Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Croatian Tourism Ministry and Tourism Representatives Meet to Discuss Coronavirus Impact

March 4, 2020 - At the Croatian Tourism Ministry, Minister Gari Cappelli and his associates received representatives of the tourism sector (representatives of hoteliers, travel agencies, small family hotels, Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts and Tourism) to coordinate and transmit the most important information related to coronavirus and its impact on the tourism sector in Croatia.

HRTurizam reports that sector representatives reported on the situation in their fields of activity, while the Ministry of Tourism provided relevant information on procedures within its scope and at the level of state institutions.

At the meeting, it was emphasized that the situation in the tourism sector, with precautions taken and the current stagnation, which in these situations is normal and worrying, is optimistic and there is a high level of confidence on both sides. Equally, it was emphasized that the work of the Croatian Civil Protection Headquarters in Europe was praised as an example of good organization and action and will be taken over by other countries.

Also, it was concluded that in this situation, the most important is the coordinated action of the public and private sector in order to transfer information in a timely and accurate manner, the Croatian Tourism Ministry points out.

“The Government of the Republic of Croatia is aware of the importance of the tourism sector for the overall economy, which is why it is important for the Ministry of Tourism to receive information from the private tourism sector in accordance with which we will be able to take appropriate measures at the Government level and find solutions for possible assistance measures. We are keeping the coronavirus situation under control, and we are pleased to hear that the entire tourism sector is supporting the efforts made so far to overcome current challenges as effectively as possible,” said Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli.

The meeting also emphasized the application of sanitary standards in hotels and other catering establishments, which are generally important to adhere to, especially in situations where the spread of infectious diseases is possible.

Otherwise, the Croatian Tourism Ministry has placed a section on its website where visitors can find procedures and safeguards for tourism stakeholders, as well as other useful information related to the coronavirus situation.

Furthermore, Ex-Yu Aviation announced that Croatia Airlines is currently experiencing a 17% decline in booking numbers over fears associated with the coronavirus, for both international and domestic flights.

“During February we saw a modest decrease in bookings being made for March and April, as well as the coming months. This shows that our passengers are hopeful the situation with the coronavirus will improve as time passes by," the airline said.

“The situation can change for the better or worse, depending on whether the virus will further spread," Croatia Airlines concluded. 

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli on Coronavirus: Don't Panic, No Cancellations Yet

February 27, 2020 - Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli comments on the coronavirus and its effects on Croatian tourism so far.

HRTurizam reports that the panic and spread of mass hysteria around the coronavirus is of no use to anyone, and many experts and scientists are calling for the voice of reason.

Today, Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli was the voice of reason at a session of the Croatian Government, stating that 24,500 tourists are currently staying in Croatia, or about 3% more guests than at the same time last year.

"There is still no major decline, except of course from the eastern markets, such as China and South Korea, as expected. In the first month, we had an increase of about 70% from the Chinese market, and now in February, a decrease of 60% was achieved, so we got closer to zero.”

As for the impact of the current situation on tourism revenue, Capelli noted that the first three months affect somewhere around 5%, while the first six months affect 27% of total tourism revenue.

“So the first three months will not have a significant impact on total tourism revenue. The biggest eventual cancellations that occur are in business and congress tourism, which is about reservations for March. Easter is earlier this year, so it won't even be a true picture of what's going to happen in the rest of the tourist season. The real picture will be shown by the situation in May, when the biggest arrivals are achieved because tourists connect holidays."

Cappelli added that in the last two years we have a new tendency in tourism through last minute bookings, i.e., our guests only book their arrival in May and June for the peak tourist season.

"So far, we do not have any cancellations for the main part of the tourist year; our markets are still stable. Positive data shows that we have a 3% increase in interest from the German market as well as from 7% to 8% in the UK this year. So for now, we do not feel any disadvantages, except for a slight halt to bookings, which was to be expected in this situation. There is no room to panic, the government headquarters manages the situation in real-time and all services are fully prepared,” Cappelli concluded.

"We need to stop any panic and big shopping trips for supplies, because we are not in this situation or at this stage at all," said Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, adding that the Government will remain 100% transparent and prompt about all relevant information to the public.

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Croatian Tourism Ministry Provides 25 Million Kuna for Public Tourism Infrastructure

February 15, 2020 - The Croatian Tourism Ministry has issued a public call for grants under the 2020 Public Tourism Infrastructure Development Program, for which up to 25 million kuna has been earmarked for local and regional self-government units. The public invitation is open until May 1, 2020.

HRturizam reports that the program will co-finance projects for the development of marine and other swimming areas, the continuation of construction, upgrading, reconstruction, or renovation, as well as multimedia equipment for visitors and interpretation centers and public tourist infrastructure in the function of active tourism.

“Sustainable tourism is based on quality management of all segments within the destination, not only tourist offers and products but also tourist and other public infrastructure. That is why, through this program, we want to continuously encourage investments in creating a new attraction base and more even spatial distribution of demand. This Government has so far co-financed 267 projects through this program with almost 90 million kuna, and I believe that this year many projects will be prepared through this program that will increase the tourist attractiveness of destinations. Thus the competitiveness of all Croatian tourism,” stressed Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli.

For beach projects, the minimum amount of support is 200,000.00 kuna and the maximum is 1,000,000.00 kuna. To co-finance the continuation of Visitor Centers and Interpretation Centers, the amount ranges from a minimum of 100,000.00 to a maximum of 1,000,000.00 kuna.

The Croatian Tourism Ministry continues to co-finance the design and designation of existing and new cycling tourism, pedestrian and riding routes, procuring and installing bicycle repair service stations, procuring and installing bicycle movement/traffic counters, and arranging cycling tourist rest areas/lookouts on cycling tourism routes. The funds are intended for units of regional self-government - counties. The minimum amount of support is 100,000.00 kuna and the maximum is 500,000.00 kuna per project.

The Croatian Tourism Ministry co-finances up to 80 percent or 90 percent of the eligible/acceptable costs of implementing an individual project. The maximum amount of co-financing will depend on the index of development of local and regional self-government units.

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli Announces Croatia's Big Plans for 2020

December 14, 2019 - Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli expects another positive year in Croatian tourism. A look at what's in store for 2020. 

T.portal reports that the next year for tourism and the overall economy will be special thanks to a series of international presentations and events, from the Croatian Presidency of the EU Council and Rijeka as the European Capital of Culture to the EXPO Dubai World Exhibition. The positive tourism trends are expected to continue, Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli said.

"In 2020, numerous international events that Croatia will participate in and those organized in the country are a great opportunity to present everything we have to offer, and tourism will certainly be one of the carriers because of the promotional opportunities and brand strength of the tourist destination," Cappelli said. He also pointed out that we are also entering 2020 with positive trends in terms of revenue, investment and tourism.

He recalled that this year, tourism figures for the first time exceeded 20 million arrivals and one billion euro of announced investments in one year, and believes that this year should be a record year in terms of revenue generated.

"The tourism announcements for 2020 are also good at the moment, and we are entering the tourist 'race'. Changes in tourism trends with an increasing share of individual arrivals and subsequent bookings make the entire tourism system in the world much more dynamic. Therefore, the fight for tourists lasts throughout the 12 months of the year. But I am sure that our guests will recognize the efforts in the form of improving quality and new offerings as they did in the previous years,” stressed the Minister.

Of particular importance is Croatia's presidency of the EU Council, which it plans to make the most of to promote Croatia in Europe and the world at all levels - from trade cooperation and attracting investments to, of course, promoting Croatia as a tourist destination.

"We are planning enhanced promotional activities of the Croatian National Tourist Board in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, especially in the area of the congress offer, but more broadly, by further strengthening the recognition of Croatia as a safe and quality tourist destination. In addition to the promotional component, during the presidency, the Tourism Ministry also plans to continue holding meetings of the Working Group on Competitiveness and Growth in the tourism format,” Cappelli reveals.

In addition, the Ministry plans to organize two events in Croatia - a meeting of experts in March 2020 in Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem, and a ministerial conference from April 27-28, 2020, in Dubrovnik, which plans to include EU Member States and OECD Member States participating in the work of the OECD Committee on Tourism.

"During the Presidency, we also plan to draw up a document calling on the Member States and the European Commission to work together and cooperate to promote sustainable and responsible tourism development and to emphasize the importance of partnerships of all stakeholders in achieving the goals of sustainable and responsible development of Europe," stressed the Minister of Tourism.

Responding to the question if the sector is ready for the numerous legal changes that come into force on January 1, the Minister emphasized that 2020 will be specific to all other politically and economically important events due to legal changes that otherwise regulate the tourist board system and promotion of Croatian tourism, paying tourist membership fees and tourist taxes, categorization, VAT rate and more.

"The whole tourism system will actually change its image next year due to a series of legal changes. After adopting the package of tourist laws in the Croatian Parliament, this year, we also held numerous workshops and meetings with the stakeholders of tourism, especially with the representatives of the sector. It is essential for everyone to be as aware of all the changes and their tasks as possible," Cappelli said.

In all this, the Ministry of Tourism will always be available to everyone for the tourism system to function in the best possible way early in the next year and be ready to develop new quality, innovative, development and promotional projects.

When asked about a new strategy for Croatian tourism, the Minister replied that the tender documentation is currently being prepared for the next period, which he will announce during 2020.

"At the same time, the National Development Strategy for 2030 is being prepared, which will cover all economic segments, including tourism, and these two strategic documents will be the backbone and guidelines for the future development of tourism. Therefore, harmonization in their adoption is critical,” Cappelli said.

Considering that the role of the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) is changing as of next year due to the new Law on Tourist Boards, Cappelli, who is the president of the Croatian National Tourist Board, emphasized that its tasks will be focused on strengthening the Croatian tourism brand, marketing at the national level, implementing strategic marketing projects and others.

"To better adapt to modern tourism trends and innovative ways of promoting tourist destinations, the new Law on Tourist Boards defines that HTZ will not deal with the supervision of tourist boards, but will be performed primarily by the members of the tourist board through the assembly. If necessary, the Ministry of Tourism will get involved if it is not able to solve a problem. This will contribute to reducing the level of centralization under the Croatian Government's program,” Cappelli said.

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Gari Cappelli Discusses Exposure of Croatian Tourism to Crisis

On the occasion of World Tourism Day, which embodies one of the most important and key economic branches in Croatia, the second conference entitled Tourism and Urbanism took place in the Vir Municipality, organised by Poslovni Dnevnik and Večernji list. The face of Croatian tourism, Gari Cappelli, discussed the ins and outs of the sector.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ivan Tominac writes on the 27th of September, 2019, longtime Minister of Tourism of the Republic of Croatia, Gari Cappelli, spoke precisely with the aim of informing the public about the current state of play and future plans in Croatia's tourism sector. His overall message was that he believes the situation is good, and with new projects, Croatia is ready to raise the sector's overall quality.

''If you had 1 to 2 percent more physical indicators, you're talking about a successful tourist season, and if you had 3 percent less physical indicators, then you're not a good minister, even though you created better financial effects and created more income with less expenditure. I avoided talking about physical indicators, but then they said that the numbers were bad.

There was talk of the July slump and the collapse of tourism, but the tourism industry saw 6 percent more tourists and 5.4 percent more revenue in the first 6 months of 2019. In July and August, due to the increase in prices, we had a short stagnation because we were waiting for a possible decrease of the same. In the end, when we add it up, we had 8 percent better results. We have fiscalised more and generated a higher turnover with higher revenues, and we expect a slight increase of 1 to 2 percent in September, which will confirm the forecasts in which we spoke abour 3 percent growth,'' Croatian Minister of Tourism Gari Cappelli stated.

When it comes to apartment building and oversaturation, he said he called for a halt last year and a reorganisation of the situation which would be better aimed at matching supply and demand.

''In three years, we received 145,000 new private accommodation units and only 5,000 in terms of the hotels. On the other hand, there was an increase in occupancy in 5 star accommodation units and a decrease in those with 3 star ratings. No one asks if it's expensive, if it's worth it. The sustainability of the system must stop in the sense that supply is higher than the demand for private accommodation,'' Cappelli added.

Austria, which transformed the concept of diffuse integral hotels 30 years ago, also faced the Croatian challenge of having too many private accommodation units. This has to start happening here as well, and it's all about re-categorising and naming things for what they actually are.

''If we own 30 apartments, then we're really talking about a hotel, and diffuse integral hotels have to start being built with a common reception and with a certain quality and offer that will be upgraded. These are the opportunities that they worked on in Austria when they were faced with this challenge over there. This can be an advantage for Vir in terms of increasing quality.

Croatia has quality accommodation. In some countries there are 60-70 hotels. We have the highest 3-star rating capacities, and with those, there's still been a 3 percent drop. That's why we have passed a law on recategorisation. What's happened to us that is that the 3 star category facilities were categorised by someone who did so many years ago, and today, these are not the same apartments of the same quality, because time moves on.

Re-categorisation will raise both price and occupancy if you offer people what they paid for. The accommodation has to be upgraded every day, it has become a classic type of enterprise. Apartments are no longer necessarily family accommodation but entrepreneurship and business,'' explained Cappelli, adding that a good offer and frequent upgrading results in a 150-160 day occupancy.

An example of good practice is Istria, which made good use of the fact that it was not in the peripheries of war thirty years ago, but on the other hand, they were educated and led the situation with positive examples from abroad. Shifts have started to happen in Dalmatia in the last 4-5 years, and they are seen in segments that were primarily focused on infrastructure. Thus, according to Cappelli, a positive example is the development of wine and gastronomic tourism in places like Benkovac near Zadar.

In addition to education, in order to generate traffic, it's also necessary to cooperate with airlines and ferry ports and to take this service to a new level.

''Season 365 was also supported by 70 million kuna to encourage air travel, which resulted in 10-15 percent more passengers as we do joint advertising with tour operators and airlines. In two years, we've come to the point of having flights leave earlier and hotels staying open for longer. The ferries for the islands, on some routes, such as that of Hvar, now have 18 catamaran lines running.

As part of the new round of tax relief, the tourism tax rate should be cut by 13 percent, and as Cappelli points out, this should be reflected in a 10 to 12 percent pay increase. Prices will not be reduced and investments will seek to raise the service to a new level.

''Unless that is reduced, there will be no manpower and facilities will not be able to be filled up,'' Cappelli said.

''Croatian tourism employs about 150,000 people, with a further 18,500 abroad. Importing labour is not only a Croatian reality, for example, Austria imports around 50,000 in terms of labour and is growing. There is nothing new happening to us that is not happening elsewhere,'' he added.

Currently, quality conditions are being created for the development of human resources in tourism, and this is being attempted through the establishment of Centres of Competence in Tourism and Hospitality.

''We invest in staff training through 6 centres of competence for tourism, all with the aim of achieving more practice and less theory for high schools and then for retraining and lifelong education. We're financing that with 300 million kuna, and our lecturers will come here from abroad,'' said Cappelli

The much talked about Cro card project also goes in the direction of employee care. According to Cappelli, the employer would need to pay out 2,500 kuna as a reward to his employees, and that money could then be spent here in Croatia.

In addition to employer-to-employee care, mutual encouragement should be encouraged, and this is possible through affiliate advertising. Gari Cappelli also touched on the need to make sure residents are taken care of, and that tourism isn't allowed to get out of hand and make their daily lives needlessly difficult.

''The residents must feel good first, and then come the tourists. As much as 75-80 percent of the population must be satisfied with the state of tourism in their areas, and this is tested through 15 parameters that are expressed by the local population. In Lošinj, when I was the mayor there, they were pleased with the situation. If dissatisfaction exists, then you have dissatisfied tourists and residents,'' he said.

In the end, he addressed the potential crisis and how Croatia could best try to shield itself as much as possible from its negative effects.

''We're more exposed to a crisis because we're tied to the German market. As many as 2,900,000 tourists come to Croatia from Germany and that's our problem. That's why we're focused on promotion on distant markets, and in the off-season, we're planning promotion in 14 countries,'' concluded Croatian Minister of Tourism Gari Cappelli.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle and travel pages for much more.

Monday, 23 September 2019

What Minister Gari Cappelli's Visit to Hvar Tells Us about Croatia's Tourism Strategy

September 23, 2019 - Minister of Tourism Gari Cappelli visited the island of Hvar this weekend. Some observations from a TCN fly on the wall. 

Looking back, I can say for certain that it started with last year's World Cup, although I am not quite sure why I had not noticed it before. But during the World Cup, it was more pronounced than ever. 

Last summer was a fascinating exercise in watching people jumping on the bandwagon of the national team's footballing success, as though it was their contribution which contributed to the unprecedented global interest in Croatia, when in fact of course it was entirely due to the heroics on the pitch, the incredible fans and THAT shirt. The first time I noticed it was reading an interview with the national tourist board director talking about a spike in traffic of 250% to show what they were doing to promote Croatia. Given that TCN traffic spiked a lot more than 250% in mid-July last year, perhaps we had been doing even more to contribute to the global interest in Croatia. 


Or perhaps it was because any website with even a vague association with Croatia was getting unprecedented love from the 60 billion article views in the wake of 11 Croats kicking a football around in Russia. 


It was a theme that came back to me this weekend on Hvar, as I attended the opening party of the gorgeous 5-star Palace Elisabeth hvar heritage hotel, a very special evening and a very special project (you can read more about the evening and enjoy a video tour here). Minister of Tourism Gari Cappelli was among the high-profile guests, and as I heard him and other tourism officials talking of the importance of the hotel opening and the ministry's strategy of attracting more luxury hotel accommodation, I found myself smiling. 

What exactly did that strategy involve? What exactly was the ministry doing proactively to attract more luxury hotels to open in Croatia in general, and on Croatian islands in particular? The opening of Palace Elisabeth, a fully private initiative with private investment, is now the third 5-star hotel on Croatian islands (excluding a handful of very small boutique hotels). The total number of 5-star beds in Croatian island hotels now stands at around 300. By contrast, just for comparison, last year alone, more than 1,600 5-star island hotel beds opened in one of Croatia's main competitors - Greece

Just what exactly, in practical terms, does the minister's talk of quality hotel accommodation mean? It was something I asked myself again this weekend as it was announced that Ritz Carlton is to be the latest luxury brand to open in Montenegro, a list which includes One & Only, The Chedi, Regent, Raffles, Four Seasons (more on this brand in a moment) and others. Brands which are not coming to Croatia despite the minister's apparent focus on the issue. 


It was something I thought about again last weekend, as the Deputy Minister of Tourism posted photos on social media of another 5-star hotel on Hvar, Maslina in Stari Grad, which is currently under construction and due to open next year. Again, the impression given - at least to me - is that this is somehow in line with our magical strategy, whereas it actually looks like a private investor is finally building after coming through a marathon battle with bureaucracy. 


Saturday's opening was not the first Hvar 5-star hotel event I have attended where Minister Cappelli has spoken. More than 2 years ago, he made a speech (also in Croatian in front of international investors - is it really too much to expect a tourism minister to speak fluent English in the modern age, especially in front of guests who are investing tens of millions in Croatia?) telling the world about the Four Seasons Resort of Brizenica Bay near Stari Grad, which would open in 2019. Here is what he said (from the 2017 TCN article at the time):

"This extremely important project, almost a billion-kuna investment, will be of great importance to Stari Grad on the island of Hvar as well as for the whole of Croatia. The island of Hvar will be provided with the necessary quality accommodation facilities, which will certainly stimulate further investment in additional facilities, thus enabling the further development of tourism on the island of Hvar. This is also an opportunity for the local tourist community to begin with the complete management of this destination and thus make the island of Hvar a high-quality destination. As an islander, I am particularly pleased to see that the potential of our islands has been recognised and I would be delighted if such investments were made on my island as well.'' said Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli, adding that this investment would certainly trigger other potential investors to pay deeper attention and look for opportunities for investment on the island of Hvar, in Split-Dalmatia County and in Croatia in general. 

I think this investment certainly has "triggered other potential investors to pay deeper attention." As the stated opening year of 2019 is drawing to a close, the project still does not have a building permit. It is over two years since that grand announcement from Gari Cappelli, a lovely event complete with mock-up hotel room in Sesvete and including a specially chartered train from Zagreb main train station, it is more than 3 years since I was asked to talk about Hvar and the project with a list of influential journalists at the Park Lane Four Seasons in London. And still no building permit. 

The project has also been removed from the Four Seasons website and no longer features, not even in the list of 10 Four Seasons hotels due to open by the end of 2020. 

Further along the coast on the same island, some Norwegian investors are still trying to own the land they thought they bought in 2007 to develop a 270 million euro hotel project. And it is now 5 years since I wrote about that project and how Greece was moving ahead in Croatia and Greece: A Tale of 2 Nikki Beach Resorts back in 2014, a story which had a sequel 6 months ago in A Tale of 3 Nikki Beach Resorts: Croatia, Greece and Montenegro.

These are the sorts of projects the Ministry of Tourism and the Croatian Government should be trying to resolve to deliver its stated goal of more luxury tourism. There are billions of euros of foreign investment stuck on the Croatian coast and islands. And for those who always enter the debate at this point to say that Croatia does not want or need such investments, that is more than fine, but then why start the projects in the first place and trash Croatia's reputation for a place for foreign investors, as such investments would certainly trigger other potential investors to pay deeper attention.

And, as we all saw from the case of the islet of Zecevo last year, the paperwork can move VERY quickly on Hvar (land split and rezoned in just 8 days) when there is an interest from the movers and shakers.


From my observations, it is hard to conclude that the strategy, such as it exists, is much more than turning up and speaking at such events and claiming some of the credit and justifying some so-called strategy. And if there is still no building permit by the time you announced the hotel would be open, well say no more about it and people will still think it is happening. 

There is another angle to this, at least in my opinion. In the same way that Croatia will have no less than three golf tourism conferences in 2019 (each attended by a senior tourism ministry official), despite spectacularly failing to start even one of the 30 planned courses in the 2013 - 2020 strategic plan, looking busy and talking projects is often substituted for actual progress. And it works. In 2018, some 940 million euro was invested in Croatian tourism, of which 140 million euro (confirmed by the Ministry of Tourism press department) was that billion kuna investment in Four Seasons Hvar. 

The project which at the end of 2019 still has no building permit.

And yet, the 940 million figure invested in 2018 is now established fact - I have seen it used by very senior officials from big international companies on a number of occasions this year. 

And so Croatian tourism DOES look busy and brimming with investment. The opening of a 45-room 5-star hotel is proof of that (never mind the 1,600 5-star island rooms in Greece last year alone). And appearances are everything in The Beautiful Croatia.

Ordinarily, one would have thought that the opening of only the third 5-star island hotel would have been the media highlight for the island and the minister, but a much more bizarre celebration competed for the gushing column inches in the national media. An event which not only required the presence of the minister himself, but one which was covered in the national television news. The same event which was covered by high-profile press conferences at ITB Berlin, the biggest tourism fair in the world back in March. 

The event? Five local tourism boards on one island decided to work together to promote the destination as one. 

With all the hype that this blatantly obvious step brought, one might be forgiven for thinking that Croatia had succeeded in putting a man on the moon.  


Here we are, in Berlin 6 months ago. When I first saw this I thought it was a joke - at the world's biggest tourism fair, Croatia was telling the world that they had an island which had decided to work together to promote itself as one. What kind of tourism country was this, and what the hell were the other islands doing if this milestone merited such high-profile international attention?

And here we are this weekend on Hvar on the national news (and more on the detail in English here).

As a foreigner, I was quite surprised when I moved to Hvar to learn that the island had 5 tourist boards. And not just Hvar. So does Korcula, and Brac has 7 or 8. And they all traditionally promote their own individual towns and villages only. So much so in fact that they really do go to tourism fairs and promote themselves as individual towns rather than an island. Crazy. 


The key to working together is common sense and common interest. I met one tourist board director from Brac last year who proudly told me that he didn't speak to one other director on the island, and that while there were plans to produce an island brochure by the 7 (or is it 8) Brac tourist boards, things were stuck because the directors could not agree which photo to use on the cover (various directors were insisting their destination was the most important). No amount of legislation is going to fix that kind of problem. By contrast, the Hvar directors managed to come together a couple of years ago to produce the combined brochure above without legislation or contracts signed. 

I have met a couple of the newer Hvar directors in the last year and have been impressed by their vision and desire to work with not only the rest of the island but also neighbouring islands to present a better product for their guests. It is common sense. 

The same common sense that this fat Englishman used 8 years ago when he started the first portal for Hvar to include the whole island with regular daily updates. There was no rocket science to it, and Total Hvar's quick popularity showed that this was the way forward. I am very glad that the tourist boards of Hvar are now following suit. 

It is the same common sense shown by the tourist boards of inland Dalmatia and the Central Dalmatia Tourist Board back in 2013 when we proposed combining several great inland Dalmatian destinations into one Total Inland Dalmatia portal in English. It is a partnership which has worked well for six years now and which has played its small part in effectively promoting tourism in that wonderful region. 

It is great news that 5 island tourist boards have decided that they can work together and do their job and promote their destination as one, but is it really such a big deal that the minister needs to tell the world at the biggest tourism fair in the world, then remind the nation on the national news six months later?


Looking at those list above of those 2013 strategic objectives, would it not be more useful to be telling the world of the Dalmatian wine road completed, the medical tourism task force's progress report (after it had been formed), the 15,000 sailing berths delivered, the focus on marine ecology that a reduction in cruise ships has brought, and a promised golf course or two delivered?

Nothing to report on these fronts, and no consequences for an abject failure in the delivery of the seven-year plan? I look forward to reading about the tourist boards of Brac working as one in the New York Times while awaiting the next 5-star hotel opening, which manages to open its doors despite - not because of - all the bureaucratic help it received along the way. The minister has a strategy to deliver, after all. 

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

HTZ Announces 5% Increase in Tourist Arrivals from January to August 2019

September 10, 2019 - The Croatian Tourist Board, also known as HTZ, announces the tourism numbers for the first eight months of 2019.

According to the eVisitor system, from January to August, Croatia recorded 16.5 million arrivals (+5 percent) and 90.1 million overnight stays (+2 percent). Foreign tourists achieved 14.7 million arrivals (+5 percent) and 79.1 million overnight stays (+1 percent), while domestic tourists recorded an increase of 10 percent in arrivals and 7 percent in overnight stays.

"The first half of 2019, as well as the previous two peak months, July and August, are in line with our expectations and plans this year. In total, since the beginning of the year, we have achieved five percent more tourist arrivals and two percent more overnight stays. But apart from tourist traffic, what particularly delights us is the positive financial results. Namely, according to the Tax Administration, since the beginning of the year, a total of HRK 20.6 billion was realized in providing accommodation and food and beverage services, which represents an increase of 8 percent or HRK 1.6 billion,” said Minister Gari Cappelli, adding that these results are an excellent announcement for the overall results of tourism revenues in 2019.

"After a successful peak season, we are entering the post-season, for which we launched campaigns in 14 European markets in mid-August. In September and October, we expect a repeat of last year's figures or, depending on the market, a further increase in the number of arrivals and overnight stays, primarily from the far-away markets of the US, China, and Korea, but also from Russia and France. Also, very intensive preparations are underway for the next tourist year,” said HTZ director Kristjan Stanicic, adding that the strength of Croatian tourism is confirmed by the latest report of the World Economic Forum, according to which Croatia is ranked 27th in terms of tourism competitiveness, which is an improvement of five-places compared to 2017.

During the first eight months of 2019, the highest number of overnight stays were recorded in Istria (24.3 million), Split-Dalmatia County (16.9 million overnight stays), and Kvarner (16.2 million overnight stays). Zadar County follows with 12.9 million overnights and Dubrovnik-Neretva County with 7.2 million overnights. Sibenik-Knin County recorded 6.2 million overnights, while Lika-Senj County recorded 3 million overnights. Zagreb achieved 1.7 million. 

In continental Croatia, not including Zagreb, 840,000 arrivals (+8 percent) and 1.7 million overnight stays (+8 percent) were recorded, while in the counties, the most overnight stays were recorded in Karlovac (511,000), Krapina-Zagorje (258,000), Zagreb (157,000), Osijek-Baranja (145,000) and Međimurje (144,000).

At the national level, during the first eight months, most overnight stays were recorded from the markets of Germany (17 million), Slovenia (9.5 million), Austria (6.3 million), Poland (5.4 million), Italy (4.9 million), the Czech Republic (4.7 million) and the United Kingdom (3.5 million). When looking at accommodation, most overnights were recorded in households (34.5 million), hotels (19.4 million), and camps (16.2 million). The top destinations in the first eight months, according to overnight strays, are Dubrovnik, Rovinj, Porec, Split, and Medulin.

In August, there were 5 million arrivals and 33.1 million overnight stays in Croatia, which represents an increase of 8 percent in visitors and 3 percent in overnights compared to August 2018. In August, the most overnight stays were recorded in Istria (8.7 million), while in Kvarner and Split-Dalmatia County, 6.3 million overnight stays were recorded. This is followed by Zadar County with 5.2 million overnights and Sibenik-Knin County with 2.5 million overnights. Dubrovnik-Neretva County recorded 2.3 million overnight stays, while Lika-Senj County achieved 1.2 million overnight stays. Zagreb reached 289,000.

In August, 191,000 arrivals (+8 percent) and 421,000 overnight stays (+6 percent) were made in continental Croatia, of which the most overnight stays were achieved in Karlovac (197,000), Krapina-Zagorje (48,000), Zagreb (36,000), Međimurje (32,000) and Varazdin County (32,000). At the national level, most overnight stays in August were recorded by the markets of Germany (6.5 million), Slovenia (3.3 million), Italy (2.9 million), Poland (2.1 million), Austria (2.1 million) and the Czech Republic (1.7 million).

You can see the HTZ results here.

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Friday, 6 September 2019

Gari Cappelli Appoints Former Tourism Minister as Special Advisor

As Marija Crnjak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 6th of September, 2019, unofficial confirmation from the Ministry of Tourism that Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli has now appointed Ivan Herak as a special advisor for the strategic tourism development plan and EU projects was recently received.

As was publised by Glas Istre, an Istrian portal on Thursday, Herak will hold office without a fee, and his appointment was preceded by the explicit consent of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

The engagement of Ivan Herak, who is actually the former Minister of Tourism during the mandate of the Croatian Government led by Zlatko Mateša from 1999 to 2000, is not a surprise or a shock when it comes to Gari Cappelli's team. Gari Cappelli's advisory post was initially offered to Herak way back in the spring of 2017, and only now has it apparently been properly formalised.

This marks just one of a number of Herak's engagements, the rest of which don't all have something to do with the tourism industry.

Herak appears to be a jack of all trades. He is currently a member of the board of directors of the Institute of Tourism, a professor at the Swiss School of Business in Geneva, he teaches postgraduate doctoral studies at the Faculty of Economics in Osijek and he is an advisor to the Chinese Association for SE Europe.

He has also recently been hired by the Chinese for the construction of a brand new football stadium, a camp, an academy and other business facilities that are being planned on the site adjacent to the existing Gorica Football Club stadium.

On top of all that, Herak is also the director of the Eurogate Sport Industries company which based in Zagreb. When it comes to tourism, in his public speeches, he advocated for the lowering of VAT in the tourism sector and addressing the issue of tourist land. He has also frequently warned against the extremely detrimental nature of the over-development of cruise ship tourism in Croatia.

Make sure to follow our dedicated politics and lifestyle pages for much more.

Monday, 19 August 2019

Gari Cappelli on Croatian Tourism: Croatia Has Reached its Maximum

A lot has been written (and argued) about 2019's very shaky tourist season, but whether we need to move on from the number of overnight stays to the quality of guest or not, one thing is certain - Croatia has some important lessons to learn in order to keep up with its competition and improve in numerous areas.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 19th of August, 2019, Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli was a guest of N1 recently. He announced a new strategy for Croatian tourism, which he will present during Croatia's presidency of the European Union, which begins on the 1st of January, 2020.

"Let's not compare ourselves to the Turks and the like, Croatia is not them and it will never be," the minister said, adding that it could no longer be expected that Croatian tourism would grow during the main tourist season by two, five or fifteen percent more.

"We've reached a maximum of twenty million tourists and we need to the develop the pre-season and post-season,'' stated Cappelli, echoing the belief of many who conclude this to be Croatia's best route in terms of tourism.

He pointed out that he is constantly saying that Croatia simply cannot expect big increases for a very good reason.

"With this infrastructure, this is our maximum, raising the quality, looking at the markets in terms of what we do, and not being delusional and thinking that we can make a fortune in a couple of months, that's what a lot of people have been doing this season," the minister said.

He says they changed the Law on Categorisation to try to convince small private renters that they have to raise their quality.

''Four, five star, properties with swimming pools, raising the level of quality is considered to be the key to success,'' he added.

He made sure to state that despite a bit of a rough season when compared to the last few glorious ones, Croatian tourism has not failed. "To date, there are four percent more tourists in Croatia, so much for [Davor] Bernardić's stories about decline."

He concluded that all the guests that have been in Croatia this season were good and that they were all of high quality regardless of their individual purchasing power.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Long-awaited Cro Card Finally Coming to Life Next Year?

The fourth round of the tax reform by Finance Minister Zdravko Marić has officially revealed that the long-awaited Cro card will finally come to fruition, starting January 1, when other tax news should come into effect. 

Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli also confirmed the news, announcing that from January next year, employers will be able to "pay" a maximum of 2,500 kuna to workers by a special voucher, intended for consumption exclusively within Croatia and in periods outside the peak season, reports Splitski Dnevnik on July 30, 2019.

"That's right, the 'Cro Card', which will go through a public consultation with the complete tax reform, should begin in January, and we are particularly pleased with its purpose to encourage spending in the offseason, between October and April, and to stimulate consumption on the continent, although no offer on the coast will be excluded from it,” Minister Cappelli announced.

And it will work as follows: Employers will be able to pay a maximum of 7,500 kuna tax-free per worker annually, for Christmas, annual leave, bonuses and other benefits, and the tax reform will now allow up to 2,500 kuna of that amount to be paid to workers through the 'Cro card' voucher. 

In order to avoid confusion, Cappelli explained that the Cro card would not actually be in the form of a plastic card, but would probably be resolved in the form of a paper voucher, a document that each employee would be able to print out through their personal account and then use in businesses across the country.

More specifically, the voucher can’t be used in all businesses, but only those who will be included in this special program. Thus, there will very likely be unique labels on the doors of businesses so that citizens can know who is participating in this payment method.

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