Thursday, 22 July 2021

New Rules for Weddings and Events on the Croatian Coast in Effort to Save Season

July 22, 2021 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović announced that new restrictive measures would be introduced on Monday, applying to the "orange" Adriatic Coast and that EU digital Covid certificates would be a criterion for participating in events on the Croatian coast. 

"They will refer to the Croatian Adriatic according to NUTS regions, that is, the part that is currently in orange and where the incidence is growing, although not as in other countries in the Mediterranean. Croatia is holding up well compared to others. However, the numbers are growing, and we have to do something to prevent at least some events from turning into super-spreaders," Božinović told Dnevnik Nova TV, as reported by Index.hr.

He explained that all gatherings of more than 50 to 1,000 people would have to be organized so that local headquarters and county headquarters take responsibility for their organization, while the EU digital Covid certificate is a criterion for entering the event.

“I am sure, if this is respected, that we can practically continue normally this summer, but under control,” he pointed out.

As for the numerous festivities and fairs held throughout the Adriatic, which bring together many people, Božinović explained that the point is to register these festivities and local headquarters with county officials to decide whether they can control them and whether they will let it happen. If the two headquarters do not agree and there have been such cases, then the National Civil Protection Headquarters will decide.

Božinović said that it is in the country's interest for as many tourists as possible to come to Croatia and create conditions so that they feel safe and so that the infection does not spread too much.

In addition, he stated that weddings also have their own epidemiological framework.

"Anything over 15, now it will be practically unlimited in Dalmatia, but weddings can be 200, 300 people at most. So a Covid passport is a high guarantee that everything will go well," said Božinović.

He also commented on sports competitions, stating that they will allow spectators to come with Covid certificates. He added that these measures should take effect on Monday.

Stricter conditions for British tourists

In addition, it was announced today that British tourists would have more difficulty entering Croatia.

All Britons, Russians, and Cypriots must have a negative test to cross the Croatian border, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated or have contracted the virus.

As far as tourism is concerned, this could have the greatest impact on the expected increased arrival of the British on the Adriatic. As a reminder, practically all measures have been lifted for them since Monday, making it easier for them to travel. Meanwhile, Portugal and Spain, the traditional destinations of British tourists, have ended up on the red epidemiological list, making entry into those countries difficult, and several measures have been introduced. Therefore, a significant number of Britons are expected to come to the Adriatic. In Britain, the Delta strain has spread significantly in recent weeks, despite high vaccination coverage, especially among young people. Therefore, there is a danger that the number of infected people in Croatia will increase, which would negatively affect the tourist season.

For these reasons, all Britons, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, will need to show a negative PCR test.

The CNIPH published the news, which is transmitted in its entirety below.

"To protect health and prevent the spread of COVID-19, additional epidemiological measures have been introduced, which are applied when crossing the border into the territory of the Republic of Croatia to prevent the introduction of new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Furthermore, due to the above, there was a quarantine obligation for arrivals from the Republic of South Africa, Brazil, Zanzibar, and India for a period of 14 days, which a negative PCR test can shorten after 7 days.

Since the Delta strain was imported from India, it has now become dominant in the European Union. The list of countries for which quarantine is mandatory remains the Republic of South Africa, Brazil, and Zanzibar. For persons coming from India, the mandatory quarantine after crossing the border is abolished. Instead, the obligation to present a negative test result on SARS-CoV-2 is introduced within 48 hours when crossing the border if it is a rapid antigen test or within 72 hours if it is a PCR test, regardless of whether the person has contracted COVID-19 or has been vaccinated.

Due to the worse epidemiological situation in the United Kingdom, Cyprus, and the Russian Federation, as an additional measure for all persons coming from these countries, a negative SARS-CoV-2 test performed in the home country, regardless of vaccination status or recovery from COVID-19, is required before entering the territory of the Republic of Croatia.

The change will be published on the CNIPH website and will take effect on Monday, July 26, 2021," the CNIPH said.

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

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Why is Istria on ECDC Orange List When Cases are Minimal?

July the 21st, 2021 - I think it's safe to say that everyone is sick to the back teeth of colours, traffic light systems, and the words testing and quarantine. The advent of the vaccine was supposed to put a gradual but certain end to all of this, and it leaves one wondering when everything will become normal again. Some things make little sense, and Istria being on the ECDC orange list is just one in a long line.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, numerous reactions, but also fears for the height of the summer tourist season were caused by the decision of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) to mark the Croatian coast with orange on the now almost Godly coronavirus map.

Protests against the criteria according to which ECDC designates high-risk regions were the loudest of all in Istria, from which experts and politicians said that they had a favourable epidemiological situation and that they were victims of other more irresponsible Croatian counties.

Namely, the ECDC divided Croatia into four regions - northern, Pannonian, Adriatic and the City of Zagreb. There was an initiative aimed at the ECDC to change the criteria and apply to individual counties, but it seems that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control isn't even thinking of changing their current practice. The total lack of logic shows obviously when Istria is placed on the ECDC orange list, when, at the time of writing, there were no new cases, much less hospitalisations or deaths.

''Such a decision was agreed at the level of EU member states last year during the German presidency. Observing each unit separately wouldn't be practical, as it would mean that 1,500 regions need to be treated as being in the European Union, while with this methodology there are 330,'' the ECDC told HRT.

It's worth reminding ourselves of the fact that the ECDC monitors the fourteen-day incidence of new cases of coronavirus infection per 100,000 inhabitants and the percentage of positively tested persons, and according to these criteria, the coastal part of Croatia is shown in orange. Continental Croatia is still very much green.

On the map of Europe, most countries are in green, and in the red are Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Malta and Cyprus, as well as parts of Greece, Belgium and Denmark. Apart from the Croatian coast, parts of France, Greece, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Belgium, and the whole of Ireland are also all in orange.

For more, follow our travel section.

Monday, 19 July 2021

"No Masks, Few Vaccinated Citizens": German Media Warns of Short 2021 Croatian Tourism Season

July 19, 2021 - The 2021 Croatian tourism season is in danger, according to German media, as the coast moved to orange, masks are hardly worn, and few citizens are vaccinated. 

The German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) published an article on the problems caused by the pandemic for the tourist season in Croatia. They state that in Croatia there is a fear of a short tourist season, reports Index.hr.

"Croatia, whose economy depends on tourism more than any other EU country, is worried about the continuation of the summer season. The country is facing a 'battle to save the season," the newspaper writes. The country's tourism sector has been upset since the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) last Thursday switched the previously green corona status of Croatia's coastal areas to orange," FAZ writes.

ECDC data, showing the situation from the previous two weeks, is actually a warning, according to the German daily. There is a fear that the entire Adriatic coast will "turn red".

"It threatens the success of a tolerably good season so far. So far, Croatia has reached about 75 percent of the tourist level in the last pre-pandemic summer of 2019," states FAZ.

"The general mood was optimistic because the number of infections was low until recently, and the fact that the incidence is currently higher than in the comparable period of 2020 indicates a new seriousness of the situation."

Interior Minister Davor Božinović warned that the authorities take the guidelines on prevention seriously. It is about preventing the loss of control, the German paper points out.

"There is little readiness for vaccination in Croatia. Only 46 percent of the population has received at least one dose so far. The supply of vaccines has long since exceeded demand. Almost 400,000 doses have already been given to other countries, of which 240,000 to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The government has also decided that from now on, uninsured people and foreigners can also be vaccinated for free," writes FAZ.

Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac said the new orange status was an additional warning.

"Brnjac called on all employees in the tourism industry, but also the travelers themselves: 'Be reasonable, get vaccinated, and pay attention to epidemiological measures.' Meanwhile, Brnjac also demands that the ECDC take a closer look at Croatia and assess the Croatian coast. Dissatisfaction with the new classification comes especially from Istria, which has significantly lower incidence values ​​than Dalmatia, but it does not appear in ECDC statistics and maps, because there the Croatian coast is recorded as a whole," the article reads.

In the meantime, some regions in Dalmatia have announced stricter measures to combat the virus.

The mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Franković, referring to the large increase in the number of infected people, announced sanctions for those who do not pay attention to respecting epidemiological measures in their restaurants.

"In everyday life, of course, things in Croatia are still quite loose. No one in the bars asks for tests or vaccination certificates, wearing masks is interpreted very casually in many places. Masks often only function as a fashion accessory that casually stands under the chin," concludes the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

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

Saturday, 10 July 2021

640 Thousand Tourists Are Currently Staying in Croatia

July 10, 2021 - German media Bild highlights Croatia as a safe destination in the summer, and according to the first data from the eVisitor system, there are currently around 640 thousand tourists in the country, most of them from the markets of Germany, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic.

Renowned German media have been publishing more information about Croatia in recent days, so one of the leading German weekly Die Zeit published an extensive report on the natural beauties of the Kornati until the highest-circulation German tabloid Bild published an extensive and informative report on Croatia, not only highlighting it as a safe destination in times of pandemic and new variants but also mentioning that around 640 thousand tourists are currently in the country, reports hrturizam.hr.

"The beginning of July is the period in which most Germans prepare for summer vacations, and in the coming weeks, school holidays will begin in a large number of German provinces, which will mark the peak of the summer season. In this context, it is very important that in that period Croatia appears in the national media as a desirable and safe holiday destination",  said the director of the CNTB Representation in Germany Romeo Draghicchio.

In the article  Die Zeita,  journalist Nikola Ljubić describes the unique experience of a relaxing atmosphere, beautiful sea, and excellent food on the Kornati archipelago that delighted him in late spring this year, during a study trip organized in cooperation with the Croatian Tourist Board and Šibenik-Knin County Tourist Board. and thanks to the cooperation of the CNTB Representation in Germany with the author of the article. A report on Croatia entitled "Last Minute Check" was published in the online edition of  Bild which informs the readers in detail about the current situation in Croatia. The article describes our country as a safe destination and states the conditions for entering Croatia and returning to Germany. This article is the result of the cooperation of the CNTB Representation in Germany with the Bild editorial office, ie with the author Marco Oliver Rühle, who has been following the events in Croatia since the very beginning of the pandemic.

Let us add that  Die Zeit is a high-value edition followed by almost 1.7 million readers, and during the corona crisis, its circulation increased by almost 25 percent and now amounts to almost 600 thousand copies. On the other hand, Bild.de is one of the most-read online portals in Germany with a reach of  24 million unique users.

"It is extremely important to adhere to all prescribed epidemiological measures in order to maintain the most favorable epidemiological situation in the country and thus attract as many tourists from our most important emitting markets to Croatia,"  concluded the director of the Croatian Tourist Board Kristjan Stanicic. According to the first data from the eVisitor system, there are currently around 640 thousand tourists in the country, most of them from the markets of Germany, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic.

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

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Italy and Croatia Join Forces to Make Destinations Accessible for Tourists with Special Needs

July 8, 2021 - Tourists with special needs will find traveling a little easier thanks to a new partnership between Italy and Croatia. 

'Tourism4All - Development of a Crossborder Network for the Promotion of Accessible Tourism Destinations' is a project aimed at developing and promoting a cross-border network of tourist destinations and designing a common approach and methodology for tourism promotion primarily for people with special needs, reports HRTurizam.

Within this project, the Croatian Camping Association, as a partner in the Tourism4All initiative, invites all interested parties from the tourism sector to participate in the 2nd Cross-Border Seminar - Tourism4All: "Accessible tourism market and promotional strategies", which will be held online July 14, 2021. The seminar is conducted in English and will be followed by interested participants from two countries, Croatia and Italy.

The seminar is intended for everyone who participates in the creation of the tourist offer or is interested in the development of this segment of the tourist business. All interested parties are hereby invited to join and follow the seminar, and additional information about the project and a link to apply for participation are available on the website www.camping.hr/tourismforall-seminar-poziv.

With this project, the Croatian Camping Association (KUH), with the support of the consulting company TeamEU - Razvojni centar d.o.o., has been actively involved in the development of a cross-border network to encourage the development of accessible natural and cultural tourist destinations and accommodation facilities.

The project includes the development of analysis and implementation of joint activities, as well as the development of pilot projects to improve accessibility in ten natural areas and cultural heritage sites in the project partner countries. Demonstration activity in the context of accommodation facilities will take place in cooperation with Valamar Riviera d.d., on the example of mobile homes fully adapted for the stay of disabled people and people with disabilities (the elderly, obese people, children, and the like).

Thus, the Tourism4All project involves the development and promotion of a wide cross-border network of accessible tourist destinations, including natural and cultural sites and urban spaces and beaches, to reduce tourist seasonality and promote social inclusion, through the exchange of good practice, evaluation methods, and joint services for tourism promotion, and for the benefit of people with reduced mobility, people with special needs and developmental difficulties, but also all other vulnerable groups, such as the elderly population, children, people with allergies and the like.

Activities will include concrete interventions and implementation of content and services that will enable better accessibility to a wide range of target groups of tourists, and on the other hand, great attention will be paid to activities that will include education of tourism workers and marketing promotion related to project results.

The project partners are Regione Molise (Lead Partner - Italy), then Italy - Regione Veneto (Dipartimento Turismo), ConCentro (Azienda Speciale Camera di Commercio Pordenone), IRECOOP (Istituto Regionale per l'Educazione e Studi Cooperativo), Delta 2000, Società Cooperativa Sociale Odòs i Regione Puglia (Dipartimento Turismo, Economia della Cultura e Valorizzazione del Territorio) and Croatia - Public Institution RERA SD for Coordination and Development of Split-Dalmatia County, City of Zadar, Šibenik-Knin County Tourist Board, Aspira College of Management and Design, City of Buje, LAG Brač and Croatian Camping Union (KUH). The project began on November 1, 2018, and will end after 37 months, on December 31 this year. Its value is 2.6 million euros.

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

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

8,000 million HRK Allocated for Croatian Promotion through International Sports Events, Croatian Athletes

July 7, 2021 - HRK 8 million has been allocated for Croatian promotion through international sports events and Croatian athletes. 

Members of the Croatian National Tourist Board at the 79th online session adopted a Decision on selecting partners and approving funds for marketing cooperation with organizers of international sports events and top Croatian athletes in 2021. HRK 8 million gross has been approved for the implementation of mentioned collaborations with selected partners. The session was chaired by the Minister of Tourism and Sports and the President of the Croatian Tourist Board Nikolina Brnjac in the presence of the Croatian Tourist Board director Kristjan Staničić, reports HRTurizam

As director Staničić pointed out, out of the total of 8 million, the amount of 4.3 million was approved for cooperation with top Croatian athletes and national sports federations, while 3.7 million was approved for marketing cooperation with organizers of international sports events.

"In addition to maintaining a high level of security, which in these circumstances is a basic prerequisite for the realization of tourist traffic, a very important part in creating content in destinations is having quality and attractive events. To this end, funds will be allocated for marketing cooperation with organizers of sports events that bring a large number of competitors and audiences to Croatia, as well as Croatian athletes and sports federations whose successes and performances around the world significantly contribute to the promotion and visibility of Croatia as a tourist country," said director Staničić.

Thus, in the category of athletes and sports federations, cooperation was approved with the Croatia water polo team, volleyball team, judo team, brothers Martin and Valent Sinković, brothers Šime and Mihovil Fantela, Sandra Perković, Tonči Stipanović, Dino Levačić, and others, while in the category of organizers of international sports events, the cooperation was approved for ATP Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag, CRO Race, Pannonian Challenge, WACT Zagreb 2021, Hanžeković Memorial, and Ivan Ivančić Memorial.

“With this Decision, we approved 18 collaborations in the category of organizers of sports events and 12 in the category of top athletes and sports federations. By providing support to sports events, athletes, and sports federations, we emphasize their value for the promotion of the Republic of Croatia. Apart from the sporting significance, all these events contribute to the quality and diversity of the tourist offer, while the successes of our athletes are an additional invitation to come to our country. I call on all event organizers to take maximum responsibility and respect for epidemiological measures because a good epidemiological situation is a key to the further interest of guests and the success of the tourist season," said Minister Brnjac.

Members of the council also adopted the decision to extend applications in the category of TOP events of the Call for expressions of interest for marketing cooperation with the organizers of TOP events in 2021, which will be open from July 7 to 21, 2021.

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

Even With Predicted Croatian Tourism Growth, 2019 Levels a Universe Away

July the 7th, 2021 - The ongoing coronavirus crisis is continuing to take a toll on the travel and tourism industry, on which Croatia relies very heavily. Croatian tourism growth is finally visible, but the results of record, pre-pandemic 2019 are quite logically a universe away.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, the global public health crisis strongly affected the operations of the Hvar-based Jelsa Group hotel company, and after positive operations in the last pre-pandemic year, and with a devastating loss of 5.144 million kuna in 2020, they recorded a decline in EBITDA of 312,433 kuna, and in their own commentary on the matter, their EBITDA saw a gain of 3,767 million kuna. According to them, this difference is precisely the result of a larger reduction in revenue items, compared to the reduction in cost items, primarily related to the pandemic, and things absolutely won't return to 2019's levels this year either.

Last year's total revenues amounted to 14.657 million kuna, which is as much as 52% less than in pre-pandemic 2019. This, they claim, is the result of a decrease in the revenues of subsidiaries related to pandemic-induced issues. The company's total expenditures stood at 19.801 million kuna, 33% lower than in 2019. Considering the seasonality of hotels, hospitality and catering services, the revenues of which are usually highest in the third quarter, revenues are as much as 63 percent lower than in previous years.

They also state that of the remaining revenues in 2020 of 4.416 million kuna, the largest part relates to aid for job preservation, with which the Croatian Government intervened in the height of the crisis in an attempt to mitigate the negative consequences, as well as to provide support to island employers.

The balance of all short-term and long-term liabilities of the group to affiliated companies at the end of 2020 stands at 41.347 million kuna. The Jelsa Group consists of the joint stock company of the same name and Fontana Hotel Apartments (Hotel Fontana with 234 rooms and Fontana Apartments with 112 apartments) and Hotel Hvar with 205 rooms, which are 100 percent owned by it.

According to the decision of the General Assembly from March, the profit of around one million kuna from 2019 was distributed to retained earnings. With a much anticipated drop in Croatia's infection rates back at the end of May, there was a significant increase in provisions, and the Jelsa Group expects a 30 percent increase in business when compared to 2020, which will contribute to better liquidity, but overall, they claim, despite slow Croatian tourism growth, everything is of course still worse than it was back in 2019.

For more on Croatian tourism and Croatian tourism growth, follow our dedicated business and travel sections.

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

ITB Berlin's Return in 2022 Provides Hope for Croatian Tourist Industry

July the 7th, 2021 - ITB Berlin, which has been on a two year break owing to the outbreak of the global pandemic, is set to return, and partially as normal (in live) next spring. The move is a boost to the Croatian tourist industry for which this fair is of significance.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, ITB Berlin is partially returning in live in the spring of 2022, so a combination of a live fair, hybrid stands and online meetings will take place, ITB reported yesterday. The Berlin Fair is one of the most important for the overall Croatian tourist industry, because it is also the largest event from the German emitting market, from which the most foreign guests come.

''With this year's online edition of "ITB Berlin Now", we were able to offer the industry a sophisticated alternative fair format. However, it also became clear to all of us that nothing could compare to a face-to-face meeting. We're therefore pleased to welcome the global tourism industry in Berlin live and physically in 2022. In addition, our extended virtual formats that include livestreaming and Digital Business Days will take the fair to a new level, combining the best elements of the physical and virtual worlds,'' said David Ruetz, Head of ITB Berlin.

The fair will be held from the 9th to the 13th of March 2022 and will take place in three stages, before the fair there will be live meetings, after the fair there will be a virtual event called "Business Days" with virtual meetings and live broadcasts, and the fair will have both physical and hybrid stands. As early as February 2022, access will be available to a virtual fair platform where exhibitors, visitors and the media can make contact in advance and find relevant content.

In particular, on Wednesday, March the 9th, the exhibition space in the German capital of Berlin will finally open its doors to exhibitors, visitors and the media, respecting the latest hygiene rules and safety concept that ITB Berlin will harmonise with local authorities and test people beforehand. On Saturday, March the 12th and Sunday, March the 13th, everyone from the Berlin/Brandenburg region eager to travel will also be invited to the exhibition halls, where they can get some ideas and inspiration for their next holiday, the ITB said in a statement.

Anyone who wants to attend ITB, but due to travel restrictions cannot be in Berlin, can join the fair live by booking one of the new remote hybrid stands.

For more on the Croatian tourist industry, make sure to follow our travel section.

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Croatian Wellness Tourism Could Take Off Following Pandemic's End

July the 6th, 2021 - Croatian wellness tourism will likely be a big hit when the pandemic is over and people begin to become more aware of their surroundings and the need to take care of their health.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, physical health, physical and mental health care has increased, which, among other things, has confirmed the title of one of the fastest growing branches in the world, and with it wellness tourism as a sub-branch of health tourism.

Ana Toncic is the president of the Wellness Tourism Section at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, associate of the Institute of Tourism and owner of Vita Vitalis, which has been providing consulting services in the fast-growing wellness and spa industry since 2019. She explained the ins and outs of the overall "wellness industry", which includes a wide range of activities, starting from the production of equipment and various accompanying inventory, through to all of the associated cosmetics to the turnover generated through the provision of wellness services.

"Wellness is associated with many areas of human activity, including tourism, medicine, architecture, sports, etc. The main role of wellness is to take care of one's health, ie maintaining the body and mind in a healthy way, fitness, physical and mental relaxation and maintaining inner peace,'' stated Toncic, adding that in recent years, wellness centres in the hotel industry have become ''must have'' products which contribute to the added value of hotels and the raising of the quality of provided services in general.

“Today, Croatian wellness tourism, in the sense of medicine, stands out mainly in dental tourism services. While globally, the medical wellness sector records an annual growth of 15-20%, Croatia can't yet boast of such a result. According to research, the average daily consumption of multi-day visitors in the wellness segment is 149 euros, in the spa segment 63 euros and in the medical segment 292 euros. According to household research, users of wellness services have the best paying power, followed by users of medical and spa services, according to the Institute of Tourism,'' added Toncic, noting that Croatia has seen an increase in the number of wellness centres available in recent years.

The categorisation of hotels and new trends and needs of guests contribute to this. But despite that, Croatia is still recognised as a destination of "sun and sea", and not enough as a destination for wellness and a healthy holiday.

"Therefore, the wellness sector is facing high challenges, primarily in terms of staff training and promotion of the product itself," said Toncic.

The problem of seasonality

Most of hotels with wellness centres are located along the coast, so there is a seasonal offer where wellness centres are open six months a year, usually from April to October. According to this expert, the exceptions are some such centres more awake to Croatian wellness tourism's potential, in Istria, Kvarner and in spas in continental Croatia, which provide their services throughout most of the year.

“Various wellness treatment services, programmes that include exercise, proper nutrition, relaxation techniques and the like are offered within hotels and tourist and health centres. Wellness tourism is an integral part of health tourism - wellness, spa and medicine. Medical wellness is based on preventive programmes to preserve health or raise energy. Anti-stress therapies, spine programmes, weight loss programmes and healthy eating lessons, as well as business relaxation treatments, are increasingly becoming part of the culture of living of citizens and attracting guests to a given destination throughout the year.

I think that for the guest, in addition to the wellness service, the overall wellness experience is much bigger - from walking around in nature, running, cycling, inhaling sea air, being around distinctive vegetation, a rich gastronomic offer and the kindness and smiles of the staff. All this is part of wellness and as such makes Croatia a country of special energy and healthy living,'' explained Toncic.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced the entire world to grind to a halt and has caused a terrible drop in the number of touristic overnight stays, and thus the use of wellness facilities. Many wellness facilities were not even allowed to be used (eg wet saunas) or were used to a greatly reduced extent.

According to Toncic, the standards of behaviour have changed and adjusted considerably since the pandemic struck, and Croatian wellness tourism has an opportunity to blossom.

"We replaced the handshake, greeting, hospitality and smiles with masks. Although maintaining the highest standards of hygiene has always been one of the main preconditions for successful work in wellness centres, this was given even more importance during the pandemic. Wellness centres have adjusted their offers, working hours and offered as many outdoor services as possible in the summer months. Thus, outdoor treatments, mobile wellness in camps and private spas are certainly services that have done well,'' she explained.

We can easily look back at earlier on in the pandemic and see how it significantly changed attitudes and views when it comes to travel, but also to healthcare in general, because most people have been travelling by car, choosing private apartments, mobile homes or holiday villas, with great emphasis on destination safety and hygiene and health.

Special emphasis is now often also being placed on programmes to strengthen immunity, wellness retreat programmes that include spending time in nature, meditation, yoga and the like. The emphasis is being placed on products from local family farms (OPGs), and therefore I can say that the market is changing and that there is certainly a greater responsibility being taken for healthcare and for nature,'' said Toncic, which shows that today's trends in the wellness industry nurture the notion of less being more, the use of natural eco-certified products, the listing of local products and the branding of the overall offer.

For more on Croatian wellness tourism, make sure to follow our travel section.

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Overnight Stay Share Rises in June as Croatian Hotels Regain Momentum

July the 6th, 2021 - The share of overnight stays realised in Croatian hotels as the epidemiological situation improves thanks to vaccinations has risen, providing hope for the height of the 2021 tourist season which is yet to come.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, unlike the first pandemic-dominated year in which Croatian hotels sadly had the lowest occupancy of all accommodation segments, hotels this year can be relieved at least in that regard, as can already be seen from the first tourist statistics.

Although the busiest traffic is still expected, in the first half of the year, Croatian hotels had 83 percent more overnight stays than last year during the same period, and in June there were as many as 2.8 times more overnight stays realised than in June last year. No less important, currently out of a total of 1187 Croatian hotels, 846 of them have been opened, 200 more than were open before the peak of the last summer season.

What has changed? There is also some maths to be looked at in this equation, as Croatian hotels were closed to a greater extent last year due to epidemiological measures than this year, but again, until recently the borders were barely open to tourists. With the vaccination programme giving tourism some optimism as opposed to the uncertainty of 2020, what has perhaps changed the most is the perception of guests this year.

This year, many guests see Croatian hotels as safe facilities, whose service and organisation of operations can guarantee guests will not get infected. This is due to the fact that last year no tourist staying in any of the Croatian hotels was recorded as having caught coronavirus from a facility. Then came the introduction of the national Safe Stay certificate.

"In 2020, Croatian hotels, when we compare all types of accommodation capacities, had the largest decrease in arrivals and overnight stays when compared to 2019. The index of arrivals was 24.36 percent, and overnight stays 27.12 percent. The lowest quality hotels had the smallest decline, which is proof that quality is in demand in the conditions of this crisis and is certainly a signpost for the future,'' pointed out Bernard Zenzerovic, the director of the Croatian Hotel Employers Association (UPUHH).

He noted that the success of this summer season will be measured by its length, if we're in the green all summer and during the post-season then we can expect great results.

Croatian tourism success will also be counted in terms of revenue, and Croatian hotels are known to be the strongest link in the sector in that regard, all the more so because the pandemic hasn't significantly lowered hotel accommodation prices.

Current figures from eVisitor from the Croatian National Tourist Board indicate that overnight stays spent in Croatian hotels in the first half of the year accounted for 23 percent of total overnight stays realised, compared to 19 percent last year. So far this year, the largest share of overnight stays of about 30 percent is held by private accommodation, which in the pre-pandemic year of 2019 was still slightly lower (27 percent), while hotel overnight stays in 2019 amounted to 35 percent of total tourist traffic.

With 3.5 million overnight stays (at 660 thousand arrivals), compared to 2019, family/private accommodation is currently at about 48 percent of turnover, while hotels are at 29 percent of the realisation of overnight stays when compared to 2019.

The Association of Hoteliers points out the data of the Hotel Benchmarking study conducted by the Faculty of Management in Tourism and Hospitality from Opatija, that in accordance with the increase in the number of overnight stays in June, the utilisation rate of work capacity in hotels increased from 7.18 percent in May 2020 to 26 , 97 percent in May 2021.

"But when we know that the capacity utilisation rate in hotels was 65.76 percent in May 2019, according to the same study, we can see that there's a long way to go ahead of us to reach that record year," explained Zenzerovic.

The quality of service and investment in numerous protocols have contributed to the growth of guests' trust in Croatian hotels, noted Zenzerovic.

"Croatian hoteliers have decided to create their own health & safety programmes and protocols, as well as branding, promotion and cooperation with international certification companies in order to emphasise this component that is currently crucial for guests. We've shown all guests that we know how to set up and manage hotel operations in a way that provides them with the pleasure of staying there while respecting epidemiological measures. This is exactly the capital we're bringing into the tourist year 2021. At the same time, projects such as "Safe stay in Croatia" raise the image of Croatia as a safe destination. All of the above gives us reason for optimism regarding the business performance of the hotels, and we expect a better season than last year,'' concluded Zenzerovic.

Vaccination is also considered an important link for optimism. Spring polls show that 70 percent of hotel staff want to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, and they are now dealing with an estimate that about 60 percent of the entire Croatian tourism sector has been vaccinated.

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