Zagreb’s Hospitality Sector Grapples with Escalating Costs and Staff Shortage

Zagreb caterers have presented their new demands to the City of Zagreb and the Government of the Republic of Croatia. The 2023 Zagreb Caterers’ Forum, celebrating its fifteenth year, gathered caterers, experts, and representatives from various institutions and establishments at the Esplanade Hotel in Zagreb. The forum focused on pressing issues in the catering sector. During the event, seven Zagreb caterers were honored for their outstanding professional work. These individuals include Vesna Šuman, Ognjište Šuman, Krešo Štojc, Caffe Cajt, Dino Rešetar, Vallis Aurea, Josip Blažanović, Orlando, Ivanka Matić, Sermonia, Dražen Boban, Vinodol, and Žakline Troskot, Amelie.

Distinguished figures present at the forum included Davor Filipović, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Tomislav Tomašević, Mayor of the City of Zagreb, Ivan Vidiš, State Secretary in the Ministry of Labor, Pension System, Family, and Social Policy, Luka Čirko, Director of the Labor Market and Employment Office, and Robert Pende, Director of the Entrepreneurship Development, Investment, and Tourism Competitiveness Office from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. Milka Kosanović, the Director of Membership Relations at HUP, shared insights on workforce migration. Dalibor Kratohvil, the President of HOK, discussed the activities of HOK, and Antun Trojnar provided updates on the Zagreb Chamber of Crafts. Blaž Cvar, President of the Slovenian Chamber of Crafts, addressed the challenges faced by caterers in Slovenia. Dražen Maksimović, Director of the Craft Institute, focused on educational topics. The forum also included discussions on card payment of tips and the issue of rent increases for parking spaces, which could negatively impact Zagreb’s caterers. It was emphasized that the proposed 900% increase over the next two years is unacceptable.

One of the new challenges for caterers is finding solutions for employing workers during peak business periods. The Association proposed the introduction of an e-vignette system for employees, where the purchase of a vignette would cover all costs and contributions to the state for these workers. Milka Kosanović emphasized the difficulty in estimating the overall needs for 2024 but highlighted that sectors with high demand, such as construction and hospitality and tourism, require attention. The increased mobility of daily labor migrants also presents a challenge for employers in accessing the workforce, which may require a higher number of foreign workers in Croatia.

Franz Letica, President of the Zagreb Caterers’ Association, expressed satisfaction with the progress made regarding the demands presented to the Government and the City at the previous year’s forum. The acceptance of their proposal for tax-exempt tips through POS devices and the provision of an acceptable energy price by the Ministry of Economy were significant achievements. Additionally, this year, non-refundable funds were made available for restaurant, tavern, and cellar caterers, and Letica hopes this funding opportunity will extend to the entire catering sector.

After the official part of the forum, attendees enjoyed gastronomic delights from renowned Zagreb restaurants. Stari Puntijar, Zvona Catering, Catering Tim Lisak, Konoba Mašklin, and Lata i Didov San showcased their autumn-inspired flavors and scents. Amelie and M&M pastry shops provided sweet treats.

Caterers’ demands to the Government of the Republic of Croatia include a proposed reharmonization of the tax rate in catering for accommodation and meal preparation services, reducing tax burdens on wages, and simplifying material accounting record obligations. They also call for a solution to employ workers during busy periods, suggesting the introduction of an e-vignette system to cover all costs and contributions to the state for these employees.

Regarding their demands to the City of Zagreb, caterers request a postponement of the planned increase in parking space rents for terraces. They also highlight issues with waste disposal and call for dialogue on this matter. In addition, caterers urge the city to consider the motivation of the workforce when determining income tax rates to avoid demotivating current and future employees. The influence of local self-government units on wage levels due to recent tax changes is also emphasized.

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