News – How strict anti-pandemic measures destroyed the tourism of Northern Macedonia – Travel Magazine

Northern Macedonia has opened its borders to tourists from the European Union and other European countries, but few people decided
to go the way of this state. They are mostly for that curves measures that many countries have introduced for their citizens, if they return from Northern Macedonia.

For example, Hungarian citizens must go to a mandatory two-week quarantine after returning from Northern Macedonia. The Germans demand that all their citizens upon return from S. Macedonia undergo PCT testing. These measures vary from country to country, so the EU launched the site Re-Open EU, on which you can follow the latest decisions of the EU government.

Northern Macedonia is losing guests who choose Albania instead

The WHO has relatively recently praised Northern Macedonia for its high level of transparency in reporting COVID-19 cases. In a population of about two million, the country recorded 11,202 confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with 505 deaths so far. In recent weeks, the number of new cases has ranged between 100-200 per day.

The most beautiful cities on the lake in Europe

Tour operators bringing foreign tourists to Northern Macedonia must comply with regulations, starting with the requirement that buses must provide physical distance for passengers, with a limit of 50 percent of occupied seats. Thus, for example, every tourist bus coming from Poland must be regrouped immediately after crossing the border into several buses. Renting additional vehicles increases the total cost of the arrangement, making it less attractive to tour operators.

Unlike previous years, most foreign tourists who visit the country’s main destination – Lake Ohrid, chooses Albania. However, some visitors to the Albanian coast from the EU come on day trips to the picturesque region, protected by UNESCO.

“I work as an authorized guide, but I haven’t earned any money since the New Year. I share these difficulties with about 5,000 people like me who are in this sector. This season is certainly over and we are focusing on 2021, but what will we do until then? Lately, I’ve been trying to rent my boat on the lake, but local tourists can’t afford it. I still hope that some passengers or smaller groups will come to Ohrid, so it can be useful for them to tour the area or rent their boat, “said Daniel Medaroski, guide at the agency. Experience Balkan.

The country has established pandemic protocols to protect visitors and tourism workers. Beaches, which are mostly rented by private operators, must provide the physical distance between the deck chairs. Only four people can sit at the table in bars and restaurants, and waiters and other workers must wear face masks.

Most countries have introduced entry bans for citizens of northern Macedonia

Meanwhile, the citizens of northern Macedonia face closed borders, except with neighboring Albania and Serbia. They are not allowed to visit Greece or Montenegro, while to enter Bulgaria or Croatia, they must show negative PCR test results on the border. For Croatia, they also have to show proof of the booking arrangement, just like us.

For that reason the country’s tourist destinations are mostly full of numerous domestic visitors, especially on weekends, when cities are empty and lakes or mountain resorts are flooded with locals and garbage. Domestic visitors often use their cottages or affordable rooms for rent instead of hotels. They too they buy fewer souvenirs and are less interested in guided tours which explain the cultural or other aspects of the country’s heritage, as most of them have already experienced the sights or feel they know all the information they can get from paid guides.

Skopje also without foreign guests…

The real salvation for the tourism of Northern Macedonia would be foreign guests, but there is little chance that they will come this year. This has become apparent in the country’s other major tourist destination, the capital Skopje. The old town, with a well-preserved bazaar, which is the second largest in Istanbul in the Balkans, in previous years it was crowded with tourists. However, since the pandemic began, even after travel restrictions were lifted, store owners find it difficult to cope.

“We were forced to take a break from work on Sunday, which used to be one of our busiest days of the week. We also close much earlier, around 6 or 7 pm, instead of 10 pm, because the market is empty in the evening, ”says Kshemal Bajrami, restaurant manager Don Giovani, located in one of the busiest streets of the old town of Skopje.

Tourism of Northern Macedonia under attack

Photo: Robert Bahn from Unsplash

2019 is a record year in terms of foreign arrivals

Although 2019 was a record year for tourism in Northern Macedonia, official statistics from May this year indicate large losses for the tourism industry. Many companies have cash reserves that can only last over the summer. The layoffs will have to happen in September, unless they receive significant state support.

On July 29, tourist workers held a peaceful protest in Skopje, seeking state aid, under the motto “tourism is on the fans”. They are called on the state to pay them the minimums by the end of the year, as well as to provide them with various forms of tax relief that would prevent the bankruptcy of companies.

The government provided some subsidies for tourism companies during the spring, including vouchers for citizens in the amount of 50 euros. However, they have not yet responded to the last round of requests from representatives of the tourism sector.

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