Tourism industry workers staged Wednesday a protest in Skopje demanding government assistance for the crisis-hit sector to be kept afloat.

Protesters gathered in front of the government in downtown Skopje carrying banners that read “Tourism on Ventilators,” “We Need Help Now,” and “Help for Agencies is Salvation for Tourism.”

They warned that some 5,000 people would lose their jobs if the state didn’t act immediately.

“We’ve always been partners of the state, we think that now the state must prove to us it is our partner. We need it as partner so we can get through this,” protest organizers said.

Some of the demands of tourism workers included salary subsidies until the end of the year, financial assistance of EUR 500 each for every company with five employees and EUR 1,000 each for companies with more than five employees through the Tourism Fund, no interest loans and exemption from paying value added tax.

They called on the government to respond to their demands, which had been already sent to the Ministry of Economy in June.