Wednesday, 29 September 2021

2021 Croatia Postseason Exceeding Expectations: Hotels Full, Mostly German Tourists

September 29, 2021 - The 2021 Croatia postseason is going better than expected, with around 200,000 tourists in Croatia at the moment.

While the pre-season in Croatia hardly yielded results, the peak season exceeded all expectations, and the post-season finally came to life to surprise us all. 

Last year, tourists fled Croatia in mid-August after Croatia was marked in red due to the increase in the number of new cases, and although the same scenario was repeated this year, it did not have the same effect on tourism as 2020.

As Index.hr has learned, more rooms are in demand in hotels, and although we are about to enter October, there are currently around 200,000 tourists in Croatia.

According to eVisitor, 1.7 million arrivals and 11.3 million overnight stays were made in Croatia so far in September, which is an increase of 239 percent in arrivals and 146 percent in overnight stays compared to the same period last September. Compared to the same period in September 2019, this represents 85 percent of the results in arrivals and 95 percent of the results in overnight stays.

Veljko Ostojić, director of the Croatian Tourism Association (HUT), told Index that hoteliers and camps are very satisfied with the post-season.

"The post-season in hotels and camps was great. What happened with Croatia in the red did not affect our tourism, so there were no booking cancellations. Practically all hotels that worked in August continued to operate in September, and we are lucky with time. So we can all be delighted. And another conclusion of all is that in the postseason, it was confirmed that the higher the quality of the hotel and the more stars, the more sought after and filled it is, which is a message to everyone for the future," Ostojić said to Index.

He states that during the post-season in September, it could be noticed that groups began to return to Croatia, which had been absent for the last year and a half due to the pandemic.

"Organized tourism, be it smaller events, congresses, wine tours, retirement groups, all have adapted to the current situation. If guests or groups have covid-certificates, there are no restrictions on organizing specialized groups," Ostojić added.

Index also spoke with Tomislav Fain, president of the Association of Croatian Travel Agencies (UHPA). At the beginning of the conversation, he pointed out that the post-season is above all expectations.

"As for the post-season, it is above all expectations, as well as the whole season. Groups, pensioners, school groups, foreigners are returning to us. This has brought great optimism because there are more and more inquiries for next year. When the groups return, retirees, it is easier to breathe because we see that we will do well next pre-season as well. So that is an indicator for us to continue," says Fain.

He emphasized that these groups significantly influence the entire tourism sector, so everyone makes a profit, including bus carriers, travel agencies, guides, restaurants, and hotels.

"When an individual comes with a car, they can only stay in the apartment, but when you have a group, it connects all stakeholders in tourism. And that guest gives traffic to everyone. Everything is moving, especially in the part where they hire guides, buses, and go on excursions. So the whole sector gets an extra boost," Fain told Index.

The director of the Croatian Tourist Board, Kristijan Staničić, also commented on the results. 

"That the season in Croatia is still ongoing is shown by the data on the current number of tourists, so about 200 thousand tourists stay in our country, while last year at this time about 90 thousand of them stayed in the country. Moreover, excellent trends in September show the data by type of accommodation facilities," said Staničić.

He states that about 2.8 million overnight stays have been realized in camps so far in September, an increase of 25 percent compared to the same period in September 2019. In addition, 3.6 million overnight stays were realized in household facilities, which is an increase of 3 percent compared to 2019, while hotels with 2.5 million overnight stays are at a high 80 percent of the results from September 2019.

"We expect good trends to continue in the coming weeks, for the last quarter of this year we already have a fully prepared communication and advertising strategy, so we will soon start implementing a campaign with the working title 'Thank you' on all Croatia Full of Life social networks, which will aim to further promote and highlight Croatia through the positive experiences of tourists who have stayed in our country," commented the director of the Croatian Tourist Board Kristjan Staničić.

He added that they have an autumn campaign on the topic of culture, history, intangible heritage, and eno-gastronomy, i.e., it is an additional promotion of the platform "Croatia Hearts and Crafts", launched by the CNTB in cooperation with Google, while for the domestic market and foreign guests who will stay in Croatia during October, they are preparing the "Croatian Tourism Month" campaign with tourist products and services at reduced and attractive prices.

After an extremely successful peak season, which passed beyond all forecasts for the entire Adriatic and demand was comparable to pre-pandemic 2019, Bluesun Hotels and Resorts recorded excellent results in the postseason, and the largest hotels in the chain remain open almost entirely due to high demand in October.

"Due to the beginning of the school year, the structure of guests changes in September, both in Croatia and in all emitting markets. Also, there is a change in the motive for the arrival of guests. The sea and the sun are no longer their exclusive precondition. These are guests who require much more content, are more active, mobile, and more inclined to explore the destination, the hinterland, and the interior of Croatia. They are much more involved in sports, interested in sights, and more dedicated to themselves, so they also explore local gastronomy and use wellness facilities," said Stjepko Šošić, director of revenue management at Bluesun Hotels & Resorts.

He states that, accordingly, they adjusted the autumn offer with sports, gastronomy, and wellness facilities and packages offered by their hotels and destinations, and through several different marketing and sales activities primarily addressed couples and individuals. He adds that they are the most represented in this period of the season because they want to avoid the biggest crowds and heat and complete the experience in our destinations with numerous additional activities.

He states that, even though the whole of Croatia has been on the red list since the beginning of September, new reservations are still arriving every day, so in some terms, they had to stop selling for the end of September due to lack of capacity.

"Considering that the weather was very nice through September, a large part of the guests extended their stays by a few days compared to the period they initially booked," said Stjepko Šošić.

Currently, Bluesun's nine open hotels (six of them on the Makarska Riviera) and one camp, in addition to the growing number of individual guests, which is a trend that has continued from the peak season to this autumn, are seeing a trend in traditional sports and fitness groups.

"At the end of September and through October, we have numerous MICE (meetings, incentives, congresses, and events) events in our hotels with congress facilities. As a result, MICE is much stronger this fall than expected, and there is a strong demand from the corporate milieu. We are especially pleased with the recovery of this sales segment, which is extremely important to extend the season. These are working meetings and mostly respectable domestic companies from the field of medicine, IT sector, and pharmaceutical industry," said Marija Benjak, head of Bluesun Hotels & Resorts group and MICE sales.

As for the structure of guests by markets, Germany is traditionally the most represented in September, where a third of the total number of guests comes from. Also, already in mid-August, according to Bluesun, reducing the number of guests from the hitherto dominant car destinations is noticeable, and with establishing regular air traffic, the number of guests from the British and Scandinavian markets is growing.

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

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Losinj Sustainable Tourism Project Tested Out, Assessments to Follow

September the 28th, 2021 - Losinj sustainable tourism has been being tested out, and the so-called ''eco standard'' of it will be measured and judged by nobody but independent travellers themselves.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, last week, Losinj hosted a project which showcased the modern simulation of sustainable travel. Six people of different professions, from several Mediterranean countries, had the task to try out and evaluate a carefully designed all-inclusive innovative eco trip called "Rhythm of the senses of the island of Losinj" in the protected area of ​​Cres-Losinj.

This is the main activity of the Mediterranean project INTERREG DestiMED PLUS called "Ecotourism in Mediterranean destinations", which, back at the end of 2019, included the Croatian Institute of Tourism. This Losinj sustainable tourism project has been being prepared for two years now and is taking place in parallel in Italy, Greece, Spain, France, Albania and of course Croatia, and the leading partner is the Italian region of Lazio. The International Association for Nature Conservation (IUCN) and WWF Mediterranean are also involved in the implementation of the project.

The subject of the project is the development of an innovative ecotourism package deal in each of the selected protected areas of project partners, which is created, tested, improved and then adapted to current market needs through the accurate measurement of the environmental sustainability footprint and all other sustainability indicators. The goal is to minimise the negative impacts of tourism on the environment, economy and community, by exact measurement, and not only by declarative, anticipated recommendations.

Specifically, the Losinj sustainable tourism project itinerary was made for smaller groups of 6 to 12 people and lasts for six days. Now, the testers, and in the future tourists, will be staying in family/private accommodation with eco references, and they'll also make the most of the more sustainable transfers provided in the wider Losinj area.

The programme includes an hour of cooking in a family restaurant, a visit to a fragrant garden and a herbarium workshop with local herbs and a tasting room, a visit to the Apoxyomenos Museum as an aspect of local cultural value, kayaking and diving on the island of Orjula, enjoying a glass of local wine, being educated on sustainability at the Blue World Institute, cycling, and a promenade walk along the Path of Vitality and a picnic along the coast.

"The name of ''Rhythm of the senses of the island of Losinj'' was created in the desire to introduce guests to the true island rhythm that Losinj breathes during the rest of the year, when it isn't the peak of the tourist season in summer. The rhythm of the senses alludes to the sheer variety of activities Losinj boasts. With their arrival, tourists extend the season and participate in the conservation of this protected area through responsible behaviour and their consumption of arrangements whose negative impact on the environment and local population is minimised, and income is kept within the local economy of the resident population,'' explained the Institute of Tourism.

The trip which the Losinj sustainable tourism project created was intended for the market of experienced, solvent, environmentally responsible and adventurous middle-aged, English and German-speaking travellers who enjoy a combination of outdoor activities and psychophysical rest, local gastronomy, culture, nature and tradition and interaction with locals through various creative workshops, experiences and visits.

These guests love and seek sustainable more remote, Mediterranean exotic destinations, they typically choose comfort over luxury, and put quality before the price of a tourist service or product. The itinerary of the ecotourism package includes a number of local service providers who have recognised the quality and long-term value of this project, which will be available on the tourism market in the future.

For more, follow our travel section.

Friday, 24 September 2021

Croatian Campsites Perform Excellently in Tourist Numbers in September

September the 24th, 2021 - The height of the summer season in Croatia might well be behind us now, but the post-season remains and it seems that the tourists just keep on coming. Croatian campsites have performed excellently, with both foreign and local guests appearing to have deeper pockets than before.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, this year, Croatian campsites have so far surpassed other segments of tourist accommodation - not only has the cumulative turnover from 2019 been more or less reached, but for the first time in history, Croatian campsites have reached the end of September with a very high level of occupancy.

Although this result can be partly interpreted through these unusual pandemic-induced circumstances, in addition to the longer season for camping, there are several other trends that should continue. These are a significant increase in tourists coming from the Polish and Czech markets, as well as the return of domestic guests camping in cooler weather.

Expectations have been well and truly exceeded...

“Although each accommodation segment has its own role and position on the wider market, we can truly say that Croatian campsites have been stars, and not only this year. With small differences between regions, year-round campsites have managed to reach about 90 percent of the overnight stays they realised back in 2019, which is far better than the plan from the start of the season, which foresaw around 60 to 70 percent of pre-pandemic traffic. We have to keep in mind that we had a really late start to the season, too,'' revealed Adriano Palman, the director of the Croatian Camping Association.

As early as the beginning of June, there were a lot of bookings in Croatian campsites until September, without a lot of last minute bookings, and prices were moving towards the 2019 level. The peak of the summer season, as it did in other segments, went well. Palman stated that those with lower traffic achieved 2.6 times more overnight stays than last year, and those with the best results tripled last year's traffic, which means that the entire segment was extremely successful, with slightly lower traffic in the southernmost Dubrovnik region, otherwise the country's tourist Mecca.

What differs from previous years is the extremely high occupancy levels that Croatian campsites enjoyed through September so far, until last weekend. Only this week have the camps been slowly emptying, and a good forecast for next weekend will surely motivate some to extend things for a few more days. According to statistics from the eVisitor system, Croatian campsites managed to realise a massive 2.3 million overnight stays from September the 1st to the 19th this year (on 324 thousand arrivals), which is as much as 24 percent more than in the record year of 2019 (18 percent more in arrivals).

"We interpret this on the one hand by saying that the season was ''late'', and some of the guests postponed their holidays. In addition, some guests simply wanted to take advantage of the fact that there are no travel restrictions yet and wanted to treat themselves to some camping. In any case, guests from September are important for camps because their primary motive for travelling is not the sun and the sea, although in September it's still quite warm, but instead they want to visit local attractions, eat at restaurants, visit family farms, go to wineries, and go cycling. Such guests contribute more to strengthening the local economy,'' noted Palman.

On top of that, traffic in Croatian campsites on the continent has increased significantly this year as well, despite still being in the coast's shadow. But the fact is that there are more and more of campsites in continental Croatia and that they attract more and more guests, especially locals, who like to visit them throughout the year. There are more and more camps staying open all year round, too.

Although the most numerous guests of the camps are still Germans, Slovenes and Austrians, this year, guests from the Netherlands returned to the fourth place contrary to expectations, and the only ones who significantly failed in this segment are the Italians.

A brand new structure

"We have two markets that have significant growth and a change in the structure of guests, and represent great potential to which we'd like to cater, namely the Poles and the Czechs. These guests have always come to Croatia, but in previous years they were ''simple’''guests, and with a rise in standards, they moved from the south, primarily from the Makarska Riviera, up further north, with increasingly expensive cars and camping equipment,'' revealed Palman.

Also, although in small numbers, the number of Croatia tourists is growing, and they began visiting different places in Croatia when travel was much more restricted, so they're also visiting camps on the Adriatic and in the continental part of the country. Domestic guests, for example, have been filling up mobile homes throughout the past year, using numerous weekend promotions.

For more, check out our travel section.

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Enormous Interest for Croatian Tourism Investment, But Issues Remain

September the 18th, 2021 - The interest for Croatian tourism investment has never been more intense as we get a more firm hold on the pandemic, but in the usual Croatian way, multiple issues and obstacles remain.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, the interest of investors and hotel brands in Croatian tourism has never been higher, which is partly due to the coronavirus pandemic that has made us delve into other virtues.

Croatia has a great opportunity to develop some new quality projects for Croatian tourism investment from both at home and abroad, it's also an opportunity to restart the country's tourism in much more sustainable direction than we were heading in before the global pandemic struck. Still, the big question is whether Croatia is ready for these investors and their demands and ideas, as well as changes to the value-added tourism model, or whether we will continue to boast about ''having results which are better than those of our competitors'' in the second pandemic-dominated tourist season that actually happened, like many things do in and to Croatia, quite by accident.

Due to this attitude, Croatian tourism could end up very disappointed in 2022, from which a lot is already expected. This could summarise the messages sent in the two days of the ninth edition of the regional conference Adria Hotel Forum by the participants of a series of panels and discussions on the future of tourism after the pandemic and the sustainability of travel, climate change and even seasonality. While it’s not just an investment conference, investment and project development opportunities are always the number one topic.

"It's true that so far we haven't had such a large share of participants from abroad at the AHF, and never before has there been such an interest in the entire region, including Croatia. These are still not huge institutional investors, but regional ones, but that's also a good direction to go in. The level of interest is particularly high for Albania, while Montenegro currently has a problem with political instability, which has made investors cool off a bit.

But while on the one hand investors are very interested, we still aren't really seeing equal interest on the Croatian side, we don't offer them any projects, it's as if we don't even need investment, but we're once again focused on how great we did during the height of the tourist season, and we're busy bragging about being the best in the entire Mediterranean. Just to remind you, Greece conducted a study back in April in which the most optimistic option was to return 70 percent of the flights they saw from 2019, and they returned 72 percent. We've raised our prices this year and we haven't done much at all to make our next season any more stable,'' said Marina Franolic, the regional director of Bench Events, which organises AHF.

Kristian Sustar, the development director of the well known Croatian Uniline agency with many years of experience in hotel management under his belt, agrees that the next tourist season could be a big disappointment for Croatian tourism as a whole.

"Our season lasted only a couple of months, and as much as the numbers were better than we expected, it was full of challenges for all sectors, agency traffic failed to make a come back, hotels were filling up only at the last minute, which means death for price policy. We missed the chance to sit down together and decide how we want to see Croatian tourism in the future, with no one looking at the long term. Next year we're going to have a big disappointment on our hands,'' believes Sustar.

Investors have their own view of things and although they claim that Croatia has changed significantly in the last ten or so years as a destination and as potential target for Croatian tourism investment, there are still very few concrete announcements to speak of. The only currently active developer at this conference was Slovak Ludovit Cernak, a partner in Sitno Holding that works on developing serious tourism and real estate projects on the islands of Ugljan and Hvar, and is full of optimism for Croatian tourism investment.

"Croatia will never be Cannes, but it will be a very important destination, and that's why it is very attractive to investors at the moment. It is no longer seen as a cheap version of Italy or Spain as it was ten years ago, things have changed,'' said Cernak, who claims that Ugljan has a chance to become the Croatian Caribbean.

Opportunities for expansion in Croatia's wider region are also sought by various hotel companies, which are interested in the Adriatic coast, but also in cities such as Zagreb and Belgrade, Bratislava. David Jenkins, the vice president of hotel development at Radisson sees these cities as locations for lifestyle and fashion hotels. Takuya Aoyama from Hyatt said that we shouldn't forget the continental part of Croatia which lies away from the coastline. He was the only one to mention the need to open a hotel in Slavonia, which longs for such projects.

The global coronavirus pandemic has forced hotel companies not only to become much more flexible in contracting with their owners, but also to play around more with products and offers  - digital solutions for things like checking in have accelerated, rooms can now also be turned into workspaces and dining rooms can be exercise rooms. That said, it seems that Croatia still has some way to go before Croatian tourism investment becomes more concrete, interest means very little when nothing is put into place to make investors sign on the dotted line.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Croatian Tourism Ministry Praises 2021's Summer Tourist Season

September the 16th, 2021 - The Croatian Tourism Ministry, headed by Nikolina Brnjac, has praised the truly remarkable height of the summer tourist season which is now behind us. Despite the global pandemic, the sector has done incredibly well compared to last year.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, according to data from the Croatian eVisitor system, 55.3 million overnight stays have been realised in Croatia since the beginning of the year, which exceeds the number of overnight stays from the entire pandemic-dominated year of 2020, when 54.4 million overnight stays were realised in twelve whole months.

The Croatian Tourism Ministry has, in that case, every right to beat its chest, especially given the fact that most of Croatia's traditional Mediterranean competition hasn't fared anywhere near as well due to their generally less epidemiological pictures.

Of the total number of overnight stays realised throughout 2021 so far, 46.6 million were realised by foreign tourists, while 8.7 million were realised by domestic tourists. Since the beginning of this year, nine million tourist arrivals have been realised, meaning a massive 1.2 million more tourists have visited Croatia this year than last year, the Ministry of Tourism and Sport announced.

"Given the trends in the travel industry, our goal was to maintain the stability of the tourist system, preserve jobs and the recognition of Croatia as a safe tourist destination. We want to continue with these results and that's why it is important that we all continue to adhere to the epidemiological measures which remain in place. This creates the foundations for next year and the continued development of Croatian tourism.

This year has first of all shown that safety and quality are crucial for people when choosing a holiday destination, and that guests are willing to pay even more if that can be ensured. Ultimately, our desire is to create sustainable tourism in which the focus is not on the number of tourists, but on the level of quality, on tourists who will spend money on as many offers in their destinations and generate more consumption, which will further encourage new investments in tourism,'' said the Minister of Tourism and Sport, Nikolina Brnjac.

So far in 2021, there have been 46 percent more arrivals and 37 percent more overnight stays realised than in the same period last year. Compared to the same period in pre-pandemic, record 2019, 61 percent of arrivals and 72 percent of overnight stays were realised compared to the same period in that year.

More than a million tourists are currently staying in Croatia, most of the foreign tourists are Germans (297,000), Poles (81,000), Slovenes (74,000) and Italians (61,000). Most tourists are currently in Istria County (283,000), Primorje-Gorski kotar County (187,000) and Split-Dalmatia County (184,000).

For more, check out our dedicated travel section.

Monday, 13 September 2021

Autumn Offers in Croatia Planned to Extend Season, Some Up to 50% Off

September 13, 2021 - October is Croatian Tourism Month, where autumn offers in Croatia can be enjoyed up to 50% off. 

Slobodna Dalmacija reports that October this year will be "Croatian Tourism Month," as part of which Croatian citizens and foreign tourists in Croatia will be able to enjoy offers up to 50 percent off and use the tourist offer and services throughout the country, the director of the Croatian Tourist Board (CNTB) Kristjan Staničić said. 

This joint project of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the CNTB is currently being prepared, and all important information will go through the CNTB campaign, announced Staničić, recalling the excellent results of last year's project "Vacation-Worthy Week."

"Motivated by the desire to extend the season as much as possible, but also respecting the suggestions of users on the one hand and service providers on the other, we decided, together with the Ministry of Tourism and Sports to provide up to 50 percent off for domestic and foreign tourists throughout October. Naturally, it will be important for the service provider to adhere to the prescribed epidemiological measures, which will then be in force and act responsibly," Staničić emphasizes.

The second wave of the campaign for domestic tourists, "Experience domestic. Explore rural Croatia!" launched this year to encourage domestic tourist traffic by getting to know rural destinations, is also announced for the autumn.

"In the second wave of this campaign, we will promote an additional four thematic destination videos, which are under development, and which will seek to bring closer the rural tourist offer, and an ongoing campaign for domestic tourists dedicated to cycling "Cycling, explore, and enjoy!" focused on the EuroVelo 8 route, which as part of the EU project covers the entire Croatian coast, from Istria to Dubrovnik," says Staničić.

He believes that all this will encourage tourists to use autumn for a short vacation at popular prices and locals to further discover Croatia in an interesting, healthy, and sustainable way. This will increase the current 10.6 million overnight stays this year.

Noting that for the last quarter of this year the CNTB has a fully prepared communication and advertising strategy, Staničić reveals that at the end of September there will be a campaign of thanks, with the working title "Thank you" on all "Croatia, full of life" social networks/profiles in ten markets with the most overnight stays this year.

"The goal is to draw attention to Croatia further, and through the positive experiences of the tourists themselves and their impressions shared on social networks, to thank them for choosing Croatia and spending a great vacation here," says Staničić.

In October, they are planning a campaign on culture, history, intangible heritage, eno-gastronomy through the platform "Croatia Hearts and Crafts" in cooperation with Google, through which an interactive presentation of everything Croatia can be proud of is presented.

Asked whether the revenues from the tourist tax, which is an important income of the CNTB and the system of tourist boards, improved due to better than expected and good physical results in the season (arrivals, overnight stays), Staničić pointed out that in the circumstances without a pandemic meant higher revenues, both for the entire tourism sector and economy and the CNTB.

However, for additional relief and assistance to the tourism sector in business, regulations were adopted that defined the tourist tax reduction and membership fees for renters, tourist taxes for boaters, and tourist membership fees for businesses. This was reflected in the CNTB budget and the entire system of tourist boards, Staničić notes.

"Although about 77 percent of the results from the record 2019 have been achieved so far, which is better and more than the planned 60-65 percent of results, that does not mean higher revenues of the CNTB, which by reducing fees and membership fees has made a strong contribution to the sector in achieving the results we are witnessing today.

We continue to work according to the adopted Annual Work Program for this year, with the most funds allocated for promotional, marketing, and PR activities to maintain Croatia's position as the safest and most successful tourist destination in the Mediterranean. I believe that we will more than successfully end this tourist year in that respect as well," states Staničić.

He adds data from eVisitor, according to which from September 1 to last weekend, i.e., September 11, there were 904 thousand tourists in Croatia or only 7 percent less than in the same days in 2019, with 2 percent more overnight stays or 6, 3 million. Most of them, 5.7 million overnight stays, were realized by foreign tourists, which is an increase of 3 percent, although compared to the same day in September 2019, there were about 9 percent less or 820 thousand, which means that they stay longer in Croatia. 

With domestic tourists, the situation is the opposite - in the first 11 days of September, there were as many as 31 percent more than at the same time in 2019 or 83 thousand, but they realized 6 percent fewer overnight stays or 619 thousand.

On September 11, there were more tourists in Croatia than on the same day in 2019, i.e., about 510 thousand of them compared to about 460 thousand, while on the same day in 2020, there were about 200 thousand.

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

Monday, 13 September 2021

Red List Who? More Tourists in Croatia Than in Record 2019!

September the 13th, 2021 - The Republic of Croatia might have finally ''turned red'' on the ECDC's so-called corona map and might still be at risk of turning back to amber on the United Kingdom's traffic light system, but people just keep on arriving. There are currently more tourists in Croatia than there was back in pre-pandemic, record 2019.

As Morski writes, it appears less and less people are remotely bothered about the ECDC's corona map as the tourist results for all of Croatia are still excellent. According to data from the eVisitor system, 530 thousand tourists are currently staying somewhere in Croatia, of which 475 thousand are foreign guests, mostly from Germany, Austria, Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic, reports Dnevnik.hr.

One year ago, about 200,000 people spent their summer holidays in the country, and at the same time in the record year of 2019, the trusty eVisitor system recorded a massive 470,000 tourists in Croatia. The competent minister, Nikolina Brnjac, is convinced that a very good post-season awaits us if we're looking at the numbers of tourists in Croatia we still have, even though the very height of the summer season is now behind us.

Could the remarkably good tourist announcements for September end up coming to nothing if we end up remaining in the ''red'' on the coronavirus map? "We're the safest destination in the Mediterranean" is a slogan we've been hearing throughout summer, and it seems as if, at least by comparison to the competition, it's still true.

''Those who come to Croatia now are mostly vaccinated people. They know how standardised travel is, they know what the rules of entry are. Most of the existing reservations are not being cancelled or given up on, so we're continuing with the good trend, and we hope to continue on this way,'' concluded the Minister of Tourism and Sport, Nikolina Brnjac.

For more on tourists in Croatia, check out our dedicated travel section.

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Tourists from 70 Countries in Croatia this Year!

September 7, 2021 - The good tourism news keeps on coming, as tourists from 70 countries in Croatia this year made 2021 one we won't soon forget. 

In the first eight months of this year, more tourists came and stayed in Croatia than last year from more than 70 countries, with fewer arrivals and overnight stays from only five countries - Indonesia, Korea, China, Japan, and Kosovo, reports Index.hr.

This is shown by eVisitor and eCrew data from the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ), according to which, as expected, Germans are traditionally far ahead of everyone, both in terms of arrivals and overnight stays.

2.1 million German tourists realized almost 16 million overnight stays or 23.3 percent of the total overnight stays in the first eight months of this year, which is 53 and 42 percent more than in the first eight months of 2020. However, compared to the same period in 2019, 2021 saw 200 thousand fewer German arrivals and about a million fewer overnight stays.

Behind German tourists are domestic tourists, with 1.7 million arrivals and 10.1 million overnight stays, which is an increase of 31.6 and almost 10 percent compared to the first eight months of 2020, while compared to the same period in 2019, there were about 100 thousand fewer arrivals and about a million fewer overnight stays. 

Of the ten markets with the highest number of overnight stays, only Austria and Slovakia had more than 100 percent more overnight stays than last year, i.e., Austrians at 4.8 million (+110 percent ) and Slovaks at 2.2 million overnight stays (+107.6 percent). They rank fourth and seventh in overnight stays among foreigners.

However, the largest increase (212.4 percent) was achieved by Dutch tourists with 1.8 million overnight stays in the first eight months of this year, which puts them in ninth place among foreign tourist overnight stays.

From other markets in the top ten, increases are slightly smaller. Poles are in third place among foreigners (or fourth overall, if domestic tourists are taken into account) with 5.7 million overnight stays or 43 percent more than in 2020.

Slovenians are in second place, just behind the Germans (or third if you count domestic overnight stays), with 7.9 million overnight stays or 3.4 percent more than in the first eight months of 2019. After Austria in fourth (among foreigners) is the Czech Republic with 4.5 million overnight stays or 44.5 percent more, and Hungary with 2.3 million overnight stays or 80.2 percent more.

Italy is in eighth place among foreign markets with 1.9 million overnight stays or 41 percent more (behind Slovakia in 7th). In tenth place, behind the Netherlands, is Bosnia and Herzegovina, with 1.6 million overnight stays or 80.5 percent more than in the first eight months of 2020.

Although neither Germans, domestic tourists, nor tourists from other markets have achieved the results of 2019 this year, many markets have seen a large increase in overnight stays, from some over 300 percent, and others 600 percent compared to 2020! In 24 markets, overnight stays have grown by more than one hundred percent.

The largest increase in overnight stays (679 percent) was realized by Kuwait with slightly more than 2780 overnight stays. Still, significantly more overnight stays, 663 thousand, and an increase of 301 percent were realized from the USA. Russia achieved an increase of 351 percent with 561.7 thousand overnight stays.

Oman recorded an increase of 275 percent compared to the first eight months of 2020, but with only 435 overnight stays, while the same increase was from Norway, but with a little more than 76 thousand overnight stays.

And from other Scandinavian countries - Sweden and Denmark - the growth of overnight stays was high, 128 and 129 percent compared to 2020, while Finland was the only one among all markets to have fewer tourist arrivals, by four percent but 42 percent more overnight stays.

Turkey is the only country where more tourists came (6 percent), who spent fewer nights than last year (15 percent).

An interesting fact among all markets is that, for example, from northern European countries this year there was also significantly more overnight stays in Croatia than last year - from Lithuania 101.5 thousand or 181.3 percent more, Latvia 48.7 thousand or 128 percent more, Estonia 45.1 thousand or 105 percent more, and Iceland 145.6 percent more with four thousand overnight stays.

The large increases in overnight stays from Mediterranean countries, i.e., Croatia's competitors, is also interesting. For example, tourists from France realized 1.1 million overnight stays in Croatia by the end of August this year (which puts them in 11th place among foreigners) or 126 percent more, and Spanish tourists 194.4 thousand or 166.3 percent more overnight stays than 2020.

Portuguese tourists achieved 111.2 percent more overnight stays or 51 thousand, and Maltese tourists 168 percent more with five thousand overnight stays.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

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

Friday, 3 September 2021

PM Andrej Plenkovic Expresses Pride for Main 2021 Tourist Season

September the 3rd, 2021 - PM Andrej Plenkovic hasn't been shy in expressing his feelings of pride towards what has so far been an excellent tourist season. The predictions back at the beginning of the year as the vaccine rollout was plagued with issues and lockdowns were still ''in fashion'' weren't good at all, and in light of that, the height of the Croatian tourist season of 2021 has been rather remarkable.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic took to Twitter to comment on the new ECDC corona map, according to which the Croatian coast has remained orange, but some parts of Croatia are unfortunately now in red. These areas are Slavonia, as well as Sisak-Moslavina and Karlovac counties.

"According to the new ECDC map, the Croatian coast has remained orange even at the beginning of September. Foreign tourists have recognised Croatia as a safe destination and we could exceed 70 percent of the tourist results from the pre-crisis 2019. With responsible behaviour and with vaccination, we can protect the health and economy of Croatia!'' wrote PM Andrej Plenkovic proudly on Twitter.

It's worth remembering that Croatia's traditional tourism competitors across the rest of the Mediterranean generally had a worse epidemiological picture, with Spain, popular with Northern European tourists such as Germans and Brits having an extremely unfortunate situation on its hands. The whole of Greece, also popular with the above, is in red or crimson, while Cyprus is in crimson.

The whole of Portugal is also marked in red, as is France. Southern and central Italy are in red, while most other Italian regions are in orange. Croatia did excellently and managed to maintain an extremely favourable epidemiological situation throughout the height of the tourist season, which can be seen by the brilliant results and economic recovery.

For more, make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle section.

Page 11 of 75

Search