Friday, 21 May 2021

Next Week, Croatia Will Consider Possible Relaxation of COVID Rules as of 1 June

ZAGREB, 21 May 2021 - The head of the Croatian COVID-19 crisis management team, Interior Minister Davor Božinović, said on Friday that the authorities would next week start considering possible relaxation of anti-epidemic rules as of 1 June.

The current rules are in force until 31 May and we will see which course to take considering the relaxation, the minister said.

Božinović added that Croatia wanted the application of the EU Digital COVID certificate to start as soon as possible.

Being a tourist destination, Croatia would like to see the implementation of the COVID travel pass as soon as possible.

Apart from serving as a travel pass, the digital COVID certificate can be used for some other purposes, and this depends on decisions to be made by individual member-states, Božinović said.

He went on to say that the technological system was equal at the EU level, and it would be known who was authorised to develop the QR codes for certificates, he explained.

During a news conference in Zagreb today, the head of the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ) Krunoslav Capak, informed that all the participants in two pilot projects -- a business lunch and a wedding party  -- tested negative to coronavirus seven days after the participation in those events.

Overall in Croatia, the number of new positive cases fell by 38% over the week, he added.

Croatia's current incidence rate  per 100, 000 inhabitants is 262.5.

As for the vaccination of foreigners, Capak said that Croatia enabled foreign citizens to get vaccinated.

For instance we have vaccinated 500 diplomats and their families' members, they have no Croatian documents, and information about their inoculation has been entered into the relevant data base, Capak said.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border, and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of vaccination points and testing centers up and down the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and choose your preferred language.

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Local Elections Main Topic in Croatian Parliament

ZAGREB, 19 May, 2021 - Sunday's local elections were the main topic of speeches in the Croatian parliament on Wednesday morning.

Dalija Orešković, speaking on behalf of the Civic Liberal Alliance (GLAS) and Centre group, said that the results of the vote showed that citizens were becoming aware that government could be changed. She urged the opposition in parliament to begin dialogue on the reform of the electoral legislation and administrative structure of Croatia.

"We have three years ahead of us to reform electoral legislation and electoral units to make them constitutional and fair, to ensure that each vote counts equally, and to reduce the number of counties, towns and municipalities," Orešković said.

She congratulated "all new progressive forces that made it into the second round of elections, thus threatening the survival of the petrified and corrupt structures of the existing government."

Andreja Marić of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) warned of double standards used by the national coronavirus response team, which allowed the opening of the borders on election day despite the epidemiological criteria in place.

"What kind of message does that send to the public? How can we expect people to comply with the measures if such decisions that mock us all are made?" Marić asked.

She recalled that medical professionals had warned that they expected a rise in the number of new infections in the next three weeks as a result of this decision. "The ruling parties heed only messages that suit them politically," Marić said.

Silvano Hrelja of the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) and Croatian Pensioners' Party (HSU) group drew attention to the low turnout. "Those most dissatisfied again stayed at home," he said.

For more news about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Financial Stability Council Meets to Discuss Risks to Stability of Financial System

ZAGREB, 19 May, 2021 - Timely and full reporting on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on business operations and the materialisation of credit risk in financial institutions is important as some sectors of the Croatian economy are still strongly affected by physical distancing measures, the Financial Stability Council said.

The Financial Stability Council is an inter-institutional body that designs Croatia's macroprudential policy. It consists of representatives of the Croatian National Bank (HNB), the Croatian Financial Services Supervisory Agency (HANFA), the Ministry of Finance and the State Agency for Deposit Insurance (DAB).

The Council met on Tuesday under the chairmanship of HNB Governor Boris Vujčić to discuss main risks to the stability of the financial system. The meeting also involved Finance Minister Zdravko Marić, HANFA Board President Ante Žigman and DAB Director Marija Hrebac.

Despite the accelerated recovery of economic activity from the consequences of the pandemic, in the circumstances of continued uncertainty regarding a return to usual social contacts and business, the financial system's exposure to systemic risks remains elevated, the Council said in a statement, citing high public debt, the financial sector's exposure to the government, a possible rise in the number of insolvent companies and fast growing housing prices as main risks.

It noted that housing prices had risen by 7.7% in 2020 year on year and surpassed their level in the period preceding the global financial crisis, adding that housing loans were picking up.

Given that some sectors of the economy are still strongly affected by physical distancing measures, the Council said that a premature cancellation of aid could put healthy businesses at risk and increase the credit risk, while extended maintenance of support could keep companies with unsustainable business models on the market and zombify the corporate sector, which would have adverse implications for growth and financial stability, the statement warned.

The Council said the banking sector was highly capitalised and liquid. The volume of loans covered by the loan repayment moratorium continued to fall after peaking in September 2020 and at the end of March 2021 it covered 8.6% of corporate and household loans. The loans covered by the moratorium were mostly aimed at hotels and restaurants.

The Council said that the recovery of the financial markets, which began at the end of last year, had continued in the first half of this year and that nearly all sectors supervised by HANFA were seeing growth.

The positive mood has also affected the financial services sector, whose assets at the end of March 2021 were 3.5% higher than at the end of 2020, accounting for 32.15% of the total assets of the financial system in Croatia, or 61.7% of the nominal GDP, the statement said.

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Monday, 3 May 2021

Japanese Nipro Acquires Croatian Glass Pharmaceutical Packaging Producer

May 3, 2021 - The Japanese company called Nipro PharmaPackaging International NV has taken over the Croatian glass pharmaceutical packaging producer "Piramida". 

That regional private equity fund, which has completed the sale of its 100 percent ownership stake in Piramida to Nipro PharmaPackaging International NV, a subsidiary of Nipro Corporation which has its headquarters in Japan, says in a press release that after it had acquired Piramida, it had "invested in the acquisition of 8 new production lines, the modernization of facilities and the development of the vials business. "

"Under Blue Sea Capital’s ownership, Piramida has increased the number of employees by 35% and doubled production capacities, as well as revenues. Moreover, the company is now ranked in the top five largest glass ampoule manufacturers for the pharmaceutical industry in the European market," says Piramida's former owner.

One of the world’s leading producers of medical equipment and pharmaceutical packaging, headquartered in Japan, has recognized the Croatian company's outstanding results. Tokyo Stock Exchange-listed Nipro Corporation generates more than USD 4 billion in annual revenues, employs over 33,000 people, and serves the Pharmaceutical, Medical Device, and Pharma Packaging Industries.

Its new owner "Nipro PharmaPackaging" is specialized in developing and manufacturing advanced pharma packaging products and complete packaging solutions for early development drugs or the enhancement of packaging solutions for existing drugs.

Kresimir Sečak, CEO of Piramida, was quoted as saying that "together with Blue Sea Capital we managed to spur strong growth in Piramida and transform it into one of the most attractive Croatian SMEs that exports 97% of its production to a blue-chip customer portfolio. The management team is looking forward to working with Nipro to advance further Piramida’s position on the European and global markets."

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

Monday, 3 May 2021

Croatia Tourist Figures for April and Labour Day Better Than in 2020

May 3, 2021 -  During the Labour Day weekend, there were 41,400 tourists in Croatia, who generated 157,000 bed nights, which is 277% more bed nights than in the same period last year, and the number of bed nights for all of April was 116% higher year on year. 

The 41,400 tourists in Croatia over the Labour Day weekend increased as much as 2,000% compared with the same period in 2020 when the country was in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, and there were hardly any tourists at all.

This year's numbers give "some hope and optimism and indicate further positive trends," the HTZ said.

There were 239,000 tourists in Croatia in April, which is 2,356 more than in April 2020, while the number of bed nights increased by 116% to 846,000.

In the first four months of the year, 592,000 tourists were registered in Croatia, and about 2 million bed nights, which is about 90% of last year's results or a contraction of 10%. The HTZ noted that in the first two months and a half of 2020, there weren't travel restrictions in the world but that they were imposed afterward.

Brnjac: Croatia prepared for more tourists

Commenting on the results, Minister of Tourism and Sports Nikolina Brnjac said, according to a press release issued by her ministry, that Croatia recorded a successful four months despite the pandemic.

"Croatia is recognized as a responsible and safe tourism destination, which is confirmation of all the efforts we are investing in creating optimal preconditions for tourists and citizens," said Brnjac.

Great interest has been expressed by guests from Germany, Austria, Poland, and Slovenia, she said, adding that "this positive trend will continue with a favorable epidemiological situation."

Data from eVisitor and eCrew (nautical tourism) indicate that foreign tourists were predominant during the Labour Day weekend, accounting for 23,000 of 41,400 tourists and 157,000 bed nights generated during that weekend, 112,000 were by foreign tourists.

The majority of bed nights were generated by domestic tourists, followed by Slovenia, Poland, and Germany.

Most bed nights were recorded in Istria, Kvarner, Split-Dalmatia County, and Zadar County, with Rovinj, Zagreb, Poreč, Zadar, Dubrovnik, Mali Lošinj, and Split as the most popular destinations in terms of bed nights.

Follow the latest on flights to Croatia HERE and the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia HERE.

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

Saturday, 24 April 2021

President: Croatia Flag Removal From Ambassadorial Residence Could Not Happen in Zagreb

April 24, 2021 - Commenting on an incident in Belgrade where the Croatian flag was removed from the residence of the Croatian ambassador, President Zoran Milanović said on Friday that such a thing, Croatia flag removal, could not happen in Zagreb.

"I thought an ambassador's residence was a protected building, and this is the case in Croatia. So I think that it (what happened in Belgrade) could not happen here. Croatia's law enforcement authorities would prevent it," Milanović said in response to questions from the press after he attended a special session of the town council in Križevci on the occasion of the town's day.

Croatian Ambassador Hido Biščević said on Thursday it was no accident that the Croatian flag was taken down from his residence in the Serbian capital city and that the incident reflected "part of the atmosphere" in Serbia's society, which he said continued to feed on hate speech.

Milanović said that Biščević was an experienced diplomat and "I hope that he knows what he is doing."

The president went on to say that Croatia and Serbia have several outstanding issues, and Croatia is generally ready to shelve all of them except the issue of people who went missing in the 1991-1995 war.

Milanović also accused Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and his cabinet of a stalemate in the process of the appointment of new Croatian ambassadors.

He said that it was Plenković who turned down the model of a 50/50 quota whereby half of the nominees for diplomatic missions are proposed by the head of state and a half by the government and added that such a model had been applied in the past during the presidential term of Stipe Mesić and the governments led by Ivo Sanader and Jadranka Kosor.

He complained about a lack of communication with the premier and added that this adversely affected the state affairs.

Milanović also criticized the government for disbursing extremely small outlays for the Croat ethnic minority in Serbia, which is why local Croats depend on Serbian President "Aleksandar Vučić and (Serbian) Radicals."

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Preparations for Upcoming Uncertain Season in Croatia Continue

April 8, 2021 - Preparations for the upcoming uncertain season in Croatia continue.  A look at the latest in Kvarner. 

During Easter, two virtual presentations of Kvarner were held for Italian agencies and journalists, organized by the Kvarner Tourist Board, the Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ), HTZ Representation in Milan. If the COVID-19 restrictions allow, Italians will be able to reach Kvarner by catamaran!

During the presentation, Kvarner tourist destinations have a long tradition in health tourism - Opatija, Crikvenica, and the island of Lošinj - were presented through short promotional films. The Italian market is one of the most important for Kvarner and Croatia, but the epidemiological situation is not good there either, and the pandemic has impoverished the Italians. Among other things, emphasis was placed on the offer of health tourism in Kvarner, a key, traditional, and essential tourist product this year.

Regarding the situation in this important market, the director of the CNTB's representative office in Milan, Viviana Vukelić, said there was a mini lockdown in Italy from April 3 to 6 and that travel between regions was banned.

Novilist.hr reports: "There are no tourists in Italy itself, the resumption of tourism will be extremely slow and associated with the gradual easing of measures, vaccinations, the opening of airlines, border measures, and more. Given the above circumstances, the tourism industry's focus in Italy is currently on locals and guests from the surrounding countries.

In general, tourists from Italy will decide on travel at the last minute, prices will be looked at, and the key criterion will be health security," said Vukelic, adding that the projections of what will be the tourist flows this year, with constant restrictions and introduction of sudden and new travel measures, difficult to articulate. 

"However, when we talk about Croatia, there is interest in traveling to our country, which numerous partners confirm. In these uncertain times, it is important to maintain market presence and visibility.

For example, in cooperation with the Kvarner Tourist Board, we held two virtual presentations of Kvarner intended for Italian partners, tour operators, and representatives of B2B media. In addition to the beauties and motives of Kvarner, the emphasis in the presentation was placed on all measures implemented for a safe stay in the destination, as well as on the health offer of Kvarner, active tourism, and gastronomy.

The presentations were very successful and gathered 80 participants, and the largest number of questions related to post-COVID treatments in Kvarner, sports tourism, travel with families and children, beaches, said the director of the Milan CNTB Office and pointed out that it is clear that everyone is looking for security and free space to distance themselves.

With this aim, the implementation of the Safe Stay in Croatia campaign will soon start on the Italian market, followed by a B2B campaign in specialized tourist media, and after that, the implementation of the main invitation campaigns. The BIT virtual fair in Milan will be held on the Italian market at the beginning of May, while the BMT fair in Napoli has been announced for May 28.

Although in Italy the focus is on the domestic guest, among other things, because Italy did not even have a winter ski season, some agencies are thinking about Croatia. Thus, Paolo Gorini, owner of the Gomoviaggi agency, which last year had a catamaran connection between Lošinj and Italy, told us that even though the situation is still very uncertain, they are preparing a program for the summer of 2021.

This summer, they plan to focus on the most favorable holiday period for Italians, and they also plan to introduce some innovations. They have already contracted a Dash 8Q400 Croatia Airlines aircraft for the line between Split and Ancona.

With a capacity of 76 passengers, the aircraft will fly from July 31 to August 28, with three flights a week. In Split, they also rented a small cruise ship with 15 cabins, so their guests can use the flight plus cruise if they wish. We also find out that they are in negotiations with Italian and Croatian shipowners about renting catamarans.

"We intend to work with two lines. The first is from Pescara and Cesenatica to Lošinj, Novalja, and Rovinj. From mid-July to the end of August, two weeks of travel to Rovinj, two trips a week to Lošinj, one of which will continue to Novalja on Saturday.

The second line we are planning is from Civitanova to Lošinj and Hvar, again from mid-July to the end of August, with two trips a week to Hvar and one to Lošinj. Of course, all this will depend on the development of the situation with COVID-19, which made a bad joke with us last August.

Namely, we were forced to stop the line in mid-August, when we already had hundreds of reservations that we had to cancel. But let’s hope for the best this year," Gorini concluded.

Follow the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia HERE.

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

Friday, 2 April 2021

Croatia Features in New York's Condé Nast Traveler!

April 2, 2021 - Croatia features in New York's Condé Nast Traveler!

Croatia, as a desirable tourist destination, graces the cover of the April issue of the renowned New York travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler. 

Condé Nast Traveler Magazine is a luxury travel magazine aimed at the upmarket, independent traveler. It provides its audience with the latest travel news, guides, tips, and ideas including some of the most beautiful places, best vacation spots, and places to visit worldwide. 

As Htz.hr reports, a photo of Lake Mir and the surrounding cliffs of Telašćica Bay is on the cover, while the same issue of the magazine published a large article entitled Time and Tide, which describes the beauties of the Northern Dalmatian coast and islands. Croatia is described in the article as "a country of extreme beauty and resilience, where sun-bleached islands smell of sage and salt, and limestone-paved cities proudly carry their history." Special emphasis is placed on the charm of sailing through the Kornati archipelago, but also on the beauty and historical significance of Zadar and Šibenik, which are located in the immediate vicinity.

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New York travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler April cover 

"Americans eagerly await new trips to Croatia, which is confirmed by numerous direct inquiries and reservations through travel agents and numerous articles in leading American media such as Condé Nast Traveler, Forbes, USA Today, The Washington Post, CNN Travel, Travel + Leisure, Departures, Lonely Planet et al. We need to continue to build the image of a safe and responsible destination and clearly communicate information about the epidemiological situation, protocols in the country and the conditions for travel to Croatia," concluded HTZ director in the US, Ina Rodin.

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Time and Tide article on the beauties of the North Dalmatian coast and islands

While this may be the first Croatia cover for the New York travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler, it surely won't be the last! 

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Thursday, 25 March 2021

Minister Davor Bozinovic: Tourists Will be Able to Enter with Antigen Test

March the 25th, 2021 - Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic has spoken out about the new measures set to be introduced as the current ones are due to expire at the end of this month. As we look towards the tourist season, it seems that negative antigen test results will be enough to enter the country.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the current anti-epidemic measures are set to expire at the end of the month. ''At the beginning of April, we will adopt new measures,'' said Minister Davor Bozinovic at today's press conference of the National Civil Protection Headquarters. It all depends on us as to whether it will be just an extension, whether there will be some more restrictive solutions introduced or whether we'll be more liberal,'' Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic stressed.

Bozinovic confirmed that those who violate the measures will no longer be entitled to financial aid from the state.

"It's important to look at whether someone is violating the measures and whether or not they're registered. It doesn't matter if they only get a warning, which is also a form of sanction, or a misdemeanor warrant has been issued, the National Civil Protection Headquarters will send out a list of all these legal entities and they will no longer be entitled to any support grants," Minister Davor Bozinovic warned.

As part of the preparations for the upcoming tourist season, he said that tourists who have been vaccinated, who have overcome the disease (and can prove it with a doctor's certificate of recovery) or have a negative antigen test result will be able to enter the Republic of Croatia.

He also assessed that the regional approach to tightening the current measures is justified due to the preparations for the tourist season because "the EU will assess the incidence in our counties and make decisions for citizens who plan to travel there."

For more current information on coronavirus specific to Croatia, bookmark this page.

Sunday, 14 March 2021

KBC Zagreb Hospital First in Croatia to Introduce Immunoadsorption Method

ZAGREB, 14 March 2021 - On the occasion of World Kidney Day, observed on 11 March, a medical team from the KBC Zagreb hospital presented the immunoadsorption method allowing organ transplantation in patients in whom such a procedure would not be possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

KBC Zagreb is the first hospital in Croatia to apply the immunoadsorption method to remove specific pathological antibodies in the process of transplantation while preserving the protective bodies in the patient's blood to protect them against infections. In that way, the patient is not exposed to the additional risk of infectious complications, the head of the hospital's Kidney Transplantation Department, Nikolina Bašić Jukić, told a press conference.

This method has enabled us to perform transplantation in two highly-sensitive patients and to save the life of a 30-year-old woman after lung transplantation because of chronic antibody-mediated rejection, she added.

The director of KBC Zagreb, Ante Ćorušić, said that immunoadsorption enables a better medical outcome in transplant patients at the time of the coronavirus pandemic. "This method is slightly more expensive but is much more effective. This is a great success not just for the Department of Nephrology but for the entire transplantation team, including urologists and cardiologists."

At this largest centre for kidney transplantation in Croatia, 43 patients received new kidneys last year. Ten such procedures have been performed this year, and only five patients remain on the waiting list.

The transplantation program was interrupted twice last year due to an escalation of the coronavirus pandemic, as a result of which fewer than average procedures were performed. The annual average ranges between 70 and 80 procedures, the head of the Department of Urology, Željko Kaštelan, said.

To keep up with news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

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