With the ‘Sblocca Italia’ (Unblock Italy) decree the Italian government has made an important change in the leisure boating industry and a significant step towards the acknowledgement of boat tourism by making the marina resorts equal to open-air hospitality business. In “facilities conceived for stop-overs and overnight stays for tourists inside their berthed boats”, a reduced 10% VAT can be applied. This is the percent that has always been applied in other sectors of the tourist industry.
The proposal to establish marina resorts as specific areas of ports reserved for the overnight stays of tourists on their boats was accepted a few months ago by the regions of Emilia Romagna and Friuli Venezia Giulia. Its inclusion in the Unblock Italy decree has finally opened the way to the application of the 10% tourist VAT, which will make berthing for transiting boats in Italy more desirable. This decision will also serve as a stimulus for a part of the 40,000 boats that had fled to other countries on account of the Monti administration’s repressive policies to return to Italian waters.
A study requested by the Osservatorio Nautico shows that the increase in tax revenue from the stop-over of these boats could in the near future be nearly six times greater than the lesser, current VAT revenues.
The norm approved by the Italian government was requested by Maurizio Lupi, Minister of Infrastructures and Transport, supported by Dario Franceschini, minister with a mandate for Tourism. It was included in measures issued in the later part of this summer and will be effective only in 2014. In view of Genoa’s upcoming International Boat show, the boat industry hopes that the necessary resources may be found to make this norm permanent by means of the national Stability Law.
Massimo Perotti, President of UCINA Confindustria Nautica, recently explained: “It is however an achievement that has established a fundamental principle. That is, there will no longer be a situation of inequality to the detriment of boat tourism facilities.” Perotti, who has endeavored to obtain this result, added: “Now we must work with our parliament, where MP De Micheli and Senator Fabbri have striven to support this cause and are working towards making the norm definite.”
Tourism is an essential resource for the economy of our country. This is why a reduced VAT of 10% is applied by all hospitality businesses, regardless of which kind or their level of comfort. Up until now there was only one exception to this standard procedure: stop-overs and overnight stays of yachtsmen on board their boats inside marine resorts.
This difference in treatment has heavily impacted boat-tourism incoming and the economy of the coastal regions in general. Within the entire maritime industry cluster (which includes fishing and cruising), leisure boating is indeed the greatest income and employment multiplier. But it is the study carried out by the Osservatorio Nautico Nazionale which above all reveals that yachts-people spend on average nearly twice as much as other tourists.
The marina resort norm is based on the guidelines on simplifying arrival and departure procedures, which are no longer necessary in each port, but are only applied to the first and last berthing in Italy. These simplified procedures were extended last August by the Ministry of Transport also to the Passenger Yacht Code category (part of the Red Insigne Code Group), which can transport up to 36 passengers.
Lastly, a circular issued by the Italian Customs has standardized the procedures for the dispensing of exempt fuel throughout Italy.
Meanwhile, works on the reform of the Nautical Code have resumed at the Senate. These aim at simplifying procedures and reducing the relevant burocracy so that sailing under the Italian flag may become more convenient.
We must however remember that according to the new customs procedure, and thanks to measures promoted by UCINA, boats may sail for an unlimited time in Italian waters without having to be entered in the national registers and may keep their original flag, even a non-EU one.