Monday, 28 September 2020

Time To Reflect, As Loyalty Not Luxury Saves 2020 Croatia Tourist Season

September 28, 2020 – The tail end of 2020's unparalleled summer offers opportunity for pause, contemplation and appreciation, as it's loyal and not luxury guests that have saved this year's Croatia tourist season.

In this day and age, things always have to get better. There's no room to sit still. Life without improvement is deemed a failure. Nowhere is this more true than the Croatia tourist season.

The numbers of overnight stays in the Croatia tourist season sometimes seem to be the only measure by which its success is judged. Year after year, the numbers must rise. Any decrease is unthinkable. At the same time, hungry eyes still want more. Some want to reposition themselves. A new class of guest is wanted, from faraway nations. They must be of a better quality. They must stay longer, in more expensive dwellings. They must spend more.

Incredible initiatives are undertaken to turn this want into a reality. But, at the end of the 2020 Croatia tourist season, perhaps it's time to pause and reflect. For this year, it is undoubtedly loyalty and not luxury that's saved the Croatia tourist season.

In the year the coronavirus pandemic hit, arrivals by charter plane and cruise ship were seriously curtailed. So much for the flying visits of premium guests from far-flung lands. Instead, the tourists who came were from much closer to Croatia.

The English language that most on the coast are so familiar with was this year useless. On the beaches of Istria and northern Dalmatia, it was Slovenian, Polish, Czech, German, Slovakian and Italian that was heard. The packed bars of Makarska echoed with the familiar call of 'Đe si, bolan?' (where are you, bro? - in Bosnian dialect). Many of those who came drove to Croatia. And many do so every year.

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Sighs and light-hearted jokes about some of these guests persist in some places. “That family come every year, but they only ever order one pizza to share between the four of them.” The choice of footwear of some German-speaking and Czech visitors frequently draws chuckles, in particular, the classic sock and sandal combo. But, just where would the 2020 Croatia tourist season have been without the 60,000 Czech and Slovak visitors who this year arrived by train?

Just two days ago, Jutarnji reported on phenomenal numbers of Polish visitors this year. Would anyone else really have taken the place of the returning family of four sharing a pizza? Just what would the season in Makarska have looked like without bolan?

Croatians are famously very appreciative hosts. On the ground, there's no doubt that such loyal guests are warmly welcomed and thanked each year by accommodation renters, restaurateurs and others. They greet returning visitors with smiles of familiarity and reserve for them their favourite place. In September 2020, gratitude to such guests was echoed by The Croatian National Tourist Board as they launched a new campaign 'Thank you', directed at the tourists who this year chose Croatia.

Perhaps it is time to ensure that this gratitude extends into any grand new initiatives for growth in the Croatia tourist season? Such loyal guests should not be taken for granted, nor forgotten.

Initiative within the Croatia tourist sector is vital. The unlocking of continental Croatia's potential is simply a must. That too of the Dalmatian hinterland and inland Istria. The exploitation of world-class Croatian assets such as nature, agriculture and health and wellness services are also perfectly on-point. The desire to attract a better class of bigger-spending visitor to luxury holidays on the Croatian coast should surely be a lower priority. After all, eyes that covet can all too frequently fail to appreciate that for which they should already be thankful.

SANDALS.jpg© Oddman47

Lead image adapted from an original photograph by © Marco Verch

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Friday, 28 August 2020

Poland Bans Flights from 46 Countries, Including Croatia

ZAGREB, August 28, 2020 - Poland will ban flights from 46 countries, including Croatia, as of Sept 2, according to a draft regulation published on Thursday, as the country grapples with a spike in coronavirus infections, Reuters has reported.

The move follows targeted measures to reintroduce restrictions on public life in the worst affected parts of the country, as the government tries to tackle the spread of the virus without resorting to a complete lockdown, the news agency said.

"Due to the threat of spreading SARS CoV-2 virus infections, it is necessary to exercise the right to introduce air traffic bans... in order to minimize the threat to public health," the regulation said.

Poland closed its borders and suspended flights in March to stop the spread of the coronavirus. However, it progressively loosened restrictions on public life, with shopping centres, hotels and restaurants all reopening in May.

Polish national airline PLL LOT resumed international flights on July 1 almost four months after suspending them.

Other countries affected by the ban are France, Spain, Montenegro, Romania, the United States, Israel, Mexico and Brazil.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Poland has had 64,689 cases of the infection and 2,010 fatalities.

 

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Saturday, 22 August 2020

Polish Ambassador Thanks Croatia For Efforts To Find Missing Hiker

August 22, 2020 – Polish Ambassador Andrzej Edward Jasionowski writes in heartfelt gratitude on behalf of the Polish Republic and its people. Addressed to Interior Minister Davor Božinović, the letter sincerely thanks Croatia, HGSS, the police, army and volunteers for their tireless search.

The Polish Ambassador, Andrzej Edward Jasionowski, has sent an official letter of gratitude to Croatia for the sustained efforts in trying to find a missing hiker. The document was sent to Croatian Interior Minister Davor Božinović but clearly it is addressed to members of HGSS, the Croatian police, army, air force and the country's volunteers who manned the search.

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Letter sent by the Polish Ambassador

In the letter, Polish Ambassador Mr Jasionowski details his inability to address individually every member of the vast search party, who scored the mountain range around Biokovo for his missing countryman. In sending the letter to the head of the Ministry for the Interior, he clearly wishes the sincere thanks to be passed on to all those involved in the action.

Polish Ambassador Mr Jasionowski also acknowledges, on behalf of the Polish nation, his awareness of the cost of such an extensive search. 600 people including members from 15 stations of HGSS (the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service) from across Croatia, mountain rescuers from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Croatian army, the Croatian police, members of mountaineering associations and many volunteers were involved in the search. Croatia allocated €160,000 for helicopter flights and the aerial search alone. Volunteers were assisted on the search by tracking dogs and drones, which took thousands of photos.

39-year-old Polish national Lukasz Dariusz went missing while hiking on Biokovo on Friday 31 July 2020. Unfortunately, he still remains missing.

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Polish Ambassador to Croatia Mr. Andrzej Edward Jasionowski, pictured with Mrs. Katarina Grabar-Kitarović in 2018 © Polish Embassy Zagreb



Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Lessons from Poland: How to Develop Medical Tourism in Central Europe

October 23, 2019 - Lessons from Poland, the latest opportunity for Croatia's medical tourism chiefs to learn best practices from another country, but is anyone listening? 

Sometimes the clearest lessons come from the most unlikely of places.

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The 3rd Adriatic Health, Sport & Tourism Investment Forum concluded in Zagreb yesterday. It was a very stimulating event for me personally n terms of international contacts made, as well as being extremely well supported by some impressive international expert speakers, two Croatian government ministers, high-profile characters from the world of Croatian sport such as Davor Suker and Marin Cilic, and others. But the presentation which caught my eye and was the most important for those with an interest in developing medical tourism in Croatia came from a less celebrated source.

The medical tourism industry of Poland. 

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I am still learning about the global medical tourism industry and was not aware that Poland even had a significant medical tourism industry, let alone one which was allocated time to present at the conference, but from the moment I saw the first slide of Dr. Magdalena Rutkowska's presentation I was hooked. 

Poland Medical Tourism Programme. That had a nice, unified and national feel for a medical tourism brand. A little like the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council. And very unlike the way Croatia presents its medical tourism industry internationally. 

International trade fairs may come across the Kvarner Health Cluster, Losinj, the Island of Vitality, Zagreb, Bagatin Clinic (the most active Croatian clinic nationally and internationally), but Croatia Medical Tourism Programme? A concept almost unheard of. Such a simple and obvious step and one that Croatia has yet to master. 

But Poland had gone further than branding its industry on a national level, much further. Let's agree that Poland is not the number one medical tourism destination in the world, and its potential is less than Croatia's but in terms of what it is doing to realise its potential, it has a LOT of lessons for its Adriatic neighbour. 

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I almost feel stupid celebrating Poland's success, because all they have done is implement a common sense approach with determination, an approach which has not only brought tangible success, but at zero cost to the Polish taxpayer, and resulting in the approach being expanded and extended. 

A concept which could - and SHOULD - so easily be taking place in Croatia, the country which has medical tourism at the heart of its 7-year tourism strategy of 2013, but which has yet to deliver anything concrete. Simply following Poland's example would be an excellent way to start, and I found Magdalena after her presentation to learn more. 

The 3-year medical promotional project worth 5 million euro of EU money between 2012 and 2015 had its origins back in 2010 when some of Poland's private clinics started to lobby the government to do more to promote the medical tourism industry. After concerted pressure, the Polish government decided to include medical tourism in 15 sector tenders. Magdalena Rutkowska and her team stepped forward and Medical Travel Partner Poland became the implementing agency of the project. Initial target countries were Denmark,Germany, Norway, Sweden, UK, USA and Russia. 

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Brand Poland went on tour.  

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And Brand Poland played host, as well as capacity building and strengthening the brand with the participating stakeholders.  

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Some 40 clinics took part in the first phase of the project, investing their money in the joint promotion of Poland's brand as a medical tourism destination. Some 75% of their investment costs were reimbursed from the EU.  

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The project included feedback from the medical tourists who came to Poland during that period.  

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And there were some initial results for which Poland can be proud.  

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The numbers may be small for now, but the foundations being built are very solid.  You can learn more about the results of the initial phase here.

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After the first 3-year phase, the project continued. Additional target countries were added, as the EU wanted Poland to look at attracting tourists from non-EU countries. 

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Interest from clinics was strong, with some 176 interested in participating, a significant increase from the initial 40.  

While progress has been made, there is still plenty to do, of course. As part of its ongoing quality control, mystery shoppers tasted the response rate to enquiries from the participating clinics - there was no reply from 48 of them. So clearly some work to be done - train these clinics to be appropriately responsive or exclude them from the project. 

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Small steps, but concrete ones, and an emerging national brand, with a clear vision of the future direction.  

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And after the initial success, more official interest and partnership, with the second phase under the umbrella of the Polish Tourism Organization. 

The timeframe from project concept and submission to approval and commencing - just six months, although it should be noted that the money took longer to arrive and so many projects were initially financed by Poland and then reimbursed by the EU. 

Could it happen in Croatia?

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Poland's journey is a process of learning and trial and error. There were some expectations which failed to materialise, whereas other unexpected market opportunities arose. They had high expectations of the rich Polish diaspora in places such as the United States, but this has so far failed to provide a lucrative source of clients. On the other hand, simply by being present at international trade fairs and networking, new markets in former Soviet replublics such as Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have materialised. 

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For many participants, I am sure that this Polish presentation will not rank as one of the top moments of what was an excellent conference, but for me it was the most useful lesson of all for those with a genuine interest in moving Croatian medical tourism forward to the level it should be at to realise its considerable potential.

And then, a rare moment later in the conference - questions to the panelists allowed from the floor, something that happens all too rarely. I decided to raise my hand, firstly to congratulate Magdalena on an excellent presentation, and then to address my question to fellow panelist, Robert Pende, Croatian Assistant Minister of Tourism. 

"Assistant Minister, I have lived in your country for 17 years now and have heard one word more than any other when talking about developing Croatia's future - potential. Croatian tourism has so much potential, the medical tourism industry has so much potential etc. Medical tourism has been at the heart of your 2013 - 2020 medical tourism strategy for almost 7 years now. Putting the word 'potential' aside for a moment, and having listened to the excellent and very concrete example from Poland, can you give us any similar concrete examples of projects undertaken in that time, and what were the results?"

I will leave you to guess the response.

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To learn more about the forum organisers, including their other initiatives to develop medical tourism in the Adriatic, visit the Medical Group Ltd website

Learn more about Polish medical tourism in the video below, and to follow the latest from the Croatian medical tourism journey, follow the dedicated TCN section

Friday, 5 April 2019

World Bank Foresees Croatian Economic Growth in Next Three Years

Economic growth in Europe and Central Asia slowed down to 3.1 percent in 2018, and it is predicted to fall to 2.1 percent in 2019 due to a slower rate of global growth and uncertain prospects.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 5th of April, 2019, the Croatian economy continued to grow at a rate of 2.6 percent in 2018, while in the forthcoming period from 2019-2021 moderate growth is expected at an average rate of 2.5 percent, according to the World Bank's most recent report on the latest economic trends in Europe and Central Asia (N1).

The countries of the region recorded different rates of growth. Growth at the regional level has greatly contributed to positive developments in the GDP data of Russia as the largest economy in the region, just as the accelerated growth did in Albania, Hungary, Poland, and Serbia. On the other hand, Turkey has experienced a significant slowdown in growth due to the pressure of the financial market and currency issues. Namely, in 2019, it is expected to grow by 1.0 percent, which is a significant drop compared to 7.4 percent back in 2017.

"Europe and Central Asia are vulnerable to global uncertainty and are faced with serious long-term challenges such as aging populations, a decline in productivity, a decline in investment, and climate change. It is good that there are a whole range of possible solutions available when public policies are geared towards mitigating these challenges,'' stated Cyril Muller, Vice President of the World Bank for Europe and Central Asia.

"Countries should work harder to attract investment, enhance their participation in global value chains, and ensure that more people are able to access financial services such as bank accounts and electronic payments."

Regional growth is expected to recover its power in 2020 and 2021, as it is predicted that the gradual recovery of Turkey will serve as a counterweight to the restrained activity in Central Europe as a whole. However, the long-term challenges of the region are still substantial.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and politics pages for much more.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Croatian Company to Enter Big Final in Krakow Competition

AMPnet is the best Croatian startup, and it's going to the big final in Krakow, Poland.

As VLM/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 1st of April, 2019, AMPnet's platform focuses on energy cooperatives, an alternative model of sales for electrical energy and the financing of renewable energy sources. Mislav Javor from AMPnet pointed out that the product is now finished, and how their very first clients are knocking at their door.

With the winning project, AMPnet IO d.o.o. was proclaimed as the best Croatian startup this year between nine finalists at the national final of the PowerUp! competition held within the framework of the LEAP Summit, and organised by Invento Capital Partners in Zagreb.

The winning Croatian team will be presented at the Grand Final in Krakow, Poland on May the 21st, where they will compete for large cash prizes of 50,000, 10,000 and 5,000 euros, while the best project will be offered an additional investment of 150,000 euros as well as participation in the prestigious accelerator EIT InnoEnergy Highway, which helps in the transformation of startups, from their early stages of development right up to becoming a successful business venture.

Energy in a new way!

''We're very pleased with this competition organised by Innoenergy together with Invento Capital Partners. We believe that all of the teams have very high quality products, but we're happy that even with such a strong competition, the jury decided on us. We have been developing this product for two years and this victory is one of the moments that confirms that we're on the right track,'' said Javor.

''The PowerUp! competition by Innoenergy's winner, AMPnet, is a team that has a scalable product. Until now, they've shown that they have certain shifts in the market, they have contacts with potential buyers and have managed to attract investors. So, they only need an additional boost to reach the stage from which they can expand across Europe, and hopefully ultimately to the United States,'' said jury member Stevica Kuharski (Fil Rouge Capital).

''I'm truly delighted with the number of quality projects. This was one of the competitions where members of the jury had a difficult job choosing a project that would represent Croatia at the Grand Final in Krakow. What we can do, as a local partner of Innoenergy in Croatia, is to insist that many more of these projects are funded by Innoenergy, regardless of them having not been chosen today. The AMPnet project itself, and the team behind the project, demonstrated the highest degree of readiness, project development and market entrance possibilities,'' said Dalibor Marijanović, founder and partner of Invento Capital Partners, the local HUB in charge of supporting the aforementioned competition in Croatia.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and Made in Croatia pages for much more.

 

Click here for the original article by VLM for Poslovni Dnevnik

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