Thursday, 1 September 2022

Less and Less Slavonian Employees Working on Croatian Coast

September the 1st, 2022 - There are less and less Slavonian employees working along the Croatian coast, particularly in Dalmatia where they were once commonplace in bars, restaurants and in hotels.

As Morski writes, the number of Slavonian employees who work seasonally along the Croatian coast has dropped significantly. For years, Slavonian employees were a kind of "sign" of every summer tourist season along the Adriatic, but that seems to have come to an end.

The statistics of the Osijek Regional Office of the Croatian Employment Service (HZZ), which was the (second) largest pool of seasonal workers for the Adriatic, show that there has been a significant drop in the number of seasonal workers from Eastern Croatia.

During the first seven months of this year, around 1,100 people from Osijek-Baranja County were employed in various seasonal jobs along the coast. Compared to the same period back in 2019, there's been a decrease, as 1,823 people were employed in those jobs back then. The figures were even lower over the past two summer seasons, but these were the unprecedented pandemic-dominated years, which cannot be compared to anything else.

Ankica Vuckovic, head of the Labour Market Department of the Osijek branch of the Croatian Employment Office, concluded that there is less interest in Slavonian employees heading to work at various Adriatic hotels because there is an increasing need for employers in Osijek-Baranja County itself, meaning that much more stable job offers are now available to the unemployed in their own home county through year-round employment.

The strengthening of Croatia's continental tourism is one of the main reasons why there are fewer Slavonian employees now working on the Adriatic coast, but it isn't the only one. Well known Croatian economic analyst Damir Novotny believes that there are three aspects of this reduction. First of all, the costs during the height of the summer season are very high; if an employer doesn't provide workers with accommodation, seasonal employees simply cannot survive.

People from Slavonia aren't ready to live in containers or similar accommodation units, which their employers along the coast intend for them to stay in. Second of all, the wages on the coast are lower than what they can earn in, say, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, which has opened up to Croatian workers and absorbed a lot of labour from here. Higher-quality staff, who speak the languages of those countries, could very easily get a good job in the aforementioned Central European countries, especially in the ''boom'' after the pandemic. There's a great demand for catering, hospitality and tourist services in these countries, so the labour force from Slavonia is mobilised more towards these countries than towards Dalmatia,'' explained Novotny.

He added that the domestic component should not be neglected either, i.e. the increase in the number of small OPGs and family tourist accommodation capacities, which is visible in the entire Danube region, from Baranja to Ilok, as reported by Vecernji list journalist Suzana Lepan-Stefancic/N1.

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

Thursday, 1 April 2021

War Veterans Minister Tomo Medved: Local Hospitality Sector Could Take Over Food Preparation in Quake-Hit Area

ZAGREB, 1 April, 2021 - War Veterans Minister Tomo Medved, who heads the task force dealing with the aftermath of the 29 December earthquake in Sisak-Moslavina County, has said that local communities could take over, through local hospitality service providers, the preparation of meals for people affected by the quake.

This past weekend the Croatian Red Cross (HCK) distributed 21,000 tonnes of food, 14,000 warm meals and 5,675 litres of water, Medved said at a government session on Thursday.

He said that local government units had been suggested to take over, if possible, through local providers of hospitality services, the preparation of meals, which would help local employers and enable employment of local workers.

Medved noted that the state would continue to pay for the meals as long as necessary.

He added that water in the entire area was safe for consumption and that the HCK and the Croatian Firefighters Association were working on pumping out and rehabilitating wells, with 63 wells having been pumped out and 42 rehabilitated.

The local water supply network is being reconstructed and a new network of arterial water mains is being built, he said.

"Requests have been submitted for the removal of 560 buildings and 6,447 requests have been submitted for renovation work," Medved said speaking about the situation three months since the 6.2 magnitude earthquake.

So far, 1,805 housing containers and small houses have been installed and 2,141 have been connected to the power grid.

Five new mobile network stations have been installed to improve mobile signal strength.

By 28 March, 37,954 facilities were inspected, and of them 4,602 were found to be unfit to live in, 8,180 were found to need repair work and 25,000 were found to be fit to live in, Medved said.

For more about earhquake in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Hospitality Guild Welcomes Decision to Open Terraces, Recommends Bailout Measures

ZAGREB, 25 February, 2021 - The hospitality and tourism guild in the Croatian Chamber of Crafts and Trades (HOK) on Thursday welcomed the announcement that bars with terraces will be allowed to reopen, but recommended a series of bailout measures because due to weather conditions, only some establishments will be able to work.

The guild recommended that permits to serve outdoors be extended and for outdoor serving areas to temporarily be expanded where possible.

The guild also asked that the due deadline for VAT be extended to two months for the period that epidemiological measures that restrict business are in force.

Another recommendation is that raw material in hospitality be exempt of VAT due to special circumstances in order to enable cash flow as well as abolishing monthly advance payments on income and profit tax until 31 December 2021. Those tax exemptions would ensure that certain funds remain available to cover current business expenses and ensure liquidity.

They also called for a one-off allowance for the hospitality sector. HOK recommended that the hospitality sector be approved a grant of 3% of their gross 2019 turnover in order to be able to procure basic provisions and prepare for reopening.

The guild advocates that current liabilities be rescheduled by arranging with commercial banks that all of their financial liabilities (principal, interest) on all types of loans be deferred until 2022 or for an additional 12 months after a consensus is reached.

The president of HOK's guild Joso Smolić underscored that bar owners primarily expect the continuation of existing economic measures - jobkeeping measures and allowances for fixed costs while the coronavirus crisis lasts.

Monday, 30 November 2020

Hospitality Sector Appeals for Lower VAT

ZAGREB, November 30, 2020 - Croatia's hospitality sector has the highest VAT in Europe, and Croatia is one of the few countries that has not reduced its VAT during the corona crisis, so the hospitality sector has appealed to the prime minister to help reduce VAT, the head of the national association of bar and restaurant owners, Marin Medak, said on Monday.

"We talked about everything, but Finance Minister Zdravko Maric would not hear of reducing VAT. So we are appealing to the prime minister and government to help us because without it we have no reason to continue working in this crisis, even if we are allowed to reopen at the end of December or in January," Medak said after a meeting at the Ministry of Labour and Pension System between government representatives and representatives of the hospitality sector to discuss the government's latest measures in the new mild lockdown.

The government is set to present the latest measures on Monday. Minister Maric said that the measures related to keeping jobs, relaunching and accelerating the issuance of COVID loans through the SMEs agency Hamag-Bicro and exempting some costs of doing business in December.

Commenting on what the ministers presented and which measures were accepted as compensation for shutting down their businesses, Medak underlined that the measures came too late and that the national COVID response team had failed.

"Everything they are offering us now will not be sufficient, hence we appeal to the prime minister and government to clearly tell us if there is any hope for the future because we no longer have any and we have no idea what will happen in these circumstances. As far as we could see, the ministers themselves do not know what costs we have nor how much the proposed measures will cost the economy. If they were to reduce VAT, which is about HRK 300 million a year, and if that is a problem, then where is the HRK 1.3 billion for COVID loans going to come from, or the HRK 470 million for the monthly allowance of HRK 4,000  to keep jobs," said Medak.

He said that they did not want their workers to live off that, nor off the HRK 4,000 when until now they had paid VAT and all other allowances and fees. He added that now the entire hospitality sector had a lot of problems and many of them believed that it was better not to reopen in January after the measures were lifted because the fall in turnover would continue.

Disappointed with the meeting and the ministers' proposals, the head of the association of bar and restaurant owners from from Istria and Kvarner, Vedran Jakominic, said that they were more "shaken up than satisfied."

He described the proposed measures as a minimum and a mere PR campaign rather than an economic analysis and activity.

Thursday, 26 November 2020

Hospitality Sector Proposes Compensation Measures to Survive Lockdown

ZAGREB, November 26, 2020 - Bar and restaurant owners on Thursday proposed two sets of measures that could help them survive the new lockdown, saying at a conference organised by the Croatian Employers Associations that many would go bankrupt otherwise.

The president of the national association of bar and restaurant owners, Marin Medak, said the first model envisaged long-term compensation by slashing VAT to 5% for three years and to 13% in the long term, and providing job-retention aid until April 2021, i.e. HRK 4,000 per employee and writing off taxes and contributions until 1 May 2021.

They also propose compensation of €10 per square metre of their establishment, COVID loans to ensure liquidity for three years and a moratorium on loan payments for businesses which are not allowed to work.

The second model envisages ensuring revenue for entrepreneurs in the amount of 50% of their turnover at the same time a year ago as a direct grant which would also be used for salaries, including a contribution write-off.

This model also envisages exemption from all fixed liabilities for the duration of the lockdown, including rent and utilities. Bar and restaurant owners also propose exemption from parafiscal levies.

Medak said they acknowledged the extent of the pandemic crisis and were unanimous that the most important thing was to keep their businesses going and prevent layoffs which would ensue without adequate lockdown compensation measures.

The government decided today that as of Saturday, bars and restaurants will be closed until before Christmas.

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Zagreb Mayor Bandic Stands Firm With Capital's Enfeebled Hospitality Sector

October the 21st, 2020 - The coronavirus pandemic has dealt a horrific blow to the world's tourism, travel and hospitality sector, and countries which rely more heavily on attracting foreign tourists have struggled to stay afloat as the virus continues to spread. Croatia is not immune (no pun intended) to these negative trends, and the Croatian hospitality sector is now at its weakest. Zagreb Mayor Bandic has vowed to stand by and support the Croatian capital's suffering hospitality and catering sector.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, following a meeting with Zagreb Mayor Bandic, the president of the National Association of Caterers, Marin Medak, has more than likely reassured many that their demands had been met, according to a report from N1.

"Zagreb Mayor Bandic instructed that the measures for all caterers be extended and that those people are exempted from paying rent and costs for the use of public areas. Those who rent space from the City of Zagreb are also exempt from making payments, their utility/communal fees will be reduced by 30 percent, too. It would be great if the state did the same. We hope that this will continue until the spring,'' said Marin Medak of Milan Bandic's fight for the capital's services.

He pointed out that they demanded that consumption tax also be abolished, that parking spaces near the driveway be vacated if guests only wanted to come and pick up food, that heating be installed on the terraces so that drinks or food could be sold outside to preserve jobs, as well as other certain things that are necessary for the organisation of the wildly popular Advent in Zagreb event. For example, the rule that only caterers may compete for the use of Christmas cottages and that the event goes in terms of having 15 ''little'' advents in the City of Zagreb.

Advent will, at least as things currently stand, continue to be held in Zagreb this festive season, but on a smaller scale than it has been in previous years. Milan Bandic supported the city's worried and downtrodden caterers regarding the latest measures of the National Civil Protection Headquarters, and stated that he will remain shoulder to shoulder in support of them.

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Tuesday, 20 October 2020

As Coronavirus Measures Bite, Croatian Hospitality Sector Worries Intensify

October the 20th, 2020 - More measures have been introduced across the country in an attempt to further curb the infection rate which has risen to record numbers over recent days. As a result, the Croatian hospitality sector is growing ever more concerned about what that means for business and revenue - or indeed a lack of both.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 19th of October, 2020, it has now been a week since the introduction of new epidemiological measures in Croatia. The drop in traffic in cafes and restaurants is steadily increasing, and attendance in some places is a worrying 80 percent lower than usual, reports RTL.

The guild of caterers is aware - the measures must be respected for the health of everyone, but they say that if this continues, they're simply not going to be able to survive. Despite Plenkovic having stated that he has no plans to introduce another lockdown like the one we experienced back in spring, how does the Croatian hospitality sector view the threat of such a move?

After the introduction of new epidemiological measures which regard places like cafes, the owner and the so-called ''corona warden'' was nearly forced to put the key in his facility's lock after thirty long years of operation.

"I specifically told my staff to serve the guests, put whatever they order on the house and then just close the place down. One waiter cried and begged for that not to happen, there's a lump in my throat as I talk about this... he asked me if we can stay like this for thirty more days and adjust to all of the measures,'' said Franz Letica from Zagreb.

Letica's glass is far from half full these days, as he is among those in the Croatian hospitality sector whose traffic and therefore revenue has dropped drastically.

"There's no work, there's no traffic, the bar is empty, I had to fire two people in the meantime," Letica said.

However, Zagreb's Mayor Milan Bandic joined in solidarity with Zagreb's hospitality workers two days ago. The city continues with subsidies - reducing the payment of rents, utilities and abolishing the payment of fees for terraces.

"It will carry on until least until the end of the year, if God forbid it's still necessary, we'll protect our hospitality workers and our entrepreneurs," assured a worried Bandic. A slightly more optimistic picture can be found on the terrace and inside the Split restaurant, but when things are looked at on a monthly basis, it's far from last year's figures.

"For September there was a drop of about 80 percent, for October it will certainly be more than 60 percent, and for November... I don't know what to tell you, it all depends on what the weather will be like, everything depends on that,'' Domagoj Curkovic, a restaurant manager in Split explained.

The Guild of Caterers says that without the repeated help of the state, a large number of cafes and restaurants will be forced to close down.

"It's very difficult to endure it all in this way. If the number of positive people grows, we can expect closures, and without the help of the state, then tax measures aren't enough, we'll also need non-refundable funds ", said Joso Smojic from the guild of caterers and tourist workers of HOK.

A new lockdown is not an option at this time.

"We're aware of what closing the economy means. For now, we have no plans for any new lockdown, it is not on the agenda,'' assured Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.

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