Wednesday, 16 March 2022

Ministry: Current Situation Affecting Tourism Demand To Some Extent, Bookings Good

ZAGREB, 16 March 2022 - The current geopolitical situation regarding the war in Ukraine, the growth of prices of energy products and inflation are affecting demand in the tourism sector to some extent, but bookings have not stopped, the Croatian Tourism and Sports Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

The ministry issued the statement following a regular online meeting held this week between Minister Nikolina Brnjac and heads of Croatian Tourism Board (HTZ) offices abroad.

Bookings for Croatian destinations have not stopped despite the current geopolitical situation, the heads of the HTZ offices said, noting that by 24 February, when the Russian invasion of Ukraine started, the booking dynamic and announcements for the peak tourist season were at the level of the record year 2019 and that in some segments they were around 10% better.

According to data from the HTZ eVisitor system, in the first two months of this year 410,000 tourists visited Croatia, generating slightly more than 1.2 million overnight stays, which are increases of 98% and 83% respectively compared to the same months of 2021.

Almost half the arrivals, 196,100, were foreign visitors, which is an increase of as much as 371.2% compared to the first two months of 2021, and they generated 721,000 overnight stays, an increase of 187%.

The most numerous foreign visitors were Slovenians, visitors from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austrians and Germans.

 

Politics: For more, check out our politics section.

 

Thursday, 3 February 2022

Minister Says Bookings in Tourism Sector Good, Vaccination Rate Must Be Higher

ZAGREB, 3 Feb 2022 - Minister Nikolina Brnjac and tourism sector representatives warned on Thursday about the need to have a higher rate of vaccination against COVID-19 in the country, calling on the sector and other stakeholders to be responsible so as to maintain the current good situation with bookings.

The tourism minister and officials said this after this year's first session of the Council for Tourism Development and Recovery, at which Brnjac informed sector representatives about work on a new tourism strategy and new developments regarding labor.

Brnjac said a new online system for the registration and import of workers would be put into operation on 1 March, which would expedite the process.

Speaking of the new rules of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), on which a country's color now also depends on the vaccination rate, Brnjac said that the vaccination rate in the Mediterranean is already much higher than in Croatia.

"Even though the vaccination rate in the tourism sector is around 70% and the sector was among the first to respond to the vaccination campaign, we call for maintaining a responsible approach because it is vital to avoid ending up as a dark red zone," she said.

Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) assistant director Marija Bubaš said that all EU countries were now dark red on the ECDC map but that most that had a higher vaccination rate were expected to see a larger drop in infections than Croatia.

Hoteliers worried despite good booking

Even though the situation with bookings for this year's tourist season, notably summer, is good, the head of the Hoteliers Association at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), Josipa Jutt Ferlan, said hoteliers were worried about the increase in infections as well as the rising energy and other prices.

"We are actually again back to square one and we hope that all our efforts to fight the pandemic will not go to waste. One should really work on raising the awareness that the vaccination rate is insufficient and needs to be higher. That is why it is still too early to say if the start of the tourist season will be good or not," she said.

The head of the UHPA association of travel agencies, Tomislav Fain, said that the booking for this season was good and even better than for 2019, but he, too, warned that agency and other bookings in tourism and travel, in general, depend much on rules restricting travel, calling for making those rules uniform.

H​​​e also thanked the government for continuing its job-keeping support for travel agencies.

For more, check out our politics section.

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Friday, 14 January 2022

Tonči Glavina: Success During Challenging 2021 Croatian Tourism Season Due to Good Prep

January 14, 2022 - Tonči Glavina, State Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, believes that 2021's success is due to excellent tourist season preparation.

Despite all the challenges, the last tourist year achieved extraordinary results. Considering the circumstances, and compared to the results in 2020, slightly less than 70 percent of arrivals and 80 percent of overnight stays were recorded in 2021 compared to 2019. 

Slobodna Dalmacija spoke with Tonči Glavina, State Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, who believes that the success stems from the excellent preparation for the tourist season.

"And I intentionally say season, not tourist year, because, unfortunately, due to the flourishing pandemic and travel restrictions, we didn’t have a pre-season. But, nevertheless, a great effort was made by practically the entire Government of the Republic of Croatia, headed by the Prime Minister. We were the first EU member to open borders for tourists from third countries, the first country to introduce the EU digital COVID certificate, we managed the health crisis by being in the "safe" zone for most of the tourist season, we vaccinated tourism workers, provided a large number of tourist testing points, co-financed antigen tests for tourists, we were among the first and one of the few who provide tourists with vaccinations," says the Secretary of State, recalling that the Minister of Tourism established the Council for Recovery and Development of Tourism, the implementation of tourism in 2021 and improving the tourism offer, which brought together all relevant stakeholders in the tourism sector.

The Ministry designed and implemented the "Safe stay in Croatia" project, which resulted in one million visitors to a website translated into ten world languages, with about 17,000 labels and an award for media promotion of security of the Croatian Association of Security Managers.

"Minister Nikolina Brnjac visited and presented the "Safe Stay" project in our emitting markets, and with this project, we branded Croatia as a safe destination. In 2021, we also paid great attention to domestic tourists and year-round tourism, and accordingly, the Ministry initiated and launched the first national campaign, "Experience local. Explore rural Croatia!" Glavina added.

Aware of the importance of tourism for the whole country, the Government has provided special measures to help the tourism sector, not only in preserving jobs (which was vital for the tourism sector) but also providing state aid to companies in the tourism and sports sector through the Program granting state aid in the form of guarantees to the tourism and sports sectors in the pandemic. For the Program, with a total value of 1.5 billion kuna, the threshold of allowed aid was subsequently increased to 1.8 million euros. Furthermore, the duration of support was extended until the last day of this year. Therefore, it is not unimportant to say that by November 2021, state guarantees had been issued under the program for as many as 156 companies.

In the sea of ​​numbers and dizzying amounts, it is essential to say that HRK 36 million has been provided through a public call for support to travel agencies and travel organizers. In addition, the sector was relieved of HRK 118 million by adopting the Ordinance on deferral or exemption from paying tourist tax, Ordinance on the exemption from paying tourist tax for persons using the overnight service on a nautical tourism vessel (sailors), Ordinance amending the Ordinance on annual lump sum membership fees for persons providing catering services in the household and on family farms and the Tourist Board forms for paying membership fees to the Tourist Board. All of this was of great importance to entrepreneurs and our private renters.

On top of all this, I must highlight and praise our entire tourism sector, which has once again shown resilience and was one of the main generators of good economic results in 2021, and this is confirmed by record GDP growth," said the Secretary of State.

Europe also recognized the effort and work of our tourism workers; for the first time, a package of direct grants from EU funds was provided for the tourism sector, worth HRK 2.2 billion. The Ministry held eight workshops for potential beneficiaries within the NPOO in Osijek, Varaždin, Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik, Rijeka, Pazin, and Zagreb about 3,000 interested stakeholders participated live and online. A database with a questionnaire on the status of projects has been established. For better preparation through webinars, guidelines for project preparation, examples of good practice, and a B2B platform for connecting investors and suppliers in the tourism sector were presented.

This year, Croatia was very active in foreign policy in terms of tourism.

"In addition to our very active role in the EU institutions in facilitating tourist travel in the second pandemic year. This year, we also achieved great international success by electing a member of the Executive Council of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for the period 2021-2025 during the session of the 66th meeting of the Regional Commission for Europe in Athens. In addition, the Republic of Croatia took over the Committee on Tourism and Sustainability chairmanship from 2021 to 2023. As a result, the reputation and influence of the Republic of Croatia in the EU and the world in tourism policy are constantly growing. Therefore, we will use every opportunity to put tourism topics and policies that are important to us on the agenda," reveals Glavina.

There will be significant changes in the system of tourist boards. Announcing vacancies for directors of all levels of tourist boards is topical, as well as the new Ordinance on special conditions for employees in tourist boards and the Law on Tourist Boards adopted in 2019, and provisions relating to the selection, appointment, and the statuses of directors of tourist boards come into force on the first day of next year.

"As far as ordinances and laws are concerned, I must remind you that before the pandemic in 2019, the reform of the legal framework began. It is focused on the sustainability and professionalization of the tourist board system, where directors will have a four-year term. The aim of these reforms is, among other things, to make the tourism market more accessible and competitive, and to provide an opportunity for all those who can contribute to the best positioning of Croatia as a sustainable and responsible tourist destination to try and achieve it, with clearly defined conditions. The draft rulebook also gives the opportunity to apply for the position of director to persons who have work experience in management positions outside the field of tourism, but in that case, twice as many years of work experience are required as for persons who have work experience in tourism," concludes Glavina.

For more, check out our dedicated travel section.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Rural Tourism in Croatia: Another Ace For the Season

April 22, 2021 - While this year's season is still leaving the country in suspense, another advantage for successful results can be seen in the development of rural tourism in Croatia.

Numerous experts and scientists participated earlier this month in an online panel „Quality and Sustainability in Rural Tourism“, reports Klubselo.hr, an official website of the Croatian Association for Tourism and Rural Development. This is just one part of the Quality and Sustainability in Rural Tourism project backed by the Ministry of Tourism. The project concluded on April 15, and it saw panels, education, and a concluded study of management in rural tourism to help the development of the field.  

It's established that introducing quality standards and a special law on rural tourism is needed. 

„The Croatian wine scene has strongly developed. We can't compete with quantity, but we can with quality and richness of wine sorts, particularly native sorts which the world craves for more and more“, said faculty professor in Zagreb, Edi Maletić, for Klubselo.hr Agronomy.

Quality over quantity can, of course, be applied to rural tourism in general. That particular field saw raised interest with the novel coronavirus pandemic as tourists are now more interested in loneliness, peace, and authenticity.

Božo Skoko, an expert on PR and marketing and a professor at the Faculty of Political Science in Zagreb, says that traveling limitations encourage exploration of rural areas and consumption of local products. 

„Crisis is an opportunity for further touristic development. New norms and behavior rules appeared. We have more free time for family, contemplating, hobbies, meditation… social responsibility and ecological consciousness arise, and these factors have a more and more significant role in choosing destinations“, said Skoko to Klubselo.hr.

Dijana Katica, president of the Croatian Association for Tourism and Rural Development, says that there is a lot to learn from Italy, France, and Austria who have a long tradition of rural tourism.  

„Big attention is given to quality standards that aim at the diverse offer, specialization of services and to guarantee quality to users which are measured by elaborated standards“, describes Katica of the practice of the three mentioned countries. 

vacation_house_Slavonka_-c-Hrvatska_udruga_za_turizam_i_ruralni_razvoj_Klub_članova_Selo.jpg

Vacation House "Slavonka" © Hrvatska udruga za turizam i ruralni razvoj "Klub članova Selo"

Hard work for season preparation already done

Croatia is trying to secure the uncertain season of 2021. While destinations as Vir seems to hold quite good, the overall strategy of vaccination and testing points by the Croatian Tourist Board is seen as a good way to make people safe while visiting Croatia. Apart from that, as TCN already reported, a lot is investing in health tourism, nautical tourism sees the digitalization of its system for easier arrival, and local initiatives in Novalja are also committed to expanding its offer further from party tourism of Zrće beach.

No doubt that further development of rural tourism can only be a hidden ace for the 2021 season rescue. And the still relevant Touch of Baranja photo exhibition in Zagreb is the first step of a specific action. 

As Croatian wine is one of the more developed parts of the rural offer, learn more about Croatia's wine on our TC page

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

Monday, 1 February 2021

Tourism Ministry Announces Campaign for 'Safe Stay in Croatia' Label

February 1, 2021 – The Ministry of Tourism and Sport will launch a campaign for the "Safe Stay in Croatia" label in mid-February, which will show tourists that Croatia applies health and safety protocols during the coronavirus pandemic.

After announcing that the Ministry was preparing a "Safe travel" label for the upcoming tourist season, Minister of Tourism and Sports Nikolina Brnjac confirmed today that they would start the campaign in mid-February.

Tourism must show adaptability and responsibility

As Hina reports, apart from tourist entities for which this label is intended, airlines, gas stations, various tourist facilities, cultural and natural attractions will also use it. The protocols will be harmonized with the recommendations of the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ). It will also include a sticker with a QR code that can be displayed in a visible place. As part of the promotion, a special website will also be launched.

The Ministry will assign and keep the labels free of charge and monitor their application with associations.

"In addition to the application of these protocols, important preconditions for achieving tourist results are a favorable epidemiological situation, a sufficient level of vaccination, and the perception of destination security. Croatia was recognized for that last year. We will continue to work on it in 2021. Due to the pandemic, the tourism sector will again have to show creativity, adaptability, responsibility, and cooperation," said the Minister.

Adherence to global standardized health protocols

Noting that the introduction of these labels is an important wheel in branding Croatia as a safe destination, the Minister expects that by Easter, it will contribute to the promotion, recalling that it is essential to continue to adhere to epidemiological recommendations and measures.

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Source: Pixabay

The labels are a national upgrade of last year's "Safe Travel" labels of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) to make it easier to identify destinations and companies that adhere to global standardized health and hygiene protocols. The Croatian Ministry of Tourism and Sport immediately got involved. Harmonization of safety protocols for restaurants, hotels, family farms, holiday homes, beaches, marinas, boats, travel agencies, rent-a-car, tourist guides was one of the first tasks of the Council for the Repair and Development of Tourism.

Slow vaccine distribution not in favor of tourism trends

Minister Brnjac said that the vaccine is excellent news for tourism. Vaccination of tourism workers, for which about 70 percent of them are interested in Croatia, will play an important role in tourism promotion and results.

She says the slow distribution of vaccines and vaccinations, the new strain of the virus, and the growing number of infections in Europe and the world, are not in favor of tourism trends. It is necessary to open borders and overcome the psychological barrier of fear to travel again. It is encouraging that the EU insists on an agreement on the quantity and dynamics of vaccine delivery.

"We hope that in Croatia, as in other EU member states, a good initial vaccination rate will continue. Given the current situation with the vaccine at the EU level, Croatia's position is to insist on talks with pharmaceutical companies on the agreed quantity and dynamics of vaccine delivery," adds Brnjac.

Among other things, Croatia is in contact with representatives of other EU member states. At the moment, all EU member states want to speed up vaccination.

coronavirus-5185259_1280.jpg

Source: Pixabay

Regarding the introduction of measures for tourist arrivals and border crossings, the Minister recalls that EU leaders agreed to work on a standardized form of evidence of vaccination in compliance with EU data protection regulations. This certificate would, for the time being, be used exclusively for medical purposes.

"For crossing Croatia's border, a negative PCR test result not older than 48 hours should be presented, or PCR testing should be performed immediately upon arrival (at one's own expense), with the obligation of self-isolation until a negative result. If it is impossible to test, a self-isolation measure will last for ten days. Further measures will be subject to the course of the epidemiological situation in Croatia, but also specific markets," said the Minister.

Croatia recommended destination for 2021

In the current situation, the Minister considers it's good that the people from foreign markets are eager to travel. It's even better that Croatia is mentioned as a desirable destination, thanks to the proximity to many markets and good transport links, especially road.

"This year, we expect a distinct 'last-minute' demand and demand for safe, fast, and easily accessible destinations, as well as accommodation that provides additional security such as holiday homes, on boats, in camps, and staying outdoors in nature. There are expectations from domestic tourists, who can be a driver of tourism, as well as from the cooperation with the European Association of Travel Agencies and Tour Operators (ECTAA), according to which Croatia in 2021 has the status of a selected and recommended destination," says the Minister.

She believes that a favorable epidemiological situation will be maintained in Croatia with the adherence to the measures. The tourism sector is ready to prove its responsibility and provide a safe stay this year as well. Through cooperation, knowledge, and experience, Croatia will continue to position itself as a desirable destination for foreign and domestic tourists.

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Saturday, 10 October 2020

340 Offers Presented in Vacation-Worthy Week Campaign Encouraging Domestic Tourism

October 10, 2020 - The Ministry of Tourism and Sport presented the Vacation-Worthy Week campaign earlier this week. From October 16 to 25, domestic and foreign guests are offered various tourist services and experiences at 50 percent off.

HRTurizam reports that the Vacation-Worthy Week online portal contains about 340 valid offers (of which 159 offers are for accommodation) and services at 50 percent off from different parts of Croatia, from the coast to the continent, and an additional 70 applications are being processed.

"This is a long-term project that will be organized twice a year, during the Easter holidays and October. We are glad that the project has aroused the great interest of tourism service providers who are our main partners, and without whose cooperation, this action would not be possible. Through the project, we want to positively influence the increase of tourist traffic before and after the season and the further development of domestic tourism. Through this action, tourists will have the opportunity to visit different parts of Croatia at 50% off for many tourist products and services, from accommodation, transportation, cultural, historical, natural sights and attractions to catering services and various experiences," said director Stanicic, inviting all travel lovers to take advantage of the week of favorable prices, but also all tourist entities to get involved in the action with their offers.

The Minister of Tourism and Sports Nikolina Brnjac also commented on the campaign and said: "I am pleased with the large number of tourist entities and service providers who joined the Vacation-Worthy Week action. We are launching this action because we want to offer domestic tourists the adventure of discovering the riches of autumn in Croatia, and at half the price. Meet, explore, and enjoy Croatia in the off-season and, at the same time, create a story of year-round tourism development with us."

Among the registered entities whose offers are on the portal are, for example, national parks and nature parks such as Plitvice Lakes, Krka, Paklenica, Risnjak, Kopački rit, Papuk, Lastovo archipelago, Žumberak-Samoborsko gorje and Vrana lake, hotels such as Valamar Riviera, Arena Hospitality Group, Marina Punat hotel & resort, Hilton hotels Zagreb, Coronaro hotel, Hotel Petrčane, Importanne resort Dubrovnik, Thalassotherapy Crikvenica, Grand Hotel Lav Split, and others. Travel agencies such as Adriagate, VAL, Terra Travel, Obzor putovanja, etc., also offered their package deals. All lovers of culture, art, but also tourist attractions at significantly reduced prices will be able to enjoy museums such as the Natural History Museum of Rijeka, Croatian Maritime Museum Split, Betina Museum of Wooden Shipbuilding, Museum of Trilj, Archaeological Museum of Narona, but also other facilities such as are Aquatika - Freshwater Aquarium Karlovac, Glavani Park, Solana Nin, Segway city tour Zagreb, Quad Gorski Kotar, and more.

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Friday, 11 September 2020

Luxury Hotel Rooms in Dubrovnik for 50 Euros in October? Let's Go!

Friday 11 September 2020 - As part of the national campaign Tjedan Odmora Vrijedan (Holiday-worthy week) there will be Luxury Hotel Rooms in Dubrovnik for 50 Euros in October. We're signed up! But will others follow?

Luxury Hotel Rooms in Dubrovnik for 50 Euros in October? Idemo (let's go)! In an interview given to dnevnik.hr, assistant mayor of Dubrovnik Jelka Tepšić has confirmed that many businesses in and around Dubrovnik are prepared to sign up to the national Tjedan Odmora Vrijedan (Holiday-worthy week) initiative.

The campaign, conceived by the Croatian Ministry of Tourism, has set aside a week – well, actually just over – in which they are encouraging all within the tourism sector to offer a 50% discount. Covering two weekends, from Friday 16 October to Sunday 25th October, the offer should see some luxury hotel rooms, fabulous meals, and transport carriers offering premium products at half the price. If they sign up.

Luxury hotel rooms in Dubrovnik for 50 Euros in October sounds like a good deal. And it is. During a typical October, visitors are still enjoying the sunny streets of the Old City in Dubrovnik. A luxury hotel at that time would usually cost €200 per night. Because of this year's extraordinary circumstances, those rates are currently €113 per night. Dnevnik.hr, therefore, estimates luxury hotel rooms in Dubrovnik for 50 Euros in October.

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View of the islet Lokrum from Dubrovnik © visitdubrovnik.hr

Dubrovnik is a special case within Croatian tourism. In recent years it has benefitted from its ability to extend its season beyond that which other Croatian destinations can. This is due to its world-famous attributes and excellent marketing. However, being a city linked mostly by charter flights and large cruise ships, it has suffered greater this year than destinations traditionally visited by road users. It's understandable that they would want to optimistically join the initiative.

Some in the tourism sector seem less keen on the initiative. They regard October as too late in the season for such a scheme. Their pessimism may be justified. It has been a much more difficult month to promote for places other than the special case of Dubrovnik – the sea is beginning to see a drop in temperature and in continental regions, the early mornings and evenings in October may necessitate a hoodie and long pants.

But, that's not to say that such destinations couldn't benefit from attracting, in particular, domestic visitors during the initiative week. That is if such homegrown tourists have any holidays remaining. Only time will tell just how widespread the industry will embrace the initiative, and just how beneficial it will be.

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Thursday, 3 September 2020

Ministry of Tourism and Sports to Invest in Construction of 23 Sports Venues

ZAGREB, September 3, 2020 - The Ministry of Tourism and Sports plans to invest almost HRK 10 million this year to co-finance the construction or refurbishment of 23 sports venues throughout Croatia following a call for applications advertised on 31 December 2019, the ministry said on Thursday.

Despite the circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic, this year the ministry will co-finance the reconstruction and construction of sports venues from Dubrovnik to Vukovar in an effort to support local communities and maintain sports infrastructure.

The total amount to be granted is HRK 9,684,096.64.

Since 2018 the reconstruction or construction of 25 sports venues has been conducted including the largest project to build an athletics track in Knin.

The Ministry of Tourism and Sports, which previously was in the remit of the State Central Office for Sport, has invested a total of HRK 21,292,575.70  and with this latest call for applications the investments will amount to HRK 30,976,672.60, the ministry said.

 

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Sunday, 12 July 2020

Cro Card Requested by 1675 Citizens So Far, Number of Discounts Growing

July 12, 2020 - 1,675 citizens have requested the Cro Card, and by July 10, 1,325 were issued. More are expected in the coming days, as the number of discount service providers is expected to increase, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

T.portal reports that Hrvatska poštanska banka (HPB) is taking care of previous requests and issuing the Cro Cards. They are the only ones actively involved out of the three banks that have signed the agreement so far (HPB, Agram banka and POBA), out of seven that applied to MINT's public call.

Other banks will join per their capabilities and business decisions, while employers, craftspeople, the self-employed, freelancers and farmers can join by paying up to HRK 2,500 on this card for their workers, but also to themselves, which is also tax-free for them.

Any natural person can request a card and use it everywhere, all year round.

Since the cards are not issued to companies but citizens, whether they submit the application in agreement with employers who have decided to pay this non-taxable part of the receipt, or independently, MINT cannot say. They state that 'almost all cards issued so far are paid by employers'.

They also state that most cards have been requested and issued in Zagreb so far, noting that citizens are free to open a bank account and request a Cro Card, which they can use throughout Croatia and throughout the year.

Payment with the Cro Card is possible in all catering facilities that provide food preparation and beverage services (restaurants, cafes, fast food, etc.), in all types of accommodation (hotels, camps, boarding houses, private renters, etc.) that accept payment via bank cards (pos devices), for charter services (boat rental) and payment of other services in Croatia through travel agencies (package arrangements, excursions, etc.), emphasizes MINT.

Unlike others, the Cro Card can provide discounts in catering and tourism, which are expected from service providers, whose number is slowly increasing. In the last day or two, the total number of service providers with discounts from 10 to 20 percent increased to eight.

While it started with one restaurant in Zadar, the seven additions are located mostly in the Dalmatia region. By July 12, they are two restaurants and a stone house for accommodation in Zadar and four hotels in Podstrana, Makarska, Dubrovnik and Vrana / Pakostane. A novelty is an offer in continental Croatia, a hotel in Orahovica.

Service providers do not have to sign any special contract for the Cro Card, nor apply to accept it. They decide for themselves how much discount they will give, and if they want, they can show their offer with discounts on the promotional website.

Expectations from the Cro Card for this year are not high due to the corona crisis.

"It started despite everything, we will highlight all service providers who sign up on the web so that users can see where they can achieve the best conditions for consumption, and we believe that there will be more of them, as well as more cards, in the coming days," concluded MINT. 

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 3 July 2020

Ministry of Tourism Spokesperson Claims They Have Nothing To Do with CRO Cards

July 3, 2020 - The latest from the Croatian Ministry of Tourism on the CRO cards project.

Index.hr reports that although the CRO card was supposed to launch on July 1, we still do not know which employers ordered it for their workers. Two years after hearing Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli's statements about the CRO cards and that they will provide between 10 and 21 thousand new jobs and up to 11 billion kuna in new investments, the culmination of the project is seen in yesterday's statement by the Ministry of Tourism spokesperson, Sladjana Vignjevic, who told Index that they have nothing to do with the project.

Index writes that Cappelli’s Ministry was asked clear and specific questions: how many employers ordered CRO cards, where were the cards issued, were they ordered by state-owned companies and which, after which they were simply told that the Ministry of Tourism had nothing to do with the project. 

"Cards are issued, and where exactly - we have nothing to do with it. We have no information about how many cards were issued, and we have nothing to do with it. The Ministry of Tourism did not spend a single kuna on the CRO card project. We only have the information that they have begun. HPB is the first bank to go with this, so contact them with these questions. Banks are the ones who bear the costs of making the CRO cards. We only had a public invitation for all banks to apply for card issuance," Sladjana Vignjevic told Index.

Index also contacted Hrvatska poštanska banka (HPB), but has not yet received a response.

Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli has spoken about CRO cards several times this year. Cappelli said on April 17 that the CRO card would go to print in the next month.

"In June, we can start using it. It's about catering services, accommodation services and agency services. The value is 2,500 kuna, and it is tax-free for employers," Cappelli said.

Then, on April 27, after a video conference of EU tourism ministers on the situation in European tourism, Cappelli said that the CRO card was being prepared.

"The CRO card will be able to be used only in Croatia, HRK 2,500 non-taxable, we will see if we can do something extra in that regard and if additional discounts can be obtained," said Cappelli.

A couple of weeks ago, Cappelli stated that the CRO card will be used from July 1 and that due to the corona, its realization will be somewhat slower.

“But we firmly believe that with the end of the pandemic, this project, as well as the 'A Week's Vacation is Worth It' project will come to life,” Cappelli said on June 10, when he also said the first 30,000 cards had been printed.

Then, on June 14, in Opatija, Cappelli spoke again about the CRO cards. He stated that the possibility of using the CRO card had been extended to private accommodation, package deals and nautical tourism.

“About 40,000 cards are being printed, the first banks have signed a contract and everything starts on July 1,” Cappelli said.

And while it is clear from these statements that the Ministry of Tourism is managing the project, a ministry spokesperson now claims they have nothing to do with it. And doesn't know the answers to these questions.

The only thing that Vignjevic knew specifically was that the public sector is not included, that is, that employees in the public sector will certainly not receive a CRO card. Index reported about this earlier when Labor Minister Josip Aladrovic's attempt to persuade public-sector unions to agree to the payment of recourse on the CRO card instead of cash was refused.

Entrepreneurs also do not want the CRO card, which was confirmed by Hrvoje Bujas, president of the Voice of Entrepreneurs association. His association surveyed entrepreneurs and more than 90 percent of entrepreneurs said they would not give CRO cards to their employees.

Index spoke again with Bujas, who said that they never received an answer from the Ministry of Tourism as to who pays for the CRO card project, nor who ordered 40,000 cards.

"The CRO card has no benefit for either the employer or the worker; there is no idea. If the state, as Slovenia did, put 200 euro on everyone's card, then it would make some sense, and this makes no sense," Bujas said.

Another amazing thing about the CRO cards is the fact that, according to Cappelli's announcements, they were supposed to go into circulation on July 1, and the Association of Croatian Travel Agencies UHP has a meeting on this project at the Ministry of Tourism only next week.

Tomislav Fain, president of UHPA, told Index that they have a meeting with representatives of the Ministry of Tourism next week about additional clarifications for CRO cards.

"This is not a bad project, but in this crisis situation, we cannot expect employers to take those cards this year. I would, honestly, be happy if there are employers who will be able to pay it off. If it was a normal situation, I believe a large number of employers would pay the money on the CRO card, but now they certainly won’t," Fain told Index.

A big opponent of the CRO cards is Marin Medak, president of the National Association of Caterers.

"This project is illogical and incomplete. The cost is passed on to the employer, that the employer gives a bonus. We do not support the way it is set. Well, I wonder who will be able to give it to workers, possibly state-owned companies. And yes, already in December we told the Ministry that we are against the project. Then it was arranged that if, for example, a restaurant wants to be included in the project, it must give discounts, so it was not profitable for us," concluded Medak.

So, the conclusion of all this is that the citizens still do not know how much the CRO cards project cost, who will get the 40,000 cards that were printed, and in the end - will anyone get them at all? Index only found out that the Ministry of Tourism, which proudly announced this project, had nothing to do with it.

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