Tourism minister says increasing sector competitiveness a priority

ZAGREB, 4.1.2012.

Croatian Tourism Minister Veljko Ostojic on Wednesday held a news conference to announce his ministry's main activities and projects in the next four years, including the lowering of the VAT rate for tourism, the adoption of a strategy for tourism development, the continuation of privatisation, investment stimulation, the restructuring of tourism boards, amendment of legislation on land designed for tourism purposes, and training.

The minister said that the VAT rate in the tourism sector was expected to be lowered to between 8 and 10 percent. More information on the new VAT rate will be known in the coming days, Ostojic told reporters, introducing his deputy Oleg Valjalo and the head of his office, Bernard Zenzerovic. The new VAT rate should be adopted along with this year's budget, he said.

Work on the strategy for the development of the tourist sector will be stepped up so that it could be completed by the end of the summer or in early autumn, Ostojic said, adding that this month the first public presentation of the first five strategy chapters would be held, to be followed by a broad public debate. He announced the privatisation of some 15 state-owned tourism companies that have not been privatised yet, saying that they would first be restructured, to be followed by their privatisation in the next two to three years. The tender for the Brijuni Rivijera project, which expires on January 15, will be prolonged for the sake of better preparation of documents by interested investors for two locations within that project - Pineta and Hidrobaza, he said. All of this, as well as amendments to the law on land designed for tourism purposes, should result in new investments, both domestic and foreign, in Croatia's tourism sector, the minister said.

Ostojic said that even though it was adopted in the summer of 2010, the law on land intended for tourism purposes had not resulted in any concession agreements, which he said showed that it should be amended, notably in the segment referring to camping sites. Commenting on the system of tourism boards, Ostojic said that changes were needed in terms of employing professionals and restructuring tourism boards to turn those at the local level into destination management organisations, while tourism boards on the regional level and the national tourism board should be in charge of promotional activities. (Hina)