Friday, 3 September 2021

Digital Nomads Promote Croatian Tourism Best, Says Minister Nikolina Brnjac

September 3, 2021 - Minister of Tourism and Sports said that digital nomads promote Croatian tourism best, on the same level as social media influencers. 

According to the tourist traffic data for July and August compared to pre-pandemic figures, Croatia is the tourism star of the Mediterranean this year.

In August, 86 percent of arrivals and 93 percent of overnight stays compared to 2019 were realized. Specifically, about 4.3 million guests visited Croatia last month, and over 30 million overnight stays were realized. Thus, after the lost pre-season, the main season has restored optimism among tourism workers who will have a good post-season if the epidemiological situation allows. However, in addition to all other factors and the situation in the Mediterranean, Croatia has really prepared well for the season, primarily by ensuring the safety of guests, with a great response from foreign partners and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports' Safe Stay in Croatia campaign. Furthermore, the framework for digital nomads was defined at the beginning of the year. In addition, several other activities contributed to the season, which really surprised even the most optimistic.

Before today's press conference, Novi List spoke with Minister Nikolina Brnjac about what August was like, what was crucial in preparing for the season, how staff shortages will be solved, and the prospect of digital nomads in Croatia. 

August is behind us; many say that even the most optimistic could not expect such results in July and August. Was it more than expected?

"I think we have prepared well for this season, in cooperation with the entire tourism sector, in coordination with the Civil Protection Headquarters and all other closely related stakeholders. The fruit of all this synergy is this season's tourist results. Already on August 29, we achieved our minimum goal for traffic for this tourist year, which is 60 percent of tourist traffic compared to the whole of 2019. Still, we believe that the continuation of current favorable trends will be much closer to that record year by the end of the year. In the last days of August, we recorded traffic above 90 percent of what we had in 2019, which is a great announcement for September and for the postseason in general, which is our next goal. Compared to 2019, the biggest difference is in arrivals, but the number of overnight stays shows that tourists stayed longer and spent more.

I believe that we can all be satisfied with the results achieved when we talk about tourist traffic and when we talk about revenue, but now we want to extend the season as much as possible. With all our activities, the epidemiological situation was critical throughout the summer. It will continue to be so, and I believe that we will continue to behave responsibly, get vaccinated in as many numbers as possible because only in this way can we maintain continuity of good results, and ensure normal social and economic trends."

What was crucial in the preparation of the season and ultimately its realization?

"I think that the key thing was that with the preparations for this year's summer tourist season, we started on time with the synergy of the entire tourism sector and all departments in the Government. In each step we took, we involved the sector, listened to their needs and the market's needs, and thus made decisions about each step.

Starting with the Safe Stay in Croatia project, which was well-received in our biggest markets and which provided tourists with access to all relevant information in one place, and at the same time was a tool for educating our tourism sector on procedures for compliance with epidemiological protocols, then facilitating travel procedures and returning tourists to their home destinations by providing additional testing points, to enabling tourists to be vaccinated in Croatia. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been paying great attention to good communication and education of everyone in the system to have timely information and better adapt to today's trends and business conditions. Before and during the summer, we continuously held meetings with tourism stakeholders, leaders of local and regional governments, epidemiologists, and civil protection headquarters in their area so that everyone could be better prepared. As a result, tourism workers were also among the first to be vaccinated in a high percentage. All this shows how much we were all aware of the safety aspect and preparedness as an important factor in the choice of destinations by tourists. As a result, Croatian tourism has once again shown exceptional readiness and all the diversity of the offer that can satisfy the demand of different guest structures. I sincerely thank everyone for the cooperation, effort, and knowledge they have invested so that we can have such good results in another challenging year for tourism."

Which markets were the best in August and the first eight months of 2021? What has changed compared to last year and the years before the pandemic, and what does that tell us?

"The pandemic has definitely affected the travel paradigm, i.e., the habits of tourists for whom safety is one of the most important factors when choosing a destination. We are all aware of that, and that is why we have been working from the beginning to improve all security measures to create the most favorable preconditions for tourism. In addition to the demand for high-class accommodation facilities and those in nature, we also record excellent results in the charter segment. We achieved an even higher turnover in August compared to August 2019. When we talk about changing the structure of guests, the share of guests from nearby markets has further increased. In contrast, for more distant markets, stabilization will occur subsequently, depending on the normalization of travel and the favorable epidemiological situation in the world."

Which segments of the offer proved to be the most sought after? Namely, there is a lot of talk about the fact that 5-star, therefore the highest quality offer was the most sought after?

"Through this year's financial results and the fact that we have the highest occupancy in high-end accommodation facilities, i.e., four and five stars where we record occupancy above 95 percent, it is clear that this year we have a larger number of tourists with higher purchasing power. Quality products and an offer that gives them an extra sense of security were among the most sought after."

In that sense, can it be said that there has been a kind of transformation towards better quality tourism and moving away from the masses?

"Our strategic goal is to move away from the masses and turn towards sustainable and innovative tourism, and the demand for high-quality products and a longer stay in the destination certainly goes in favor of that. In the long run, our goal is to increase the number of tourists compared to previous records, especially in already congested destinations, and distribute tourist results more evenly throughout the year and throughout Croatia while achieving equal or higher total revenues. By the way, even before the pandemic, we started to reform the legal framework aimed at the sustainability and professionalization of tourist boards, recategorize private accommodation, regulate the status of health tourism, tourist land, and the like. We will continue with reforms that will follow our strategic goals."

The Ministry has also initiated the Sustainable Tourism Development Strategy. Will this document also be the basis for further profiling towards high-quality tourism?

"With the new Sustainable Tourism Development Strategy until 2030, we will focus on sustainability, value-added products, and special forms of tourism. The strategy should respond to the challenges of extending the season and expanding the tourist offer outside the summer months and in spatial terms to less-developed tourist areas, especially continental destinations. The project of drafting a new strategy is in line with the Program of the Croatian Government from 2020-2024 and the National Development Strategy until 2030. For the first time since Croatia's independence, the Sustainable Tourism Strategy, a Strategic Environmental Assessment, is being prepared. The fact that we have been provided European funds with which we can strategically direct tourism development should be emphasized. Simply put, we have provided the opportunity to invest in the tourism we want, and that is sustainable, year-round, with greater added value. Funds from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan will focus on solving the challenges we face in the coastal zone in the summer and encourage the development of year-round forms of tourism with high added value throughout Croatia. The fact that in the next financial period of the EU, both in the National Plan and in certain operational programs, we will be responsible for allocating funds is a great obligation, but also an opportunity to define priorities together with the sector and try to solve long-standing challenges."

In preparation for the season, a big step forward was made towards attracting digital nomads at the beginning of the year. So what specifically has changed legally?

"Croatia is one of the first members of the European Union to legally regulate a one-year temporary stay for digital nomads from third countries. This is an interesting niche for Croatian tourism because nomads are not seasonal but year-round guests, and their interests are diverse and unrelated to the sea and the sun. The idea was realized with excellent inter-ministerial cooperation with other ministries, primarily with the Ministry of the Interior, which carried out the most important legislative processes and the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. The Ministry of the Interior amended the Law on Foreigners, and the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs announced the procedure for obtaining temporary residence for digital nomads. At the same time, the Ministry of Finance changed its laws through its Income Tax Act and the Ministry of Health through the Law on Amendments to the Law on Income compulsory health insurance and health care of foreigners in Croatia, all to enable the stay of digital nomads in Croatia. Furthermore, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports has initiated an e-platform for digital nomads, with the help of the Croatian National Tourist Board, and we have included 21 regional tourist boards in all processes so that digital nomads have the opportunity to discover the whole of Croatia."

What are the conditions for the arrival of digital nomads, and do you have information on how many have taken advantage of this opportunity?

"Digital nomads must first meet all the prescribed conditions to obtain a temporary one-year stay in Croatia. All steps are described in detail on the Ministry of Interior website. By August 20, more than 200 people had applied, while about 80 had been approved, with the most applications coming from the US, UK, and Russia. However, persons working in Croatia as digital nomads, i.e., for companies not registered in Croatia and citizens of EU member states, do not regulate their stay on the same legal basis and are not recorded based on the relevant new provision of the Law on Foreigners. It should also be noted that our legislative framework has been in force since the beginning of this year, when strict measures to restrict movement were applied. Nevertheless, we expect that the improvement of the epidemiological situation and further activities that the tourist boards and private sector plan to initiate will have a positive impact on the interest of digital nomads in Croatia."

Have accommodation providers prepared and generally realized the benefits of longer leases, which we specifically offer to digital nomads?

"Digital nomads, with the conditions and steps they must meet to obtain a visa for "digital nomads," mostly search for the content available in certain destinations. The data from our research thus show that tourist products such as active holidays, nature, culture, and eno-gastronomy arouse the most interest, which Croatia offers them. Moreover, many hotel chains have already adapted their tourist offer to the longer stay of digital nomads with the possibility of work."

What do digital nomads, influencers, and world stars really mean for the promotion of Croatian tourism?

"People who want to make Croatia their temporary office, who fall in love with our natural and cultural beauties, food, people, but also the way of life, can be our best promoters, just like many influencers. Any positive reaction to Croatia as a tourist destination, especially in the world that is mostly informed through social networks, is a great advertisement for our country and an additional invitation to stay."

What are the announcements for the offseason?

"The announcements for September and October are excellent, judging by the bookings of our hoteliers and camps. As I mentioned at the beginning, in recent days, we have recorded traffic above 90 percent of what we had in 2019, and this is a good announcement for September. If the current trends continue in the next month, in the second half of September, we could reach 70 percent of turnover when it comes to overnight stays and financial indicators."

One of the basic problems of Croatian tourism at the moment is staffing. How will efforts be made to address the shortage of tourism workers that has escalated this year, and what is the future?

"In the long run, we see solving the problem of labor shortage in the creation of preconditions for the engagement of domestic labor in the tourism sector. For several years now, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports has been implementing measures to promote tourism occupations through the co-financing of innovative tourism projects designed and implemented by high schools to educate students in hospitality and tourism. We also have a program for co-financing the practice of high school students in the tourism sector. Through the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, we have provided an additional 10 million kuna to develop educational programs that meet the needs of the labor market. We will also allocate funds for training with employers to support investments in the green and digital transition. We want to increase the attractiveness of tourism occupations for young people and improve conditions and general satisfaction of workers in the tourism sector. We are actively thinking about how to ensure a sufficient quality workforce, first from Croatia, and then through imports, because the quality of services is an indispensable part of the tourist product."

To learn more about digital nomads in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Sunday, 4 July 2021

Over Half a Million Tourists Currently in Croatia

4 July, 2021 - As reports , Croatian Minister of Tourism, Nikolina Brnjac, published a tweet declaring over 500000 tourists currently in Croatia.

Istria and Kvarner regions, as well as Split-Dalmatia County and Zadar County are leading the list with the most guests at the moment. Considering the majority of them are coming from Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and Austria, it is safe to assume most of these guests arrived by land. Airport destinations like Dubrovnik are still lagging behind in numbers, but with the recent start of Delta Air Lines and United Airlines direct flights to the city, this too is likely to change.

Dalmatian Destinations Rise

Makarska is doing well at the moment. With 6500 guests on record this popular seaside town is up a whopping 100% when compared to last year. This is still a far cry from 2019 though. This number only makes up about 50% of guests visiting Makarska in the same period two years ago.

Split is seeing the benefits of train connections to Central Europe. Since late May the city has seen direct trains to Prague, Bratislava, Vienna and most recently Budapest. Numbers at Split Airport are also rising. 160 airplanes are due to land in Split this weekend, 120 of them being commercial flights. At the same time, the Split Ferry Port is expected to receive over 40000 passengers and 11500 vehicles. Incoming tourism seems to definitely be picking up for Dalmatia's capital city.

As already mentioned, Dubrovnik is seeing two American airline companies connecting it directly to New York. Both companies started flying this week with airplanes full to capacity. This is a big step towards giving American tourists a chance to take over the position of Dubrovnik's most numerous guests from the traditionally strongest British market. Speaking of the British, they are the ones much of Croatian coast, especially Dubrovnik, are still waiting for. As of now, it is still unclear how, when and in what numbers will the British visit Croatia this year.

In the north, Rijeka region is seeing the return of Lufthansa flights as well as low-cost Eurowings flights. These will be a huge boost for the numbers from German market as the two companies now connect this part of Croatia to Frankfurt, Munich, Düsseldorf, Berlin and Hamburg.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 3 July 2020

Ministry of Tourism Spokesperson Claims They Have Nothing To Do with CRO Cards

July 3, 2020 - The latest from the Croatian Ministry of Tourism on the CRO cards project. reports that although the CRO card was supposed to launch on July 1, we still do not know which employers ordered it for their workers. Two years after hearing Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli's statements about the CRO cards and that they will provide between 10 and 21 thousand new jobs and up to 11 billion kuna in new investments, the culmination of the project is seen in yesterday's statement by the Ministry of Tourism spokesperson, Sladjana Vignjevic, who told Index that they have nothing to do with the project.

Index writes that Cappelli’s Ministry was asked clear and specific questions: how many employers ordered CRO cards, where were the cards issued, were they ordered by state-owned companies and which, after which they were simply told that the Ministry of Tourism had nothing to do with the project. 

"Cards are issued, and where exactly - we have nothing to do with it. We have no information about how many cards were issued, and we have nothing to do with it. The Ministry of Tourism did not spend a single kuna on the CRO card project. We only have the information that they have begun. HPB is the first bank to go with this, so contact them with these questions. Banks are the ones who bear the costs of making the CRO cards. We only had a public invitation for all banks to apply for card issuance," Sladjana Vignjevic told Index.

Index also contacted Hrvatska poštanska banka (HPB), but has not yet received a response.

Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli has spoken about CRO cards several times this year. Cappelli said on April 17 that the CRO card would go to print in the next month.

"In June, we can start using it. It's about catering services, accommodation services and agency services. The value is 2,500 kuna, and it is tax-free for employers," Cappelli said.

Then, on April 27, after a video conference of EU tourism ministers on the situation in European tourism, Cappelli said that the CRO card was being prepared.

"The CRO card will be able to be used only in Croatia, HRK 2,500 non-taxable, we will see if we can do something extra in that regard and if additional discounts can be obtained," said Cappelli.

A couple of weeks ago, Cappelli stated that the CRO card will be used from July 1 and that due to the corona, its realization will be somewhat slower.

“But we firmly believe that with the end of the pandemic, this project, as well as the 'A Week's Vacation is Worth It' project will come to life,” Cappelli said on June 10, when he also said the first 30,000 cards had been printed.

Then, on June 14, in Opatija, Cappelli spoke again about the CRO cards. He stated that the possibility of using the CRO card had been extended to private accommodation, package deals and nautical tourism.

“About 40,000 cards are being printed, the first banks have signed a contract and everything starts on July 1,” Cappelli said.

And while it is clear from these statements that the Ministry of Tourism is managing the project, a ministry spokesperson now claims they have nothing to do with it. And doesn't know the answers to these questions.

The only thing that Vignjevic knew specifically was that the public sector is not included, that is, that employees in the public sector will certainly not receive a CRO card. Index reported about this earlier when Labor Minister Josip Aladrovic's attempt to persuade public-sector unions to agree to the payment of recourse on the CRO card instead of cash was refused.

Entrepreneurs also do not want the CRO card, which was confirmed by Hrvoje Bujas, president of the Voice of Entrepreneurs association. His association surveyed entrepreneurs and more than 90 percent of entrepreneurs said they would not give CRO cards to their employees.

Index spoke again with Bujas, who said that they never received an answer from the Ministry of Tourism as to who pays for the CRO card project, nor who ordered 40,000 cards.

"The CRO card has no benefit for either the employer or the worker; there is no idea. If the state, as Slovenia did, put 200 euro on everyone's card, then it would make some sense, and this makes no sense," Bujas said.

Another amazing thing about the CRO cards is the fact that, according to Cappelli's announcements, they were supposed to go into circulation on July 1, and the Association of Croatian Travel Agencies UHP has a meeting on this project at the Ministry of Tourism only next week.

Tomislav Fain, president of UHPA, told Index that they have a meeting with representatives of the Ministry of Tourism next week about additional clarifications for CRO cards.

"This is not a bad project, but in this crisis situation, we cannot expect employers to take those cards this year. I would, honestly, be happy if there are employers who will be able to pay it off. If it was a normal situation, I believe a large number of employers would pay the money on the CRO card, but now they certainly won’t," Fain told Index.

A big opponent of the CRO cards is Marin Medak, president of the National Association of Caterers.

"This project is illogical and incomplete. The cost is passed on to the employer, that the employer gives a bonus. We do not support the way it is set. Well, I wonder who will be able to give it to workers, possibly state-owned companies. And yes, already in December we told the Ministry that we are against the project. Then it was arranged that if, for example, a restaurant wants to be included in the project, it must give discounts, so it was not profitable for us," concluded Medak.

So, the conclusion of all this is that the citizens still do not know how much the CRO cards project cost, who will get the 40,000 cards that were printed, and in the end - will anyone get them at all? Index only found out that the Ministry of Tourism, which proudly announced this project, had nothing to do with it.

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

COVID-19 in Croatia: Gari Cappelli Discusses Summer Travel with EU Tourism Ministers

April 28, 2020 - A video conference including Tourism Ministers of the EU Member States, chaired by Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli, was held as part of the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. reports that issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic and its implications for the tourism sector were discussed at the conference.

Ministers and senior officials from all EU Member States and European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton attended the video conference. At the invitation of the Croatian Presidency, Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), presented UNWTO initiatives on tourism activation at the conference.

Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli said there must be a joint plan at the EU level to tackle the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which would include, among other things, adopting a standard travel protocol and a "COVID-19 passport", which would be valid for all EU countries on the departure and arrival of tourists.

"We must allow as much as we can to open the borders, but with the protocol on how exactly it will be implemented, and we must then respect it all," says Cappelli.

Travel would include road, rail, sea, and air travel, and while insisting on adopting a standard protocol, Cappelli says a cooperation agreement is also possible bilaterally.

Cappelli hopes that by the end of May, at least at the bilateral level, they could agree to open some kind of tourist borders with some countries, with a respectable number of countries already interested. However, the countries must meet the health and safety aspect, where epidemiologists are the main focus.

He says that individual countries have begun to prepare individually, adding that Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has already talked to the prime ministers of individual countries, including Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who is interested in opening borders through road or air corridors.

Cappelli notes that in the first proposals of the multiannual European budget until 2027, tourism did not have prominent importance in terms of finances, but after the COVID-19 crisis, it has completely changed. "It is the unique view of all countries that tourism will have to make one big step forward in this budget, as opposed to what was planned," Cappelli says.

He also said that tourism is crucial in saving and strengthening certain European economies, such as the Italian and Spanish ones, which, like Croatia, have a high share of tourism in total GDP.

Cappelli also recalled the Croatian initiative to better position tourism within the EU, presented at the 2018 meeting of tourism ministers in Sofia. The initiative also included the creation of a special fund for tourism, for reasons of potential problems that some countries might have, such as the refugee crisis, floods, and now the coronavirus pandemic.

He points out that support has been obtained for this and that financial and all other mechanisms are put in place in order for tourism to take a different position than it has so far.

At the ministerial meeting, Cappelli pointed out that tourism represents 10 percent of the EU GDP, employs a total of almost 12 percent of employees, and is also the fourth EU export category, with consumption generating more than €400 billion in revenue.

"It is therefore important to encourage the creation of joint solutions for the crisis in the tourism sector caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but also to create programs and plans for combating similar threats in the future. For this reason, I am particularly pleased that the meeting of the European Council members last week agreed on setting up a Recovery Fund, which will target the hardest-hit sectors and geographical parts of Europe," said Cappelli.

In addition to representatives from all EU Member States, the meeting was attended by European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Thierry Breton, as well as Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Zurab Pololikashvili.

Breton stressed that emergency measures and resources made available by the Commission should support Member States' efforts to maintain stability in the short and medium-term. He urged the members to take full advantage of them and to provide the opportunities they offer to workers who are most affected by the current situation.

"We will need extraordinary resources to overcome this crisis. We need a new Marshall Plan with a strong EU budget that will accelerate the path to European recovery and a stronger and more resilient Union," Breton said

Pololikashvili called on the Commission to prioritize tourism within the EU's recovery plan.

Cappelli also answered journalists' questions, saying that the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) had developed a marketing program to attract and retain domestic tourists, including a "Cro card". When accommodations open in 15-20 days, Croatia should be ready for foreign but especially domestic tourists, he said.

"We are trying to find as many models as possible to keep everyone who could spend something in Croatia and have them use our benefits and models," says Cappelli, adding that domestic tourists make up about 13 percent of total tourism spending.

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Croatian Tourism Minister: We are Focusing on Domestic Tourism, Lower Prices

April 16, 2020 - Can Croatians save the country's tourism this year? Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli comments on domestic tourism and the Ministry's plan post coronavirus. 

"Domestic tourists cannot save the tourist season in Croatia because their share in total traffic in the last two years has been around 12 percent, but tourism certainly counts on them when coronavirus measures are loosened, which is decided by the Civil Protection Headquarters," Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli said Wednesday on

"We always prepared special projects for local tourists. This year should have been 'A Week's Holiday is Worth It' and the Cro card that offered discounts. It had nothing to do with the corona era, because we were preparing these projects long before the pandemic was revealed in the world," Cappelli said, answering questions from reporters.

He announced that the Cro card will now be redefined and certainly try to be used in some way to serve its purpose in Croatia, not only on the coast and in restaurants, but to be used all over the country and for various offers, thus boosting domestic tourist consumption and revenues.

Asked by journalists if tourism prices should be lower this year, which could also attract domestic tourists, if the health situation permits, the minister replied: "Of course the prices will be lower, it will be cheaper."

"It will be cheaper, especially in private accommodation, which will certainly be more important for tourist demand when it comes to looking at being more secluded, better quality and closer access to nature with fewer houses in the surrounding area," said Cappelli, pointing out that they are in a similar position with camps.

In addition, he believes that nautical tourism will come to the fore and that the fact that Croatia is, as he said, 'the country with the most charter vessels in the world', will certainly be important. He also believes that with reasonable prices, it will be more readily available to domestic tourists at certain times.

"If there is tourism activity and the coronavirus situation improves, in private accommodation, nautical charters and camps, I see an opportunity this summer, rather than in some hotel accommodation, which will have to be more strict in receiving guests, as that's where epidemiologists will have a say in how many rooms can be open and the like," Cappelli emphasized.

He also reminded that because it is impossible to realize plans for this year, the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) has annulled its annual and financial work program, announcing a salary reduction of up to 30% for employees in Zagreb and representative offices, and advised lower levels of the tourist board system to do the same.

Asked how Croatian tourism is preparing for the measures to be lifted and the possible reopening of hospitality facilities, the minister said that this depends primarily on the decisions of the epidemiological service and the National Headquarters, but also that they have "some plans if something happens tomorrow."

"We have plans for marketing activities in case the measures are loosened and facilities can open, and yesterday we gave the task to HTZ to prepare proposals within 14 days if, for example, tourists from Austria or another country close to us want to come and could visit us. We will definitely try to take advantage of this proximity and the possibility of getting there by car and highway. So, if we see the borders starting to open or something similar, we will be ready for marketing activities in these markets within 14 days," Cappelli announced.

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli Announces Croatia's Big Plans for 2020

December 14, 2019 - Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli expects another positive year in Croatian tourism. A look at what's in store for 2020. 

T.portal reports that the next year for tourism and the overall economy will be special thanks to a series of international presentations and events, from the Croatian Presidency of the EU Council and Rijeka as the European Capital of Culture to the EXPO Dubai World Exhibition. The positive tourism trends are expected to continue, Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli said.

"In 2020, numerous international events that Croatia will participate in and those organized in the country are a great opportunity to present everything we have to offer, and tourism will certainly be one of the carriers because of the promotional opportunities and brand strength of the tourist destination," Cappelli said. He also pointed out that we are also entering 2020 with positive trends in terms of revenue, investment and tourism.

He recalled that this year, tourism figures for the first time exceeded 20 million arrivals and one billion euro of announced investments in one year, and believes that this year should be a record year in terms of revenue generated.

"The tourism announcements for 2020 are also good at the moment, and we are entering the tourist 'race'. Changes in tourism trends with an increasing share of individual arrivals and subsequent bookings make the entire tourism system in the world much more dynamic. Therefore, the fight for tourists lasts throughout the 12 months of the year. But I am sure that our guests will recognize the efforts in the form of improving quality and new offerings as they did in the previous years,” stressed the Minister.

Of particular importance is Croatia's presidency of the EU Council, which it plans to make the most of to promote Croatia in Europe and the world at all levels - from trade cooperation and attracting investments to, of course, promoting Croatia as a tourist destination.

"We are planning enhanced promotional activities of the Croatian National Tourist Board in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, especially in the area of the congress offer, but more broadly, by further strengthening the recognition of Croatia as a safe and quality tourist destination. In addition to the promotional component, during the presidency, the Tourism Ministry also plans to continue holding meetings of the Working Group on Competitiveness and Growth in the tourism format,” Cappelli reveals.

In addition, the Ministry plans to organize two events in Croatia - a meeting of experts in March 2020 in Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem, and a ministerial conference from April 27-28, 2020, in Dubrovnik, which plans to include EU Member States and OECD Member States participating in the work of the OECD Committee on Tourism.

"During the Presidency, we also plan to draw up a document calling on the Member States and the European Commission to work together and cooperate to promote sustainable and responsible tourism development and to emphasize the importance of partnerships of all stakeholders in achieving the goals of sustainable and responsible development of Europe," stressed the Minister of Tourism.

Responding to the question if the sector is ready for the numerous legal changes that come into force on January 1, the Minister emphasized that 2020 will be specific to all other politically and economically important events due to legal changes that otherwise regulate the tourist board system and promotion of Croatian tourism, paying tourist membership fees and tourist taxes, categorization, VAT rate and more.

"The whole tourism system will actually change its image next year due to a series of legal changes. After adopting the package of tourist laws in the Croatian Parliament, this year, we also held numerous workshops and meetings with the stakeholders of tourism, especially with the representatives of the sector. It is essential for everyone to be as aware of all the changes and their tasks as possible," Cappelli said.

In all this, the Ministry of Tourism will always be available to everyone for the tourism system to function in the best possible way early in the next year and be ready to develop new quality, innovative, development and promotional projects.

When asked about a new strategy for Croatian tourism, the Minister replied that the tender documentation is currently being prepared for the next period, which he will announce during 2020.

"At the same time, the National Development Strategy for 2030 is being prepared, which will cover all economic segments, including tourism, and these two strategic documents will be the backbone and guidelines for the future development of tourism. Therefore, harmonization in their adoption is critical,” Cappelli said.

Considering that the role of the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) is changing as of next year due to the new Law on Tourist Boards, Cappelli, who is the president of the Croatian National Tourist Board, emphasized that its tasks will be focused on strengthening the Croatian tourism brand, marketing at the national level, implementing strategic marketing projects and others.

"To better adapt to modern tourism trends and innovative ways of promoting tourist destinations, the new Law on Tourist Boards defines that HTZ will not deal with the supervision of tourist boards, but will be performed primarily by the members of the tourist board through the assembly. If necessary, the Ministry of Tourism will get involved if it is not able to solve a problem. This will contribute to reducing the level of centralization under the Croatian Government's program,” Cappelli said.

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Croatian Tourism, Foreign Ministries on Thomas Cook Collapse, Effect on Croatia

September 25, 2019 -  The Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Tourism released a joint statement on Wednesday about the collapse of Thomas Cook and its effect on Croatia.

This week opened with the news that Thomas Cook, one of the world's oldest and most renowned travel agencies, declared bankruptcy and ceased all operations. 

"Despite significant efforts, discussions did not result in an agreement between the company's stakeholders and new investors," the company said in a statement. "The company board, therefore, concluded that they had no choice but to take steps to introduce mandatory liquidation with immediate effect."

The company filed for liquidation with the United Kingdom Supreme Court on Monday.

"Despite great efforts over the course of several months and intense negotiations in recent days, we have not been able to reach an agreement to save our business. I know this outcome is devastating and will cause a lot of people anxiety and stress,” CEO Peter Fankhauser said Monday morning.

Executives tried raising the additional $250 million needed to save the company over the weekend, but failed due to many complications and the amount of money invested.

The collapse of the UK-based company, which was founded in 1841, left thousands of people abroad unable to return to their homes. The U.K. government is currently working on a plan to rescue all tourists who have been stranded abroad in what they are calling "Operation Matterhorn”. This included 190 Thomas Cook passengers in Dubrovnik on Monday, who arrived Sunday by plane from Manchester.

Thus, HRTurizam reports that the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Tourism released a joint statement on Wednesday about the collapse of Thomas Cook and its effect on Croatia

“We are extremely sorry to hear the news of the Thomas Cook closure, which has a long tradition and experience in tourism. What is extremely important is that none of their guests currently in Croatia will be harmed or neglected. The UK government will take care of the flights to bring all tourists back home, while the UK government's insurance agency will cover the cost of accommodating tourists,” reads their statement regarding the demise of Thomas Cook.

Although there were indications that the worst-case scenario could occur, it was still expected that Thomas Cook would be able to stabilize itself, i.e., raise enough capital to continue. However, one of the oldest and most famous travel agencies in the world was unable to adapt to new circumstances and market trends. The competition will certainly fill the hole left by Thomas Cook, but this sobering news is a sharp warning sign for all airlines.

“When it comes to the current and future impact of Thomas Cook's shutdown on the arrival of British tourists to Croatia, we want to emphasize that there are a number of quality British tour operators with tours to Croatia, that is, we believe that this situation will not significantly change the situation with the UK as a major market,” the statement continued.

The Ministry of Tourism added that they are in communication with the hotels so that all guests are informed promptly about the current situation to ensure they can continue their stay in Croatia smoothly. 

“The Ministry of Tourism and the Croatian National Tourist Board, as before, will continue to promote Croatia intensively on the UK market, which is one of our most important markets, and carry out activities related to strengthening air connectivity. That is why we believe that in the coming years, Croatia will be one of the most popular destinations for guests from the United Kingdom,” the joint statement concluded. 

About 800,000 tourists from the United Kingdom have visited Croatia so far this year, generating about 4.1 million overnight stays, which is up 4% and 3% respectively from last year.

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Croatia Records Over 10 Billion Euro from Foreign Tourists in 2018

For the first time, revenues from foreign tourists who visited Croatia in 2018 exceeded 10 billion euro. Tourism Minister Gari Capelli also has high hopes that tourism will continue to bring positive results this year, reports on March 30, 2019. 

This is the first time that revenues from foreign tourists in Croatia exceeded 10 billion euro, i.e., almost 10.1 billion euro, which is about 603 million euro or 6.4 percent higher than in 2017, according to the Ministry of Tourism data of the Croatian National Bank (CNB).

According to Croatian National Bank data, in the fourth quarter of 2018, foreign tourism revenues amounted to almost 852 million euro, which is also more than in the same period of 2017, by 5.6 percent or nearly 45 million euro.

Commenting on this data, Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli emphasized that after last year’s revenue growth, this year also began with the continued growth of tourist traffic, which, as assessed, is a prerequisite to boost competitiveness on a yearly level and generate even higher revenues, thus driving the entire economy.

The Ministry of Tourism also reminds that in the Satellite Tourism Account (TSA) of Croatia in 2016, total tourist spending, foreign and domestic, reached 10.4 billion euro in that year.

Just last week, Cappelli assured that everything is ‘under control’ for the upcoming season, even though there have been reports of weaker bookings. 

“Tourists reserve accommodation later, and we have to get used to it. There will be bookings in April and May. As for the preseason, we have about 13 percent more tourists and about 9 percent more overnight stays. Current predictions speak of a small minus in the peak season, but in the end, it should be at the level of last year's results,” said Cappelli before adding that new markets are opening up.

Namely, the US and China have double-digit growth in the number of tourists in Croatia. While the British market began to grow, it undoubtedly slowed down after Brexit announcements. Minuses can be seen in countries such as Spain, France or Portugal, which are essential destinations for British tourists. At the same time, the tourism minister claims that the growth of British bookings in Croatia is 3 to 5 percent.

As for other traditional markets, everything is under control.

"Italy and Austria are somewhere in the middle, Slovenia has a slight growth, Germany was a bit in the minus, but we expect things to straighten out. Russia again has made a huge step forward, and has grown about 20 percent."

Easter this year falls on April 21, which is often an indicator of how the season will continue. Cappelli said a 10 percent increase is expected as many will enjoy Easter until May 1, which could be an “outstanding two weeks”. 

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page