Hundreds of bars and restaurants in Kvarner and Istria closed their doors for one hour on Thursday to warn of the difficulties faced by the hospitality industry during the ongoing pandemic.
The association of Kvarner and Istria restaurant and cafe owners, which initiated the campaign, said the protest was a success. The goal was to encourage relevant institutions to urgently take action to preserve jobs in the sector and prevent its collapse.
Organizers want all VAT payments suspended until March next year, and the introduction of a preferential VAT rate of 10% on food and beverages.
The deputy head of the national association of restaurant and cafe owners, Vedran Jakominić, pointed out that job-retention measures had saved workers in restaurants and cafes from layoffs but that they had not saved entrepreneurs.
He said that a survey had shown that 60% of stakeholders in the hospitality sector had seen a drop in business of over 50% and 40% estimated that they would not survive until the next season in the current conditions. About 80% will have to cancel employment contracts, said Jakominić, who noted that there could be about 20,000 layoffs in the hospitality sector.
Finance Minister Zdravko Marić said increased measures had been discussed and that industry leaders were aware of the major limitations faced by the government. "This does not mean we are turning our backs on bars, restaurants, and the service industry," he said, adding that the financial support measures that were extended to the end of the year were specifically designed to help this segment of the economy.