Tuesday, 8 February 2022

Croatia Records Increased Tourism Numbers Despite Surge in COVID-19 Infections

ZAGREB, 8 Feb 2022 - A total of 178,700 tourists visited Croatia in January 2022 and generated 586,300 overnight stays which, despite the surge in coronavirus infections, are increases of 89% and 71% respectively compared with January 2021, the Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ) said in response to a query from Hina.

Compared with January of the record 2019, the number of tourist arrivals was about 17% lower and the number of overnight stays was only 1.5% lower.

Of the 178,700 tourists registered in the eVisitor system, 101,700 were Croatians and 77,000 were foreign nationals. Compared with January 2021, the number of domestic tourists increased by 34% and that of foreign tourists by as much as 313%.

The number of domestic tourists was 11% higher than in January 2019. The 265,000 overnight stays that they generated in January 2022 was 20% higher than in January 2021 and 12.3% higher than in January 2019.

Although the number of foreign tourists was considerably higher than in January 2021, it was 38% lower than in January 2019. This past January they generated 321,300 overnight stays, up by 162.7% from January 2021 but down by 10% from January 2019.

The Istria and Kvarner regions recorded the largest numbers of tourist arrivals and overnight stays in January this year. Istria registered 124,100 overnight stays, up by 62% compared with January 2021 and by 17.5% compared with January 2019. With 103,600 overnight stays logged, Kvarner saw an increase of 71% from January 2021 and of 20.4% from January 2019.

Zagreb recorded 106,400 overnight stays in January 2022, which is 133.6% more than in January 2021 and 11.5% fewer than in January 2019. As for tourist arrivals, Zagreb topped the ranking with 42,500 arrivals, which is 175% more than in January 2021 and 24.1% fewer than in January 2019.

The results for January include the New Year and winter school holidays, when people traditionally travel more. Zagreb also hosts the Snow Queen Trophy skiing competition, business and similar events which attract visitors.

Saturday, 29 January 2022

Normal Croatian Easter Tourism This Year? Good Pre-Season Expected

January the 29th, 2022 - Could Croatian Easter tourism this year look anything like the ''old normal'' from back in pre-pandemic times this year? It seems so as optimism for the pre-season is high.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, this may not be being indicated by the current booking rates, which have slowed down and in some unfortunate cases stopped due to the current epidemiological situation, but the pre-season in Croatia will certainly still function according to the last minute model, without significant organised traffic to speak of.

"This year, we're entering the pre-season under significantly different circumstances than we did over the past two years, which gives us a sense of optimism. If the pandemic starts to subside in the spring, with the vaccination rate being higher than last year, then we have plenty of time to prepare for Croatian Easter tourism, as Easter will fall relatively late this year, and that’s a good circumstance.

Easter is closer this year to May the 1st, and we'll have, if we're lucky, the theme of filling up in terms of tourist numbers for the rest of May, as was the case back during normal years. Moreover, it could positively surprise us because our partners are confirming that people's desire to travel is very strong, and customers are now just waiting for the administration procedures to loosen up,'' said Boris Zgomba, president of the Association of Travel Agencies at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK).

In this sense, the new rules of the Council of Europe have already been well received in the sector, according to which the individual status of passengers will be looked at instead of just going by larger epidemiological maps. It is also to be expected that the chances of the country ending up in a very bad situation pandemic-wise will fall further and further as we head towards spring.

The Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) expects further growth in interest in travel and even a better pre-season than last year, and this includes Croatian Easter tourism numbers. "This is being indicated by the current course of tourist traffic. In Croatia, more than 502 thousand overnight stays have been realised so far this year, which represents 98 percent of the results from the same period back in 2019.

The highest number of overnight stays was recorded by local guests, followed by those from Germany, Slovenia and Austria. At the level of the whole of 2022, we expect the realisation of about 90 percent of the results from the record year of 2019, and the results achieved in the pre- and post-season periods will play a big role in that,'' believes Kristjan Stanicic.

When it comes to promotional activities for the pre-season, in the German market on the most important and largest travel and booking platforms such as Weg, Expedia, Reise reporter and Urlaubspiraten, a campaign will be conducted during the month of February to target those who tend to book holidays much earlier.

"There is great interest in the German market for early travel reservations. Promotional activities will be carried out in other markets that will be assessed to likely have the best response to those promotional activities, and additional optimism is being provided by information and announcements from certain European markets, such as the United Kingdom and Denmark, which will introduce much more lenient epidemiological protocols as of February which will go hand in hand with the revitalisation of the travel industry,'' added Stanicic.

More lively air traffic

From the beginning of April, a higher intensity of air traffic is expected, as well as a reduction of restrictions, ie the simplification of measures related to international travel. The Croatian National Tourist Board expects that Croatia will record a larger number of flights in the rest of the year than it did in 2021.

"The interest of airlines in programmes to Croatian destinations is at a high level, which is, among other things, certainly due to the fact that Croatia has been at the top of the Mediterranean for two years in a row in terms of the interest of tourists and tourist traffic," concluded Stanicic.

For more, check out our 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.

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.

Tuesday, 28 December 2021

2022 Bringing Dismissals, New Job Offers for 300 Tourist Board Directors

December 28, 2021 - Croatia has more than 300 tourist board directors all over the country, most on permanent contracts. An interesting initiative from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports could change all that. 

I am not holding my breath - this is Croatia after all - but could a much-needed shakeup of the outdated and inefficient tourist board system be on the cards?

A new law requiring all of Croatia's 300+ tourist board directors, including the Croatian National Tourist Board Director, to take part in a tender to reapply for their jobs. And rather than - in most cases - a job for life, a fixed term of four years only. 

And not only that, but some insane requirements such as successful applicants needing to know at least one foreign language. I can immediately think of 15 tourist board directors I have met on my travels who do not fit that requirement. 

More detail in Lauren's translation of the Poslovni Dnevnik by Marija Crnjak below, but if passed, this could be a massive step forward for Croatian tourism. 

I am often criticised for my criticism of Croatian tourism, and many assume that I am against all tourist boards. I am not at all. 

Some of the best people in Croatian tourism work within the official system, and some of the local and regional tourist boards who do the best work are TCN partners, and others are not. Once we accept that the Croatian National Tourist Board in its current state and leadership is an irrelevant institution, a closer look at the excellence of official tourism promotion shows plenty of great examples. 

The award-winning public-private partnership between Saltwater Nomads, TCN and both the Zagreb and Dubrovnik Tourist Boards for Zagreb Digital Nomad Week and Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program are two cases in point. But there are other heroes in much smaller destinations, such as Stari Grad on Hvar which is one of the great tourism transformation success stories. And even my beloved Jelsa, where my fierce criticism of the tourist board back in 2015 first shot TCN to national attention. Even though I have no relationship with the Jelsa Tourist Board today, I am the first to acknowledge the excellent job the new director is doing. 

Such tourist board directors have nothing to fear from the new law. 

But in addition to the number of tourist board directors who cannot speak another language, I have met others who have been in the job 25 years and yet do not have their tourist board website in English. Others who have been in the job for over 20 years, having started straight from college, with no tourism or world experience whatsoever. 

There is so much life, and so much dead wood, in the official tourist board system, that a shake-up like this can only be a good thing. Of course, this being Croatia, the four-year term has the potential to be politicised, the position given as a thank you by the local mayor. Safeguards against that would be more than advisable. But anything is surely better than the current system. 

And I like the fact that non-tourism experts can also apply, provided that they have double the experience. A sharp mind, experience in other fields, and the right mindset are infinitely more important and relevant than those offered by some of the current 'qualified' directors. 

Hell, I might just apply myself. If elected, my first move might be to ban the practice of SLAPP lawsuits to silence annoying fat bloggers - as fine a use of public promotion money as I have seen in my time in Croatia. 

A great initiative, congratulations to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, and something TCN will follow with interest.  And now... 

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes on the 28th of December, 2021 - In the implementation of the new Law on Tourist Boards, the Ministry of Tourism decided on an unexpected move - in the first days of 2022, new tenders must be announced for the selection of all 300 directors of tourist boards in the country, including the director of the Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ).

After those in their current positions resign, all of the directors can enter into a new tender/contest should they want to. In addition to that, the new directors' employment status will be changing significantly. Instead of the indefinite contracts that everyone now has, fixed-term contracts will now be concluded for a four-year term.

These are some of the details that stand in the interpretation of the part of the Law that has been in force since the beginning of last year, ie the part of it that regulates the work of the director of the Tourist Board. All tourist boards received a document with an interpretation from the Ministry of Tourism last Friday, Poslovni Dnevnik has learned.

They did not expect such a procedure, and this interpretation has therefore created a great level of confusion within the system of tourist boards, and some of them have already hired lawyers to look into possible violations of Croatian labour laws. Poslovni's interlocutors consider this move of the Ministry harmful.

The new criteria for hiring new directors of the Tourist Board, which are proposed in the new Ordinance, which was in public discussion until yesterday, are also controversial, and the key news is that the directors will be able to be people who have no experience whatsoever in the field of tourism. The Ministry of Tourism doesn't see anything controversial or new in this, because with these changes, all tourist boards will harmonise their activities with the Law, as they should have harmonised their acts and structure so far.

Poslovni's interlocutors from the tourism industry also don't see a big issue here. If the law prescribes that mandates be introduced, which is a good tool for quality control and work results, it should be applied somehow. However, they aren't sure whether the part that encroaches on labour rights is skilfully executed, and how people without experience in tourism will manage to do the job.

"There are a number of illogicalities in the interpretation of the Law related to the election of the director of the Tourist Board, which we received at the last minute after many months of waiting. We believe that we have grounds in the first place to delay the implementation of this Law, and we're working on changes to the implementation that violate a number of labour rights. What is being done is certainly not the reorganisation of the Tourist Board system, but the collapse of quality and additional politicisation. Employment conditions now make it easier. We're at risk of being left without the best people in the system, who will either be replaced or will not have a motive to apply for a fixed-term employment tender,'' say Poslovno's interlocutors from within the Tourist Board system.

The new Law on Tourist Boards was passed back in May 2019, with effect from the 1st of January 2020, while the provision on the introduction of four-year terms of office for directors should be introduced from the 1st January 2022.

All of this said, this new Law doesn't elaborate the procedure, and it doesn't say anywhere when re-election contests should be held. Article 22 of the Law only says that the director of a tourist board is appointed by the tourist council for a period of four years, it states the powers of the director, including the fact that the director is the one to announce public competitions and tenders for jobs within the tourist board.

“Given that the provision of Article 22, which states that the director of a tourist board is appointed by the tourist council for a term of four years, enters into force on the 1st of January 2022, the legal conditions for announcing a competition/tender for the director(s) of tourist boards have all been met. All tourist boards are expected to act in accordance with the provisions of the Law,'' the Ministry explained in response to a request for futher information. They also noted that the previous directors of tourist offices didn't have a mandate, so it cannot even expire.

They also clarified that with the entry into force of this Law, the position of director of a tourist office for which no mandate has been prescribed ceases to exist, which means that it is necessary to announce a competition/tender for all directors.

What about after the election? The one who is re-elected gets a fixed-term contract, and the one who is not elected will be offered another job in the office. If there is no space or nothing ends up being offered, cancellation is also an option. The Ministry explained that the employment of the director is regulated by the Labour Law, and the employer, in this case the tourist board, is responsible for its implementation.

As has since been found out, in this process, termination with the offer of an amended contract from Article 115 of the ZOR (Labour Law/Zakon o Radu) will be applied for the current directors. As stated there, the provisions of the Law relating to dismissal also apply to the case in which the employer themselves terminates a contract and at the same time proposes to the employee to conclude an employment contract under other, amended conditions.

However, according to Article 107, an employer may terminate an employment contract if they have a justifiable reason to do so, including dismissal in the event that the need to perform a certain job ceases due to economic, technical or organisational reasons (a business-related dismissal).

Such a scenario is realistic for small tourist boards, where there will be no space or budget for another employee. Who will be the new directors of the Tourist Board? According to people from the system, the ordinance on special conditions that must be met by employees in tourist boards is moving towards the degradation of the profession.

In addition to the fact that no one needs to have experience in tourism to take on this role, in addition to formal education, the criteria are knowledge of one foreign language (for regional directors, and for the CNTB, knowledge of yet another) and computer skills. Today, these are the basics of literacy and aren't special skills, according to Poslovni's interlocutors, who find it inconceivable that people who have nothing to do with tourism can come to such important positions.

The Ministry claims that the special conditions for the employment of directors in tourist boards have not been relaxed.

You can read more on the irrelevance of the Croatian National Tourist Board in Ever Been to a Party Where the Host is Suing You?

Saturday, 18 December 2021

HTZ Aims To Make 2022 Turnover Amount to 90% of 2019 Tourism Turnover

ZAGREB, 18 Dec, 2021- The Croatian Tourism Board's (HTZ) revenue in 2022 is expected to amount to HRK 311 million, 9% more than in 2021, and it will focus all its activities to further enhance Croatia's status as the most desirable and safest Mediterranean destination and ensure 90% of the tourism turnover of 2019. 

This was said by HTZ director Kristjan Staničić, who also noted that these goals are to be achieved by intensive marketing activities and PR campaigns, designed to suit individual markets.

Promotional campaigns will focus on boating and cycling tourism, gastronomy and wine tourism, natural attractions and active and medical tourism, he stressed in an interview with Hina.

In 2022 the HTZ's activities will focus, apart from the national market, on the traditionally close, neighbouring markets like Germany, Slovenia, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy and others. As for remote markets, emphasis will be put on the US market.

Next year the HTZ plans to open new offices, including in Ukraine and Spain. Also planned for next year is a new strategic marketing and operational plan as a long-term framework defining communication strategies and guidelines for affirming Croatia as a high-quality destination, Staničić said.

Epidemiological situation, clear protocols, quality products

Asked about the coronavirus pandemic and the related restrictions, which also affect the travel sector, and about plans for 2022 in that regard, Staničić said that all goals set can be achieved, on the condition the epidemiological situation is favourable and there are clear protocols for cross-border travel and a high level of health protection in destinations, with a sufficient number of testing centres, as well as quality and attractive tourism products.

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Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Croatian Winter Tourism to be Advertised on Fourteen Foreign Markets

December the 1st, 2021 - Croatian winter tourism will be tempting for many a foreign visitor who fancies a quick trip abroad over the next few months as fourteen markets get a look into what this country has to offer outside of the summer season.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Croatian National Tourist Board (CNTB/HTZ) has launched a new winter campaign "Croatia-Winter Wonderland". By January the 10th, 2022, fourteen foreign markets will see Croatian winter tourism opportunities offered to them via social media in the form of promotion of Croatian destinations and products of enogastronomy, culture and wellness.

The CNTB will conduct this campaign across a number of European markets, more precisely the markets of: Germany, Slovenia, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Sweden and Norway, via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Pinterest, using the hashtags #CroatiaWinterWonderland and #MagicalCroatia.

"The promotional campaigns we conducted this year have positioned Croatia as a quality, safe and well-prepared destination. The fact that we were very successful in this was confirmed by the European Travel Commission (ETC), which pointed out that the CNTB, during the autumn campaigns, was the most active European tourist organisation on the Visit Europe portal and social media pages'' said CNTB Director Kristjan Stanicic.

He also explained that the Croatian tourism winter campaign will highlight the Advent offer prepared by Croatian destinations, as well as promote traditional recipes and customs and the best locations for taking stunning winter photos. From all that, as well as from other Croatian tourism campaigns, the realisation of a certain level of tourist traffic is expected by the end of this year and beyond.

If the epidemiological conditions allow for it, as part of that campaign, the plan is for foreign influencers to visit Rab, Plitvice Lakes, Zagreb, Dubrovnik and see the winter magic live, the CNTB announced.

For more on Croatian winter tourism, check out our dedicated travel section.

Monday, 29 November 2021

HTZ Launches New Promotional Campaign "Croatia: Winter Wonderland"

ZAGREB, 29 Nov 2021 - The Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ) has launched a new campaign, called Croatia - Winter Wonderland," to promote the winter beauties of Croatian destinations and tourism-oriented products such as local cuisines and wines, culture and wellness, the HTZ announced on Monday.

The campaign will run until 10 January 2022 and will cover 14 foreign markets, namely Germany, Slovenia, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, France, Great Britain, Belgium, Sweden, and Norway. It will be conducted via social networks, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Pinterest, using the tags #CroatiaWinterWonderland and #MagicalCroatia.

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Croatia Full of Life on Facebook (Photo: Zoran Filipović)

"The promotional campaigns we conducted this year have positioned our country as a high-quality, safe, and well-prepared destination. That we were very successful in this was confirmed by the European Travel Commission, which highlighted that the Croatian National Tourist Board was the most active European tourist organization on the portal and social networks Visit Europe during its autumn campaign, and as such, a great example to tourist organizations in other countries," HTZ director Kristjan Staničić said.

The winter campaign will also focus on the Christmas markets in Croatia and will include traditional recipes and customs, and the best locations for taking winter photos.

If epidemiological conditions in the country and in the key markets allow, the HTZ will organize a trip for international influencers to Rab island, Plitvice Lakes National Park, Zagreb, and Dubrovnik to experience the winter magic in these places for themselves.

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