Monday, 12 October 2020

Maja Zlokic & 10 Years of Croatian Hot Spots: It's Time to be Creative and Courageous!

October 12, 2020 – A decade of tourism promotion in Croatia. As Croatian Hot Spots magazine celebrates 10 years, owner Maja Zlokic on promoting tourism in Croatia. 

This interview first appeared in Croatian on Dalmatinski Portal.

The new coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly changed the world to its foundations, and tourism, as one of the most susceptible industries to the virus, has suffered a huge blow in all segments. However, the leading people of domestic tourism and experts who know this profession to the core, agreed on one thing – in slang, we should get back on our feet and adapt to the new normal.

We talked to Maja Zlokic, a marketing expert, editor of Croatia Hot Spots magazine, and the hotspots.net.hr portal, about the basic requirements of a new tourist – high safety and hygiene standards, but also fast and reliable information.

You are the editor of Croatia Hot Spots magazine and one of the most read tourist portals in the Republic of Croatia, hotspots.net.hr. How did this story start and in what direction is it developing?

We started with Croatia Hot Spots magazine 10 years ago. We have 20 editions behind us, and over 5,000 published topics and articles that promote Croatian destinations and projects in tourism. We were among the first to start writing tourist blogs and promotional texts about Croatian destinations, which thematically revive the rich tourist heritage. In a very short period, the digital version of Croatia Hot Spots became the leader among portals on this topic, which was recognized by more than 70 local and 10 county tourist boards, mainly of the most popular Croatian destinations, which joined the project. In addition to our media, we have become distinctive for media leasing and planning in foreign markets. We started with a series of new projects and cooperation with the best Croatian communication and marketing experts.

Who are your readers and what topics interest them most?

As many as 75 percent of our readers are from Croatia and the countries of the region, and we can be proud of the 25 percent of foreign readers who follow the English version. They are most interested in affirmative articles that carry lived experiences and creative tourist products. Readers are looking for a story through which they will experience the destination and wish to travel to it quickly.

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What does advertising look like in the post-COVID period?

The Covid-19 crisis hurt all industries, both tourism, and advertising. The best ones in the COVID and post-COVID period recognized the opportunity for themselves. It’s time to be creative and brave. The company's business needs to communicate and maintain contact with its customers and follow communication trends within the industry. Any such form of communication can bring fresh ideas and positive experiences on how to plan business in the next period.

Since you're specialized in destination promotion, what is the key to advertising them in this uncertain period?

The global coronavirus pandemic has indeed had a strong impact on international tourism trends. Croatia has sun and coast and historical heritage, very rich gastronomy, and rural destinations. It is extremely important to create a lively dialogue between our coastal and rural destinations and to convey everything that our rural and urban destinations have to offer. Offering year-round tourism can certainly be part of the answer to COVID challenges. On the topic of tourism in the corona time and the role of creativity in creating new promotional activities, in cooperation with the Split-Dalmatia County Tourist Board and Professor Domagoj Bebić, Head of New Media and Head of the Department of Strategic Communication at the Faculty of Political Science in Zagreb, once a year we organize a conference called „Tourism and new technologies“, at which tourism entities can be adequately informed about all effective marketing tools in this uncertain time.

Can you give us some positive examples from practice?

Communicating destinations is always a kind of a challenge because a lot has already been seen, but I would like to highlight three promo campaigns.

The one I liked the most was the campaign of the Tourist Board of Bol in cooperation with the communication advisor Hana Klain called „Our Bol Stories“. This was the first time that a destination decided to involve locals in the promotion of their place. Somehow they are always forgotten, and they are the soul of a place. They are people who communicate intensively with guests. We were also involved in campaign promotion and the feedback on the campaign was very good.

The second campaign we were also involved in was the Split-Dalmatia County Tourist Board named „A dream waiting for you“ with great messages and great staff.

As another positive example, we would like to point out the promotional campaign of the Tourist Board of Jelsa, which at the time of the pandemic relied on its tried and tested model from the 70's – great boarding house accommodation and personalized, individual approach to the guest. Even in corona time, it brought occupancy of accommodation capacities of as much as 70 percent!

To what extent have the habits of the guests changed? How do they choose a destination?

Tourism today with COVID-19 requires a different attitude towards health and hygiene safety. It requires distance tourism, individual vacation, and high-quality service that can ensure satisfactory hygiene standards – all that Croatian tourism has space and potential for, in wide indented beaches, motives for arrival that do not depend on summer, and in small, authentic, yet undiscovered destinations. Therefore, it is important to carefully create campaigns that respond to the needs of today's tourists. The changes in demand, habits, and expectations of guests that have occurred will remain, in part or in full. The guest is looking for fast and accurate information.

What about private accommodation? How much does a small renter have to work on marketing to attract a guest?

We suspect that in addition to the presentation of the facility, hygienic safety, the position of the facility, picturesque surroundings, proximity to top beaches, it's important to have a personalized, friendly approach to the guest full of trust. A good price-quality ratio of accommodation, a friendly family atmosphere, and a friendly host is a model that has been nurtured for many years and is now even more important. Also, it is important to communicate it all well. That’s why we regularly provide our readers with tips on how to communicate with guests in corona time. Our column is led by Barbara Marković, a family accommodation expert.

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Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Croatian Tourism 365? 'Offseason Has a Future Only If We Have Quality Products and Services'

October 6, 2020 – The first tourist conference during the coronavirus pandemic entitled "Croatian Tourism 365? – Post-COVID tourism and new opportunities" was held today in Tuheljske Toplice. Top domestic and EU tourism experts analyzed this year’s tourism results and discussed post-COVID challenges and opportunities.

Great emphasis was placed on the year-round Croatian tourist offer.

At the introductory presentation "Tourism 2020 - What after Covid-19?", the global director of tourism consulting from the company Horwath HTL, Siniša Topolović, explained that everyone in tourism has suffered significant blows due to coronavirus. However, Croatia still achieved over 40 percent of last year's tourism compared to Europe, where that percentage is around 30 percent.

Also, Croatia reached 60 percent of last year's traffic in July and August, and by the end of the year, we can expect about 50 percent of last year's traffic.

Topolović also pointed out that Zadar County achieved the highest index of tourist traffic compared to 2019 – 60 percent, while Istria County traditionally has the highest number of overnight stays. Zagreb is the most successful continental destination, and Dubrovnik County has experienced the biggest decline this year.

"This year it is worth 'the further south, the sadder', but this year should be used to emphasize the quality of tourism," said Topolović, adding that this year's winners are quality providers of private and hotel accommodation and quality caterers.

 

Year-round tourism and linking the offer

The organizer of the conference, Ivana Kolar, pointed out that year-round tourism can be one of the answers to the existing COVID-19 challenges, with which the vice president of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce for Agriculture and Tourism, Dragan Kovačević, agreed.

In his opinion, we should think about Croatian tourism from the perspective of a modern tourist.

"Modern tourists use modern technologies, book accommodation at the last minute, quickly change locations, look for an alternative to mass tourism, are looking for an authentic experience to get to know the local population, customs, traditions, and culture of the people. Because of its cultural and natural features, Croatia has a lot to offer," explains Kovačević.

 

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Zadar County achieved the highest index of tourist traffic compared to 2019 – 60 percent / Copyright Romulić and Stojčić

 

Željko Kolar, a prefect of Krapina-Zagorje County, believes that "it is important that we are evaluated by regions, and not by the whole country so that we have a better chance of being on the market." He also points out that all types of tourism (wellness tourism, health tourism, religious tourism) must be brought together in the offer.

 

'More comprehensive destinations'

Minister of Tourism and Sports of the Republic of Croatia Nikolina Brnjac emphasized during the Ministerial Forum that the goal of Croatian tourism is to move away from seasonality.

"We cannot rely on seasonality, but we must have good products for that," said the Minister, confirming the opinions of Topolović and Kolar that quality products (4 and 5-star hotels, family farms, holiday homes, marinas) did good business this year. The fact that over 300 megayachts visited the Croatian coast this year is not negligible.

 

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Istria County traditionally has the highest number of overnight stays / Copyright Romulić and Stojčić

 

The Ministerial Forum was also attended by Zdravko Počivalšek, Minister of Economy and Technology Development of the Republic of Slovenia, Fernando Valdés Verelst, State Secretary for Tourism, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism of the Kingdom of Spain (online), and Elisabeth Köstinger, Minister of Agriculture, Region and tourism of the Republic of Austria (online). They discussed the future of tourism in their countries.

Fernando Valdés Verelst stated that Spain sees coronavirus as a possibility and that they "really need to start offering more comprehensive destinations."

 

40,000 tourists still in Croatia

Kristjan Staničić, director of the Croatian Tourist Board, said that the year was extremely demanding for the main season, although the tourist year is still going on, and today we have another 40,000 tourists in Croatia, mostly foreign.

"A lot of energy and funds are focused on key emitting markets, but also on the domestic market where we are implementing two important projects – a 'Week worth of vacation' and a 'Croatian tourist card'. These are projects that will be upgraded in the future and will provide an answer to the question of this conference – Croatian tourism 365? The answer is that it can, but with the synergy of all of us," concluded Staničić.

 

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Zagreb is the most successful continental destination / Copyright Romulić and Stojčić

 

He also stated that this year's experience is a good basis for preparing what awaits us in 2021, but we need an even bigger and more intensive campaign, more informing the general public that we are a safe and close destination with good value for money.

 

Look into the future

At the beginning of the conference, Topolović pointed out that "people still want to travel, everyone has to go on vacation," and that the sun and the sea have their future even in the biggest crisis.

However, Minister Brnjac says that "it is dangerous to rely on one product only – the sun and the coast." Therefore, the guidelines for the development of a new tourism strategy relate to the quality of tourism infrastructure, accommodation facilities, and the emphasis is placed on additional product offerings.

The problem in Croatian tourism is currently underdeveloped off-season products such as the ski season, wellness tourism, and spas.

"'Pre- and post-season have a future only if we have quality products and services," is the main argument of Topalović.

 

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Dubrovnik County has experienced the biggest decline this year / Copyright Romulić and Stojčić

 

A chance for further development

As the world recovers from the corona crisis, different segments of tourist travel will recover. Regional car travel will recover faster, train and domestic air travel slower, and international air traffic will need the most recovery time.

"Tourism is a reactive activity – as it blows, so the situation will develop," describes Topolović. Therefore, tourism must be well planned to be sustainable in the long run.

All the interlocutors of this conference agree on one thing: this crisis has shown us the weakest points of tourism, but it also opened our eyes to its improvement in the future. Therefore, this crisis is a chance for further development.

The most important thing, everyone says, is to stay positive in this situation.

 

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Monday, 24 August 2020

Viktor Orbán: From September 1, No More Trips to Sea in Croatia

Zagreb, August 24, 2020 – Croatia is trying to save its tourist season, so they are regularly sending us their data, and it doesn't look much better than the articles in the media, said Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Monday.

As Večernji writes, the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said there are only a few more days of summer holidays left, so he advised everyone who wants and has an opportunity to go to the sea, to do so immediately, because, from September 1, restrictions on travel to countries south of Hungary will be introduced again.

The Hungarian Prime Minister revealed this in today's interview for Hungarian radio. Thus, without explicitly mentioning Croatia, he indirectly announced putting our country on the red list before the beginning of the school year.

"I don't want to interfere in personal lifestyle choices, habits and plans of Hungarians, but with due respect and caution, I ask everyone to not organize trips or book holidays in countries south of Hungary and not to consider themselves as tourists because it would be contrary to the protective measures at the borders," said Orbán. He added that in assessing the situation in some countries, including Croatia, they are not guided by the media, but have established direct contact with Austrians and Croats.

"The situation in most countries is getting worse compared to Hungary. The warning that the import of the infection poses the biggest threat to Hungary is not only valid but also more valid than before. The summer indeed lasts and people are on vacation, but soon it will be over and the school will start. For the families, it is the most important that schools and kindergartens function normally", said the Hungarian Prime Minister.

Orbán, as well as the Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, was seen spending his vacation on a yacht in Croatia.

 

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Thursday, 20 August 2020

PHOTOS: Lily Allen And Lepa Brena Arrive In Croatia

August 20, 2020 – Croatian coast a hit in August 2020 with international pop stars including Lepa Brena and Lily Allen

Croatia's coast has once again proved an irresistible draw to holidaying celebrities. The latest famous arrivals include regional pop megastar Lepa Brena and hit British singer Lily Allen.

Both Lepa Brena and Lily Allen have taken to their social media accounts over recent hours to announce their arrival in the country. Each has posted pictures of their vacations on the beautiful, sun-soaked coast of Dalmatia.

Lepa Brena, the revered originator of the massively popular regional pop-folk sound posted pictures from Mljet island, but Lily Allen has already travelled between Lastovo and Vis island. And while photos taken by Brena have been all about the beautiful Croatian scenery, Lily's have been smiling selfies as she thoroughly enjoys a break with her family. Here's how they saw Croatia through their social media on the first days of their visits.

Lepa Brena

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Lily Allen

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All images sourced from Instagram

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

The Times and The Sun Nominate Croatia for Best Destination in World

August 11, 2020 - Croatia has been included in the selection for the prestigious Best Country award 2020, which is awarded by popular British newspapers The Times & The Sunday Times and The Sun to decide the best country in the world.

Awarded for the eighth time, the shortlist of nominees this year includes some of the world's best destinations, namely France, Turkey, the USA, Dubai, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Thailand, reports HTZ.

"We are extremely proud of this nomination by which we have strengthened the position our country enjoys in the UK market, while also confirming that our intensified marketing activities in the UK are yielding excellent results. I call on all Croatian fans to take the opportunity and give a voice to Croatia, which absolutely deserves to be on such an important list," said the director of the Croatian Tourist Board Kristjan Stanicic.

Voting will last until the end of October, and the final winner will be decided by readers who can vote via the following link (VOTE HERE) and thus also participate in a prize game in which they can win exclusive prizes such as a holiday in Barbados and the Dominican Republic. In addition to the best country category, you can vote in 12 other categories such as the best city, airline and tour operator.

The award ceremony will take place in November, most likely virtually, given the current epidemiological situation. Recall, The Times & The Sunday Times are currently the best-selling print newspaper in the UK, read by almost three million people a day, while The Sun is one of the most popular newspapers with a monthly reach of over 37 million readers.

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Friday, 8 May 2020

Croatia Sees 77% Fewer Tourists in March Than Last Year

ZAGREB, May 8, 2020 - Croatia recorded a 76.8% fall in the number of tourist arrivals and a 69.3% fall in the number of overnight stays in March 2020 compared with the same month in 2019, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (DZS).

In March this year only 104,000 tourists stayed in commercial accommodation facilities, generating 290,000 overnight stays.

The drastic decline is the result of the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions undertaken by countries across the globe to contain the spread of the novel virus.

Domestic tourists generated 43,000 arrivals and 106,000 overnight stays, which are decreases of 67% and 60.9% respectively, while foreign tourists generated 61,000 arrivals and 184,000 overnight stays, which are respective declines of 80.8% and 72.7% year on year.

German tourists generated the largest number of arrivals and overnight stays - 11,000 arrivals and 29,000 overnight stays, or 17.2% of the total arrivals and 15.8% of the total overnight stays made by foreign tourists. Compared with March 19, they generated 73.9% fewer arrivals and 72.3% fewer overnight stays.

In terms of overnight stays, German tourists were followed by those from Slovenia, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the United States.

By type of accommodation, hotels recorded 71,000 tourist arrivals and 149,000 overnight stays, which is 68.2% of the total arrivals and 51.3% of the total overnight stays. Compared with March 2019, they registered 79.3% fewer arrivals and 77.5% fewer overnight stays.

A total of 23,000 arrivals and 110,000 overnight stays were recorded in rented accommodation establishments, which is 21.7% of the total arrivals and 37.9% of the total overnight stays. Compared with March 2019, this type of accommodation generated 66.5% fewer arrivals and 44.2% fewer overnight stays.

In the first quarter of 2020, commercial accommodation facilities registered 603,000 tourist arrivals and 1.4 million overnights, which is a 34.6% decline in the number of arrivals and a 27.7% decline in the number of overnight stays compared with the first quarter of 2019.

More tourism news can be found in the Travel section.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Partial Tourism Activity in Europe Is Possible This Year

ZAGREB, May 7, 2020 - If the successful fight against the coronavirus in Croatia, its neighbours and central European countries continues, the opening of the borders and partial tourism activity will be possible, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković told the US television channel CNBC on Wednesday.

If we all fight Covid-19 equally well, we will come to a stage where we can consider opening the borders and that is our ambition, Plenković said, citing positive trends in fighting the novel coronavirus in Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and Germany.

He said that the aim was to achieve an EU-wide agreement that would not jeopardise people's health, but would make it possible for the tourism industry to be partly active and for the countries in which tourism is an important part of the economy to recover from the coronavirus crisis more quickly in 2021.

Plenković said that his government had started to follow the situation in China already in early January and had quickly responded to the Covid-19 outbreak. He added that the daily number of new coronavirus cases in Croatia was now in single digits.

We managed to beat the virus in the first half, the prime minister said.

He said that his government had provided massive support to the private sector, thus keeping 500,000 jobs.

As the prime minister of the country that currently holds the rotating six-month EU presidency, Plenković said that at the last video conference of the European Council it had been agreed to take a new approach in negotiations on the new EU multiannual financial framework.

We need to reach an agreement to ensure that the EU budget becomes an instrument that can help all economies to recover. That's a key element, he said.

He said that Croatia, which is not a member of the euro area, would advocate that the EU recovery plan should include all 27 member states and not just the 19 members of the Eurogroup.

More news about Croatian tourism can be found in the Travel section.

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Croatia's Summer 2020 to Feature Mega Yachts, Krka Park and Social Distancing

May 6, 2020 — Early comments by authorities suggest Croatia's tourism season will cater to the well-heeled, while also keeping social distancing orders in place.

The director of the Croatian Institute for Public Health, Krunoslav Capak, gave broad-stroke outlines of the evolving epidemiological measures and what life will be like on Dalmatian islands in an interview with HRT

"We've been very successful," he said. "We have to make sure that there is no second wave because it threatens us with the virus being here."

Capak urged citizens to remain aware the virus is still present and will be for some time. But loosened restrictions meant to free up economic activity and daily life would slowly reintroduce normalcy.

"Quarantine is good for stopping the rapid spread of infection but is not sustainable. People and social life cannot function in quarantine," he said.

Capak explained if the coronavirus keeps the characteristics it has now, it will probably return in the fall. Though there also may be an effective drug by then.

He said cafes and restaurants, hotels, kindergartens, and schools are now the focus, and sports competitions are intensively discussed. In collaboration with gyms and fitness centers, they will make recommendations.

As for the islands and going to the islands, Capak said islanders would have to adapt to the new way of life. It will not be as it was, there will be no crowds on the beaches.

"If there is a favorable epidemiological situation, there will be no crowds on the beaches, in the cafes," he said, referencing the continuation of social distancing measures currently in effect. Municipal guards, beach owners, cities, or hotels would have to take care not to limit contact.

"There will be no towel-next-to-towel," he said, a nod to the traditional cramming along Dalmatia's more popular beaches.

He also offered up one more tantalizing prospect: open-air concerts. Capak added the usual battery of caveats.

"Of course, this requires the permission of the Civil Protection Directorate, because there is still a ban on gathering people in the open and the recommendation for a limited number of people is still valid," he said. "According to epidemiological criteria, it is possible. People need to stick to the distance if they are closer to wearing masks."

The social-distancing measures will be easier to follow on a specific group of tourists: the yacht clubbers who galavant along the Adriatic in megalithic boats.

The Minister of the Interior and the head of the National Civil Protection Headquarters, Davor Božinović, said yachts longer than 24 meters in length were allowed to enter Croatian ports for berths in nautical tourism ports and ports open to the public. In addition, yachts are allowed to enter shipyards for repairs or repairs, Bozinovic said at a press conference of the National Staff. The measure could make megayachts the first mode of transportation liberated from the ePass system.

One of the first places testing the new, more-relaxed regime will be Krk National Park. After a break of almost two months, the park will reopen its doors to individual visitors on May 11. 

The park hopes to spark renewed with promotional ticket pricing until June 18, at HRK 50 for adults and HRK 25 for children and young people from seven to 18 years old.

The Park said it used the break to adapt common areas to the new epidemiological measures, particularly in closed areas. Entry to the rooms will be limited to a fixed number of visitors at the same time, with hand disinfection required at every entrance.

 

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Croatian and Slovenian Ministers Discuss Tourism

ZAGREB, April 29, 2020 - Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli and his Slovenian counterpart Zdravko Počivalšek on Wednesday met in Zagreb for the talks on the tourism industry in the circumstances marked by the COVID-19 epidemic.

In light of the fact that Croatia and Slovenia have been cooperating for years in the joint promotion of their tourist industries, the two ministers underscored the importance of the further cooperation in that sector expressing hope that the epidemiological situation would soon allow for the opening of the borders.

They discussed the idea of enabling travels for tourist purposes provided that protocols for such travelling could be prepared, as suggested at a recent video conference of the European Union's tourism ministers.

Cappelli and Počivalšek also considered the availability of financial means for the stronger positioning of tourism through the future EU financial frameworks so as to maintain the stability of businesses in this sector.

Tourists from Slovenia are one of the most numerous and loyal visitors to Croatia and therefore we are talking about the possible reopening of the borders and making it possible for Slovenians to go on holidays in Croatia provided that there are all necessary measures in place, the Croatian minister said.

In this context he recalled that Slovenians have property in Croatia and are trying to find a solution how to visit their property in compliance with the epidemiological measures imposed due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

Počivalšek noted that about 110,000 summer houses or second homes are owned by Slovenians in Croatia and that it would be "suitable to allow them to visit their summer homes."

Počivalšek said that Slovenia was optimistic about partial re-establishment of the cross-border traffic for travellers between the two countries in late summer in compliance with the health protection measures.

More news about relations between Croatia and Slovenia can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

#CroFact: Facts and Curiosities About Croatia on Social Media

ZAGREB, April 29, 2020 - The Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) has posted new promotional content under the title "#CroFact" on social media, including lesser known facts and curiosities about Croatia, additionally presenting Croatia to past and future visitors.

#CroFacts is the HTZ's new online presence aimed at their many fans on Instagram and Facebook. The HTZ plans to include the less known facts in quizzes, considering the popularity of such virtual challenges in the times of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Proactive relationships with our audience and the media in key markets are an important part of our activities, the goal of which is to increase the visibility and the promotion of Croatia in these challenging times. That is why we publish interesting content such as this, because in that way we can keep our presence and increase interest in Croatia in a large number of people. I am certain that facts such as the one that the first quarantine in the world was in Dubrovnik, or that the longest street in the world is in Vrbnik on the island of Krk, will intrigue and cheer up people, and remind all those who have already been to Croatia of all the scenery and particularities of our country, while prompting those who haven't into visiting soon," the HTZ director, Kristjan Staničić, stated in a press release.

Apart from the two mentioned curiosities, the top 10 facts and curiosities include the fact that Croatian doctor Andrija Štampar was one of the World Health Organisation's founders, and that Croatian scientist Faust Vrančić was the inventor of the parachute.

There is also information on the first "vampire" from Istria, the fact that Croatia was the motherland of the ancient Vučedol culture, the fact that Croatia has the shortest funicular railway in the world, as well as the fact that the tie was originally a scarf tied around the neck, worn by Croatian soldiers in the 17th Century.

Other included curiosities are a cathedral bell in Osijek, which has been tolling every Friday at 11 a.m. for the last 330 years, as well as the original Museum of Angels in Varaždin.

The HTZ invited their fans on social media to share their memories from Croatia. They also asked them what they missed the most, and the most frequent answers were: the crystal-clear sea, islands, the Croatian way of life, the culture of sipping coffee, the food, the City of Zagreb, Croatian people, summer, sun and sunsets.

More tourism news can be found in the Travel section.

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