|Broker Report: Passport Control Changing in Greece, Turkey|
Missy Johnston of Northrop and Johnson Worldwide Yacht Charters sees some changes developing in the charter market in Turkey and Greece. Here’s her take on what’s happening, and on how it will affect charter clients during the summer 2014 season.
It used to be that charter brokers advised itineraries in either Turkey or Greece. Why not both, since some of the Greek islands are so close to the coast of Turkey?
It has always been legal for a yacht charter itinerary to include Turkey and Greece, however, in the past, Greek authorities on islands close to Turkey tended to be extremely slow on passport clearance for guests and crew on non-Greek flagged yachts. Because of the slow service, it could take all day to accomplish a clearance out of Turkey and into Greece, which would be basically a lost day of charter.
How has this changed?
Greek passport control agents are working far more quickly, and both countries are now allowing any captain with a ship’s agent to complete most of the clearances while the guests relax on the yacht, maybe having lunch. Each guest and crew member still has to appear in person at passport control, but this can be done quickly, after the rest of the paperwork is completed.
Another change that makes clearances easier for charter guests is the addition of more passport clearance ports in both Turkey and Greece. Captains no longer have to structure a charter itinerary around the handful of ports where clearance was possible a few years ago.
Do you see any reason why Greek officials have sped up passport clearances?
I can only guess that it might be economic in origin. The economic crisis in Greece is affecting the local economy of all of the Greek Islands. Greek islanders seem to be encouraging any visitors who might help the local economy. Certainly, guests on a crewed charter yacht will usually spend money on shore, whether shopping or in a tavern or on a land excursion, or all three. Crewed yacht charter guests are known generally to spend more when visiting an island than cruise ship guests, so Greek islanders are perhaps encouraging visits from crewed charter yachts entering from Turkey. I was told recently that in some of the smaller Greek Dodecanese islands, in the summer, a majority of guests at a local taverna might be from yachts that have cleared in from Turkey.
Does passport clearance between Turkey and Greece add to the cost of charters?
There are costs, with Turkey being less expensive in general than Greece. Also, as using a local ship’s agent is recommended, this will increase the cost for all clearances. And in some locations, dockage is required to get to the passport control office, also at additional cost. Finally, we find that different passport clearance locations seem to charge different fees, with Rhodes and Kos in Greece tending to have a higher charge than other locations (this might be because dockage is required for passport clearance in both Rhodes and Kos). The more times that there is passport clearance required in an itinerary, the higher the costs will be.
Do you see any early trends developing for Greece and Turkey next summer?
Yes: Itineraries are increasingly including both the coast of Turkey and the Greek islands. An itinerary can be organized starting in Turkey to include the Greek Cycladic islands, as Mykonos is actually closer to the Turkish coast than to Athens. And the cruising direction from Turkey to the Greek Cycladic islands tends to be in the direction of the wind, which can offer more comfortable cruising. It is very easy to include a Greek Sporades or Dodecanese island in almost any yacht charter itinerary along the Turkish coast.
To book a yacht charter vacation in Greece, Turkey, or both for summer 2014 or summer 2015, contact Missy Johnston through the Northrop and Johnson Worldwide Yacht Charters website.