Dear Friends and Colleagues,
The Turkish Yacht Brokers Association is sorry to inform you that on 06 July 2017, the Hellenic Republic Ministry of Maritime Affairs & Island Politics, issued and circulated the attached letter to its related official bodies, regarding the clarification and enforcement of Greek Law 4256/2014 which governs charter regulations in Greece. These methods unfortunately place many Turkish & non-Turkish yacht owners, many Turkish & non-Turkish yacht brokers and many Turkish & non-Turkish yacht charter clients, who have booked their vacations way in advance, in a very difficult position and we believe the issue should be re-addressed and evaluated in order to avoid all parties from suffering unnecessarily.
The product we all love, market and offer - charter yachts - is clearly a mobile product and in some regions of the world, due to geographical positioning and flight schedules, can best be enjoyed by travelling accross international borders. While every nation, through its own ministries and regulations clearly has not only the right but also the responsibility to protect its own commerical entities and tax payers through rules and regulations, the manner in which these regulations are enforced and the timing of when these regulations are issued & put into practice, is of the outmost importance to provide business entities and industries with enough resources to plan accordingly and be of benefit to the economy.
Greece, in particular Dodecanese region which is in closest proximity to Turkish waters, is of high relevance for both Turkish flagged and non-Turkish flagged commercial vessels operating out of Turkey under the Turkish Charter License. Turkish and non-Turkish flagged commercial vessels have always taken charter guests to the Dodecanese as part of their weekly routes which started and ended in Turkey. This together with the very high volume of pleasure yachts also visiting the Dodecanese islands from Turkey have greatly benefitted the Dodecanese economy. It is also a fact that on occasion in the past, these same yachts, have also begun charters in Dodecanese, then taken guests to Turkish waters, and then had come back to Dodecanese to disembark their guests, and this was always tolerated and allowed by the Greek authorities. Not only was this tolerated but it was actually also very much welcomed by all parties on the islands such as maritime businesses, restaurants and shops etc.. because it was contributing so positively to the islands’ economies.
During the past two seasons, due to circumstances (often incorrectly perceived) in Turkey, more yachts and fleet operators have had to change their embarkation and disembarkation ports to Dodecanese airports as a result of travellers being afraid to fly in and out of Turkish airports. And of course they independently made this decision taking into consideration the long-standing practice of having been able to start in Dodecanese, cruise into Turkey, and then cruise back to Greece for disembarkation in the past without any problems. Recent Greek news articles have stated that such commercial actions cause damage to the Greek economy and the attached letter from the Greek Ministry implies an official accordance with this view. Greek captains love Greek waters and Turkish captains love Turkish waters and it is only natural that this is the way it is. It is also much more convenient for all of us to operate out of our own countries where we can handle logistics more easily. The increased switching of embarkation and disembarkation ports to Dodecanese islands by commercial yachts operating out of Turkey in the past 2 years is not due to anybody wanting to hurt the Dodecanese economy but it is due to force majeure circumstances in Turkey. Contrary to the view that this is hurting the Greek economy, we believe that it is actually only adding more to the Greek economy. Dodecanese airports and flights have more passengers, transfer companies do more transfers, maritime businesses handle more business, marinas receive a higher volume of yachts, supermarkets end up selling more products before embarkation of charters and the list goes on. And for a region where yachts out of Turkey have contributed so greatly in the past decades, it is hugely disappointing and surprising that the Greek authorities should take steps to put in pratice such measures in the middle of the summer season, especially without any prior warnings.
Just like in other industries there may be and quite possibly are individuals and entities that break the law and operate illegally and action should be taken in order to protect those who do their job correctly. But if an individual has broken the law it should be that individual that is punished, not a collective group of people who are dependent on a particular industry. Let’s face the facts. We take very big and visible yachts and we embark and disembark very visible human beings in ports, in front of the authorities. Majority of yachts operating out of Turkey cannot, nor do they have any intention, to hurt anyone or to hide what they are doing and they do everything through official channels. If the Dodecanese has benefitted greatly in the past from such planned yacht charters and as a result applied more tolerant practices, then it would make sense and benefit all to continue the practice. At the very least, if there should be a change to the enforcement of regulations, then enough time should be permitted for businesses to adjust to the changes, especially in current circumstances.
In the yachting industry we offer a premium product where the clients expect the best of service. Around the world, this becomes more challenging to deliver due to an over-protectionist approach which is regulated and administered by over-protective controls, which can sometimes take place face to face with authorities and the clients on board a vessel during a vacation. Rather than building walls between our nations and areas of operation, we would all benefit much more if our ministries and other relevant bodies would consult with industry leaders and then sit down together to talk through any draft measures proposed. This consultative approach to solving problems would benefit all sides effectively in the long-term and also keep open doors for friendly conversation for the future.
Turkish Yachting & Brokers Association