Thursday, 23 April 2020

EU Tourism Ministers to Discuss Measures for Tourism

ZAGREB, April 23, 2020 - EU tourism ministers will hold a video conference on April 27 to discuss the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on tourism and measures to enable the quickest possible recovery of the sector, the Croatian Tourism Ministry said on Thursday.

The video conference will be held on the initiative of Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli.

The event will be organised as part of the Croatian presidency of the Council of the EU, and Minister Cappelli will chair the meeting as the relevant minister of the presiding country.

The conference was to have taken place in Dubrovnik but the plan was changed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Due to the pandemic and its disastrous effects on global tourism, including the EU and Croatia, the discussion will focus on the consequences of the pandemic and measures designed to help the tourism sector recover as soon as possible following the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions and the removal of the travel ban, Minister Cappelli said.

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

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Plenković and 4 European Heads of Government Discuss Start of Tourist Industry

ZAGREB, April 23, 2020 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Wednesday evening held telephone conversations with four European heads of government on restarting the tourist industry, a sector important for the Croatian economy.

The ban on nonessential travel imposed by many countries in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19 has adversely affected the tourism sector, which makes up a 20 percent of Gross Domestic Product of Croatia, a popular destination for many Europeans.

According to the information which he tweeted on his Twitter account, Plenković held telephone calls with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša.

Last week, the talks between Plenković and his Czech counterpart Andrej Babis were held on this topic, too.

Last night's conference call also focused on an EU summit meeting with western Balkan countries, which was due to have been held in May in Zagreb. The coronavirus epidemic is the reason why the summit meeting will be held as a virtual event by the end of Croatia's six-month presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2020.

On Thursday afternoon, EU heads of state or government will hold a video conference to discuss a joint response to the economic and social repercussions of the corona crisis.

They are expected to reach agreement on a strategy for the recovery from the consequences of the coronavirus epidemic and on gradual reactivation of the economy.

More news about Croatia and the EU can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Association Welcomes Establishment of Istria County Tourism Commission

ZAGREB, April 21, 2020 - The Croatian Tourism Association (HUT) on Tuesday welcomed the establishment of the Istria County Tourism Commission, saying that to maximise results in tourism this year it is key to ensure at all levels quality monitoring of the situation and to prepare and respond quickly to the arrival of tourists.

"It is important to involve tourism experts in communication and activities coordination with the Istria County civil protection authority so that the public and private sector could make decisions in coordination. The commission will also suggest additional measures to support tourism at the local and national level, and it will contribute to activities of the Istria Tourist Board on the market," HUT director Veljko Ostojić told Hina on the occasion of the commission's establishment.

Ostojić is also, in addition to several tourism experts from Istria, a member of the Commission, and when asked if there were any forecasts concerning the arrival of foreign and domestic tourists to Istria, he told Hina that the further developments depended on the epidemic situation.

"We cannot draw any conclusions about this. What we know now is that cancellations of peak season and postseason bookings have been rare, and we are seeing an increase in the interest of those who have booked their holidays regarding the way they can enter the country and the opening dates for facilities," Ostojić said.

He underscored that everyone in tourism was ready to offer services of maximum quality as soon as formal and market requirements for opening the facilities and the arrival of tourists have been met.

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

Monday, 20 April 2020

Croatian Tourism In the Age of Corona? Czech Agencies Have A Plan

April 19, 2020 — Czechs, who colloquially consider the Adriatic “our sea”, are trying to salvage their summer plans — and Croatia's tourism season in the process.

Travel associations in the Czech Republic proposed a model for a “corona corridor” straight to the Adriatic Coast, letting foreign visitors bypass a 14-day mandatory self-isolation period. The plan targets countries with a much lower infection rate that the Czech Republic itself.

“We have asked ministries to find a solution to save the summer tourist season or travel agencies,” Jan Papez, president of the Association of Czech Travel Agencies, told Jutarnji List. Croatia was among the first chosen because of its low rate of infection and deaths.

The association suggested the Czech government sign a treaty with countries successfully keeping COVID-19 at bay such as Croatia, Slovakia, but also some distant countries. The deal would allow mutual travel for citizens in both directions.

The proposal comes at a precarious time, as governments gently dip their toes into something resembling normal life, often reintroducing restrictive measures again.

The latest cautionary tale comes from Singapore, which brought the virus’s spread under control weeks before Croatia. It reopened its borders, only to have its caseload double as migrant laborers returned.

The Czech proposal calls for epidemiological oversight and health certifications, though health officials seemed skeptical.

Some epidemiologists warn the proposal may hurt current efforts to keep COVID-19 from overwhelming healthcare systems. Krunoslav Capak, the Head of the Croatian Institute for Public Health, downplayed the health certificate idea at a press conference.

“Health certificates do not mean much because a person may be ill 24 hours later,” he said. “In our view, tourists arriving in Croatia should either be quarantined for 14 days or should come from countries where the epidemiological situation is better than ours.”

Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenković jumped all over the plan, reaching out to Czech Premier Andrei Babis to discuss the idea. 

Tourism Minister Gary Cappelli on Friday promised to discuss the proposal with his Czech counterpart Klara Dostalov.

"We are determined to find opportunities to realize this, and with similar practices, we would work with other interested markets," Cappelli said.

The minister will lead a conference of tourism ministries around the continent on April 27, where the Czech plan will be discussed, among others.

The Czech Tour Operators Association found fertile ground for the plan with their Croatian counterparts.

"This Czech initiative for us is a great signal of what this year's tourism season may resemble,” said the director of the Croatian Tourism Association, Veljko Ostojic, according to Jutarnji List. “But when and under what conditions, the National Directorate has to determine.” 

Ministers in both countries warned against getting too excited, pointing to a long list of variables that haven’t been settled, including transportation, health and epidemiological measures, healthcare capacity and, of course, the virus itself. Cappelli himself tamped down initial optimism.

“Neither [the Czech travel agencies] nor others have much space for work and travel now,” he said. “They are looking for somewhere to go to sea. They somehow find it easiest to get to Croatia. Will they succeed in doing so or not? We will see. It depends not only on us but also on other countries.”

The plan calls for state-verified health certificates declaring travelers COVID-free, allowing trips to other less-infected countries and bypassing mandatory self-isolation measures. Special air and road corridors would allow the speedy transfer to a tourist’s destination. Early plans include direct connections from Prague to Dubrovnik and Split.

Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Franković considers the idea fantastic, according to Jutarnji, but emphasized the need to reconnect the Pearl of the Adriatic to airline passengers in other major European hubs.

Prominent members of Croatia’s tourism industry welcomed the Czech proposal.

“The Czechs are exactly the market we counted on the most,” the director of the Split-Dalmatia County Tourist Board Joško Stella, according to Jutarnji List. “It was clear to us that they might be the first to show a tendency to come to the Adriatic, which is why we are in constant contact with them.”

Ostojić and others worry that the Croatian knack for drowning everything in bureaucracy may kill any plans to salvage the season.

“It is important to know what the procedures will be like at the borders,” Ostojić told Jutarnji. “Whether passengers will stand in columns and fill in paperwork, which means that we should not expect much tourist activity.”

Czech tourists often carry the unfortunate stereotype of low-spending, high maintenance guests, eliciting eye-rolls among certain older members of Dalmatia’s hospitality industry.

But that doesn’t stop them from vacationing on the Dalmatian coast, which remains one of the most popular destinations for Czech tourists. Over 800,000 spent holiday in Croatia last year for 5.4 million overnight stays. 

The Dalmatian coast is so synonymous with Czech vacations, the nation’s vacationers call it “our sea.”

Monday, 20 April 2020

27% of Austrians Want to Travel to Croatia Once Epidemic Is Over

ZAGREB, April 20, 2020 - Findings of a survey conducted between 6 and 9 April show that the current COVID-19 epidemic has not yet marred Austrians' plans to spend summer holidays in Croatia, the Jutarnji List daily said on Monday.

The findings of the survey conducted by the entrepreneurial advisory firm BlueRock and the Improve group specialised in the market research show that two thirds of the Austrians still stick to their plans to go on holidays abroad

Also 47% of those polled say that they will definitely go on holidays if the situation with the coronavirus infection changes for the better.

Only 13% of those polled say that they have given up on plans to go on holidays this summer due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

Also, as many as 40% of the respondents have not yet decided on their summer holiday plans, and 42% say that they will make decisions on summer vacations in the next two months.

Of all those respondents covered by the survey, 27% have selected Croatia as their most desirable destination among the seven possible foreign destinations which also included Greece, Italy, Spain, France, Turkey and Montenegro.

A considerable portion of those who say that they prefer Croatia have already made bookings for their summer holidays in our country.

The Jutarnji List concludes that under some optimistic scenarios, Croatia can expect some turnover in the tourism industry this season, too.

Last week, Czech travel agencies hinted at possibilities of organising travels to Croatia if the relevant authorities could provide for special corridors for Czech tourists bound to Croatia.

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

Friday, 17 April 2020

Croatian, Czech Prime Ministers Discuss Arrival of Czech Tourists in Croatia

ZAGREB, April 17, 2020 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Twitter on Friday that he had talked with his Czech counterpart Andrej Babis and that they agreed the two countries' tourism ministers should propose models for the arrival of Czech tourists in Croatia this year.

"In the context of excellent relations between Croatia and the Czech Republic, I talked with my Czech counterpart and we agreed that Tourism Ministers Gari Cappelli and Klara Dostalova should propose acceptable models for the arrival of Czech tourists in Croatia," Plenković wrote on Twitter.

His comment came after some media outlets reported that an association of Czech travel agencies had proposed the opening of corridors, including towards Croatia, to make it possible for Czech tourists with a certificate confirming that they are healthy, to go on holiday.

Minister Cappelli commented on the idea on Thursday, saying that such proposals were as expected but that their implementation did not depend only on the wishes of visitors and tourism business partners but also on decisions by epidemiologists and governments.

The Croatian UHPA association of travel agencies has welcomed the Czech initiative, expressing hope it would be implemented to help salvage the tourist season.

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

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Capak: Foreign Tourists May Come Only Under Special Conditions

ZAGREB, April 16, 2020 - The head of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, Krunoslav Capak, said on Thursday that special measures would be put in place for hotels and tourists for this year's tourist season in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

"If the situation in other countries changes, then foreign tourists may be allowed to come, but under special conditions," he told a regular press briefing on the coronavirus situation in Croatia.

He commented on proposals by Czech travel agencies that special air and road corridors be opened for healthy tourists.

"A clean bill of health can be valid only for a short while. The situation can change already within 24 hours and such certificates are not valid epidemiologically," Capak said, adding that tourists arriving in Croatia would first have to go into 14-day isolation.

More tourism news can be found in the Travel section.

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Tourism Minister: Czech Tourist Arrivals Depend on More Than One Factor

ZAGREB, April 16, 2020 – Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli said on Thursday that the arrival of Czech tourists in Croatia would not depend only on their wishes or on the Croatian tourism sector but also on decisions to be made by national COVID-19 crisis management teams and governments.

In his comment on the Jutarnji List daily's report that Czech travel agencies have proposed the establishment of air and road corridors for healthy tourists who will not have to self-isolate upon arrival in Croatia or their return home, the minister explained that about 200 travel agencies that had made this proposal were trying to do something in the current circumstances.

The newspaper underscores that an association of Czech tour operators has recently sent a proposal to the government in Prague, suggesting that Czech citizens who get the confirmation from the authorities that they are healthy and negative for COVID-19 be allowed to travel to destinations with low rates of the coronavirus infection, such as Croatia and Slovenia.

Those agencies, just as anyone else, do not have much space for business and travel. It is the easiest for them to come to seaside destinations in Croatia, where they had good business results and booking arrangements. Whether they will manage to implement those proposals does not depend only on us but also on other countries, Cappelli said.

He added that similar suggestions could be expected from Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, primarily from their citizens who own boats and summer houses in Croatia.

The minister said that those property owners would likely be the first visitors after the corona crisis.

Cappelli finds it important that Croatia "sends good signals from its healthcare system. The country has possibly imposed the most rigid measures but it is also the safest."

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

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Croatia Recorded Increases in Tourist Arrivals and Overnight Stays in February

ZAGREB, April 14, 2020 - Croatia's commercial accommodation facilities recorded increases in tourist arrivals and overnight stays in February compared with the same month last year, of 5.4% and 11.1% respectively, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (DZS).

Industry professionals and analysts agree that positive results could hardly be expected in the coming months given the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and the closure of hotels, camps and other accommodation establishments as well as restaurants.

Figures from the e-Visitor system for March have indicated considerable declines in tourist arrivals and overnight stays, and Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli has predicted that the overall drop might be between 60% and 75% provided that the healthcare situation improves and at least some turnover is generated in the summer and early autumn.

In February, 279,000 tourists stayed in commercial accommodation facilities, up by 5.4% compared with February 2019, and they generated 610,500 overnight stays, an increase of 11.1%.

Of the total number of tourists, 170,000 were foreign visitors (+1%), while the number of domestic tourists rose by 13.15% to 106,700. Foreign tourists generated 396,000 overnight stays (+11%) and domestic tourists 215,000 (+11.3%).

Most of the foreign tourists were Slovenians, who generated nearly 20% of foreign overnight stays, followed by Austrians, Germans, Italians and visitors from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and the United States.

More tourism news can be found in the Travel section.

Monday, 13 April 2020

Austrian Daily Writes Wistfully About Croatian Island of Šolta

ZAGREB, April 12, 2020 - Austrian daily Kurier on Sunday wrote about the Croatian island of Šolta as the second home of Austrian tourists who, because of the COVID-19 epidemic, could not visit it now.

"Our longing has a name, the small Dalmatian island of Šolta which rises to the surface from the infinite deep sea, and because of the coronavirus it is uncertain when it can be visited again," Kurier said.

"The small Croatian island of Šolta between Split and Brač used to be our second home for two to three weeks at the end of summer, and the trip to the island was a special experience and ritual," it added.

Some Austrians booked their holidays on Šolta this year when people did not know about COVID-19. But the outbreak has changed everything and no one knows when normal travel will be restored.

"For now, coronavirus is forcing us to stay home, but this only increases the burning desire to live soon as we lived before," Uwe Mauch wrote in Kurier.

He says Šolta is full of beautiful olive groves, gardens with lemon, orange and fig trees as well as fragrances of lavender, rosemary, laurel, immortelle and other Mediterranean plants.

A unique environment and the smell of the sea, the relaxed and nice southern population, their songs, dishes, wines, customs, walks through orchards and olive groves, and local honey are just some of the specificities of Šolta, Mauch wrote.

It would be beautiful if at the end of the endless tunnel of restrictions caused by coronavirus, it would be possible to visit Šolta again at the end of this summer, he added.

According to the Austrian health ministry, 13,945 Austrians are positive for the virus and 350 have died.

More news about Šolta can be found in the Lifestyle section.

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