Supported by the European Union (EU), the Greek Government has launched a $1.2 bill programme to upgrade and enhance domestic maritime operations.
The projects will include enhancements and repairs to the country’s ports, as well as the improvement of the ferry services both inter-island and to 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,” Greek Shipping and Island Policy Minister, Yiannis Plakiotakis announced (pictured), according to local media reports.
Greek news outlets claimed that the pilot’s association had said that 77 ports across the islands were sub-standard and required significant infrastructure improvements.
Port upgrades will include investments in technology, as well as the physical infrastructure. Among the specific port projects named was damage repairs at Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete, as well as facility upgrades.
According to reports, among the specific projects included in the long term plan is an investment of around $200 mill funded by the EU for upgrading the infrastructure at 33 ports on the Greek Islands.
The government is also committing an additional $230 mill for studies and implementation of port expansion, upgrades, and maintenance.
Long-term contracts will also be signed with the inter-island and mainland ferry companies to provide incentives for fleet upgrades and modernisation. Nearly $450 mill will be made available to the ferry companies that operate on 44 routes in Greece to improve the service, including fleet modernisation.
The contracts with the shipping companies will range between four and seven years.
In addition, the government will invest another $350 mill for three routes between the mainland and the islands. These contracts will require the shipping companies to launch new ships on the routes.
Plakiotakis reportedly said that since 2019, the Government has increased funds by 50% to support the creation of new shipping routes and improvements in services. Currently, more than $160 mill is being spent each year to support the ferry services.
He also noted that Greece had been successful in maintaining minimum ferry service between all the islands during the pandemic.
It has also been announced that all passengers travelling in ferries must show proof of a valid PCR test before boarding.