Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Coronavirus Croatia: Outbreak Significantly Reduces Easter Bookings

March 3, 2020 - Because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, bookings for Easter in Croatia have been significantly reduced. However, some companies have figured out how to reduce cancellations of booked travel arrangements. They have decided to give tourists the option of cancelling their trip without penalty up two or three days before their scheduled arrival.

*Follow this article for live updates and this page for updates from Total Croatia News on the coronavirus in Croatia. An archive of updates can be found hereContact numbers for epidemiologists, travel advisories and measures for preventing the spread of the coronavirus can be found here.

Familiar Words: No Reason to Panic in Croatia

On the other hand, tourism experts say that Croatia has no reason to panic according to Martina Pauček Šljivak/Index on March 3, 2020. Although everyone is keeping a close eye on what happens and how the situation develops, they say that the reduced number of Easter bookings is not necessarily cause for concern. But they added that the number of bookings is worse than last year. Nevertheless, they claim that those numbers should not be compared to last year, because these are two different scenarios.

Tomislav Fain, president of the Association of Croatian Travel Agencies, told Index that Easter bookings were slow and not going at the pace they went last year. However, he also said that some companies have made key decisions which have currently reduced the cancellations of travel arrangements for Croatia.

Some Croatia Partners Offer Last Minute Cancellations

"The bookings we have received have still not been cancelled to a large extent, most went to partners with reduced travel cancellation options. Some companies have thus decided to give clients the option of cancelling their trips even two to three days before their planned arrival to Croatia without having to pay a cancellation fee. We are all watching what is happening, both for our guests and us. We are all hoping that this situation will stabilize and that everyone will continue to travel normally. But the fact is that we do not have any new reservations for Easter," Fain told Index.

Index also spoke with Veljko Ostojić, director of the Croatian Tourism Association, who said that because of the coronavirus outbreak, some tour groups from Italy had cancelled their arrivals in Croatia for Easter. Some events in Croatia have also been cancelled, he revealed to Index.



Bookings from Italy Down Significantly

"Easter bookings are down significantly, and inquiries have been reduced. But Easter falls on April 12 this year and all sorts of things are possible. So, if things get under control, we can expect the infected to be healthy within the next few days, so it's too early to assess what kind of results there will be for Easter," Ostojić added.

Last year, he said, there were more bookings at this time of year, but he also added that it was difficult to compare a normal year to this specific situation.

"Easter can be great and it can be bad, now people are monitoring the coronavirus developments in Croatia, and in their own countries. I think we have no reason to panic regarding this topic, and even if Easter is worse than last year, nothing dramatic will happen here. The four summer months are the most important to us and possibly some lost arrivals can be made up for later. There is no reason to panic," Ostojić concluded, echoing a familiar phrase.

Coronavirus Causes Cancellations of March Group Bookings

Croatian Minister of Tourism Gari Cappelli recently said that Croatian tourism is not feeling the downside of coronavirus outbreak for the time being, but that bookings have slowed down slightly, which he said was normal and to be expected. He added that the largest cancellations are currently happening in the business and congress tourism segment for March.

"The further spread of coronavirus in Croatia and the rest of Europe is difficult to project, but it is expected that it will have an impact on the first quarter's tourism results, though not too much, since the tourist turnover is normally lower in that quarter and the share of total annual revenue from tourism is about five percent," Cappelli assessed at a previous government meeting.


2000 Chinese tourists visited Croatia in February 2020, which was 60 percent less than 2019 | Index

2000 Chinese Tourists in February 2020: Down 60 Percent

He stated that there are currently about 24.5 thousand tourists in Croatia, which is similar to last year, and that the decline is mostly coming from Asian markets, especially from China, whose tourists numbered about two thousand, or 60 percent less in February than in the same month last year. However, in January this year there were almost four thousand or 70 percent more. Cappelli says tourism numbers are now about zero from that market compared to last year's results at the same time.

He also pointed out that in relation to the total tourist physical and financial traffic in the first three months of this year, due to the situation with the virus, they do not expect any major negative impact, except for the already mentioned segment of business and congress tourism, which happens in March.

Easter Earlier in 2020: True Tourist Picture Expected in May

"Easter is earlier this year, at the beginning of April, and when the holiday falls earlier it never provides a true picture of what will happen in the tourist season. This year, the real picture will be only be seen around the May holidays, when the largest number of Italian tourists arrive. Like Slovenes and Germans, they merge those holidays with others in their countries," added Cappelli.

He also noted that the last two years has seen a trend of last-minute bookings in May for the summer peak season, and for which he does not currently show any cancellations in Croatia. However, even in some of the major markets, like Germany and Great Britain, there has been a steady demand recorded with low growth compared to the same period in 2019.

Follow our Travel page for updates on Croatia tourism forecasts and statistics for 2020. The website for the Association of Croatian Travel Agencies can be found here, the Croatian Tourism Association here and the Croatia Ministry of Tourism here.

*Follow this article for live updates and this page for updates from Total Croatia News on the coronavirus in Croatia. An archive of updates can be found hereContact numbers for epidemiologists, travel advisories and measures for preventing the spread of the coronavirus can be found here.

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Government Assures Tourist Industry Worried about Coronavirus and Migrants

ZAGREB, March 3, 2020 - The government takes into account the interests of the Croatian tourism industry and will take measures to mitigate any risks from a possible escalation of the coronavirus situation and the migrant crisis, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in the northern Adriatic resort town of Umag on Monday evening.

Speaking after meeting executives of several large hotel companies, Plenković said that he and Interior Minister Davor Božinović were travelling to Greece on Wednesday to learn first-hand about the situation on the land border between Greece and Turkey.

He said that the representatives of hotel companies had expressed their satisfaction with the way the government was handling the coronavirus situation, without creating panic that might adversely affect the economy and tourism in particular.

Plenković said that Croatia was dealing with the coronavirus situation and the migrant crisis both at the national and the European level. He said that Božinović would be chairing an extraordinary meeting of the EU Home Affairs Council in Brussels on Wednesday.

Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli said that hoteliers were rightfully concerned, but that things were still going according to plan and the tourism industry was still in the black.

"So far we have recorded a 5% rise in arrivals and a 2% rise in overnight stays. March will see some minuses, but there have been no major cancellations for now," Cappelli said, adding that the situation was under control for now. "70% of our tourists come by car and that's our advantage," he noted.

Croatian Tourism Association director Veljko Ostojić said that there was some concern but there was no reason for panic. "Certain smaller groups who were due to come in the early season are cancelling their visits, certain events and conferences are also being cancelled, but what is positive is that there have been no cancellations for the peak season, although booking is rather slow," he said.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 2 March 2020

Place2Go International Travel Show to Be Held in Zagreb on 13-15 March

ZAGREB, March 2, 2020 - The ninth international travel show Place2Go will take place in Zagreb's Arena sports hall on 13-15 March, with over 200 exhibitors from some 20 countries expected to attend, slightly more than last year, the organisers announced at a press conference on Monday.

"This year is particularly challenging because of the coronavirus situation, but for now everything is going as planned. We have had one cancellation only, by Macedonia, because they are following the recommendation not to travel abroad," the travel show's director Damjana Domanovac said, adding that they were in close contact with the national coronavirus crisis management authority.

She said they expected about 230 companies to attend the show, compared with 210 last year, mostly from Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. "This year new exhibitors are Argentina, Cuba, Montenegro and Albania, who will present their destinations. Exhibitors from Indonesia and India will be present this year as well through their respective embassies."

Domanovac said that this year there were no exhibitors from Italy, China and other countries with large numbers of coronavirus cases. She added that following the cancellation of the world's largest travel show ITB Berlin, the Place2Go fair would be a good chance for professional visitors from Croatia and the region to establish new contacts and close new deals.

More tourism news can be found in the Travel section.

Friday, 28 February 2020

Number of Tourists in Commercial Accommodation up 5% in 2019

ZAGREB, February 28, 2020 - A total of 19.5 million tourists stayed in commercial accommodation in Croatia in 2019, an increase of 5% compared with 2018, while the number of overnight stays rose by 2% to 91.2 million, the National Bureau of Statistics (DZS) said on Friday.

A total of 2.2 million domestic tourists stayed in commercial accommodation, up by 9.4%, and generated 7.1 million overnight stays, nearly 10% more than in 2018.

Croatian tourists were the second largest group to stay in commercial accommodation, behind Germans, whose number reached 2.9 million, up 3.5%. German tourists generated by far the largest number of overnight stays - 20 million, which is a slight decline in relation to 2018. They were followed by Slovenians, with 7.5 million overnight stays (+3.1%), while Austrians were the fourth largest group, with 7.05 million overnight stays, down by 0.1% from 2018.

Foreign tourists, who came from over 80 countries from around the world, accounted for about 90% of all stays in commercial accommodation, with 17.3 million arrivals (+4.3%) and 84.12 million overnight stays (+1.2%).

Broken down by type of accommodation, the largest number of overnight stays, namely 44.5 million, was generated in various types of private accommodation, which was an increase of 2.6% over 2018. Hotels recorded 20.7 million overnight stays (+1.6%) and campsites 18.2 million (-0.6%).

More tourism news can be found in the Travel section.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Naftalan Hospital One of Key Drivers of Health Tourism in Zagreb County

ZAGREB, February 23, 2020 - Zagreb County has significantly developed its tourist trade and infrastructure, and Naftalan, a special hospital for medical rehabilitation in Ivanić Grad, plays a marked role in that.

Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli, who visited the hospital recently, praised the development of medical tourism and Naftalan for efforts to upgrade its business. Cappelli said that medical tourism was one of the three strategic goals of the further development of Croatia's tourist trade.

This hospital in Ivanic Grad, some 40 kilometres southeast of Zagreb, is expanding its facilities through an investment project worth HRK 63.5 million (€8.5m) which includes the upgrade of the existing swimming pools and other amenities.

Naftalan, founded in 1989, successfully performs "treatments with the help of thermal saltwater and healing naftalan oil – which makes the hospital unique globally," according to the information available on the hospital's website.

"This mineral oil is included among natural health factors, and our experts developed a system of its use in baths – that is, naftalan therapy."

Naftalan is the only hospital in Europe and one of the few in the world to provide treatment for skin and inflammatory rheumatic diseases using a unique natural resource - naftalan mineral oil. Naftalan is a therapeutic mineral oil that is commercially used in medicine only in Azerbaijan and Ivanić Grad.

Combined with other modern therapies, naftalan efficiently treats psoriasis and diseases of the human musculoskeletal system, says the hospital.

More tourism news can be found in the Travel section.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Kvarner and Rijeka ECC 2020 Presented at BIT Tourism Fair in Milan

ZAGREB, February 10, 2020 - The Croatian coastal region of Kvarner and Rijeka as the European Capital of Culture 2020 (ECC 2020) ware promoted at the BIT tourism fair in Milan on Monday, the Croatian National Tourism Board (HTZ) said in a press release.

HTZ is presenting its tourist trade at the fair from February 9 to 11. BIT is one of the most important tourism fairs in Italy and this year it is marking its 40th anniversary.

Italians account for the fifth most numerous tourists to Croatia and last year they generated a growth of about three percent in arrivals and nights, HTZ director Kristjan Staničić said adding that announcements of positive trends by key tour operators, airlines and ferry services give rise to hope about even better results this year.

Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli underscored that Croatia is one of the favourite destinations for Italian tourists and that Croatia enjoys the image of being safe and an environmentally preserved close destination with a wealthy offer of local wines and cuisine.

He added that Croatia's nautical and health tourism were particularly attractive for Italians.

More tourism news can be found in the travel section.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Tourism Ministry to Support Cycling Tourism in Continental Croatia

ZAGREB, February 10 2020 - The Ministry for Tourism is inviting applications for grants until March 13 to allocate 5 million kuna in total for development of cycling tourism in continental Croatia, and eligible applicants include local government units from the 14 continental counties, the ministry has announced.

The funds are to be allocated from a programme for developing cycling tourism on the continent in 2020.

The Minister of Tourism Gari Cappelli says that increasing the tourism potential of continental Croatia contributes to a more even development of tourism in the country, and biking tourism, along with food tourism and health tourism, represents a highly attractive product.

"Those products are especially important for continental Croatia, which has all the prerequisites for stronger tourism positioning. Apart from that, biking tourism attracts visitors throughout the whole year, and it emphasises both the natural and the cultural heritage of particular destinations, promoting both sustainability and conservation, which is one of the basis for the further development of tourism in Croatia," the minister has said when grant applications were invited.

The ministry is co-funding around 90% of eligible costs for the implementation of an individual project. The minimum grant amounts to 100,000 kuna, and the maximum to 500,000 kuna.

The ministry notes that they have already co-financed the drafting of operational plans for cycling tourism in the 14 continental counties in 2017, and they point out the fact that the project has sparked considerable interest in all continental counties during the last 3 years, causing all of them to make a considerable step forward in developing that type of tourism.

More tourism news can be found in the Travel section.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

HTZ: February Seeing Fewer Tourist Arrivals from China

ZAGREB, February 6, 2020 - Croatia is seeing a noticeable decline in tourist arrivals from China in the first week of February as a result of comprehensive and strict measures by Chinese authorities to contain the coronavirus outbreak, and travel demand is expected to stabilise in the coming period, the Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ) told Hina.

Some 4,400 Chinese tourists have visited Croatia since the start of the year and generated 7,600 overnight stays, which are respective increases of 49% and 19% compared with the same period in 2019, HTZ director Kristjan Staničić said.

"This growth is as planned and is the result of activities aimed at encouraging further arrivals from China. We have recorded a decline in tourist turnover from that market in February as a result of strict measures taken by the Chinese government and certain travel restrictions for the whole of February. Yet, Chinese tourists who were already in Europe during the emergency have continued their journeys," Staničić said, adding that the HTZ was in close contact with its office in Shanghai.

He expressed hope that the Chinese authorities would succeed in stabilising the situation as soon as possible so that demand from the Far East would recover. He said he did not expect any major consequences because Chinese tourists most often visited Croatia from mid-March onwards.

More news about relationship between Croatia and China can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Brexit Won't Affect Tourist Travel Between Croatia and Britain

ZAGREB, January 30, 2020 - Brexit will not affect tourist travel from Croatia to Great Britain this year, or vice versa, and anyone who has made a booking or plans to travel can do so with their ID cards for the time being, while future arrangements will depend on agreements with the EU, the Croatian Tourism Board (HTZ) said on Thursday.

The HTZ said that the positive trend in physical tourism turnover from the British market continued this year. Data from the eVisitor system shows that 1,750 tourists have come to Croatia from Britain so far in January and generated 5,500 nights, which is an increase of 2% and 7% respectively compared with January 2019.

In 2019 there were 897,500 tourists from the UK who generated 4.6 million nights, which was an increase of 4.2% and 3.4% respectively compared with 2018.

Informing local tourists who wish to visit Great Britain that there is no need for concern due to Brexit, which enters into force on January 31, Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli underscored that the current system of visa and passport free travel will continue.

"Great Britain is formally leaving the EU but in principle there will be no changes for the tourism or travel sector. What is more, we already have good announcements from Great Britain regarding tourists to Croatia for this year and some tour operators and airlines like Jet2.com and others, expect an even greater increase of trips to Croatia compared to last year and they are very optimistic," Cappelli said.

"The uncertainty regarding Brexit in 2019 had a greater impact on tourist plans than it will have this year and now that Brexit is here. Last year was uncertain ... because we did not know whether Great Britain would leave the EU or not. However, despite that, in Croatia and in many other countries around the world there were more tourists than in 2018," the director of the Croatian Tourism Association (HUT) Veljko Ostojić said.

As there is no indication that anything dramatic will occur with Brexit and everyone believes that the separation between Great Britain and the EU will be civilised and without any problems for the transit of people and commodities, Ostojić does not expect any problems in the tourism business and cooperation on long-term contracts with local hoteliers and other British partners.

"The only thing is that there was a little bit of fear regarding the exchange rate for the pound because at one stage it dropped and that was immediately reflected on bookings. However, more recently there has not been any significant change and we think that if there are no further negative occurrences with the exchange rate, this year we can expect good results from Great Britain. I think that the exchange rate for the pound is key because if it drops 10% then that is already a grave scenario, but also if it increases, which has been announced and could be possible, then that will be good for Croatia's tourism," concluded Ostojić.

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

Monday, 27 January 2020

Online Platform Advertising Employment in Tourism and Hospitality Launched

ZAGREB, January 27, 2020 - The Days of Jobs in Tourism events are being held in January in the three biggest Croatian cities, and in parallel the online version of this event is being organised throughout the month in a bid to attract more and more local people for various jobs during the forthcoming tourist season.

The online platform called "Sezonac.hr" offers 180 advertisements for most in-demand occupations in the tourism and hospitality sectors, including waiters, receptionists, desk clerks, assistant hotel managers, jobs in cleaning and maintenance, kitchen workers, storage and logistics and so on.

The MojPosao job search portal also explains that apart from companies specialised in tourism and hospitality, also retailers breweries, beverages producers, bakeries and transport companies are hiring more and more workers.

The Croatian Employment Service (HZZ), which has organised the events with the aim of attracting more and more local workers for seasonal employment in the tourist industry, has recently stated that 85 employment have applied for participation in the shows in Osijek, Zagreb and Split. The HZZ believes that about 12,000 visitors, mainly unemployment persons and students of vocational schools, could be expected at those events.

Apart from the HZZ agency, also the ministries of tourism and labour have been engaged in the organisation of the fourth annual edition of the events which advertise opportunities for recruitment across a wide range of roles in tourism, hospitality and other industries, especially during summer.

More tourism news can be found in the Travel section.

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