November 1, 2020 — Five thousand tour guides across Croatia are fighting for their livelihoods. This season they barely generated five percent of last year’s work. And closing the borders directly affected their work volume. Many have also shut down their businesses, and those who have not are anxiously awaiting the next tourist season.
Tourist guides from various Croatian cities are facing the same problems according to dnevnik.hr.
“Since the beginning of March to now, the end of post-season, guides have de facto experienced a total tragedy,” said Maja Milovčić, president of the Tourist Guides Association in Dubrovnik .
Croatia Tour Guides Did Not Enjoy Five Percent of Last Year’s Traffic
Vinko Badija, from the Association of Tourist Guides “Donat” based in Zadar, said that tour guides in Croatia did not enjoy even five percent of the traffic they had in 2019. That situation is even more catastrophic and tragic.
“I definitely think guides have pulled out everything they could from this season. Our main weapon is our smile, and we don’t have that because now we’re under masks,” says Kristina Nuic Prka, president of the Tourist Guides Association.
COVID-19 has removed the smile from the faces of Croatia tour guides in another way too. About five thousand of them lost their jobs overnight.
“Some had work through the end of February and beginning of March, and then everything stopped abruptly ,” Badija added.
Government Treasury Did Not Offer Assistance to Part Time Tour Guides
Assistance from the Croatia government treasury arrived for those with reported trades. But those who conduct tours as a side job were left without work and without assistance.
“For example, we have retirees who have very small pensions. Unfortunately, we were not able to help them in any way,” added Nuić Prka.
For approximately 600 Dubrovnik tourist guides, this has been a year they wish to forget. Milovcic adds that even the most active guides last year may have led up to only 10 tours this year. The end of the season means the beginning of life on the job market for both guides and tourism workers,
Dubrovnik Neretva Reports Highest 2020 Unemployment Rate
There are currently 14,734 people in the tourist industry out of work in Croatia. In September alone, more than 20,000 applied for jobs. Compared to last September, this is an increase of 31.2 percent. The highest increase in unemployment compared to last year, by as much as 81.1 percent, is happening in Dubrovnik-Neretva County. The outlook for the future is uncertain.
“The question is whether we will have the same number of guests as this year. We do not know if people will be afraid to come because we have no idea whether the pandemic will subside,” said Vedran Jakominić from the Voice of Entrepreneurs Association.
Croatian tour guides are a bit more optimistic, but they acknowledge that they will need help next year too.
“Tour guides will not stay around if they do not feel that they are getting support and that the institutions of Croatia are on their side. Since they are highly educated taxpayers, they will pack their bags and go looking for their happiness elsewhere,” Badija said.
And they don’t want that – the only thing they want is to share the beauty of Croatia with tourists as soon as possible.
Follow our Business page for updates on how tour guides and independent contractors in Croatia are coping with the consequences of COVID-19.