The Association of Croatian Travel Agencies (UHPA) demands from the Government of the Republic of Croatia an urgent decision on the continuation of measures for the preservation of jobs and the inclusion of travel agencies in the measure of compensation of fixed costs.
"For more than 6 months, we have been intensively negotiating with the representatives of the Government of the Republic of Croatia on the compensation model, which is crucial for saving travel agencies. In our requests, we have the support of the line minister, Nikola Brnjac, and it is high time to start the realization of financial assistance for the preparation of the season and the normalization of activities that Prime Minister Plenković himself announced. As the industry on which most of the revenues that flow into the state budget are based, on the threshold of another crisis tourist season, the only thing we can count on at the moment is uncertainty - uncertainty of spreading the pandemic, uncertainty of keeping the epidemiological situation under control, uncertainty of tourist movements. uncertainty of the survival of travel agencies in the Republic of Croatia ”, points out Tomislav Fain, president of UHPA.
In addition to aid for job preservation implemented by other EU Member States as a horizontal aid measure, Croatia has not provided any grant program to tourism entrepreneurs, as other Member States have done, especially those whose GDP, like Croatia's, is strongly relying on tourism.
"It is crucial to define the criteria for the most vulnerable as soon as possible and to ensure the long-term continuation of aid for job preservation, because it is unacceptable that in a country that is so dependent on tourism, the tourism industry survives day by day." abolition of the only concrete aid measure. While other Member States, such as Slovenia, Austria, Greece, Italy, Romania, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria, in coordination with the European Commission, allocate millions of grants to their tour operators to make up for lost traffic in 2020 and thus ensure their survival, Our requests to provide grants for the tourism sector in Croatia in the same way from the EU assistance program, unfortunately, have not been met, although 70 percent of tourist traffic in the pre- and post-season is realized through travel agencies. The state aid program in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, HBOR, HAMAG-BICRO and commercial banks, which we hoped would provide us with at least part of the necessary means of survival in practice, unfortunately did not come to life. According to information received from members, banks are not interested in providing loans to travel agencies that are in trouble, and such is the majority among us, and I do not see the purpose of issuing state guarantees if there is no such interest of the other party., warns Fain.
It is high time for the Government of the Republic of Croatia to understand the problems in which the tourism industry finds itself and adopt a program of support and assistance for overcoming the crisis.
“According to the latest survey conducted by UHPA among its members, the drop in traffic in the first quarter of 2021 is 90% higher and no one can deny it or escape from it. We expect concrete and prompt assistance measures from the Government of the Republic of Croatia that will enable agencies to continue operating and ensure in the long run that they are the bearers of sustainable, innovative and sustainable tourism that we want and plan in the National Development Strategy of Croatia until 2030. Or it will remain another dead letter on paper. ", concludes Fain.