministry provides for turning the Greek marina industry into an attractive investment opportunity. Kountoura: Marinas constitute a significant chapter in the investment sector. They also constitute the basis for further development of marine tourism, a leading type of international tourism that presents high levels of growth. The Ministry unfortunately does not have an autonomous financing programme for berthing infrastructure but in the context of the Regional Operational Programmes (ROP) of the Partnership Agreement (new HSRF) for 2014-2020, regions are given the opportunity to create focused projects, which can be marina projects. Furthermore, marina project development can be supported by Public & Private Partnerships and Greece is blessed with stunning natural scenery and has a wealth of scope to develop well thought out marinas such as Poros Island Marina (facing page). the Sectoral Operational Programmes (SOP) of other ministries that can finance marinas. Salpisti: Investment opportunities in Greece are hampered by two major challenges – restoration of economic stability and bureaucracy. Despite the intensive efforts of the Directorate of Tourist Ports over the past 20 years to speed up the permitting process, the relevant legislation needs to be amended. How does the Ministry intend to deal effectively with reducing investment approval time as it is the decisive factor in attracting investment and the number one question posed by investors who insist on knowing in advance the exact permitting time schedule? Kountoura: We need to clarify that marina operation permit is granted after project completion. Investors need to submit all supporting documents regarding the progress of the investment and if these deviate from the specifications there will be delay. The State is not responsible for such delay; it is down to the body responsible for realising the investment. I wish to emphasise that any interested party is obliged to follow specifications and abide by the terms and conditions in the relevant legislation. Subsequent delays will thus be avoided. Investor procedures can possibly be further facilitated by the coding of the legislation for tourism which the Ministry is now prioritising. Eliza Salpisti (left) poised to interview the Greek Alternate Tourism Minister, Elena Kountoura. Salpisti: How would you outline a tourism policy for turning Greece into a strongly competitive yachting destination supported by regional networks, a popular practice already in Croatia, Italy and Turkey? Kountoura: Our policy emphasises all types of tourism and, of course, we could not leave out marine tourism. Greece is moving towards development and will soon show high performance in this sector. Our marine environment has already been divided into marine subsystems, and tourist port networks - including marinas, yacht shelters and anchorages - constitute a complex of harbour infrastructure that will soon allow us to advance in this sector as well. I believe that our country can play a decisive role in marine tourism because of its Polynesian character and excellent microclimate. Greece can be developed as a leading destination presenting qualitative and quantitative characteristics of excellence based on its strategic position on the global tourist map, a timely procedure demanding systematic effort. Salpisti: Greece presents a unique combination of assets in the marine industry but our country still lacks a focused marketing strategy for marine 30 - January/February 2016 MW2016JanFeb.indd 30 05/01/2016 09:34:25

INDUSTRY UPDATE: GREECE tourism. Do you personally intend to participate in leading boat shows during 2016 in an effort to strengthen Greece’s networking and promote Greece as a yachting destination? Kountoura: We have been present and will continue to be present anywhere necessary to strengthen awareness of our country and to make deals and develop partnerships. We are interested in the marine tourism sector and its representatives, and through close and productive cooperation we will give the sector the necessary dynamics and bring about the desired outcome. Salpisti: Given the increased need for mooring berths for superyachts, is Greece ready to respond to such demand? If not, please share with us how you intend to claim profitable market share. Kountoura: This question relates to heavy harbour infrastructure and thus is the responsibility of other ministries. Greece has possibilities but initiatives need to be developed at a local level. Efforts are already resulting in development but we surely need to consider that, as the new standards are extremely competitive, both greater concentration and persistence are required. Our Ministry is in cooperation with other competent ministries, assisting any initiative that targets the proper development of the Greek marine tourism sector. Salpisti: Floating solutions (e.g. floating marina utility buildings, activity platforms, homes and restaurants) constitute the latest highlight in the global marina and waterfront development industry, creating significant additional revenue sources for investors, marina owners and local economies. Does the Ministry intend to research ways for adopting this global trend via an updated legislation regime that includes floating solutions? Kountoura: The Ministry focuses on development which has to follow up to date international trends but must also respect the environment and the legislative framework. We are interested in progress that complies with our rules and legislation. There is no such thing as a magical solution, nor are there procedures that automatically result in growth. Everything is associated with a structural and operational role. Floating solutions are a development and we might potentially research this after we have completed the cycle of infrastructure and legislative regulations based on scale, environmental protection and heritage. Salpisti: Successful marina operation is directly related to yacht club operation, with yacht clubs being a major source of industry growth. How do you perceive this co-existence? Does the Ministry intend to further strengthen such coexistence bearing in mind that this leads to the creation of at least 40 types of marine related professions and thus creates new job opportunities? Kountoura: Permitted activities are covered in the current ‘Creation of Tourist Ports’ legislation, which foresees yacht club and nautical athletic activities. The creation of any type of tourist harbour infrastructure contributes to the local economy and creates new job opportunities. Salpisti: What is your message for Greece to the global marina industry? Kountoura: Marine tourism – international cruising, yachting and leisure boats – is a main pillar of Greek tourism. We are all aware of its prospects and dynamics and are ready to move on by developing the proper competitive development framework step by step, with vision and strategic planning. 23.-31.1.2016 Nagu Hamn, Finland **** BLUE STAR MARINA hall 13 booth C44 Blue Star Marinas SHOWTIME - January/February 2016 31 MW2016JanFeb.indd 31 05/01/2016 09:34:26

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