Last week, news broke of changes to charter regulations for foreign-flagged yachts visiting Turkey. Rumour and assumption sent the Turkish tourism industry and superyacht charter sector into panic, but the change in regulation needn’t instil such fear. We talked to Turkish-based yacht agents AnD Yachting & Concierge, to find out what the changes mean in practice.
“Originally, calls to charter firms from the Turkish Tourism Ministry suggested that foreign-flagged yachts may be stopped from operating in Turkey, as early as this coming season, but that’s not the case”, say Birkan Ata, Founder and Director of AnD Yachting & Concierge.
Foreign-flagged yachts have been operating in Turkey for 25 years, with permission and certification required from the Turkish Ministry of Tourism, and this initiative was originally established to encourage tourism to the country. The new shift in policy stems from claims made by local gulet charter and tour operators that foreign charter companies are diminishing their business.
Although there remains an element of uncertainty over how these proposed changes will play out, with further decision likely after the country’s local elections taking place in a few days’ time, in the interim charter companies and owners of yachts offered for charter in Turkey needn’t panic.
Ata tells us of the process to be followed:
“Foreign-flagged yachts can adhere to the changes in regulation and continue to operate almost as per previously, by paying the €30 per metre fee for a cruising permit, officially referred to as the ‘Contribution to Ministry of Tourism’ and by clearing out of Turkish waters and re-entering during the charter period.”
The proposed changes in regulation are really designed to target the yachts who wish to operate under a Turkish Charter License, which enables foreign-flagged yachts to pick up and drop off as they wish, and be exempt from the €30 per metre tax. For the superyacht industry, simply paying the tax overcomes any issue and enables cruising in a much more efficient manner.
In simple terms, there are two ways that foreign-flagged yacht can continue to charter in Turkey:
1. The foreign-flagged yacht obtains a Turkish Charter License and pays a set fee for the year (calculated on tonnage and guest capacity) and adheres to certain surveys for class and insurance etc (usually a two-month process). The Turkish Charter License then allows the yacht to operate and cruise just as a Turkish-flagged vessel would.
2. The foreign-flagged yacht pays the €30 per metre fee for the cruising permit, the ‘Contribution to the Ministry of Tourism’, or a ‘charter tax’, essentially. The yacht can then continue to cruise in Turkish waters but must follow the exit and re-entry procedure during the charter period.
For more information on the developing regulations or if you have concerns over forthcoming charters booked in Turkish waters, Birkin Ata invites you to contact AnD Yachting & Concierge via email or telephone (+905412330624).