Minister: Significant interest in Greek ports, cruises

Maritime Affairs & Fisheries Minister Yiannis Diamantidis on Thursday reiterated that interest in developing sea cruise tourism in practically every Greek port is enormous, following the scuttling of most the cabotage legislation that hampered foreign flagged vessels from conducting cruises in Greek waters.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with the heads of the country’s 12 largest ports, Diamantidis said there was significant interest for investments in certain ports, in cooperation with neighbouring countries. He also announced that the government's strategic plan for a national port system will be based on four axes.

Additionally, the Greek minister said the government has hired an international consultant to draft a plan on improving the operation of ports.

“We want to include all orphan ports - more than 800 - into this new national port system, so that it becomes profitable for our country,” Diamantidis said.

In a related development, the minister also said there was no issue of Louis Hellenic Cruises switching to a flag of convenience and leaving the Greek registry, despite comments by Giorgos Koubenas, the company’s general manager in Greece that “there is no other choice but to change the flag on these ships”.

Louis Hellenic Cruises has begun a legal battle with the Seamen's Pension Fund (NAT) over payment of social insurance contributions. NAT does not recognise the validity of a law offering state subsidies to seamen’s social insurance contributions

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