The tourism sector expects priority vaccination of tourism workers, as they are in direct contact with guests, which would be a strong marketing asset to foreign markets.
Of course, this would have already happened if there were no problems with the delivery of vaccines and, accordingly, the slow pace of vaccination of citizens throughout Europe. It is imperative for everyone in Europe to provide as many vaccines as possible in order to vaccinate as many people as possible, including Croatia.
At the end of January, the Ministry of Tourism sent an appeal to the Croatian Institute of Public Health to include tourism workers on the list of priorities for vaccination.
Currently in Croatia, the first phase of vaccination is nearing completion, in which priority was given to health professionals and users of homes for the elderly. The second phase is all persons over the age of 65 and all persons with chronic diseases, regardless of age, and finally, ie in the third phase, the vaccination of the entire population begins. Now it is the turn of chronic patients over the age of 65, and according to estimates, about 20 percent of them have been vaccinated so far.
As she pointed out Monika Udovičić, Director of the Directorate for the System of Tourist Boards, Categorization and Legal Affairs, tourism workers will be in the priority group when the vaccination starts in the third phase. ” We hope it will be mid-May. Tourist workers will be vaccinated in the third group, when the vaccination of the general population begins. We suggested that tourism workers be part of the third group. These are 50.000 to 60.000 vaccines for tourism workers"Points out Udovicic, last night for HRT.
Logistics and field infrastructure is crucial
The European Commission has presented a draft covid passport or digital green certificate. What is important to emphasize, how covid passports are not and should not be the only twist for travel. It will be possible to travel as last year as it can now, with a negative test, and covid passports are just a tool that will speed up the whole process for those citizens who have been vaccinated or got over covid.
However, the EC still has not defined key issues and is late in making decisions. One of these issues is the validation or recognition of tests at various across Europe. It is crucial to define the same conditions and protocols at European level, so which tests will be recognized - fast or PCR or both?
When this is defined at the EU level, then Croatia must do everything to buy as many tests as possible and distribute them throughout the Adriatic. Primarily, this key role must be played by the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ). Logistics and infrastructure are key. Last year we had the experience of tourism in the COVID19 pandemic and we have to learn lessons from that.
If we seriously want to prepare for the tourist season then we have to provide all logistics and infrastructure in the field. We are the thinnest here, which we could see last year as well. It is necessary to provide additional test points throughout the Adriatic (we know how many tourists come to each destination), provide testing in airports, we have to strengthen health teams that they can withstand a lot of pressure i.e. a large number of requests for testing on a daily basis. As well as of course that the test results are ready as soon as possible.
Germans, Austrians, Italians and many others use quick tests so the whole process is no stranger to them. In fact, in Austria and Germany, rapid tests can also be bought in pharmacies and even in the German retail chain Aldi. Various hoteliers have already introduced the possibility of testing in their facilities, which is extremely important and facilitates the whole process for all tourists. And most importantly, it gives guests confidence that the whole process will be without complications - which is crucial before traveling.
Also, if we order a large number of tests then the price is lower. It is important to reduce the cost of testing and yes the price will be the same throughout Croatia. Currently, prices vary from 150 to 750 kuna, which sends a bad message. The cost of testing must be sstandardized. If we take the highest price of testing, then a family of four to return to their country must set aside 400 Euros for testing in Croatia, which significantly increases the total cost of travel.
But, as I said, when the tests are defined at the EU level, then we can order large quantities and thus the price is much lower. Then we can speak and on test subsidies that the price for the guest is reduced or that we bear the full cost, so that testing is free for guests.
Indeed, if we want to have the summer season and get the most out of it, then that should be an imperative for us. This is the best advertising and promotion, and it is certain that the CNTB can direct part of the funds to subsidize tests, as well as the cities and municipalities themselves. Ultimately let the state take the cost upon itself, we know how much we depend on tourism spending. We can also think in the direction of linking free guest testing with a minimum number of guest nights. If a guest wants to have a free test he must achieve a minimum of three or seven nights, but that is a matter for discussion.
Also, for testing needs we do not need surgeons, but we can do it literally and medical students, ie any medical staff. If necessary, we hire 500-1000 health workers. That's how it's done if we're serious. Emergencies require both courageous and extraordinary moves. We don't have time to wait. Unfortunately, we depend a lot on the EC as well as the distribution of vaccines.
The percentage of vaccination of the population will be one of the most important data in assessing the safety of the destination of this tourist season, as well as the vaccination of tourism workers who are in direct contact with guests. Of course, everyone hopes that the delivery of vaccines will be significantly accelerated as soon as the entire population is vaccinated, including tourism workers. We must know how to clearly define and communicate all this to the professional public as well as to the emitting markets.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to be ready on the field. To define the cost of testing, provide enough points and strengthen health teams. These are the main prerequisites for this year's tourist season.
Gallery Annie spratt, Unsplash.com