Croatia: More tourists but fewer workers in tourism

With its spectacular Adriatic coast, wild mountains and green rivers and lakes, Croatia has become one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the EU. But a worker shortage is creating headaches for Croatian tourism employers. 

Lidija Pisker
Lidija Pisker NewsMavens, Balkans
Croatia: More tourists but fewer workers in tourism - NewsMavens
Croatian coast, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

A group of Egyptian citizens were hired as seasonal workers in a hotel on one of the Croatian islands, a Croatian news portal reported some days ago. The article, titled "Despair in Dalmatia", perfectly illustrates the situation:

There are businessmen who refuse to improve salaries and working conditions but would rather exploit a cheaper and less demanding labor force.

Many Africans, who are even more desperate than most Balkan workers, are willing to work hard for little money.

The media is also attempting to make a scandal out of the fact that the Croatian tourist sector is temporarily employing seasonal Egyptian workers instead of exploring why working in industry is so unattractive for so many Croats.

If only Croatia would liberalize its immigration policies and permanently open the doors to workers from Africa and Asia, there would be more satisfaction for both sides and less room for xenophobia.

Details from the story:

  • Croatia’s tourist sector accounted for 18% of its GDP in 2016, which is the biggest ratio in Europe. 
  • 18.5 million tourists visited Croatia in 2017, a 13% increase in comparison with 2016. 
  • The Croatian tourist industry lacks around 20,000 skilled workers this year. 
  • Since Croatia joined the EU in 2013, a significant portion of the Croatian skilled labor force has moved to other EU countries, such as Germany and Ireland. Those who remain in Croatia tend to refuse to work in tourism due to poor working conditions and relatively low wages. 
  • Tourism employers have been hiring workers from neighboring countries, such as former Yugoslav countries Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYR Macedonia and Serbia.
  • The low wages and seasonal character of these jobs makes the Balkan working force turn their backs on summer jobs in Croatia and look for work in Western Europe. 
  • Last month, the Croatian government increased the quota for seasonal foreign workers in tourism to 7,660. Experts, however, say that this is only a "quick fix," and that only a long-term labor and immigration strategy can solve the problem. 
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