Wednesday, 12 April 2023

Pula Airport Desires American Visitors, Eyes Infrastructure Changes

April the 12th, 2023 - Pula Airport has a strong desire to attract more visitors from North America, as more and more people from that part of the world flock to Croatia. This is especially the case for US citizens, who are appearing more and more frequently in Croatia, especially along the coast, for various reasons and not only for tourism.

As Darko Bicak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, as stated above, the general level of interest of travellers from the North American continent to the Republic of Croatia, especially to the Adriatic coast, whether it be for tourist or personal and family reasons, has never been in question. The abolition of American visas for Croatian citizens has also only further increased the interest of Croats in making trips the other way across the pond.

Air carriers have also recognised this trend, and it is increasingly likely that in the coming period, this country will be much more connected to North America, meaning by more than the existing two seasonal routes. In addition to the airports in Zagreb and Dubrovnik, in the foreseeable future it will likely be possible to see a connection between North America (including Canada) and Pula Airport.

New York and Toronto

As its chief director Nina Vojnic Zagar confirmed last week, Pula Airport recently ordered a study as it eyes up expansion, that is, moving the threshold of the runway.

"Pula Airport is considering extending its runway in order to be able to operate long-haul flights, with a focus on transatlantic services. This means that we're investigating the possibility of extending the runway to 3,200 metres to accommodate long-haul flights, i.e. flights to the east coast of North America. The current runway is 2954 metres long and lacks another 250 metres for this purpose. We have space both to the east and to the west to extend the runway, but we have to take the slopes into account," said Vojnic Zagar for local portal Glas Istre/The Voice of Istria.

She added that it will certainly not be a project that will be realised this year, but that the first steps have now been taken to make it happen as soon as is realistically possible. According to her, passengers from Pula are already well connected to the North American continent through various other European hubs, including Frankfurt, Munich, London Heathrow and Belgrade.

That said, she admits that current flight schedules are not ideal for transfer passengers as most airlines target point-to-point passengers on flights to Pula Airport. Based on indirect traffic flows to and from North America, Pula Airport records the most passengers to New York, followed by those coming from the Canadian city of Toronto.

Air Transat "operates" between Toronto and Zagreb Airport with its Airbus A330-200 aircraft, after restoring traffic between the two cities last year after a two-year break due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Canadian airline served 21,597 passengers between the two cities during its six months of operations last year. On the other hand, United Airlines connects its New York Newark airport hub with Dubrovnik Airport (Cilipi) using Boeing 767-300 aircraft along that route. Last year, it carried 28,445 passengers on this route between the two cities during its four-month operational period.

Split isn't remotely interesting

Back in the pre-pandemic year of 2019, Air Transat planned to start a weekly seasonal summer service between Toronto and Split, but ticket sales were suspended several months before the launch for "commercial reasons". Split Airport previously announced that it was simply not interested in accommodating or dealing with long-haul flights.

The reason for this is, of course, that these long-haul flights with wide-body aircraft would mostly be performed on weekends, most often on Saturdays, when Split is the most crowded. As intercontinental wide-bodied aircraft take up much more space and need a larger maneuvering area, the operations of smaller aircraft that form the air traffic base in Split would suffer because of them, and it is precisely on them that Split Airport relies.

Before the coronavirus crisis, there were announcements circulating around about connecting Zadar with several Chinese destinations, but after the end of the pandemic, there is no more speculation about such an idea, at least for now.

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

Tuesday, 4 April 2023

Festigia Taste&Shop: Agrolaguna Opens New Tasting Room

April the 4th, 2023 - Festigia taste&shop, Agrolaguna's newest tasting room and store, has opened in Porec with the aim of further enriching the already enviable gastronomic and wine offer of the Istrian peninsula.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, last week, the brand new Agrolaguna tasting room and shop for the sale of Istrian cheeses, olive oils and wines was opened in Porec at Mate Vlasica 34. The new Festigia taste&shop concept will see Agrolaguna enrich the offer of eno-gastro tourism across Istria. The new store's opening was attended by Fabris Perusko, the CEO of the Fortenova Group, Sotiris Yannopoulos, the Executive Director of the Fortenova Group for the Food Business Area, Nerina Zec, the President of the Agrolaguna Management Board, Loris Persuric, the Mayor of Porec, and Boris Miletic, the Prefect of Istria County.

The newly opened Festigia taste&shop store will offer its customers and visitors a very wide large selection of top Festigia and Vina Laguna wines, Ol Istria olive oils and Spin Istrian cheeses. Thematic evenings and education about wine, oil and cheese will all also be organised in the tasting room. During consumption, guests and customers will be made intimately familiar with the entire process and experience of creating Agrolaguna's top products. The goal is for this shop and tasting room to also be a favourite meeting place for all gourmet lovers who appreciate local Istrian products.

"The complete renovation of this facility is an important part of the transformation of Agrolaguna into a modern producer of wine, oil and cheese, which is a change that the Fortenova Group supports both organisationally and through investment. The top quality of our products has been confirmed by numerous international awards, and bearing in mind the tourism potential of this entire region, with this new concept we're making a step forward in presenting what it has to offer, because as important as tourism is for the overall development of Istria, is equally important as a lever for the development of Agrolaguna.

It's our wish that the tasting room, as well as some other parts of the company, such as the vineyard or the cellar, become an indispensable point of the tourist offer of this region. In this way, the company is confirming its responsibility towards the environment, contributing to the construction of modern destination tourism, and at the same time developing a partnership relationship with the local community,'' said Fabris Perusko, Fortenova's CEO.

Nerina Zec, president of the Agrolaguna Management Board, also spoke on the occasion of the opening of the Festigia taste&shop store: "This new concept represents a great opportunity for us to showcase our long-term and new customers how much knowledge, experience and expertise we continue to invest in the production of high-quality, local Istrian products. Our new Festigia tasting room and store offers a unique shopping and tasting experience, which will enable all customers and visitors to get even closer to Istrian culture."

Boris Miletic, Istria County's prefect, spoke at the opening about the importance of promoting Istrian products and the county's wine and gastronomic offer, as did Loris Persuric, Porec's mayor: "Every city would be proud to have such a large manufacturer in its ranks, but it isn't only large, it's also of high quality. Olive oil, cheese, wine, all of these are products marked by their numerous awards for excellence. That's why I'd like to congratulate you for deciding to open a new tasting room and boutique today, because your products deserve it. I believe that this boutique will quickly become a favourite place for all those who want to take the taste of Porec and Istria back home with them. I'd also like to congratulate the people who create these products and I wish them much success in their future business."

The long-standing tradition of Agrolaguna connects a modern approach and the quality of local products; premium wines from 630 hectares of vineyards, extra virgin olive oils from more than 65,000 olive trees and hard cheeses produced exclusively from fresh domestic milk from Croatian farms. These are high-quality products, the quality of which is best demonstrated by numerous awards won at prestigious Croatian and international competitions, and it's precisely the new Festigia taste&shop store that will enable their better presentation and promotion.

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

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Istrian Camps and Hotels Breaking Records in Post-Season

September the 27th, 2022 - Istrian camps and hotels are continuing to break records during 2022's post-season, despite the poor weather conditions which are currently causing issues in that and other parts of the country.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, even the bad weather over the last few days hasn't succeeded in spoiling the excellent tourist results for Istrian camps and hotels during the post-season. For the whole year, compared to the record, pre-pandemic year of 2019, the number of overnight stays is now only 3% behind. Of the 350,000 tourists currently staying in Croatia, about 100,000 of them are on the gorgeous Istrian peninsula, as reported by HRT.

There are now much smaller crowds, the sun is still warm but not brutally hot, and the sea hasn't cooled down all that much either, meaning swimming is still very much a possibility, this combination is ideal for guests from the north. The Fazana camp is still half full, and among the 2,000 guests, the majority are retirees, parents with small children and school groups on trips away.

"The season is better than that of 2019. I can say that cumulatively, in total, the whole year will end with some 10% plus compared to 2019," said Roland Cinkopan, the director of the Bi-Village camp in Fazana.

Even in the camp in Pula, the cottages are still full, and the rent of several hundreds of euros per night is now half the price. "We wanted to stay a few days, but it's beautiful, especially with this view, so we're staying the whole week," said Paola from Germany, and that view extends to a luxury hotel with all the accompanying facilities. Although it has just been renovated, it was immediately recognised on the market and will not be closed even over winter. In the coming months, it will host congresses, and now individual guests, mostly Austrian nationals, are staying there.

Raising the overall level of quality and increasing consumption is part of the strategic plan for tourism development not only in Istria but across the rest of country, crowd reduction is also a top priority.

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

Sunday, 11 September 2022

Forbes Shines Spotlight on Istrian Peninsula, Truffles, Wine and More

September the 11th, 2022 - Forbes has thrown to spotlight onto no less than the gorgeous Istrian Peninsula, part of Croatia which is absolutely bursting with things to see and do and as such is more than worth visiting during the cooler autumn months.

As Morski writes, another extremely valuable bit of promotion for the Istrian peninsula has come in the form of the famous American publication, Forbes, dedicating a large write up to it.

Unless one has been living under a rock, it's very well known that Forbes is one of the most influential media outlets in the entire world, and it has recently published a large report about the Istrian peninsula in its online edition under the title Gorgeous And Gourmet: Now Is The Time To Visit Istria.

Renowned journalist Ann Abel, the author of the Forbes reportage, invites travellers and adventurers to visit and experience everything that the truly stunning Istrian peninsula has to offer. Describing her experiences, she highlights the wide range of gastronomic and cultural offers that tourists can immerse themselves in, including historical facts and many traces of the past. She also highlights the picturesque hotels and traditional gastronomic destinations that travellers should visit when there.

''Over the past ten years, Forbes has quoted and written about the Istrian peninsula several times, but the most important step forward took place back in 2018, when Forbes declared Istria one of the eight most interesting destinations to visit. Since then, we've had regular publications like that, and this year alone, we had four publications with the most important investments and news for 2022, with the fact that this last one is definitely the crown of all of this year's publications. Such a large and extensive reportage from such an influential media makes a significant difference. In addition, it was written by the extremely well-respected journalist Ann Abel, which further raises the reputation of Istria,'' said the director of the Istria County Tourist Board, Denis Ivosevic.

The PR activities of the Istria County Tourist Board definitely prove to be perhaps the most important tool for communication and promotion of the Istrian peninsula and all its destinations.

Abel, who spent time in Istria at the end of June of this year, highlighted the experience related to truffle hunting as well as the delicacy itself as something special, concluding "it's always truffle o'clock somewhere". The author also provides a special review of Istrian cheese, Istrian extra virgin olive oil, specific local wines and the peninsula's extremely valuable and varied gastronomic offer.

Leading the reader through Istria, Abel additionally highlights the beautiful Brijuni National Park, and the cities of Pula, Novigrad and Rovinj.

The Forbes portal otherwise enjoys an incredible 56.5 million unique views on a monthly basis, so the published report means exceptional advertising for the Istrian peninsula, all its destinations and for Croatia as a whole.

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

Sunday, 19 June 2022

Trattoria La Pentola in Rabac Ranked Among Best in World on TripAdvisor

June the 19th, 2022 - Trattoria la Pentola in the beautiful Istrian town of Rabac has found itself ranked among the world's absolute best, winning the Travelers' Choice 2021 international award.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Valamar Riviera's restaurant, Trattoria La Pentola in Rabac, has won the Travelers’ Choice 2021 international award, making it one of the ten percent of the world’s best restaurants on TripAdvisor. This new award will not only see this restaurant and Valamar gain more attention, but will further position the gorgeous Istrian peninsula high on the list for would-be tourists.

Users of the world's leading travel and tourism quality assessment portal, TripAdvisor, have recognised the value of Trattoria la Pentola in Rabac, awarding it this sought-after title based on the continuous excellent reviews it has always received from the global travel community.

“Our specialised and carefully designed offer can satisfy every guest, from those looking for a light snack or bruschetta accompanied by a glass of quality wine, to those with slightly higher gastronomic aspirations. At Trattoria La Pentola, we offer daily Mediterranean dishes prepared with ingredients sourced from local family farms (OPGs) in which the stamp of Italian cuisine can be clearly felt.

We also offer our guests hand-made homemade pasta, excellent pizzas, and barbecue dishes, homemade burgers, fish specialties and a selection of craft beers and local wines are available,'' said Dario Kinkela, the director of the food and beverage sector at Valamar Riviera.

It's worth mentioning that Rabac's award-winning Trattoria La Pentola is part of Valamar's famous modern gastronomic concept which, in Rabac together with Craft beer & grill and The Beat beach club, combines traditional recipes and modern cuisine, which raises the gastronomic offer of Rabac and its surroundings to a much higher level.

For more on local acheivements from all sectors, make sure to check out our dedicated Made in Croatia section.

Wednesday, 15 June 2022

Rich Istrian Local Culture Luring Tourists, Driving Numbers Up

June the 15th, 2022 - Istrian local culture is doing very well in attracting tourists from all over the world, with traffic for the first five months of 2022 on the Istrian peninsula being excellent.

As Morski writes, larger Istrian towns and municipalities have been enjoying better results during these last five months than they did back during the same period in pre-pandemic 2019. Istrian local culture, which is abundant and very rich, from the Pula amphitheatre to the numerous small museums dotted throughout the county, is doing very well in drawing in the international crowds.

Statistics show that any tourist who comes to Istria for seven days visits the Euphrasian Basilica, the only Istrian monument under UNESCO protection, at least once. It attracts all generations and people from all walks of life.

''We liked it, it's interesting to get better acquainted with the history of this area, to see what they used to do and how they used to do it,'' said Sebastian and Filip from Germany.

Porec is also breaking records left, right and centre. In the first five months of 2022, they've enjoyed tourist results which are several percentage points better than the record year of 2019.

''June has started out very well, we're enjoying numbers which are as much as 20 percent higher than they were back in 2019, so we're going full speed into the peak of the tourist season,'' said Nenad Velenik, the director of the Porec Tourist Board.

The second pearl of Istria, gorgeous Rovinj, has enjoyed some even better numbers. The warmth which it somehow radiates, is a lure for tourists. The first eco-museum in the country is located in Rovinj and it has proved to be an unavoidable stop for visitors, even the most professional ones.

''Such museums are extremely important to tourism because they show what the tourism of the future should look like. They respect the rich legacy with the help of numerous technological innovations,'' emphasised Davide Gnola of the Maritime Museum of Cesenatico in Italy.

Come rain or shine, the imposing, ancient Pula Arena is always open to visitors, and recently it was additionally decorated with greenery. When it comes to Istrian local culture, few would fail to mention this astonishingly well-preserved Roman structure.

''Pula's monuments are some of the best preserved ancient monuments in the entire Mediterranean,'' stated Darko Komso, the director of the Archaeological Museum of Istria. Back during pre-pandemic years, it was visited by half a million tourists.

For more, check out our dedicated travel section.

Monday, 13 June 2022

Conde Nast Traveler Declares Rovinj Most Beautiful European Beach Town

June the 13th, 2022 - The globally read and well respected traveller's publication, Conde Nast Traveler, has ranked the gorgeous City of Rovinj among the most beautiful European beach towns one can visit, shining a well deserved light on the stunning Istrian peninsula.

As Morski writes, Conde Nast Traveler, which is still very much a ''must read'' for many travellers seeking destinations to visit, has compiled a list of the most beautiful seaside/coastal towns in Europe. No less than the very first place was taken by Istria, more precisely the beautiful City of Rovinj.

Rick Jordan, one of the authors of the widely read magazine, makes no effort to hide how fascinated he is by the Croatian coast and numerous Croatian seaside towns and cities. He has been coming to Croatia regularly since the 1980s and absolutely loves Dubrovnik, and the islands of Vis and Hvar. However, he chose Rovinj as the most beautiful beach town to exist in all of Europe, as reported by Index.

Idyllic Rovinj fascinates him "with its coast, medieval walls and the old town, pine forests, small coves, seafood and Malvazija wine". In addition to all of that, Jordan was impressed by "every bike ride to the port, as well as small restaurants located on the edges of the rocks by the sea."

Behind the Republic of Croatia on this particular Conde Nast Traveler list are Italy, Portugal, France, Spain, Greece and a handful of other countries. Second place went to Plage de Saleccia, a sandy beach with turquoise sea located in the north of the French island of Corsica.

The third place on the list compiled by the aforementioned travel magazine was taken by Favignana, one of the five islands of the Egadi Islands.

Istria tends to lure in many with its fairy tale-like charm, beautiful hilltop towns and stunning interior and coastline, having also well and truly enchanted the NY Times journalist who visited various sights across this region by bike and explored the Istrian gastronomic offer in a large photo report. He spent six days on the road in total.

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

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Concours Mondial de Bruxelles: Wine Competition Coming to Istria

May the 24th, 2022 - Istria is set to play host to one of the most prestigious wine competitions on the face of the Earth, which will be fantastic promotion for this region of Croatia which is celebrated for its wine and other indigenous products.

As Morski writes, what the Champions League in the world of sport is is what the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles is to the wine world. This prestigious international competition is coming to Istria in May 2023, and this acts as great recognition not only for the gorgeous Istrian peninsula and Istrian winemakers, but for the whole of Croatia.

With the aim of promoting Istrian wines and the Istrian peninsula as an attractive wine destination, Vinistra has nominated the coastal city of Porec to host this famous evaluation in the section of still red and white wines, which will be held from the 11th to the 14th of May, and will gather more than 350 evaluators, top wine connoisseurs and other similar experts. Among them will be wine journalists, and in a few days about ten thousand wine samples from about fifty countries will be evaluated in total.

Accompanying programmes, excursions and tastings will be organised for the participants of this international wine event, so the evaluators will get to know Istria, and posts on social media, portals, blogs, TV shows and magazines will tour the world. Showcasing Istria and Croatia and the amazing wine the country produces, which still tends to fly under the radar in the shadow of the likes of France for most.

Since Istria a small region, we've opted for excellence and that's why today we can proudly say that we produce top quality wines and that for the seventh year in a row we have been proclaimed to have the best olive oil in the entire world. Wine and winemaking are part of Istrian traditions and have made Istria a recognisable brand on the global market. That's why being the host of the international wine evaluation, Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, is a great honour and a perfect opportunity for us to present just why Istria is famous to the whole world,'' said the Istrian prefect Boris Miletic.

Along with Decanter and IWC, the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles is the world’s largest wine evaluation and it was founded way back in 1994, and since 2006 it has been held every other year in a different country. So far, the competition has visited fifteen of the most famous wine countries, including the Republic of Croatia next year.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

700 People Join 7th Istria Wine and Walk Event, 60% of Them Foreigners

May the 24th, 2022 - The seventh Istria Wine and Walk event was attended by 700 people this year, with 60 percent of that figure being made up by foreign visitors, which is an excellent indicator for both this gorgeous region of Croatia and its wine.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, as many as 700 lovers of the charm of the northwestern Istrian peninsula gathered at the seventh edition of the Istria Wine and Walk event and enjoyed an even richer eno gastronomic offer and the outstanding natural beauty of this beautiful region.

The first event of this type in the Republic of Croatia, the very first edition of which was initially held back in 2015, welcomed many local and foreign visitors with 13 top quality Istrian winemakers, nine local caterers and producers at as many as eight refreshing stops.

"I've been coming to the Istria Wine and Walk event for several years now and it surprises me each and every time. The Istria Wine & Walk event is a truly unique event that combines top wines with an excellent gastronomic offer, all during the part of the year that is ideal for exploring the charms of this part of Istria,'' said photographer and travel blogger Domagoj Sever.

This year's Istria Wine and Walk, for which 700 registration fees were sold out in a mere few days, once again proved to be especially popular among guests from abroad, as well as guests from other parts of Croatia who recognise northwestern Istria as a top tourist and eno-gastronomic destination.

"We come every year, except when the coronavirus pandemic was raging. We look forward to every edition because we're always greeted by beautiful landscapes, top wines and food, and this is our day to recharge with a bit of positive energy. The Istria Wine & Walk event is a sort of retreat for us,'' said Maja Culig, a visitor from Zagreb.

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

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Pula Airport to be Connected to 30 European Cities This Year

May the 14th, 2022 - Pula Airport is set to be connected with an impressive thirty different European destinations this year, which is excellent news not only for Istrian tourism but for the height of the main summer season across Croatia as a whole.

As Morski writes, in addition to scheduled and charter flights to Pula Airport, some very well-known low-cost airlines are flying this season: easyJet, Ryanair, then the German low-cost airline Eurowings, the Czech Smartwings, the Swiss Edelweiss Air, Norway's Air Shuttle and the Dutch low-cost airline Transavia Holland.

Pula Airport plans a traffic of about 400 thousand passengers this year, which is one hundred thousand passengers more than last year or almost five times more passengers than the initial pandemic year of 2020, when only 83 thousand passengers were recorded passing through the airport.

When it comes to the record-breaking, pre-pandemic year of 2019, Pula Airport had a traffic of almost 778 thousand passengers, which is a good example to look at when comparing the expectations when it comes to passengers this year.

According to the director of the Pula Airport, Nina Vojnic Zagar, these are the current plans for the announced flights, which are subject to change because the situation in the area is unstable owing to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

''During the month of May, we expect an increase in the activity of air companies, with more intensive operations (an increase in terms of frequencies) and the remaining flights of low-budget companies starting at the end of June. Last weekend (Saturday, April the 30th and Sunday, May the 1st), there was a turnover of 825 passengers and 23 rotations of regular and general aviation,'' said Vojnic Zagar for local portal Istra24.

Owing to sanctions, Pula Airport has been left without the impact of the Russian market

When asked how much air traffic will suffer due to the war in Ukraine following Russian invasion, especially given the fact that Pula Airport was connected to Russia by planes that landed there every weekend, Zagar said that last year there were 50,834 passengers from Russia and 21,670 passengers from Ukraine, which accounts for about 27 percent of the airport's total turnover.

Last season, Pula Airport had the largest number of airlines to and from Russia, and from this market there were as many as 12 weekly flights offered by five different airlines.

''Before the invasion of Ukraine, the expected number of passengers from the Russian and Ukrainian markets in 2022 was about 92,000 passengers,'' said Vojnic Zagar. It is obvious that this year we will be left without these emitting markets.

This year, Pula will be connected with 13 different European countries and about 30 cities by air, regular and charter lines.

For example, Great Britain with London, Manchester, Bristol, Glasgow, Doncaster, the German cities of Frankfurt, Munich, Duesseldorf, Stuttgart, Cologne and, in France, Paris.

The planes will also fly to Poznan, Poland, Amsterdam and Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Vienna in Austria, and there are as many as four Swiss cities included as well: Zurich, Geneva, Basel and St. Gallen. As for the north of Europe, Pula will be connected with Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Gothenburg and the Finnish capital of Helsinki.

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

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