Croatia’s Tourism Industry Complains about VAT Rate and Labour Shortage

Total Croatia News

A traditional tourism conference brings together industry leaders.

The two-day conference of catering and tourism industry officials, organised by the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts (HOK), started at the Solaris resort yesterday, with participants from all over Croatia discussing current issues of the tourism and hospitality sectors, reports Šibenski Portal on November 14, 2017.

“For the first time in 30 years, we will open this conference with last year’s conclusions, since we are surprised by an increase in the VAT rate on food. In the conclusions from last year, we demanded the consistent implementation of the Tourism Development Strategy to 2020, especially in the fiscal policy area, whereby the tax rate was supposed to decline from 13 to 10 percent and not increase to 25 percent, which was part of the tax reform adopted in 2016. The reduction in the VAT rate was demanded just for caterers who work with food,” said Nenad Šepak, chairman of the HOK’s Catering and Tourism Guild.

He added that his association was working on an initiative to include in the curricular reform a provision that 70 percent of the education process for future workers in the hospitality sector would be practice and just 30 percent theory. It is believed that the results of such a change would be exceptional.

Joso Smolić, chairman of the Chamber of Trades and Crafts of Šibenik-Knin County, greeted the assembled tourism industry representatives, but the loudest applause was received by Stipe Knežević, HOK vice president and chairman of the conference organizing committee, who adapted to the modern times an old poem written by Filip Grabovac in the 18th century.

When a finance minister wants to crush someone,
he comes to the caterers first.
When the winnings are shared,
he asks them where have you been.
Bringing wine and drinking water,
for finance minister Croatian caterers bleed sweat.

The conference participants were also greeted by Mayor of Šibenik Željko Burić, HOK president Dragutin Ranogajec and Šibenik-Knin County Prefect Goran Pauk.

The congress was opened by Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli, who at the beginning of his speech thanked all the caterers and tourism workers in Croatia who, in challenging conditions, made the restaurants and catering sector one of the three most important reasons why tourists come and return to Croatia.

“Of course, you expect me to solve the problems. That is why I came here, to discuss all the issues with you, to see where we are. We need to see how to solve the issue of labour, tax breaks and how to bring in even more satisfied guests. Still, the key to success in tourism are people and their smile. This year, Croatia has increased average tourist spending by some 20 euros compared to two years ago. We will have over 100 million overnight stays and over 18 million tourist arrivals this year. At the London tourism fair, Croatia was even more recognisable and we expect to receive between 15 to 20 percent more British tourists. We will have a very strong tourist season in 2018,” Minister Cappelli said.

Discussing the issue of labour shortages in the tourism industry, the Minister noted that it was not a problem just for Croatia, since Austria this winter lacks tens of thousands of people, while the Netherlands needs a hundred thousand workers for agriculture, construction and tourism industries.

“This is something which happens to everyone. Germany recently opened a million new jobs. Every day, we have coordinating meetings, including with people from your sector. Nothing is being done without consultations. The State Secretary and I will gladly participate in a panel discussion and answer all your questions. I will not avoid answering questions about tax reform and employment in tourism, for which we are looking for an optimal solution. We have to say to the Croatian Employment Service that the current situation is no longer acceptable because we cannot have 200,000 registered unemployed persons, while the tourism industry we cannot find a hundred employees to start working. In the next few months, we have to find another 15,000 workers in tourism,” Minister Cappelli said, announcing that the government would sign an agreement with one of the neighbouring countries, which would be a backup solution if Croatia does not manage to train its unemployed persons to work in tourism professions.

Translated from Šibenski Portal.


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