Thursday, 22 July 2021

Croatian Events Industry: 100s of Outdoor Concerts and Festivals Held Since June, Zero Cases Recorded

July 22, 2021 - The Croatian Events Industry says they should not be the culprit for new cases in Croatia, as over 100 outdoor events have been held so far with zero cases reported. 

The Voice of Entrepreneurs Events Industry Committee sent a reaction regarding the statements of tourist associations and epidemiologists about the recommendations to cancel events due to the danger of spreading coronavirus, all to prolong the tourist season, reports HRTurizam.

They point out that they understand that the current epidemiological situation certainly deserves attention and caution and responsible behavior of all citizens, especially those who represent the organizers of events, concerts, festivals, and gatherings attended by a large number of people.

Event organizers are aware of the complexity of the situation and in this regard are ready to responsibly apply all applicable epidemiological measures, and in particular to ensure that all visitors attending the events fall into one of three categories - vaccinated, tested, or recovered from Covid-19, according to the Events Industry Committee and added:

"Precisely because of this readiness, responsibility, and commitment, the organizers of events and employees in the event industry can no longer remain silent and watch the constant appearances of individual epidemiologists and local headquarters leaders who do not give up on spreading hysteria around the event industry segment. It is impossible not to react to contradictory information, raising unnecessary panic and unargued provocation of festivals, concerts, parties, nightclubs, and the like. Namely, if the valid measures prescribe that it is possible to gather without measures, provided that all visitors meet the above conditions, such events should be encouraged, not stigmatized. The events industry is the only industry in Croatia that in parallel with the introduction of COVID certificates applied the same without a transitional period and time of adjustment, and many concerts and festivals were canceled because they sold tickets under current measures from June that did not include the application of COVID certificates," stated the Events Industry Committee.

They also emphasize that the implementation of COVID certificates at events is one of the main motivations for the younger population to be vaccinated. The events industry as such, aware of the situation and problems, is probably one of the activities with the highest employee vaccination rate in the country. If the freedom of young people to assemble in compliance with the prescribed measures and the application of COVID certificates is called into question, they fear that many will wonder why they would be vaccinated at all.

Since June 2021, when the decision came into force allowing cultural events to be held again in compliance with epidemiological measures, over a hundred concerts, events, and open-air festivals have been held without a single recorded COVID-19 infection, so as an industry they wonder why they are constantly declared the main culprit and problem of the pandemic.

It should be emphasized that major cultural events and festivals, such as INmusic festival, Ultra Europe, Fresh Island Festival, Sonus Festival, Advent, Sea Star Festival, and many others that brought hundreds of thousands of visitors to Croatia, were canceled for the second year in a row.

Therefore, the events industry calls on the National Civil Protection Headquarters to make additional efforts to coordinate the implementation of existing measures, promote responsible behavior and vaccination.

"We want to point out that together we are in this difficult situation and that without cooperation, mutual respect, and responsible behavior of all citizens it will not be possible to wait for the day when we will be able to live and work again as before the pandemic. In this sense, we believe that it is necessary for both of us to work on raising awareness of responsibility and to isolate the actions and actions of irresponsible individuals, from whichever side they come from. In addition, we invite and ask the media to invite the other side for an opinion and statement when transmitting the statements of individuals whose goal is to close one complete branch and industry. In these difficult times, the only thing we ask from all involved entities is to be responsible and take care of common health and existence," concludes the Voice of Entrepreneurs Events Industry Committee.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including vaccination points and testing sites, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Thousands Gather at Voice of Entrepreneurs Association Protest in Zagreb

February 3, 2021 - Thousands gathered at the Voice of Entrepreneurs Association protest held today at Ban Jelacic Square in Zagreb. 

Lifting discriminatory measures, regularly paying compensation for employees, canceling parafiscal taxes and mandatory membership fees, and the departure of Economy Minister Tomislav Coric were the demands heard at the protest organized by the Voice of Entrepreneurs Association (UGP) in Zagreb's Ban Jelacic Square.

Jutarnji List reports that between five and ten thousand people gathered at the protest today.

Although the UGP called for adherence to epidemiological measures, many did not wear masks, and it was difficult to maintain a distance.

Some of the banners read: "What is the plan?", "Why can't Croatia be economically strong?", "Andrej, it's enough!". 


Entrepreneurs and citizens from all over Croatia came to protest. As the executive director of UGP Dražen Oreščanin said at the press conference, several buses arrived from Dalmatia, Kvarner, Bjelovar, Varaždin, and Vinkovci, to name a few.


UGP President Hrvoje Bujas was not able to attend the protest because he tested positive for COVID-19. 

Oreščanin said that everything UGP does is out of any policy and that it is about advocating for a better life and entrepreneurs' rights, who in Croatia are, in his words, "second-class citizens."


"This morning I spoke to the Minister of Labor Josip Aladrović and suggested that all ministers and others from the public sector receive a salary of 4,000 kuna until the end of this year, to which he replied that it was a quality proposal and that he would consider it," Oreščanin said. 

He added that until the opening of the now-closed facilities, UGP asks the Government and the Civil Protection Headquarters for any compensation, even a one-time compensation, because "people literally have nothing to live on anymore."

His statements were accompanied by chanting and approval of those gathered at the Square, and when he asked them what they had to say to the Minister of Economy Tomislav Ćorić, it was mostly: "Resign!" and "Enough is enough!".


The slogan of the protest is "Enough is enough" and "Why Croatia?". The latter, Oreščanin explained, relates to entrepreneurs who are wondering why Croatia cannot be a competitive, successful and country of satisfied people, and said that the government and politicians should respond.

The representative of the catering segment, Ana Lisak, told Hina that they have recorded a drop in turnover of more than 70 percent and that it means nothing to them what they can deliver when only one percent of the business does so.

"Let everyone know that we are financially on our knees, but it is as if no one cares much about it because it is a pandemic, and we have to be patient. We are patient, we have not worked for almost a year, and many of us who have some funds pay workers and additionally above the state 4,000 kuna, because we do not want to lose them as well as our companies," said Lisak.


The president of the Independent Association of Zagreb Caterers, who attended the protest in front of the National Association of Caterers, Zaklina Troskot, told Hina that they are not satisfied with the measures of the headquarters and the government because they are "discriminatory and totally unfair."

"The Government's expectation that two activities - the catering and fitness industry, will save people from a pandemic, is completely unacceptable for us, and people are therefore desperate. If we do not get tax relief and any compensation, it will be difficult for us to work when we open because we will then face a lack of money to purchase, equip and pay the bills," Troskot said, adding that any help would come in handy.

At around 11 am, the protesters calmed and stopped chanting, but they did not disperse or intend to for the next few hours.

The caterers from the Square brought them "coffee-to-go" on trays. Some commented that no coffee, not even open restaurants, will help them survive this year without support and fair government measures.

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

Monday, 7 December 2020

Small Business Owners Demand Urgent Reforms

ZAGREB, Dec 7, 2020 - The Voice of Entrepreneurs association laid a wreath outside the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development on Monday, calling for "urgent and brave" reforms and the replacement of Minister Tomislav Coric.

Cars and buses briefly blocked the traffic in the street in front of the Ministry as protesters lit lanterns and laid wreaths and flowers at the entrance to "pay their last respects" to small and medium-sized businesses hit by the partial lockdown imposed as part of government efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

They once again appealed to the prime minister to fire "the worst economy minister Croatia has ever had." They drew attention to the "intolerable absence of concrete aid and compensation" for all businesses experiencing a sharp decline in their activity. 

The association's head Hrvoje Bujas said that Croatia had lacked key reforms over the last 30 years. "It is high time we organised ourselves to ensure the implementation of key reforms. It is also high time that the reforms become the key topic for every economy minister and for every minister in the Croatian government, including the prime minister," he said.

Bujas said that Croatian small business owners were leaving the country in search of better business conditions abroad. He stressed the need for a better functioning judiciary, optimisation and digitalisation of public and local government, lowering VAT and scrapping various parafiscal charges.

The association's executive director Drazen Orescanin said that they had good dialogue with some of the ministries and state institutions, but not with the Economy Ministry. He complained that Minister Coric was not communicating with them at all.

Orescanin said that the present government should represent all people and not just voters of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party. If the party cannot find an appropriate person to serve as Economy Minister, there are many competent experts for this post who are not members of any party, he added.

At the end of the protest, two police officers approached Bujas and Orescanin and took down their details as well as the registration numbers of the vehicles that blocked the entrance to the Ministry building.

"We'll see what the police will do. We won't be surprised if we get fined," Orescanin told Hina, adding that this was not a protest rally but a gathering because protest rallies were not allowed in the present time of the pandemic. He noted that about 20 members of the Voice of Entrepreneurs and partner associations were present, which is in line with the epidemiological measures, while the rest were representatives of the media. They all wore face masks and did not violate any measures, he stressed.

Monday, 1 June 2020

GP Puls 66: What Is The Reason Behind The Recent Arrests Of Public Service Employees?

June 1, 2020 - Recently, we have witnessed a series of arrests of high-ranking government officials and heads of state-owned firms. UGP fully supports any fight against corruption and strives for better functioning of the judicial system and greater justice. Given the interesting timing of these arrests, we asked our members: What you think about the recent arrests of people from state structures?

These are their answers:

Most respondents—almost 73% believe that this is a pre-election play that will not have any real consequences for the accused. Another 19% also believe that such actions are useless because no one is ever convicted. In the third category, 5% think that this is an internal clash within the ruling party, while 1.8% believe that the conviction is questionable, but the stolen money will certainly not be returned. Only 1.2% of respondents give a somewhat passing grade and think it's not bad that it started, but they are also not sure whether there will be any convictions. And a whopping 0.1% believe that the system is doing its job independently and that such steps are excellent.



Given these results, we must conclude that if this is part of the election campaign, it will not have the desired reactions from entrepreneurs. Although corruption is one of the main topics, it is clear to everyone that the consequences for the accused are rare. In a country where corrupt officials' arrests occur with the same frequency as the Olympic Games or some World Championships, every four years and, interestingly, coincide with parliamentary elections, the positive impact of such actions is significantly reduced. Glas Poduzetnika Association certainly intends to monitor the situation and insist on concrete results and condemnations, not just performing plays that can be used to collect short-term political points.


Sunday, 3 May 2020

Croatian Events Industry Asks Headquarters: Is Entire Summer Season Canceled?

May 3, 2020 - The biggest Croatian companies in events, sporting events, concerts, and festivals have sent a letter to Economy Minister Darko Horvat, Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli and Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Korzinek asking if they can expect measures to be loosened this summer or to forget about Croatian events entirely this season.

Slobodna Dalmacija writes that one entrepreneur said that he and his colleagues are aware of the situation, do not want to endanger the health of visitors and their employees, but also add that waiting and uncertainty are the worst possible option.

Namely, they cannot plan anything, do not know whether they should hire or fire employees, and that their situation is unsustainable. They have to pay their debts and their current income is zero. The uncertainty is also shared by the thousands of workers permanently or seasonally employed by this industry.

Therefore, they want an answer as soon as possible: Is the upcoming summer season of festivals, sports, cultural and other events canceled or is there still a chance that smaller and larger gatherings will be allowed?

If it is not canceled, they ask for a guideline of loosening the measures, as soon as possible, because events are also being prepared several weeks/months away. If everything is canceled, then they will try to survive and somehow save their jobs.

"Within the Voice of Entrepreneurs Association, an Event Committee has been set up to bring together all entrepreneurs, craftspeople and sole traders living from the event industry, or all of whom have been unable to work due to the ban on public gatherings, without any indication of when relaxed measures will occur. The Croatian event industry has about 2000 entities, employing 10,000 people and making more than HRK 4.5 billion annually. In the crisis caused by the coronavirus, the entire event industry is the first to be disabled when public gatherings are banned, and will be the last industry to start operating.

The ban on public gatherings directly threatens all culture, festivals, theaters, conferences, concerts, performances, clubs, performers, DJs, congresses, sporting events, and weddings, but also related businesses such as equipment rental companies, hall and venue owners, photographers, and everyone else who lives in the event industry, whose gradual opening will be the last in a row," say the group of entrepreneurs, including those organizing festivals and events such as Ultra Europe, SeaStar, Fresh Island Festival, Weekend Media Festival, ATP Umag, Seasplash, Outlook, Ferragosto JAM Festival, Garden and more.

The owners of various objects and companies are also included: Papaya Zrće, Aquarius Zrće, Nomad Zrće, Noa Zrće, Kalypso Zrće, Dallas, RTL music, Scardona music production, Aquarius Records, Tvornica Kulture, Boogaloo Event and many others.

Therefore, Slobodna Dalmacija has asked the National Civil Protection Headquarters, the Croatian Institute for Public Health, the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Culture, and the Tourist Board to address them at the request of entrepreneurs in the entertainment industry.

The Headquarters replied:

"We believe that it is extremely important for the organizers of major events to know whether these events can be organized or not, but unfortunately, at this time, it is impossible to predict the epidemiological situation in Croatia this summer and what measures will then be in force."

So, nothing is known yet.

However, this response did not satisfy the entrepreneurs, who sent their requests to the Government and ministries.

"We consider these emergency measures crucial for the survival of the Croatian event industry:

1. Urgent Adoption of a Plan - a guideline for loosening the measures for banning public gatherings, especially for events of up to 100, 300, 500 and 1000 or more visitors. We believe it is important that smaller events of up to 100 people start their work as soon as possible, since they are not riskier than i.e., large shops, religious gatherings, etc. In addition, it is necessary to define the expected protection measures at public gatherings in event industries so that we could begin to prepare adequately. We ask the Government to urgently announce the date before which major events (over 1000 people) will certainly not be allowed, so that the organizers have a legal basis for postponing or canceling the event and minimizing costs.

2. Extension of HZZ measures for companies most affected by the corona crisis, which particularly applies to companies from the event industry that will be most disabled for work, for an additional 3 + 3 months or a total of 3 + 3 + 3 + 3. Companies that continue to have a turnover drop of more than 70% over the same quarter last year may qualify as extended measures, that is, those who are extremely affected.

3. Extend the voucher system to event tickets - We ask that changes already integrated in Art. 38a of the Law on Provision of Tourism Services, which relates to issuing vouchers, i.e., deferring money for package arrangements, including tickets for events (concerts, festivals, conferences), because the organizers of eventss are similarly endangered and are essential to the same illiquidity problem. We suggest that the voucher issued can be redeemed within 365 days of the event being delayed for the same or another event by that organizer. If the buyer does not match it, he/she may receive a refund within 30 days after the expiration of 365 days from the date of the delayed event.

4. Relaxing the terms of HAMAG's COVID-19 loans for smaller companies by extending the loan period from 6 to 12 months, so that smaller companies can survive the extended period with the loan obtained. In addition, it is extremely important to increase HBOR's COVID-19 loan pool and relax the conditions so that it includes all the businesses at risk, so that the companies that live from the event can apply," the entrepreneurs say.

Slobodna Dalmacija also requested a comment from the Croatian National Tourist Board.

"The Croatian National Tourist Board is primarily responsible for the promotion of tourism in the country and the world, and so far we have supported a number of music festivals in the country, which enrich the Croatian tourist offer and result in the arrival and overnight stay of more tourists in the destination.

Whether major events, festivals and events will take place this year, the epidemiologists and the National Headquarters will say, because the health of all domestic and foreign guests remains a priority.

At the same time, at this moment, it is not known yet when and under what conditions tourists will be able to enter our country. What is important to emphasize is that such a decision will not only depend on Croatia, but also on when other countries will decide to open their borders for the entry and exit of tourists from the country.

There will certainly be specific security protocols that we will all need to abide by," said Kristina Mamic, the Director of the Office.

Tomo in der Mühlen, President of the Creative and Cultural Industries Association of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), is aware of the gravity of the situation in the Croatian event industry.

"The HGK's Creative and Cultural Community brings together more than 7000 companies. Creative industries have been hit hard by this crisis, and it is evident that no measures have been devised to date to address the adverse effects of the music industry, media, cultural events and many other areas of the creative industries," quotes in der Mühlen.

The filming of all television formats that cannot meet the rules of social distance has been suspended. Because these are expensive productions, losses are measured in millions of dollars, and it is evident that the only thing that works right now is purely informational formats in which there is almost no marketing.

The same is the case with the production of radio programs - namely, radio stations are mostly financed through local marketing, which is almost non-existent at these times. The music industry is affected because there are no public appearances and clubs and festivals are left without 100% of income, and it should be emphasized that festival tourism, which involves music artists, is a significant segment in Croatia's overall tourism offer," says in der Mühlen, noting that government measures have not covered these specific areas, especially businesses that employ a significant number of seasons engaged in clubs and festivals, which they bring in a considerable number of tourists from around the world under normal circumstances.

These crises will have a long-term adverse impact on the creative industries, especially considering that copyright royalties will only go into crisis next year, as payment is made now, and this year's royalties will only be paid next year, when there are likely to be no measures," states in der Mühlen, noting that it is possible to allow further TV and radio productions to proceed immediately, while respecting social distance measures. Namely, according to him, these are not large groups of people, and since they come from a relatively closed circle, they can be easily controlled.

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