Saturday, 9 April 2022

Last Minute Bookings Likely to Fuel Croatian 2022 Tourist Season

April the 9th, 2022 - Last minute bookings are likely to fuel the Croatian 2022 tourist season, with hopes being held high for the pre-season as we approach the Easter festive period.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the domestic tourism sector expects an increase in traffic compared to last Easter, and has good expectations from the height of the Croatian 2022 tourist season, it was said on Thursday at the coordination meeting of the Croatian Tourist Board (CNTB) with regional and county tourist boards.

“After a certain slowdown in reservations resulting from the events unfolding in Ukraine, we're noticing a reactivation of the market and a further increase in interest in travel. This is confirmed by numerous Croatian tourist entities and foreign partners, who are reporting that booking towards Croatia has been reactivated,'' said Stanicic, adding that if the general situation in Europe remains stable and secure, we can expect some very good results, first of all for Easter, and then during the main summer part of the season.

He believes that this year will also be marked by last minute booking, while in terms of tourist traffic, markets from the closest surroundings of Croatia will once again come to the fore.

During the meeting, representatives of county tourist boards confirmed the positive trends in tourism in the first three months of this year, and some counties even exceeded the results from the same recorded period from back in pre-pandemic 2019, while others had managed to come significantly closer to their pre-pandemic trends.

When it comes to the rapidly approaching Easter holidays, the tourism sector at the national level expects an increase in traffic compared to last Easter, during which 140 thousand overnight stays were realised, while at the county level during the Easter holidays, traffic is expected to grow by 10 to 20 percent, depending on the county.

As for the expectations for the main part of the Croatian 2022 tourist season, the system of tourist boards has confirmed that the level of interest in Croatian destinations is very pronounced, reservations have started coming in again and positive results of tourist traffic are expected in principle. However, it was emphasised that future trends will mostly depend on the further development of the horrendous situation in Ukraine, as well as protocols for crossing borders that countries, ie the most important markets for Croatian tourism, will introduce in accordance with the epidemiological situation as that too unfolds.

For more, check out our travel section.

Thursday, 7 April 2022

Medjimurje Tourist Attraction Fairytale Forest Opening in August

April the 7th, 2022 - This August, the Medjimurje tourist attraction ''Fairytale forest'' (Bajkovita suma) is set to open its doors to visitors from far and wide.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, last week, the Tourex project was presented at Medjimurski dvori - the implementation of which is being carried out in cooperation with the company Malo selo (Croatia) and Pannonia Inferior (Hungary). This project is being co-financed by the Interreg V - cross-border cooperation programme involving Hungary and Croatia (2014-2020), and its total value reaches 349,210.00 euros with a support intensity of 75 percent.

Both companies run family restaurants that work to nurture the regional gastronomic offer and tradition and thus represent a tourist attraction in their market.

Partners and investors in the cross-border project Tourex - Marijan Martinjas and Gabor Kovacs emphasised the values ​​of joint development of a new Medjimurje tourist attraction that will contribute to the overall tourism development of the rural areas of both destinations. Rudi Grula, the director of the Tourist Board of Medjimurje County, stressed the importance of mutual support with the aim of sustainable development of tourism in that continental Croatian county.

“The goal of this project is to diversify the tourist offer by developing new products. The ''Zrinski - Guardians of the Past'' project is a jointly designed tourist product, based on local legends and myths. The project will develop common historical and fairy-tale content that will be presented by innovative IT solutions (software and hardware, including augmented reality) that will be available at the locations of project partners. This kind of tourist product will complement the existing catering and hospitality offer and provide facilities for the arrival and longer stay of guests at these destinations,'' say the organisers.

The gastronomic brand ''Zrinski'' will present a new, joint cross-border gastronomic tourism product that will be used in restaurants on both sides of the Croatian-Hungarian border. As part of this activity, the ''Zrinski'' cookbook will be published, which will include several recipes of specialties prepared in the restaurants of the project partners.

The main goal of the new Medjimurje tourist attraction Fairytale Forest is to offer an active, fun and educational holiday to children, families and travellers of all ages, establishing a connection with nature that many of us have lost as a result of living in the fast-paced modern world.

Veronika Aurora Zrinski and Juraj Zrinski will lead you through the Fairytale Forest and introduce you to its mysterious inhabitants. The Fairytale Forest Theme Park is intended for families, as well as children of preschool and school age, with the aim of preserving and promoting the sustainable development of natural and cultural heritage.

"We're looking forward to the realisation of the project and we're looking forward to the day when we'll be able to open the doors to our first visitors in August this year," conclude the organisers, Tatjana and Marijan Martinjas.

For more, make sure to check out our travel section.

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Croatia Still Leading, Most Sought After Destination for Austrian Market

April the 6th, 2022 - The Republic of Croatia is still the leading, most sought after holiday destination this summer for the Austrian market, with Austrian tourists ready to bask in the Adriatic sun and swim in the sparkling sea.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, ahead of the main summer part of this year's tourist season, Austrian travel organisers conducted market analyses according to which Croatia is at the very top of the most sought-after foreign destinations for the Austrian market, reports local portal Glas Istre/The Voice of Istria.

Namely, travel organiser Gruber Reisen conducted a survey among its clients and customers, which totalled 1,200 respondents, entitled ''Travel Barometer in 2022'', according to which Croatia is the leading and most sought-after destination for the Austrian market, which shouldn't come as much of a shock to anyone.

"Austria is one of the most important emitting markets for Croatian tourism, and this country is supported by data from a survey according to which as many as 95 percent of Austrians said they want to spend their summer holidays somewhere else in Europe," said Branimir Toncinic, the director of the CNTB Office in Austria, adding that security and safety when in the destination remains an important aspect for the majority of people when booking a trip. Two thirds of Austrians plan to spend 1,500 euros per person.

The results of the survey also show that the will and desire of Austrians to travel is great given that 53 percent of respondents have already booked a trip this year. At the same time, about 65 percent of the respondents said that they'd prefer a beach holiday, ie the sun and the sea are a main a motive for coming, while visits to cities are becoming more interesting to many on the Austrian market and are in second place.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Sunday, 3 April 2022

The Guardian Features Hidden Croatia: Where to Visit Off the Beaten Track

April 3, 2022 - The Guardian recently featured 'hidden Croatia' or the lesser-known gems in the country you should visit this year. 

The British daily The Guardian published an article about Croatia as a tourist destination, emphasizing hidden destinations it recommends visiting this year, including Silba Island, Papuk Nature Park, Tribunj, Mrežnica River, and other locations, the CNTB reported.

This is a special series in The Guardian about hidden destinations worth visiting this year the first of which is dedicated to Croatia.

The article about Croatia and its tourist offer is featured on four pages of the printed edition and online and was created as a result of the cooperation of the CNTB with the editorial board of The Guardian. The Director of the CNTB office in London, Darija Rejić, believes that the publication will reach millions of readers and positively impact the perception of Croatia as a quality, attractive, and sought-after destination.

"This extensive presentation of the Croatian tourist offer and lesser-known sites on four pages is the result of quality cooperation with the editorial board of The Guardian. We are extremely pleased when, with logistical support in the field and quality cooperation with journalists, we, in turn, receive valuable media releases that reach millions of readers, which significantly affects the perception of Croatia as a quality, attractive and sought-after destination," said Reić in detail. 

The_Guardian-objava_0-hidden-croatia.jpeg

The article on Croatia suggests places and destinations for this year's tourist discoveries, natural beauties, distinctive and picturesque towns, and preserved and untouched landscapes of seven lesser-known Croatian regions, said the expert and multi-award-winning journalist Mary Novakovich.

This is how The Guardian thus showcases Tribunj and its rich historical heritage, Papuk Nature Park as a wooded and exciting UNESCO Geopark, the island of Silba for its preservation, the river Mrežnica for its beautiful environment enriched with 93 waterfalls, and the cities Karlovac and Slunj. The journalist also mentioned the Neretva Valley, Dinara Nature Park, and more prominent destinations near these sites and presented the authentic gastronomic offer of local restaurants, the unreal beauty of Croatian beaches, and numerous bike trails.

Rejić also points out that the added value of this publication is confirmed by The Guardian's position as a leader in the growth of online subscribers, with a reach of one million readers in the UK.

For more, check out our travel section.

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

More Czech Tourists in Croatia Expected this Year than in Record 2019

March 30, 2022 - More Czech tourists in Croatia than the record in 2019 are expected this year, which was confirmed by 'Croatian Day' recently held in Prague.

Croatia can expect excellent tourist results from the Czech market this year, even better than in 2019. This is the conclusion of 'Croatian Day' in Prague, a two-day event organized by the Croatian Tourist Board office in the Czech Republic, with the support of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. Croatian Minister of Tourism and Sports Nikolina Brnjac met with Deputy Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Ivan Bartoš and Minister of Education, Youth, and Sports Petar Gazdik, reports Novi List.

The central part of the event was held in the late Renaissance palace Martinický palác with a gala dinner which, along with the Croatian delegation and representatives of the Croatian Embassy led by Ambassador Ljiljana Pancirov, was attended by numerous owners, directors, and representatives of Czech tour operators, agencies and tourism associations. In addition, a press conference was held yesterday, as well as a meeting with tour operators. Minister Brnjac, Kristjan Staničić, director of the Croatian National Tourist Board, Tomislav Fain, president of the Association of Croatian Travel Agencies (UHPA), and Nenad Nizić, president of the Group of Unique Luxury Hotels Stories at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce spoke at the press conference. The press conference was attended by more than 40 Czech journalists and representatives of the most popular media. The business and working part of the program attracted about 50 entities and partners from the Czech tourism sector, including tour operators Fischer and České kormidlo, Czech carrier RegioJet, and many others. 

"Croatia has traditionally been one of the favorite tourist destinations for Czech tourists. We are especially pleased that the Czech market is increasingly recognizing Croatia as a holiday destination outside the summer months, as evidenced by the fact that since the beginning of this year, we hit 98 percent of arrivals and 25 percent more overnight stays compared to the same period in 2019. Apart from the sea and beautiful nature, Croatia is becoming a destination of added value because it offers tourists a higher level of experience, which modern Czech tourists are increasingly looking for. In addition to the offer that is already well known to them, we are continuously developing the segment of luxury tourism. Given the growing demand in this segment of tourism in the Czech market in the coming period, we want to brand Croatia, among other things, as a tourist destination of modern luxury, which in the usual forms offers personalization of arrangements, evaluation of experiences and emotions and personal development through communication with local culture and community," said Minister Brnjac.

Czech journalists were interested in the epidemiological rules in Croatia and whether information on applications would be known in time, but also the date of the Peljesac Bridge opening. By the way, Czech tourists need to have a COVID certificate this year to enter and move around Croatia, i.e., proof that they have been vaccinated or overcame COVID-19, it was explained.

CNTB Director Staničić said that 60 percent of Czech tourists traveling to Croatia for summer vacations come with their families. At the same time, in the future, Croatia wants to be a year-round destination with a rich and diverse offer, both on the coast and the continent, and a goal that attracts tourists of different age groups, especially young people.

A working part of the program was held with the participation of representatives of the Association of Croatian Travel Agencies (UHPA), Stories Group, and Croatia Airlines. They also presented the new line introduced this year on the Prague-Split route, operating every Saturday from early June to the end of September.

After the meetings, Tomislav Fain said that it was time for Croatia to present itself in the Czech market in this way, given that it is one of the top five most critical emitting markets.

"In this way, we have shown respect for the Czech Republic and the guests who come to us from this country. Even though the sun and the sea are still the main reason for the arrival of Czech tourists in Croatia, we as UHPA wanted to emphasize other products and offers," said Fain and added that the partners in the Czech Republic were very interested in the outdoor offer - even an offer of pilgrimage tourism. However, colleagues in the Czech Republic already know Croatia exceptionally well as a destination.

"They know Croatia better than we do. Most of the colleagues at the meeting speak Croatian, which shows how much they respect and value us and how important we are to them. They had excellent bookings until the beginning of the war in Ukraine. After that, they say better than ever. It has slowed down a bit, but they are still very, very satisfied, especially those who specialize only in Croatia. We hope this visit will bring additional positive PR and arouse even more interest in coming to our country," concluded Fain.

Dubravko Miholić, director of the CNTB Representation in the Czech Republic, said that Croatia was one of the Czech's favorite foreign destinations, shown by the tourist traffic achieved in recent years, and their loyalty was especially pronounced during the last two pandemic years. The Czechs are increasingly looking for higher category accommodation facilities in hotels and camps, and Croatian continental destinations also record an increase in interest. And most Czechs still come to Croatia by car. 

"Last year, the Czechs achieved more than five million overnight stays, which represents an excellent 97 percent of the results from the record 2019. This confirms that we recovered very quickly in this market. At the same time, this year, given the excellent announcements, we expect even better results, including growth in tourist traffic, i.e., a full recovery and return to pre-pandemic trends," concluded Miholić.

The CNTB's representative office director in Prague said that many Czech guests should not be expected for the upcoming Easter and that the most significant arrivals are expected in July and August. He also pointed out that Croatia's biggest competitors are Greece, Italy, Spain, Slovakia, Austria, and Germany, where the Czechs could go on holiday this year. Miholić said that both Turkey and Hungary are conducting solid campaigns on the Czech market. According to information from Croatian Day in Prague, this year, we should expect excellent occupancy on RegioJet trains, which will again have railway lines to Rijeka and Split.

For more, check out our travel section.

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

23,000 Zagreb Overnight Stays Realised During Festival of Lights

March the 30th, 2022 - Zagreb overnight stays have been very impressive over the Festival of Lights period, with 23,000 of them having been realised in the capital.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, according to the Zagreb Tourist Board (TZGZ), during the Zagreb Light Festival, arrivals increased by 179 percent, while the number of Zagreb overnight stays increased by 117 percent when compared to the same period last year.

As such, during the fourth edition of the Festival of Lights, in the period from the 16th to the 20th of March, 10,876 arrivals and 23,072 Zagreb overnight stays were registered. Most arrivals were from people coming from other parts of Croatia, followed by those from neighbouring Slovenia, Italy, Germany, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, and as far as Zagreb overnight stays were concerned, most guests were also from other parts of Croatia, followed by visitors from Italy, Germany, the USA, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia.

"We're very pleased with the results achieved, the interest and especially the comments on the organisation of this year's edition of the Zagreb Light Festival.

We also received the preliminary results from our online promotional campaigns which took place on the markets of Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Hungary, Germany, Slovenia and Serbia, according to which the festival's ads racked up more than 43 million views. Our advertorials have been read more than 76,000 times, and the leading markets are Slovenia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

During these continued uncertain and difficult times, it was a real challenge to organise the Zagreb Festival of Lights, so I'd once again like to thank all of the partners and institutions that helped us in its realisation. Thank you to those of you who live here and thank you to our visitors for all the words of support and praise, and I'd like to especially thank the residents of Lower and Upper Town (Donji and Gornji grad) for their understanding for the occasional crowds that were created,'' said Martina Bienefeld, the director of TZGZ.

For more, make sure to check out our travel section.

Sunday, 27 March 2022

Most Numerous Croatian Easter Guests From Nearby Countries

March the 27th, 2022 - The most numerous Croatian Easter guests so far are coming from nearby and neighbouring countries, and this figure also includes Croatian residents visiting other parts of the country themselves.

We recently wrote about the Croatian 2022 pre-season not turning out (at least so far) quite how predictions and expectations seemed not so long ago. With private accommodation owners worrying about the state of affairs on the run up to summer, luxury travel agencies have a slightly different picture.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, the number of reservations made by Croatian guests is systematically growing from year to year, meaning that for the upcoming Easter break, Croats and residents of Croatia, along with Germans and Slovenes, will make up the largest number of guests, as was reported by one travel agency for luxury accommodation - Croatia Luxury Rent.

According to their current sales statistics, Germans lead the percentage of total bookings with a share of 23%, followed by the neighbouring Slovenes with 19%, Czechs with 13%, then Austrians with 12%, and Croats with 11% of the share. However, the Czech market is experiencing the biggest growth compared to the otherwise key emitting markets, meaning that the Czechs will be at the very top in terms of Croatian Easter tourism numbers for 2022.

The largest number of guests who have booked their accommodation on the Adriatic and partly in the interior/continental part of the country during the Easter holidays are coming from the emitting markets of Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Austria.

In addition to these markets, the total share is completed by the Italians, Hungarians, Slovaks and Serbs, while a significantly smaller percentage will be made up by visitors from France, Switzerland and neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina.

At the top of the list of the most numerous guests during last year's Easter holidays were Croatian guests, which was to be expected due to the events caused by the coronavirus pandemic at the time. This year's sale of Easter holiday arrangements has produced, as they say, an interesting situation according to which Central Dalmatia is systematically growing, much like it did last year, in terms of the number of reservations made, meaning that it is closer to Istria and Kvarner, which were otherwise very well known for Croatian Easter tourism.

This form of growth trend began to gain momentum during last year's post-season, but continued with a surprising jump during the Christmas and New Year holidays: Central Dalmatia at one point was on par with the number of reservations made up in Istria. Further development confirmed the unquestionability of Istria's popularity, which took the expected lead during the last ten days before the holidays, in other words, things returned to their earlier standards.

Looking at the current regional division of the number of reservations, Istria is rather unsurprisingly at the top with 41% share, followed by Dalmatia and the islands with 30%, Kvarner with 19%, and the mainland and the far south, which accounts for the remaining 10%. It's worth noting that the type of technology that encourages and improves tourism has significantly raised the level of service quality, meaning that renters are more or less forced to continuously invest in their accommodation, follow current trends and expand aspects of their offer that will allow them to stand out more and be recognised.

For more on Croatian Easter tourism, check out our travel section.

Saturday, 26 March 2022

Renters Worried, Croatian 2022 Pre-Season Worse Than Expected

March the 26th, 2022 - Renters have become concerned and are biting their nails at the fact that the Croatian 2022 pre-season isn't quite what was expected as yet. Could hopes for Easter tourism be dashed?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, according to local Zadar portal Zadarski.hr, due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, Croatia will likely have much fewer guests over the Easter period than we had hoped.

''It’s hard to say how much fewer people there will be than expected, but I'm hearing that these days, the cancellations of some larger groups who had Easter reservations are slowly trickling in. Personally, I had a lot of reservations in April and May, but everything in April ended up being cancelled. Everything is changing from day to day,'' said Martina Nimac Kalcina, president of the Family Tourism Association at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), when asked about the potential number of tourists we could expect in Dalmatia over Easter.

Since February the 24th and the beginning of the Russian invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, everything has changed. Until then, the Ministry of Tourism and Sport confirmed, the dynamics of reservations and announcements for the main part of the tourist year were at a record level, such as what was experienced back in pre-pandemic 2019, and in some segments even ten percent better. The current geopolitical situation related to Ukraine, rising energy prices and inflation have somewhat affected tourism news, but it is good, the ministry said, that reservations haven't stopped entirely. The same has been being said by the president of the Family Tourism Association at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce.

"The situation isn't as catastrophic as the pandemic caused it to be, but the war in Ukraine has slowed down reservations a lot. The Croatian 2022 pre-season is incomparably worse than it should have been. Everything started out well after the New Year, and then, literally from the first bombing of Ukraine, it slowed down sharply. On the same day, inquiries stopped arriving and after a few days they started reappearing, but very slowly. There have been no cancellations for large numbers of people, but there are for the Croatian 2022 pre-season.

Those cancellations have been coming from everywhere - from America, most of them from Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia… Some Americans are still planning to come here, but there are very few of them, incomparably fewer than they should be, because Croatia's position on the map of Europe looks close to Ukraine and Russia,'' said Nimac Kalcina, noting that unlike private accommodation, which is already feeling the effects of the war in Ukraine, there have been cancellations in the case of cruises so far.

However, she believes that the main tourist season will be very good if the situation with the war in Ukraine doesn't escalate.

"I hope that our season will be full, there are reservations, new ones are still coming in. Renters who have more attractive facilities shouldn't be worried, but it's a question of people's length of stay, the Croatian 2022 pre-season, the post-season… All cards are now on the table… Because as people's travel dates approach and the situation in Ukraine fails to calm down, tourists simply cancel their reservations. It's understandable that people postpone making decisions about holiday dates because they can see that the situation isn't changing. An additional problem is that the war brings even higher inflation,'' said Nimac Kalcina in an interview with Zadarski.hr.

"Nothing drastic is happening here," said Bojan Milicevic, a spokesman for the Le Meridien Lav hotel in Podstrana near Split, adding that there had been "some very minor cancellations, several small groups directly linked to the Ukrainian and Russian markets." The only noticeable drop has been the booking of individual guests from distant destinations such as America. However, they aren't expecting any major problems from the European markets at the Le Meridien Lav hotel, provided, of course, that the war situation doesn't escalate.

"We don't have any cancellations from any European guests. Things look pretty good to us when it comes to the state of reservations being made. Of course, the Americans are our pretty strong guest segment that we need to keep an eye on. But, in general, our picture looks good thanks to regular guests from Scandinavia and Western Europe, who, along with the Americans, are our most numerous guests. We'll see. It should be borne in mind that a lot has changed, as have booking trends, once Americans planned trips a year in advance. The coronavirus pandemic has changed all that, now it is no longer the case,'' Milicevic concluded.

For more, check out our travel section.

Monday, 21 March 2022

Croatian Tourism Companies Learning From Mistakes as Easter Approaches

March the 21st, 2022 - Have Croatian tourism companies finally begun to engage in a little self-reflection and started learning from their past mistakes following the last two unprecedented years dominated by a global pandemic and now a war in Europe? It seems so, and just in time for Easter.

As Novac/Jutarnji/Barbara Ban writes, the currently great uncertainty all over Europe over the war raging in Ukraine has slowed bookings down, but that doesn’t mean the summer season this year will be bad. Moreover, the latest global analyses presented this week at the Berlin Tourism Fair ITB show that the demand for holidays and travel is higher than last year and of course higher than it was back during 2020, and that tourist traffic across Europe this year will be at 90 percent of what was recorded back in pre-pandemic 2019.

The Germans, the British, the Americans and the Dutch will more than likely travel the most. Croatian tourism companies and some of the largest hoteliers in the country are sticking to this idea, noting that due to the situation currently playing out in Eastern Europe following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, booking has been slowed down, but there have been no cancellations. They have already started hiring staff earlier so that they don't have the same dire situation with the workforce as they did last year, and now there are struggles for every worker. They raised salaries by 15 percent, and for some deficient occupations, by up to 50 percent.

No cancellations

Marina Cvitic from the Trade Union of Istria, Kvarner and Dalmatia, says that they are preparing for the upcoming tourist season as if it would be a normal one, especially in the more northern part of the Adriatic, since it is a destination many people drive to.

''Regarding the war in Ukraine, for now, no one is too worried when it comes to booking. It's true when they say that booking has slowed down for now, however, there are no cancellations and that's good. It's obvious that last minute bookings will be even more pronounced this year. That's why employment started going very well in March because everyone is preparing for Easter, which is just around the corner now.

Employers in Croatian tourism companies don't want the same situation that happened last year to happen again, when chaos ensued due to high levels of caution when hiring in the peak season. Just by looking at the media and the Croatian tourism companies in the network, it's clear that there are issues being experienced by companies in the labour market. Every fifteen days or so, companies advertise and repeat the conditions under which workers will be employed. From this it can be concluded that they haven't yet secured a sufficient number of employees for the peak tourist season. Although the agreed wage increases for this year are more significant than in the years before the pandemic when the maximum increase was 2 - 4 percent, and during the pandemic wages stagnated, due to the impact of inflation reaching a record 6.3 percent, wages will not significantly affect the standard of the workers. Despite the fact that in most companies, the price of labour has been agreed upon and despite the fact that costs are rising for companies too, I'm afraid that employers will have to tighten their belts further during the season if they want to work it all and settle for less profit than what they're used to,'' Cvitic pointed out.

Old mistakes

She added employers in Croatian tourism companies and the overall hospitality industry could pay a high price for repeating tired old mistakes. She explained that, except for the last two pandemic-dominated years, all Croatian tourism companies have achieved very good results, had a profits reaching the millions and that the owners "pulled out" that money through dividends and that investments were made in raising the quality of facilities and new acquisitions.

''There was money for everything, but not for the workers. Not to mention that there was no higher employment for an indefinite period of time at all. On the contrary, the number of full-time employees only decreased as older workers retired by natural outflow. Not to mention that incentive severance pay has stimulated older but still able-bodied workers to leave companies. In such conditions, our experienced tourism workers, and even full-time workers, who are highly valued, left Croatia and unfortunately, although we warned of it, nobody was worried about that,'' Cvitic added.

She explained that now the situation is completely different and that after two years of the pandemic, Croatian tourism companies have drastically lower profits, the results are much weaker than they were before the pandemic, and salary increases and other material rights being offered to employees as a lure are much higher.

''So, now that there isn't much money, much more is being allocated for workers than was allocated when there was room to do so. On the other hand, employees are now aware of their roles and often set conditions they never thought of before, such as their desire for two days off a week, one-shift work, and, of course, unions now see the opportunity and are trying to direct wage policy, as well,'' Cvitic stated.

Salary increases

She noted that this year's salary increase is up to 15 percent, and for some deficient occupations, that increase rises up to as much as 50 percent, and that the maximum non-taxable amounts are planned for the amount of 5,000 kuna. There is also free food, a tax-free Christmas bonus of 3,000 kuna and a gift of 600 kuna.

If employers had treated their workers like that ten years ago, if they'd hired workers for an indefinite period of time as they do now, if they'd hired permanent seasonal workers as they do now, if they'd rewarded seasonal workers even after the season was over as they are doing now, we wouldn't be experiencing any of the issues we now are. With all the increases in wages and income, they would have a Croatian workforce that is of better quality, but also cheaper, and there would be no need to try to import foreign workers,'' Cvitic believes.

She believes that the situation we experienced during the last summer season will not be repeated, when due to the lack of workers, some Croatian tourism companies, hotels and restaurants didn't even bother to open their doors.

For more, check out our business section.

Thursday, 10 March 2022

Business Survival in Question Without Croatian Tourism Sector Wage Increase

March the 10th, 2022 - Without an increase in Croatian tourism sector employee wages, the very existence of some companies and businesses could well be called into question, especially following two years of coronavirus-induced stagnation.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, after two years of stagnation in the material rights of workers in the Croatian tourism sector, this year, all major domestic tourism companies have decided to make a significant step forward in increasing the material rights of their workers.

Valamar, Plava Laguna, Aminess, Maistra, Jadran and LRH will all pay their employees the maximum non-taxable amount as allowed by current tax regulations, and their salary increase will be from 5.5 to as much as 50 percent for certain jobs.

The main reason is the chronic shortage of workers who began to threaten the survival of this sort of business, as was pointed out by the unions in the Croatian tourism sector. Although the unions welcomed the decisions of these employers in the announcements that have been being made over recent days, they still made sure to note that they were forced to take this route, and it isn't because of some deep desire to do so.

They also noted that last year, due to the uncertain tourist season until the summer arrived, accompanied by a lack of workers, workers' rights were violated on a large scale.

The unions and the inspections were biting their nails often because that year was difficult for everyone, but this year there will be no procrastination, Marina Cvitic, president of the Trade Unions of Istria, Kvarner and Dalmatia, explained.

"We do need to be honest and say that this increase in wages is primarily the result of the situation on the labour market. From 2010 to 2019, salaries increased from 2 to a maximum of 4 percent. At that time, all companies operating within the Croatian tourism sector achieved very good results with a profit of millions, acquisitions were made, investments were made in facilities, there was money for everything except the employees. As such, there was no major employment for an indefinite period, on the contrary, the number of permanently employed workers only decreased as the elderly retired,'' recalled Marina Cvitic.

All this drove these workers out of Croatia, not only seasonal workers, but also permanent, very high quality workers. At the time when the migration of workers within the EU was made possible, many workers emigrated.

"At the end of last year alone, it could be sensed that employers intended to be much more generous this year compared to the years before the pandemic. So today we have a situation in which companies within the Croatian tourism sector have poorer results than they did before the pandemic, and yet employee salary increases and other material rights are much higher. The attitude towards workers in most companies has changed significantly. Back at the end of 2021, the number of workers on permanent contracts increased significantly. The number of permanent seasonal workers who are allowed to have an employment relationship and certain incomes throughout the year has also increased.

As a rule, a contract is no longer concluded with seasonal workers for a month or two, but for a longer period of time. One-time non-taxable awards are usually given in the most intense seasonal months,'' explained Cvitic.

The union attributes a significant role to itself in creating this wage policy, including an initiative to provide free meals to local workers, and to make adjustments to transportation fees. However, violations of workers' rights are still almost normal among small employers.

For more, check out our business section.

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