Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Tourists from 70 Countries in Croatia this Year!

September 7, 2021 - The good tourism news keeps on coming, as tourists from 70 countries in Croatia this year made 2021 one we won't soon forget. 

In the first eight months of this year, more tourists came and stayed in Croatia than last year from more than 70 countries, with fewer arrivals and overnight stays from only five countries - Indonesia, Korea, China, Japan, and Kosovo, reports Index.hr.

This is shown by eVisitor and eCrew data from the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ), according to which, as expected, Germans are traditionally far ahead of everyone, both in terms of arrivals and overnight stays.

2.1 million German tourists realized almost 16 million overnight stays or 23.3 percent of the total overnight stays in the first eight months of this year, which is 53 and 42 percent more than in the first eight months of 2020. However, compared to the same period in 2019, 2021 saw 200 thousand fewer German arrivals and about a million fewer overnight stays.

Behind German tourists are domestic tourists, with 1.7 million arrivals and 10.1 million overnight stays, which is an increase of 31.6 and almost 10 percent compared to the first eight months of 2020, while compared to the same period in 2019, there were about 100 thousand fewer arrivals and about a million fewer overnight stays. 

Of the ten markets with the highest number of overnight stays, only Austria and Slovakia had more than 100 percent more overnight stays than last year, i.e., Austrians at 4.8 million (+110 percent ) and Slovaks at 2.2 million overnight stays (+107.6 percent). They rank fourth and seventh in overnight stays among foreigners.

However, the largest increase (212.4 percent) was achieved by Dutch tourists with 1.8 million overnight stays in the first eight months of this year, which puts them in ninth place among foreign tourist overnight stays.

From other markets in the top ten, increases are slightly smaller. Poles are in third place among foreigners (or fourth overall, if domestic tourists are taken into account) with 5.7 million overnight stays or 43 percent more than in 2020.

Slovenians are in second place, just behind the Germans (or third if you count domestic overnight stays), with 7.9 million overnight stays or 3.4 percent more than in the first eight months of 2019. After Austria in fourth (among foreigners) is the Czech Republic with 4.5 million overnight stays or 44.5 percent more, and Hungary with 2.3 million overnight stays or 80.2 percent more.

Italy is in eighth place among foreign markets with 1.9 million overnight stays or 41 percent more (behind Slovakia in 7th). In tenth place, behind the Netherlands, is Bosnia and Herzegovina, with 1.6 million overnight stays or 80.5 percent more than in the first eight months of 2020.

Although neither Germans, domestic tourists, nor tourists from other markets have achieved the results of 2019 this year, many markets have seen a large increase in overnight stays, from some over 300 percent, and others 600 percent compared to 2020! In 24 markets, overnight stays have grown by more than one hundred percent.

The largest increase in overnight stays (679 percent) was realized by Kuwait with slightly more than 2780 overnight stays. Still, significantly more overnight stays, 663 thousand, and an increase of 301 percent were realized from the USA. Russia achieved an increase of 351 percent with 561.7 thousand overnight stays.

Oman recorded an increase of 275 percent compared to the first eight months of 2020, but with only 435 overnight stays, while the same increase was from Norway, but with a little more than 76 thousand overnight stays.

And from other Scandinavian countries - Sweden and Denmark - the growth of overnight stays was high, 128 and 129 percent compared to 2020, while Finland was the only one among all markets to have fewer tourist arrivals, by four percent but 42 percent more overnight stays.

Turkey is the only country where more tourists came (6 percent), who spent fewer nights than last year (15 percent).

An interesting fact among all markets is that, for example, from northern European countries this year there was also significantly more overnight stays in Croatia than last year - from Lithuania 101.5 thousand or 181.3 percent more, Latvia 48.7 thousand or 128 percent more, Estonia 45.1 thousand or 105 percent more, and Iceland 145.6 percent more with four thousand overnight stays.

The large increases in overnight stays from Mediterranean countries, i.e., Croatia's competitors, is also interesting. For example, tourists from France realized 1.1 million overnight stays in Croatia by the end of August this year (which puts them in 11th place among foreigners) or 126 percent more, and Spanish tourists 194.4 thousand or 166.3 percent more overnight stays than 2020.

Portuguese tourists achieved 111.2 percent more overnight stays or 51 thousand, and Maltese tourists 168 percent more with five thousand overnight stays.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

August Overnight Stays in Croatia Reach 93% of Record 2019!

September 1, 2021 - It was yet another impressive summer month in Croatia, as August overnight stays in Croatia reached 93% of the record 2019!

In August 2021, there were 4.3 million arrivals and 30.7 million overnight stays in Croatia, i.e., 59 percent more arrivals and 46 percent more overnight stays than in the same period last year. At the same time, foreign tourists realized 26.7 million overnight stays, while domestic tourists realized 4 million overnight stays, announced HTZ.

These are the first data from eVisitor, which tracks tourist traffic in commercial and non-commercial facilities and nautical charter (eCrew). Compared to the 2019 results, in August this year, 86 percent of arrivals and 93 percent of overnight stays were realized!

Most tourist overnight stays were realized in Istria (8.6 million), Split-Dalmatia (5.8 million), and Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (5.7 million). This is followed by Zadar (4.8 million), Šibenik-Knin (2.3 million), and Dubrovnik-Neretva County (1.9 million). The destinations that attracted the most visitors are Dubrovnik (164,000 arrivals), Split (160,000), Rovinj (149,000), Medulin (125,000) and Poreč (125,000).

"We can be satisfied with the results in the first eight months, and I would like to thank everyone for their effort, work, flexibility, and responsibility. The tourist year continues, and this is best evidenced by the fact that at this time, there are about 680,000 tourists in Croatia, which is at the level of the number of tourists we had at this time in 2019. This is a great announcement for September. We want to continue at the same pace to boost economic development further and ensure tourism has an even better starting position over the next year. I am especially pleased with the fact that, above all, we are achieving excellent financial results. Namely, the value of fiscalized accounts in tourism activities during the previous month was 21 percent higher than in August 2019. Their value amounted to almost HRK 18 billion at the annual level, which is about 84 percent of the value from the first eight months of 2019. I believe that this will be an incentive for everyone to continue to emphasize the quality for which there is significant demand and sustainable business, which is the foundation of tourism development," said Minister of Tourism and Sports Nikolina Brnjac.

Looking at the markets in August, most tourists came from Germany (1.1 million), Poland (338,000), Austria (317,000), the Czech Republic (250,000), Slovenia (239,000), and Italy (205,000). Of these markets with the most August arrivals, 83 percent more guests came to Croatia from Germany, 7 percent more guests from Poland, 182 percent more guests from Austria, and 30 percent more guests from the Czech Republic compared to August last year. In addition, there are 100 percent more guests from Italy, while Slovenian tourists achieved similar results in tourist traffic as in August last year.

According to the type of accommodation, most overnight stays were realized in households, camps, and hotels, of which the highest growth compared to the previous year was achieved by camps (93 percent more) and hotels (86 percent more overnight stays), followed by private accommodation and charter with a growth of about 35 percent in overnight stays. Compared to August 2019, the best results were achieved in camps and charters that achieved 2 percent more overnight stays (camps), or 1 percent more overnight stays (nautical - charter).

In the first eight months of this year, there were 10.7 million arrivals and 67.9 million overnight stays in Croatia, i.e., 56 percent more arrivals and 43 percent more overnight stays than in the first eight months of 2020.

The highest number of overnight stays in Croatia was recorded by guests from Germany (15.9 million), domestic tourists (10.1 million), Slovenia (7.9 million), Poland (5.8 million), and Austria (4 .9 million). On the other hand, most tourist overnight stays were realized in Istria (18.9 million), Primorje-Gorski Kotar (12.6 million), and Split-Dalmatia County (12.4 million), while the most popular destinations were Rovinj with 2.7 million overnight stays and Vir and Poreč with 2 million overnight stays.

"Behind us is the main part of the summer season in which the entire Croatian tourism sector has done an excellent job. We have weeks ahead of us in which, according to the announcements of our most important partners and tour operators, we can expect excellent tourist traffic. For the post-season, we have prepared several promotional activities to ensure further visibility in the tourism market as a quality, diverse, and above all safe destination where the prescribed epidemiological measures are respected," said the director of the Croatian Tourist Board, Kristjan Stanicic.

There were 42 percent more vehicles on the highways last week than in the same weekend last year, but also only five percent less than in 2019

During the last weekend, the motorways under the Croatian Motorways (HAC) jurisdiction recorded a turnover of 734,637 vehicles and tolls of HRK 40.5 million without VAT, which is an increase of 42 percent compared to last year, and tolls by 52 percent.

Namely, compared to the same weekend last year, a turnover of 518,541 vehicles was recorded, and tolls were collected of HRK 26.69 million without VAT.

Compared to 2019, a turnover of 777,654 vehicles was recorded, and a total toll was collected of HRK 43 million without VAT. Thus, this year's vehicle traffic is lower by five percent, and tolls collected by six percent.

Follow the latest flights to Croatia HERE and the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia HERE.

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

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

150% More French Tourists in Croatia, Mostly in Split and Dubrovnik

August 17, 2021 - French tourists in Croatia have recorded 230,000 arrivals this year, which is almost 150% more than last year!

In one of the most widely-read daily French newspapers, the prestigious Le Figaro, a report was published from a recent study trip organized by the Representation of the Croatian Tourist Board in France, in cooperation with Transavia airline and with the support of the Zadar County Tourist Board, revealed the director of the Croatian National Tourist Board in France, Daniela Mihalić Đurica, as reported by HRTurizam

In the article "Zadar et ses îles, bijoux méconnus de la Croatie" or "Zadar and its islands - unknown gems of Croatia," the famous French tourism specialists and journalist Ludovic Bischoff conveys his impressions of Zadar and the region and emphasizes the city's vibrant history, cultural diversity, and heritage that offers tourists many opportunities.

The text lists the best destinations to visit, suggests to readers where to stay, and in which restaurants to taste the recognizable gastronomic offer of Zadar County. Special emphasis was placed on the island of Pag and the tradition of salt production, Pag lace, but also the cultural and historical heritage of Nin and the richness of the Paklenica National Park.

"So far this year, Croatia has recorded more than 230,000 arrivals from the French market, which is almost 150% more than last year, i.e., we are talking about 52% of arrivals recorded compared to 2019. At the moment, there are about 27,000 French people in Croatia who especially prefer the Split-Dalmatia and Dubrovnik-Neretva counties and are increasingly discovering Istria. Their favorite destinations are Split and Dubrovnik, but also the island of Hvar, which currently exceeds the results from 2019 in terms of French tourist traffic by 30%. During this year's summer season, Croatia and France are connected by numerous airlines directed to the airports of Zagreb, Pula, Zadar, Split, and Dubrovnik. In addition, the French can fly to Croatia from Paris, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Nice, Strasbourg, and Toulouse, offering more than 30 different scheduled, low-cost, and charter flights from Transavia, Volotea, Ryanair, Easyjet, Croatia Airlines, and Air France," said the director of the Croatian Tourist Board Kristjan Staničić.

In the previous part of August, we recorded about 100,000 arrivals and 380,000 overnight stays of French tourists, which is 103% more arrivals than during the comparable period of 2020, i.e., 74% of arrivals recorded in the same period in 2019.

"In the opinion of popular French Vogue, Croatia is one of the favorite summer destinations of many world stars, while one of the most popular French tourist guides Petit Fute puts special emphasis on Istria, which French guests are increasingly discovering," added Mihalić Đurica.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Monday, 19 July 2021

HTZ Director: Croatia's Tourism Trends Positive on most markets

ZAGREB, 19 July 2021 - Croatia's tourism trends are still positive on most foreign markets, with good forecasts for July, August, and September, but tourist turnover will depend on the epidemiological situation and adherence to the measures, the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) director said on Monday.

Answering Hina's questions whether bookings are being canceled or demand is falling on any market due to the fact that the entire Croatian coast was put in the orange zone on the COVID map released by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the HTZ director Kristjan Staničić said that trends were still positive and that Croatia was positioned on many markets as a safe, well-prepared, quality and organized tourist destination.

There are currently about 740,000 tourists vacationing in Croatia, or 90,000 more than on 19 July 2020, and most of them, 640,000, are foreign tourists, including visitors from Germany, Slovenia, Poland, Austria, and the Czech Republic, he said

Since the beginning of the year, Croatia has seen a 50% increase in tourist arrivals compared to the same period in 2020, while July has so far seen an increase of 43% this year.

British travelers generate more overnight stays, difficult to give forecasts

Asked whether it is expected there will be more visitors from Great Britain after all measures all lifted in that country on 19 July, Staničić said that the British had not been able to travel at all until 17 May and the situation had remained uncertain even after that, but when Croatia had become a green zone on the ECDC map (in late June), the number of bookings had started to grow.

"A total of 17,000 tourists arrived from the British market to Croatia from the beginning of this year to 18 July, which is 73% of last year's result for that period, while their 87,000 overnight stays indicate an increase of 8%," said Staničić, adding it is difficult to make forecasts on tourism figures for that market, which will depend on the epidemiological situation both in Croatia and the UK, as on all markets.

Given the better air connection between Croatia and the UK this summer and given the fact that they are lifting nearly all COVID-related restrictions, there is some hope this year for that market.

In order for guests to continue arriving, Staničić called on everyone to refrain from organizing large-scale events and to ensure safety for all, both the local population and tourists who are planning to visit Croatia in the weeks to come.

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

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE

Monday, 21 June 2021

Croatia To Promote Its Destinations On Lonely Planet And Culture Trip platforms

June 21st, 2021 -  The Croatian Tourism Board (HTZ) has launched cooperation with leading global travel platforms and specialized travel media Lonely Planet and Culture Trip to provide the latest information on Croatian holiday destinations and tourism services in eight European markets.

"Cooperation with such important global travel platforms, which are followed by nearly 20 million unique visitors a month, is important in promoting Croatian tourism and travel destinations. This will give us additional visibility in key European markets from which we expect the largest number of visitors this year," HTZ director Kristjan Staničić said in a statement on Monday.

Cooperation with the Lonely Planet platform, which is visited by 11.5 million unique visitors a month and has about 32 million views a month, will cover the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. The focus will be on the culture and gastronomy of the continental regions of Slavonia and Baranja, Croatian nature parks, the southern island of Brač, and the coastal city of Zadar.

Cooperation with Culture Trip, which attracts about 18 million unique visitors a month and has about 8.1 million followers,  will focus on cycling, rural tourism, boating, island hopping, and cultural landmarks.

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

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Croatia's Tourism Presented at BMT Fair in Naples

ZAGREB, 20 June, 2021 - The Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) and its Italian office are promoting Croatia's tourism at the most important international fair of tourism professionals in southern Italy, the first to be held there in person since the start of the pandemic.

The Borsa Mediterranea Del Turismo is taking place in Naples on 18-20 June, the HTZ said on Sunday, adding that Croatia's national shipping company Jadrolinija presented its Croatia-Italy lines to the travel agents in attendance.

"There is big optimism at the fair as well as the wish to restart tourism and tourist travel," said Viviana Vukelić, director of the HTZ's Italian office.

She said the HTZ informed the travel agents and media representatives at the fair about the coronavirus situation in Croatia, the conditions for entering the country, the "Safe Stay in Croatia" label, the Enter Croatia web portal, the eVisitor system for nautical guests, and the "Trust me, I've been there" promotional campaign.

Vukelić met with officials of the Italian Federation of Travel and Tourism Business Associations and representatives of the Vueling and Volotea airlines and the MSC Crociere and SNAV shipping companies.

The talks underlined that there is interest in Croatia as a destination, notably for group travel, youth travel, nautical tourism and the islands.

RAI TV crews recently filmed along the Croatian coast while journalists of Nautica, a magazine with more than 100,000 readers a month, today began a tour of the northern Adriatic Kvarner region to report on what it offers in nautical tourism.

Croatian Ambassador to Italy Jasen Mesić attended the opening of the fair, which drew more than 200 exhibitors, including from Greece, Spain, Malta, Slovenia, Tunisia, Dubai and Japan, the HTZ said.

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

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

"Trust Me, I've Been There" Campaign Invites Guests to Spend Vacation in Croatia

ZAGREB, 19 May, 2021 - The Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) has launched its high-season promotional campaign "Trust me I've been there" across 12 key markets, the HTZ reported on Wednesday.

The campaign will be conducted in Germany, Slovenia, Austria, Italy, Poland, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Hungary, France, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Russia until the end of July.

The HTZ says on its web site that the campaign is being  "implemented through activities across social networks including Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, as well as via high-viewership TV channels, top-rated and most read portals and newspapers in each market and through outdoor advertising on billboards, digital panels and public transport."

"The goal of the campaign is to invite guests to spend their vacation in Croatia, as well as to further position our country as an attractive, safe and well-prepared destination," says the HTZ.

 The HTZ director Kristjan Staničić was quoted as saying that this campaign "is different from all previous ones, i.e. that is personalized and adjusted to the preferences of each individual market."

"It is with this goal that we decided to create unique messaging, and the main faces of the campaign are satisfied guests who invite their fellow citizens to come to Croatia and shared first-hand information that our country is an ideal and safe destination for summer vacation," he explained.

For more news about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more news about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Croatian National Tourist Board Files Further Motion Against Paul Bradbury

April 29, 2021 - In a lawsuit that has been likened to 'The Trial' by Franz Kafka, the Croatian National Tourist Board has filed another motion against TCN CEO Paul Bradbury.

I often wondered how I would feel if I got sued and had to go to court. 

Earlier this month, I found out, as I finally had my first day in court after the Croatian National Tourist Board sued me not once, but twice. You can read their complaint and my lawyer Vanja Juric's replies here:

/ / / Croatian National Tourist Board Sues TCN: Lawsuit 1 (50,000 Kuna)

/ / / Croatian National Tourist Board Sues TCN: Lawsuit 2 (50,000 Kuna)

It was certainly reassuing to see Vanja's cheery and smiling face as we went to the room allocated for the first hearing. 

"It will not take long, and then we can go for a pint," she said warmly. 

And indeed it didn't. 

I was all over very quickly in fact. 

Vanja spoke first and very eloquently. She is such a gentle soul, but I would not want to be on the opposite side of the courtroom. She argued that the case was clearly ridiculous and should be dismissed. 

The judge then responded that the CNTB lawyer had filed an additional motion the day before, which my lawyer was not given prior to the hearing. Apparently, it was done so late because the lawyer had been in hospital all week. The law firm apparently has 6 partners (at least according to the lawsuit documentation) and allegedly 50 lawyers in the firm. But I guess they were all too busy to cover for their sick colleague.

By law apparently, this has to be considered and so the entire hearing has been adjourned until July.

All over in 3 minutes. 

You can read the last-minute motion in translation below, as well as Vanja's reply. I waited until today to publish this latest installment, as Vanja sent the reply today, and I wanted to include in the update. 

Meanwhile, we have the first hearing for the other lawsuit scheduled for Monday May 3, at 09:40. 

Vanja was contacted yesterday by the CNTB legal team asking for a postponement (the fact that the elections are on May 16 is purely coincidental, I believe). Apparently the lawyer had another case to go to and could not attend. The other 49 colleagues must have also been busy, as nobody could apparently deputies. 

We saw no reason for delay but were not given the opportunity to decline, for the judge ruled that May 31 is the new date of the first hearing. 

So there we are. None the wiser (actually all the wiser, am learning a ton of stuff, and it really is fascinating to watch The Beautiful Croatia in action). More soon I guess, if only to report another 3-month delaying tactic.  

The plaintiff's preparatory submission

I The plaintiff has received a response to the defendant's lawsuit and in relation to the same they state the following and propose [an insight into] further evidence. The plaintiff disputes all the allegations from the defendant made in the response to their lawsuit and points out that the objections made by the defendant are unfounded in their entirety.

II The plaintiff is actively legitimised in this legal matter for the following reasons:

The defendant erroneously states that the disputed publication does not refer to the plaintiff and that the slogan "Croatia full of life" is not a trademark of the plaintiff.

Contrary to the defendant's allegations, the slogan ''Croatia full of life'' represents the official logo of the plaintiff and is a trademark in the eyes of the State Intellectual Property Office, where the plaintiff is entered in the trademark register as the holder of the slogan "full of life" (number Z20150201).

Consequently, it is clear that the defendant's complaint about the lack of active legitimacy of the plaintiff is unfounded.

Evidence: A print-out from the trademark database for trademark number Z20150201, (attached)

A copy of the decision of the State Intellectual Property Office, (attached)

Aside from the fact that the above is a trademark registration, the plaintiff has been using the trademark and several variants of the same slogan for many years and translations of that slogan on their website, www.croatia.hr, for all promotional materials and at congresses, and the general public in Croatia clearly connects the slogan and its visual elements (especially the font of the lettering) precisely with the plaintiff, and not with Croatia in general or with Croatian tourism in general. It is an umbrella communication concept that was presented back in 2015 by the President of the Croatian National Tourist Board.

Evidence: An insight/view into/of the plaintiff's website at www.croatia.hr

A print-out of the first page of the plaintiff's website with a visible logo, (attached)

The examination of witness Davorin Purgaric, of the plaintiff's staff, on the circumstances of using the slogan and the circumstances of the lawsuit.

The examination of witness Lucija Zupancic, Head of the Prosecutor's Production Department

At the same time, the word "Croatia" in the defendant's [Facebook] post corresponds exactly to the sign used by the plaintiff as a legal entity, which consists of the inscription Croatia and two squares and as such is used in translations in several languages ​​by the plaintiff.

By using the official signs of the plaintiff, turning it into offensive content and changing the plaintiff's slogan, the defendant violated the plaintiff's rights, both the plaintiff's rights as a trademark holder and the plaintiff's personal rights as a legal entity.

Pursuant to the provisions of Article 128 of the Trademark Act, the trademark holder may claim damages under the general rules on damages against a person who has caused damage to the trademark holder by the unauthorised taking of any of the actions referred to in Article 11 of the same Act.

III With regard to the defendant's allegation that the plaintiff didn't request the publication of a correction or the removal of the publication, the plaintiff considers it necessary to point out that these are not procedural preconditions for filing a lawsuit for damages either in terms of the Trademark Act or the Civil Obligations Act. Therefore, the plaintiff was not obliged to do the same before initiating this proceeding.

In this specific case, the non-pecuniary damage caused cannot be remedied by removing the defendant's publication or by receiving an apology from the defendant, because the publication itself caused reputational damage to the plaintiff's reputation.

As pointed out in the judgment of the County Court in Varazdin, posl.br. Gz-491/19 of 19 May 2020 (…) ''in modern society, information spreads easily and quickly and it is common knowledge that subsequent denials or findings of untruthfulness of [previously] publicly disclosed information don't reach all those who have previously been informed with what is in fact misinformation.'' Taking into account the way in which the misinformation was published, on Facebook, the plaintiff believes that removing the post would have no effect.

At the same time, the allegations of the defendant that the plaintiff showed that they weren't harmed because they never sought an apology or a withdrawal of the [offending] publication are disputed. The stated/aforementioned allegation made by the defendant, apart from being incorrect, isn't logical either, because this is merely the right of the injured party, it is not an obligation for them to demand compensation for non-pecuniary damage by asking for the publication of an apology or a correction, and in addition, as stated above, the reputational damage to the plaintiff wouldn't be repaired with the removal of the post. After the post has already been seen by many Facebook users due to the way the Facebook functions, as users do not seek out old posts again, removing the post would not have the purpose of repairing the damage incurred.

IV Furthermore, the plaintiff points out that the plaintiff's claim is not aimed at forcing the defendant to stop talking about tourism problems, as the defendant is incorrectly trying to portray. The defendant is legitimised in this lawsuit because he is [acting in a] harmful manner - by distorting the official slogan of the plaintiff and entering the word "uhljebs" instead of "life", meaning that he tried to state that the plaintiff's employees were unqualified or incapable of doing their jobs and thus created a negative image of the plaintiff and their employees - causing harm to the plaintiff.

Evidence: 

- The hearing of the plaintiff's legal representative, director Kristjan Stanicic

Namely, the term "uhljeb" is always used in society in a negative and derogatory context and is associated with a person who is unskilled and incapable of doing the job for which he is paid, and is employed thanks to political or family ties, without any real merit. Due to the use of the word in question within the plaintiff's slogan, an extremely negative image of the plaintiff was created, as a result of which the elements provided by law for the award of non-pecuniary damage in a particular case were met.

In addition, the defendant did not substantiate his position that these [HTZ/employees] were "uhljebs", it was a statement made without any evidence, so it's clear that this is an obvious insult, which damaged the reputation of the plaintiff. It is indisputable that the issue of good reputation is extremely important for legal entities, so if such an incident attracts questions/attention, it also constitutes a violation of rights.

The plaintiff additionally points out that the defendant's Facebook profile is followed by 1283 people, while his profile is public, and the defendant's posts can be viewed by people who do not follow the defendant.

Evidence: 

A print-out of the defendant's Facebook profile (the introductory part - with the number of persons following the defendant's profile - attached)

The plaintiff further proposes that the title court order the defendant to submit information on the number of reviews of the publication in question on the defendant's Facebook profile, and in the alternative, they propose that an IT expert conduct an expert examination in the same circumstance.

Evidence: 

The obtaining of the data from the defendant on the number of reviews of the subject publication.

V As regards the defendant's allegation in point 5.2. and 6.1 [of the] response to the lawsuit, the plaintiff considers it necessary to point out that they do not question the right to freedom of expression, which is one of the fundamental principles. However, it should not be forgotten that freedom of expression is not an absolute right and that the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the Constitution do not guarantee unrestricted freedom of expression, as the defendant seeks to portray, this right is limited by other rights, such as the right to the reputation and honour of others. In other words, freedom of expression must not be to the detriment of other human rights.

The same view has been expressed through case law:

"The right to freedom of expression must, however, be interpreted in accordance with the highest values ​​of the constitutional order, namely freedom, equality, national and gender equality, peace, social justice, respect for human rights, the inviolability of property, nature and the environment, the rule of law and the democratic multi-party system (Article 3 of the Constitution).

Likewise, the Convention in the further provision of Art. 10 paragraph. 2 stipulates that, as the exercise of these freedoms (as referred to in paragraph 1 of the same article) includes duties and responsibilities, it may be subject to formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties prescribed by law, which are necessary in a democratic society for the interests of the state, security, territorial integrity or public order, to prevent disorder or crime, to protect health or morals, to protect the reputation or rights of others, to prevent the disclosure of confidential information or to preserve the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

The plaintiff has to show a greater degree of tolerance for public criticism than private individuals who are not exposed to the public are obliged to do. Ensuring the right to freedom of expression is of great importance for a democratic society, but that does not mean that it is an absolute right, and it is also subject to restrictions.''

Source of the above: Judgment of the County Court in Varazdin, posl.br. Gz-491/19

In addition, in assessing the balance between the right to freedom of expression on the one hand and the right to respect for the private life of others on the other hand, the European Court of Human Rights in Axel Springer AG v. Germany stated the circumstances according to which in principle it assesses a fair balance conflicting rights, and these are the following criteria:

a) The contribution to the debate in the public interest;

b) The extent to which the person concerned is known to the public and the content of the statements made;

c) The previous conduct of the person to whom the statement relates;

d) The methods of collecting information and their verifiability;

e) The content, its form and the consequences of published information;

f) The seriousness of the sanction imposed and the discouraging effect it has

If all of the circumstances and the elements of the publication in question are considered, it is evident that the defendant in the disputed publication did not state any well-founded position or value judgment or otherwise participate in the public interest debate, but from the general "tone" of the defendant's publication, without any argument or evidence, was only intended to ridicule/insult the plaintiff as a legal entity and its employees (who are referred to as uhljebs). Moreover, the defendant did not even provide any evidence that there would be a current public debate at the time of the publication that would have any links to that publication.

In that same sense, the plaintiff also points to the decision of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia in the case posl.br. U-III / 4336/2017 of June 26, 2019:

"The Constitutional Court is aware of the debate on these issues in public and understands the desire of many individuals to participate in it, however - given the context in which the disputed statement was given, the circumstances that preceded it, as well as the content of the disputed statement - it can be concluded that in the present case - it is not a debate of public interest.

Namely, the issuance of the disputed statement was preceded by the circumstance that the complainant was interrupted by an HRT employee, whose director at the time was the plaintiff, in giving a statement that was to be broadcast on HRT's fourth programme as part of the election campaign, because the content of his promotional statement was inappropriate and offensive for HRT, as a public television station, to broadcast on one of its programmes. The complainant then commented negatively on the event in front of HRT's main building, complaining about the interruption of his statement as part of the election campaign, stating that it was censorship and referring to HRT employees as "cowards, wretches, bandits". He also made a claim about the plaintiff, the then director of HRT, as a former and further associate of KOS [the former counterintelligence service of the former state], which was filmed by his colleague Natko Kovacevic.

23. In view of the above, having in mind the context in which the disputed statement about the plaintiff being an associate of KOS was given, the Constitutional Court finds no reasons for the existence of a public hearing on the alleged cooperation of the plaintiff with the notorious counterintelligence service of the former state. Moreover, it follows from the context in which the impugned statement was made that the complainant's sole intention was to insult the plaintiff.''

29. The Constitutional Court notes that the impugned statement, in the circumstances in which it was given, was intended to present the plaintiff - at the time during which he was acting director of HRT - as someone who was a member of the notorious counterintelligence service of the former state, which is in itself dishonorable, all with the aim of harming his reputation and honour. Accordingly, the Constitutional Court finds that the applicant did not act in good faith when giving the disputed statement about the plaintiff.''

Finally, it should be borne in mind that the plaintiff invested both time and money in the drafting of the slogan in question (as with any other slogan), and the use of the slogan in an inappropriate manner by the defendant diminishes the property value of the trademark holder.

VI In the light of all the above, the plaintiff proposes that the title court determine that the defendant is liable and that it the violation is of a strength that justifies the determination of fair monetary compensation and for the defendant to accept the lawsuit and the claim in full, and oblige the defendant to compensate the plaintiff for the the cost of the proceedings within a period of fifteen days.

Reply from Vanja Juric, lawyer representing Paul Bradbury

The defendant's submission

The defendant remains in full agreement with his [previous] response to the lawsuit and all of the previous allegations and objections, and, in the continuation, he comments on the allegations of the preparatory submission of the plaintiff, dated April 7, 2021.

1. The defendant disputes that the slogan "Croatia full of life" is a sign/mark by which the plaintiff - as a public authority - presents itself to the public. This can be seen by looking at the very title page of the plaintiff's website, which shows that the sign/mark of the Croatian National Tourist Board is a stylised inscription which reads: "Croatian National Tourist Board/Hrvatska turisticka zajednica".

EVIDENCE:

- An insight into the print-out of the title page of the Croatian National Tourist Board, dated April 28, 2021.

1.1. As previously stated, the defendant does not dispute that the "Full of life" slogan is a slogan that is protected under the Trademark Act, however, it is not the plaintiff's label, but the promotional slogan of Croatia as a tourist destination. After all, the plaintiff itself confirmed this in the lawsuit, stating that the slogan "presents the Republic of Croatia as a tourist destination on global tourist markets."

1.2. It is also incorrect that the public associates this slogan with the plaintiff, since it is indisputably associated with the promotion of Croatia in the world. However, even if the public really believes that this slogan represents the plaintiff (and the plaintiff's employees) directly, such a possible public attitude would still not be sufficient to prove the plaintiff's claim that the disputed publication of the defendant refers to the Croatian National Tourist Board. Likewise, the website www.croatia.hr, as cited by the plaintiff, is not a page about the plaintiff nor does it exist for the purpose of promoting the plaintiff (as a public authority), but - as its name suggests - it is a page about Croatia as a tourist destination. For this very reason, the slogan "Full of life" is on that page, as the tourist slogan of Croatia.

1.3. Not one of the allegations against the defendant are disputable in this procedure - he does not address the plaintiff, he does not state or mention the plainiff, nor does he mention the plaintiff's employees. The plaintiffs' interpretations in this regard are completely irrelevant, as the impugned publication has been submitted to this file and it is quite clear what it reads and what it involves. Since the plaintiff, therefore, is not actively entitled to conduct this procedure, since the said (disputed) publication does not refer to or mention the plantiff, it is proposed - without further discussion - to reject the claim as unfounded.

2. Although the defendant considers that it is completely out of place to emphasise it in this case, we would still like to emphasise that this dispute is not because of the violation of the plaintiff's rights as a trademark holder, but for the alleged violation of the plaintiff's personality, by publishing satirical content on the defendant's Facebook page. To that extent, the plaintiff's reference to the provisions of the Trademark Act and the payment of damages, based on the Trademark Act, is completely pointless. If the plaintiff, however, does seek damages in this case, it is proposed that the court summon the plaintiff to state the legal basis of such a claim, so that the defendant is informed in time of the facts and circumstances which he must prove in this case.

2.1. Alternatively, as a precaution, the defendant points out that no provision of the Trademark Act has been violated. Article 11 of the Trademark Act, to which the plaintiff refers in their statement, refers to the possible unauthorised use of another's trademark "in commercial trade, in connection with products or services". It is indisputable that the defendant did not use anyone's trademark, and especially not the plaintiff's trademark - in trade (commercial or otherwise}, or in connection with products or services, but as a satirical illustration/comment, posted on a private Facebook page.

3. It is not disputed that the filing of a request for correction/apology or removal of the publication, as well as the request for withdrawal of the statement are not procedural preconditions for filing a lawsuit in this case. However, given that the plaintiff did not take a single action to stop the further occurrence of the alleged damage or to otherwise obtain satisfaction - it is clear that no damage was even caused to the plaintiff. The Law on Civil Obligations prescribes the primary ways to repair/put a stop to damage. The plaintiff undoubtedly didn't utilise any of those possibilities.

3.1. The decision of the Varazdin County Court cited by the plaintiff in his statement is contrary to the decision of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia, case no. Rev-1331/16, dated January 23, 2018, in which the Supreme Court explicitly recognised the removal of harmful publications as one of the important ways to stop the occurrence of further damage: "... there are no legal obstacles to making such a request. Moreover, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia found that, in cases of this kind, "there is no effective legal protection without the possibility of removing the disputed content from the Internet because otherwise proceedings for violation of [personality] rights continue, and even increase the damage caused.''

4. The defendant will not comment in more detail on the allegations of the plaintiff from item IV, since he insists that the disputed publication does not refer to the plaintiff, nor does it mention the plaintiff.

4.1. However, as a precaution, if the plaintiff continues to insist on such allegations [being true], the defendant will propose evidence of the fact that there is a sufficient factual basis to allow the plaintiff to be called/referred to as an "uhljeb" (although this is not the case here).

5. In relation to the plaintiff's allegations about the scope of the right to freedom of expression, among which they state that "freedom of expression must not be to the detriment of other human rights", the defendant points out that freedom of expression is one of the fundamental human rights. It is indisputable that this is not a right that is absolute and that it is as such subject to certain restrictions, however, it is completely incorrect that there are no circumstances in which "this may be to the detriment of other human rights".

Namely, if there is a sufficient factual basis for the publication of certain information and if the information is published in the public interest and good faith - it is allowed to damage the reputation of another person. These are the basic standards of freedom of expression that have been established in a number of decisions of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia, as well as decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.

5.1. The Decision of the County Court submitted by the plaintiff, case no. Gz-491/19, just confirms these allegations, as it explicitly establishes the general views of the European Court of Human Rights, according to which entities ''must show a greater degree of tolerance towards public criticism than private individuals are obliged to do." In this context, both the plaintiff's leadership and the plaintiff themselves, as a public authority, absolutely open up all the criteria for the application of this principle.

6. In addition, contrary to the plaintiffs' allegations, a public debate on the state of tourism has been taking place throughout the disputed period, ever since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. It is therefore undisputed that the defendant's announcement was part of a broad public debate on Croatia's ability, as a tourist destination, to cope with the challenges caused by the pandemic.

6.1. During this period, all Croatian media reported on the state of tourism and the activities and campaigns of the competent authorities, all with the aim of initiating a public debate on these issues, and finding solutions to the problems encountered by Croatian tourism. In the same period, a number of inaccurate and chaotic pieces of information about the conditions of arrival in Croatia, the conditions for crossing borders and other important circumstances that tourists should have known were spread in Croatia, as well as in the countries from which tourists come. This was, as such, commented on by numerous tourism and communication experts.

EVIDENCE:

An article entitled: "The Minister of Tourism revealed three scenarios for this year's season: It is possible that overnight stays will drop by 90 percent", Glas Istre, April 2, 2020.

- An article entitled: "Disaster on the horizon: A steep decline in tourist overnight stays - 94.8 percent fewer tourists came in May [this year] than in [May] last year", www.net.hr, June 10, 2020

- An article enttirled "Croatian tourism is on its knees: The situation is uncertain, and the announcements aren't promising: We're opening the hotel, but we have no reservations", www.net.hr, from June 1, 2020

- An article "Let's strip naked to the end/We're being stripped naked to the end! A country of missed opportunities with 314 tourist boards ", from April 10, 2020

- The hearing of witness Kresimir Macan

6.2. Tourism is one of the economic branches from which a significant number of Croatian citizens live. Additionally, Croatia's revenues from tourism reach as much as 25 percent of GDP, so there can be no doubt that the success of tourism and tourism as such is a matter of significant public interest. In addition, the plaintiff is a public authority, whose activities are financed with taxpayers' money, from the budget of the Republic of Croatia, and which is responsible for the affairs and functioning of the tourism industry in Croatia. Therefore, any member of the public or the media has the right and duty to comment, criticise and problematise their public actions and all circumstances related to the performance of tasks delegated to them.

7. In conclusion, the decision of the Constitutional Court referred to by the plaintiff in his statement is not applicable to the present proceedings. The case decided by the USRH refers to the proceedings conducted by the director of HRT against a person who stated that he was an "associate of KOS". In this case, it is, therefore, a matter of making a false and extremely harmful statement, while in this case it is a matter of satirising the tourist slogan of Croatia.

8. It is not entirely clear to the defendant why, in the present proceedings, the plaintiff mentions the “property value of the trademark” at all, since the proceedings, as stated earlier, are not about the trademark, the unauthorised use of the trademark or compensation for property damage (?). In that sense, the defendant hasn't violated the plaintiff's rights in any way. Therefore, the defendant will not comment further on this part of the plaintiff's submission.

* * * * *

Following the above, it is proposed to the court to reject the plaintiff's claim in its entirety, and to oblige the plaintiff to reimburse the defendant for the litigation costs incurred.

Read More: Croatian Media Compares Paul Bradbury Lawsuit to Kafka's 'The Trial'Croatian Media Compares Paul Bradbury Lawsuit to Kafka's 'The Trial'

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Croatian Media Compares Paul Bradbury Lawsuit to Kafka's 'The Trial'

As the articles surrounding the Paul Bradbury lawsuit launched by the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) continue being published in the Croatian media, one portal even brings the likes of Franz Kafka into the mix.

As Express/Emir Imamovic Pirke writes, had Franz Kafka been born exactly 100 years later, and not in 1883, and if he'd been born in Zagreb instead of Prague, he would be less than forty years old today, and he'd have started writing his most famous novel only in 2014.

His (would-have-been) Croatian publication "The Trial" wouldn't have had just under 300 pages in the Croatian case, and readers would have to either go to the library in a car or have his book delivered with a vehicle of some sort.

"Someone must have slandered Josef K." is the first part of the first sentence of "The Trial,", a famous book which is still relevant to this very day. The situation surrounding the Paul Bradbury lawsuit must ring true to the feelings brought about by Josed K these days. He doesn't know who is going to judge him, nor does he really have a clue as to why.

"Ha! What have I done... My lawyer Vanja Juric is trying to understand that herself. The thing is that I've been writing in Croatia for a decade now and nothing about the Croatian National Tourist Board surprises me anymore. Honestly, all of this is quite hilarious to me, but I was shocked when I received the lawsuit,'' Paul Bradbury told N1 when commenting on the lawsuit filed against him by the Croatian National Tourist Board, who allegedly did so because they felt offended because he'd played around with the slogan ''Croatia full of life "on Facebook, turning it instead into “Croatia full of uhljebs”.

If, then, the move on social media was defaming or slandering the Croatian National Tourist Board, then Bradbury is a slanderer who must now defend himself against such an accusation in a Croatian court of law, even though he expressed what has become very much a majority opinion with a bit of satire. Most people, however, cannot be prosecuted, so the British blogger and promoter of Croatian tourism will, sooner or later, have to face slander at his own expense because he can't be punished for this otherwise. Namely, his guilt in this case must first actually be invented.

Almost two decades ago, Paul Bradbury sold his house in the UK and, thanks to a TV commercial, decided to come and live here in Croatia. What caught his eye was a video with the usual depiction of the natural beauty of the country and that old slogan about the Mediterranean as it allegedly used to be, and it was produced and paid for by no less than the Croatian National Tourist Board.

Yes, that very same Croatian National Tourist Board that has since created the very bizarre Paul Bradbury lawsuit all because of a Facebook post.

"The crazy Englishman/Ludi Englez", as Bradbury is affectionately referred to in Jelsa, didn't realise his Croatian dream by converting pound sterling from the sale of that house in Britain into euros and merely buying a Hvar property with them, then sticking that familiar old blue ''Apartments'' sign somewhere near the door - much more than that was done.

In his now long time spent discovering a country that advertises its own tourist offer as if the whole world is still using dial-up, he first launched the portal Total Hvar, then Total Split, Total Inland Dalmatia, Total Zagreb and Total Dubrovnik, and finally Total Croatia News, which has since been declared the most influential local medium in the English language. In addition, Bradbury is considered the most influential Croatian blogger and a very sharp critic of the Croatian National Tourist Board, considering it to be cumbersome, expensive and passive, and aldo claiming that its abolition wouldn't negatively affect the tourism industry in any way.

There are, for example, county, city and local offices of the Croatian National Tourist Board that have purposes for themselves and themselves only, as well as those without which a good part of the independent cultural scene on the coast would find it even more difficult to survive than today, just as there are employees whose only obligation is to come to work, and there are those who aren't lazy at all and often find themselves engaged in tasks which go far beyond those prescribed by their employment contract.

However, the naturalised British journalist won't go to court because of his lack of a distinction between any of the above, but because of the excess fears of certain individuals whose dire inefficiency is inversely proportional to the opposite effects of Bradbury's hard work, and because the deep urge for self-preservation has become stronger than the interests of the body itself.

Recalling the events which take place in the aforementioned, famed publication, in the Croatian Trial, had Kafka been born in a different time and place - the Croatian National Tourist Board vs. Paul Bradbury - the prosecutor, ie the Croatian National Tourist Board, is actually performing a Kafkaesque play in which they turns their own guilt for the success of the independent initiator of tourist portals around, but not because the accused is wrong - quite on the contrary - because he's essentially right.

After all, could the Croatian National Tourist Board have launched the Total Croatia News portal? After the success of the Total Hvar or Total Split platform, could the Croatian National Tourist Board not simply purchase both the name and the concept from the author and then go on to further develop them? Couldn't someone, given that Paul Bradbury has already dotted all of the i's and crossed all of the t's, have had the bright idea to hire him the way production companies are hired to create videos of pretty panoramic shots of the islands and close-ups of wine glasses that would bring British tourists with deep pockets flocking to Brela during summer?

Why, after all, does the Croatian National Tourist Board not use resources it has within reach to develop its own network of sites made in foreign languages ​​- media that will offer better content than that of Paul Bradbury, whose Croatian mixes an English accent with a Hvar dialect? As simple as the answers are to each of these questions - each of them would imply effort being made. The very notion of that would mean that the entire local administrative apparatus would end up working against itself.

Namely, it all rests on the fact that nothing changes at any cost, so that, when it is shown that changes are both possible and necessary, instead of autocorrection and moving forward, it starts the Kafkaesque process of removing evidence that would not exist if Bradbury hadn't managed to find empty space to profit from tourism in a country that otherwise lives from tourism almost entirely. Oh, and of course, from EU funds, loans and... And... That's mostly it.

For more on the Paul Bradbury lawsuit (both of them), click here and here.

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