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.

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

August Overnight Stays in Croatia Reach 93% of Record 2019!

September 1, 2021 - It was yet another impressive summer month in Croatia, as August overnight stays in Croatia reached 93% of the record 2019!

In August 2021, there were 4.3 million arrivals and 30.7 million overnight stays in Croatia, i.e., 59 percent more arrivals and 46 percent more overnight stays than in the same period last year. At the same time, foreign tourists realized 26.7 million overnight stays, while domestic tourists realized 4 million overnight stays, announced HTZ.

These are the first data from eVisitor, which tracks tourist traffic in commercial and non-commercial facilities and nautical charter (eCrew). Compared to the 2019 results, in August this year, 86 percent of arrivals and 93 percent of overnight stays were realized!

Most tourist overnight stays were realized in Istria (8.6 million), Split-Dalmatia (5.8 million), and Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (5.7 million). This is followed by Zadar (4.8 million), Šibenik-Knin (2.3 million), and Dubrovnik-Neretva County (1.9 million). The destinations that attracted the most visitors are Dubrovnik (164,000 arrivals), Split (160,000), Rovinj (149,000), Medulin (125,000) and Poreč (125,000).

"We can be satisfied with the results in the first eight months, and I would like to thank everyone for their effort, work, flexibility, and responsibility. The tourist year continues, and this is best evidenced by the fact that at this time, there are about 680,000 tourists in Croatia, which is at the level of the number of tourists we had at this time in 2019. This is a great announcement for September. We want to continue at the same pace to boost economic development further and ensure tourism has an even better starting position over the next year. I am especially pleased with the fact that, above all, we are achieving excellent financial results. Namely, the value of fiscalized accounts in tourism activities during the previous month was 21 percent higher than in August 2019. Their value amounted to almost HRK 18 billion at the annual level, which is about 84 percent of the value from the first eight months of 2019. I believe that this will be an incentive for everyone to continue to emphasize the quality for which there is significant demand and sustainable business, which is the foundation of tourism development," said Minister of Tourism and Sports Nikolina Brnjac.

Looking at the markets in August, most tourists came from Germany (1.1 million), Poland (338,000), Austria (317,000), the Czech Republic (250,000), Slovenia (239,000), and Italy (205,000). Of these markets with the most August arrivals, 83 percent more guests came to Croatia from Germany, 7 percent more guests from Poland, 182 percent more guests from Austria, and 30 percent more guests from the Czech Republic compared to August last year. In addition, there are 100 percent more guests from Italy, while Slovenian tourists achieved similar results in tourist traffic as in August last year.

According to the type of accommodation, most overnight stays were realized in households, camps, and hotels, of which the highest growth compared to the previous year was achieved by camps (93 percent more) and hotels (86 percent more overnight stays), followed by private accommodation and charter with a growth of about 35 percent in overnight stays. Compared to August 2019, the best results were achieved in camps and charters that achieved 2 percent more overnight stays (camps), or 1 percent more overnight stays (nautical - charter).

In the first eight months of this year, there were 10.7 million arrivals and 67.9 million overnight stays in Croatia, i.e., 56 percent more arrivals and 43 percent more overnight stays than in the first eight months of 2020.

The highest number of overnight stays in Croatia was recorded by guests from Germany (15.9 million), domestic tourists (10.1 million), Slovenia (7.9 million), Poland (5.8 million), and Austria (4 .9 million). On the other hand, most tourist overnight stays were realized in Istria (18.9 million), Primorje-Gorski Kotar (12.6 million), and Split-Dalmatia County (12.4 million), while the most popular destinations were Rovinj with 2.7 million overnight stays and Vir and Poreč with 2 million overnight stays.

"Behind us is the main part of the summer season in which the entire Croatian tourism sector has done an excellent job. We have weeks ahead of us in which, according to the announcements of our most important partners and tour operators, we can expect excellent tourist traffic. For the post-season, we have prepared several promotional activities to ensure further visibility in the tourism market as a quality, diverse, and above all safe destination where the prescribed epidemiological measures are respected," said the director of the Croatian Tourist Board, Kristjan Stanicic.

There were 42 percent more vehicles on the highways last week than in the same weekend last year, but also only five percent less than in 2019

During the last weekend, the motorways under the Croatian Motorways (HAC) jurisdiction recorded a turnover of 734,637 vehicles and tolls of HRK 40.5 million without VAT, which is an increase of 42 percent compared to last year, and tolls by 52 percent.

Namely, compared to the same weekend last year, a turnover of 518,541 vehicles was recorded, and tolls were collected of HRK 26.69 million without VAT.

Compared to 2019, a turnover of 777,654 vehicles was recorded, and a total toll was collected of HRK 43 million without VAT. Thus, this year's vehicle traffic is lower by five percent, and tolls collected by six percent.

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

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Tourism Pushes Croatian Retail Sector Forward, Analysts Optimistic

September the 1st, 2021 - The excellent tourist season which appears to just keep on going has pushed the Croatian retail sector out of the slump the global coronavirus pandemic had forced it into. Analysts are, unsurprisingly, very optimistic as a result.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes, after a record jump in GDP in the second quarter of 2021, the indicators for the beginning of the third quarter, the most generous part of the year for the economy, also look fairly positive. In July, retail spending rose 12.8 percent for the sixth month in a row, reflecting a good tourist season and good economic recovery.

Turnover in the Croatian retail sector (referring to trade, and calendar adjusted) during the month of July increased by 2.2 percent in real terms compared to the previous month. Half a year of consumption growth comes after the previous 11 months of decline, or 5.8 percent of the deficit in 2020.

Retail trade in food, beverages and tobacco products rose 12.8 percent in July, and the non-food segment (excluding fuels and lubricants) 9.1 percent year-on-year, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) calculated.

Raiffeisen Bank analysts point to the fact that last year, with which the trends are being compared and measured, the decline was large.

"Apart from the effect of the base period, the continuation of favourable trends is also the result of the good trends in tourism, moderately positive trends on the labour market, as indicated by data on consumer optimism, which, despite a slight deterioration when compared to June, continued to grow annually," they said.

The passage of time certainly provides for a decent dose of optimism for the performance of the economy in 2021 as Croatian GDP rose 16.1 percent in the second quarter, and perhaps more importantly, it was the first jump after four quarters of worrisome decline.

The Tax Administration's data on fiscalised receipts issued from the Croatian retail sector also show continued double-digit annual growth rates exceeding pre-covid levels, the RBA said, underscoring the good labour market situation and strong spending in tourism.

This continued growth, however, will depend on the development of the ongoing epidemiological situation, which is unfortunately deteriorating with warnings from the profession that we are entering the fourth wave with only 39.4 percent of the Croatian population having been fully vaccinated.

For more, follow our business section.

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

750,000 Tourists Currently in Croatia, Istrian Cities Proving Hit

August the 31st, 2021 - The Croatian tourist season just keeps on going despite the predictions we had earlier on in the year. With numbers rising to almost pre-pandemic levels and foreign arrivals having a much easier time entering Croatia than before, September is looking great and several Istrian cities are a particular hit at the moment.

While the vaccination rollout in Croatia might still leave quite a bit to be desired for, the tourist season has been excellent so far, with the announcements as we head into September also looking more than promising. The favourable epidemiological situation is likely to continue as long as all of the measures that remain in place are properly adhered to.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, according to the latest data from Croatia's eVisitor system, there are about 750,000 tourists currently holidaying in the country, of which about 650,000 are non-resident foreign nationals. Most of them are Germans, followed by other Croatian tourists visiting different places across the country, as reported by HRT.

The most visited cities are the Istrian cities of Rovinj, Porec and Umag. After that, most tourists can be found in the Split-Dalmatia, Primorje-Gorski Kotar and Zadar counties.

These figures represent encouraging growth of as much as 67 percent when compared to last year and the current state is only 15 percent less than the record year of 2019. As long as nothing changes drastically in regard to the currently very favourable Croatian epidemiological situation, the post-season could be above all expectations, bringing a very welcome sigh of relief for all those in the hospitality and tourism sector who more than likely believed such success would never come.

For more on travel to and around Croatia, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

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 testing centres, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language.

Monday, 30 August 2021

Croatian September Tourism Looking Good as Post-Season Approaches

August the 30th, 2021 - The Croatian September tourism picture is looking promising according to current announcements, with a favourable epidemiological picture continuing and with the cooler post-season rapidly approaching.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, September is just around the corner and cooler weather is finally approaching as summer begins to wind down. Despite this, the season goes on and the Croatian September tourism announcements are very encouraging indeed.

With ferries which connect Split to the surrounding islands full, especially on the way back to the mainland, things don't appear to be slowing down in Dalmatia.

"As for leaving the mainland, there's a little less pressure than we're used to so far, but we can't say the season is over. Slowly, passengers are still arriving in a somewhat slower rhythm, but they're coming,'' said Jelena Ivulic from Jadrolinija.

As for the ferry to the Italian port of Ancona, more tickets are being purchased as travellers from across the Adriatic is neighbouring Italy end their traditional ferragosto, writes N1.

A young married couple from France have been cycling from northern Europe to the south since the beginning of August, and the icing on the cake, they say, is Croatia.

"If I had a second chance, I think I'd choose another period. In August there's heavy traffic and a lot of people. It’s really hard for us on bikes. Now we're going to Vela Luka, we will tour the island with our bicycles. It will be nice, there's less traffic and we hope for some sun,'' said Philip.

At Split Airport, a similar situation as the one with the ferry port can be seen. In August alone, this airport recorded over 400 thousand passengers, which exceeded the results from the previous July. This weekend, however, departures are taking over that previous figure.

"We have a constantly higher departure at this time of year, which is traditional, but the arrivals that are still coming into the country can't be denied.'' said Mate Melvan from Split Airport who is seeing for himself what the Croatian September tourism picture is likely to look like.

As some leave the country and others arrive, landlords renting out their private/family accommodation facilities can finally rub their palms together and breathe a sigh of relief after such hardships caused by the pandemic and the epidemiological meaures. Split's renters are optimistic and have hopes for the continuation of the post-season too.

Of course, the epidemiological situation and the vaccination rollout not only here in Croatia but across the rest of Europe and the world remains key for tourism, but the fact is that we have, somewhat unexpectedly, approached the result from the record pre-pandemic 2019, which very few could have ever predicted.

For more, make sure to follow our travel section.

Thursday, 26 August 2021

ECDC Corona Map on August 26, 2021: Croatia Remains Orange!

August 26, 2021 - Good news - Croatia remains orange on the latest ECDC corona map on August 26, 2021. 

The latest European Center for Disease Prevention and Control corona map, which has been published around noon in recent weeks, was finally released on Thursday at 3:30 pm. The map revealed that Croatia remains orange, even though many media reports worried the country would turn red with the recent jump in cases. 

Health Minister Vili Beroš said at a press conference today before the map was released that Croatia remained orange and that there were no red zones.

"We contacted our sources in Stockholm and they had some difficulties in publishing the map, and those same sources told us that the whole of Croatia is still orange. So there are no red zones," Beroš said.

In the past 24 hours, 638 new cases were recorded, bringing the number of active cases in Croatia today to 3253, the Headquarters reported.

Among them, 358 patients are in hospital, of which 43 patients are on respirators. Six people died.

To date, a total of 371,623 people have been reported to be infected with the coronavirus, of whom 8,316 have died and 360,054 have recovered (330 in the past 24 hours).

There are currently 7058 people in self-isolation. To date, a total of 2,501,327 people have been tested, of which 10,428 in the last 24 hours.

The ECDC Epidemiological Map for Europe is published each week based on the 14-day incidence and the share of positive tests in the total number tested.

Green on the ECDC map are regions where the 14-day COVID-19 infection rate per 100,000 inhabitants is less than 50, and the share of COVID-19 positives tested is less than four percent, or the 14-day incidence was less than 75 percent, and the share of positives was less than one percent.

Orange means that the incidence of confirmed COVID-19 cases is less than 50, but the share of positives is more than 4 percent, or the 14-day rate is between 75 and 200, and the share of positives among those tested is less than four percent.

Red means a 14-day incidence rate of 75-200, with a COVID-19 positive rate greater than 4 percent and a 14-day incidence rate of 200 to 500, and dark red encompasses areas where the 14-day rate is greater than 500.

ECDC assesses the COVID-19 risk by major statistical regions within the country (NUTS 2). NUTS 2 statistical regions must have a minimum population of 800 thousand and a maximum of three million. There are only four NUTS 2 regions in Croatia - Pannonian Croatia, Adriatic Croatia, Northern Croatia, and the City of Zagreb.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Thursday, 26 August 2021

Excellent 2021 Croatian Hotel Postseason Expected

August 26, 2021 - The 2021 Croatian hotel postseason has excellent expectations, especially with September bookings. 

Based on the current state of reservations, the largest Croatian hotel houses are announcing an excellent postseason, especially in September, reports HRTurizam.

Although the end of school holidays in Croatia in our most important countries will significantly reduce the number of guests in family accommodation and camping, announcements for hotel accommodation are excellent.

“We are especially looking forward to the return of groups, whether it is events, congresses, or trips of special interest. Following the epidemiological instructions received from the national and local civil protection headquarters, careful preparation is the key to successfully implementing the stay of larger groups of tourists. It is estimated that based on market interest, about 800 hotels (80-90% of the number of hotels now open) would continue to operate during September and thus further improve the results achieved so far," said Veljko Ostojić, director of the Croatian Tourism Association.

Croatia remains the epidemiologically safest EU country in the Mediterranean. This is confirmed by comparisons of all relevant public health institutes. For example, according to the 14-day incidence, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control ECDC ranks Croatia 8th on the list of EU members in terms of security, with a significantly better epidemiological situation than other Mediterranean countries.

The German Robert Koch Institute, which monitors Croatia by counties, did not put any county in Croatia on the list of risk areas in the last update on August 20, while all Mediterranean countries have been on that list for weeks. Also, on the European map updated daily by the American Johns Hopkins University, according to the rolling 7-day average of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants, Croatia has a significantly better situation than its Mediterranean competition.

Two counties that attract a total of more than half of tourists to Croatia, Istria and Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, also have a better epidemiological situation than the national average. Istria County has a 14-day incidence of 46 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants, and Primorje-Gorski Kotar County has an incidence of 55, making these two counties a safer environment for most tourists from Europe than they have in their home countries.

On Wednesday, 677 new cases were recorded, so the number of active cases in Croatia on Wednesday was a total of 2,951. Among them, 356 patients are in hospital, of which 46 are on a respirator. In the past 24 hours, 282 people recovered, and 10,453 were tested.

The jump in new cases in Croatia is worrying, and everyone in tourism has been anxiously awaiting Thursday when the new ECDC epidemiological map comes out. Although there is the worry that Croatia will turn red this week, it is certain that such a drastic drop, i.e., the number of tourists, will not happen again, like last year.

However, this year, the context and situation are different, as a large number of the population has been vaccinated or contracted Covid-19. Additionally, test centers have been secured, and, regardless of the spread of the Delta variant, much more is still known about the coronavirus. Therefore, the biggest problem may be caused by the possible need for quarantine, which would certainly lead to a drastic decline in tourists in Croatia. 

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to the Republic of Croatia, including test centres, vaccination points, and travel and border rules, make sure to check out and bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

2021 Safe Stay in Croatia Label: How is it Used Around Croatia?

August 24, 2021 - How is the 2021 Safe Stay in Croatia label being used around the country? Tourism workers chime in. 

Jutarnji List spoke to tourism workers around Croatia about using the 2021 Safe Stay in Croatia label. 

"When we started implementing measures to protect guests and staff from Covid-19 last year, we were initially afraid of how they would accept it. Still, they are on vacation, and we set some rules for them. It turned out, however, that the reactions of the guests were extremely positive, after all, and they want to feel safe and protected on vacation," said Marina Josipović, the owner of the Park Hotel in Makarska. They also boast several international safety certificates, which prove that they take compliance with measures and safety very seriously.

"Upon arrival, we measure the temperature of all guests. If it is slightly elevated, we repeat the measurement after some time because guests come from the outside heat, so we give them time to cool down. There is plexiglass at the reception; everything is often disinfected; we have reduced the number of deck chairs by the pool to allow distance and limit the number of visitors in the wellness area. We are cautious when serving food and drinks," Marina Josipović adds, emphasizing that more than 70 percent of hotel employees have been vaccinated.

Protecting guests and employees from infection is their main motivation, just like other tourism entities that have received the now recognizable Safe Stay in Croatia label since this spring.

Krešimir Ledić, the cult Zagreb restaurant Balon owner, points out that they did not make protocols to satisfy the form but to make their guests feel safe and comfortable.

"We acted according to all protocols prescribed by the Ministry, and even more. Masks, disinfectants, space between tables, air purifiers... We are lucky to have a large, spacious terrace where guests can be away from others and feel comfortable," says Ledić, and adds that 95 percent of his employees are vaccinated.

Kopački Rit Nature Park has been proud to hold the Safe Stay label since the first day of the program. The Nature Park's department head for the reception of visitors and education, Ružica Marušić, points out that visitors react well and that refusing to follow the rules is really rare.

"We got the Safe Stay label easily because we take care of safety beforehand, and more than was prescribed. For example, all of our employees wear masks because they come in contact with many people, and everyone is vaccinated except those who have medical contraindications. Masks are mandatory for visitors indoors and on boats, and if they do not have their own, we will provide one for them. As a result, people react well, the rules are clearly marked, and everyone is more comfortable when they feel safe," says Marušić and adds that a lot of people come to the park aware of the responsibility for both visitors and their employees.

The same is pointed out by Ružica Božić Cerovac, the owner of the Chocolate Museum in Zagreb, who says that the hygiene standards were at the highest possible level even before receiving the Safe Stay label.

"Employees wear masks, keep their distance, ventilate, make sure that no more than ten people are in one room at a time ... We are proud that no visitor is endangered at any time," says the owner of the museum, which is a favorite attraction in Zagreb.

The Zadar adventure tourism agency Feral Tours owner, Iva Bencun, shows how the crisis has changed tourism. Activities in nature and active holidays are more in demand than ever, and with it, all booking and all arrangements now take place online.

"We work with small groups, masks are worn in transfers, everything is regularly disinfected, but most programs take place outdoors, so in that sense, there was no need for some large adjustments," says Bencun.

Research shows that most tourists prioritize the safety and cleanliness of the space they will stay in when choosing a destination. Today, guests are primarily looking for safety: a safe stay, the care of the hosts about hygiene standards, and the safety that they will not be infected during their vacation.

Listening to these needs, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports of the Republic of Croatia, with the support of the Croatian National Tourist Board and tourism partners, launched the Safe Stay in Croatia project earlier this year, which devised protocols of business and treatment of users in all tourism and tourism-related activities, all with one goal - a safe stay in Croatia. As a result, almost 17,000 applications have been approved since the start of the project.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to the Republic of Croatia, including test centres, vaccination points, and travel and border rules, make sure to check out and bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Sunday, 22 August 2021

Will European Countries Decide Fate of Rest of Croatian Tourist Season?

August the 22nd, 2021 - Will powerful European countries such as Germany, France and the United Kingdom be the ones to decide the fate of the rest of the Croatian tourist season, which has been going remarkably well so far? Maybe, but with people far more relaxed now than last year - maybe not.

With the memory of the dire 2020 Croatian tourist season still fresh in the memories of many, especially those who work within the sector, few could have imagined that the Croatian tourist season of 2021 would yield such impressive numbers of arrivals and overnight stays realised primarily by foreign tourists. Still leaning on the various coronavirus maps and traffic light systems of European countries, things could still take a turn yet.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, might we expect the mass exodus of tourists and serial accommodation reservation cancellations, like we did last year? Do guests rely on these measurements at all, and do they also surf the ECDC website as often as their hopeful Croatian hosts do?

The methodology itself has been the subject of serious debate for weeks now, but with the vaccination rollout across the continent going more or less well, European tourists seem much more relaxed than they were last year, when there was no such vaccine to speak of.

The public is beginning to realise that the mere addition of positive test results may not be the best criterion for introducing new anti-epidemic measures, especially now the vaccine is here and hospitalisations and deaths can be greatly reduced despite positive tests being returned. Dissonant tones can even be heard among country leaders.

When it comes to the tone being set by Croatian leaders, if we put President Zoran Milanovic and PM Andrej Plenkovic in that category, they managed to agree in principle that ''after the summer'', epidemiological measures can be abolished freely, according to a report from tportal.

The situation in family accommodation for tportal was described by the president of the Family Tourism Association at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, Martina Nimac Kalcina.

"The potential transition of Croatia in the red zone would definitely affect the course of the Croatian tourist season, but it wouldn't be as drastic as last year. Most of our guests are vaccinated, and there are a number of countries that aren't guided solely by ECDC data, but have their own criteria, such as Norway, the Netherlands or Denmark. On their maps, Croatia is generally in a much better position,'' stated Nimac Kalcina.

"This year, we have an extremely large number of younger guests, and they're completely relaxed and simply want a more chilled atmosphere. The fact that Croatia had milder measures than most of Europe definitely influenced their decision and is definitely responsible for the success of the Croatian tourist season. But now the reversal follows: middle-aged and elderly guests keep their eye on the situation with the pandemic much more closely, they're much more cautious and are obviously less inclined to come. And they're the key for the post-season, meaning September and possibly October,'' explained Nimac Kalcina.

The president of the Split-Dalmatia County Tourist Board, Josko Stella, says that the reaction of tourists to a possible change in the colour of Croatia on the ECDC map, which is realistic to expect next Thursday, is actually the question mark above all other question marks.

"It's possible that they'll just completely ignore this information and just go on the holiday they booked, but there's also a chance that they'll urgently pick up their belongings and leave Croatia, while those who intended to come will give up on taking the trip. The truth seems to be somewhere in the middle, and I'm optimistic,'' said Stella.

"The answer isn't unequivocal - in the end, European countries like the Czech Republic, Poland and the United Kingdom have their own criteria. The most important thing is certainly the behaviour of large countries and the Croatian tourist season could be abruptly interrupted only if some of them decide to impose isolation upon return, even for vaccinated people, which in my opinion is unlikely,'' added the president of this Tourist Board.

He warned that the German Robert Koch Institute is preparing for a strategically important move, on the basis of which the largest European economy defines its epidemic measures, including the conditions for the return of its residents from their summer holidays.

"Over recent days, new criteria has been being proposed that will no longer take into account only the number of cases and the percentage of positive tests, but also parameters such as the number of critically unwell patients, the percentage of occupied respirators or the emergence of new strains of the virus. The incidence of coronavirus itself may have been relevant half a year ago, but that will hardly be the case for a long time to come,'' added Stella.

For more on coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and choose your preferred language.

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