Heavy handed financial police scare boats away from Italy

Home of the rich and famous feeling slightly second-hand - Portofino in Italy
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It's not only on land that Italians are suffering financially. Marina operators are complaining that, between new checks being carried out by Italian financial police, the flight of yachts to other countries and the fact that so many boats in marinas are for sale, the year 2011 is forecast to be even worse than 2009 and 2010.

Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore reports that Italian marinas are experiencing a fall in the number of visits, a large number of berthed yachts for sale particularly from 10m-20m (33ft-66ft), a reduction in the amount of fuel being bought and the flight of boats to France, Corsica and Croatia.

The fact that Guardia di Finanza has been frightening boat owners, sending them fleeing off shore, is also a factor in the misery of most marinas.

'Other than a conspicuous number of boats for sale in the marinas, in some case up to 20 per cent of those occupying berths, the marinas have to deal with around 10 per cent of the clientele having left the market,' president of Italian marina association Assomarinas, Roberto Perocchio, said recently.

'Some clients have been able to move their boats abroad and others are having difficulty with leasing contracts and have had to have their yachts impounded. Some are leaving their boats in dry storage, unable to maintain them in the water,' he continued.

Marina operators surveyed by the paper reported boats being used less and a decrease in visits on 2010, with some arguing that the Guardia di Finanza are being too heavy-handed.

'The checks are a physical invasion of life onboard the boat. And they could be avoided, given that they’re checking data that has already been registered,' one marina operator said.