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Yacht owners flee French Riviera over tax changes

Valéry Hache / AFP | View taken on March 17, 2009 shows yachts moored in the port of Cannes on the French Riviera.

Rich and famous yacht owners are fleeing the French Riviera, choosing Italy and Spain over France's high taxes and irksome regulations, local officials have said in an open letter to President Macron.


"The situation facing the yachting business in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region has become so serious that we have to approach you and ask you to intervene,” Renaud Muselier, Christian Estrosi and Hubert Falco – respectively, presidents of the region, the Nice metropolitan area and the Toulon metropolitan area – wrote on Wednesday.

They complained that the iconic port of Saint-Tropez has lost 30 percent of its business since the start of 2017, while Toulon has lost a whopping 40 percent.

Meanwhile, France’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that Antibes – Europe’s largest port, famous for its “quai des milliardaires” (billionaire’s quay) – has experienced a similar drop in business in the same time frame.

The three local government leaders argued that the French government is to blame. They cited France’s “strict application of EU regulations” on diesel taxes, as well as a March 2017 decree requiring ship owners to pay national insurance tax on crew living in France.

Fuel for a 35-metre boatcosts €24,000 per year in France – compared with €11,000 in Italy – while national insurance taxes for a crew of seven can be as high as €300,000, they said.

"That’s why its urgently necessary to harmonise fiscal and social regulations at a European level”, the three officials added.

Frank Dosne, director of Antibes’ Port Vauban, told AFP that “the drop in the number of visitors is obvious to the naked eye if you look at a map of where the yachts are in the western Mediterranean – (the change) is very pronounced this summer.”

He described the impact of the national insurance tax changes as “terrible”, noting that “the rate for ship owners has gone from 15 percent to 55 percent.”

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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