Thursday, 18 March 2021

Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac Welcomes European Commission's Digital Green Certificate

March 18, 2021 - Croatian Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac welcomes the European Commission's digital green certificate proposal. 

HRTurizam reports that the European Commission adopted a legislative proposal to establish a common framework for digital green certificates and an additional proposal to ensure that digital green certificates are issued to third-country nationals residing in the Member States or Schengen countries and visitors entitled to travel to other Member States.

Digital green certificates are digital evidence proving that the traveler has been vaccinated against COVID-19, has recovered from it, or has a negative test result. Apart from possible uses in health care, the certificate also serves for the safe free movement of citizens of one European Union country in another.

Of course, the digital green certificate has no meaning if EU countries do not accept it. That is why the European Commission has announced that it will work closely with the European Union members. Namely, cooperation is needed to find technical solutions for the use of certificates as soon as possible. The authenticity of certificates can be verified safely throughout the EU and finally enable the mutual recognition of certificates or endorsements throughout the European Union. Member States are still responsible for deciding which public health restrictions for travelers can be lifted and will apply the same to travelers holding a digital green certificate.

Digital green certificates will meet data protection, security, and privacy requirements. For the certificates to come to life by the summer, EU member states must speed up preparations and their introduction. The European Commission will help develop a legal solution for a common framework for vaccination, testing, and recovery certificates to facilitate free movement within the EU. Member States are expected to establish technical solutions at the national level rapidly. In this way, certificates could be issued and verified securely anywhere in the European Union.

Digital green certificates should be established based on interoperability guidelines, which define common data sets and unique identifiers for vaccination certificates. A common data set for test results is already agreed upon by Member States.

Certificates will be issued in digital or paper form. Both versions will have a QR code containing the necessary basic information and a digital signature to ensure that the certificate is authentic. Certificates shall be made available free of charge in the official language or languages of the issuing Member State and English.

All persons, vaccinated and unvaccinated, should use digital green certificates when traveling within the EU. To prevent discrimination against non-vaccinated persons, the Commission proposes not only issuing an interoperable vaccination certificate but also a COVID-19 test certificate and a certificate for those who have recovered from COVID-19.

If Member States accept proof of vaccination to lift certain public health restrictions such as testing or quarantine, they would be required to accept vaccination certificates issued under the digital green certificate system under the same conditions. This obligation would be limited to vaccines authorized in the EU, but Member States may accept other vaccines.

The digital green certificate will be valid in all EU Member States and can be used by Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. The digital green certificate should be issued to EU citizens and their family members, regardless of nationality. It should also be issued to third-country nationals residing in the EU and visitors entitled to travel to other Member States.


The digital green certificate system is a temporary measure. It will be suspended after the World Health Organization declares an end to the extraordinary public health threat caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the proposal to be ready before the summer, it needs to be adopted quickly by the European Parliament and the Council. At the same time, Member States must apply the reliability framework and technical standards agreed within the eHealth network to ensure the timely introduction of digital green certificates, interoperability, and full compliance with personal data protection. The goal is to complete the technical work and proposal in the coming months.

The certificates will be available free of charge and are expected to be implemented by the summer, i.e., from 1 June.

The Minister of Tourism and Sports, Nikolina Brnjac, stated that Croatia welcomes any document that will facilitate tourist movements through uniform and predictable rules.

"The EC today adopted an important proposal for a common framework for the recognition of certificates, which should facilitate free movement during the pandemic. As a tourist country, Croatia welcomes any document that will facilitate tourist movements through uniform and predictable rules. In the forthcoming discussions in the Council, which must agree on the final version of the document, we will advocate that the announced certificate in no form constitutes a restrictive factor for free movement and that it is not discriminatory. In parallel with the preparations for adopting this document at the EU level, the Government of the Republic of Croatia regularly coordinates positions regarding border crossing conditions, taking into account the epidemiological situation in the Republic of Croatia well as in the major markets. Facilitation is also being intensively discussed with the EU Member States as well as third countries," Brnjac said and emphasized that to ensure predictability for business entities in tourism, the Government will make a detailed decision on the conditions for entry of tourists into the Republic of Croatia, which will be in force at least until the establishment of a common European model.

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Wednesday, 3 June 2020

33,000 Tourists in Croatia 'A Good Start', Says Cappelli

June 3,  2020 - On Tuesday in Pula, Minister of Tourism Gari Cappelli assessed that the fact that 33,000 tourists are currently staying in Croatia is a good start, and that number is increasing day by day.

"If someone had told us two months ago that we would have between 30,000 and 40,000 tourists in early June, we probably wouldn't have believed them. However, these figures are good and represent a good start, and we got this credit thanks to people from the Civil Protection and health workers," Cappelli said on Slobodna Dalmacija, adding that Croatia, unlike other competing countries such as Italy, Spain and France, prevented the pandemic from spreading in time.

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Commenting on the information that the influential American magazine Forbes listed three Croatian destinations among the 20 safest and best European destinations for post-corona travel and tourism - Zagreb, Cavtat and Rijeka, Cappelli pointed out that Croatia created a great program and received 'credit in tourism'.

"We have always been recognizable for the safety and nature in Croatia. Now it turns out that security is again the strongest asset of Croatia for this season and I believe that this is the main reason for coming to our country. Croatia managed to defend itself from this pandemic and organize very well," Cappelli asserted.

He also spoke about the Croatian application for travelers, which he assessed as unique in Europe, because "you can make an announcement in advance and enter the country in five seconds".

He also mentioned that Croatia is now at 12-13 percent in terms of tourist traffic compared to last year, and he believes that it will reach 30 to 35 percent in the second half of July and the beginning of August.

"It is interesting that in some continental counties we currently have 50 percent of the turnover compared to last year, because in these counties there are mostly domestic guests," said Cappelli.

On Tuesday in Pula, the Minister of Tourism signed a contract with the director of the School of Tourism, Hospitality and Trade Orhideja Petković to award grants for the Regional Competence Center in Pula worth 44.7 million kuna, and visited tourist facilities in the municipality of Bale where he talked to investors and owners about the state of reservations and expectations from the tourist season after the resumption of tourist activity and the opening of borders.

He also visited the recently completed tourist investment at Villa Noble, worth 13.5 million kuna, and the Meneghetti Wine Hotel and Winery, where an investment worth over 35 million kuna in accommodation and other facilities was also recently completed.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli Reveals New Slogan for Tourists Coming to Croatia

May 14, 2020 - Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli has revealed a new slogan about where tourists can stop to refuel or buy food on the way to their Croatian destination. reported that the European Commission has recommended the gradual and coordinated lifting of travel restrictions between the Member States or regions within them that have a similar epidemiological situation to save what can be saved from this year's tourist season.

Minister of Tourism Gari Cappelli said in the show U Mreži Prvi on HRT that Croatia has very well and precisely prepared measures, in agreement with epidemiologists and associations of tourism workers, and that they have been incorporated into the guidelines of the European Commission.

"We were the first to mention bilateral. Opening borders depends on each individual member state, which will primarily negotiate with its neighbors, so we are talking to several countries, primarily Slovenia," Cappelli said and added that corridors have already been created that are recommended to tourists who come to Croatia, and these recommendations relate to where they can stop, refuel or buy food on the way to their destination.

"We have called this slogan 'From home to the destination'. From the moment they book a stay, they will receive this information," the minister said.

The Head of the Border Administration, Zoran Ničeno, emphasized that a difficult period is behind us in which, according to EU recommendations, we blocked traffic across the state border, which was great for a tourist country like Croatia.

"We have established coordination of police directors of countries in the wider region, namely Croatia, Italy, Austria, Slovenia, BiH and Serbia. We have video conferences every week in which we agree on exactly how the police will react in the new measures, and that refers to border crossings and returns back to the country," Ničeno said, adding that this is very important because each country has its own specifics.

He pointed out that not all measures had been lifted. Every person who enters the country is recorded and their personal data is taken, and they are acquainted with all the epidemiological instructions they receive at the border crossing.

"The borders are not open as before, but entering the country is under great epidemiological control," he stressed, adding that these measures will lead to significant congestion at the borders.

Cappelli also spoke for N1.

"Given the conditions, Croatia could have allowed flows at the border. With some limits. They can enter for a reason, provided we know where they are, what their address is. We have been waiting for EU instructions; our proposals have been implemented. We have hundreds a day, thousands of inquiries to enter Croatia," Cappelli told N1.

Upon returning to the country, Slovenes have to isolate themselves for seven days. The minister says negotiations are underway with Slovenia.

"I think that this will be resolved in the coming days by ministerial meetings, so that we will have a clear situation next week. Our epidemiologists have found each other, both have proposals. It will take 15-20 days to go through all this. It is realistic to expect that at the end of the month, we will have the right tourist flow, and without delay," said Cappelli, who spoke about this with the Slovenian minister.

"He begged me to find solutions. They have 110,000 homeowners and boats in Croatia. I don't see the difference when someone leaves Pozega and Zagreb or Novo mesto in Slovenia; the situation is unique," Cappelli said.

"We started because we have had very precise recommendations for all types of tourism for a month now. I warned that we would have quality, but not rigid measures. We made it known. We proved that we are very ready, maybe more than a lot of countries in the EU," Cappelli said.

He said we could generate up to 30 percent of last year’s revenue this year. Next year, he says, they could be at the level of 2018, and in 2022 the same tourist success could be achieved as in 2019.

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Thursday, 16 April 2020

Croatian Tourism Minister: We are Focusing on Domestic Tourism, Lower Prices

April 16, 2020 - Can Croatians save the country's tourism this year? Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli comments on domestic tourism and the Ministry's plan post coronavirus. 

"Domestic tourists cannot save the tourist season in Croatia because their share in total traffic in the last two years has been around 12 percent, but tourism certainly counts on them when coronavirus measures are loosened, which is decided by the Civil Protection Headquarters," Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli said Wednesday on

"We always prepared special projects for local tourists. This year should have been 'A Week's Holiday is Worth It' and the Cro card that offered discounts. It had nothing to do with the corona era, because we were preparing these projects long before the pandemic was revealed in the world," Cappelli said, answering questions from reporters.

He announced that the Cro card will now be redefined and certainly try to be used in some way to serve its purpose in Croatia, not only on the coast and in restaurants, but to be used all over the country and for various offers, thus boosting domestic tourist consumption and revenues.

Asked by journalists if tourism prices should be lower this year, which could also attract domestic tourists, if the health situation permits, the minister replied: "Of course the prices will be lower, it will be cheaper."

"It will be cheaper, especially in private accommodation, which will certainly be more important for tourist demand when it comes to looking at being more secluded, better quality and closer access to nature with fewer houses in the surrounding area," said Cappelli, pointing out that they are in a similar position with camps.

In addition, he believes that nautical tourism will come to the fore and that the fact that Croatia is, as he said, 'the country with the most charter vessels in the world', will certainly be important. He also believes that with reasonable prices, it will be more readily available to domestic tourists at certain times.

"If there is tourism activity and the coronavirus situation improves, in private accommodation, nautical charters and camps, I see an opportunity this summer, rather than in some hotel accommodation, which will have to be more strict in receiving guests, as that's where epidemiologists will have a say in how many rooms can be open and the like," Cappelli emphasized.

He also reminded that because it is impossible to realize plans for this year, the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) has annulled its annual and financial work program, announcing a salary reduction of up to 30% for employees in Zagreb and representative offices, and advised lower levels of the tourist board system to do the same.

Asked how Croatian tourism is preparing for the measures to be lifted and the possible reopening of hospitality facilities, the minister said that this depends primarily on the decisions of the epidemiological service and the National Headquarters, but also that they have "some plans if something happens tomorrow."

"We have plans for marketing activities in case the measures are loosened and facilities can open, and yesterday we gave the task to HTZ to prepare proposals within 14 days if, for example, tourists from Austria or another country close to us want to come and could visit us. We will definitely try to take advantage of this proximity and the possibility of getting there by car and highway. So, if we see the borders starting to open or something similar, we will be ready for marketing activities in these markets within 14 days," Cappelli announced.

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Monday, 6 April 2020

Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli on What Awaits Croatia in 2020

April 6, 2020 - Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli talks about what awaits Croatian tourism in 2020. 

In the past few days, the eyes of hundreds of thousands of people in the country have been hooked on the Ministry of Tourism and the Croatian Government in anticipation of financial assistance and relief that will make it easier for them to survive the (non) tourist business year.

Because, apart from the fact that, in Croatia, every fifth kuna comes from tourism spending, the country has about one hundred thousand employees in the sector, and another 108 thousand families engaged in family rentals. There are also some fifty thousand who earn their salaries in the hospitality industry, and who knows how many other services that are directly or indirectly related to the profits from tourism.

All of them are on the same side in the tourist supply and demand chain in Croatia. Because not only is the season a success for tourist workers, but every hairdresser is hoping for a good season, because if their clients do not make money, they will not get their hair done. The same goes for the butcher, the furniture dealer, the pedicurist, the friend who pays the mobile operator, the carpenters, the souvenir and car salespeople, and the colleague who works at the bank.

With this thinking in mind, and while preparing for another fruitful tourist year, which began well with bookings, the news of the coronavirus pandemic threatened tourism for the first time since the war.

There is still no answer to the uncertainty that hit us one month ago, and we can’t say what this year's tourist season holds - or if it will be held at all. 

Thus, Slobodna Dalmacija interviewed Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli to find out more.

The international travel market is completely dead. What information and estimates on the duration of the crisis do you receive from our representatives and partners abroad, how long could it last?

“We are in contact with our seventeen representative offices of the Croatian National Tourist Board all the time, and we receive reports daily. We are also involved in international tourism organizations, with several videoconferences. As the World Tourism Organization has announced, the expected decline globally is 30 percent.

We know how important tourism is for many national economies, and the coronavirus pandemic has directly impacted the tourism sector. Travels from China dropped sharply in January and February, expanding to the rest of the world in February and March. The tourism economy is now stalled in many countries around the world and is likely to remain so until at least the middle of this year.

Restrictive measures are in place, and even when tourism supply chains start functioning again, the recovery will take some time, given the interconnected effects of the economic and health crisis and the gradual lifting of travel restrictions. This will have great consequences for many national economies."

There is an ongoing cancellation of arrivals even for the main season or bookings postponed to 2021. Do you think that the Croatian Government's measures will enable the tourism sector to survive this business year?

“It is currently understood that bookings have stopped and bookings for the following period are canceled. We must also look at it from the point of view of safety and health protection, and not primarily through the loss of tourist traffic. At this point, long-term assessments are difficult to determine, given the unanticipated course of the coronavirus pandemic development.

The package of measures of the Croatian Government for the economy is worth tens of billions of kuna, and the measures apply to all departments that need intervention in this situation. A large part of the measures relates to the preservation of liquidity and the preservation of jobs.

We are aware of the fact that the tourism sector has been significantly affected by this pandemic and, therefore, we have hastened to devise and adopt measures that we believe will help overcome this challenging period. It is important to note that the Ministry of Tourism and the Croatian Government will continue to take short, medium and long-term measures to minimize the effects and impact of the current situation on tourism and other economic segments."

What are the specific measures of the Croatian Government intended explicitly for tourism and how much will it help the sector?

“Measures include, among other things, securing loans for liquidity and working capital, introducing a moratorium on credit obligations, and establishing a new financial instrument, COVID-19 Loans, for working capital for small and medium-sized enterprises. The Ministry of Tourism introduced a deferral of payment of the tourist tax as part of the Government's measures, while the Ministry of Finance made it possible to defer the payment of a flat-rate income tax through amendments to the General Tax Law.

In addition, the payment of the concession fee on tourist land co-owned by the Republic of Croatia is postponed to mitigate the first financial impact on the tourism sector."

What is the overall financial burden on the sector through the most important measures?

“The relief from the tourist tax is estimated at HRK 164 million, while the exemption from paying the variable part of the concession fee will relieve the tourism sector by about HRK 15 million. Furthermore, within the measures of the Ministry of Labor and the Pension System, the duration of the “permanent season” measure is extended so that seasonal workers receiving off-season benefits do not lose their jobs.

To extend this measure, the state will provide HRK 11.5 million, and the measure includes about five thousand permanent seasonal workers in tourism and agriculture."

At this time of crisis, a public pandemic sometimes gives the impression that tourism is being marginalized over some other industries that are being touted as more important. Is that correct?

“Tourism is a sector that accounts for almost 20 percent of Croatia's GDP and, in addition, is a horizontal industry that provides revenue and jobs to a number of related industries. Therefore, together with other sectors in the Croatian Government, we will find the right balance of measures for all sectors affected by the current crisis, and tourism will certainly receive the deserved place and the help it needs to overcome the current state and the period that follows after the crisis."

Are you satisfied with the cooperation of professional tourism associations with the Ministry and how do you communicate during this crisis?

“In such crises, frequent interaction between the public and private sectors is needed to act promptly. I believe that the entire tourism sector supports the efforts made so far to overcome the economic and other challenges as effectively as possible.

We are continually receiving valuable suggestions for overcoming this situation by various professional associations active in the tourism sector, and we are constantly reviewing and trying to incorporate the legislative changes and economic measures of the Croatian Government, which will be adopted in several circles."

What would you say to family renters who have already mentioned in a survey that they lost about 50k in this year and fear the losses will be much higher?

“Household accommodation accounts for the largest share of the Croatian tourism accommodation offer and, therefore, private renters are essential stakeholders in our sector. I believe that a lot of them have lately lent themselves to invest in increasing quality and expanding their supply. With the turnover and revenues we have generated in recent years, such an investment has been logical and sustainable

However, in times of financial crises such as this one certainly is, the tourism sector is always one of the first to suffer, but experience has also shown that it is among the first to recover. Moreover, tourism is said to be the driver of economic development after the crisis. Therefore, we have abolished the payment of half the amount of the annual lump sum of tourist tax for basic beds and the whole amount of lump sum for extra beds to the persons providing catering services in households and on farms.

In addition, the Croatian Government will do everything possible to free the sector of all benefits, to provide a moratorium on loan repayments, etc., so that private accommodation will be that generator of growth after these troubles."

In the current situation, many think about the time after the pandemic, and the solution is seen in domestic tourism. How realistic is this in a position where half a million employees in the country are at minimum wage?

"Croatia, headed by the Civil Protection Headquarters, manages the emerging health situation well and, despite a further increase in the number of patients, the spread of the infection is under control, which means that we have prepared better than many European countries.

I believe that Croatia is still a safe country, and I believe that, after the health crisis and the gradual loosening of restrictions on work and movement, Croats will be able to spend at least part of their holidays at sea or in the continental part of our country.

As for their consumption, it is difficult to predict how much it will be. This will depend on the scale of the latest economic crisis we are currently in, and it is very difficult to estimate how long it will take."

Will the government encourage vouchers or otherwise promote domestic travel and the recovery of the sector after the pandemic?

“We have prepared projects such as the already widely known Croatian Tourist Card (CRO card) and the action "A Week Off is Worth It", which, unfortunately, was put to rest due to the coronavirus pandemic. All the necessary remodeling for both projects aimed at stimulating domestic tourist consumption has been completed, and I believe we will be able to use them to encourage domestic travel after the normal tourist flows are restored.

In addition, the amendments to the Law on the Provision of Tourism Services gave the Minister the power to regulate in the circumstances of special circumstances. Thus, this means terminating travel contracts in a package arrangement in such a way that tourist agencies may offer vouchers to be secured insurance policy, instead of refunding for unrealized travel."

Do you think that the position of Croatia and the fact that we are an easy-to-reach destination by car will be our trump card in the recovery of tourism?

“I still sincerely hope that we can make up at least part of the tourist season. If so, if the situation calms down, the rest of the tourist year will be marked by "last-minute" trips. In such a scenario, it will certainly help us to be close to our most significant markets. But in addition, our reputation and recognition that we have built in recent years will also help us, and it is primarily about hospitality, safety, quality and nature conservation."

The Croatian National Tourist Board system is financed almost exclusively by membership fees and tourist tax, which will not be paid in the next 3 + 3 months. Many tourist boards are already empty accounts. How will they be helped to survive without a basic income?

“Given the measures adopted by the Croatian Government to assist the economy, which partly relate to the delays in paying tourist membership fees and tourist fees, we have taken certain steps and arrangements with the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development regarding securing funds for the liquidity of the tourist boards system.

HBOR will enable the monitoring of legal entities under the program Sustainable Current Assets through commercial banks. In preparing the new measures, HBOR will take care of the tourist boards and include them in the eligible legal entities for financing under the Risk Sharing Model together with commercial banks, as well as for potential direct funding."

The responsibility to lend to the tourist boards will lie with the presidents of the tourist boards, i.e., the prefects, mayors, counties?

“Amendments to the Law on Tourist Boards and Promotion of Croatian Tourism, adopted at a cabinet session Thursday, enabled higher financial borrowing by tourist boards in times of special circumstances, and Tourist Board presidents will decide on the amount they need to borrow to maintain work.

Amendments to the same Act also gave the Minister the power to determine by an ordinance an amount that could be used for the salary costs of employees in the tourist board, which had hitherto been limited to 40 percent of income."

If you were a casual tourist worker currently without traffic and income, what would you say to Minister Cappelli at this point, what is the most important thing to do?

“The most important thing is to ensure the retention of jobs and the liquidity of companies and trades in the tourism sector so that they can resume work as soon as possible after the crisis. In addition, it takes a lot of patience, concern for the health of everyone in the sector, and the conviction that we will emerge even stronger from this situation, with new experiences to overcome difficulties."

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