Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Survey Looks into Plans of Croatian Tourists for Winter Travel

November the 30th, 2021 - Croatian tourists have been planning winter trips despite the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, but there could still be issues waiting to throw proverbial spanners in the works, including the recently discovered new variant, Omicron.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, although Croatian tourists had made fewer trips by September this year than they did last year, their plans for winter travel, including abroad, have apparently increased. At least that's what Croatian tourists thought in September, before the onset of the fourth wave of the pandemic. This was revealed via the MasterIndex survey on the usage habits of financial services in Croatia, conducted by the Improve market research agency, on a sample of 1,046 users of banking services in Croatia aged 18 to 55.

Back in September, 43 percent of respondents planned to travel abroad this winter, while in September 2020, 21 percent planned to travel abroad. 17 percent of them planned to go skiing, 51 percent had an Advent trip planned, while as many as 24 percent of respondents intended to head off abroad celebrate the New Year. Those who said they weren't planning a trip abroad cited financial worries or fears of cancellation as their main issues. The most attractive locations for travelling within Croatia were Zagreb and its surroundings.

When it comes to realised trips, in 2021 2.7 trips per passenger were realised by Croatian tourists, and a year earlier, 3.4 trips were for leisure, while the number of business trips until September remained the same as last year (1.6 trips per respondent). For comparison, back in pre-pandemic 2019, respondents travelled an average of 4.2 times for leisure and 2.6 times a year on business. On average, a little less than 8,000 kuna was spent on one trip for leisure, and as many as 92 percent of respondents find out information about the destination of their trips via the Internet.

Most Croatian tourists pay for their trips with debit cards and cash, and as for the amount they spend on travel, it is higher than it was in the year before.

Of those Croatian tourists who planned to travel abroad at the time of the survey back in September, half planned to travel to a European destination during Advent, and on average they planned to stay on such trips for 3 to 4 days. A quarter of the respondents planned to celebrate the New Year in one of the larger European cities, and they thought that such a trip would last on average 5 days. As for skiing, such a trip was planned by 17 percent of respondents.

Among the respondents who planned a trip, most are those with a higher level of education and who have a higher income, they were also mainly respondents from Istria. Thus, 28 percent of Istrians were sure that they'd travel somewhere abroad this winter, compared to only 3 percent of respondents from Northern Croatia. At the same time, 68 percent of Slavonians planned an Advent trip to a European destination, as opposed to 47 percent of those from Istria and Zagreb. Comparing the data with last year, it could be seen that the number of those planning an Advent trip abroad or to go skiing has increased significantly, but it would be interesting to see what these same respondents plan today, in the midst of the fourth wave of the pandemic and with the emergence of a new strain of the novel coronavirus.

While before the pandemic, each respondent travelled to one of the European destinations on average once a year, now that average has dropped to 0.3 trips. The number of trips within Croatia also decreased slightly, in contrast to 2.6 trips made back in 2019, in 2021, respondents travelled an average of 2.1 times a year.

As for spending on leisure travel, although people are travelling less, respondents are spending more. Thus, on average, Croatian tourists spent a little less than 8,000 kuna on one trip, and last year they spent an average of a little more than 6,100 kuna. Back in pre-pandemic 2019, the average travel spending was 5,150 kuna in total. Respondents from Zagreb and Northern Croatia also spend much more on this type of travel than respondents from the likes of Lika and Istria.

For more, check out our dedicated travel section.

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Opuzen School Kids Remove Plastic from Neretva River Mouth

November the 30th, 2021 - A group of Opuzen school kids spent the recent World Childrens' Day cleaning up plastic waste from the Neretva river mouth as a way to protect an honour their environment.

It's not exactly news that the European Union (EU) as a bloc has been trying to crack down harder on plastic waste, with many companies banning plastic straws, cups and even bags unless they're able to be used time and time again. A group of Opuzen school kids are aware of just how damaging plastic waste is to the environment, taking an incredibly long time to break down, and have sought to protect their local river, the famous Neretva, from harm.

As Morski writes, on the occasion of the World Children's Day, an action of cleaning the Neretva river mouth of plastic waste was organised. More specifically, the action in which Opuzen school kids became young environmentalists took place in the Special Ornithological-Ichthyological Reserve.

The world is already so polluted with plastic that each of us eats at least five grams of plastic a week in our food which corresponds to the size of one whole bank card. The horror is all the greater if we know that we get all the plastic into the body through eating a very basic, regular diet.

This was the guiding thought of last week's action of cleaning up the Neretva river mouth, in which, in addition to the Regional Agency DUNEA, the Public Institution for the Management of Protected Areas of Dubrovnik-Neretva County and the Biom Association, local children from Opuzen which is situated along the river participated.

At the beginning of the action, a short educational presentation was held about the reserve located within the Neretva Valley and about the pollution of the sea with plastic and other harmful waste. After that, the participants put on their gloves and went into action. The praiseworthy efforts of these Opuzen school kids working to keep the Neretva river mouth safe and clean will more than likely be repeated soon.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Monday, 29 November 2021

Rags to Riches to Ruin: 200 Years of Hartera, Croatia’s Iconic Paper Factory

Did you know that the first steam engine in the Balkans was installed at a paper factory in Croatia? Or that the same manufacturing plant produced 7% of all cigarette paper in the world? It’s been 200 years since the foundation of the Rijeka Paper Mill, which grew into an industrial giant of international renown only to meet its demise in the early 2000s. A look at the legendary Hartera on November 29th, 2021

Better known by its nickname Hartera, the Rijeka Paper Mill used to be one of the focal points in the city renowned for its (former) industrial glory. Founded by a local industrialist in 1821 and further expanded by foreign investors, the factory grew into a wildly successful business over time. Hartera provided jobs to thousands of workers, its paper products were exported worldwide, and won medal after medal at international expos. 

Alas, much like the majority of industry in Rijeka (and the rest of the country), the Paper Mill fell victim to the economic turmoil that followed after the war in the 90s. The factory ceased operating and the insolvency proceedings drew to a close in 2005.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Hartera’s foundation, and the City Museum of Rijeka marked the occasion with an exhibition dedicated to the Paper Mill, its history and its workers. Named Hartera bez harte (paper mill without paper), the exhibition inspired this article as an homage to the legendary factory and its illustrious past.

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Exhibition Hartera bez harte at the City Museum of Rijeka

 

The story of Hartera begins with rags. 

Humble rags once used to be highly coveted goods: paper was predominantly manufactured from cloth fibers until 1886 when cellulose replaced fabric as the main substance used in paper production. 

Rag trade thus became quite a prolific commercial activity in these parts. Peddlers called cunjari visited small villages and went from door to door, collecting used linen and hemp cloth which they later resold to bigger buyers. Rags were in demand worldwide, and so tonnes of old cloth sourced in all parts of Croatia got exported to Trieste, London, Liverpool and New York via the harbour in Rijeka. 

Andrija Ljudevit Adamich, a trader, industrialist and one of Rijeka’s best known historical figures saw an opportunity in the booming rag trade. He purchased a mill on the river Rječina in 1821, repurposing the existing facilities into a paper mill which soon employed 21 workers.

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The Rijeka Paper Mill in the 20th century / Nova riječka enciklopedija - Fluminensia

The business turned out to be more of a headache than a success for Adamich. It was a time of general economic hardship, and manufacturing was made more difficult due to high production costs and procurement issues. A few years later the company was sold to foreign investors, namely Charles Meynier and Walter Crafton Smith who turned the struggling business into one of Rijeka’s industrial giants. They expanded and modernised the manufacturing plant and promptly installed a Foudrinier, the best paper making machine available at the time. Oh, and… 

The first steam engine in the Balkans

Business picked up quickly after Meynier and Smith took over, and it wasn’t long until the factory employed 250 people to meet the production demand. As the output increased, manufacturing required more power, leading the owners to obtain a steam engine for the factory in 1833 - the first one in the Balkans.

It didn’t take long for Hartera paper to start amassing accolades at major industrial expos. It won a silver medal at the First industrial exhibition in Vienna in 1835, followed by awards won in Paris, Munich, London, Barcelona and Melbourne. 

Interestingly enough, the company only launched its products domestically in 1878. For the first 50 or so years of operation, paper products made in Hartera were only sold on foreign markets: Italy, England, USA, Brasil, East India, and the eastern Mediterranean from Greece and Turkey to Jordan and Egypt. 

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Poor working conditions

While the factory might have had the best manufacturing equipment money could buy at the time, and operated with such success that its workforce expanded significantly with each passing year, working conditions were far from ideal. 

At the end of the 19th century, the company employed some 600 people; the factory operated around the clock, with everyone working 12 hour shifts with a single one hour break. No workwear or protective gear was provided to employees, leading to frequent injuries on the floor.

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Workers at the rag sorting hall

Hygiene standards weren’t a thing either, the rag sorting facility being the worst offender in this regard. The workers had to sort through mounds of dirty used fabric riddled with bacteria (again, without any protective gear), leading to a slew of infectious diseases. 

Considering that some diseases were not yet studied or had no known cure at the time, they were often referred to by alternate names. Anthrax was widely known as the woolsorter’s disease, or in Hartera’s case, cunjavica - the ragpicking disease. In the late 1880s, a particularly severe outbreak of anthrax resulted in the tragic death of 22 women workers.

On labour rights

Fed up with the poor working conditions, workers from several factories in Rijeka got together in 1906 and staged a mass strike. All 600 of Hartera’s workers joined the strike with a few demands: they called for shorter shifts, a day off on Sundays, and a 20% raise. Additionally, they asked for an employee board to be established, composed of eight workers who would serve as intermediaries between the company owners and the rest of the workforce. 

The management responded by firing them all. 

Things started to look up in the following few decades, though. Several syndicates negotiated with the management, leading to a collective agreement in 1938 which saw quite a few improvements to the working conditions at the paper mill. Employees were to work eight hour shifts, six days a week, and get paid every Saturday. Men earned 5 dinars per hour, whereas women got 4,5. After two years of employment, all workers earned a right to six vacation days a year. The company was also finally required to provide protective workwear and washing facilities with cold and hot water.

 

Why ‘Hartera’? 

The Rijeka Paper Mill was officially named Tvornica papira (paper factory), but the enterprise has more often been referred to as Hartera to this day. Where does the nickname come from? 

The Croatian word for paper is papir, but is called harta in the local dialect - which soon resulted in hartera, a logical name for a place where harta was made. 

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Pero Lovrović Pjer / Nova riječka enciklopedija - Fluminensia

 

Paper production

A wide range of products was manufactured in Hartera ever since the factory first started operating, mostly various types of writing and packaging paper. 

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Cigarette paper was first made at the factory towards the end of the 19th century, and over time became one of the company’s most popular products. Quality was of utmost importance, and the factory even procured a tobacco blend called harman to test the rolling paper on the particular blend it was made for. 

In the 1980s, Hartera accounted for 7% of global cigarette paper production. 

 

4 billion matches a year

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In 1971, one part of the Hartera plant was repurposed into a match factory named Parafinka. It was the only paraffin match factory in former Yugoslavia and became immensely successful within a decade: a report from 1981 shows that Parafinka produced around 48 million matchboxes that year, each box containing 80 matches. That’s close to 4 billion matches! If the figure is hard to grasp, let’s put it this way: if you were to arrange all those matches in a single line, it would circle the Earth three times.

Matches were made of Hartera’s thin, tightly rolled paper and then dipped in paraffin, resulting in a product which was thinner and shorter than wooden matches. The packaging was quite attractive, with colourful prints announcing major events and manifestations, advertising businesses, or promoting the region’s natural beauty and cultural heritage. 

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Parafinka matches were exported worldwide, including Libya, Egypt, USSR, Hong Kong, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands.

 

Crises, disasters and the final blow

In almost two centuries of operation, the paper mill faced economic crises, wars, and a few natural disasters. The river Rječina was the main source of power for the factory, but also a destructive force. One severe flood damaged the plant in 1852, and the entire mill had to close down for several months after another disastrous flood in 1898. Flooding wasn’t the only threat: various parts of the plant burned down on four occasions at the turn of the 20th century. 

Hartera survived all the hardships and - save for a few hiccups - continued to thrive until the war. In 1991, the company was at the height of its power: it employed over a thousand people and was the second biggest paper manufacturer in Europe.

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Rijeka Paper Mill bulletin from 1990 / Nova riječka enciklopedija - Fluminensia

Unfortunately, the war times and the economic turmoil that followed turned out to be the only hardship Hartera couldn’t survive. Substantial losses led to the factory closing down and the company declaring insolvency in 2005. 

Uncertain future 

After the paper mill ceased operating, the factory turned into a unique venue for a music festival. Named after the location, the Hartera Music Festival took place in the derelict factory halls until 2016, when the ruinous objects were declared unsafe and the festival moved to another location. 

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Hartera Music Festival in 2008. Source: Tim Ertl / Flickr

The Hartera festival was part of an initiative aiming to revitalize the area and preserve an important part of Rijeka’s industrial heritage. The City initially expressed interest, but the plans fell through due to lack of funding and a bureaucratic wall; the same happened a few years later after another initiative was devised to transform the Hartera complex into a socio-cultural centre which was supposed to breathe life - and business - into the largely abandoned area.

It remains to be seen if anything will come of the plans to revive the rundown factory. The outlook isn't hopeful, but one thing is certain: the Hartera paper factory and its workers are an integral piece of Rijeka's history and will always remain a part of the collective memory of its citizens. 

 

 

The content of this article is largely based on the information displayed at the exhibition Hartera bez harte at the City Museum of Rijeka (author of the exhibition: Kristina Pandža). Unless noted otherwise, photos were taken by the author of the article.

Monday, 29 November 2021

ZSE Main Indices Decrease

ZAGREB, 29 Nov 2021 - The main Zagreb Stock Exchange indices decreased on Monday, the Crobex by 0.23% to 1,980 points and the Crobex10 by 0.16% to 1,213 points.

Regular turnover was a little over HRK 7 million and only one stock crossed the million kuna mark, the HT telecom, turning over HRK 1.59 million. It closed at a stable HRK 184 per share.

Thirty-six stocks traded today, with 12 gainings and 15 losing in price, while nine were stable.

(€1 = HRK 7.519746)

For more, check out our dedicated business section.

Monday, 29 November 2021

Man Who Took Al Jazeera Reporter's Microphone During Live Broadcast Arrested

ZAGREB, 29 Nov 2021 - Zagreb police have arrested a man who took an Al Jazeera reporter's microphone as she was reporting live from a recent protest against COVID certificates in Zagreb, and they filed a criminal report against him for using force against a person doing public interest work

Zagreb police officers have completed a criminal investigation into a 33-year-old man suspected of using force against a person doing public interest work or working in public service, the Zagreb Police Administration said on Monday.

Police have established the identity of the man who on 20 November, about 6 p.m., took the microphone from Al Jazeera Balkans reporter Nikolina Zavišić during a live broadcast from the protest against COVID certificates in the main city square.

Police today arrested the man and filed a criminal report against him with the competent state attorney's office.

For more news about Croatia, click here.

Monday, 29 November 2021

Banožić: Defence Ministry Won't Cover for Incompetence of President's Office

ZAGREB, 29 Nov 2021 - Defence Minister Mario Banožić on Monday responded to accusations from the president's office that soldiers were not receiving per diems, telling the head of the president's office and the president's defence advisor that the ministry "will not cover for their incompetence".

"Instead of holding unconvincing press conferences and shifting responsibility to others, the gentlemen from the Office of the President should be more responsible in spending their office's budget, so there would be no problems they had mentioned. While I am minister, the Ministry of Defence will not cover for their incompetence," Banožić wrote on Facebook.

The head of the president's office, Orsat Miljenić, and presidential defence adviser Dragan Lozančić said today that Banožić's abuse had spread to soldiers who supported the president because they had not received their per diems.

Miljenić said Banožić decided a month ago not to pay per diems to soldiers who supported President Zoran Milanović in any way, specifically soldiers who recently were lined up in Vukovar and carried wreaths in Škabrnja.

Miljenić said the military chief-of-staff warned the president's office about dozens of such cases in the past month. He added that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković was notified but has taken no action.

Miljenić said this situation was unacceptable and hoped that Banožić would rescind his "unconstitutional and unlawful decision" and resume paying people what they had earned.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 29 November 2021

President's Office: Defence Minister's Abuse Has Spread to Soldiers

ZAGREB, 29 Nov 2021 - The head of the president's office, Orsat Miljenić, and presidential adviser Dragan Lozančić said on Monday that Defence Minister Mario Banožić's abuse had spread to soldiers who supported the president because they had not received their per diems.

Speaking to the press in the president's office, Miljenić said soldiers were doing their job honorably and that Banožić's abuse had spread to them following the "unlawful and sudden" retiring of Colonel Elvis Burčul and the harassment of the Chief of the General Staff, Admiral Robert Hranj.

Miljenić said Banožić decided a month ago not to pay per diems to soldiers who supported President Zoran Milanović in any way, specifically soldiers who recently were lined up in Vukovar and carried wreaths in Škabrnja.

Miljenić said the president's office had to react because Hranj warned them about dozens of such cases in the past month. He added that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković was notified but has taken no action.

Miljenić said this situation was unacceptable and hoped that Banožić would rescind his "unconstitutional and unlawful decision" and resume paying people what they had earned.

The president's defence and national security adviser Lozančić said the people in question were active soldiers who were executing their tasks in line with annual plans.

He said that in a letter to the defence minister, Chief-Of-Staff Hranj told Banožić that he saw his decision in part as a continuation of his conduct so far, which Hranj said had all the elements of a strategic abuse of him as a person and a soldier which began when Banožić asked that Hranj resign, and continued in public criticisms and Defence Ministry press releases.

Under the decision in question, Armed Forces personnel are not allowed to support the president's office nor use Defence Ministry money. Also, the costs incurred while extending such support will not be paid.

In his letter, Hranj told Banožić that his decision obstructs and hampers the functioning of the Armed Forces in general, and in particular the Honorary and Protection Battalion, whose fundamental job is to support and protect the president.

Responding to questions from the press, Lozančić said that unless the minister changed his decision, the president had two choices, either not to execute his duty as commander in chief and represent the army at certain events or do so.

Miljenić said all people in possession of a valid command and travel order would get their money, and that he hoped there would be no lawsuits, but added that this was up to the minister.

He said the president was elected to also represent the army at home and abroad, which the minister "neither can nor has the right to restrict."

Miljenić said the president would continue to go where he had to and that under the constitution and the law, the minister was not authorized to withhold per diems for soldiers accompanying the president.

He added that it was Hranj who gave the commands based on which travel orders were issued, and noted that the commander in chief represents the Armed Forces and that they support him in doing so, in which the minister of defence has no say.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 29 November 2021

UNICEF Helps Equip Inclusive Classroom at Zagreb Teacher Education Faculty

ZAGREB, 29 Nov 2021 - A newly-equipped inclusive classroom, where students will acquire modern inclusive methods for work with pre-school children, was presented at the Zagreb Teacher Education Faculty on Monday. The equipment is a donation by UNICEF and the Kaufland retailer.

A total of 1,500 teachers will be trained annually in inclusive classrooms for work with children with developmental delays, behavioral problems, and Roma children, UNICEF said.

"All futures need opportunities. In order for all children, especially the most vulnerable, to progress and one day become equal members of society, we must work together to provide them with opportunities for education. Only well-educated professionals can ensure that every child receives the necessary support for development and learning, in a supportive environment. This is an investment that has long-term significance for all future generations. We are glad that our long-term partner, Kaufland Croatia, has recognized this, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for helping to improve the education of those who care about the future of our children'', said Regina M. Castillo, Head of UNICEF Croatia.

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(From left to right) Patrick Rudat, President of the Management Board of Kaufland Croatia, Regina M. Castillo, Head of UNICEF in Croatia, Siniša Opić, Dean of the Faculty of Teacher Education in Zagreb, Dejana Bouillet, Professor at the Department of Pedagogy, and Tomisljav Paljak, State Secretary at the Ministry of Science and Education. (Photo: Miljenko Hegedić/UNICEF)

Owing to a donation of HRK 350,000 by Kaufland, UNICEF has equipped five inclusive classrooms at colleges in Zagreb, Split, Osijek, Pula, and Rijeka.

UNICEF is conducting the project for the promotion of initial teacher education for inclusive education in cooperation with the Zagreb Teacher Education Faculty and four other colleges.

Inclusive classrooms are equipped with teaching equipment and aids, basic equipment for sensory integration, as well as software for technology for assisted communication that helps future teachers in practical work and in learning innovative methods for working with children and inclusive education.

For more on lifestyle, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 29 November 2021

EC: Expectations for Croatian Economy Improve in November

ZAGREB, 29 Nov 2021 - Expectations for the Croatian economy improved in November on the back of optimism in the construction sector, which outweighed a marked decline in consumer confidence, according to a report by the European Commission released on Monday. 

The Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) for Croatia grew by 1.9 points from October to 111.3 points in November.

Construction confidence increased the most, with the relevant indicator going up by 6.3 points.

Industry confidence grew as well, by 2.8 points.

Expectations in the retail and services sectors also improved, albeit much more slightly, with the indicators going up by 1.2 and 0.8 points respectively.

Consumers, on the other hand, were pessimistic, with consumer confidence going down by 2.7 points.

Managers had signaled increased hiring in the coming period, which resulted in the Employment Expectations Indicator (EEI) going up strongly, by 3.5 points compared to October.

The coronavirus pandemic and problems in the supply chain continue to cause uncertainty so the new indicator, the Economic Uncertainty Indicator (EUI) in November rose by as much as 4.2 points compared to the month before, to 8.6 points.

Consumers pessimistic

The economic climate in the EU in November deteriorated compared to October, as evidenced by a drop in the indicator of one point to 116.6 points.

Pessimism also affected expectations in the euro area, whose indicator dropped by 1.1 points from October to 117.5 points.

The sentiment in both the EU and the euro area was marked by that of consumers, who expect worse times, with consumer confidence dropping by 2.1 points in the EU and by 2 points in the euro area.

Managers in the retail sector, on the other hand, are optimistic ahead of the Christmas shopping season, which has driven up the indicator by 1.6 points in the EU and by 1.8 points in the euro area.

Expectations of managers in the construction and services sectors have improved slightly as well, with the indicators in the EU going up by 0.5 and 0.2 points respectively. In the euro area, they grew 0.4 points each, shows the EC report.

Industry confidence was more or less unchanged.

Business managers plan to continue hiring, which is why the Employment Expectations Indicator increased further to 115.6 points in both regions (+1.4 and +1.7 points in the EU and euro area, respectively), despite marked uncertainty caused by persisting production bottlenecks due to the shortage of certain input components and raw materials, as well as a steep rise in COVID-infections.

For more, check out our dedicated business section.

Monday, 29 November 2021

HTZ Launches New Promotional Campaign "Croatia: Winter Wonderland"

ZAGREB, 29 Nov 2021 - The Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ) has launched a new campaign, called Croatia - Winter Wonderland," to promote the winter beauties of Croatian destinations and tourism-oriented products such as local cuisines and wines, culture and wellness, the HTZ announced on Monday.

The campaign will run until 10 January 2022 and will cover 14 foreign markets, namely Germany, Slovenia, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, France, Great Britain, Belgium, Sweden, and Norway. It will be conducted via social networks, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Pinterest, using the tags #CroatiaWinterWonderland and #MagicalCroatia.

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Croatia Full of Life on Facebook (Photo: Zoran Filipović)

"The promotional campaigns we conducted this year have positioned our country as a high-quality, safe, and well-prepared destination. That we were very successful in this was confirmed by the European Travel Commission, which highlighted that the Croatian National Tourist Board was the most active European tourist organization on the portal and social networks Visit Europe during its autumn campaign, and as such, a great example to tourist organizations in other countries," HTZ director Kristjan Staničić said.

The winter campaign will also focus on the Christmas markets in Croatia and will include traditional recipes and customs, and the best locations for taking winter photos.

If epidemiological conditions in the country and in the key markets allow, the HTZ will organize a trip for international influencers to Rab island, Plitvice Lakes National Park, Zagreb, and Dubrovnik to experience the winter magic in these places for themselves.

For more travel news, click here.

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