Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Croatia Online - Boat Show Special 2 - A Sledgehammer to Crack a Nut?

Some readers will know that, at the beginning of last year, the Croatian Government issued new regulations aimed at stopping the black market charter business, essentially saying that all boats engaged in charter had to be registered under the Croatian flag. To "enforce" this they legislated for a limit on the number of passengers that could be carried on foreign flagged vessels. We referred to this in a previous posting published on February 6th 2006 - see below or click on I had a feature, on Croatia for Superyachts, published in the March 2005 issue of Boat International, which referred to the problem, as it also hits the Superyacht Charter industry hard. However, as reported in our posting of February 9th,, there seems to have been some progress in this area.

At a conference at the Croatia Boat Show last year, I sat next to Branko Bacic, the Secretary of State for Maritime Affairs, Tourism, Transportation and Development where we were invited, alongside a number of others, to give a short speech about sustainable nautical tourism. Mr Bacic came under some pressure to review the somewhat draconian legislation as it seemed to be causing hardship to those who were obviously not intended to be caught in its net, eg multiple owners and charitable organisations. There was also much debate on whether indeed there could have been better ways of addressing the black charter problem. At the time, Mr Bacic stated that the legislation was new and was being reviewed to try and address genuine exceptions. However, it is disappointing to hear that very little seems to have been done.

Reproduced below is a comment to our previous posting on the Boat Show, which deserves a wider audience and has triggered this posting. It's one of the many cases we've heard about and the situation, as it stands, can only result in a number of boats leaving Croatia for friendlier waters . I've read Mike's article in Sailing Today and can only applaud him for trying his very best to find a constructive solution so that he, like others, can enjoy the pleasures of private and affordable sailing around one the best coastlines in the Mediterranean.


"We have a British-flagged yacht based in Split; we share ownership with three other families. I am campaigning to have amended the rules limiting the number of people we can have on our yacht each year. To cut down on black chartering we can only have 2.3 times our legal capacity during the year; reasonable if you're a single owner, but sharing a limit of 28 (in our case) among four families has hit us hard. We do not lend or charter our yacht but like to introduce friends and families to Croatia and its fabulous cruising grounds. I wrote an article for "Sailing Today", April edition, which sets out the problem and our proposed solution - which I learn has just been rejected by the Ministry (MMTPR) in Zagreb. You will understand if I feel that the words of Branko Bacic at the opening of the Split Boat Show rang somewhat hollow." Mike



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