The state plans to spend about €1 billion over the next few years to upgrade 44 ports and 47 shipping routes through grants to passenger shipping companies that will help modernize their fleets, Minister for Shipping and Island Policy Yannis Plakiotakis announced Monday.
This spending, especially on port improvements, will resolve many of the problems noted years ago by the Ship Captain’s Association, which had said that ports on 77 islands were significantly substandard.
At the port of Santorini, for example, the maintenance and repair of underwater damage in the jetty is considered an emergency, while the port of Mykonos also has significant issues. There are also problems at the ports of Crete and many islands on less frequent routes.
The program aims at improving connections among the islands and between them and mainland Greece, and upgrading port facilities, including their technology, in order to enhance the passenger experience.
The money will come both from domestic coffers and from the EU’s structural funds (the 2021-27 infrastructure-transport operational program).
Specifically, EU structural funds will provide €175.21 million to upgrade 33 island ports; the state consignments fund will provide €200 million over the next four years to expand, upgrade and maintain port facilities; and €20 million will be spend in mitigating climate change by repairing erosion in 11 ports. For this latter action plan, the government has asked for, and will be provided with, money from the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Fund.
Also, €370 million will go to passenger shippers to modernize their fleet and improve service on 44 routes connecting islands. The European structural funds will provide the money and the state will sign 4- to 7-year contracts with the shipping firms.
Another €300 million will go to shipping firms plying routes connecting the islands to the mainland.