VISA FREE REGIME NEGATIVE FOR HOTELIERS
The EU's decision to scrap the visa obligations for citizens of Macedonia, Serbia, and Montenegro had a negative impact on hoteliers in Macedonia given the cancellations of travel arrangements, hotel association president said.
Donco Tanevski, the Chairman of Hotel Association of Macedonia, said no reservations were made for Macedonian resorts and travel arrangements were cancelled after introduction of visa-free travel to EU countries.
"Serbian holidaymakers were the most numerous travelers to Macedonia. There is an imminent risk that Serbian holidaymakers' presence in Macedonia drops by 30%-40% during the New Year's holidays," Tanevski said.
He added that airlines' announcements of low-priced flights from Skopje to European destinations - two-way ticket for 29-99 euros - would make potential domestic tourists to book tickets at affordable rates and spend the New Year's holidays abroad.
Furthermore, the announced rise in electricity price and the upcoming smoking ban will additionally hit tourism workers.
Tanevski slammed the programme of the Agency for Promotion of Tourism, saying that programme was inadequate and drawn up with minimum funds.
Tanevski urged the government to cut the value-added tax (VAT) to hotelier, an incentive that has been put in motion in the neighboring countries.
"The planned flights to Ukraine, announced by the government earlier this year, were not put in motion. And for the next year, there is no announcement of new flights except for the charter flight to Israel," Tanevski said. He called on the government to make sure that road infrastructure is improved as soon as possible.
He also complained that there are no long-term credit lines (spanning 15-25 years) with interest rates not higher than 4%-6%. This would help hoteliers and resorts improve their offers.
"We are facing a hardship unless immediate measures are taken. There has to be more aggressive marketing. Otherwise, Macedonia's tourism will face tough times."
MD: Well, those tourists who want to come to Macedonia, still will come. You can't force people. If someone really wants to visit Ohrid, that person will do so, no matter what. Macedonia will have more profit of these tourists than any massive tourist groups from Serbia who come just because they cant go anywhere else. This will also make Ohrid a more exclusive destination, like it should be.