Croatian Rental Owners Want Joint Decision Making With Tourist Boards

Lauren Simmonds

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As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, this week, for the very first time at the initiative of private landlords of Kvarner, Istria and Zagreb, which started up last summer, the National Association of Family Accommodation was founded.

”The main goals of the association will be to strengthen the role of Croatian rental owners and the private/family accommodation sector when it comes to decision making, raising the development and importance of small businesses, and then attracting funds from EU funds for quality improvement projects,” revealed Goran Prskalo, a Zagreb landlord and one of the initiators an association that should defend the interests of hundreds of thousands of Croatian rental owners.

“In a country where 50 percent of the tourist traffic is realised by family accommodation, this segment is not represented in decision-making bodies at all, no one asks us anything, although many of us have a lot of experience in tourism, we know what the needs of guests are, what sort of destinations they like, and what the problems we need to solve together are.

That’s why we’re wanting to change the laws that prescribe representation in the tourist councils of the tourist boards, which include representatives of sectors that have nothing to do with tourism, and when it does come to the representation of tourism, in turn, mostly hotel companies are listed,” said Prskalo.

Prskalo provided the example of the Tourist Board of the City of Zagreb, in which even telecoms have a stronger voice than family accommodation providers, which in recent years has gained significant momentum in Zagreb, and attracted hundreds of thousands of guests.

Prskalo doesn’t plan to run for president of this association, which should hold its founding assembly this week, because he believes that the association should be led by someone from the coast, since this segment of accommodation has the strongest tradition along the Adriatic coast and is most represented in Adriatic towns and cities.

“The goal is to have an association whose members will all be equal and that those from more remote areas will also get their vote. The association will have county committees that will deal with issues specific to their area, and everyone would have a voice in their county, while issues at the national level would be discussed at the assembly of the association,” explained Prskalo.

The goal of this representative association for Croatian rental owners is to gather as much experience from the field and examples of projects as possible, as many of their project ideas have so far not been able to be realised due to lack of money for implementation.

”Thanks to the bringing together of a formal body, opportunities are opening up for some of these projects to apply for some of the EU tenders and secure co-financing, which has been impossible so far,” Prskalo pointed out.

His opinion is that family accommodation and Croatian rental owners should be understood as small businesses, which is something which isn’t often recognised in Croatia.

“Croatian rental owners generate significant revenue and make a very important contribution not only to tourist traffic in various destinations, but also to the local economy. Many suppliers of family accommodation, even down to the retailers of furniture and equipment for such apartments, have have weight on their shoulders during this crisis,” added Prskalo, who advocates that private renters should finally be seen as entrepreneurs.

The association also plans to engage in the issue of minimum requirements for the categorisation of family accommodation, which still doesn’t respect the laws of this segment of accommodation and mixes it with hotel requirements.

“For example, you can’t get four stars in an apartment in the city centre if you don’t change the towels every single day, and that’s difficult now if have a guest who doesn’t want to see you all week because of the worries surrounding passing on the coronavirus infection. Instead of that, other things should be turned to, for example, the obligation to install carbon monoxide detectors isn’t prescribed anywhere, which is the very basis of security,” explained Goran Prskalo, aware that there are still Croatian rental owners conducting this sort of business illegally, which the association also plans to fight against.

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