Yachting, “Marina resorts”: the 10% VAT does not take off in Italy

Genoa - “Because the legislative process adopted, using a euphemism, is quite complicated,” explains Federica Maggiani, President of CNA La Spezia and an entrepreneur in the yachting sector.

di Matteo Dell’Antico

Genoa - The measure was announced just a few months ago as an important support for the entire yachting sector: the VAT was reduced to 10%, instead of 22%, for “marina resorts”: in simple terms, it is an equalization of mooring facilities (marinas and docks) with tourist facilities. All details were inserted into the decree Sblocca Italia (Unblock Italy) in September 2014 in black and white and then confirmed for the current year by the stability law. A problem solved and an especially big boost to the development of boating tourism. But only on the surface.

“Because the legislative process adopted, using a euphemism, is quite complicated,” explains Federica Maggiani, President of CNA La Spezia and an entrepreneur in the yachting sector, “it does not create the conditions for the firms potentially interested to proceed quietly to the application of 10% VAT instead of 22%. There are no clear guidelines due to the simple fact that the characteristics that docks and marinas must have to be considered in all respects “marina resorts” were not explained.” In detail: article 32 of the decree Unblock Italy, published in September 2014, states that “the organized structures for parking and overnight stay of tourists in their own vessels, according to the requirements established by the Ministry of Infrastructure, according to the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Cultural Activities, fall within the classification of open air accommodation structures “or” marina resorts.”

A few weeks later, on 3rd October 2014, the Ministry of Transport published a decree to establish minimum requirements for these facilities in order to apply the reduced rate for 2014. However, the opinion of the Ministry of Heritage and Cultural Activities and Tourism was not requested, as had been indicated in the Unblock Italy decree. As a last step, finally, the Stability law confirms the application of the 10% VAT in 2015. But the problem for operators is clear: they need to understand if docks and marinas applying the minimum requirements of the Decree of the Ministry of Transport issued in October can apply the 10% VAT, regardless of whether or not they qualify as a “marina resort.” There are risks at stake, which are far from trivial, such as repossessions and financial penalties. According to the national CNA legal analysis on matters relating to the naval industry, the Regional government has the authority to legislate on tourism and the docks and marinas, based on the Title V of the Regions.

Only three regions have recognized the “marina resort” as an accommodation category (Emilia Romagna, Friuli and Liguria) without having established the basic guidelines to achieve this qualification. “In Liguria, fortunately,” continues Maggiani, “we created a legal framework in November and the commissioner Berlangieri has a very clear comprehension of the issue. He has assured us of his will to move forward very soon with the resolution of the regime that will establish the minimum requirements, which will allow our companies to benefit from the 10% VAT for the upcoming season now. But time is of the essence. We trust that the limitation of “marina resort” only to boats in transit will be reviewed.” A real bureaucratic tangle in short, that the yachting operators would likely pay dearly for if this stalemate were to continue for long. And the numbers confirm it; in Liguria alone there are about 21 thousand berths.