Greece can become a global leader in luxury yachting in 2022, according toGeorge Vernicos, Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) secretary general and representative of tourism to the European Economic and Social Committee.

Speaking during the 1st Panhellenic Yachting Conference held last week, Vernicos said Greece has already been recognized as a global force in 2020 and 2021 leading the way in terms of number of luxury boat charters worldwide.

Greece has the highest rate of luxury boat (over 20 meters) charters for the summer of 2022 compared to other global destinations, he said. According to Vernicos, I there are currently 170,000 yachts of all sizes in Greece: 6,500 professional vessels with about 200 to 300 expected to be added to the Greek fleet each year.

Indicatively, in 1980, Greece had a fleet of 1,534 superyachts (over 30 meters) which increased to 11,713 in 2021. 

A total of 4,795 longer super yachts exceeding 40 meters are currently operating worldwide, of which 407 belong to US citizens, 168 to Russians, and 107 to Greeks, he said. 

Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) Secretary General George Vernicos

At the same time, Vernicos said, 2021 was a record year for the sale of mega yachts, while the market is expected to expand at an annual rate of 5.2 percent from 2021 to 2028. 

Additionally, he said, Greece was one of the most popular destinations for superyachts last year maintaining its lead in 2021 in yachting in the Mediterranean and accounting for 24 percent of the market, followed by France (19 percent) and Italy (17 percent).

Steps needed

According to Vernicos, in order for Greece to be able to tap into the lucrative luxury yachting market it must first of all modernize the institutional framework covering maritime tourism, do away with red tape, boost the competitiveness of Greek companies in the industry, regulate the market and tackle illegal charters, enhance maritime tourism prodicts such as water sports, diving and fishing activities, water attractions, gastronomy while focusing on quality, safety and sustainability.

He went on to add that it was necessary to create smart and flexible arrangements for the immediate creation of berthing positions as well as setting out spatial planning conditions.

© Maria Theofanopoulou

Additionally, Vernicos underlined the importance of moving ahead with upgrade works along the Attica coastal front, revising the institutional framework for the establishment and operation of tourist ports, developing new marina management technologies, and introducing incentives to those who opt to permanently moor vessels in Greece.

Lastly, Vernicos referred to a draft law to be tabled by the shipping ministry which foresees the modernization of the institutional framework covering the operation of recreational craft and cruise ships.

This week, speaking at the same event, Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) President Angela Gerekou said actions were being taken to further develop yachting and sailing tourism