While the Croatian Government has decided on the total abolition of foreign employment quotas, which should boost the economy by providing easier access to the Croatian labour market for third country (non-EU) nationals, and take effect in early 2020, it seems that the Croatian economy will still spend some time proverbially biting its nails as certain key industries struggle until then.
As Novac/Dora Koretic writes on the 9th of November, 2019, Jutarnji list is in possession of the first unofficial version of the 2020 quota decision, which was delivered to all stakeholders in the negotiation process for foreign workers last week. And it has, again unofficially, caused a considerable level of dissatisfaction with a good part of the sector.
The dissatisfaction is being felt primarily by the tourist sector, which is Croatia’s strongest economic branch. According to the first (still unofficial) version of next year’s quota decision, a mere 20,000 of the total 81,600 proposed quotas have been allocated to the tourism sector, mainly new employment and seasonal workers.
The reason for dissatisfaction lies in the fact that the aforementioned figure is almost identical to the quotas available to the sector this year, but also in the fact that from 2020 onwards, Croatia will face new circumstances that will see it require a significantly larger number of foreigners.
“We in tourism expect that we’ll need between 30 and 35 thousand foreigners in total if we want to cover all our needs,” said the director of the Croatian Tourism Association, Veljko Ostojić.
Ostojić pointed out that the increase in quotas is necessary because, as of January the 1st, 2020, the Austrian labour market will finally open its doors to Croatian citizens, meaning they will no longer require work permits and will be treated the same as other EU nationals. This means that an even larger proportion of seasonal workers will be employed by companies from outside of Croatia, and will move across the border.
“We’re already getting information from larger hotel companies that some seasonal workers have announced that they’re going to Austria, which is relatively nearby, and they can then can earn higher wages from next year on. Our suggestion, therefore, is to reach the figure of 30 thousand quotas plus an additional five thousand which could be activated at the minister’s discretion. We don’t want to start having petty arguments about the numbers like we did last year,” said Ostojić, emphasising the fact that hoteliers must start recruiting all available manpower already.
“That’s why [the figures] were sent to all the addresses to give people from the sector a chance to voice all of their comments and suggestions, only then will a final proposal be drafted for adoption,” an informed source assured Novac. In addition, the source noted that a quota of 20,000 tourism workers has been set in order to bridge the period until quotas are completely abolished, which, according to the updated Law on Foreigners, is expected in spring 2020.
The subject of foreign workers for Croatian tourism was also touched on by Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli at the London Tourism Fair over recent days. However, the ministry didn’t want to comment specifically on the first unofficial, much-lower-than-expected (and apparently disappointing) quota proposal.
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