The Government of Greece with the support of the European Union is launching a $1.2 billion program designed to upgrade and enhance maritime operations in Greece. The projects will focus both on enhancement and repairs to the country’s ports as well as efforts to improve ferry service both inter-island and from the mainland.
"With proper planning and systematic work, we have prepared and are implementing a comprehensive plan for the implementation of critical projects and the provision of critical connections in the island and wider sea areas of Greece," said Shipping and Island Policy Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis. On Monday he outlined the ambitious plan which includes significant improvements aimed at the tourist sites in Greece and to address the impact of climate change.
The Greek news outlet Ekathimerini highlights that the shipping industry and island authorities have long been calling for investments. The pilot’s association reported that 77 ports across the islands were substandard and required significant infrastructure enhancements.
According to the minister, the program aims at improving connections between the islands and the mainland. The upgrades to the ports will include investments in their technology as well as the physical infrastructure. Among the specific port projects are efforts both to repair critical damage at Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete, as well as upgrade their facilities. Popular with tourists these investments will enhance the passenger experience the minister noted.
Among the specific projects included in the multi-year plan is an investment of approximately $200 million funded by the EU for upgrading the infrastructure at 33 ports in the Greek Islands. The government is committing an additional $230 million for studies and implementation of port expansion, upgrades, and maintenance.
Efforts will also be undertaken to address damage caused to the islands and their ports due to rising sea levels and storms associated with global climate change. The EU’s Recovery and Resilience Fund will provide approximately $23 million to be used to repair erosion at 11 Greek ports.
The government also announced that it will enter into long-term contracts with the inter-island and mainland ferry companies providing incentives for fleet upgrades and modernization. Nearly $450 million will be made available to the passenger shipping companies that provide service on 44 routes in Greece to improve service including fleet modernization. The contracts with the shipping companies will range between four and seven years. In addition, the government will invest an additional $350 million for three routes between the mainland and the islands. These contracts will require the shipping companies to launch new ships on the routes.
Plakiotakis highlighted in the past three years since 2019 they have already increased by 50 percent expenditures to support the creation of new shipping routes and improvements to service. Currently, they are spending more than $160 million each year to support the ferry services. He noted that Greece has also been successful in maintaining minimum ferry service between all the islands during the pandemic.