Friday, 18 February 2022

Croatia 6th Favourite Destination for Early Summer Break for Europeans

February the 18th, 2022 - European tourists after an early summer break are choosing Croatia more and more frequently, and although the pandemic is still very much around, the situation has altered drastically across the continent and travel for leisure has been made far easier for the vaccinated.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, although due to the still current global coronavirus pandemic and the currently circulating Omicron variant of the novel virus, Europeans' intentions to travel across borders are still slightly lower than they were last summer, they are significantly higher than they were a year ago, which makes the prospect of early summer tourist traffic very optimistic. An early summer break in Croatia could be just what many tourists need.

Longer trips are expected this year, during which tourists will of course spend more, covid certificates aren't as important to travellers as they were last year, and so far travellers are most attracted to enjoying a beach holiday somewhere along the coast where they will indulge in new experiences and local culture.

Croatia is the sixth most popular tourist destination for Europeans wanting an early summer break, behind the traditionally leading countries of France and Spain, Italy, Germany and Greece, behind which Croatia is only just lagging. And when it comes to Croatian tourism itself, the biggest hit this summer season could once again be tourists from Poland, for whom the country remains the number one choice.

These are the results of the latest research conducted for the European Commission (EC) for Travel in December by Mindhause (Monitoring Sentiment for Domestic and Intra-European Travel - Wave 10), with a detailed analysis of the current sentiment in Europe's leading emitting markets.

It turned out that concrete bookings made back in December 2021 were still relatively low, and early booking is still slow. Although 36 percent of Europeans are planning a trip in the months of May and June, only 17 percent have already made a reservation for an early summer break.

Despite this, as many as 61 percent of respondents in this survey are optimistic about travel in the period up to early July, with 50 percent of travel in this period planned within Europe itself.

Another positive trend is the intention of travellers to stay longer and spend more money when at their chosen destination. The propensity to travel longer than 10 nights is up 38 percent from a previous survey taken back in September, while the share of travellers planning to spend more than 2,000 euros is up 31 percent, especially among those planning to travel in May or June 2022.

For 63 percent of travellers, a holiday is the main motivator for travel, although the business segment is also showing gradual progress for the first time since autumn 2020. In the next few months, 15 percent of respondents expect to travel to attend a meeting, conference or event.

Although Europeans are eager to travel, they're postponing the booking process in hopes of enjoying more freedom and mobility later on, without the need for testing and quarantine, which is still being sought to some degree or another by several countries if you're not vaccinated.

Travel planning is therefore being extended once again, and the booking framework is being expanded - only 4 out of 10 future travellers have chosen their destination but have not yet booked, while only 19 percent have partially booked transport or accommodation for their next trip.

The Germans are a little hesitant...

Croatia is in the five most popular destinations for the Poles, Austrians and French, with Polish tourists putting the country in the top position, with as many as 10 percent of respondents preparing to head to Croatia by June.

As many as 80 percent of Poles are ready to travel, 48 percent plan to travel abroad, 47 percent will travel with family, most of them will stay for 4-9 days, and the largest share of Poles plan to spend up to 1,000 euros on travel, while more than a fifth of Poles have budget from 1,500 to 2,500 euros.

In the period until the end of June, the Austrians are in 4th place in terms of popularity, before Greece, while the French are in 5th place. Surprisingly 40 percent of Germans, otherwise very faithful to Croatia, are still undecided as to whether they'll travel or not.

Among those planning to do so, more than a quarter plan to travel within the country, with 50 percent going across the border, mostly to Austria and Spain, and in fifth place to Greece. Only 14 percent of Germans booked a holiday back in December.

For more, check out our travel section.

Friday, 11 February 2022

Zagreb Tourism Numbers Very Encouraging for January 2022

February the 11th, 2022 - Zagreb tourism numbers appear to be on the rise as the world slowly begins to emerge from the global coronavirus pandemic. 2022's maiden month of January has shown some encouraging growth in terms of overnight stays for the Croatian capital.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, according to the Zagreb Tourist Board (TZGZ), the Croatian capital recorded an extremely impressive 174 percent more arrivals and 133 percent more overnight stays during the month of January than it did back in January 2021, which was heavily dominated by a poor epidemiological situation across Europe owing to the emergence of the Delta variant, as well as by lockdowns and harsh restrictions across the continent as a result.

A total of 42,456 arrivals and 106,093 overnight stays were registered, and, in addition to domestic guests, most overnight stays which have contributed to these promising Zagreb tourism numbers were realised by guests from Russia, Italy, Germany, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the United States of America.

On that occasion, Martina Bienenfeld, the director of the Zagreb Tourist Board, said: "We're pleased with the statistics that we're closely monitoring because they show the trend of recovery of Zagreb tourism. Regarding the arrival of Russian guests who were the most numerous foreign guests in Zagreb in November and December last year and, now, in January, there is very good feedback from the field. Namely, by the airline Aeroflot and the travel agency Atlantis, which mostly bring Russian guests as part of arrangements related to coronavirus vaccination, everyone is very pleased with our hospitality, they have great first impressions and plans to come again in the summer. We're additionally pleased with the fact that, compared to January 2019, we are at 90 percent of that year's overnight stays, and the average stay has been extended to 2.5 nights. If the situation with the pandemic continues the current trend of gradual calming down, I expect a further increase in Zagreb tourism numbers in the coming months.''

It's also worth pointing out that in January there were 32,702 overnight stays realised by Croatian tourists from other part of the country, which is an increase of 62 percent when compared to January last year, and foreign guests realised 73,391 overnight stays, marking a very significant increase of 190 percent. Out of the total number of arrivals, domestic tourists made up 14,972 (79 percent growth) and foreign guests made up 27,484 (286 percent growth).

For more, check out our travel page.

Fancy bumping up the Zagreb tourism numbers yourself? See what you can do here in the bustling Croatian capital with Zagreb in a Page.

Saturday, 5 February 2022

Could Low Croatian Vaccination Rate Result in Poor Summer Season?

February the 5th, 2022 - Could the continuing low Croatian vaccination rate against the novel coronavirus have a negative effect on this summer's tourist season? As would-be visitors keep their eyes on what's going on in relation to the pandemic in a particular desired holiday destination, some believe so.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Council for the Recovery and Development of Tourism, which brings together representatives of the most important segments of this most important Croatian industry, has warns that Croatia is so far behind its typical Mediterranean competition in terms of vaccination that it could be well and truly beaten this summer having made a rod for its own back.

The new Croatian vaccination rate (an updated version of the situation) will be published on the new ECDC maps, not only the number of people infected with covid at any given time. It's worth noting that Croatia is currently a worrying dark red colour and is likely to stay that way until further notice, writes N1.

There are still tourists in Croatia and planning to come to Croatia, despite the situation caused by Omicron which is causing high numbers in terms of infection rates almost everywhere. In Opatija in Kvarner, they have claimed that they haven't had such a good January since the beginning of the century, and they are also busy arranging things for the summer months.

"Well, last year's results were certainly at a high level, which is fantastic. Of course, the situation will not be the same this year. We hope that the situation with the epidemic will calm down, so we're expecting some better results,'' pointed out Van Sarajlic, a local hotel manager.

It all depends on the virus, and our response to it.

"Foreign guests are monitoring the situation in the country. We constantly inform them about the situation, we work intensively with the tourism industry to keep hold of the stay safe in Croatia label, and hygiene and all other measures in our facilities are at the highest level because guests follow what's going on here, they know. That's why they came to us last year, so we have to attract them again this year,'' said Rena Persic Zivadinov, the director of the Kvarner Tourist Board.

That is why the High Council for the Recovery and Development of Tourism is sitting in the City of Zagreb. While Kvarner is an example with 75 percent of their resident adult population fully vaccinated, the rest of the country lags far behind.

That is why the Minister of Tourism and Sport, Nikolina Brnjac, has duly warned:

"We all know that Croatia's competing countries are making a come back. We also showed a presentation of the vaccination coverage across the Mediterranean, and it is much higher than it is in Croatia. Last year, we launched the priority vaccination of employees workin in the tourism sector which had an extremely good response, over 70 percent of employees came and got vaccinated. And this time, I'm calling on the entire tourism sector to remain responsible.''

The sector is generally concerned about the low Croatian vaccination rate, as everyone is doing better than Croatia is, across the rest of the Mediterranean, but also in the emitting markets, including the United States.

"I'm afraid that everything we did last year and all of the effort we put in will end up being worth next to nothing, I'm afraid that this year, with this situation we're in today, we're once again at point zero from which we have to start building everything back up from scratch,'' said the president of the Association of Hoteliers at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, Josipa Jutt Ferlan.

Tomislav Fain, President of the Association of Croatian Travel Agencies, also noted:

"We all know what will happen to Croatian tourism if by any chance we remain dark red or red. If the German Government or the Austrian Hovernment only gives a suggestion to its citizens not to travel to such destinations, it would significantly affect our tourism, it would significantly affect the numbers we get, and the financial structure of everything.''

For more, check out our travel section.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Croatian 2022 Nautical Tourism: Record Charter Season Ahead?

January the 26th, 2022 - Could Croatian 2022 nautical tourism be excellent this summer season? It seems as if Croatian charter companies have good reason to expect a record season, despite the pandemic.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, judging by the last tourist season and the current state of reservations, Croatian 2022 nautical tourism could result in record traffic, but not without some accompanying challenges.

One of the challenges will certainly be disrupted supply chains due to which there will be no new vessels, but Croatia has a comparative advantage because it has a relatively young fleet. Taking everything into account, charterers should finally try to come to their senses and stop lowering their prices to the limits of profitability, especially in the post-season, which is currently filling up rather well indeed in terms of bookings.

This is the message of Selma Cmelnik, the director of the portal, on the occasion of the publication of the analysis of the charter market in 2021, a year which, despite pandemic-induced conditions, was extremely successful for the Croatian nautical tourism segment.

Although there's somewhat more caution in the pre-season, trends still provide a sense of hope and optimism, but the charter still lacks better strategic planning and unified statistics, believes Cmelnik.

"Boat rental reservations in Croatia for the summer are going very well at the minute, so far everything indicates that Croatian 2022 nautical tourism could hit the records. Currently, the months of July and September appear to be the best, and September has traditionally become a very popular month for sailing, and there are more and more guests.

During the coronavirus pandemic, this segment has proven to be very resilient and desirable to guests, and it’s time to sort out that market, introduce some digital tools, and start thinking in line with trends.

An example is the month of September, a month in which prices are significantly lower than they are in the month before, which is one legacy of the past that is slowly changing in the charter segment, and so profitability is falling. With the increase in supply over recent years, the dumping of prices has appeared in nautical tourism, which should now stop, because the demand is strong,'' pointed out Cmelnik.

This was shown last year as well, as stated in the analysis of the portal. Although it started relatively late in early May, the charter season last year achieved some truly outstanding results, with high occupancy of accommodation from June all the way to the end of October 2021.

In the charter season of 2021, 3.1 million overnight stays were realised, equal to about 90 percent of the arrivals recorded back in pre-pandemic 2019, with a reduced fleet of about 500 vessels when compared to the pre-pandemic year. Therefore, with the increased demand, the capacity was also quickly filled up.

''The arrival numbers of guests from certain markets have doubled compared to 2020. The traditional markets of Germany, Austria and Slovenia continued to show their loyalty in arrivals, as did the Czechs and the Slovaks. That said, last year also saw the largest number of guests from the United States to date. We can rightly speak of a kind of discovery of Croatia as a nautical destination for guests from America,'' noted Cmelnik.

It is predicted that charters and nautical tourism will be on the rise across all spheres precisely because of the easily sustainable safety and privacy parameters. Looking at the bigger picture, nautical tourism saw its opportunity, both because of the delayed bookings in 2020 that shifted to last year, and because of the flexibility that charter companies have shown. The biggest change that stood out were inquiries for longer-term rentals, ie the amount of time that guests wanted to spend on board increased.

There are many parameters that the current charter statistics don't actually record, in addition to being partially unavailable, warned Selma Cmelnik, who is looking forward to the opening of new databases announced by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure for this year.

“The eCrew system, which is integrated with the eVisitor system, published by the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ), gives us data only when guests are actually in Croatia. Charter companies need to review the trends before guests do arrive so that they can more easily plan their sales and marketing strategies for the season and during the season,'' believes Cmelnik, who is actively working on the availability of this data so that the market can be better researched and monitored.

For more, check out our travel section.

Friday, 14 January 2022

Zagreb International Airport Crosses Fingers for Better Air Traffic

January the 14th, 2022 - Zagreb International Airport experienced some fairly promising recovery in 2021, when a then very favourable epidemiological picture and the advent of the vaccine allowed for a surprisingly good tourist season during the summer months. It has its fingers crossed that this year will see things make the likely slow but steady return to pre-pandemic normality.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Zagreb International Airport (MZLZ), the Franjo Tudjman Airport concessionaire, hopes for better business trends throughout 2022 than it experienced duing the last two years, especially after the remarkable increase in traffic in 2021, but this also depends on the global situation in air transport, which is still under strong impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Due to the rapid changes which take place owing to the situation with the pandemic, for the second half of January and partly for February 2022, certain flights were cancelled, but most have been placed back on sale again as of February. Zagreb International Airport is in contact with air carriers from around the world. However, due to the confidentiality of the data, we can't share more information so far,'' they said in answer to a question asked about business and expectations for 2022.

Noting that in the last month of 2021, Zagreb was connected to 51 destinations with regular traffic lines with 19 airlines. also had 15,000 more passengers than it did back in November.

They served just over 179.5 thousand passengers, 138 thousand more than back in December 2020, and the most successful month last year was unsurprisingly August with 194.9 thousand passengers, September with 191 thousand, and then October with 182.8 thousand people. The number of flights increased by about 8000 compared to 2020, to 29,605, as did cargo turnover when looked at annually, to 10,781 tonnes, compared to 9848 tonnes transported back in 2020.

"In 2021, Zagreb International Airport recorded a significant increase in passenger traffic, an increase in the number of destinations and in the number of airlines. The turnover of business aviation and charter flights was also higher, but it is still significantly below the results from the record-breaking pre-pandemic year of 2019,'' they stated from the airport.

All of Zgreb Airport's affiliated companies employ about 680 workers, they didn't lay anyone off during the pandemic, and at the beginning of this year they've been looking for new employees in ticket sales.

For more, check out our dedicated travel and business sections.

Saturday, 8 January 2022

High Prices in Croatia Won't Win 2022 Tourist Season as Mediterranean Competitors Return

January 8, 2022 - High prices in Croatia won't work for the upcoming tourist season as Mediterranean competitors came back into the game. 

Croatian travel agencies are once again facing another challenging tourist year. Boris Žgomba, president of the Association of Travel Agencies at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), said that Croatian tourism hopes for better results in 2022 than last year, but a fight awaits for every guest as other Mediterranean countries return with possible lower prices than Croatia, reports Novi List.

"Behind us is a very bad 2020 and surprisingly good 2021 compared to what was expected. However, this year is uncertain, partly due to the spread of the virus in the first days of the year, and partly due to the expected return of our closest competitors in the market," says Žgomba. Namely, he said that apart from Croatia, most other destinations and countries are preparing for better results, including returning traffic to the level of approximately 2019. Furthermore, according to the announcements, strengthening air traffic is expected. This means that Croatia cannot afford the high price jumps in 2021, which was justified by increased demand.

But also the fact that in the last two pandemic years, Croatia enjoyed a specific privileged position when it comes to epidemiological conditions, and it also positioned itself as a car destination. However, it seems that Croatia is no longer safe in that position because it is expected that other countries will be in a better epidemiological situation than they were last year. And that means that the fight for each guest will be more complex than ever.

As for tourist agencies, he said their business was significantly affected by a higher number of individual tourist arrivals during the pandemic than organized tours. Therefore, in 2022, the agencies would welcome job preservation measures, at least until the end of March and the beginning of April, to bridge the time until spring and the beginning of stronger tourist traffic.

According to the Association of Croatian Travel Agencies (UHPA), UHPA member agencies in the first ten months of 2021 recorded a decline in traffic of about 70 percent compared to 2019, which is a slight recovery compared to 2020 when the drop was about 90 percent. But it is far from recovering, and agencies remain among the hardest-hit part of the tourism sector.

Therefore, they are still on state support and hope that the continued impact of the pandemic on business will continue to help preserve jobs at least until April 2022.

"Most agencies have survived the corona crisis, primarily with government action, but many have exhausted a variety of financial options, from loans to property sales, so we still need action, at least until April 2022, to survive until spring when we expect some tourist traffic," said the UHPA at the last annual Assembly.

However, the agencies also expect that traffic will be difficult this year, especially since the pandemic is raging worldwide and thus throughout Europe, which has already been felt in reservations and payments for skiing and winter holidays through agencies, which went well in the autumn. Skiing was expected to return to pre-pandemic figures, but as the epidemiological situation worsened, bookings fell, and there were last-minute cancellations.

It should also be added that the specificity of agency business is based on the tourist offer and services created for specific market niches whose realization is related to periods outside the tourist season, such as group travel, congress tourism, and school travel, which were also in sharp decline last year.

Also, many agencies specialize in creating and providing services for specific foreign markets from which, or according to which, due to travel restrictions, it was not possible to realize trips such as Asia, Australia, Canada, and so on. 

For more, check out our dedicated travel section.

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