Friday, 14 January 2022

Tonči Glavina: Success During Challenging 2021 Croatian Tourism Season Due to Good Prep

January 14, 2022 - Tonči Glavina, State Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, believes that 2021's success is due to excellent tourist season preparation.

Despite all the challenges, the last tourist year achieved extraordinary results. Considering the circumstances, and compared to the results in 2020, slightly less than 70 percent of arrivals and 80 percent of overnight stays were recorded in 2021 compared to 2019. 

Slobodna Dalmacija spoke with Tonči Glavina, State Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, who believes that the success stems from the excellent preparation for the tourist season.

"And I intentionally say season, not tourist year, because, unfortunately, due to the flourishing pandemic and travel restrictions, we didn’t have a pre-season. But, nevertheless, a great effort was made by practically the entire Government of the Republic of Croatia, headed by the Prime Minister. We were the first EU member to open borders for tourists from third countries, the first country to introduce the EU digital COVID certificate, we managed the health crisis by being in the "safe" zone for most of the tourist season, we vaccinated tourism workers, provided a large number of tourist testing points, co-financed antigen tests for tourists, we were among the first and one of the few who provide tourists with vaccinations," says the Secretary of State, recalling that the Minister of Tourism established the Council for Recovery and Development of Tourism, the implementation of tourism in 2021 and improving the tourism offer, which brought together all relevant stakeholders in the tourism sector.

The Ministry designed and implemented the "Safe stay in Croatia" project, which resulted in one million visitors to a website translated into ten world languages, with about 17,000 labels and an award for media promotion of security of the Croatian Association of Security Managers.

"Minister Nikolina Brnjac visited and presented the "Safe Stay" project in our emitting markets, and with this project, we branded Croatia as a safe destination. In 2021, we also paid great attention to domestic tourists and year-round tourism, and accordingly, the Ministry initiated and launched the first national campaign, "Experience local. Explore rural Croatia!" Glavina added.

Aware of the importance of tourism for the whole country, the Government has provided special measures to help the tourism sector, not only in preserving jobs (which was vital for the tourism sector) but also providing state aid to companies in the tourism and sports sector through the Program granting state aid in the form of guarantees to the tourism and sports sectors in the pandemic. For the Program, with a total value of 1.5 billion kuna, the threshold of allowed aid was subsequently increased to 1.8 million euros. Furthermore, the duration of support was extended until the last day of this year. Therefore, it is not unimportant to say that by November 2021, state guarantees had been issued under the program for as many as 156 companies.

In the sea of ​​numbers and dizzying amounts, it is essential to say that HRK 36 million has been provided through a public call for support to travel agencies and travel organizers. In addition, the sector was relieved of HRK 118 million by adopting the Ordinance on deferral or exemption from paying tourist tax, Ordinance on the exemption from paying tourist tax for persons using the overnight service on a nautical tourism vessel (sailors), Ordinance amending the Ordinance on annual lump sum membership fees for persons providing catering services in the household and on family farms and the Tourist Board forms for paying membership fees to the Tourist Board. All of this was of great importance to entrepreneurs and our private renters.

On top of all this, I must highlight and praise our entire tourism sector, which has once again shown resilience and was one of the main generators of good economic results in 2021, and this is confirmed by record GDP growth," said the Secretary of State.

Europe also recognized the effort and work of our tourism workers; for the first time, a package of direct grants from EU funds was provided for the tourism sector, worth HRK 2.2 billion. The Ministry held eight workshops for potential beneficiaries within the NPOO in Osijek, Varaždin, Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik, Rijeka, Pazin, and Zagreb about 3,000 interested stakeholders participated live and online. A database with a questionnaire on the status of projects has been established. For better preparation through webinars, guidelines for project preparation, examples of good practice, and a B2B platform for connecting investors and suppliers in the tourism sector were presented.

This year, Croatia was very active in foreign policy in terms of tourism.

"In addition to our very active role in the EU institutions in facilitating tourist travel in the second pandemic year. This year, we also achieved great international success by electing a member of the Executive Council of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for the period 2021-2025 during the session of the 66th meeting of the Regional Commission for Europe in Athens. In addition, the Republic of Croatia took over the Committee on Tourism and Sustainability chairmanship from 2021 to 2023. As a result, the reputation and influence of the Republic of Croatia in the EU and the world in tourism policy are constantly growing. Therefore, we will use every opportunity to put tourism topics and policies that are important to us on the agenda," reveals Glavina.

There will be significant changes in the system of tourist boards. Announcing vacancies for directors of all levels of tourist boards is topical, as well as the new Ordinance on special conditions for employees in tourist boards and the Law on Tourist Boards adopted in 2019, and provisions relating to the selection, appointment, and the statuses of directors of tourist boards come into force on the first day of next year.

"As far as ordinances and laws are concerned, I must remind you that before the pandemic in 2019, the reform of the legal framework began. It is focused on the sustainability and professionalization of the tourist board system, where directors will have a four-year term. The aim of these reforms is, among other things, to make the tourism market more accessible and competitive, and to provide an opportunity for all those who can contribute to the best positioning of Croatia as a sustainable and responsible tourist destination to try and achieve it, with clearly defined conditions. The draft rulebook also gives the opportunity to apply for the position of director to persons who have work experience in management positions outside the field of tourism, but in that case, twice as many years of work experience are required as for persons who have work experience in tourism," concludes Glavina.

For more, check out our dedicated travel section.

Friday, 14 January 2022

Zagreb International Airport Crosses Fingers for Better Air Traffic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Official 2021 Croatian Tourism Figures: A Nice Surprise

January 12, 2022 - The official 2021 Croatian tourism figures are surprisingly fruitful, given the pandemic. 

Namely, 13.8 million arrivals and 84.1 million overnight stays were realized in Croatia last year, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

Compared to 2020, there are 77 percent more arrivals and 55 percent more overnight stays.

At the same time, foreign tourists realized 71.9 million overnight stays and domestic tourists had 12.3 million overnight stays. This is a continuation of the trend from 2020, in which domestic tourists crossed 15 percent of all arrivals for the second year in a row and had 13.3 percent of all overnight stays in 2020 and 14.5 percent a year later.

The pandemic deterred many from traveling abroad, so many tourists spent their vacation on the Adriatic.

According to the number of overnight stays, the results from recent years were achieved. The only better period was from 2017-2019. Last year reached 2017 with a 2.4 percent difference as 86.2 million overnight stays were realized in that year.

"On the other hand, 2021 set a record in the size that is the goal of every tourism policy - the average number of stays exceeded six nights per tourist for the first time in tourism history. Moreover, by the end of the third quarter, the average number of overnight stays was 6.7, close to a 7-day average stay. This speaks of the growing interest of tourists to stay in Croatia, which, thanks to the efforts of tourism workers, local communities, and the hospitality and tourism sector has more to offer than the sun and sea," says private consultant Ivica Žuro.

Most tourist overnight stays were recorded in Istria (23.5 million), Split-Dalmatia (15.5 million), and Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (15.3 million).

They are followed by Zadar County (12.7 million overnight stays), Šibenik-Knin County (5.9 million), and Dubrovnik-Neretva County (5.4 million). The destinations that attracted the most visitors were Zagreb (638,000 arrivals), Rovinj (549,000), Dubrovnik (543,000), Split (529,000) and Poreč (431,000 arrivals).

Looking at the markets in 2021, most arrivals were made by Germans (2.9 million, 84 percent growth compared to 2020), domestic tourists (2.3 million or 41 percent more than in 2020), Slovenes (1.2 million, 18% growth compared to 2020), Austrians (1.1 million, 180 percent growth compared to 2020), Poles (1 million, 50 percent growth compared to 2020) and Czechs (775.00 or 50 percent more than in 2020).

Compared to 2020, there were 78% more Italians, 100% more Hungarians, 168% more French, and 324% more Dutch.

Central and Eastern Europe is still our primary market, especially compared to the record  2019. Poles achieved 8% more overnight stays; Germans are on the same number, Czechs achieved 97% of pre-pandemic overnight stays, while Slovenians and Austrians achieved about 82% of overnight stays from 2019.

Most overnight stays by type of accommodation were recorded in households (32.1 million), camps (17.4 million), and hotels (15.7 million). In addition, 3.1 million overnight stays were realized in the nautical charter segment. Compared to 2020, the highest traffic growth was achieved in hotels (+124 percent), camps (+92 percent), nautical (+87 percent), and household facilities (+45 percent).

According to the Croatian National Tourist Board, in the first nine months of 2021, revenues from foreign tourists amounted to 8 billion and 268 million euros, representing a growth of 90% of revenues from the same period in 2020 (the first corona-pandemic year). Compared to the first nine months of 2019, 88% of revenues were generated.

During the summer months and the third quarter of 2021, revenues from foreign tourists amounted to 6 billion and 775 million euros, an increase of 100% of revenues generated during the same period in 2020.

For more, check out our dedicated travel section.

Tuesday, 11 January 2022

Croatian Festive Tourism Results Give Hope as Zagreb Continues to Lead

January the 11th, 2022 - Croatian festive tourism results are allowing for the thought that this summer season could be the comeback for what we've missed over the last couple of pandemic-dominated tourist seasons, despite how remarkably well summer 2021 turned out. Zagreb, famous for its Advent in Zagreb offer, is still in the lead when it comes to winter tourism.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, although the situation with the coronavirus pandemic in Croatia and the immediate region isn't exactly encouraging at this moment in time, in December and during the winter festive period, the positive trend for Croatian festive tourism results continued, even in Zagreb, which was all but empty and rather sad looking during the last Advent in Zagreb.

As the Croatian Tourist Board (CNTB) reported on Friday, the Christmas and New Year period brought Croatia three times more tourist traffic than it did the year before, although this is a quarter less than before the pandemic. From December the 24th, 2021 to January the 6th, the country welcomed 144,000 arrivals of people who realised an impressive 424,000 overnight stays, which is three times more arrivals with 190 percent more overnight stays than we saw last winter.

Istria, Kvarner and Split

Most overnight stays realised down on the coast took place in Istria, Kvarner and in Split-Dalmatia County, while on the continent most were recorded in the City of Zagreb, which also had best Croatian festive tourism results in terms of traffic. Behind Zagreb are Opatija, Rovinj, Dubrovnik, Split and Zadar.

Most of these overnight stays were realised by domestic guests, followed by Austrians, Slovenes and Germans. In that period alone, Zagreb was visited by about 30,000 tourists who realised 72,500 overnight stays, while back in December, Zagreb recorded a turnover of 74,000 arrivals and 161,000 overnight stays, equal to an encouraging 2.5 times more than one year ago.

It has also since been found out that half of these Croatian festive tourism results (in regard to traffic) were realised in Croatian hotels, with about 92,000 arrivals and 221,000 overnight stays, while there were 104,000 overnight stays in household/private/family facilities.

"These results allow for a dose of optimism and confirm Croatia's market position as a high quality and well-prepared destination. Numerous Croatian cities such as Opatija, Dubrovnik, Split, Osijek and Zagreb prepared interesting content that could be enjoyed in compliance with all of the current epidemiological measures against the spread of coronavirus,'' said the director of the CNTB, Kristjan Stanicic.

Minister of Tourism Nikolina Brnjac also considers this an optimistic beginning of a brand new year, adding that the Croatian festive tourism results will contribute to the overall positive impact of tourism on final revenues.

According to the Zagreb Tourist Board, Zagreb's many hoteliers were sold out for New Year's Eve, and the Snow Queen Trophy took care of bookings for the following days. Private accommodation in Zagreb is also beginning to recover from the damage caused by the pandemic, which is best felt by enterprises who had developed sustainable business practices even before the pandemic struck in early 2020.

An example of that is the company Irundo, which is currently renting out about 15 buildings all over Zagreb, along with apartments in Rovinj and down in Dubrovnik, but is already starting to expand its portfolio, which had been reduced in the public health crisis.

A late start

''The 2021 tourist season started late, but last year was much more successful for us than the previous one was, we had a growth of 100 percent, and we expect the same growth in 2022, with the expansion of the portfolio. Partly due to the return of tourist traffic and demand, but mostly because owners and investors saw that we successfully overcame even the most difficult year, so people who come to Irundo want us to take over their facilities and manage them. We're hiring two more workers who will deal with these acquisitions and we're very optimistic about this year,'' said Igor Kordic, the co-owner of Irundo, which, especially in this crisis, has strengthened the consulting part of their business.

For more, check out our travel section.

Monday, 10 January 2022

Adriano Palman: Croatian Campsites Gain Impressive Tourism Results

January the 10th, 2022 - Croatian campsites have risen sharply in terms of their popularity ever since the coronavirus pandemic struck, with many preferring to be outdoors rather than stuck in hotels and complexes. They have achieved some truly impressive tourism results which were above all expectations.

As Novac/Jutarnji list/Barbara Ban writes, Croatian campsites, along with holiday homes, has proven to be the most sought after form of accommodation back during 2021's and previous pandemic-dominated tourist seasons. Croatian campsites performed excellently all summer long, but also after the height of the season passed. If the pre-season had been epidemiologically more stable, the results would have been even better.

The world of Croatian campsites cannot be dissatisfied with what they've managed to acheive, especially if numerous awards are added, both from Croatia and from abroad,. All of this was revealed by Adriano Palman from the Croatian Camping Association, which recently held its annual congress at the popular Terme Tuhelj.

How did Croatian campsites take advantage of another pandemic season in 2021?

In 2021, the Croatian camping sector realised as many as 91 percent of overnight stays when compared to the very good pre-pandemic year of 2019, and compared to 2020, we achieved exactly twice as many overnight stays. Realistically, we have to admit that it was expected that Croatian campsites would be one of the first forms of accommodation to be used when it comes to tourism recovery, but these results are above all of our expectations. The fact that there were a record number of German tourists in our campsites in 2021 speaks volumes about their quality, because never before have we had more German guests in the history of camping in this country.

Of course, there are several reasons for explaining such results, but, in particular, probably the first and main reason is that - as predicted at the beginning of the year - there is a great desire to travel and return to normal, and our warm sea and quality camping content which allows for a top quality holiday are certainly one of the first choices of guests, providing a holiday in the greenery with an increased sense of safety and isolation.

However, it should be honestly acknowledged that we aren't following some sort of exclusive trend and that the fact is that camping has become increasingly popular throughout Europe and there's been a real boom, as evidenced by record numbers in sales of camping equipment (campers, caravans, tents) in all major camping countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Austria, neighbouring Slovenia, and even here in Croatia.

According to the German ADAC, which is still a ''guru'' when it comes to camping across Europe, Croatia is still second in the average quality of camping in Europe and third in the number of the best campsites that ADAC classifies under the ADAC Superplatz label. Thus, in 2022, Croatia will have as many as 21 Superplates, while two countries that have ten times larger capacities in camping have only a few more - France has 29, and Italy has 33.

What's the situation on Croatia's competitive markets?

One of the things that foreign experts pointed out to us at the recently concluded Croatian Camping Congress is that Croatian results were achieved at higher prices and without giving discounts that have often been applied by some of our competitors over these crisis years. So, when it comes to prices, it's important to emphasise that in 2021, we were second in Europe in terms of camping prices, right after Italy, which is 9 percent more expensive than we are, but we're significantly more expensive than Spain, which is 8 percent cheaper than us. In addition, France even reduced their prices by 5 percent in 2021. We know that in the conditions of intensifying competition, price positioning is an important factor and that is why we're even more convinced that our path is correct and that the very high average quality of Croatian campsites and what they offer provides a good basis and justifies our prices, which our guests have confirmed. This will hopefully continue to be the case as long as we have the right price-quality ratio.

What about the issue of the unresolved ownership issues of tourist land, which has often been a major barrier to investment...

Much like the entire tourism sector, Croatian campsites do have certain problems that hinder further development of competitiveness, and what is high up on that list is unresolved issues of tourist land. It wouldn't be correct to say that this has completely stopped investments. After all, quality indicators also refute this, but it's quite correct to say that this has conditioned the planning and implementation of investments in camping to an extent, while ideas and plans and already reserved funds were much higher. Therefore, we're pleased that in the coming months we definitely expect the adoption of the appropriate regulations that will properly regulate this issue and define the prices, which creates the proper preconditions for regulation and safety, which will certainly encourage an even greater investment wave and launch Croatian campsites and the whole sector very close to the first position in terms of quality in Europe.

In addition to that, another key issue that has plagued us for more than a decade now is the long and repeatedly announced adoption of the new Maritime Property Act, which is a very important topic for camping and a condition for maintaining competitiveness. Here, too, we can announce that cooperation has been established and that work on the new version of the Law is finally expected to begin at the beginning of next year, which will hopefully satisfy the interests of the public and provide Croatian campsites with the necessary competitiveness.

Further issues are also important, from labour shortages onwards, however, these are issues of general concern for tourism as a whole and are already being discussed on various sides.

What kind of camps does Croatia lack today, when looking at global trends?

In Europe, camps have been designed differently from the very beginning than in America or Australia. Sustainability and green business must play a key role in the development of camping here, and a concrete product in several typologies is built on them. The first and most commercially important is the sector of large camping resorts, which offer the widest range of services and very high quality, and the concept represents real hotels out in the open air.

Other routes are small, often family camps, camping resorts and similar sorts of facilities, which are located in attractive positions with natural beauty, urban and rural centres, intersections and traffic routes, islands and the like, and which provide a different kind of guest experience and emphasise intimacy, personal contact with the owners, socialising with other guests and joint activities. Such facilities are often simpler, and are especially important for the tourist development of continental Croatia and for the extension of the season, ie year-round work, which is still in its infancy in Croatia today, but for which there is truly exceptional potential.

Today's most modern and highly sought after trend, is glamping. Glamping mainly exists as part of the offer of the ''main'' camp, but there are more and more examples throughout Europe, including here in Croatia, that such an offer stands out from the rest and moves towards the independent development of specialised, exclusively glamping facilities.

Did we manage to raise what we have offer for the winter?

Year-round work is a relatively new trend in Croatian tourism in general, and it becomes even stranger when it is connected with the context of camps and the weather conditions of holidays which depend entirely on weather conditions. However, we still have prejudices against the outdated sun and sea system, while many European countries with poorer climatic conditions and no warm sea, such as Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands or Austria, have one of the strongest year-round camping scenes in all of Europe.

Today ,you can stay all year round in as many as 33 Croatian campsites from Istria, to Zagreb, all the way down to Dubrovnik and all the way to the East in Slavonia.

For more, check out our dedicated travel section.

Saturday, 8 January 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more, check out our dedicated travel section.

Saturday, 8 January 2022

Croatian Festive Tourism Numbers Allows for Dose of Optimism

January the 8th, 2022 - Croatian festive tourism numbers have allowed the country a little optimism for what might be to come this tourist season when the warmer months roll around. Let's have a look at the numbers.

As Marija Crnjak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Croatian festive tourism numbers are promising, as they signal that Croatia had three times more tourist traffic than it did the year before, but it is still a quarter less than before the pandemic, according to statistics released by the Croatian National Tourist Board. In the period from December the 24th, 2021 to January the 6th, 2022, we had 144 thousand arrivals and 424 thousand overnight stays, which is 190 percent more in overnight stays than last winter.

Most overnight stays on the coast were realised in Istria, Kvarner and in Split-Dalmatia County, while on the continent most overnight stays were realised in Zagreb, Krapina-Zagorje and Medjimurje counties. Looking at individual destinations, most overnight stays were in Zagreb, Opatija, Rovinj, Dubrovnik, Split and Zadar, while most overnight stays, looking at markets, were realised by domestic guests, followed by the Austrians, Slovenes and Germans.

"The Croatian festive tourism numbers are optimistic and confirm the market position of our country as a quality and well-prepared destination. Numerous Croatian cities such as Opatija, Dubrovnik, Split, Osijek or Zagreb had prepared interesting content that could be enjoyed in compliance with all of the current epidemiological measures,'' said the director of the Croatian Tourist Board, Kristjan Stanicic. The CNTB has a target of 90 percent of guests from pre-pandemic 2019 for this year.

Observing the tourist traffic down on the coast, during the Christmas and New Year period in the Adriatic counties there were 91 thousand arrivals and 298 thousand overnight stays, while on the continent, together with the City of Zagreb, there were 54 thousand arrivals and 126 thousand overnight stays.

"Over the Christmas and New Year period, we've recorded excellent results, which will certainly contribute to the overall positive impact of tourism on final revenues in 2021, as well as on the entire Croatian economy. This year, our focus is on a year-round, sustainable tourist offer, but also to maintain the image of a safe destination that we built last year. That is why it's crucial to get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, because the 2022 tourist year will also take place in the circumstances of a pandemic and I'd like to appeal for the additional responsibility of the entire tourism sector,'' concluded Minister of Tourism and Sport, Nikolina Brnjac.

For more, check out our dedicated travel section.

Thursday, 6 January 2022

Tourist Board Expects Good Croatian 2022 Tourist Season, Higher Wages

January the 6th, 2022 - The Croatian 2022 tourist season has some excellent expectations attached to it as we slowly but surely begin to emerge from the public health crisis the globe has been plunged into since the spring of 2020.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, although it doesn't expect tourist traffic to return to pre-pandemic levels before 2023, the Croatian National Tourist Board (CNTB) is entering the new year with optimistic expectations of continued traffic growth after the remarkably successful 2021 summer season.

On the wings of optimism, they plan to increase revenues this year, especially from tourist/sojourn tax, as well as increase expenditures for their own salaries. The biggest novelty this year, however, will be the new Strategic Marketing Plan, which is set to go down in history with the famous slogan "Croatia Full of Life/Hrvatska puna zivota" and the entire communication strategy that accompanies it.

All this can be taken quite clearly from the recently adopted CNTB Annual Work Plan for 2022. Even if we fail to achieve the results from 2019 this year, the CNTB expects that the high satisfaction of guests who visited various Croatian destinations last year, good value for money and confidence in Croatia's safety measures will position the country among the top destinations in southern Europe and the Mediterranean as a whole.

The Croatian 2022 tourist season is even expected to reach 90 percent of pre-pandemic 2019's tourist traffic. The focus will be on markets from which Croatia can be driven to, as well as European aviation markets such as Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, Russia as more distant markets are recovering much more slowly than European countries are.

This could be further aggravated by the further increase in overall costs for carriers, and consequently airline tickets. Similar problems also await tour operators and agencies.

The growth of tourist traffic in 2022 will also bring higher revenues to the CNTB, primarily from tourist/sojourn tax, the amount of which should increase by as much as 40 percent this year compared to the previous rebalance. The total revenues of the CNTB for 2022 are planned in the amount of 311.4 million kuna, which is 6.3 percent more than in last year's supplementary budget.

Of this, 91.3 million kuna relates to revenues for special funds, the Fund for Underdeveloped Tourism Areas and the Fund for Associated Tourist Boards, while the CNTB plans to generate revenues in the amount of 220 million kuna by the end of 2022.

The plan is also to increase the total revenue from the tourist/sojourn tax by 40 percent when compared to the supplementary budget for 2021, ie the planned revenue in the amount of 114 million kuna. Membership fees should remain the same as in they were in supplementary budget last year, standing at around 31 million kuna, and the plan is to generate 49 million kuna in revenues from the state budget (about 4 percent more than last year).

As such, the implementation of the new Ordinance on salaries, allowances and compensations is planned, which will come before the Tourist Council for a final decision. Although this is not stated specifically, it is to be assumed that the aforementioned ordinance will increase salaries in the CNTB which were reduced during the pandemic, because higher wage expenditures are planned, from 17 million kuna of expenditures in the previous (2021) supplementary budget to 18.7 million kuna in the plans for 2022.

The drafting of the Strategic Marketing and Operational Plan of Croatian Tourism for the period 2022 to 2026 (SMOPHT) will cost around 3.5 million kuna.

According to the CNTB's current work plan, the new SMOPHT will define a new visual identity and communication concept for the promotion and presentation of Croatia as a tourist destination for the Croatian 2022 tourist season, and until the adoption of a new umbrella form of communication, the guidelines of the "Full of Life" communication concept will continue to be used.

Following the adoption of SMOPHT, which will provide strategic guidance, a new advertising umbrella communication concept for the next few years will be created in collaboration with various marketing agencies. The new communication concept will be used to promote the umbrella brand of Croatian tourism at all levels.

An international tender will be launched to select highly specialised agencies to then be selected to develop a new umbrella communication concept, a new logo, brand architecture, photo and video production and an implementation manual. The planned deadline for the preparation of the tender and implementation is autumn 2022, according to the plan. Therefore, the slogan "Full of Life" will continue to be used for almost a year, although its abolition was talked about back in 2017, when the then Minister Gary Cappelli announced a change in the slogan, claiming that it never came to life on the market. "Full of Life" was introduced back in 2015 during the term of Darko Lorencin, replacing the slogan "The Mediterranean as it once was/Mediteran kakav je nekad bio".

When it comes to the promotion of the country ready for the Croatian 2022 tourist season across foreign markets, the CNTB plans to initiate the procedure of opening representative offices in Spain and Ukraine in the second half of the year, if financial opportunities are created and allow for that. Further investment in the domestic market is also planned.

With the aim of developing and stimulating domestic demand outside the summer season, the CNTB still plans to conduct three major campaigns right here the domestic market, the Croatian Tourism Month campaign, the Experience Domestic Campaign, Explore Rural Croatia, and the Croatian Tourist Card Promotion Campaign. On top of that, the all but totally forgotten Croatian Tourist Card promotion will be revived.

The campaign for the promotion of the aforementioned Croatian Tourist Card aims to raise awareness of the benefits of using the card by Croatian employers, as well as to acquaint end users with the opportunities and benefits that this card provides, they explained from the CNTB when discussing the Croatian 2022 tourist season.

For more, check out our travel section.

Wednesday, 5 January 2022

Ina Rodin Starts IR Global Consultants, Aims to Bring Luxury to Croatia

January the 5th, 2022 - Ina Rodin had two mandates within the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ), and she's now returned back to the private sector, having kicked things off with the launch of IR Global Consultants, with which she aims to bring a touch of luxury to Croatia.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, after two terms and seven years holding the position of director of the Croatian National Tourist Board across the pond in the United States, Ina Rodin has taken to entrepreneurship.

Over recent days in New York, she founded a company called IR Global Consultants and a brand called Convene Hospitality, and she will provide consulting services in the tourism and travel industry.

As Ina Rodin revealed, her future work will continue to include the promotion of the Republic of Croatia, and she plans to pay special attention to strengthening the luxury tourism segment, including working on a greater presence of strong luxury hotel brands across Croatia. This former HTZ Office director was especially praised in the sector for the significant results she achieved during her two terms, and the successful positioning of Croatia as an increasingly desirable destination for American tourists.

During her tenure, Ina Rodin, among other things, developed a strong collaboration with Virtuos, a leading American and global luxury tourism group, which awarded her as Ambassador of the Year at Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas back in 2017.

In addition, Ina Rodin recently received the "Tourist Oscar" in sunny Miami, a silver award won by the Croatian National Tourist Board in the category of the best European tourist organisation, while Croatia won a bronze medal in the category of the best destination in the entire Mediterranean.

This is the second time that Croatia has been awarded the Tourism Oscar, the first time taking place in New York back in pre-pandemic 2019.

“In our sector, what I'll do is called 'representation' services. In fact, it will be like classic consulting, combining supply and demand, plus strengthening the image of the American market through the placement of stories and products in the media. I'm going to try to capitalise on everything I learned during my two terms in America, but also partially return to the consulting business for hotels, which I was in before I went to the US,'' explained Rodin.

The United States is the most promising distant market for Croatia

For Ina Rodin, leaving HTZ doesn't have to mean leaving America, which she currently considers the most ''potent'' and promising distant emitting market for Croatian tourism.

"America has the most potential for Croatian tourism than all other distant markets and the promotion of the country should definitely be even more present there, especially since the coronavirus pandemic broke out, as it will take several more years before the normalisation of relations and tourist traffic with China and the whole of Asia begins. This past summer, with the introduction of direct flights to Croatia from the United States, it turned out that this potential was recognised by American companies, which took the opportunity, because Croatia was one of the few countries that allowed Americans to travel back then. However, our openness and interest should be cashed in in the coming years, so I will work on further cooperation with the airlines,'' explained Ina Rodin, who, in addition to the US market, also plans to pay special attention to nearby Canada. That market has been rather neglected so far, although it has great potential, she believes.

Canada in focus

"This market is very interesting to us for several reasons. First of all, Croatia has a strong diaspora in Canada, and partly because we have good infrastructure, there are direct flights. So there is already some relationship there. In addition, Toronto is one of the largest bases, it has the most good travel agents who sell not only to Canadian, but also to American clients. I'm especially interested in this segment of luxury tourism, because there are a lot of agents in Canada who belong to either Virtuos or Travel Leaders, and these are the leading consortia for luxury tourism,'' she noted.

Of course, Croatia still has a lot of work to do when it comes to building a luxury product that interests both American and Canadian guests, which can be "twisted" in this supply and demand chain that already exists. Rodin therefore plans to capitalise on his current relationship with Virtuoso, by helping Croatian companies and hotel companies become part of that same Virtuoso "family" or some other similar consortium.

Virtuoso is already present in Croatia, there are two DMCs that are members of Virtuoso in Croatia, as well as seven hotels. In 2021, Virtuoso gained four more Croatian brands, Grand Park Hotel Rovinj, Ikador Luxury Boutique Hotel & Spa Icici, Maslina Resort Hvar and Villa Korta Katarina & Winery.

One step further...

"But we don't want to just stop there, the more hotels we get, the greater the opportunity we have to satisfy this segment of guests, who are looking for special facilities provided only by Virtuoso hotels. However, it should be borne in mind that the offer of luxury products in Croatia is still quite limited, not everyone is ready to host this profile of guests.

These are guests who spend a lot of money on various services, exclusively staying in 4 and 5 star hotels. At the same time, it's no longer so important to them that they have to stay in well-known hotel chains, such as the Hilton or Marriott, which was the case with previous generations of travellers.

This is especially true for those Americans who have already travelled to and around Europe, they are experienced travellers who are looking for local experiences, boutique hotels, and local brands aren't excluded,'' explained Rodin.

However, it would be great for Croatia to turn to some more serious hotel brands with a luxury portfolio that are present in the world, to put Croatia on the map of luxury tourism. The guests she's talking about would like to have brands in Croatia such as Aman, One & Only, Capella, Six Senses, Rosewood.

Although Croatia may not yet have reached the level of prices that would be profitable for the entry of some of these luxury brands, if we had any of these hotels, the destination would have more of a punch to pack,'' concluded Ina Rodin, who plans to work on such projects here in Croatia.

For more, check out our business section.

Sunday, 2 January 2022

Croatian Plava Laguna Strengthening Brand, Change for Hotels Coming

January the 2nd, 2022 - The Croatian Plava Laguna company is going to be spending 2022 strengthening its brand, and there is quite the change coming to its hotels.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, as of this brand new year, the facilities operating under the Croatian Plava Laguna brand in Umag will no longer operate under the brand of the Spanish Melia, instead, all of the the facilities of the company will be repositioned under the brand and name Plava Laguna, the company recently reported.

As has since been learned from the Croatian Plava Laguna company, this will not mean a complete ''break up'' with the well known Spanish hotel chain, as their cooperation is set to continue according to the new model, which includes only sales being carried out through the Melia channel.

“After Plava Laguna's rebranding back in 2018, the company is continuing to strengthen the brand. As such, from the 1st of January, 2022, we're going to be moving the current Sol and Melia facilities from Umag to put them under the Croatian Plava Laguna brand. This means that from the beginning of 2022, all facilities in Umag with Melia and Sol in their names will officially operate under the brand and name exclusively under Plava Laguna,'' it was explained in their company announcement.

As is already known, the Croatian Plava Laguna inherited the contract with Melia from Istraturist, which the Luksic group purchased way back in 2014 from Zagrebacka banka.

Zagrebacka banka initially joined Istraturist in 1996 after the transformation of the company, and two years later, Melia Hotels International was hired for sales and operations to apply international standards to their tourism services. This remained Melia's only engagement in all of the Republic of Croatia. Plava Laguna then launched the new brand into business in 2018, as a completion of the merger of Umag's Istraturist.

"With this merger, one of the largest tourist companies in all of Croatia was created, which manages four resorts (Park, Plava, Zelena and Stella Maris), as well as nine camps, which operate on the market under the brand ''Istracamping'' by Plava Laguna. Thus, Plava Laguna will enter 2022's summer tourist season with a unique portfolio under its belt, which will enable the strong standardisation of processes and activities, as well as the creation of new and unique Plava Laguna products and services,'' the company pointed out.

For more, check out our dedicated business section.

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