The recent announcement of a proposed anchorage tax to be levied on all vessels anchored in French territorial waters has sent shockwaves through the yachting world, just as the focus of the industry turns to this year’s Mediterranean charter season.
Reportedly without consulting of any of the parties potentially affected by such measures, the French Government has proposed a new bill on the territorial organisation of the French Republic (the law NOTre) which is now in front of the Senate.
Of most concern to our sector is the provision to apply a mooring tax to any vessels cruising inside a Marine Protected Area from the summer of 2016.
Some of the Mediterranean’s most significant and popular yachting areas could be affected, including the French Riviera, the Porquerolles Islands and Corsica.
The proposed tax rate would see a ceiling of €20 per day per linear metre applied. For instance, a yacht of 5m would be taxed up to €100 per day, whilst a yacht of 15m would be taxed up to €300 for the same period of time.
Terms such as ‘catastrophic’ and ‘disastrous’ have been used to describe the effects such a tax could have on the yachting industry in France.
The Côte d’Azur Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI), leading a petition opposing the bill, claims that it is not only superyachts which will be deterred from cruising in French waters; and cite the 500,000 plus French citizens for whom boating is a leisure activity enjoyed with all the family and who, on average, have a vessel of eight metres or less LOA.
Opponents to the bill point to a similar tax introduced in Sardinia in 2006 and abolished a mere three years later after it resulted in a 50% drop in yachts visiting the Italian island and had a visibly detrimental effect on the local economy.
Already facing stiff competition from neighbouring countries Spain and Italy, who have recently implemented tax incentives to encourage more foreign yachting visitors, the proposed tax comes at a time when France can little afford to become complacent about its position at the heart of the Mediterranean yachting scene. Without forgetting either the recent tax reforms in Croatia which have opened up the Adriatic and beyond to renewed yacht charter traffic.
Along with the CCI Côte d’Azur, industry watchdogs the European Committee for Professional Yachting (ECPY) have vowed to fight this bill, which threatens the future of yachting in France, in the National Assembly and urge those against the proposed tax to sign a petition here.
The proposed mooring tax is sure to be a key topic of discussion at industry talks and events throughout the year. Don’t hesitate to contact us for any further information.