The Italian berthing tax that was put on the table last December has been rethought by the Parliament. In an attempt to raise revenue for its economy, the country had decided to start charging a berthing tax to all boats and yachts dropping anchor in their waters, yet the plan just didn’t stick. After the law was passed at the end of last year, several yachting organizations, such as Federagenti, an association of Italian ship agents including the Mansueto Group and All Services, called for its immediate review. The ruling was scheduled to go into effect on May 1st, but on February 29th, the Grillo and Cutrufo amendment changed the new berthing tax to what is now called an ownership tax. This means that only Italian-flagged yachts and Italian yacht owners will be required to pay it. All foreign vessels are exempt. This is of course good news to the international yachting community who plan to sail to or use a premier boat shipping company to land them in the Med for their summertime vacations.
Initially, the tax was for all vessels anchored in Italian waters. It ranged from 5 euros (about $6.54 dollars) a day for boats that were 12m (about 39.4 feet) and went as high as 703 euros (about $919 dollars) a day for vessels larger than 64m (about 210 feet). Those fees would have been in addition to all the other fees such as docking. And that is a pretty penny, especially when nations like Turkey and Croatia have much lower costs.
Greece passed a similar law in 2009, and although the country had hoped it would bring in more money to the nation’s already suffering economy, the exact opposite occurred. In fact, before the tax, Greece was one of the most popular Mediterranean countries to winter a yacht, and soon after it passed, nearly 4000 yacht owners used boat shipping companies to move their boats out of Greek waters. It seems Italy wasn’t willing to risk the possibility of losing the money generated by international yachting, as its neighboring country was. It’s been estimated that, “Over the past three years, the Greek state has missed out on revenues amounting to at least 120 million euros (about $157 million dollars) because of the slump in activity in the yachting sector,” said Stavros Katsikadis, the President of the Greek Marinas Association.
The reality is people aren’t spending when they know they don’t have to these days. As fuel prices continue to increase, they are seeking out the most cost-effective way to get their vessel from point A to point B; deciding whether they sail or motor it there themselves, or hire a reliable boat shipping company to do the job for them. And once they arrive at their desired destination, in this case the Med, they are doing their research on local berthing taxes and such, and planning their stops accordingly. Many would agree that Italy has made the right decision.