Sunday, 15 May 2022

Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac and Jadrolinija Management Meet

May the 15th, 2022 - Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac and the Jadrolinija management board's representatives have come together as the height of the summer tourist season rapidly approaches.

As Morski writes, representatives of the Jadroilinija management board met recently at the National and University Library in Zagreb with the Minister of Tourism and Sport, Nikolina Brnjac. The meeting was held as we're now approaching the main part of the tourist year, and Minister Brnjac commented on the current tourist results and expectations from the main summer season.

Along with the President of the Jadrolinija management board, David Sopta, the meeting was attended by various representatives of the Croatian tourism sector, including members of the Croatian Tourist Board and the Council for the Recovery and Development of Tourism, as well as representatives of hotel groups and other professional associations.

''The beginning of 2022 showed an increase in the number of transported passengers and vehicles on national and international lines compared to the same period in 2021. Participating in several tourism events, increased interest in our lines was noticed, so we're very optimistic about the recovery of the market and the return of group tourist trips,'' said the President of the Management Board of Jadrolinija at the meeting.

''The results so far testify that this year we've prepared well and taken all of the necessary activities to strengthen and upgrade the position of Croatia as a desirable tourist destination with high quality and a diverse offer. It's even more important that our emitting markets increasingly recognise Croatia as a year-round destination, which is an important component in the development of the sustainability of Croatian tourism.

When we talk about the value of fiscalised receipts issued for the first four months of this year, we can be very satisfied because on average each month had an increase of 10 percent compared to the same period back during pre-pandemic 2019,'' said Minister Nikolina Brnjac, adding that she believes such good results are set to continue throughout the height of 2022's summer season when we realise 70 percent of 2019's total tourist traffic and 63 percent of that same year's total revenues.

Representatives of the tourism sector said that the demand for Croatia has been extremely good, that the country is one of the leading holiday destinations in its main emitting markets and that they believe that this summer season will continue to yield good results with continued cooperation between the Croatian Government and the entire sector.

According to the Tax Administration, in the first four months of 2022, a total of 5 billion and 457 million kuna in fiscal receipts were realised, which is 170 percent more than in the same period last year, and when compared to the first four months of 2019, the value stands at an encouraging ​​11 percent higher.

So far, more than 1.9 million arrivals and 6.2 million overnight stays have been realised across Croatia, ie 172 percent more arrivals and 154 percent more overnight stays compared to the same period back in 2021.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Foreign Tourists Generate €9.1bn In Revenue Last Year

ZAGREB, 31 March 2022 - Foreign tourists generated €9.1 billion in revenue in 2021, up 89% in 2020 and, it was equivalent to 87% of the revenue they generated in the record year 2019, the Tourism Ministry said on Thursday, citing Croatian National Bank data.

"We are extremely pleased with these results," Minister Nikolina Brnjac said. "Thanks to the government's measures and a good preparation by the whole sector, we have kept the tourism system stable."

She sees that as a confirmation of the big demand for quality tourism products and services, saying that the focus on quality and responsible business can ensure long-term success.

The ministry also cited the central bank's data for Q4 2021, when foreign tourists generated HRK 1.8 billion (€240 million) in revenue, up 116% on the year, and it was equivalent to 91% of the revenue they generated in Q4 2019.

Business: For more, check out our business section.

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

Digital Nomads Are an Interesting Niche for Croatian Tourism, Says Minister

February 15, 2022 - Minister of Tourism Nikolina Brnjac talked in Buzet with Mayor Damir Kajin about the importance of uniting tourist communities and the development and potential of year-round tourism with an emphasis on digital nomads, who increasingly recognize the interior of Istria as an ideal destination for their stay.

Stating that the focus during the talks was on the importance of uniting tourist communities, which Istria quickly recognized as important, Minister Brnjac said that tourist unions have the opportunity to use funds more efficiently, but also to better manage tourist destinations, reports Index.hr

"In this way, we contribute not only to a stronger recognition of tourist destinations but also to the creation of a system of sustainable and resilient tourism, which is important to all of us," said Minister Nikolina Brnjac.

Development of tourism products

She states that in the last two years the association of tourist boards has reduced their number at the level of cities and municipalities and that in 2022 more than 12 million kuna will be available from the Fund for United Tourist Boards for projects of joint tourist boards.

She reminded that back in 1997 the tourist boards of the City of Pazin, the municipalities of Sveti Lovreč, Cerovlje, Gračišće, Karojba, Lupoglav, Sveti Petar u Šumi, Pićan, and Tinjan formally united under the name "Central Istria" and the slogan "Authentic Istria", and they were recently joined on a project basis by the tourist boards of Buzet, Barban, Žminj, Svetvincenat, and Kanfanar.

The goal is the joint implementation of one or more activities aimed at developing a tourist product and promoting destinations in the segment of enogastronomy, active tourism, and cultural, historical, and natural attractions.

Digital nomads

The Minister also referred to digital nomadism as an interesting niche for Croatian tourism because nomads are not seasonal, but year-round guests and their interests are diverse and not necessarily related to the sea and the sun. 

At today's meeting in Buzet, they also discussed the importance of developing sustainable, year-round tourism, the new Sustainable Tourism Development Strategy until 2030, and the possibilities of co-financing projects from the mechanisms of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. 

As it was heard today, in the County of Istria in the previous part of 2022 there were 115 percent more arrivals and 71 percent more overnight stays than in the same period in 2021, and compared to the same period in 2019, there were 5 percent more arrivals and 13 percent more overnight stays.

In Buzet, 115 percent more arrivals and 71 percent more overnight stays than in the same period in 2021, and 5 percent more arrivals and 13 percent more overnight stays than in the same period in 2019.

For more information about digital nomads in Croatia, click here.

Thursday, 3 February 2022

Minister Says Bookings in Tourism Sector Good, Vaccination Rate Must Be Higher

ZAGREB, 3 Feb 2022 - Minister Nikolina Brnjac and tourism sector representatives warned on Thursday about the need to have a higher rate of vaccination against COVID-19 in the country, calling on the sector and other stakeholders to be responsible so as to maintain the current good situation with bookings.

The tourism minister and officials said this after this year's first session of the Council for Tourism Development and Recovery, at which Brnjac informed sector representatives about work on a new tourism strategy and new developments regarding labor.

Brnjac said a new online system for the registration and import of workers would be put into operation on 1 March, which would expedite the process.

Speaking of the new rules of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), on which a country's color now also depends on the vaccination rate, Brnjac said that the vaccination rate in the Mediterranean is already much higher than in Croatia.

"Even though the vaccination rate in the tourism sector is around 70% and the sector was among the first to respond to the vaccination campaign, we call for maintaining a responsible approach because it is vital to avoid ending up as a dark red zone," she said.

Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) assistant director Marija Bubaš said that all EU countries were now dark red on the ECDC map but that most that had a higher vaccination rate were expected to see a larger drop in infections than Croatia.

Hoteliers worried despite good booking

Even though the situation with bookings for this year's tourist season, notably summer, is good, the head of the Hoteliers Association at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), Josipa Jutt Ferlan, said hoteliers were worried about the increase in infections as well as the rising energy and other prices.

"We are actually again back to square one and we hope that all our efforts to fight the pandemic will not go to waste. One should really work on raising the awareness that the vaccination rate is insufficient and needs to be higher. That is why it is still too early to say if the start of the tourist season will be good or not," she said.

The head of the UHPA association of travel agencies, Tomislav Fain, said that the booking for this season was good and even better than for 2019, but he, too, warned that agency and other bookings in tourism and travel, in general, depend much on rules restricting travel, calling for making those rules uniform.

H​​​e also thanked the government for continuing its job-keeping support for travel agencies.

For more, check out our politics section.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Tuesday, 11 January 2022

Croatian Festive Tourism Results Give Hope as Zagreb Continues to Lead

January the 11th, 2022 - Croatian festive tourism results are allowing for the thought that this summer season could be the comeback for what we've missed over the last couple of pandemic-dominated tourist seasons, despite how remarkably well summer 2021 turned out. Zagreb, famous for its Advent in Zagreb offer, is still in the lead when it comes to winter tourism.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, although the situation with the coronavirus pandemic in Croatia and the immediate region isn't exactly encouraging at this moment in time, in December and during the winter festive period, the positive trend for Croatian festive tourism results continued, even in Zagreb, which was all but empty and rather sad looking during the last Advent in Zagreb.

As the Croatian Tourist Board (CNTB) reported on Friday, the Christmas and New Year period brought Croatia three times more tourist traffic than it did the year before, although this is a quarter less than before the pandemic. From December the 24th, 2021 to January the 6th, the country welcomed 144,000 arrivals of people who realised an impressive 424,000 overnight stays, which is three times more arrivals with 190 percent more overnight stays than we saw last winter.

Istria, Kvarner and Split

Most overnight stays realised down on the coast took place in Istria, Kvarner and in Split-Dalmatia County, while on the continent most were recorded in the City of Zagreb, which also had best Croatian festive tourism results in terms of traffic. Behind Zagreb are Opatija, Rovinj, Dubrovnik, Split and Zadar.

Most of these overnight stays were realised by domestic guests, followed by Austrians, Slovenes and Germans. In that period alone, Zagreb was visited by about 30,000 tourists who realised 72,500 overnight stays, while back in December, Zagreb recorded a turnover of 74,000 arrivals and 161,000 overnight stays, equal to an encouraging 2.5 times more than one year ago.

It has also since been found out that half of these Croatian festive tourism results (in regard to traffic) were realised in Croatian hotels, with about 92,000 arrivals and 221,000 overnight stays, while there were 104,000 overnight stays in household/private/family facilities.

"These results allow for a dose of optimism and confirm Croatia's market position as a high quality and well-prepared destination. Numerous Croatian cities such as Opatija, Dubrovnik, Split, Osijek and Zagreb prepared interesting content that could be enjoyed in compliance with all of the current epidemiological measures against the spread of coronavirus,'' said the director of the CNTB, Kristjan Stanicic.

Minister of Tourism Nikolina Brnjac also considers this an optimistic beginning of a brand new year, adding that the Croatian festive tourism results will contribute to the overall positive impact of tourism on final revenues.

According to the Zagreb Tourist Board, Zagreb's many hoteliers were sold out for New Year's Eve, and the Snow Queen Trophy took care of bookings for the following days. Private accommodation in Zagreb is also beginning to recover from the damage caused by the pandemic, which is best felt by enterprises who had developed sustainable business practices even before the pandemic struck in early 2020.

An example of that is the company Irundo, which is currently renting out about 15 buildings all over Zagreb, along with apartments in Rovinj and down in Dubrovnik, but is already starting to expand its portfolio, which had been reduced in the public health crisis.

A late start

''The 2021 tourist season started late, but last year was much more successful for us than the previous one was, we had a growth of 100 percent, and we expect the same growth in 2022, with the expansion of the portfolio. Partly due to the return of tourist traffic and demand, but mostly because owners and investors saw that we successfully overcame even the most difficult year, so people who come to Irundo want us to take over their facilities and manage them. We're hiring two more workers who will deal with these acquisitions and we're very optimistic about this year,'' said Igor Kordic, the co-owner of Irundo, which, especially in this crisis, has strengthened the consulting part of their business.

For more, check out our travel section.

Sunday, 21 November 2021

Brnjac Announces National Reforestation Project at EU Ministerial Meeting

ZAGREB, 21 Nov, 2021 - Addressing an informal online meeting of EU tourism ministers last Tuesday, Croatian Tourism and Sports Minister Nikolina Brnjac spoke about a new Croatian reforestation plan that is being launched by three ministries.

In line with the Paris Agreement, the EU has pledged to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 and of the numerous projects to be launched by the Croatian government, one of the first projects is related to tourism. A reforestation project for the period until 2030 is expected to result in the planting of around one million trees every year to compensate for a portion of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by tourists arriving by car, said Brnjac.

The reforestation project is being launched by the Tourism and Sports Ministry in cooperation with the ministries of economy and sustainable development and agriculture.

Brnjac also said that the making of a joint long-term plan of work of the EU must be accompanied by the availability of specific and continued EU funds for the sustainable development of tourism.

The informal meeting of EU tourism officials, held as part of the Slovenian presidency of the Council of the EU, focused on plans for activities and the adoption of a European Agenda for Tourism 2030-2050.

For more on lifestyle, follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac Says Preparation for 2022 Season Has Begun

September the 29th, 2021 - Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac has stated that the preparations for the 2022 tourist season in Croatia are already underway following a remarkably good summer this year, which brought relief and deeper pockets to many working in Croatia's strongest economic branch.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, on the occasion of the World Tourism Day, Croatian Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac met with members of the Council for Recovery and Development of Tourism, and in addition to good results this summer season, they also discussed preparations for the next tourist year, which will hopefully be even more normal than the one we've just enjoyed.

"We expect the continuation of investments in tourism, and we're currently working on 'mapping' counties and all of the projects that are being done in them, what they're planning and so on. The sector is already preparing for the 2022's summer season and we have a good feeling about it,'' said Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac.

She also stated that Croatian tourism exceeded 70 percent of the total turnover from the pre-pandemic, record year of 2019 in September, and the data, ie the highly positive trends from the fiscalisation system in September, were also very encouraging indeed.

She announced that October will be the month of Croatian tourism, which we've written about before, for which various tourism service providers are now applying, with the condition that they give a minimum of a 35 percent discount, which she hopes will be an additional motive for further autumn travel for both Croatian and foreign tourists.

The director of the Croatian Tourist Board (CNTB), Kristjan Stanicic, said similar things, congratulating everyone in the sector on the Day of Tourism and saying that communication in the sector was very good, which also contributed to a good summer season this year.

"All stakeholders [in tourism] are ready to better prepare for 2022, in order to maintain Croatia's position as the safest and highest quality tourist destination in the Mediterranean, which will be emphasised in this promotion," concluded Stanicic.

For more, make sure to check our our dedicated travel section. Fancy visiting during the cooler post-season? Here's why September and October could be right up your alley.

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Croatian Tourism Ministry Praises 2021's Summer Tourist Season

September the 16th, 2021 - The Croatian Tourism Ministry, headed by Nikolina Brnjac, has praised the truly remarkable height of the summer tourist season which is now behind us. Despite the global pandemic, the sector has done incredibly well compared to last year.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, according to data from the Croatian eVisitor system, 55.3 million overnight stays have been realised in Croatia since the beginning of the year, which exceeds the number of overnight stays from the entire pandemic-dominated year of 2020, when 54.4 million overnight stays were realised in twelve whole months.

The Croatian Tourism Ministry has, in that case, every right to beat its chest, especially given the fact that most of Croatia's traditional Mediterranean competition hasn't fared anywhere near as well due to their generally less epidemiological pictures.

Of the total number of overnight stays realised throughout 2021 so far, 46.6 million were realised by foreign tourists, while 8.7 million were realised by domestic tourists. Since the beginning of this year, nine million tourist arrivals have been realised, meaning a massive 1.2 million more tourists have visited Croatia this year than last year, the Ministry of Tourism and Sport announced.

"Given the trends in the travel industry, our goal was to maintain the stability of the tourist system, preserve jobs and the recognition of Croatia as a safe tourist destination. We want to continue with these results and that's why it is important that we all continue to adhere to the epidemiological measures which remain in place. This creates the foundations for next year and the continued development of Croatian tourism.

This year has first of all shown that safety and quality are crucial for people when choosing a holiday destination, and that guests are willing to pay even more if that can be ensured. Ultimately, our desire is to create sustainable tourism in which the focus is not on the number of tourists, but on the level of quality, on tourists who will spend money on as many offers in their destinations and generate more consumption, which will further encourage new investments in tourism,'' said the Minister of Tourism and Sport, Nikolina Brnjac.

So far in 2021, there have been 46 percent more arrivals and 37 percent more overnight stays realised than in the same period last year. Compared to the same period in pre-pandemic, record 2019, 61 percent of arrivals and 72 percent of overnight stays were realised compared to the same period in that year.

More than a million tourists are currently staying in Croatia, most of the foreign tourists are Germans (297,000), Poles (81,000), Slovenes (74,000) and Italians (61,000). Most tourists are currently in Istria County (283,000), Primorje-Gorski kotar County (187,000) and Split-Dalmatia County (184,000).

For more, check out our dedicated travel section.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Croatian Tourism Month Launches in October to Extend Tourist Season

September 8, 2021 - Croatian Tourism Month will be held this October to replace last year's first-ever Vacation-Worthy Week campaign.

On the Croatian Radio 1 - Business Week show, the Minister of Tourism and Sports Nikolina Brnjac announced that to extend this tourist year, in which Croatia reached 60% of tourist traffic realized in 2019 on August 28, last year's Vacation-Worthy Week campaign will now to be carried out throughout the month of October, under the name Croatian Tourism Month, reports HRTurizam.

"On this occasion, I invite all stakeholders in the tourism system to get involved in this action to achieve the best possible postseason. Good results this season are the result of systematic work and planning of all departments of the Croatian Government since the beginning of the year. Thanks to the synergy of the tourism sector, Croatia has been recognized this year as a destination that has taken all measures to create the preconditions for a safe environment," said Brnjac.

The first "Vacation-Worthy Week," a joint project of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the Croatian National Tourist Board, took place from October 16 to 25 last year.

In the promotional week, citizens were able to take advantage of a total of 424 offers and services from all parts of Croatia at 50 percent better prices.

Although due to the specific situation in which the action was carried out, following the coronavirus pandemic, it was difficult to assess how successful the campaign was. 

Among the numerous tourist entities, national parks and nature parks took part in the action, which was in the special focus of visitors. Thus, Plitvice Lakes National Park, which offered tickets to all visitors at an affordable price of 50 kuna, was visited by almost 30,000 guests in ten days.

Krka National Park, which 2,700 tourists visited in the promotional week, also recorded good results, while the Northern Velebit National Park sold more than 500 tickets in the same period. 

The Croatian National Tourist Board pointed out that the Vacation-Worthy Week website attracted more than 150,000 unique visitors, who spent an average of three minutes researching the offers. At the same time, they mostly reviewed offers from the city of Zagreb and Split-Dalmatia, Primorje-Gorski Kotar, and Istria counties.

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

Friday, 3 September 2021

Digital Nomads Promote Croatian Tourism Best, Says Minister Nikolina Brnjac

September 3, 2021 - Minister of Tourism and Sports said that digital nomads promote Croatian tourism best, on the same level as social media influencers. 

According to the tourist traffic data for July and August compared to pre-pandemic figures, Croatia is the tourism star of the Mediterranean this year.

In August, 86 percent of arrivals and 93 percent of overnight stays compared to 2019 were realized. Specifically, about 4.3 million guests visited Croatia last month, and over 30 million overnight stays were realized. Thus, after the lost pre-season, the main season has restored optimism among tourism workers who will have a good post-season if the epidemiological situation allows. However, in addition to all other factors and the situation in the Mediterranean, Croatia has really prepared well for the season, primarily by ensuring the safety of guests, with a great response from foreign partners and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports' Safe Stay in Croatia campaign. Furthermore, the framework for digital nomads was defined at the beginning of the year. In addition, several other activities contributed to the season, which really surprised even the most optimistic.

Before today's press conference, Novi List spoke with Minister Nikolina Brnjac about what August was like, what was crucial in preparing for the season, how staff shortages will be solved, and the prospect of digital nomads in Croatia. 

August is behind us; many say that even the most optimistic could not expect such results in July and August. Was it more than expected?

"I think we have prepared well for this season, in cooperation with the entire tourism sector, in coordination with the Civil Protection Headquarters and all other closely related stakeholders. The fruit of all this synergy is this season's tourist results. Already on August 29, we achieved our minimum goal for traffic for this tourist year, which is 60 percent of tourist traffic compared to the whole of 2019. Still, we believe that the continuation of current favorable trends will be much closer to that record year by the end of the year. In the last days of August, we recorded traffic above 90 percent of what we had in 2019, which is a great announcement for September and for the postseason in general, which is our next goal. Compared to 2019, the biggest difference is in arrivals, but the number of overnight stays shows that tourists stayed longer and spent more.

I believe that we can all be satisfied with the results achieved when we talk about tourist traffic and when we talk about revenue, but now we want to extend the season as much as possible. With all our activities, the epidemiological situation was critical throughout the summer. It will continue to be so, and I believe that we will continue to behave responsibly, get vaccinated in as many numbers as possible because only in this way can we maintain continuity of good results, and ensure normal social and economic trends."

What was crucial in the preparation of the season and ultimately its realization?

"I think that the key thing was that with the preparations for this year's summer tourist season, we started on time with the synergy of the entire tourism sector and all departments in the Government. In each step we took, we involved the sector, listened to their needs and the market's needs, and thus made decisions about each step.

Starting with the Safe Stay in Croatia project, which was well-received in our biggest markets and which provided tourists with access to all relevant information in one place, and at the same time was a tool for educating our tourism sector on procedures for compliance with epidemiological protocols, then facilitating travel procedures and returning tourists to their home destinations by providing additional testing points, to enabling tourists to be vaccinated in Croatia. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been paying great attention to good communication and education of everyone in the system to have timely information and better adapt to today's trends and business conditions. Before and during the summer, we continuously held meetings with tourism stakeholders, leaders of local and regional governments, epidemiologists, and civil protection headquarters in their area so that everyone could be better prepared. As a result, tourism workers were also among the first to be vaccinated in a high percentage. All this shows how much we were all aware of the safety aspect and preparedness as an important factor in the choice of destinations by tourists. As a result, Croatian tourism has once again shown exceptional readiness and all the diversity of the offer that can satisfy the demand of different guest structures. I sincerely thank everyone for the cooperation, effort, and knowledge they have invested so that we can have such good results in another challenging year for tourism."

Which markets were the best in August and the first eight months of 2021? What has changed compared to last year and the years before the pandemic, and what does that tell us?

"The pandemic has definitely affected the travel paradigm, i.e., the habits of tourists for whom safety is one of the most important factors when choosing a destination. We are all aware of that, and that is why we have been working from the beginning to improve all security measures to create the most favorable preconditions for tourism. In addition to the demand for high-class accommodation facilities and those in nature, we also record excellent results in the charter segment. We achieved an even higher turnover in August compared to August 2019. When we talk about changing the structure of guests, the share of guests from nearby markets has further increased. In contrast, for more distant markets, stabilization will occur subsequently, depending on the normalization of travel and the favorable epidemiological situation in the world."

Which segments of the offer proved to be the most sought after? Namely, there is a lot of talk about the fact that 5-star, therefore the highest quality offer was the most sought after?

"Through this year's financial results and the fact that we have the highest occupancy in high-end accommodation facilities, i.e., four and five stars where we record occupancy above 95 percent, it is clear that this year we have a larger number of tourists with higher purchasing power. Quality products and an offer that gives them an extra sense of security were among the most sought after."

In that sense, can it be said that there has been a kind of transformation towards better quality tourism and moving away from the masses?

"Our strategic goal is to move away from the masses and turn towards sustainable and innovative tourism, and the demand for high-quality products and a longer stay in the destination certainly goes in favor of that. In the long run, our goal is to increase the number of tourists compared to previous records, especially in already congested destinations, and distribute tourist results more evenly throughout the year and throughout Croatia while achieving equal or higher total revenues. By the way, even before the pandemic, we started to reform the legal framework aimed at the sustainability and professionalization of tourist boards, recategorize private accommodation, regulate the status of health tourism, tourist land, and the like. We will continue with reforms that will follow our strategic goals."

The Ministry has also initiated the Sustainable Tourism Development Strategy. Will this document also be the basis for further profiling towards high-quality tourism?

"With the new Sustainable Tourism Development Strategy until 2030, we will focus on sustainability, value-added products, and special forms of tourism. The strategy should respond to the challenges of extending the season and expanding the tourist offer outside the summer months and in spatial terms to less-developed tourist areas, especially continental destinations. The project of drafting a new strategy is in line with the Program of the Croatian Government from 2020-2024 and the National Development Strategy until 2030. For the first time since Croatia's independence, the Sustainable Tourism Strategy, a Strategic Environmental Assessment, is being prepared. The fact that we have been provided European funds with which we can strategically direct tourism development should be emphasized. Simply put, we have provided the opportunity to invest in the tourism we want, and that is sustainable, year-round, with greater added value. Funds from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan will focus on solving the challenges we face in the coastal zone in the summer and encourage the development of year-round forms of tourism with high added value throughout Croatia. The fact that in the next financial period of the EU, both in the National Plan and in certain operational programs, we will be responsible for allocating funds is a great obligation, but also an opportunity to define priorities together with the sector and try to solve long-standing challenges."

In preparation for the season, a big step forward was made towards attracting digital nomads at the beginning of the year. So what specifically has changed legally?

"Croatia is one of the first members of the European Union to legally regulate a one-year temporary stay for digital nomads from third countries. This is an interesting niche for Croatian tourism because nomads are not seasonal but year-round guests, and their interests are diverse and unrelated to the sea and the sun. The idea was realized with excellent inter-ministerial cooperation with other ministries, primarily with the Ministry of the Interior, which carried out the most important legislative processes and the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. The Ministry of the Interior amended the Law on Foreigners, and the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs announced the procedure for obtaining temporary residence for digital nomads. At the same time, the Ministry of Finance changed its laws through its Income Tax Act and the Ministry of Health through the Law on Amendments to the Law on Income compulsory health insurance and health care of foreigners in Croatia, all to enable the stay of digital nomads in Croatia. Furthermore, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports has initiated an e-platform for digital nomads, with the help of the Croatian National Tourist Board, and we have included 21 regional tourist boards in all processes so that digital nomads have the opportunity to discover the whole of Croatia."

What are the conditions for the arrival of digital nomads, and do you have information on how many have taken advantage of this opportunity?

"Digital nomads must first meet all the prescribed conditions to obtain a temporary one-year stay in Croatia. All steps are described in detail on the Ministry of Interior website. By August 20, more than 200 people had applied, while about 80 had been approved, with the most applications coming from the US, UK, and Russia. However, persons working in Croatia as digital nomads, i.e., for companies not registered in Croatia and citizens of EU member states, do not regulate their stay on the same legal basis and are not recorded based on the relevant new provision of the Law on Foreigners. It should also be noted that our legislative framework has been in force since the beginning of this year, when strict measures to restrict movement were applied. Nevertheless, we expect that the improvement of the epidemiological situation and further activities that the tourist boards and private sector plan to initiate will have a positive impact on the interest of digital nomads in Croatia."

Have accommodation providers prepared and generally realized the benefits of longer leases, which we specifically offer to digital nomads?

"Digital nomads, with the conditions and steps they must meet to obtain a visa for "digital nomads," mostly search for the content available in certain destinations. The data from our research thus show that tourist products such as active holidays, nature, culture, and eno-gastronomy arouse the most interest, which Croatia offers them. Moreover, many hotel chains have already adapted their tourist offer to the longer stay of digital nomads with the possibility of work."

What do digital nomads, influencers, and world stars really mean for the promotion of Croatian tourism?

"People who want to make Croatia their temporary office, who fall in love with our natural and cultural beauties, food, people, but also the way of life, can be our best promoters, just like many influencers. Any positive reaction to Croatia as a tourist destination, especially in the world that is mostly informed through social networks, is a great advertisement for our country and an additional invitation to stay."

What are the announcements for the offseason?

"The announcements for September and October are excellent, judging by the bookings of our hoteliers and camps. As I mentioned at the beginning, in recent days, we have recorded traffic above 90 percent of what we had in 2019, and this is a good announcement for September. If the current trends continue in the next month, in the second half of September, we could reach 70 percent of turnover when it comes to overnight stays and financial indicators."

One of the basic problems of Croatian tourism at the moment is staffing. How will efforts be made to address the shortage of tourism workers that has escalated this year, and what is the future?

"In the long run, we see solving the problem of labor shortage in the creation of preconditions for the engagement of domestic labor in the tourism sector. For several years now, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports has been implementing measures to promote tourism occupations through the co-financing of innovative tourism projects designed and implemented by high schools to educate students in hospitality and tourism. We also have a program for co-financing the practice of high school students in the tourism sector. Through the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, we have provided an additional 10 million kuna to develop educational programs that meet the needs of the labor market. We will also allocate funds for training with employers to support investments in the green and digital transition. We want to increase the attractiveness of tourism occupations for young people and improve conditions and general satisfaction of workers in the tourism sector. We are actively thinking about how to ensure a sufficient quality workforce, first from Croatia, and then through imports, because the quality of services is an indispensable part of the tourist product."

To learn more about digital nomads in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

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