The Strategist

Cote d'Azur is no longer attractive for millionaires

08/14/2017 - 15:04

In August, the largest, most expensive and most generous yachts in the world usually gather on the Cote d'Azur, a place for rich and famous.

TravelEden via flickr
TravelEden via flickr
However, Quai des Milliardaires is unusually quiet this summer, say local residents. They said that overregulation, taxes and high fuel charges prompted the rich to choose Spain or Italy.

Three local politicians wrote an open letter to French President Emmanuel Macron, complaining about "unattractiveness" of the French Riviera and unfair competition from the Mediterranean rivals.

They said that some of the most famous and popular resorts, including Antibes, the largest yacht port in Europe, Saint Tropez and Toulon, lost more than a third of their business this year.

The officials are accusing the "tight rules of the European Union" regarding taxation of diesel fuel and decree of March, which forced shipowners to pay insurance premiums to crew members living in France.

Fuel for a 35-meter vessel costs 24,000 euros in France and 11,000 euros in Italy, and social expenses for a crew of seven can reach 300,000 euros, they said.

"Seriousness of the situation for the yachting sector in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region makes us call for your direct intervention." There is a need to harmonize fiscal and social standards at the European level", the officials said in a letter. 

The letter stated that the fate of 2,300 companies, in which 9600 people are involved, is at stake. Direct turnover of the companies reaches 2.2 billion euros.

There are 142 ports in the region, including Corsica, which welcome 66,570 vessels a year.

Franck Dosne, director of Port Vauban in Antibes, told La Dépêche: "Lower number of visitors can be seen with the naked eye if you look at the map where the yachts in the Western Mediterranean are." He noted the impact of social charges, which, he said, increased from 15% to 55% - an absolutely "terrible" indicator, even for wealthy people.

"We are a victim of the new rule that means that all seafarers living in France, that is, all the vessels that stay here for more than three months, must be registered with insurance coverage from France ... And this is at a time when most of the them are international class vessels and are already covered by private insurance", Dosne said.

The Nice Chamber of Commerce said that the French government’s decision to refuse offering free fuel for yachts, as Italy does, costs ship owners up to 20 thousand euros per week.