The success of the first Mediterranean Yacht Show (MEDYS 2014) signalled a significant change in yachting and tourism in Greece and in this series we’ll taking a look at these changes from the view point of some of the region’s local experts.
MEDYS 2014 served as a great opportunity for brokers, media and yachting companies to gather and re-assess the market after what was a turbulent time politically and financially. During the show we interviewed four of the key industry players and founding members of the Greek Yachting Association (GYA) to get their take on what the future holds for the industry and exactly how they have tackled the crisis together.
Cape4 Yachting Partner Stefanos Macrymichalos puts much of the drop in charters booked within Greek waters down to media hype at the time: ‘Like anything else, the media creates an impression of something which leads to perception becoming a reality. So clients would perceive that this situation that was actually happening in an isolated part of Athens, was affecting the whole of Greece. In one way it was justified that people would be concerned but it is difficult when you don’t know what the situation really is in order for you to judge correctly…. Over the last two years tourism suffered a big decline but now we are starting to see it increase again.’
Aside from the spectacular vistas and ancient historical sites throughout the region, the attraction of Greece to charterers is no doubt the unsurpassed variety of cruising areas and islands on offer and this is something that those in the know feel important to demonstrate. Stefanos’ extensive knowledge of cruising in Greek waters has given him an insight into what is bringing clients back to the region, explaining:
‘Although the situation is clearing up there is still some apprehension with regards to what is going on and what is happening in the region in general. But for those who have chartered in Turkey and Greece, they can obviously see the benefits. Greece has always had and will always have the upper hand in terms of choice for charters – there are close to 5,000 islands in Greece including the uninhabited smaller ones in the Aegean and the Ionian. It offers a tremendous selection of choice to charter clients.’
The charter market in Greece may not be entirely back to normal but is certainly making leaps and bounds towards a brighter future and the industry seems to be taking what positives they can to not only reclaim business but also drive the market forward. Spiros Galanakis, Managing Director of Athens Yachts said that the Greek yachting industry as a whole is keen to grow, improve and compete with the high standards set by the West Mediterranean.
‘I think our friends and broker colleagues are much happier. What we have created here is something that they were looking for, something that they would want to come and see…. So everyone is happy because they come over to one place and see exactly what the market has to offer and what they are looking…. I would say that we really want to improve ourselves, we have done so in the last 10 years and we are always improving. This is what we want to do, to reach internationally high standards.’
What we have created here is something that they were looking for, something that they would want to come and see.
It is clear that the importance of this new show in this process has in one way been a response to the crisis and in another been a necessary action in moving the charter market in Greece forward. Aris Drivas of Aris Drivas Yachting has been in the business for 42 years and is feeling positive about the future of Greece after seeing a 10 per cent growth in charters compared to last year.
‘I believe that after the crisis that things moved quite slowly but tourism has gone up very quickly and people are very interested to come to Greece so that means that there will be more and more new orders in the future…. I spoke with some ministers and they were very interested in building new marinas and create all of the necessary facilities for yachts. It is true that in the past, considering the cruising grounds that Greece has to offer, that there has not been the money invested in new marinas compared to other countries. But now it is understood that we need new marinas.’
One day this country will become one of the biggest playgrounds in the world.
We also met up with George Pappas, Managing Director of Big Blue Yachting to get his views on ways the formation of the new association and charter show in Greece represents a change for the future: ‘The charter market between 2009 and 2012 was very difficult for us – for the country’s image and the financial setbacks – and when the image of a nation is not something that portrays security that means that people become hesitant to visit there. Since last season, the summer season of 2013, things have really picked up. Greece is again back in play as they say. That, plus the fact that we are excited about holding our own show and controlling our own destiny, which is I feel fair. ‘
A lot of money is going to be put into this country at some point and it’s going to be sooner rather than later - one day this country will become one of the biggest playgrounds in the world because geographically and for many other reasons it has that chance and those possibilities.’