Permits that travel agencies need to renew every year to be able to do their business expire on October 1st.
However, in order to apply for new ones, they must receive travel guarantees which are issued in the form of a bank guarantee or an insurance policy. The Association of Serbian Travel Agencies (YUTA) says that, for several years now, it has been legally impossible to obtain a bank guarantee and that insurance companies have informed them at the last minute that this year they will not even be able to issue travel agencies with the usual policy “because travel agencies are at risk of closure”.
This practically means that from October 1, no travel agency will have a permit to work and no-one will be able to organize trips; travel agencies will become so-called sub-agents who will only be able to sell individual tourist services, such as plane or bus tickets or accommodation in certain hotels.
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“The law provides mandatory travel guarantees for trip organizers and tour operators, and we currently have a technical government that cannot change either the laws or the statute. However, people who have already paid for their trips or have received vouchers in lieu of trips they have already paid should not worry, because those trips are covered by previous guarantees, and this problem only applies to newly booked trips, which no-one will be able to carry out”, said Aleksandar Senicic, director of YUTA.
He also pointed out that travel agencies are still negotiating with some insurance companies, but that there is very little chance that they will issue insolvency insurance policies.
“The agencies were willing to accept an annex to existing policies valid until January 1 next year or to negotiate to change the conditions, but on the other hand, they let us know that they simply don’t want to insure us this year,” Senicic added.
He also points out that the YUTA is trying to find a way to help travel agencies and employees, but that they are not optimistic and that if nothing changes drastically, a new wave of layoffs in travel agencies is expected by the end of October.
Senicic also says that there was practically no summer season for travel agencies this year and that the decline in the tourism sector is just over 90%, because the season lasted only until March, due to the pandemic. He also reminds that the only help that the tourism industry has received from the state was financial assistance to hoteliers, while no financial assistance was given to travel agencies, travel guides, car rental companies or bus companies.
This post is also available in: Italiano