Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Tourism Ministry Grants €2.07m to 307 Travel Agencies Hit by Coronavirus Crisis

ZAGREB, 15 Sept, 2021 - The Tourism and Sports Ministry has approved HRK 15.55 million in aid to help 307 travel agencies across Croatia hit by the coronavirus crisis to normalise their current operations.

The grants range from HRK 6,460 to HRK 566,600 and the ministry has noted that the recipients will have to spend the funds for the purpose intended and submit a final report on the funds spent by 31 January 2022.

(€1 = HRK 7.474887)

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Thursday, 2 September 2021

Job-keeping Grants to Be Paid to Event Industry, Travel Agencies, Night Clubs

ZAGREB, 2 Sept 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that job-retention grants of HRK 4,000 per employee for August would remain in place for the catering industry, the event industry, passenger transport, and travel agencies.

The grants will be disbursed in September to the event industry, travel agencies, and nightclubs, he said, recalling the relaxation of the anti-epidemic measures as of 1 September.

All other businesses are more or less going back to normal, he said, adding that in case the need for grants emerges in some other sectors, the authorities will consider the matter.

The shortened working week measure remains in force until the end of this year and covers up to 90% of the wages including contributions, Plenković said.

The government is set to turn from the job-retention to job-creation measures, whereby the employment schemes will be bolstered with HRK 500 million, and in 2022 the allocation for this purpose will be HRK 1.5 billion, he added.

HRK 18 billion for job-retention measures, contributions

The job-retention schemes, including the schemes for salaries and contributions, cost HRK 18 billion, Plenković said.

Nearly every second job was covered by the schemes, or 700,000 out of 1.59 million, and 92% of the companies operating in Croatia were covered.

As a result, there are now 52,000 more employees in Croatia than in the corresponding period of 2020, and 6,000 more than in the corresponding period of 2019, the prime minister said.

Furthermore, there are 9,000 fewer people out of work compared to March 2020, just before the outbreak of the pandemic in Croatia, he added.

 (€1 = HRK 7.5) 

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Thursday, 20 May 2021

Travel Agencies Facing Collapse, Urge Gov't to Help Them

ZAGREB, 20 May 2021 - The UHPA association of travel agencies has called on the government to urgently decide to extend its job-retention scheme and to compensate travel agencies for fixed costs, considering that so far this year they have seen a drop in turnover of more than 90%.

"For six months now we have been negotiating intensively with government officials about a compensation model to help salvage travel agencies. We have the support of Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac and believe it is high time to start with financial assistance for preparation for the season and for the normalisation of activities, as announced by PM Plenković," UHPA president Tomislav Fain said.

He noted that yet another crisis tourist season was about to begin and the only thing travel agencies could count on was the uncertainty of whether the pandemic would continue spreading, whether the epidemiological situation would be kept under control and what tourist movement would be like.

"Apart from job-keeping support, which as a measure of horizontal assistance has been introduced also by other EU countries, Croatia has not secured for private businesses in tourism any grant scheme, which is what other member countries, notably those whose GDP, like Croatia's, relies heavily on tourism, have done," said Fain.

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Friday, 26 March 2021

Voice of Entrepreneurs: Government Has Not Helped Travel Agencies

ZAGREB, 26 March, 2021 - The Voice of Entrepreneurs association warned on Friday of the difficult position of travel agencies in a year of the pandemic, during which they had lost over 90% of revenue, adding that the government had done nothing to help them.

"The media say that travel agencies have received billions of kuna in aid from the state, which is simply not true. Also, (Education) Minister Fuchs and (Tourism) Minister Brnjac are asking travel agencies to find the money to return vouchers given to passengers, and a new law is being mentioned, under which the agency is obliged to give its clients a refund within 15 days. However, it isn't said that travel agencies have on average lost over 90% of revenue over the past year," the association said in a press release.

It added that the owners of travel agencies could not get loans to refund their clients, that they were forced to sell their own real estate to cover the expenses and that they had not received a single penny of help from the state or any other institution.

The only aid they received is HRK 4,000 monthly grant for workers, but for every employee, the employer has to cover the additional cost of transport and other fixed costs, for which no solution has been found to date, the association said.

It said that fixed costs had not been covered either, and since they were closed, agencies could not cover all the costs.

Travel agencies "were not closed by the decision of the national civil protection team, but their operation is completely restricted by government measures," the association stressed.

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Friday, 26 February 2021

Association of Croatian Travel Agencies Urges Croatian Government for Help

February 26, 2021 – The consequences of the coronavirus pandemic has brought travel agencies to the brink of collapse. The Association of Croatian Travel Agencies has asked the Croatian Government to make an urgent decision on extending measures to preserve their jobs and reimburse fixed costs.

With the entire tourism sector struggling with unprecedented losses for nearly a year, travel agencies are among the biggest losers in this crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Cancellations of travel and various events and restrictions on people's movement due to special epidemiological measures have left a significant mark on the travel agencies' business.

Tomislav Fain, the president of the Association of Croatian Travel Agencies (UHPA), has previously sent numerous requests to the Government to help and support travel agencies. They recently even asked the Croatian Civil Protection Headquarters to close them formally so they can withdraw much-needed financial resources for survival. However, unsuccessfully. This time, like all the times before, their demand has only one goal: the survival of travel agencies.

"Countless times we have been called upon to understand the situation and with uncertainty found out at the last minute whether we will be able to keep employees for the next month or two or we will have to thank them for their cooperation. As our understanding did not lead to a boomerang effect and came back to us in the same way, we were put in a situation where the survival of most travel agencies in the Republic of Croatia is extremely endangered," Fain points out in the UHPA statement.

According to the Tax Administration and the Central Bureau of Statistics data, the average decline in the travel agencies' activity in 2020 was continuously above 85 percent. These truly devastating results carry even more weight if we take into account the fact that these are mostly small and medium-sized family businesses that, to ensure the liquidity of the business, among other things, sold their own assets.

"In a country that depends so much on tourism, it is unacceptable that on the threshold of the tourist season on which we have high expectations, the tourism industry survives day by day and hopes for a miracle. As if this is not more than enough, the situation is further aggravated by the lack of understanding of service providers, especially public institutions, which, despite the recommendations of relevant ministries, increase their services' prices at the last minute.

It is high time that all relevant stakeholders understand the seriousness of the situation and provide us with the key prerequisites so that we can dedicate ourselves to what we know best – creating tourist products for a memorable holiday. Otherwise, all promotional campaigns and slogans will go to waste because we will not protect the most important thing – a man – who, as we like to be proud of, is the key to success in tourism," concludes Fain.

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Friday, 28 August 2020

Association Warns of 80% Drop in Tour Operators' Revenue

ZAGREB, August 28, 2020 - The good results of this year's summer tourist season have not contributed to tour operators' business and their revenue has dropped by more than 80%, which is why they expect the state to continue with its job-keeping scheme, the UHPA tour operators association said on Friday.

"The drop in revenue in the past two months exceeds 80%... The current epidemiological situation is also working against us and we estimate that most tour operators cannot realise a turnover that will enable them to keep jobs and maintain liquidity," UHPA president Tomislav Fain said.

In a comment on good tourism figures, which stand at 50% of last year's results, Fain said that it should not be forgotten that tourism is not only about arrivals and overnight stays and that it is a complex sector involving various stakeholders many of whom, including tour operators, do not depend exclusively on the tourist season.

Fain said that UHPA supports the continuation of the government's job-keeping aid as well as dealing with many outstanding issues tour operators are faced with, and that the existing safety protocols should be implemented as soon as possible and Croatia should be promoted as a destination where all epidemiological measures are complied with.


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