‘PIRATE’ ships are damaging business for marine charter tours in the Balearic Islands. According to a local Spanish daily, around 1,000 vessels from abroad are available to be hired by tourists, but pay no taxes in Spain.
Despite the number of tourists currently on the islands, companies report that business is down by between five and 10 per cent.
The ‘pirate’ ships are promoted on the internet and as they don’t have expenses, are able to offer their services for less. Meanwhile, legitimate companies are having to wash sheets from their vessels at home just so they can save on cleaning fees. Plus, no-one is interested in taking over such businesses because they are no longer considered to be profitable.
There are approximately 2,000 vessels within the Apeam Charter Commitee, but with the illegal ships, the figure almost doubles. In Mallorca, the problem is especially noticeable in Andratx.
Apeam has requested help from the customs office and the tax office, and controls have been increased in an attempt to solve the problem. Many of the clients who rent the illegal vessels are told not to admit that they are paying for it, and are instead told to say they are borrowing them from a friend so there is no trace of financial activities. Some even pick ‘clients’ up at petrol stations in the marinas to avoid paying mooring fees.
Many of them belong to companies which are based in tax havens such as Luxembourg, Switzerland or the Bahamas, as well as France, Croatia and Greece.