The representatives of the travel and car rental agencies and tourist guides held simultaneous protests in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Niš and Kragujevac, demanding the state help in overcoming the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the “10 Minutes to Save Tourism” slogan, organised by the National Association of Travel Agencies (JUTA), the participants in all four cities read the appeal to the Government, asking the Government to “recognise them as the most vulnerable sector” after travel suspensions.
“Tourist guides, travel agencies and car rental agencies are bringing foreign guests to Serbia. They have been without jobless and without any income for five months, so the situation is almost catastrophic,” the appeal said, adding that their survival was at stake.
The protesters also said that nobody reacted to their previous appeals for help which they sent to the state institutions. However, they added there were indications that the Government was contemplating how to help them.
“We call on our state authorities to support us and help us continue doing the job we love, the job for which we are educated and which feeds our families, and brings the best memories to generations of our passengers,” the appeal concluded.
Tourist workers from Niš, about 200 of them, also joined the initiative and after crossing the city by tourist buses, they gathered in the central square carrying suitcases, umbrellas, beach props and slogans that read “Group not going anywhere”, “Group not travelling to Athens”, “Group not travelling to Lisbon”, “Group not travelling to Moscow”.
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Tourism worker Milica Began read an appeal for assistance to the tourism sector, recalling that tourism is devastated globally, and in most countries, tourism workers are recognized as the most at-risk segment of the economy.
“Hoteliers received financial assistance couple of days ago, so we, as a segment of the tourism economy, are hoping for a similar model,” said Began.
The owner of the Ski and Sun Travel agency, Bojan Milosavljević, underlined that since the introduction of the state of emergency, 90% of the agencies have been working literally without any income.
“Other branches of the economy are also in danger, but the tourism sector was the most affected. We hope that the state and the city will show understanding and help us to maintain existing capacities,” Milosavljevic added.
“If we maintain existing capacities, the state will benefit when the situation returns to normal,” concluded Milosavljevic.
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