Saturday, 13 March 2021

Mali Losinj Tourist Board Webinars the Key to 2021 Season Preparations

March 13, 2021 - Mali Losinj Tourist Board webinars have been used as a communicative tool for all tourism stakeholders on the island in preparation for the new season. 

Quality communication is key when it comes to tourist season preparations, and the Mali Losinj Tourist Board is one positive example you'll find in Croatia. You may recall them in the spotlight last year for their FERRY FREE campaign and "insurance policy" for guests in case of self-isolation.

Thus, this year as well, the Mali Losinj Tourist Board has additionally strengthened communication in the field, as well as with education through webinars. In a conversation with Dalibor Cvitković, director of the Mali Losinj Tourist Board, Goran Rihelj of HRTurizam learned how they are preparing for this year's season on Losinj and how they, as a tourist office, communicate with tourism stakeholders.

Although education on Losinj is not foreign to you, during the COVID-19 crisis, you intensified communication with webinars. How do you communicate as a tourist office?

"Yes, I have always advocated open communication with all stakeholders in tourism; given the impossibility of holding forums and workshops, we decided to communicate through webinars with stakeholders, especially with a group of renters.

Before starting the webinar, we conducted a survey among renters with the question of which topics they would like us to cover in the webinars. So we formed topics and lecturers following their suggestions. So far, we have done three webinars, the first to emphasize storytelling in tourism and digital apartments (advertising on the web and social networks), then a webinar "How to be a good host during COVID," with an emphasis on apartments and business. In the third webinar, in cooperation with our representative offices' directors in the main markets of Italy, Austria, Slovenia, and Germany, we tried to answer "What to expect from the season?".

Of course, at each webinar, we present the current information at our disposal and the legal obligations of landlords in terms of tourist tax, membership fees, flat income tax, recategorization, etc., but also the opportunities that the Mali Losinj Tourist Board has in cooperation with landlords from co-financing marketing activities, cards for renters with discounts, loyalty programs for long-term guests, distribution of seedlings - Lošinjski cvijet, to the year-round promotion of family accommodation through all sales channels and free use of photo and video materials of the Mali Losinj Tourist Board.

We do 'hybrid' webinars so that part of the landlords can attend in our office (up to 10 people), and the rest through Zoom, and so far, we have had an attendance of 50 - 70 participants who have the opportunity to ask questions to our lecturers and us personally.

The next webinar is on Wednesday, March 17, to present the Safe Stay project in Croatia. Mr. Edvin Jurin, a well-known marketing expert, and a consultant, will present the topic "Renters - Newly different," where we will answer questions about the new different era of renting, how to create a map of the tourist experience, and how future destinations will look."

Also, open and quality communication is a tool to raise all participants' quality, including entire destinations directly?

"Of course, our goal is to raise the quality of service in all tourist offerings in the destination and work on networking all stakeholders in the destination so that Losinj as a destination gets additional recognition.

By measuring the indicators of the European System of Indicators for Sustainable Destinations - ETIS, we strive to monitor, manage and strengthen the sustainability of the tourist destination. In addition to ETIS, we are working on the Study of Sustainability of Tourism Development and Reception Capacity of Mali Losinj. Together with the island of Cres, we have adopted a tourism development strategy for Mali Losinj and Cres with defined operational development strategies from tourism products, tourism infrastructure projects, accommodation strategies, competitiveness programs, and tourism marketing.

With the vision that Mali Losinj and Cres, with their quality and uniqueness of the tourist offer, represent one of the leading sustainable, lifestyle, and wellbeing island destinations in the Mediterranean."

This year we are much smarter and more prepared for the challenges tourism brings in the age of coronavirus. Last year, you had the FERRY FREE campaign and the "insurance policy" for guests in case of self-isolation. What will you do this year? 

"Through open communication with stakeholders last year, we noticed the numerous inquiries we have when a guest arrives during the COVID-19 crisis. Here, we jointly developed behavioral protocols at the destination level, sent clear instructions to all accommodation facilities in several languages ​​, from the code of conduct to the survey questionnaire in case of suspected COVID-19 infection. We also took financial responsibility to reimburse renters and guests that because of the coronavirus, they have to extend their stay, or the landlord could not rent it for the sake of the guest who was supposed to remain in self-isolation. We will have an "insurance policy" this year to provide security for guests and owners of accommodation facilities.

Other marketing activities such as "Ferry free" last year will depend primarily on the border crossing protocol and the conditions that countries from our main markets will put as an obligation to return to the same, here we are talking about "Covid passports" or the obligation for the guest to have a negative PCR or antigen test.

We are in coordination with all stakeholders in the destination. We will be ready if necessary to ensure easier and faster testing in the destination area or participate in participating in their costs, monitor the situation, have more scenarios, and be ready to respond."

To conclude, the Mali Losinj Tourist Board website clearly communicates where the tests are performed (swabs, rapid antigen test, serological tests), at what price, and where to report.

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Thursday, 12 November 2020

Mali Losinj Tourist Board Recognized for Responsible Tourism Management During COVID-19

November 12, 2020 - Great news for the Mali Losinj Tourist Board, which has been recognized for responsible tourism management during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

HRTurizamHRTurizam reports that the Responsible Tourism Partnership has been awarding the WTM Responsible Tourism Awards for years as part of the World Tourism Fair in London.

Among the prominent this year was the Mali Losinj Tourist Board for responding to the challenges caused by COVID-19.

Thus, the Mali Losinj Tourist Board received recognition, in cooperation with the City of Mali Losinj, the Epidemiological Service, and other stakeholders in the destination, for the protocol it devised in the event of COVID-19 infections.

The plan envisages a kind of "Insurance Policy," i.e., monetary compensation for renters of private accommodation and the guest's self-isolation costs, quick coordination of the authorities in case infection is suspected, as well as safe return to the home country.

Also, the award was given thanks to the unique FERRY FREE action in which everyone participated - from large tourism organizations to small renters. All guests who stayed on the island of Losinj for more than seven nights in commercial accommodation in September received a reduction in the final accommodation bill in the value of a return ferry ticket.

“Responsible tourism is what we do together in a destination to achieve a goal. The term 'sustainable' is too often used only in an abstract sense. Sustainability is an ambition, and responsibility requires us to show what we are doing to make tourism better and to be more transparent in what we achieve, together," said Dalibor Cvitkovic, director of the Mali Losinj Tourist Board.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the award ceremony was held online and maintained virtually for the first time in 40 years. The fair itself took place from November 9-11. Encouraged by the situation, the judges decided to commend the companies and destinations taking responsibility during COVID-19 and addressed the many challenges of this pandemic.

"The Mali Losinj Tourist Board is recognized as a driver of change that leads to making tourism more sustainable by taking responsibility for reducing the negative and increasing the positive effects of tourism," concludes Cvitkovic.

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Thursday, 15 October 2020

Cres and Mali Losinj Towns Sign Joint Tourist Board Agreement

October 15, 2020 - Guests already perceive the Cres-Losinj archipelago as one destination, which was recognized by the towns of Cres and Mali Losinj, who signed an agreement on cooperation between tourist boards. With this document, they announced the continuation of joint activities to develop tourism further.

HRTurizam reports that the Cres Tourist Board and Mali Losinj Tourist Board are currently implementing a unique Tourism Development Master Plan, which defines long-term visions, growth goals, and a framework for developing a competitive tourism strategy that will contribute to improving the quality of life and creating new development cycles.

"I welcome today's informal association of the tourist boards of Mali Losinj and Cres. I am convinced that by working together, we can position ourselves in the market better and develop projects that will stimulate the overall economic development of our archipelago, which is extremely important in these challenging times. We have excellent cooperation with Cres, and we hope that this agreement will produce many good projects for the development of our islands, but most importantly, that it will improve the quality of life of its inhabitants," said Ana Kučić, Mayor of Mali Losinj and President of the Tourist Board of Mali Losinj.

The vision of tourism in Mali Losinj and Cres is defined in cooperation with key destination stakeholders and is based on three main pillars - Sun and Sea, a tourist product that currently generates the largest share of tourist traffic, then active vacation as a primary tourist product in the pre and post season and Wellbeing which represents the essence of the experience of health tourism and the Wellness & Spa program in the destination.

The master plan envisages that Mali Losinj and Cres will approach the valorization of hitherto unused resources and interpret them in an innovative and modern way. The sustainability principle will be applied through all development activities to preserve the natural environment and quality of life.

"Tourist boards have jointly developed a strategy for the development of tourism in our archipelago, so informal association is just a logical continuation of cooperation. The joint development of a strategy is a kind of engagement of our tourism, which is an association of marriage. The synergy that will result in this tourist marriage will contribute to the recognition of our archipelago as a unique tourist destination with many special features of Cres and Losinj, from Tramuntana in the north to Ilovik in the south," said Kristijan Jurjako, President of the Cres Tourist Board and Mayor of Cres.

The cities of Cres and Mali Losinj have been cooperating at all levels for years, have joint utility companies, a development agency, and cooperate on numerous projects. The informal association of tourist boards is a logical sequence of cooperation.

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Sunday, 27 September 2020

Mali Losinj Tourist Board Takes Corona-Era Tourism Challenges in Stride

September. 27, 2020 - This year, the Mali Losinj Tourist Board made the most of the COVID crisis, from communication, campaigns, ideas, and, most of all, proactivity. The Ferry Free campaign is just one example.

Namely, Goran Rihelj of HRTurizam writes that the Mali Losinj Tourist Board launched the FERRY FREE campaign to attract visitors in September. Thus, for visitors staying in September for more than seven nights, the Tourist Board co-finances return ferry tickets in the facilities that responded to the invitation.

"In our main markets, we have conducted, and still carry out in some, the marketing campaign 'Losinj - Your island oasis' with the action 'Ferry Free' where guests who come in September and stay at least seven nights, we reduce the price of accommodation by taking care of the return ferry ticket for both vehicles and passengers," points out Dalibor Cvitkovic, director of the Mali Losinj Tourist Board.

Because the tourist season ended abruptly as the borders closed,  the course and efficiency of the action were disrupted, but the action has borne concrete results in the current framework.

"During September, following the 'Ferry Free' campaign, we expect to achieve more than 5,000 overnight stays, which is a direct consequence of the campaign. Of course, we expected a greater economic effect, but our main markets are closed, and most of the guests who took advantage of the action were guests from Germany. According to everything, we can be satisfied, and in cooperation with partners, we plan to continue the action next year. On the contrary, we plan to expand it even more, through more terms; in the pre- and post-season, as well as to focus especially on domestic guests," said Cvitkovic.

Yet even in these current frameworks, the action has proven to be successful. If we consider that the average consumption of tourists on Losinj is around 100 euro, then it is slightly lower in the COVID crisis (approximately 80 euro). Thus, we come to a simple calculation that, thanks to this action, 400,000 euro was generated in September - which is more than great success. Of course, this is a rough estimate. And September is still here.

When asked how he would comment on the summer season, Cvitkovic said they were satisfied, following the initial announcements. The bitter taste of unrealized tourist traffic in the second part of the season remained. "We are to blame for the increase in the number of infections, which, of course, reflected on the whole situation. The question is whether we have learned anything this year," adds Cvitkovic.

It is possible to have tourism during the coronavirus pandemic, but we all have to adhere to epidemiological measures, emphasizes Cvitkovic, and this season has shown that, among other things.

"For the first eight months, we achieved an index of 58 in overnight stays, but we hoped that the post-season would have higher numbers. What makes us happy, both in the whole of Croatia and also on Losinj, was that there were no COVID cases in accommodation capacities. Also, despite many people and common rooms, hotel accommodation did not have a single case of new patients, nor were they hotspots. And we know how hotels are generators of consumption and employment and how important they are for every tourist destination," Cvitkovic points out and says that on the other hand, the Headquarters must work on putting out some possible hotspots faster and more efficiently.

"Synergy within the tourism sector is important, and the Institute of Public Health is currently one of our main partners. We have to form teams to be ready to do the testing quickly, so in less than 72 hours, we have test results. This is a key issue for guests. Also, we all need to network much better, to have a health care system behind us, and to make tests and reservations on time - everything was ad hoc this year, but now we have the opportunity to plan the whole system and story in 2021. Now we are much smarter and more prepared for the whole situation and the challenges that tourism brings during the COVID-19 crisis," adds Cvitkovic.

In case one of the guests has coronavirus symptoms, the Mali Losinj Tourist Board, in cooperation with everyone in the destination, has prepared clear protocols this year and an "insurance policy" for guests.

Namely, in case of suspicion of COVID-19, the guest does not go to the doctor alone but must contact the hotel's reception or the owner of the accommodation. Then the questionnaire made by the Losinj Tourist Board is filled in, and the hotel or the landlord calls the doctor and the epidemiological service. Also, Losinj is the first destination in Croatia that covers the cost of accommodation and meals for guests or their families in case of self-isolation.

The lesson for next year is that it is difficult to plan anything. Still, we must be ready to react quickly, as this year, says Cvitkovic and adds: "The situation will change from day to day and therefore we will have more plans because we cannot know in advance what will happen, but we must be ready for all situations," says Cvitkovic and announces that the Losinj Tourist Board is preparing more action protocols for next year.

"We have to be ready to react very quickly and make decisions quickly. That is why synergy is important and that we have prepared several scenarios. From campaigns, communications to protocols. The 2021 season will not be significantly different than this one. Losinj will continue to be primarily a resting place for holidayers and car tourists."

Now we have time to prepare well for next year, and as Cvitkovic says, we are much smarter than at the beginning of the crisis.

"Sun and sea, outdoor, wellness, gastronomy - this form of tourism is good for us, our biggest markets recognize it, but I would like to dedicate more time to the domestic guest. Here, the State could turn Cro cards into Cro vouchers, not to put everything at the employer's expense, but to co-finance partly or 100% as in Slovenia. I think it would be a great opportunity for 2021 to raise the number of domestic guests, because they have no limits with borders, and the domestic guest is more than a good guest. Also, the presentation of new cases from the national level should certainly be viewed in all regions, even destinations. For example, this year, we had zero patients on the island, while in Rijeka, for example, the picture was different. And there were many more such examples," Cvitkovic concludes.

Quick reaction, communication, synergy, proactivity, courage, and readiness for action are the qualities that adorned the Mali Losinj Tourist Board this year. 

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