Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Croatian and Slovenian Ministers Discuss Tourism

ZAGREB, April 29, 2020 - Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli and his Slovenian counterpart Zdravko Počivalšek on Wednesday met in Zagreb for the talks on the tourism industry in the circumstances marked by the COVID-19 epidemic.

In light of the fact that Croatia and Slovenia have been cooperating for years in the joint promotion of their tourist industries, the two ministers underscored the importance of the further cooperation in that sector expressing hope that the epidemiological situation would soon allow for the opening of the borders.

They discussed the idea of enabling travels for tourist purposes provided that protocols for such travelling could be prepared, as suggested at a recent video conference of the European Union's tourism ministers.

Cappelli and Počivalšek also considered the availability of financial means for the stronger positioning of tourism through the future EU financial frameworks so as to maintain the stability of businesses in this sector.

Tourists from Slovenia are one of the most numerous and loyal visitors to Croatia and therefore we are talking about the possible reopening of the borders and making it possible for Slovenians to go on holidays in Croatia provided that there are all necessary measures in place, the Croatian minister said.

In this context he recalled that Slovenians have property in Croatia and are trying to find a solution how to visit their property in compliance with the epidemiological measures imposed due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

Počivalšek noted that about 110,000 summer houses or second homes are owned by Slovenians in Croatia and that it would be "suitable to allow them to visit their summer homes."

Počivalšek said that Slovenia was optimistic about partial re-establishment of the cross-border traffic for travellers between the two countries in late summer in compliance with the health protection measures.

More news about relations between Croatia and Slovenia can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 23 April 2020

EU Tourism Ministers to Discuss Measures for Tourism

ZAGREB, April 23, 2020 - EU tourism ministers will hold a video conference on April 27 to discuss the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on tourism and measures to enable the quickest possible recovery of the sector, the Croatian Tourism Ministry said on Thursday.

The video conference will be held on the initiative of Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli.

The event will be organised as part of the Croatian presidency of the Council of the EU, and Minister Cappelli will chair the meeting as the relevant minister of the presiding country.

The conference was to have taken place in Dubrovnik but the plan was changed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Due to the pandemic and its disastrous effects on global tourism, including the EU and Croatia, the discussion will focus on the consequences of the pandemic and measures designed to help the tourism sector recover as soon as possible following the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions and the removal of the travel ban, Minister Cappelli said.

More news about Croatian tourism can be found in the Travel section.

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli on Restarting Businesses, Private Renters, and More

April 19, 2020 - Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli talks about what Croatian tourism can expect this year and the measures in place to save the country's tourism industry. 

Tourism was the first to be hit by the coronavirus crisis. At the moment, everyone's primary goal is to survive. Whether or not there will be tourism, no one dares to forecast at the moment. However, some measures and instructions have been announced to restart business activity. In doing so, expectations are primarily on domestic guests. 

Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli explains further in an interview with Novi List, with excerpts transmitted in English below. 

How will businesses restart when the measures are loosened?

"In the coming week, we will know by sectors what can start first and how. At the moment, we believe that the first tourist traffic can be launched in segments that are actually more isolated, for example, holiday homes, i.e., private accommodation, then accommodation in smaller areas or outside major and urban destinations, and with the right prices, something can certainly be done in nautical tourism. There are also, for example, camps. So anything closer to nature, which still allows for some social distance and reduced contact with other people. However, the basic prerequisite for us is opening internal traffic and the issue of borders, especially for our important auto-destinations. Ultimately, we still have facilities that work like some hotels.

Among other things, we will also propose that in hotels, every third or fourth room would be open to guests. With the guests leaving, they would be left empty for a few days to be cleaned and disinfected according to the recommendations of the epidemiologist. At that time, a part of the rooms that were previously empty would be used; therefore, at any one time, a third or a quarter of the capacity would be available. Basically, there will be a lot of work to be done on security. One of our suggestions will also be to be among the first to open travel agencies where there will certainly be no invasion and I do not see a problem for tourists to enter the space one by one. Or into tourist boards. Also, we need to be aware that when things are up and runnning, there will not be five people at the table, but two, that not every table will be available, but every second or third. These are all suggestions we are putting on paper and are sitting down with epidemiologists to see what can be done and how. The reality is that it will be good to start anything. But I see that the experts have responded positively to this and want to talk about trying to do something at least. In this regard, we will send our proposal to the Government within a few days."

You have been analyzing a drop in traffic of 60, then 75, and in the worst case, more than 90 percent. While there is currently nothing to forecast, what are your reasonable expectations?

"We hold that at the moment, it may be the most realistic drop of 75 percent. So, to be able to accomplish 25 percent or less of last year's activities. I'm not ominous, but as the Prime Minister said, we want to speak very clearly and openly. Therefore, very frankly, if I expect business activity, then I expect it only after August 1, primarily in the domestic market, and it will be good if there are foreign guests at all. Certainly, foreign owners of houses and vessels on the Adriatic will have the most interest, be they Austrians, Slovenes, Germans, Hungarians or Czechs. They will be the first to look to Croatia. Information from the field, specifically from the marinas, indicates that foreign owners gave orders to take their ships out and prepare for navigation as if they were coming to the Adriatic. And maybe something positive can be done with charter people. Namely, the guest comes directly to the marina, to the ship with a car, and does not have to enter any marina at all. But all this clearly depends on other countries and their rules on leaving the country, returning to the country and the like. We cannot influence it, and I have no illusions here."

You have said that this year, the most is expected of local guests if the movement of people is allowed.

"In 2019, we had about 2.2 million arrivals in commercial accommodation with domestic guests, and from these data, it can be seen that the percentage of domestic guests was still negligible - about 12 percent. If we are talking about tourist overnights, we are talking about some 7.3 million commercial overnights of domestic guests. Clearly, in camps, for example, they were small, about four percent, while most were recorded in family accommodation."

What measures are being prepared for local guests? Like the Cro card?

"The Cro card, which is something that we have already prepared in the previous circumstances, will be reprogrammed and we will try to help the domestic market. So, the card is almost ready to be used, say from July. Namely, it is difficult to say that anything will go before that, it is much more realistic to talk about August and September as far as domestic guests are concerned. However, the card will be ready in any case. We will reprogram it so that it can be used in restaurants, hotels, private accommodation as well as agencies. Therefore, agencies will also be able to do certain programs, clearly for Croatia. You can use the Cro card explicitly for payment in Croatia and not for payment abroad."

What is the burden on the tourism sector through the two rounds of government-supported economic assistance measures?

"It is difficult to say how much is on tourism itself, given that it is a horizontal measure covering other activities. For example, if we take the Permanent Seasonal measure, which will continue to go at 3 plus 3 months, we are talking about HRK 11 million in just one month. So, everyone who was supposed to start work on April 1 because their six months at the Institute expired, will get three more months of entitlement, and then probably, if necessary, three more months. There were a lot of questions about job conservation measures. All those employers who made redundancies, and when they saw that the four thousand kuna plus payroll relief was very good, they asked if they could get those people back into employment. We said they could, with people having to get contracts permanently. So, we allowed them to give back to people, which is especially important. Otherwise, virtually all tourism is under job preservation measures because it simply falls more than 50 percent. This is one measure that made the most to save tourism because not only is there no traffic, but we also have a work ban. Among the measures, there are also deferrals of student scholarships for businesses. We continue to pay our share, but hoteliers do not have to now. Then they measure the concession on tourist land in the campsites and others."

A new law defining the issue of tourist land is coming to Parliament for a second reading soon, which is considered much better than the previous one. What does it entail?

"This Law is one of the most important foundations for future investments. If it were not for the corona situation, this would certainly be the most important thing for tourism at this time, given that it addresses the issue of tourist land that no one has been able to solve for decades. It is estimated that, by addressing this issue, we are opening up the possibility of three to five billion kuna in investments. No one believed that we would succeed and that the Law would be passed by May."

The sector also points to the cost-effectiveness coefficient at which some campsites will pay less for tourist land. 

"Let's take, for example, that a camper travels to a camp in Dubrovnik. He will spend one day staying in Istria or Kvarner and the trip alone will cost him more than staying in the northern Adriatic. Istria has 70 percent of the campsites, but that does not mean that we cannot help the development of camping offers in the south. We will also reduce camp fees on the islands, which, in my opinion, is realistic, given how much more it costs a camper to go to an island. We tried to balance these circumstances, but here, very soon, there will be opportunities in the Croatian Parliament to change things. But I think after the first reading, there was a consensus and we were able to find a balance. And again, no one has been able to solve the issue of the co-ownership community so far, nor that no one has paid anything for years, and that if it had been invested, it was not known what was being invested since the land was not from the camp."

What about HBOR lending? How much money is available to loan, how and who can get it?

"This is a measure we are implementing right through the Ministry of Tourism. We had certain funds that we have so far placed through the Competitiveness of the Tourist Economy (KTG) program, for which we have announced a competition every year. This year, HRK 26 million has been secured for this purpose, which this time we will pay to HBOR, thus practically subsidizing the entire interest on the loans. Loans to be distributed are worth HRK 600 million interest-free for up to three years. And if one does not manage to repay the principal in those three years, they have the right to extend the additional two years with a minimum interest rate of 1 to 1.5 percent."

Who will be able to use these loans?

"Small and medium-sized enterprises. So, for example, a small family-run hotel can run into liquidity when it goes back to work after a few months without income, and there is no money to buy groceries and generally supply and pay some obligations. As far as users are concerned, we have been looking at encompassing these, let's just say, medium-sized entrepreneurs. Namely, HAMAG-Bicro gives smaller loans, up to 25,000 euro, so we watched these loans amount to 100,000 euro or more. So we also covered these higher amounts. Small hotels have always been in the gap. With these loans, we wanted to save that part of small hotels, namely, hoteliers used to take out loans at the time, with relatively high-interest rates, and now they are in trouble because they have not been paid back and have no traffic, so we give them a chance to survive. And of course, we will talk about those old credits as well, is there anything that can be rescheduled."

When might these funds be available?

"We will receive requests safely by the end of the month, and if they are of good quality, some will be able to get funds by that deadline."

Renters as individuals are not in this arrangement?

"Private renters can apply for high-quality other credit lines. After all, we also subsidize the reclassification loan we have negotiated with banks. With that, we delayed the categorization by one year. We have written off the residence tax to the renters for six months, delayed the payment of the membership fee because it enters into the General Tax Law and it will be a topic of discussion when discussing para-fiscal levies. The flat-rate income tax for the second quarter was then written off, and the first quarter had to be postponed until March 30."

So, anyone who asked for the delay on March 31 is too late?

"They are late. I know that in some Field Tax Authorities, the interpretation was different, but the last day to report was March 30. Otherwise, as far as the measures are concerned, we will see how the situation will develop further and, if necessary, respond further."

Many will say that family accommodation may be the biggest hit in this situation. While it is difficult to predict anything, what do you expect, how will this segment sustain itself?

"In my opinion, private accommodation, nautical charter, and campsites are something that should be started first. When they decide to come, guests will first and foremost look at security, isolation, and quality. Also, foreigners who will come, that is, if the borders are open, will primarily seek security. Therefore, access to maintenance, or cleaning and disinfection, will be very important, we will have to give additional security to the guest that this apartment or holiday home has been prepared in accordance with the epidemiologist's orders. They will need to have an additional card, that is, a label, a card in two or three languages that the disinfection is really made according to the instructions of the expert services. That card will be in the apartment and we will sign it to guarantee that everything is done right."

In the end, what would you say to tourism workers in these unprecedented circumstances?

"That both public and private sectors are on the same wavelength. Our goal now is primarily to preserve those 'glass legs'. Our goal is to preserve it at least, to keep the system alive, and to try to get there by April or May next year. All that will happen in the meantime is a reward for patience, perseverance and quality and all that we will do in tourism to welcome next year. And I say again, both the public and private sectors are together. I am glad that all associations have recognized that we have done the best we can at this moment. There is still room for nautical charter, there is debate, say, about the extent of maritime concessions. If we find a solution to forgive one part of the obligations, then the charterers pay fewer concessions and have the additional benefit that will be good for them. So, we continue to discuss everything that we may not have elaborated and covered in the two phases."

How much space is left for further relief?

"Even the richer countries than us did not have such measures. We cannot, of course, compare ourselves to superpowers like Germany, but in many measures, we have come very close. And there is still debate about lifting some parafiscal taxes and the like. I can add that right now, it is clear how important it was to stabilize public finances. Having a responsible and quality fiscal and monetary policy has allowed us to make all these measures. And if we were in the eurozone now, we could have substantiated them even better. So patience and health come first. Ultimately, Croatia's health policy is already recognized internationally as one of the most rigid and restrictive in this situation. Likewise, in all TOMAS surveys of our guests' attitudes, nature and safety have always been emphasized as our strengths.

In this case, as well, potential guests will recognize Croatia as a safe country, because of all the countries of the European Union, we have taken the most serious approach to the safety and health protection of both our people and foreigners who found themselves here during the pandemic. After all, we still have foreigners living here in their homes, instead of in their own countries, because they feel safer here. This will now be our advantage, the safety of the public health system that has proven itself in this situation. With, for example, the fact that we are an auto-destination."

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Tourism Minister: Czech Tourist Arrivals Depend on More Than One Factor

ZAGREB, April 16, 2020 – Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli said on Thursday that the arrival of Czech tourists in Croatia would not depend only on their wishes or on the Croatian tourism sector but also on decisions to be made by national COVID-19 crisis management teams and governments.

In his comment on the Jutarnji List daily's report that Czech travel agencies have proposed the establishment of air and road corridors for healthy tourists who will not have to self-isolate upon arrival in Croatia or their return home, the minister explained that about 200 travel agencies that had made this proposal were trying to do something in the current circumstances.

The newspaper underscores that an association of Czech tour operators has recently sent a proposal to the government in Prague, suggesting that Czech citizens who get the confirmation from the authorities that they are healthy and negative for COVID-19 be allowed to travel to destinations with low rates of the coronavirus infection, such as Croatia and Slovenia.

Those agencies, just as anyone else, do not have much space for business and travel. It is the easiest for them to come to seaside destinations in Croatia, where they had good business results and booking arrangements. Whether they will manage to implement those proposals does not depend only on us but also on other countries, Cappelli said.

He added that similar suggestions could be expected from Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, primarily from their citizens who own boats and summer houses in Croatia.

The minister said that those property owners would likely be the first visitors after the corona crisis.

Cappelli finds it important that Croatia "sends good signals from its healthcare system. The country has possibly imposed the most rigid measures but it is also the safest."

More news about Croatian tourism can be found in the Travel section.

Monday, 6 April 2020

Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli on What Awaits Croatia in 2020

April 6, 2020 - Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli talks about what awaits Croatian tourism in 2020. 

In the past few days, the eyes of hundreds of thousands of people in the country have been hooked on the Ministry of Tourism and the Croatian Government in anticipation of financial assistance and relief that will make it easier for them to survive the (non) tourist business year.

Because, apart from the fact that, in Croatia, every fifth kuna comes from tourism spending, the country has about one hundred thousand employees in the sector, and another 108 thousand families engaged in family rentals. There are also some fifty thousand who earn their salaries in the hospitality industry, and who knows how many other services that are directly or indirectly related to the profits from tourism.

All of them are on the same side in the tourist supply and demand chain in Croatia. Because not only is the season a success for tourist workers, but every hairdresser is hoping for a good season, because if their clients do not make money, they will not get their hair done. The same goes for the butcher, the furniture dealer, the pedicurist, the friend who pays the mobile operator, the carpenters, the souvenir and car salespeople, and the colleague who works at the bank.

With this thinking in mind, and while preparing for another fruitful tourist year, which began well with bookings, the news of the coronavirus pandemic threatened tourism for the first time since the war.

There is still no answer to the uncertainty that hit us one month ago, and we can’t say what this year's tourist season holds - or if it will be held at all. 

Thus, Slobodna Dalmacija interviewed Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli to find out more.

The international travel market is completely dead. What information and estimates on the duration of the crisis do you receive from our representatives and partners abroad, how long could it last?

“We are in contact with our seventeen representative offices of the Croatian National Tourist Board all the time, and we receive reports daily. We are also involved in international tourism organizations, with several videoconferences. As the World Tourism Organization has announced, the expected decline globally is 30 percent.

We know how important tourism is for many national economies, and the coronavirus pandemic has directly impacted the tourism sector. Travels from China dropped sharply in January and February, expanding to the rest of the world in February and March. The tourism economy is now stalled in many countries around the world and is likely to remain so until at least the middle of this year.

Restrictive measures are in place, and even when tourism supply chains start functioning again, the recovery will take some time, given the interconnected effects of the economic and health crisis and the gradual lifting of travel restrictions. This will have great consequences for many national economies."

There is an ongoing cancellation of arrivals even for the main season or bookings postponed to 2021. Do you think that the Croatian Government's measures will enable the tourism sector to survive this business year?

“It is currently understood that bookings have stopped and bookings for the following period are canceled. We must also look at it from the point of view of safety and health protection, and not primarily through the loss of tourist traffic. At this point, long-term assessments are difficult to determine, given the unanticipated course of the coronavirus pandemic development.

The package of measures of the Croatian Government for the economy is worth tens of billions of kuna, and the measures apply to all departments that need intervention in this situation. A large part of the measures relates to the preservation of liquidity and the preservation of jobs.

We are aware of the fact that the tourism sector has been significantly affected by this pandemic and, therefore, we have hastened to devise and adopt measures that we believe will help overcome this challenging period. It is important to note that the Ministry of Tourism and the Croatian Government will continue to take short, medium and long-term measures to minimize the effects and impact of the current situation on tourism and other economic segments."

What are the specific measures of the Croatian Government intended explicitly for tourism and how much will it help the sector?

“Measures include, among other things, securing loans for liquidity and working capital, introducing a moratorium on credit obligations, and establishing a new financial instrument, COVID-19 Loans, for working capital for small and medium-sized enterprises. The Ministry of Tourism introduced a deferral of payment of the tourist tax as part of the Government's measures, while the Ministry of Finance made it possible to defer the payment of a flat-rate income tax through amendments to the General Tax Law.

In addition, the payment of the concession fee on tourist land co-owned by the Republic of Croatia is postponed to mitigate the first financial impact on the tourism sector."

What is the overall financial burden on the sector through the most important measures?

“The relief from the tourist tax is estimated at HRK 164 million, while the exemption from paying the variable part of the concession fee will relieve the tourism sector by about HRK 15 million. Furthermore, within the measures of the Ministry of Labor and the Pension System, the duration of the “permanent season” measure is extended so that seasonal workers receiving off-season benefits do not lose their jobs.

To extend this measure, the state will provide HRK 11.5 million, and the measure includes about five thousand permanent seasonal workers in tourism and agriculture."

At this time of crisis, a public pandemic sometimes gives the impression that tourism is being marginalized over some other industries that are being touted as more important. Is that correct?

“Tourism is a sector that accounts for almost 20 percent of Croatia's GDP and, in addition, is a horizontal industry that provides revenue and jobs to a number of related industries. Therefore, together with other sectors in the Croatian Government, we will find the right balance of measures for all sectors affected by the current crisis, and tourism will certainly receive the deserved place and the help it needs to overcome the current state and the period that follows after the crisis."

Are you satisfied with the cooperation of professional tourism associations with the Ministry and how do you communicate during this crisis?

“In such crises, frequent interaction between the public and private sectors is needed to act promptly. I believe that the entire tourism sector supports the efforts made so far to overcome the economic and other challenges as effectively as possible.

We are continually receiving valuable suggestions for overcoming this situation by various professional associations active in the tourism sector, and we are constantly reviewing and trying to incorporate the legislative changes and economic measures of the Croatian Government, which will be adopted in several circles."

What would you say to family renters who have already mentioned in a survey that they lost about 50k in this year and fear the losses will be much higher?

“Household accommodation accounts for the largest share of the Croatian tourism accommodation offer and, therefore, private renters are essential stakeholders in our sector. I believe that a lot of them have lately lent themselves to invest in increasing quality and expanding their supply. With the turnover and revenues we have generated in recent years, such an investment has been logical and sustainable

However, in times of financial crises such as this one certainly is, the tourism sector is always one of the first to suffer, but experience has also shown that it is among the first to recover. Moreover, tourism is said to be the driver of economic development after the crisis. Therefore, we have abolished the payment of half the amount of the annual lump sum of tourist tax for basic beds and the whole amount of lump sum for extra beds to the persons providing catering services in households and on farms.

In addition, the Croatian Government will do everything possible to free the sector of all benefits, to provide a moratorium on loan repayments, etc., so that private accommodation will be that generator of growth after these troubles."

In the current situation, many think about the time after the pandemic, and the solution is seen in domestic tourism. How realistic is this in a position where half a million employees in the country are at minimum wage?

"Croatia, headed by the Civil Protection Headquarters, manages the emerging health situation well and, despite a further increase in the number of patients, the spread of the infection is under control, which means that we have prepared better than many European countries.

I believe that Croatia is still a safe country, and I believe that, after the health crisis and the gradual loosening of restrictions on work and movement, Croats will be able to spend at least part of their holidays at sea or in the continental part of our country.

As for their consumption, it is difficult to predict how much it will be. This will depend on the scale of the latest economic crisis we are currently in, and it is very difficult to estimate how long it will take."

Will the government encourage vouchers or otherwise promote domestic travel and the recovery of the sector after the pandemic?

“We have prepared projects such as the already widely known Croatian Tourist Card (CRO card) and the action "A Week Off is Worth It", which, unfortunately, was put to rest due to the coronavirus pandemic. All the necessary remodeling for both projects aimed at stimulating domestic tourist consumption has been completed, and I believe we will be able to use them to encourage domestic travel after the normal tourist flows are restored.

In addition, the amendments to the Law on the Provision of Tourism Services gave the Minister the power to regulate in the circumstances of special circumstances. Thus, this means terminating travel contracts in a package arrangement in such a way that tourist agencies may offer vouchers to be secured insurance policy, instead of refunding for unrealized travel."

Do you think that the position of Croatia and the fact that we are an easy-to-reach destination by car will be our trump card in the recovery of tourism?

“I still sincerely hope that we can make up at least part of the tourist season. If so, if the situation calms down, the rest of the tourist year will be marked by "last-minute" trips. In such a scenario, it will certainly help us to be close to our most significant markets. But in addition, our reputation and recognition that we have built in recent years will also help us, and it is primarily about hospitality, safety, quality and nature conservation."

The Croatian National Tourist Board system is financed almost exclusively by membership fees and tourist tax, which will not be paid in the next 3 + 3 months. Many tourist boards are already empty accounts. How will they be helped to survive without a basic income?

“Given the measures adopted by the Croatian Government to assist the economy, which partly relate to the delays in paying tourist membership fees and tourist fees, we have taken certain steps and arrangements with the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development regarding securing funds for the liquidity of the tourist boards system.

HBOR will enable the monitoring of legal entities under the program Sustainable Current Assets through commercial banks. In preparing the new measures, HBOR will take care of the tourist boards and include them in the eligible legal entities for financing under the Risk Sharing Model together with commercial banks, as well as for potential direct funding."

The responsibility to lend to the tourist boards will lie with the presidents of the tourist boards, i.e., the prefects, mayors, counties?

“Amendments to the Law on Tourist Boards and Promotion of Croatian Tourism, adopted at a cabinet session Thursday, enabled higher financial borrowing by tourist boards in times of special circumstances, and Tourist Board presidents will decide on the amount they need to borrow to maintain work.

Amendments to the same Act also gave the Minister the power to determine by an ordinance an amount that could be used for the salary costs of employees in the tourist board, which had hitherto been limited to 40 percent of income."

If you were a casual tourist worker currently without traffic and income, what would you say to Minister Cappelli at this point, what is the most important thing to do?

“The most important thing is to ensure the retention of jobs and the liquidity of companies and trades in the tourism sector so that they can resume work as soon as possible after the crisis. In addition, it takes a lot of patience, concern for the health of everyone in the sector, and the conviction that we will emerge even stronger from this situation, with new experiences to overcome difficulties."

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Minister: Tourism Revenue to Continue Dropping Due to Pandemic!

ZAGREB, April 1, 2020 - Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli has said that last year's increase in tourism revenue of 11% is as expected as 2019 was a good year for tourism, and that the drop in revenue in the hospitality sector in the last month is as expected as well, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and closed tourist facilities.

In a telephone interview with Hina on Wednesday, Cappelli said that he could not predict how long the current situation would last.

Commenting on the latest information from the tax authority's fiscalisation system, which shows a major year-on-year drop in the number of invoices issued and amounts in the accommodation and food preparation and serving activity in the last month (February 2 to March 29), of 37% and 41% respectively, the minister said that the decreases were as expected, as was a 96% drop in invoices issued in the last week (March 23-29) and a 93% drop in the amount of invoices issued, compared to the same period of last year.

The current situation will continue until tourism facilities, now closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, reopen, the minister said, noting that some hotels were working and that some restaurant owners were trying to survive by delivering food.

"What we all can do is try to save jobs, which is the purpose of both the first set of economic measures proposed by the government and the second set which is to be adopted by the government tomorrow," said Cappelli.

He repeated that accommodation facilities could receive guests and serve food to them but on the condition of compliance with prescribed measures of social distance.

The minister said that popular pre-season destinations such as Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Split and Opatija were already suffering losses.

Speaking of possible scenarios for this year's season, Cappelli said that the most likely one was a 75% drop in overnight stays, on the condition some of the tourist turnover is compensated for in August, September, October and the period until the end of the year.

Should that not be possible due to the continuation of the pandemic, overnight stays could drop by as much as 90%, the minister said, expressing hope that that would not happen.

More tourism news can be found in the Travel section.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Croatian Tourism Ministry Provides 25 Million Kuna for Public Tourism Infrastructure

February 15, 2020 - The Croatian Tourism Ministry has issued a public call for grants under the 2020 Public Tourism Infrastructure Development Program, for which up to 25 million kuna has been earmarked for local and regional self-government units. The public invitation is open until May 1, 2020.

HRturizam reports that the program will co-finance projects for the development of marine and other swimming areas, the continuation of construction, upgrading, reconstruction, or renovation, as well as multimedia equipment for visitors and interpretation centers and public tourist infrastructure in the function of active tourism.

“Sustainable tourism is based on quality management of all segments within the destination, not only tourist offers and products but also tourist and other public infrastructure. That is why, through this program, we want to continuously encourage investments in creating a new attraction base and more even spatial distribution of demand. This Government has so far co-financed 267 projects through this program with almost 90 million kuna, and I believe that this year many projects will be prepared through this program that will increase the tourist attractiveness of destinations. Thus the competitiveness of all Croatian tourism,” stressed Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli.

For beach projects, the minimum amount of support is 200,000.00 kuna and the maximum is 1,000,000.00 kuna. To co-finance the continuation of Visitor Centers and Interpretation Centers, the amount ranges from a minimum of 100,000.00 to a maximum of 1,000,000.00 kuna.

The Croatian Tourism Ministry continues to co-finance the design and designation of existing and new cycling tourism, pedestrian and riding routes, procuring and installing bicycle repair service stations, procuring and installing bicycle movement/traffic counters, and arranging cycling tourist rest areas/lookouts on cycling tourism routes. The funds are intended for units of regional self-government - counties. The minimum amount of support is 100,000.00 kuna and the maximum is 500,000.00 kuna per project.

The Croatian Tourism Ministry co-finances up to 80 percent or 90 percent of the eligible/acceptable costs of implementing an individual project. The maximum amount of co-financing will depend on the index of development of local and regional self-government units.

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Tourism Ministry to Support Cycling Tourism in Continental Croatia

ZAGREB, February 10 2020 - The Ministry for Tourism is inviting applications for grants until March 13 to allocate 5 million kuna in total for development of cycling tourism in continental Croatia, and eligible applicants include local government units from the 14 continental counties, the ministry has announced.

The funds are to be allocated from a programme for developing cycling tourism on the continent in 2020.

The Minister of Tourism Gari Cappelli says that increasing the tourism potential of continental Croatia contributes to a more even development of tourism in the country, and biking tourism, along with food tourism and health tourism, represents a highly attractive product.

"Those products are especially important for continental Croatia, which has all the prerequisites for stronger tourism positioning. Apart from that, biking tourism attracts visitors throughout the whole year, and it emphasises both the natural and the cultural heritage of particular destinations, promoting both sustainability and conservation, which is one of the basis for the further development of tourism in Croatia," the minister has said when grant applications were invited.

The ministry is co-funding around 90% of eligible costs for the implementation of an individual project. The minimum grant amounts to 100,000 kuna, and the maximum to 500,000 kuna.

The ministry notes that they have already co-financed the drafting of operational plans for cycling tourism in the 14 continental counties in 2017, and they point out the fact that the project has sparked considerable interest in all continental counties during the last 3 years, causing all of them to make a considerable step forward in developing that type of tourism.

More tourism news can be found in the Travel section.

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Stronger Together: Porec Riviera Tourist Board to be Established

February 8, 2020 - The first session of the Commission for the Association of Tourist Boards was held at the Ministry of Tourism to discuss the ten groups of tourist boards that applied and sought consent for the association. Porec Riviera is one of them. 

Glas Istre reports that the Commission considered the submitted request for the Porec Riviera, which includes the Tourist Board of the City of Porec, and the Tourist Board of the municipalities of Tar-Vabriga, Kastelir-Labinci, Vizinada, and Visnjan.

Namely, based on the Law on Tourist Communities and Promotion of Croatian Tourism, which was adopted in May 2019, the system of tourist boards is being restructured to encourage the association of tourist boards and their establishment in the area of more units of local or regional self-government. To this end, the Fund for Associated Tourist Boards was established, which receives funds from the paid tourist tax and membership fees.

“I am very pleased that the potentials and benefits of the association have been recognized by numerous tourist boards, which together will be able to work even better on the development of tourism products and promotional activities. Destinations in Croatia can no longer be considered as one place, tourism goes beyond administrative boundaries, so we have made legislative changes to allow the joint presentation and development of destinations that, although special in their own way, make up one whole, that is, a rounded tourist story,” said the Minister of Tourism, Gary Cappelli, at the committee meeting.

HRTurizam reported that the Committee also considered proposals for the association of the Gorski Kotar Tourist Board, which includes the towns and municipalities of Brod Moravice, Cabar, Delnice, Fuzine, Lokve, Mrkopalj, Ravnu Goru, Skrad and Vrbovsko, the Virovitica ring that encompasses the municipalities of Lukac, Spisic Bukovica and Gradina. There was also a request from the Tourist Board of the Municipality of Pitomaca and Suhopolje and the City of Virovitica, and Slavonia near the Sava, which includes tourist boards of the cities of Slavonski Brod, Nova Gradiska, Zupanja, tourist boards of the municipalities of Babina greda and Oriovac, as well as the municipalities of Bosnjaci, Cerna, Davor, Drenovci, Gornja Vrba, Gradiste, Gunja, Klakar, Oprisavci, Sikirevci, Slavonski Samac, Stara Gradiska, Stitar and Vrbje.

Furthermore, the Committee considered the submitted requests for the Tourist Board of Cres and Mali Losinj, which includes the tourist boards of the cities of Cres and Mali Losinj, the Tourist Board of the Crikvenica-Vinodol Riviera, which includes the tourist boards of the cities of Crikvenica and Novi Vinodolski, and the Tourist Board of the Vinodol municipality, and Rijeka which includes the tourist boards of the cities of Rijeka, Bakra, Kastav, Kraljevica and the tourist boards of the municipalities of Cavle, Jelenje, Kostrena and Viskovo. It also included one for the island of Pag that includes tourist boards of the cities of Novalja and Pag, and Stara Novalja, a tourist board of the municipalities of Kolan and Povljana, a tourist board of the island of Murter that includes the municipalities of Murter-Kornati and Tisno and tourist boards members of Betina and Jezera, and the Hvar Island Tourist Board, which includes the cities of Hvar and Stari Grad, and the municipalities of Jelsa, Sucuraj and the Vrboska Tourist Board.

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Tourist Trade Between Croatia and Spain to Be Improved

ZAGREB, January 22, 2020 - Croatia is a popular travel destination in Spain, and tourist trade might rise with the opening of the Croatian National Tourism Board (HTZ) office in Madrid this year and with the introduction of new air routes, Croatian Minister of Tourism Gari Cappelli said on Tuesday.

During his official visit to Spain, Cappelli met his Spanish counterpart Maria Reyes Maroto Illera. The meeting at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism in Madrid was also attended by Croatia's Ambassador to Spain, Nives Malenica, the Croatian Ministry of Tourism said in a statement.

On that occasion, Capelli presented Croatia's European Commission Presidency priorities in the tourism sector, including advocating policies for responsible and sustainable development with emphasis on encouraging diversification of tourism supply and development of areas with underdeveloped tourism.

He emphasised the importance of using information and communication technologies, the digitisation of the tourism system, and of establishing a common EU regulation for digital platforms providing tourist services.

In addition, he presented Croatia's initiative for establishing an EU tourism brand for the joint promotion of member states on distant markets, inviting Spain to join the initiative and support a more favourable positioning of tourism within EU policies and institutions. Cappelli emphasised the importance of cooperation in absorbing EU funds for developing small and medium-sized tourism enterprises.

It was also pointed out that Croatia is a popular tourist destination in Spain, as confirmed by figures: in 2019, compared with 2018, there was an 8.4% increase in the number of tourists from Spain and a 10.4% increase in overnight stays made by Spanish tourists.

"I believe that the tourist exchange will grow further with this year's reopening of the Croatian National Tourism Board office in Madrid. The office will be located within the Croatian Embassy, in order to cut costs. A very important factor in establishing an even stronger connection between the two countries is the direct flight connection, which is improving from year to year, and at this moment, during the winter timetable, there are three airlines flying three air routes between Croatia and Spain," said Cappelli, who expects a regular daily flight service between Zagreb and Madrid to be established in the future.

More news about relations between Croatia and Spain can be found in the Politics section.

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