Thursday, 22 April 2021

Croatian Accommodation Providers Must Adapt for Tourism Recovery

April the 22nd, 2021 - The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has changed the whole world as we know it. Working from home has proven more than possible in several sectors in which it was previously unimaginable, and the leisure and tourism industry, which has taken among the hardest blows, will have to change considerably. Croatian accommodation providers will need to adapt as guest habits change and recovery begins.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, summer resorts are a growing focus of investors of late, as this segment of tourism is expected to be the first to recover after the coronavirus crisis finally draws to a close, and despite the fact that issues continue to persist seemingly unrelentingly, optimism still reigns in the sector.

That being said, investors and decision-makers must keep in mind that the pandemic has changed guest behaviour and accelerated hotel business transformation trends, primarily through the development of mixed-use resorts and residential properties, as was explained by Philip Bacon, the director of planning, development, valuation at Horwath HTL, in an interview for Hospitality Insights magazine. As Croatian tourism and Croatian accommodation providers rely heavily on summer resorts, alterations and adaptations are in the works.

This crisis is lasting longer than expected. What keeps your hopes high?

I believe there are differences between where we were a year ago and where we are today, and that tourism will continue to show resilience and introduce innovations that will save the day. It's important to keep in mind that this virus will not simply disappear, we're all going to simply have to learn to live with it. The good thing is that this isn't a demand crisis but a supply crisis, and with more than a year of working from home, we've never stopped working with our clients, helping them plan for the future and aiding them to adapt to changes in consumer behaviour brought by the pandemic.

This bizarre situation has served to accelerate some trends which were already taking place before 2020: a focus on healthcare and wellness, combining work, travel and private life anywhere in the world, the power of technology to connect people more effectively and efficiently, and the importance of truly sustainable values, especially those related to the production and consumption of energy and food. There's also the realisation that in tourism you cannot simply sit back and take anything for granted, where there are still only two types of hotels, the ones that needs to be changed and the ones that you have to demolish.

Numerous hotel companies that have developed business or city tourism are now turning to resorts. What advice would you give them?

We mustn't forget that bringing urban hotels to the beach was a good idea about 40 or 50 years ago, but that the world has changed significantly since then and guests are no longer attracted to the 20-square-metre air-conditioned room spread over several floors with narrow hallways. The way of life and the demands of guests have changed, and it is time to give people what they want, not what you already have, which is why the transformation of summer resorts across Europe has already begun. Today’s guests, especially when it comes to families and small groups, want a much more independent, residential style of accommodation, combined with excellent service when and where it's needed. As a result, more and more hotel operators are looking for a real estate concept, and this pandemic has only heightened the value of that approach.

Furthermore, it's time for a rethink in terms of the concept of health and wellness and we need to use it to create more reasons for people to come to a certain facility - the breadth and depth of the health and wellness segment is so extensive that today there's no reason not to put it at the centre of creating a measurable competitive advantage.

Which regions will be the first to return to the game when it comes to holiday tourism?

Currently, the possibility of safe travel without too many practical problems will determine the rate of re-growth for individual destinations in the short term. We're already seeing plans to create passenger corridors between countries based on a set of rules. This can create some short-term shifts in travel patterns, and of course, short trips close to home will be more popular, which could lead to rural destinations around the world being recognised as being just as attractive as beach resorts.

Places that offer a sense of space and place a real emphasis on health and wellness will be what many people are looking for now, and I believe this could become a long-term habit of guests. We'll also see a growing interest in travel involving adventurous experiences with little impact on the environment, especially to more remote regions of the world. This comes down in part to a change in generational attitudes that had already begun a few years ago, and what is interesting is the convergence of the older generation and the younger generation in terms of values ​​and behaviour. I think we’ll see more of that, as well as less strict segmentation based on age groups. What brings people together is their shared values.

How has the pandemic affected the real estate segment in the rental market?

Most of the development projects that have preoccupied me over the last year have been either combined-purpose projects (hotel and branded residences) or have focused on service apartments, either in urban centres or in resorts. Even before the pandemic struck, we knew we could work from home, and the digital nomad wasn't something simply thought up and invented last year. When travelling away from their primary place of residence, many will look for a place where they can easily set up their home offices and work.

Some guests want to stay longer than the holidays, and this will affect the operation of such resorts. We're also seeing a growing interest in residential private membership clubs, both in urban areas and in resorts. The desire to meet the people you're sharing a holiday with is stronger than ever.

Branded residences have long been a great opportunity for tourism and that's why they're still finding ready and willing buyers all over the world. That's why more and more hotel chains are entering the market of branded housing and the market of short-term and long-term rent. There are more and more projects that aren't putting much focus on the traditional hotel room, but instead are offering more flexible forms of accommodation in a residential style that can be used in multiple segments and at different times of the year.

For more on Croatian accommodation in 2021, from high end hotels to hostels and everything in between, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section.

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Heritage Hotel Fermai Split: MGallery Hotel Brand Comes to Dalmatian City

April the 17th, 2021 - The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has shelved many a previously planned investment, placing business plans firmly on pause and waiting for better times. The Heritage Hotel Fermai Split hotel was just one project which faced delays, but didn't let the global crisis stop it entirely.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, the pandemic postponed the opening of a planned new hotel in the Dalmatian city for a year now, the Heritage Hotel Fermai Split, which will open its doors in May, and from July it will operate under the prestigious brand MGallery of the global hotel chain Accor.

This is the result of a long-term franchise agreement between Accora and Quatro Company, a local construction company owned by Ivan Pulic, for whom this is the first entry into the hotel business.

All on their own, they renovated the old rectory building a few steps from Diocletian's Palace, invested a total of 5.5 million euros in a boutique hotel with 35 rooms, a cafe and a garden terrace, and entered the popular MGallery chain. The building itself is the work of architect Petar Senjanovic from back in 1914, and the interior was signed by Studio Franic Sekoranja.

“The designers did a fantastic job and we implemented all their solutions, so the partners from Accor provided us with a contract without any adjustments as soon as they visited the facility, with praise for both the project and the performance, which makes us especially happy. We're in the process of joining and we'll enter the chain on July the 1st, we'll open the Heritage Hotel Fermai Split at the beginning of May,'' Denis Pulic, the sales director of the aforementioned company, stated. The hotel will employ about 25 people, and the name ''Fermai'' was given as an honour to a localism which means "stop, wait".

“Croatia, and especially Split, are the perfect place for all those who want a dream summer holiday. Each MGallery hotel offers its guests unforgettable moments and rituals of relaxation. The Hotel Heritage Fermai Split will provide the most authentic experience of Mediterranean culture to travellers coming to Split from all over the world,'' said Dilek Sezer, Accora's Director of Development for Southeastern Europe in a recent statement.

It's worth mentioning that Pulic started cooperating with Accor a few years ago when they had a plan to build a 150-room hotel in Split that would be carried by the Mercure brand, but this project is still awaiting GUP changes and is not currently in the company's focus.

Collaborating with Accor on the Heritage Hotel Fermai Split project was logical as it fits into the philosophy of the MGallery brand, a luxury 4 and 5 star hotel chain that promotes authenticity and local architecture and heritage, design and history. Back in pre-pandemic 2019, Accor removed Sofitel from the brand name, and their plan is to develop MGallery in new, undiscovered destinations in addition to global capitals.

"Through a franchise agreement with such a global brand, we get their know-how and sales channel, their reservation system, with our own pricing policy and management, which suits us very well," explained Pulic, who hopes that this tourist season the hotel will bring enough traffic at least to cover costs, although it is currently very difficult to make predictions because of the ongoing public health crisis.

Unlike the tourism business, which was devastated by the unrelenting pandemic, the sale of apartments in Split is going very well and the coronavirus crisis is failing to affect the growth of real estate prices, confirmed Denis Pulic.

The company is signing for a number of luxury residential and business projects in Split, including serviced apartments in the Bel Etage project, which worked in cooperation with investors from both Germany and Russia. The successful realisation led them to embark on Bel Etage 2, a similar project in which they entered independently, and the apartments are already sold at an average of 3.5 thousand euros per square metre.

For more on Croatian hotels and other forms of accommodation, from hostels to private houses and everything in between, make sure to check out our dedicated section.

Friday, 16 April 2021

Brand New Opatija Riviera Hotel Being Constructed in Autumn

April the 16th, 2021 - Yet another beautiful Opatija Riviera hotel is set to be constructed in autumn this year, bringing yet more luxury to this picturesque part of Croatia.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, although there are still a lot of challenges ahead of this Opatija Riviera hotel project, the construction of a brand new luxury hotel next to the marina in Icici should begin this year. It marks an investment from the Hungarian entrepreneur Lorinz Meszaros worth a massive 50 million euros, which may bring a new global hotel brand to Kvarner.

Optimism despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis

Denis Sikljan, the owner of the DDG Group, which developed the project on the land of a former hospital, which covers 20,000 square metres next to Marina Icici, confirmed that the main project has faced delays because of the pandemic.

The new Opatija Riviera hotel will be a five star facility with 180 rooms and 12 villas, next to which a square for public use will be built, and the project includes the construction of an access road, a pedestrian bridge to the sea, and a new rainwater drainage system from Ucka. Fountains, shopping facilities and complete horticultural landscaping are planned on the public square, which will become the new center of Icici.

"We're very optimistic about it all, although we do still have a lot of work to do, precisely because a number of public institutions are involved in all of this, from the state to local government and public companies, and it involves a series of permits that must be obtained for implementation.

For now, everything is going according to plan, although slower because the pandemic has slowed down the administrative processes, and part of the property status of some of the land needs to be resolved. Once the works start, and we expect them to begin to be right after this summer season, everything should be completed within two calendar years.

It would have been earlier, but we have to take into account the ban on such work during the tourist season, which automatically takes away eight months of work,'' revealed Sikljan, who took over the project from Karlovacka banka after the bankruptcy of Industrogradnja, which initially purchased it from KBC Rijeka. There used to be a hospital for lung diseases on the land, and it end up being left totally neglected for a long time.

The investor, Meszaros, is known to the public as the owner of NK Osijek, and he connected with Sikljan, a well-known developer of luxury tourist projects in Kvarner, mostly on Krk, through sport.

The investor profile

The company that is implementing the project in Icici is Rivas Hotels & Resort, registered back at the end of 2019 in Rijeka, and its founder is the company Talentis group, owned by the family of Lorinzo Meszaros.

The company has 30 hotels in its portfolio in Austria, Hungary, Romania and Montenegro, and soon plans to develop a strategy for its expansion in Croatia, with Icici as the first hotel project.

Meszaros is also the owner of the company Mirno more, which owns Vila Maria in the bay of Ceprljanda in Ugljan, and reached the eyes of the media when five years ago a group of hooligans shot at the windows in the house where national team member Ivan Rakitic was staying with his family.

The Talentis Group points out on its Linkedin profile that it is one of the most prestigious investors in Hungary, which is currently developing a new innovative city on 5,000 hectares, with more than 300 real estate projects in the western suburbs of the capital city of Budapest.

Over the last few years, they have completed projects worth more than 100 million euros in total, and in addition to hotel facilities, they have also developed a shopping centre and logistics centres.

For more on upcoming business ventures and projects in Croatia, follow our dedicated section.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Opening of Fascinating New Dugi Otok Hotel to Attract Attention

April the 7th, 2021 - The opening of the doors of a very interesting new Dugi Otok hotel is set to attract a lot of attention despite the ongoing pandemic and the difficulties both business and tourism continue to face.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marta Duic writes, the brand new Dugo Otok hotel, more precisely Villa Nai 3.3 in Zman, is on course to open its doors on May the 28th this year. The conceptual design of the building was designed by academician Nikola Basic back in 2013, and it was designed on isohypsis, which gives it an unexpected and deeply unusual geometric shape.

This is a project that received support from measure 4.2 and was created with the support of both the HBOR and the ESIF loan through HAMAG-BICRO.

As Goran Morovic explained, who, in addition to the production of organic olive oil, is also entering the tourism business with the opening of this new Dugi Otok hotel, it is a facility surrounded by a thousand olive and other fruit trees. The yard of the building stretches out for about four hectares, and their family farm normally takes care of six of those hectares.

“Villa Nai 3.3 is an exceptional architectural and construction achievement, designed by academician Nikola Basic. It's a facility that fits perfectly into the landscape of the island and the microlocation inside the olive groves. Under the same roof, there are eight accommodation units, an olive oil tasting room and a small oil mill "in charge" of processing the olives grown from its own olive grove, as well as a small shop selling Croatian products,'' Morovic pointed out.

A five star organic farm

The excavated stone was used for the production of concrete and stone cladding, and additional facilities include an outdoor overflow base, an indoor pool with a wellness area, a spa with treatments based on olive products, a cigar/smoking room, a lobby bar and a tennis court.

It's worth adding that this new Dugi Otok hotel is already a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, and their May opening was announced by Forbes magazine, which declared them one of the nine new addresses to head to for the summer ahead of us.

Morovic pointed out that the accommodation units, a total of five deluxe rooms and three deluxe suites are individually decorated and each of them has access to the terrace. He added that attention is paid to every detail, from the design and quality of the furniture, the bedding, the bathtubs and walk-in showers to the floor and wall coverings, and the total accommodation capacity is sixteen people.

The basis of all dishes sold within the new Dugi Otok hotel are foods of organic origin, grown on ecologically clean island land or caught in the Adriatic sea, and the wine list offers a selected selection of Croatian wines and international classics, a total of more than 200 labels, according to Morovic, who with his wife Nives, also produces organic extra virgin olive oil.

As many as 1,100 trees

Their olive grove covers five hectares and boasts 1,100 trees, a third of which are centuries-old, and the rest have been planted in the last fifteen or so years.

The branding for the new Dugi Otok hotel was entrusted to the Bruketa & Zinic & Gray agency, and the chosen name Nai means snow in the Dalmatian-Romance, extinct language of the area.

For more, follow our travel and business pages.

Friday, 5 March 2021

Jadran Crikvenica Weighs Up Upcoming Tourist Season with Caution

March the 5th, 2021 - Jadran Crikvenica stood out during a difficult 2020 for its continued business expansion despite the less than favourable economic circumstances which saw many other companies shelve planned investments and put their keys in their locks. How do things stand now?

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, the Crikvenica-based hotel company Jadran was saved from bankruptcy´s proverbial jaws. After that, and after going through all of the associated pre-bankruptcy agony, it was privatised under the ownership of two pension funds and is currently facing a unique challenge, very well known in the Croatian hotel industry to smaller entities.

As touched on above, during the difficult pandemic-dominated year of 2020, Jadran Crikvenica was one of the few large Croatian hotel companies to significantly expand its business capacities, partly through the long-term lease of new capacities and partly through the reconstruction of existing capacities started back in 2019.

Could that fateful decision now end up firing back at them like a boomerang? Possibly. The treatment of new units when it comes to being permitted state aid for job preservation is not yet known and it is doubtful whether the development will be treated positively in order for the company to use this measure in the continuation of business activities in rented facilities for the Easter period. Perhaps it is better not to begin working yet, in the case that the turnover of accommodation units which were not in use back in 2019 is not excluded from the company´s income.

All these investments bring greater competitiveness and higher prices, and thus the comparison of revenues in 2019 and 2021 should be taken with a grain of salt. Things, under these dire circumstances, continue to sit firmly in the hands of the state, which would have no real negative effects if Jadran Crikvenica, as well as other such smaller entities in the tourism industry, were to be approved such measures, because if there was no lease agreement, the financial aid would be paid out to the actual hotel owners.

The high level of indebtedness of the parent company and the Jadran Group does not jeopardise current liquidity, but it is a logical business interest that the capacity for hotel business within Jadran Crikvenica, which increased by 25 percent last year in the sense of solid capacity and more than 17 percent in terms of total capacity, do not just sit there empty.

They still have a lot of units of lower categories, but for the second year in a row they have to consider the Lisanj Hotel in Novi Vinodolski, which will have 220 accommodation units, and the Garden Palace Resort in Umag with 109 such units. Hotel Noemia in Baska Voda also has 63 4-star accommodation units.

All these new capacities were created as a classic "green feel" or through the reconstruction of existing old capacities of a lower category. These are facilities that are new, and were taken out on a long-term lease precisely in order to create the preconditions for extending the tourist season, and thus enable the better use of existing resources, with an emphasis on the employment of permanent workers.

While the Esplanade Hotel in Crikvenica opened its doors this Monday, for the hotels in Novi Vinodolski and Umag, as they claim, management wants the same because of the high quality and the fact that they are located in destinations one can more or less easily drive to.

"By opening up these facilities, we want to send out the message that we are here, we´re present on the market, and that we are above all else confident in these new circumstances, and that is why we want to enter the market as soon as possible," said Jadran Crikvenica´s CEO Goran Fabris.

With the earlier opening of these facilities, new revenue wil be generated, the local tourist board will be able to collect the sojourn/tourist tax, the state will get its VAT, and employees will actually be able to do some work, which brings with it higher salaries. However, the prices realised in the early season are not at the level of those in the peak of it, so profitability is naturally reduced. Looking exclusively through the glasses of maths, sometimes it is better not to work and exercise the right to grants instead, than to work and lose that right entirely.

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages.

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.

Saturday, 13 February 2021

Laguna Plans to Increase Korcula, Peljesac Hotel Capacities

February the 13th, 2021 - An increase in Korcula and Peljesac hotel capacities is on the cards as Laguna lays out its tourism plans for 2021's summer season, should all be remotely normal in regard to the coronavirus pandemic by the time the warmer summer months roll around.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, with its recently announced offers, the Laguna Novigrad hotel company is set to take over the remaining shares of HTP Orebic and HTP Korcula, and is strengthening the position of the Management Board by appointing a brand new member - Dino Hrelja, who has since taken over said function.

Laguna has stated that Hrelja's appointment is a continuation of the integration of companies into the business system of Aminess' hotels and camps. The priority now, they added, is the best possible preparation of the upcoming (and what is likely to again be very challenging) Croatian tourist season on the island of Korcula and in Orebic on the Peljesac peninsula. Regardless of the global disruptions in tourism, this company believes that both of these areas have significant development potential.

The takeover bids were published in the Official Gazette (Narodne Novine) on the 10th February, 2021, and the bidder Laguna Novigrad, in cooperation with the acquired company Dalmacija hoteli (Dalmatia hotels), through which it became the majority shareholder, has stated that it has four hotels in Novigrad, Orebic and Korcula, as well as two camps in Novigrad, Istria.

Back in pre-pandemic 2019, they realised an impressive 749,944 overnight stays in total, and their net profit stood at an equally impressive 24.24 million kuna.

The company's offer will be positive for both hotel companies, they say, and will not have a negative effect on the rights and status of their employees. The strategic goals include the possibility of using operational, financial and other sectoral synergies, which will result in greater profitability.

They are announcing the raising of the quality of their destination of the Peljesac peninsula, as well as more Peljesac hotel capacities, as well as the same on the nearby island of Korcula through investments in capacity renewal, the overall expansion of their offer, and their share of individual guests through the existing Aminess channel.

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages.

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.

Friday, 15 January 2021

Two Croatian Hotels Win Prestigious HolidayCheck Special Award

January 15, 2021 – The renowned Swiss portal HolidayCheck awarded the prestigious HolidayCheck Special Award 2021. Among 607 awarded hotels, there were also two Croatian hotels – Hotel Miramar in Opatija and Hotel Plaža Duće in Dugi Rat.

As reported by Nera Miličić, head of the Croatian National Tourist Board in Munich, the best and most successful hotels in as many as 35 countries have been selected according to more than 420 thousand reviews from portal users. In Croatia, the award was given to the Miramar Hotel in Opatija and the Hotel Plaža Duće in Dugi Rat.

"As an indicator of guest satisfaction in the world, the HolidayCheck portal is a benchmark that guests use with confidence to check the quality of accommodation. The award ceremony once again shows the specificity of the tourist year behind us. Also, it classifies our hotels and Croatia as a destination that stands out with its offer even in challenging pandemic conditions," said Miličić.

As the entire hospitality sector faced extraordinary circumstances, certain adjustments were made to the HolidayCheck award. The minimum qualification criteria were at least 25 published reviews for the hotel from December 1, 2019, to November 30, 2020, at least 90 percent of user recommendations and adherence to the HolidayCheck Code of Conduct.


Source: Croatian National Tourist Board

Among the hotels that meet these criteria, only the ten most popular hotels from a particular region can win the award. In addition to custom criteria, this year's award has a new design and is called "HolidayCheck Special Award 2021."

The HolidayCheck portal is the largest independent travel web portal in the German-speaking area. Based on authentic reviews, of which almost 10 million have been published on the hotels alone, it enables reservations and reviews of numerous offers. The portal offers a range of important and up-to-date information on destinations around the world. It attaches the most significant importance to the reviews of the travelers who have stayed in a place.

Thanks to authentic reviews and expert advice, every tourist can find and book the best vacation for themselves in locations worldwide. The portal has been operating since 2003 and is headquartered in Bottighofen, Switzerland, near the German border town of Constance.

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages.

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.

Friday, 15 January 2021

Around 400 Sisak-Moslavina Earthquake Victims Housed in Croatian Hotels

January the 15th, 2021 - Sisak-Moslavina earthquake victims are currently being housed across the country in various hotels, primarily along the Adriatic coast, far from the area of Croatia the earthquake struck.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, there are currently about 400 Sisak-Moslavina earthquake victims being housed in Croatian hotels across the country, some are in Zagreb, and most of them are in destinations on the Adriatic, primarily in the facilities of the Valamar Riviera and the Crikvenica Adriatic.

Some Sisak-Moslavina earthquake victims are being housed in private apartments and houses that are usually for rent, as the owners of some such properties made their facilities available on the day of the strong earthquake which struck this part of central Croatia back on December the 29th, 2020.

As has been learned from hoteliers who don't want to brag much about their contributions in this humanitarian crisis, unlike some who have seen this devastating situation as a chance for self promotion, accommodation in places far from Petrinja, Glina and Sisak has mostly been accepted by families with small children and the elderly, and usually by those who were living in what are now demolished or damaged buildings.

The hotel companies Valamar and Jadran also stepped forward and donated their services, and the stay of Sisak-Moslavina earthquake victims was initially agreed for a month, although for some it may be extended, depending on the circumstances.

''Mostly, our invitation was accepted by people whose apartment buildings has collapsed or been damaged. Although we try to accommodate them as best we can, it's obvious that they are not comfortable being away from their damaged houses, and that they can't wait to return home,'' said Goran Fabris, President of the Management Board of Jadran which is located in Crikvenica and which accommodated about a hundred people following the disaster.

He added that the quake victims were pleasantly surprised by the residents of Crikvenica, who immediately upon their arrival offered help of their own in varying forms. Valamar Riviera has provided accommodation in its facilities in Istria and Kvarner for a period of one month for more than 200 people affected by the earthquake. On the day of the earthquake, in coordination with the Croatian Tourism Association, a number of tourist companies offered accommodation for Sisak-Moslavina earthquake victims.

The biggest help, however, was given by the tourist companies on the ground, with the donation of mobile homes that will serve as temporary accommodation until houses can be reconstructed properly. As it is known, in that first wave of donations, with the involvement of the Croatian Tourism Association and the Ministry of Tourism, 125 mobile homes and 11 caravans arrived on the field, and some were donated independently by companies and individuals.

Josip Atalic, a professor at the Faculty of Civil Engineering in Zagreb, said recently that more than 35,000 residents of the afflicted areas had reported damage to buildings to date, and inspections had been carried out on almost 16,000 buildings. More than 5,000 buildings are permanently or temporarily unusable, with between 15 and 20 percent of the buildings receiving the dreaded red stickers.

For more on the Petrinja earthquake, follow our dedicated section.

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.

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages.

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.


Thursday, 7 January 2021

New Year 2021: 6 Times More Croats Than Foreigners in Croatian Hotels

January the 7th, 2021 - Despite the fact that Croatia's current coronavirus measures prohibit the entry of foreign nationals unless they hold lawful residence in Croatia or can prove that they have pressing personal, family or economic reasons to be here, there are still foreign guests in the country. Croatian hotels, however, recorded far more Croatian guests than they did foreigners over the New Year period.

As Marija Crnjak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, although the epidemiological profession urged Croatian hotels to refrain from any New Year programmes due to the increase in the number of people infected with coronavirus, there were still Croatian hotels that, primarily symbolically, rang in 2021.

According to data from eVisitor, a total of 5,249 guests stayed in Croatian hotels on New Year's Eve, ten times less than on the previous New Year's Eve, with a significantly different structure of guests than last year.

Namely, while at last year's celebrations there were three times more foreign guests than there were Croatian ones, this time, there were more than six times more Croatian guests than foreigners staying in Croatian hotels.

Nevertheless, domestic tourist traffic was two thirds lower in terms of overnight stays than it was on New Year's Eve previously, with 4,556 overnight stays recorded, while 693 foreign guests were accommodated in Croatian hotels across the country at the turn of the year.

However, only a handful of Croatian hotels were actually open for the New Year, which in normal years is mostly dominated by hotels in Zagreb, Kvarner and Istria. Only 193 hotel facilities out of about 1,200 recorded overnight stays on New Year's Eve, and they recorded an average of about 21 percent occupancy.

Despite the above, there were exceptions in terms of occupancy, and full occupancy, according to eVisitor, was recorded by one facility in Buje and one facility in Karlovac County, but the Croatian Tourist Board isn't revealing which hotels are in question. Otherwise, 7270 guests were recorded as having stayed in private accommodation facilities on New Year's Eve.

Although a number of Croatian hotels announced back during October that they intended to organise a New Year's Eve party with live music and dancing, their plans soon failed with the deteriorating epidemiological situation and the introduction of new anti-epidemic measures.

Although they didn't actually specifically include the closure of Croatian hotels and hotel restaurants, the maximum number of outdoor and indoor gatherings was cut, and in the meantime, passes between counties were introduced one again, although it was possible to travel with confirmation of having previously booked accommodation. Meanwhile, passes after the recent Petrinja earthquake were lifted, but there are question marks surrounding just how much that affected traffic in this regard.

After the appeal of epidemiologists, Croatian hotels certainly gave up on the idea of live music and similar ideas in the meantime, and the celebrations surrounding the ringing in of the New Year was reduced enormously.

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.

Page 4 of 6