Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear friends,

On behalf of the Ministry of Tourism I would like to thank you for your invitation to speak in this important event that further promotes the, already strong, Greek – Saudi Arabia relationship.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank in particular Mr. Khalid Al Falih, Saudi Minister of Investment.

Unfortunately, a once unimaginable, war in Europe casts its grey shadow over all social, economic and environmental aspects, including international maritime tourism and shipping.

Of course, it is still very early to specify its long-term consequences, but the recent conflict will -without any doubt- affect the aforementioned areas.

Nevertheless, I honestly believe now is the time for an extended discussion about the opportunities that arise for Greek maritime tourism and yachting in a new era characterized by strong volatility, multiple crises, and interconnected networks of stakeholders.

To be more specific, yachting has demonstrated impressive resilience during the pandemic due to its inherent characteristics of privacy and social distancing.

This makes us extremely optimistic about the future, as the development of maritime tourism and yachting is one of our main strategic development axes for tourism in our country.

At this point let me refer to some critical statistics on the matter:

According to the European Commission, in 2018 more than 2 million workers were employed in coastal tourism in the Mediterranean countries of the EU. In this regard, the European Commission promotes coastal and maritime tourism through the Blue Growth Strategy as a tool for smart, sustainable, and inclusive growth in Europe.

At national level, coastal and maritime tourism can be a powerful tool for the development of the economy with its total economic contribution amounting to an estimated 1.4-1.5% of Greece’s GDP while the indirect contribution is considered to be 4 to 5 times higher.

After all, Greece is already one of the most popular destinations in the world for yachts, for reasons that are self-evident.

Indicatively, Christies Real Estate places the Greek Islands as the 2nd best destination in the world for luxury yachting, just behind the French Riviera and above destinations such as the Virgin Islands, Palm Beach, Florida and the Costa Esmeralda of Italy.

According to Bloomberg, Greece has been at the top of the SuperYachts since June 2021 with almost 200 moored vessels on June 25, 2021 (jump from 80 in May 2021) after the opening of tourism that followed the declaration of the pandemic.

It should also be noted that Greece is in the top-3 most popular destinations in charters market worldwide with a 17% market share, very close to the South of France (20% of the market) and Italy (19%).

Greece is also the 4th most popular destination for mega-yachts, a fact that creates significant pressures on the existing port infrastructure but also emphasizes the need to create specialized berths.

This market segment is recording significant dynamics, with the number of vessels constantly increasing as 1,000 new super yachts are currently being built worldwide with an additional 300 vessels to be added in 2022. Also according to VesselsValue, Super Yachts 2021 Sales above 30 meters reached the number of 887 vessels, an increase of 77% VS 2020 and of 100% VS 2019.

As far as the Greek and International market of selling Super Yachts in 2020 vs 2019 is concerned, there was a significant increase in sales that reached three times more compared to the previous year. These sales of Super Yachts where either from Greek to Greek owners or Greek to Foreign owners and vice versa.

Orders for new luxury yachts have set a particularly high record with major constructions on mega yachts about 45 meters long and over. Shipyards for such constructions already have multiple orders for deliveries until 2025-2026.

In the light of the above specialized form of tourism the Greek State has currently developed a plan that evolved in 3 strategic axes:

  1. The development of a new business friendly institutional framework for tourist ports with the aim of significantly accelerating the relevant procedures for allocation, contracting, and licensing of tourist ports. The goal here is to create a favorable investment environment in order to attract significant investments.
  2. The introduction of a coherent marketing strategy that places thematic tourism and maritime tourism in the center: We move beyond the traditional “sea and sun” model and we further develop the brand identity of the country by offering a holistic towns & experience
  3. The establishment of a Maritime Information Tourism Research Center in strong collaboration with UN World Tourism Organization: That important project will provide us with invaluable information regarding maritime tourism to better align and focus on our strategy.

All the above shall contribute to the substantial development of maritime tourism and especially yachting, with the ultimate goal of establishing Greece as a global player in this key market segment.

In addition we would like to point out some numbers regarding to the financial tools offered by the European Recovery and Resilience Fund (European RRF) where tourists ports is the no1 focus area: € 130mn in total will be invested to tourist ports analyzed as follows:

  1. € 112mn will be invested in in the upgrade of tourist ports
  2. € 14mn will be invested in providing planning & implementing services on interested parties that have no such capabilities
  3. € 1,5mn will be invested in Project Advisory Port
  4. € 0,5mn will be invested in Digitalization

Therefore, out of the total of €320mn from the European RRF 40% will be invested in upgrading touristic ports of Greece.

Amid on unprecedented international turmoil it is important to focus on all the things that make us optimistic about a better future.

Provided, however, that we have delivered our best in the present.

In our country with the rich experience in maritime tourism and the exceptional human capacity in all related fields, we have all the conditions to further develop maritime tourism with the multiple associated socio-economic benefits.

Thank you.