Thursday, 18 March 2021

Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac Welcomes European Commission's Digital Green Certificate

March 18, 2021 - Croatian Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac welcomes the European Commission's digital green certificate proposal. 

HRTurizam reports that the European Commission adopted a legislative proposal to establish a common framework for digital green certificates and an additional proposal to ensure that digital green certificates are issued to third-country nationals residing in the Member States or Schengen countries and visitors entitled to travel to other Member States.

Digital green certificates are digital evidence proving that the traveler has been vaccinated against COVID-19, has recovered from it, or has a negative test result. Apart from possible uses in health care, the certificate also serves for the safe free movement of citizens of one European Union country in another.

Of course, the digital green certificate has no meaning if EU countries do not accept it. That is why the European Commission has announced that it will work closely with the European Union members. Namely, cooperation is needed to find technical solutions for the use of certificates as soon as possible. The authenticity of certificates can be verified safely throughout the EU and finally enable the mutual recognition of certificates or endorsements throughout the European Union. Member States are still responsible for deciding which public health restrictions for travelers can be lifted and will apply the same to travelers holding a digital green certificate.

Digital green certificates will meet data protection, security, and privacy requirements. For the certificates to come to life by the summer, EU member states must speed up preparations and their introduction. The European Commission will help develop a legal solution for a common framework for vaccination, testing, and recovery certificates to facilitate free movement within the EU. Member States are expected to establish technical solutions at the national level rapidly. In this way, certificates could be issued and verified securely anywhere in the European Union.

Digital green certificates should be established based on interoperability guidelines, which define common data sets and unique identifiers for vaccination certificates. A common data set for test results is already agreed upon by Member States.

Certificates will be issued in digital or paper form. Both versions will have a QR code containing the necessary basic information and a digital signature to ensure that the certificate is authentic. Certificates shall be made available free of charge in the official language or languages of the issuing Member State and English.

All persons, vaccinated and unvaccinated, should use digital green certificates when traveling within the EU. To prevent discrimination against non-vaccinated persons, the Commission proposes not only issuing an interoperable vaccination certificate but also a COVID-19 test certificate and a certificate for those who have recovered from COVID-19.

If Member States accept proof of vaccination to lift certain public health restrictions such as testing or quarantine, they would be required to accept vaccination certificates issued under the digital green certificate system under the same conditions. This obligation would be limited to vaccines authorized in the EU, but Member States may accept other vaccines.

The digital green certificate will be valid in all EU Member States and can be used by Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. The digital green certificate should be issued to EU citizens and their family members, regardless of nationality. It should also be issued to third-country nationals residing in the EU and visitors entitled to travel to other Member States.

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The digital green certificate system is a temporary measure. It will be suspended after the World Health Organization declares an end to the extraordinary public health threat caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the proposal to be ready before the summer, it needs to be adopted quickly by the European Parliament and the Council. At the same time, Member States must apply the reliability framework and technical standards agreed within the eHealth network to ensure the timely introduction of digital green certificates, interoperability, and full compliance with personal data protection. The goal is to complete the technical work and proposal in the coming months.

The certificates will be available free of charge and are expected to be implemented by the summer, i.e., from 1 June.

The Minister of Tourism and Sports, Nikolina Brnjac, stated that Croatia welcomes any document that will facilitate tourist movements through uniform and predictable rules.

"The EC today adopted an important proposal for a common framework for the recognition of certificates, which should facilitate free movement during the pandemic. As a tourist country, Croatia welcomes any document that will facilitate tourist movements through uniform and predictable rules. In the forthcoming discussions in the Council, which must agree on the final version of the document, we will advocate that the announced certificate in no form constitutes a restrictive factor for free movement and that it is not discriminatory. In parallel with the preparations for adopting this document at the EU level, the Government of the Republic of Croatia regularly coordinates positions regarding border crossing conditions, taking into account the epidemiological situation in the Republic of Croatia well as in the major markets. Facilitation is also being intensively discussed with the EU Member States as well as third countries," Brnjac said and emphasized that to ensure predictability for business entities in tourism, the Government will make a detailed decision on the conditions for entry of tourists into the Republic of Croatia, which will be in force at least until the establishment of a common European model.

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Friday, 12 March 2021

Tourism Minister And Public Health Director Tell Tourist Board Directors Preparation Important For Season

ZAGREB, 12 March, 2021 - The tourism season requires good preparation by the sector and destinations, including setting up VOVID testing stations, inoculating workers in tourism and ensuring safety protocols at border crossings, Minister of Tourism Nikolina Brnjac said on Friday, meeting with directors of regional tourist boards.

During the video conference, which was also attended by the head of the Croatian Institute for Public Health, Krunoslav Capak, he spoke of the current situation with the pandemic and touched on so-called green passports which should represent a health document facilitating crossing borders.

He explained that the certificate would contain information on inoculation against, recovering from and being tested for COVID-19, which should ensure a balanced procedure in EU member states regarding conditions to cross borders.

Capak underscored that an agreement had been reached at the EU level on acceptable fast antigen tests, however most member states, including Croatia, still require a PCR test in order to cross the border.

He said that tourist boards would be issued with information on how to obtain a licence to conduct tests and on issuing credible certificates of testing, the ministry said in a press release.

The ministry underscored that it expects tourist boards to submit their proposals for testing stations for tourists in individual counties in coordination with regional public health institutes.

A list of testing stations will then be advertised on the www.safestayincroatia.hr web site.

Both Capak and Brnjac underlined the importance of inoculation in the tourism sector because workers in the sector generate a lot of contacts and are the first contact point with tourists.

"Inoculation in the tourism sector is an important message of additional safety and responsibility in that sector, which contributes to better positioning Croatia as a safe destination," underscored Brnjac.

"We hope that we will reach an agreement soon on how to facilitate travel for tourists," said Brnjac, referring to tourists from countries outside the EU.

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

Friday, 12 March 2021

Croatia and Israel Discuss Protocols Facilitating Travel

ZAGREB, 12 March, 2021 - Croatia and Israel have started talks on travel and protocols for tourists from the two countries, Tourism and Sports Minister Nikolina Brnjac said on Friday, hopeful an agreement would soon be reached.

Brnjac and Israeli Ambassador Ilan Mor met on Thursday to discuss the travel protocols with the aim of reaching an agreement that would facilitate travel for tourists from both countries during the pandemic.

The minister expressed satisfaction with the meeting at which she informed the ambassador of other activities of her ministry, including a project with the website "Safe stay in Croatia", which provides visitors to Croatia with information on locations and epidemiological restrictions in force as well as recommendations for health safety.

She spoke of special safety protocols which anyone applying for the "Safe stay in Croatia" certificate must comply with and explained how businesses with that certificate would be monitored.

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

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Nikolina Brnjac and Croatian Tourism Players Discuss 2021 Tourist Season Expectations in Croatia

February 10, 2021 - Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac and Croatian tourism players discussed the 2021 tourist season expectations in Croatia on HRT's Otvoreno program Tuesday night. 

T.portal reports that Minister of Tourism and Sports Nikolina Brnjac, as a guest on the HTV show Otvoreno hosted by Zrinka Grancaric, said domestic and foreign experts had far lower expectations last year than was the result of the tourist season, at 50 percent of the record 2019.

"We closed everything on time, and we started to open on time. In compliance with all epidemiological measures and standards, we had a tourist season. The tourism sector has proven to be much tougher than others had thought. Croatia has had good results compared to other Mediterranean countries. Of course, we will strive for that this tourist season as well. We hold regular meetings with the directors of our market offices, we have included our embassies, and the feedback is that tourists inquire about the epidemiological situation. The second issue is the security situation. The third question is the vaccination rate," she said.

She added that occupations for travel exist, bookings exist. Camps, holiday homes, nautical tourism, active holidays are mostly booked. Today's tourist is looking for that through security, she added. She pointed out that the certificate for health purposes was discussed at the last meeting of state and government heads.

"COVID passports, which are used as a travel document, were not discussed, but a document that would serve as a vaccination certificate. The vaccine is optional. It is not yet available to the general population, and therefore to set something like that is to restrict freedom of movement," she stressed.

Veljko Ostojic, director of the Croatian Tourism Association, said there was significant interest in hoteliers' vaccinations.

"Today, it is only clear that if the county is in a green area, there are 25 or fewer new cases in the last 14 days. There is no possibility of travel restrictions. Everything else is still not clear. And that was one of the basic problems of the past year. There was no agreement at the EU level. It is now important that we try to vaccinate as soon as possible. We need clearly defined rules at the European Union level and to ensure that tourism professionals are well prepared," he said.

He added that the same result should be made in terms of epidemiological measures. Croatia was a safe destination last year before the vaccine was found, and there is no reason why it should not be this year.

Damir Krešić, director of the Institute for Tourism, said that the upcoming tourist season's key messages are quite clear and related to safety.

"We must send the message that we are a safe destination and that we keep the epidemiological situation under control. No matter what you do, the success of the 2021 season will depend on the epidemiological situation. If the epidemiological situation is good, we have reason to expect a very good tourist season," he pointed out. He added that it is good that Croatia has traditionally been perceived as a safe destination.

"We are entering this tourist season under less favorable circumstances than it was last year. Then we normally prepared for the tourist season, in April we counted the infected on one hand, and now if we have a figure less than 200-300, we can say it is a good day," he said.

Brnjac believes that it is essential for tourism workers to be vaccinated because they are in direct contact with the guest. That sector cannot be pushed because the Government has adopted a vaccination plan, the first and second phases, and it is known what the priorities are. After that, when the third stage of vaccination occurs, tourism workers would be added.

Martina Nimac Kalcina, president of the Family Tourism Association of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, said that it was difficult and that a critical period was coming when those who managed to earn money last season had used up their supplies.

"Now the question is how to survive until May, June when the arrival of the first guests is announced. We have many tourism workers interested in vaccinations, and I am sure that the number of renters and other tourism workers would increase over time. We will certainly not all be able to get vaccinated by the end of this season. It is not only possible to distinguish between guests and tourism workers who have been vaccinated and who have not, but work should be done to enable testing. Other states will set the condition that one cannot enter their country, their citizens cannot return if they do not have a negative test in the last 72 hours. It costs about 100 euros for a foreigner to take a test in Croatia. What if you have a family of four who has to spend another 400 euros to return to their country? On the other hand, there are not enough checkpoints, and that testing is not organized enough," she said.

Minister Brnjac replied that meetings had been held with the Croatian Institute of Public Health to provide tourists with arrival and departure testing. They had begun discussing processing facilities and providing a sufficient number of testing sites. She also added - standard rules need to be regulated at the EU level. Damir Krešić agreed with this, believing that it must at least be easier to do if testing could not be cheaper.

Selimir Ognjenović, owner of the company I.D. Riva tours appeared on the show from Germany. He says the interest in vacationing in Germany is high. All of these ‘lockdowns’ have resulted in a great desire to travel.

He considers the experience from last year to be the biggest Croatian argument for entering the 2021 season.

"Our guests were protected, and we proved to be an excellent host," he emphasized. "Thirty camps were open all winter. Do you need more proof of trust than that?" he asked.

ORF journalist Christian Wehrschutz said that the question of what conditions the Austrian government will set regarding travel is crucial. If it is a two-week quarantine and an additional test - that's not good. Austrian hoteliers have asked the government for a clear strategy for testing on departure and arrival, the issue of nightclubs, and the vaccination of tourist workers. He believes that Austria will invite its citizens to spend their summers in their country, especially after the catastrophic winter season.

Damir Krešić agreed with that. He believes that small domestic tourist demand is a big problem in Croatia. In other countries, about 40 to 50 percent of guests are locals, while in Croatia, the number is about 10 percent. Therefore, he believes - Croatia should focus on Central Europe's markets and the regional markets of BiH and Serbia, depending on the epidemiological situation in those countries.

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Monday, 1 February 2021

Tourism Ministry Announces Campaign for 'Safe Stay in Croatia' Label

February 1, 2021 – The Ministry of Tourism and Sport will launch a campaign for the "Safe Stay in Croatia" label in mid-February, which will show tourists that Croatia applies health and safety protocols during the coronavirus pandemic.

After announcing that the Ministry was preparing a "Safe travel" label for the upcoming tourist season, Minister of Tourism and Sports Nikolina Brnjac confirmed today that they would start the campaign in mid-February.

Tourism must show adaptability and responsibility

As Hina reports, apart from tourist entities for which this label is intended, airlines, gas stations, various tourist facilities, cultural and natural attractions will also use it. The protocols will be harmonized with the recommendations of the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ). It will also include a sticker with a QR code that can be displayed in a visible place. As part of the promotion, a special website will also be launched.

The Ministry will assign and keep the labels free of charge and monitor their application with associations.

"In addition to the application of these protocols, important preconditions for achieving tourist results are a favorable epidemiological situation, a sufficient level of vaccination, and the perception of destination security. Croatia was recognized for that last year. We will continue to work on it in 2021. Due to the pandemic, the tourism sector will again have to show creativity, adaptability, responsibility, and cooperation," said the Minister.

Adherence to global standardized health protocols

Noting that the introduction of these labels is an important wheel in branding Croatia as a safe destination, the Minister expects that by Easter, it will contribute to the promotion, recalling that it is essential to continue to adhere to epidemiological recommendations and measures.

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Source: Pixabay

The labels are a national upgrade of last year's "Safe Travel" labels of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) to make it easier to identify destinations and companies that adhere to global standardized health and hygiene protocols. The Croatian Ministry of Tourism and Sport immediately got involved. Harmonization of safety protocols for restaurants, hotels, family farms, holiday homes, beaches, marinas, boats, travel agencies, rent-a-car, tourist guides was one of the first tasks of the Council for the Repair and Development of Tourism.

Slow vaccine distribution not in favor of tourism trends

Minister Brnjac said that the vaccine is excellent news for tourism. Vaccination of tourism workers, for which about 70 percent of them are interested in Croatia, will play an important role in tourism promotion and results.

She says the slow distribution of vaccines and vaccinations, the new strain of the virus, and the growing number of infections in Europe and the world, are not in favor of tourism trends. It is necessary to open borders and overcome the psychological barrier of fear to travel again. It is encouraging that the EU insists on an agreement on the quantity and dynamics of vaccine delivery.

"We hope that in Croatia, as in other EU member states, a good initial vaccination rate will continue. Given the current situation with the vaccine at the EU level, Croatia's position is to insist on talks with pharmaceutical companies on the agreed quantity and dynamics of vaccine delivery," adds Brnjac.

Among other things, Croatia is in contact with representatives of other EU member states. At the moment, all EU member states want to speed up vaccination.

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Source: Pixabay

Regarding the introduction of measures for tourist arrivals and border crossings, the Minister recalls that EU leaders agreed to work on a standardized form of evidence of vaccination in compliance with EU data protection regulations. This certificate would, for the time being, be used exclusively for medical purposes.

"For crossing Croatia's border, a negative PCR test result not older than 48 hours should be presented, or PCR testing should be performed immediately upon arrival (at one's own expense), with the obligation of self-isolation until a negative result. If it is impossible to test, a self-isolation measure will last for ten days. Further measures will be subject to the course of the epidemiological situation in Croatia, but also specific markets," said the Minister.

Croatia recommended destination for 2021

In the current situation, the Minister considers it's good that the people from foreign markets are eager to travel. It's even better that Croatia is mentioned as a desirable destination, thanks to the proximity to many markets and good transport links, especially road.

"This year, we expect a distinct 'last-minute' demand and demand for safe, fast, and easily accessible destinations, as well as accommodation that provides additional security such as holiday homes, on boats, in camps, and staying outdoors in nature. There are expectations from domestic tourists, who can be a driver of tourism, as well as from the cooperation with the European Association of Travel Agencies and Tour Operators (ECTAA), according to which Croatia in 2021 has the status of a selected and recommended destination," says the Minister.

She believes that a favorable epidemiological situation will be maintained in Croatia with the adherence to the measures. The tourism sector is ready to prove its responsibility and provide a safe stay this year as well. Through cooperation, knowledge, and experience, Croatia will continue to position itself as a desirable destination for foreign and domestic tourists.

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Friday, 29 January 2021

Conflict of Interest Commission Launches Proceedings Against Brnjac

ZAGREB, 29 January, 2021 - The Conflict of Interest Commission on Friday launched proceedings against Tourism and Sport Minister Nikolina Brnjac for her failure to declare a speed boat her husband owns in her Declaration of Assets in a timely fashion.

The complaint notes that Brnjac and her husband obtained a valuable asset without a loan and failed to declare the Jeanneau Leader 805 speed boat registered in her husband's name on her Declaration of Assets.

The applicant of the complaint claimed that Brnjac's husband only declared a small vessel while failing to declare the new vessel purchased in 2018 that is valued at €85,000.

In an explanation to the commission Minister Brnjac presented a sales contract noting that she had omitted to note that the proceeds from selling the smaller vessel went to purchase the new boat.

The commission confirmed that in 2019 Brnjac reported the new vessel in her Declaration of Assets, which meant her declaration had not been adjusted to the real state of affairs for a year and a half.

Brnjac added that she did not intentionally fail to declare the vessel as she did not consider it necessary to declare the new vessel as its value was the same as the vessel sold.

Monday, 7 December 2020

Tourism Minister, National Hospitality Industry Association Chief Hold Talks

ZAGREB, Dec 7, 2020 - Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac and the chairman of the national hospitality industry association, Marin Medak on Monday held talks on the challenges facing that sector, the consequences of the pandemic, legal solutions, digitisation and other topics, the ministry said in a press release.

"Until now too, through dialogue we have arrived at a series of solutions with which we are trying to save jobs in the tourism sector and related activities and today's meeting was constructive," Minister Brnjac said briefly after the meeting.

She added that last week she had met with representatives in hospitality from various parts of Croatia including the president of the hospitality association from Istria and Kvarner islands, Vedran Jakominic who is also the vice president of the national association.

Medak assessed the talks as good with the remark that they spoke about the future and less about "stopgap measures" and the current situation which "is as it is."

"Apart from the problems that we could have in the future we immediately presented the minister with solutions to some of these problems, such as urgent digitisation in hospitality and that we should be included in preparing and adopting some documents like the future sustainable tourism strategy," he said.

Medak is convinced that together they will succeed in establishing a digital platform in hospitality that will integrate all hospitality providers and their needs - supplies, sales, legal solutions, institutions and other tools that will facilitate doing business and in communication.

The delegation informed the minister of the association's initiative for a model of categorising restaurants and other hospitality premises and to call it the "kravata" (cravat).

They consider it to be essential to define the strategy in the next few months and to adopt certain amendments to the law on providing hospitality services and to update those services that they can withstands crises situation in the 21st century.

Asked whether he believed that hospitality businesses would reopen after December 21 and before Christmas, Medak said that he doesn't believe that will be possible and that the lockdown could last until the end of January.

"The thing we are still trying to negotiate with the national response team is to allow anyone who wishes to, particularly cafes, to prepare coffee to go because at the moment they aren't allowed to do even that unlike stores, petrol stations and other outlets that have that option. We'll see if we manage to succeed in that," said Medak.

Sunday, 6 December 2020

Quick Croatian Tourism Recovery Solution Sought, Council Formed

December the 6th, 2020 - Croatian tourism recovery, and a recovery that comes as quickly as possible for this most important segment of the domestic economy, is necessary. The ongoing pandemic has dealt the sector, which makes up 20 percent of the country's GDP, an extremely heavy blow. Owing to that, a council to work on rapid Croatian tourism recovery has been formed.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Minister of Tourism and Sport, Nikolina Brnjac, made a decision recently on the establishment of the Council for Recovery and Development of Tourism, the implementation of tourism in 2021 and improving the tourism offer that brings together all relevant stakeholders in the tourism sector to better prepare Croatian tourism for the upcoming period.

The main tasks of the council will be to consider the most important issues related to the tourism sector, such as the implementation of tourism in 2021 under the circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, the most effective promotion of Croatian tourism, providing tourism and hospitality services in accordance with all epidemiological measures and strategic planning, programmes and operational plans for Croatian tourism recovery. 

On top if that, attention will need to be paid to investments and reforms related to the Sustainable Tourism Development Strategy for the period until 2030, the National Plan for Sustainable Tourism Development from 2021 to 2027, the National Reform Programme, the Operational Plan for Recovery and Resilience and the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027.

"Joint cooperation is extremely important for us to find the best solutions to ensure Croatian tourism recovery. In addition to the financial support we provide with the aim of preserving jobs, the Programme for the allocation of state aid to the tourism and sport sector is also being prepared. We have important years ahead of us in which we'll need to create new foundations for tourism development with new strategic frameworks for tourism. The work of the Council will be aimed at finding answers to the questions of adapting Croatian tourism to the consequences of the crisis caused by the pandemic and the most successful way out of this difficult situation,'' said Minister Brnjac, who is also the President of the Council consisting of 31 members.

The Council consists of a representative of the Ministry of Tourism and Sport, a representative of the Croatian Tourist Board, then as representatives of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, a representative of the Association of Hoteliers, the Association of Marinas, the Association of Charter Accommodation Providers, the Association of Travel Agencies, the Association of Catering Activities luxury hotels, Hostel Association, Tourist Shipping Association, Cultural Tourism Association, Business Tourism Association, River Tourism Association, Adventure Tourism Association, Diving Tourism Association and Health Tourism Association, and a representative of the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts - Guild of Tourist Workers, Croatian Employers' Association, Trade Union of Tourism and Services of Croatia and members of the Social Council for Tourism, Croatian Tourism Association, Croatian Hotel Employers Association, Croatian Camping Association, National Association of Family and Small Hotels, Association of Croatian Travel Agencies a, the Association of Croatian Tourist Guides, the Croatian Rural Tourism Association, the Voice of Entrepreneurs Association, the National Association of Caterers, the Croatian Association for Tourism and Rural Development "Village Members Club" and the Croatian Holiday and Hostel Association.

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Friday, 4 December 2020

Minister Announces Subsidies for Tourism-Related Services

ZAGREB, December 4, 2020 - The government is aware of the problems and challenges faced by tourism and sports, and to additionally help those sectors, it has been working on a programme of support for tourism and related services to be implemented in 2021, Tourism and Sports Minister Nikolina Brnjac has said.

The new programme, which envisages government subsidies for tourism and related sectors, will focus on small, medium and large entrepreneurs and it will amount to around HRK 1.5 billion, the minister said in an interview with Hina.

"The subsidies will cover many activities, such as food and drink preparation and serving, travel agencies, tour operators, booking and related services, equipment and property leasing, sports, entertainment and recreation activities, etc. Businesses in the health tourism and businesses connected with the health system, such as general practitioners' and specialist practices, dentists and other healthcare-related businesses that are part of tourism services and earn their revenue mostly outside the public health system, will also benefit from the new measures," the minister said, among other things.

She noted that the government had so far secured aid in the amount of some HRK 20 million for sports associations and as much for sports events, as well as that it was working on measures for additional aid to the sports sector.

Thursday, 26 November 2020

Sustainable Tourism Development Strategy Until 2030 to be Drawn Up

ZAGREB, November 26, 2020 - The Tourism Ministry is launching the drafting of a sustainable tourism strategy until 2030 and a 2021-27 national sustainable tourism development plan as long-term frameworks for tourism development, Minister Nikolina Brnjac said at a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

The drafting of a new strategy is in line with the government's programme and the Competitive and Innovative Economy strategic goal in the draft national development strategy until 2030.

A strategic environmental impact estimate will be drawn up for the first time as part of the strategy, Brnjac said.

According to the ministry, the strategy, the plan and the estimate are expected to be drawn up by the end of 2021 and the aim is for the strategy to be coherent with other sectors' public policies.

"We have embarked on the creation of strategic frameworks so as to focus our activities as well as possible on the sustainability and development of the tourism sector, and the common goal of all actors should be the positioning of Croatia as a high quality, safe and, according to economic criteria, increasingly successful destination," said Brnjac.

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