Monday, 31 May 2021

Hoteliers Welcoming Corpus Christi Holiday Bookings in Croatia

May 31, 2021 - Corpus Christi holiday bookings in Croatia are growing, and Croatian hoteliers are looking forward to bookings picking up even more after June 3. 

HRT reports that hoteliers are more optimistic before the beginning of June than a few weeks ago because the epidemiological situation and the state of reservations and sales are better than last year. More tourists are expected around Corpus Christi, which will mark the beginning of the season.

"The epidemiological situation is improving, the framework of the border crossing regime has been defined, bilateral agreements are being worked on, and the vaccination rate is growing. With the easing of measures, optimism and a desire to travel grow, immediately evident in reservations. In some periods and some types of accommodation capacities, primarily camping and hotels of higher categories, reservations are approaching the figures from 2019," says the director of UPUHH (Association of Employers in the Croatian Hotel Industry) Bernard Zenzerović.

June without maximum occupancy, but in July and August, they are hoping for tourist crowds

However, in June, hoteliers do not expect maximum occupancy, but they hope for real tourist crowds in July and August and that they will have all facilities open. They are convinced that this year they can achieve a very good post-season, unlike last, when it was abruptly interrupted, though it is largely dependent on neighboring countries' travel regimes, especially Slovenia and Austria.

"Tourist demand is generally much better than last year. The largest demand comes from our traditional markets going to car destinations in the northern Adriatic regions. On the other hand, the situation is more uncertain in the south, which is more related to slower-recovering air traffic. Still, hoteliers believe that this will improve with the announced airlines and easing of restrictions, especially for British tourists, and that in the south, the results will be better than last year," says Zenzerović.

He also states that traditional markets, such as Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Poland, and the Czech Republic, are the 'most active' in the demand and reservations of hotels. He estimates that the reservations of domestic tourists are 'very well maintained.'

The strongest booking and sales channels are direct hotel channels, especially because of the flexibility that hoteliers offer this way, which guests expect due to the situation while booking through tour operators is much slower than in the years before the pandemic.

As they expect better physical traffic with more arrivals and overnight stays of tourists, hoteliers expect a generally better summer and business year than last year, which is primarily based on greater expected stability and longer season duration.

A 'war' on prices in the Mediterranean can be expected, but not a significant increase or decrease

"Although we have vaccines this year and vaccinations are growing rapidly, last year's experience must be a reminder that we must be disciplined and do our homework better this year," says the director of UPUHH, emphasizing that this year, unlike last year, the market is more active offered by all Mediterranean countries, which is why a kind of 'price war' can be expected.

Prices, as always, are defined by supply and demand, but Zenzerović says that they do not expect any significant horizontal growth of prices nor that there will be a need to lower them.

"Higher quality facilities have been proven to achieve better results at all levels, and that is the path we must take. Those who continuously invest in quality will achieve better results, and I believe that this is now clear to everyone in tourism," he says.

They will need significantly more workers than last year

When asked whether hoteliers have enough workers for this season and whether they will employ more seasonal workers, perhaps foreigners, Zenzerović answered that hoteliers must continue measures to preserve jobs for the final preparation of the season until the traffic reaches a level that will allow normalization of business.

As for additional demand, we will certainly need additional seasonal workers. Decisions on their number will be made depending on the development of the season and tourist demand. Still, from today's perspective, we see that we will need significantly more workers than last year, waiters, chefs, support workers, and domestic workers, who are most in-demand during the season," says the director of UPUHH.

Hoteliers will surely first look for ways to hire people from their communities. From other parts of Croatia, i.e., domestic, and only then, look for workers from other countries, primarily from those in the area.

"It is difficult to talk about the numbers at the moment, but we estimate that a significantly smaller number of foreign workers will be needed than in 2019, a maximum of about ten thousand of them," Zenzerović predicts.

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Thursday, 14 January 2021

Croatian Hoteliers Preparing for New Season, Optimistic about 2021

January 14, 2021 - Croatian hoteliers on the coast are readying for a new year and are optimistic about the new tourist season, even though it is still uncertain, given the current epidemiological situation. 

Jutarnji List reports that although it is still early for any predictions of the 2021 tourist season, mainly because we do not know how and under what conditions travel will happen this year, tourism workers cannot afford to wait.

One example is hotel Romana in Makarska, which plans to open its doors for Easter and employ up to 250 workers, if the epidemiological picture allows, showing optimism and expectation that the season will be successful. The management of other hotels on the Riviera shares the same optimism. Valamar plans to open all hotels in Makarska this summer, and the Meteor hotel is currently in the final phase of renovation. Everything should be finished in the coming days. 

Tonči Andrijašević, director of the Quercus Hotel in Drvenik, says that if there are no changes, they will open on May 1, and more serious work is expected in mid-May.

"We have published the program in the Czech Republic, Poland, France, and Slovenia. It’s a plan that is subject to change, but it definitely has activities, even in the Chinese market for October, through a Compass partnership. As for partners, a lot is happening, it’s alive, but we can’t talk about the numbers yet. I am an optimist, but this is a mildly moderate optimism. I hope that through vaccination, the situation will be brought under control a bit, so, all in all, I still expect a much better year than 2020, although still not close to the results from 2019," says Andrijašević.

Drago Nosić, director of Sol tourism, says that both facilities, hotels Miramare and Biokovo, will open on May 1.

"We are preparing for the season as if it will be more intense than last year, but if it were a normal year, at the beginning of January, we would already have some more concrete indications. Anyway, we have to do everything as if it will be normal. Here, today we are inspecting the rooms to see what we have to adjust," says Nosić, who agrees that the vaccine is positive news, but that we still do not know the dynamics of vaccination or conditions for travel.

"It is good that all partners are more or less interested in starting as soon as possible, but I do not know how tour operators and airlines will solve this. Also, to prepare, you have to invest; if you invest, you expect to earn something, and at the same time, you do not have solid or clear indicators that you will succeed because there are many unknown factors. We are, therefore, guided more by optimism and hope than by logic. In general, everyone is cautious, and we see that the number of flights has decreased by 20 percent compared to 2019. However, it is a good thing that none of our partners is in trouble," says Nosić, who says that demand will certainly be considered when the criteria are clearer. But if the restrictions continue, it will be a problem.

Currently, the biggest problem regarding investment is not investing in hotels because they are relatively new, but the workforce needs to be addressed for the season.

"If it is 70 percent from 2019, we will be satisfied. Anything beyond that is a bonus. It would be unrealistic to expect that 2020 will happen again because now we still have some tools," Nosić emphasizes.

Marko Luketina, director of the Morenia resort in Podaca, says that they are preparing as if everything will be normal, with full capacity and employment, believing that the results will be at the level of 2019, or even better. They open on April 10 and close on October 31, if all goes according to plan.

"We will even extend the cooperation agreements compared to 2019, and we expect 55 to 60 thousand arrivals. This is our plan according to realistic settings; without that, you can't even plan. If there is not enough vaccination, it will affect us to achieve less, but we should expect a plus-minus of 5 percent compared to what was expected by all accounts. I do not believe that there will be major deviations," Luketina is extremely optimistic and assesses the German government's reaction to the situation with TUI, which is crucial for the Croatian market. The problem is aviation tourism, without which the hotel industry cannot work, and that area is still unclear.

"These are all real issues, flights, the issue of conditions related to vaccination, and we know little about it. But there is no choice; we have to act and be prepared as if nothing happened and as if we will have a normal season," concludes Luketina, who added that Morenia achieved extraordinary numbers in 2020 as well.

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