Last updated on October 25th, 2023 at 09:53 am
Benitses Harbor: Where History Meets the Present
Picture yourself in the charming village of Benitses on the beautiful Greek island of Corfu.
You’ll find yourself strolling along the promenade, bathed in the warm Mediterranean sun, as you take in the breathtaking views of the Ionian Sea.
What makes this picture-perfect scene even more special is the heart of the village – the Benitses Harbor. Let’s dive into the story of this harbor, from its historical roots to the modern-day experiences it offers.
A Glimpse into History
To truly appreciate the significance of Benitses Harbor, we must delve into its historical roots.
The local residents of Benitses have long relied on fishing and the cultivation of citrus and olives as their primary means of sustenance.
Naturally, a shelter for their fishing boats was essential, and so they decided to take matters into their own hands.
Work on the harbor commenced with the dedication of local residents and a handful of mechanical aids. In the early stages, the process was labor-intensive and community-driven, as seen in old photographs of those initial efforts.
It’s important to note that the construction of the current marina didn’t entail the destruction of a beach, as some might assume. Instead, it involved expanding the old port by filling in part of the harbor to create a larger land area.
Over the years, two significant engineering projects have taken place in the harbor area, inevitably altering some of its picturesque landscapes.
A notable development was the shifting of the road away from the houses, addressing safety concerns, and accommodating the increasing traffic flow.
The first infill project began in 1972, covering the creek in the old port area where the road now lies.
The second major project took place during the construction of the marina in 2002, covering nearly the entire area within the old harbor’s boundaries.
The Benitses Harbor has come a long way since its inception. Historically, it was a bustling fishing harbor, and its transformation into the Benitses Yacht Marina commenced in 2002 as an extension of the existing port.
While it is officially complete, some equipment has endured wear and tear over the years due to a lack of upkeep and maintenance.
However, fret not! The harbor’s future looks bright. Soon, the Benitses Yacht Marina will officially fall under the purview of the Municipality of Corfu and resume its regular operations.
This step is bound to rejuvenate the harbor and breathe new life into this picturesque corner of the island.
Benitses Yacht Marina Today
The Benitses Yacht Marina was conceived with the goal of attracting affluent visitors and their yachts.
The idea was to offer top-notch anchorage facilities to entice these travelers while boosting the local economy directly through mooring fees and indirectly through their spending.
However, the marina currently faces some challenges due to equipment shortages and damage, coupled with a lack of official operators.
As a result, its operations are somewhat rudimentary. Many ships are moored here, and there’s a growing demand for space.
Local residents are eager to clarify the commercial status of the port.
The new Municipal Authority has promised a comprehensive management plan, set to begin soon, if not already initiated, and certainly before the end of the year 2014. By the summer of 2015, the harbor should start yielding profits for the area.
March 2021 – Lease of the tourist port of Benitses
In March 2021, the Greek government made a significant move by leasing the tourist boat shelter to a private company for the next 15 years, with the possibility of two 5-year extensions. Maritime Projects secured the lease for an annual amount of €250,000, along with approximately 2% local tax on turnover.
While this lease promises financial benefits for the Municipality of central Corfu, the local community of Benitses is expected to receive only a meager annual sum of €5,000 from the €250,000 lease revenue. Understandably, this has sparked some local controversy.
The lease also imposes restrictions on the company, preventing it from operating cafes or restaurants, and only allowing a leisure bar. The decisions surrounding the lease were made after discussions with the local council, which is closely aligned with the ruling party.
What Lies Ahead
As per the contract, the lessor is responsible for providing the necessary studies and permits for the port at their expense. Following the granting of the operating license and the first round of repairs, the harbor was expected to start operating at the end of June or the beginning of July 2021. An official inauguration ceremony took place on July 5, graced by the presence of a government minister.
For local professional fishermen, there’s a silver lining: 10 berths at the tourist port of Benitses are available free of charge. Additionally, amateur fishermen will have access to the sea via a ramp for their boats at a nominal cost.
The fate of the parking lot space remains uncertain. While there are rumors that it will reopen as a paid service after repair work is completed, this is not explicitly stated in the contract. Fortunately, the parking area became operational again in 2022, albeit with a small and reasonable fee.
In essence, the Benitses Harbor, once a vital fishing port, has evolved into a significant tourist hub.
Its journey through history, challenges, and recent developments is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of this picturesque village on the shores of Corfu.
Whether you’re a traveler seeking a glimpse into the island’s heritage or a maritime enthusiast eager to explore the Ionian Sea, Benitses Harbor offers an array of experiences and stories waiting to be discovered.