Croatia eases visa regime for Ukrainians
To help tourism
Croatia will temporarily suspend a visa regime for some countries and cut locally-imposed fees for the tourist industry in the hope of boosting its earnings this season, Tourism Minister Damir Bajs said on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
Tourism is a major hard-currency earner for the European Union candidate and generates almost 20 percent of its gross domestic product. A weak tourist season would further depress the local economy, set to contract for the first time in a decade this year.
`The tourism ministry proposes to scrap visa regime for Russian and Ukrainian citizens during the summer season and also some fees (on hoteliers) imposed by the local communities,` state news agency Hina quoted Bajs as saying after a meeting of the government`s national economic council.
Bajs said Croatia would for next year reconsider the value added tax for tourism, where the rates currently stand at between 10 and 22 percent, depending on the kind of services.
The government is expected to discuss the measures, aimed at boosting competitiveness of Croatia`s tourism, later this week.
Bajs said these measures should considerably benefit tourism already this season. He also said Croatia would probably include the in temporary visa-free regime citizens of some other potentially strong markets, like China and India.
Croatia`s pristine Adriatic Sea is a popular alternative for summer holidaymakers to other Mediterranean destinations like Italy, Greece or Turkey.
Bajs said last month Croatia expects a fall in the number of tourists this year due to the global crisis. Last year it earned a record tourism revenue of more than seven billion euros.
The government sees the economy shrinking two percent this year, but analysts have cautioned the contraction could reach four percent or more if tourism revenues underperform.
Croatia`s main tourist markets are Slovenia, Germany, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, but in recent years the number of tourists from far-off destinations like Russia, Japan or the United States, has considerably risen.