Charter firms with foreign-flagged yachts banned from operating in Turkey this season

Turkey, it seems, may decide to ban yacht charter companies with foreign-flagged vessels from operating in the country this season.

Foreign-flagged yachts have been operating in Turkey for 25 years, with permission and certification required from the Turkish Ministry of Tourism as part of a law to encourage tourism to the country.

However, Turkish charter firms are claiming to have received calls from officials within the Tourism Ministry, warning that they will not be allowed to charter with foreign-flagged yachts.

The warnings were made by phone rather than written notice, as there is not much time before the tourism season begins. This is creating grave concern amongst companies, and rumours are circulating wildly. Many are asking each other if they have received the call as well.

Most charter companies have already taken bookings for the new season. Cancelling these bookings would create a new crisis in Turkish yacht tourism, just as it was starting to feel like a “recovery year” by those in the industry.

Some companies have already spent the desposits on early bookings for yacht maintenance and other costs associated with running a business. They are now concerned about potential losses.

Bareboat companies that rent boats without crew seem to be most affected. Not allowing foreign-flagged yachts to charter in Turkey is generally deemed as fair, but the implementation of the rule was expected to be spread over time in order to give companies an opportunity to adjust to it.

Charter companies and yacht associations are currently trying to explain this situation to the relevant ministry to prevent another crisis.