France’s “billionaire” yachting industry in crisis

Rich yacht owners are ditching France in favour of neighbouring countries such as Italy, the letter claims

The luxury yachting business in France is in crisis, according to an open letter written by local officials to President Macron this week.

Rich yacht owners are ditching France in favour of neighbouring countries such as Italy, the presidents of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, metropolitan area of Nice, and metropolitan area of Toulon (Renaud Muselier, Christian Estrosi and Hubert Falco respectively) wrote in a letter to President Macron this week, warning him of the “serious situation facing the yachting business”.

The letter claimed that the port of Saint-Tropez has lost 40% of its business since January 2017, while Toulon has lost 30%, and said that boat owners can save as much as €21 000 per week when refuelling a 42-metre yacht in Italy, compared to the cost it would be in France, due to the different tax levels. Social charges for a staff of seven in France can reach as much as €300 000, the letter added. 

The officials blamed the drop on France’s “strict application of EU regulations” on diesel taxes, and the high levels of national insurance costs yacht owners must pay on any crew living in France.

It called on Macron to “harmonise fiscal and social regulations at a European level”.

The port of Antibes, between Cannes and Nice, whose marina has a famous “billionaires’ row”, has also suffered, according to the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Frank Dosne, director of Antibes’ Port Vauban, told the Agence France-Presse that “the drop in the number of visitors is obvious to the naked eye”, and has been “especially pronounced this summer”.

He called the national insurance levels “terrible”, with costs soaring from 15% to 55% in the past year alone.

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