Record Numbers for Umag's Sea Star Festival, 164 Million Kuna in Profit for Croatia

By 10 December 2019

December 10, 2019 - The Sea Star Festival in Umag has brought 164 million kuna in profit to the Croatian economy over the past three years, according to a survey by the consulting firm Hotelis, specialized in tourism and hospitality, made for the needs of the Umag Tourist Board.

HRTurizam writes that in the same period, the total value of the promotion of the festival, organized by the multi-award-winning EXIT team, amounts to almost 100 million kuna, mainly focused on the branding of Umag, Istria and the Croatian coast.

Although the analysis states that in addition to direct, indirect spending from the Sea Star could be around an additional 65 million kuna, this amount is still not counted, as more research is needed to calculate it accurately.

The comprehensive analysis, in addition to the Sea Star Festival, also includes music and sports games in Fažana, a multi-day event that, in collaboration with English partners, the EXIT team has generated around 30,000 overnight stays by British tourists over the past two years in the early preseason in March and April, as well as 23.8 million kuna in spending for the local economy.

The analysis also noted that, despite Croatia becoming a destination with a large number of festivals, Sea Star in May is still the only major music festival in the preseason, more precisely beyond peak dates when the coast is already full of tourists. Thus, this festival, as well as the Exit project in Fažana in March and April, are one of the few positive examples that support Croatian tourism plans for enriching the offer beyond the peak season.

The survey also finds that visitors to the Sea Star Festival spend about 35% more than the average tourist in the same destination, averaging 2,200 kuna, while foreign visitors spend, on average, up to 3,000 kuna during this festival weekend.

Considering that they mostly choose apartments for their accommodation, their extra-board consumption is two times higher than the average, which further increases the effect on the local economy. Based on the financial statement data, Exit's Croatian company EMC generated taxes of 8.2 million kuna in three years, while the festival also employs a large number of employees from different professions, and the total number of people hired before and during the festival was estimated at over 400.

Over the past three years, the Sea Star Festival has seen more than 120,000 visitors, of which, according to research, about 90% came to Umag solely for the festival.

Of these, as many as 96% of respondents have improved or left with the same opinion about Umag, from which the research concludes that the festival has a very positive effect on destination branding and will, according to the report.

UNWTO forecasts say that the main driver of global tourism growth will be young people, and that nearly 370 million young travelers will account for more than $400 billion in spending over the next decade.

Sea Star festival-goers are young; according to the survey, and on average, the typical visitor is 25.5 years old, while the share of those older than 35 is about 7%. On average, 58% of visitors are employed, while the percentage of university students is as high as 68%.

The motivation for arrivals is mostly the social aspect of the festival, followed by the music program as a cultural aspect, and eventually, those using it as an opportunity to stay at sea. Many cite loyalty to the EXIT brand as a reason, and confidence in the organization and quality of the event, which is officially part of its large, international festival family.

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