Thursday, 3 March 2022

Staničić: Booking Is Slow, But Without Major Disruptions To Travel Market

ZAGREB, 3 March 2022 - The booking for tourist accommodation in Croatia is currently somewhat slow, but without any major disruptions to the travel market, Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ) director Kristjan Staničić said on Thursday.

He said it was very hard to make any forecasts right now considering the Ukraine crisis and its impact on present and future tourism trends. "Unless the situation in Ukraine stabilizes soon, it is realistic to expect that the crisis will start to spill over to countries in its immediate vicinity and then to the rest of Europe," he added.

Staničić said that this year Croatia could hardly count on visitors from remote markets, such as the United States, Canada, and China, who see Europe as a single destination. On the other hand, Croatia could benefit from the fact that it is primarily a car destination, easily accessible by road, which in the present circumstances is a comparative advantage.

Staničić relayed today's statement by the European Travel Commission, of which he is vice-president, in which the representatives of national travel organizations condemned the Russian military invasion of Ukraine and expressed solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

"ETC strongly condemns this violation of international law and calls for all parties to work towards a peaceful resolution," Staničić said, adding that all ETC members and partners were called upon to help by providing transport, shelter, and food to those in need.

ETC believes that the conflict will have a negative impact on the travel and tourism sectors in European countries, which are slowly beginning to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Staničić said.

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

Thursday, 24 February 2022

Ukraine Situation Brings New Period Of Uncertainty, Croatian Tourism Association Says

ZAGREB, 24 Feb 2022 - Croatian Tourism Association director Veljko Ostojić said on Thursday that after two years of the pandemic, the latest events in Ukraine brought another period of insecurity and uncertainty.

Any war situation, regardless of the vicinity, deters from travel, he told Hina, adding that at the moment it is impossible to predict how the Russia-Ukraine crisis will impact Croatia's tourism.

He said one could expect bookings on the main markets to slow down in the days ahead, but is confident in last-minute bookings as in the last two years.

Croatia's big advantage is that it's predominantly an auto destination and very safe, which will be important in preparing for the summer season, Ostojić said.

The Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ), which has an office in Moscow covering Ukraine as well, told Hina that next week more would be known about the impact of Russia's attack on Ukraine on travel from the two countries. The Tourism Ministry concurred.

According to HTZ data, 145,000 Russians visited Croatia in 2021, generating 800,000 nights, respectively 94% and 80% of the figures registered in 2019, a record year for Croatia's tourism.

Ukrainians generated 146,000 arrivals and 857,000 nights, respectively 4% and 2% more than in 2019.

This year to date 2,000 Ukrainians visited Croatia, generating 12,000 nights, up 47% and 53% on the year respectively.

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

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

Updated Croatian eVisitor System with New Functions Created

February the 22nd, 2022 - The new and updated version of the frequently-praised Croatian eVisitor system has been created as part of the much wider Croatian Digital Tourism project.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, as part of the Croatian Digital Tourism project, which is being carried out by the Ministry of Tourism and Sport and co-financed by the European Union (EU) within the Competitiveness and Cohesion Operational Programme 2014-2020 from the European Regional Development Fund, a new and upgraded version of the Croatian eVisitor system was created, which is intended for the registration of tourist traffic and for the calculation and control of tourist tax collection.

"One of the segments of the Croatian Digital Tourism project is the upgrade of the award-winning Croatian eVisitor system in order to be even more efficient and better adapted to the needs of its users. New functionalities have been introduced that will improve business processes, so it will no longer be necessary to physically go to the tourist board to register a non-commercial facility (cottage), and communication between landlords and tourist boards has been improved. Ultimately, the Croatian Digital Tourism project will create a complete digital story, a set of innovative tools to facilitate the business of stakeholders in the tourism system.

The Croatian Digital Tourism Project, along with the Croatian eVisitor system, envisages the development and improvement of public e-services in tourism through TURegistar - a Central Register for Hospitality and Tourism Services, TUStart - Registration of activities and business start-ups in the field of tourism and hospitality, TURiznicu - an allocation system available support in tourism and Croatia.hr - Tourist Information Portal,'' said the Minister of Tourism and Sport, Nikolina Brnjac.

The Croatian eVisitor system has positioned the country at the very top of the world in terms of innovative technological solutions when it comes to tourism, and the most significant innovations include a completely new design that is in line with the design of the wider Croatian Digital Tourism project. Additionally, it has been made possible to display basic information about tourist membership fees, download payment slips for said tourist membership fees, and it is now easier to edit and post pictures of accommodation facilities on the Croatia.hr portal.

"The Croatian eVisitor system is a domestic product that makes this country unique in comparison with the rest of the world. The fact that this is an exceptional technological solution has been confirmed with the winning of an award from the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), which this project won in the category of innovation in research and technology. Now we've further upgraded and improved the system, functions have been introduced that will further contribute to the ongoing development of the Croatian tourism sector, while for many users the system will be an even more powerful tool in developing tourist offers, ie defining their marketing and promotional activities,'' explained CNTB director Kristjan Stanicic.

Additional connections with other systems and institutions are planned, such as the Joint Land Registry and Cadastre Information System, the State Inspectorate, the OIB system, etc, while the connection with the Central Tourist Register will significantly change the current process of the registration of commercial facilities. On top of that, the business of tourist boards, private renters and other users of the Croatian eVisitor system will be greatly facilitated and improved.

For more, check out our travel section.

Friday, 11 February 2022

Croatia-Dedicated ADAC Brochure Targets German Tourists for 2022 Season

February 11, 2022 - A Croatia-dedicated ADAC brochure has been released to persuade German tourists to choose Croatia for their 2022 holiday. 

With the intention that many German guests come to Croatia this summer, the Croatian National Tourist Board is highly active in marketing in this area. As Nera Miličić, head of the Branch Office of the Croatian Tourist Board in Munich, revealed, the German ADAC has published a brochure entirely dedicated to Croatia, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

The largest German and European car club, with 22 million members, has published a brochure entitled "Kroatien: ein Land zum Verlieben" ("Croatia: a country to fall in love with"), which is entirely dedicated to Croatia as a tourist destination.

"The ADAC is the most important source of information for Germans when it comes to traveling abroad, which is especially important if we know that over 70 percent of guests from Germany in the pandemic years realize their travels by car. In this context, our cooperation with ADAC is of great importance because, in this way, we provide our guests with accurate information on travel conditions and planning. Furthermore, we also have the support of one of the most influential German institutions that enjoy the great trust of its citizens and our most numerous guests," said Miličić, adding that Croatia is presented in the brochure as a destination of rich diversity and unforgettable experiences.

The brochure highlights Istria as a picturesque peninsula among the Croatian regions, which stands out for its medieval towns and places, beautiful beaches, Venetian heritage, Roman relics, and numerous bays. Kvarner is said to be a region that stands out for its beautiful coast and islands, of which Krk, Rab, Cres, and Lošinj stand out. Plenty of sun, natural beauty, and cultural heritage are associated with Dalmatia; the capital Zagreb is highlighted as the center of Croatia, while Central Croatia and Slavonia are shown as hidden gems of our country.

"The importance of ADAC is evidenced by the fact that this voluntary association enjoys the greatest trust of citizens in Germany and is the first address for service information when planning a trip. Furthermore, ADAC operates in more than 150 branches throughout Germany and is one of our most important strategic partners in the German market," said the director of the Croatian Tourist Board, Kristjan Staničić.

At the very end of the brochure, many readers will find helpful information about traveling to Croatia, from tips for traveling by car to camping-related information.

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

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.

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