Amid aims to make the Turkish flag a mainstream concept in nautical culture across the country, restrictions will be imposed on Turkish yacht owners who use foreign national flags for the duration of their stay in local marinas, according to the Turkish daily Habertürk.
Yachts with foreign flags belonging to Turkish citizens will only be allowed to dock at Turkish ports for 90 to 120 days in a calendar year and will have to spend the rest of the calendar year abroad.
The government, which is implementing regulations to encourage the transition in order to make the country the center of global yacht tourism, will not impose the same restrictions for foreign owners of yachts that do not bear Turkish flags in Turkey.
While the Value Added Tax (VAT) was reduced from 18 percent to 1 percent, a 23 percent Private Consumption Tax (PCT) for boats was lifted.
On the other hand, a mooring fee between TL 400 and TL 6,500 taken from the boats each year was removed. Because of the high taxes levied, approximately 9,000 yachts owned by Turkish people bore flags of foreign countries.
The new regulation enables yachts to have a Turkish flag with tax exemption and a 1 percent tax will be levied on the newly-bought yachts. With the aim of mainstreaming the use of the Turkish flag, the period allocated for yachts with foreign country flags to dock in Turkey is planned to be limited.
The period is considered to be reduced to 90 or 120 days per year. Those yachts with foreign country flags will have to spend a large part of the year abroad.
The directive on this implementation has not been published yet, but the concern that charter yachts that assume the burden of yacht tourism might have a problem. A large portion of charter yachts which accommodate millions of tourists every year belong to companies abroad, therefore, carries the flags of the countries where these companies are based.
While the state removes tax, yacht agencies that mediate the transition to the Turkish flag and carry out customs processes are prepared to ask for high fees.
Last week, the agencies held a meeting to discuss a common fee policy. It was found out that the agencies will demand fees beginning at $6,000 for yachts smaller than 12 square meters. In case agencies adopt a high fee policy for paperwork, the government's agenda to promote the transition to Turkish flags may be hit hard.
Moreover, the representatives of the yacht tourism sector reckon that if the foreign-flagged yachts are compelled to sail abroad, it will negatively affect the yacht tourism in Turkey.