Thursday, 14 January 2021

Can Istria Become a Leading Sports Tourism Destination?

January 13, 2021 – Given the developed sports and accommodation infrastructure, as well as the organization and sports tradition, does Istria have the potential to become the leading sports tourism destination in the southern part of Europe?

With cities that regularly count the highest numbers of tourist overnight stays each year, Istria has been a top tourist destination for a long time. After a recent endeavor to brand Istria as an attractive region for top IT professionals, Istria is also promoted as a favorable sports tourism destination.

Favorable climate, vicinity to Europe

According to Glas Istre, due to its favorable position, mild climate, and developed sports infrastructure and tradition, Istrian cities on the west coast are often hosting many international clubs and national teams that come to the preparations and camps.

For example, the Croatia national handball team recently made preparations for the 2021 World Handball Championship in the Istrian city of Poreč. Their coach Lino Červar said two years ago that the national team in Poreč feels at home.


Football fields in Medulin / Gat travel agency

Comparative advantages of Istria, such as the proximity of major European cities and favorable climate in the winter months, give it a unique opportunity to compete with other warmer destinations, such as the famous Antalya in Turkey, one of the most attractive sports tourism destinations. However, it is necessary to use those advantages, adequately adjust the infrastructure, and increase and improve the offer.

The corona crisis has certainly benefited Istria, which has logically imposed itself as the best option for sports clubs' semi-seasonal winter preparations. However, once the corona crisis becomes a thing of the past and the borders open, the question is whether Istria can compete with the best.

Well-known Istrian sports destinations - Medulin, Pula, Porec, Rovinj, and Umag

Football fields near the Belvedere Hotel in Medulin traditionally attract football clubs. All six football fields are 100 to a maximum of 500 meters apart. About 200 clubs from all over Europe pass through Medulin annually, and this year it was chosen by the football clubs Lokomotiva, Šibenik, Međimurje, Slaven Belupo, Gorica, and domestic Istria 1961.

Apart from Medulin, sports tourism also thrives in the four largest Istrian cities – Pula, Poreč, Rovinj, and Umag, which also generate the largest tourist traffic. The famous Poreč sports hall Žatika, one of six halls in the city, was built for the 2009 World Handball Championship in Croatia, and as a result of many years of investment in sports, a football camp will soon be built in Poreč.

Currently, football clubs Rijeka, Slovačko from the Czech Republic, Budafoki MTE from Hungary, and Sturm Graz from Austria are preparing in Umag. The City of Umag says that they have been continuously working on raising the quality of football fields for years, especially in the Stella Maris sports center.


Tennis center Stella Maris in Umag / Copyright Romulić and Stojčić

Umag is already recognized as a base for the winter preparations of many European first leaguers. The current situation with the coronavirus has only further increased the number of inquiries from foreign football clubs. By the end of February, numerous first-league and second-league clubs are expected to spend their winter preparations in Umag, culminating in a series of traditional Umag Trophy youth football tournaments, for which Juventus and Bayern Münich have already confirmed the arrival.

"We have recognized all the comparative advantages of Istria. Ten years ago, we decided to develop this type of tourism, together with the Umag Tourist Board and the hotel company Plava Laguna. We notice that the potential is much greater than what we can currently satisfy with the existing infrastructure, so the sports center and additional fields are also planned," they say from the City of Umag.

Marko Kuže: Rovinj is Dinamo's winter base

Dinamo and Osijek football clubs are currently preparing in Rovinj. It seems that the corona crisis, in this case, was not crucial given that the clubs of the first Croatian football league, as well as the Croatian national football team, chose Rovinj in previous years.


Rovinj / Copyright Romulić and Stojčić

When asked whether Rovinj can compete specifically with Turkey, the City reminds that Dinamo players declared themselves on this issue last year. They said that, given the quality of the terrain and accommodation, Rovinj is no weaker than Turkey, where they had the opportunity to make preparations before. Last year, the conditions offered by Rovinj were praised by the then Dinamo coach Nenad Bjelica, who returned here this year to prepare with the Football club Osijek.

Marko Kuže, technical director of Dinamo, says that in Rovinj, the conditions for preparations are excellent, from accommodation to the training ground.

"On behalf of the club, staff, and players, I must express my satisfaction with the hospitality. We are always pleasantly welcomed here, and this is very important in choosing a location for such a serious work process as preparations. Considering that Rovinj is already Dinamo's winter base, we have a good experience this year. There was no need to look for a location for preparations outside of Croatia because we have everything here. We see that other teams have preparations in Istria, which is also very good for domestic tourism," says Kuže.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Popular Rovinj Batana Eco-Museum Undergoing Reconstruction

November the 25th, 2020 - The Istrian city of Rovinj has a lot to boast of when it comes to attractions, but the Rovinj Batana Eco-Museum is certainly high on the list. Works on its reconstruction are now in full swing.

As Morski writes on the 24th of November, 2020, works on the reconstruction and general ''doing up'' of the Rovinj Batana Eco-Museum are now in progress. Construction work on the renovation of the building began back in November 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic struck, and to date, the installation of new electrical installations, multimedia installations, insulation and plumbing has been completed.

The project itself is worth about two million kuna in total, and part of the equipment and part of the multimedia solutions were financed from the aforementioned amount through the "Culturecovery interreg centraleurope" project, while through the project "Arca Adriatica interreg Italy-Croatia" the graphic design and part of the museum's new multimedia are being financed.

The renovation is being partly co-financed by the Croatian Ministry of Culture and a loan to cover, among other things, the costs of arranging the Rovinj Batana Eco-Museum's interpretation centre and the new space in Arno Longo Street, for which the project and obtaining the necessary permits, are drawing to a close and therefore work should begin soon.

The Rovinj Batana Eco-Museum should reopen its doors to visitors at the end of June next year, and the new exhibition will tell the story of Batana and Rovinj-Rovigno in a modern and inspiring way, pushing its own boundaries and opening new horisons to please visitors from across the world.

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Thursday, 19 November 2020

Rovinj Mayor Claims Austrians, Slovenes and Italians "Destroying" Istria

The Rovinj mayor, Marko Paliaga, told local portal Glas Istre that he had decided to put an end to illegal construction and to investors who don't respect spatial plans and dare to build without permits without any problems.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 18th of November, 2020,  said that all Istrian towns and municipalities had signed a declaration asking the competent Ministry of Construction and the State Inspectorate to amend local laws to allow local government units to control illegal construction outside of designated construction areas.

the Rovinj mayor said that they had sent a lot of pictures of illegal construction to the chief state inspector, but there has been reaction and the problems are only accumulating.

''I'm worried because there has been a lot of talk about the second wave of legalisation. This is probably why these incredible situations occur in which tents, awnings and large umbrellas are now being placed on agricultural land, in order to provide shade and create the illusion of an already built facility. We, by the way, record all this with a drone and we can't understand how this is possible. Agricultural landowners do this consciously, intentionally, for the sake of ortho-photo shooting,'' he said.

Illegal builders, he says, are mostly foreigners

''It especially hurts me that these people are often Slovenes, Italians and Austrians. They're the most aggressive, arrogant and don't respect our space. I'm the only minority mayor in Croatia, I'm Slovenian. And that's why I can legitimately say that I'm extremely disappointed in Slovenian politics and actions regarding the issue of illegal construction here in Istria. I'm disappointed in their relationship with us. We're almost fellow citizens, and then they, the Slovenes, behave so irresponsibly and ruthlessly towards our territory! Our Istria is not only ours, but also theirs, it's also Slovenian, all the way to the border with Trieste. Instead of being together, protecting nature’s resources in a coordinated way, they disobey the rules and destroy it. I can’t figure it out and I don’t want to accept it. Both we here and the Slovenes are Istrians together. We should be careful how we treat the land as it's our greatest wealth.

I think that the Slovenes are doing enormous damage to Istria at this moment in time. They showed that on Crveni vrh near Umag, then in Duga uvala, Barbariga… I'm inviting Croatian citizens to visit Barbariga and see how ready these foreigners are to destroy our territory.

We struggle, we work according to procedures, bring all kinds of plans to the table, as well as various studies on the use of space, we conduct public debates and then a Slovene comes, builds a weekend house where he shouldn't and - nothing is said to anyone.

Here, the territory is being exploited in an extremely unacceptable way: it's being permanently destroyed through the construction of houses or villas with swimming pools in the middle of agricultural land. I'm a mayor who would like to be allowed, after being elected through a direct election, to be directly responsible as well. Give us mayors authority and it will be seen who is responsible among us and who isn't, who wants to work and who doesn't,'' the Rovinj mayor said, adding that illegal building is going on around Rovinj every single day.

''It happens every day, literally every single day! In the first wave, someone legalised a 50-square-foot facility, and now it’s being upgraded to 150 square feet! Tourist facilities are being upgraded. If we don't stop this phenomenon, it will take away the competitive advantage and attractiveness of Rovinj in the long run. Traffic in private and hotel accommodation will be lost, spaces will be illegally rebuilt, our infrastructure will be overloaded and we will no longer have what we have, and that's the preservation of space. That's our wealth,'' concluded the Rovinj mayor, adding that in neighbouring Slovenia, such individuals would end up in prison for what they do here, and that there is no end to this ''arrogance'' here in Croatia because they are not effectively punished.

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Friday, 25 September 2020

Losinj, Rovinj and Zadar Listed Among Top 50 Global Destinations

As Morski writes on the 25th of September, 2020, reputable professor and tourism expert Terry Stevens has included Zadar, Losinj and Rovinj in his new book "Wish you were here" among the top 50 global destinations. The new book from this famous "veteran" of the tourism industry which covers over 200 pages provides a unique insight into what makes a tourist destination excellent.

''The fact that the world-renowned tourism expert Terry Stevens has included as many as three Croatian destinations among the top 50 global destinations confirms the positive image that Croatia enjoys on the international tourism market, and is also a recognition to all valuable Croatian tourism workers,'' said Croatian Tourist Board Director Kristjan Stanicic, congratulating Zadar, Losinj and Rovinj for their placement on the list.

Based on 40 years of work in the tourism industry in over 55 countries, Professor Stevens' book explains how good destination management and professional and hospitable tourism workers are the most responsible for the success of a destination.

''We're proud of the new success of our destination, which is a wider entity - Zadar and Zadar County, as it is recognised globally. The author emphasises the area's turbulent history, but also fascination with the recovery of Zadar, which rose to its full glory. Old and new, Roman excavations and Basic's ingenious installations are of interest to many travellers and that's exactly what attracts them the most. In addition, the author notes that Zadar is still a place that preserves the authenticity and it showcases Croatia, and not just tourism,'' said the director of the Zadar County Tourist Board, Mihaela Kadija.

Professor Terry Stevens is the founder and CEO of the multi-award winning international travel consulting firm Stevens & Associates which is based in Wales. His company has worked in over 50 countries around the world specialising in destination development and marketing.

The director of the Rovinj Tourist Board, Odette Sapac, is especially pleased that Rovinj, as the leading Croatian destination, has been recognised in this foreign publication among the 50 best global destinations. Sapac pointed out that the author praised the positive direction of the development of Istrian tourism, at the same time presenting the long history of Istria and Rovinj, as well as their rich gastronomic and accommodation offers.

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

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Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.

Sunday, 2 August 2020

Tourism in the Corona Age: 10 Virtual Ways to Discover Rovinj

August 2, 2020 - Tourism was on hold when we started this series of articles, but most of us still have plenty of time. So let's look at the virtual resources available to explore Croatia virtually. We continue our new Virtual Croatia series with the tools to discover Rovinj, one of the most amazing towns in Istria.

A few weeks ago I wrote that being a tourism blogger in the corona era was about as useful as being a cocktail barman in Saudi Arabia. I feel less useless now, a few weeks later, and I am encouraged by the number of Croatian tourism businesses who are contacting us wanting to start thinking of promoting post-corona tourism. 

One of the challenges of writing about tourism at the moment is that there is nothing positive to write about. With people confined to their homes and tourism in Croatia currently not possible, many have decided to go into hibernation until it is all over. 

I think that this is a mistake, and I have greatly enjoyed the TCN series by Zoran Pejovic of Paradox Hospitality on thinking ahead to tourism in a post-corona world.  You can find Zoran's articles here.

Way back on March 14 - several lifetimes ago - I published an article called Tourism in the Corona Age: 10 Virtual Ways to Discover Zagreb. The way I saw things, now was an OUTSTANDING opportunity for tourism promotion. People have time, they yearn for their freedom and former lives, so give them the tools to thoroughly research and enjoy your destinations, and you will have then longing to be there. And when they do come, they will have a deeper understanding of the destination due to their research. 

South Africa and Portugal were the first to do their post-corona tourism promotion videos several weeks ago (Post-Corona Tourism Planning: Lessons from South Africa and Portugal), a trick which has been followed by other tourism countries, the latest being Croatia with the national tourist board campaign, #CroatiaLongDistanceLove, going live yesterday.

But while these campaigns create longing and market presence, they don't really educate. People now have time to really get into destinations. And dreams of escape to somewhere more exotic are high on the list of priorities of many. 

So TCN has decided to help with that education with a new series called Virtual Croatia, where we will be helping you discover many of Croatia's destinations with all the best virtual tools available on your self-isolating sofa at home. 

We started with Tourism in the Corona Age: 10 Virtual Tools to Discover Hvar.

After this, we put our a press release (which you can read here in English and Croatian) offering a free article to any local tourist board in Croatia who would like the free promotion in our Virtual Croatia series

The Sinj Tourist Board was the first to respond, and now you can see just how rich the tourism offer is in this proud Alka town - your virtual tools to Discover Sinj. This was followed by Discover OpatijaDiscover Brela, Discover RogoznicaDiscover Stari GradDiscover OmišDiscover LumbardaDiscover Jezera, Discover Šolta, Discover Cavtat and Konavle, Discover KoprivnicaDiscover PašmanDiscover Gradac, Discover Virovitica, and Discover Bibinje.

Paola from the Tourist Board Rovinj-Rovigno helped us with the materials you need to discover Rovinj online. 

Let's begin! 

Discover Rovinj - the Gem of Istria

Rovinj tourist board official 2020 promo video

Rovinj - the most beautiful place; video by a guest 

Rovinj Travel Guide 

St. Andrija Island

Best restaurants in Rovinj

4K, drone-recorded video of the sunsets over the Red Island


Some of the Best Hotels in Croatia

Hotel Monte Mulini

Grand Park Hotel

Hotel Lone


Health and Active Tourism Mecca

Health tourism in Rovinj

An active holiday in Rovinj

Biking in and around Rovinj

Discover Rovinj Websites

Tourist Board Rovinj-Rovigno has an amazing website, with an incredible wealth of resources to help you get to know all there is to Rovinj. They have a photo and a video gallery, a 360° panorama tour of the town, and even some mobile apps to help you navigate and discover Rovinj. 

What's keeping you away? Rovinj is close, it's amazing, and it's safe!

To discover more of virtual Croatia, you can follow this series in our dedicated section, Virtual Croatia

If you are a local tourist board in Croatia and would like your destination featured in this series for free, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Virtual Croatia (and destination name)

Saturday, 18 July 2020

Rovinj Tourist Board Provides Masks for Caterers and Private Renters

July 18, 2020 - The Rovinj Tourist Board has designed its own protective canvas face mask that will be distributed to catering staff and registered private renters.

HRTurizam writes that these masks with the message "Carry me" and the logo of the Rovinj Tourist Board can be picked up in the Rovinj Tourist Board office, and a total of 1,000 masks were made.

Creatives from the Rovinj studio LC Studio are responsible for the design of the masks, and as the Rovinj Tourist Board points out, thanks to its interesting design with the Rovinj tourist logo, it will also be an attractive souvenir for many guests.

In addition to the masks, the Tourist Board has prepared a leaflet or brochure titled "Info COVID-19" which is intended for guests and renters and is available in 4 languages (Croatian, Italian, German and English). It is designed to inform guests about what to do if the coronavirus infection occurs during their stay at the property.

According to the eVisitor system, over 18,000 guests are staying in Rovinj, which is 57 percent compared to the same period last year. The tourists are mostly made up of Germans (33%), followed by Austrians (14%), Dutch (8%), while Slovenians, Italians and Czechs took fourth place. Guests are mostly staying in campsites (47 percent), followed by private accommodation (22 percent) while hotels and resorts make up 12 percent.

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

Monday, 6 July 2020

Croatian Tourism: As Rovinj Exceeds Expectations, Dubrovnik Fails

Croatian tourism is painting two dramatically different pictures this summer. In the Istrian city of Rovinj, things are beginning to bloom, while it might be worth turning the lights off and locking the door down in Dubrovnik...

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 5th of July, 2020, the centre of Rovinj was the city with the most tourists in all of the Republic of Croatia on Saturday. Rovinj. Just over 13,000 guests decided to spend their holidays in Istria, in the town of St. Euphemia. Right by the sea, in the old town, in Rovinj, coffee is purchased for fifteen kuna, which is equivalent to just a little more than two euros, writes

"There are a lot of people here on the weekends, mostly Austrians and Germans. There are also Italians. We expect that there will be more guests in July and August,'' said Sebastijan Ilic.

In Rovinj, occupancy levels are growing with increasing degrees on the thermometer, and the view of the old town from a five-star hotel will cost you about 4000 kuna per night. With breakfast included.

Much further down the coast in the famous City of Dubrovnik, Croatia's tourist Mecca, a completely different picture can be seen...

Down in Dubrovnik, the picture is completely different. Last year’s figures of 1.4 million tourist arrivals sound unreal now. Only 2,500 guests were registered in the city on Saturday, which is 10 percent of last year's traffic. Dubrovnik's coffee, an eternal inspiration to price analysts, still comes at a cost of 24 kuna on Stradun, and down one of the old city's streets, it costs up to 12 or 10 kuna.

In Dubrovnik, unfortunately, most of the terraces are empty. Some haven't yet even bothered to opened their doors. It's simple - there are no guests, so it's more cost-effective to keep the keys in the lock than put an empty pot on the stove for no reason.

For the most attractive view of the walls of Dubrovnik in a five-star hotel, you'll pay 5300 kuna. However, half of the hotels have not yet opened their doors in the famous Dalmatian city, and only some have adjusted their prices.

"We didn't open our hotels solely because of numbers and occupancy, but also because of the psychological effect, it proved to be the right decision and since the opening we're recording more and more interest, and we're pleased with the announcement from the British market, that is the most important one for Dubrovnik," said hotel spokeswoman Zrinka Martinovic.

On the most famous Dubrovnik beach this year, Banje (formerly East-West), you won't have a problem finding a place to put your towel this tourist season. One thing is for sure - this summer, many of Dubrovnik's actual residents will finally be able to enjoy their own beaches, which is both a blessing and a curse.

For more on Croatian tourism in the coronavirus era, follow our travel page.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Rovinj Orthopaedic Hospital Resumes Work

ZAGREB, April 28, 2020 - The Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Hospital in the Croatian coastal town of Rovinj resumed working on Monday, with enhanced protective measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus being in place.

"Rovinj Hospital is opening its doors and for now the rehabilitation centres will be opened. In cooperation with the Istria County Public Health Institute, we tested all our patients prior to their admission and confirmed that they were negative to the virus," the hospital's director, Dr. Marinko Rade told Hina.

The hospital will strictly restrict movement within the hospital and create an exceptionally safe premises for patients and medical staff alike, he underscored.

"We've prepared high preventative standards that everyone has to respect while the Children's Clinic is being opened under a special regime because children have to be our priority at this moment," Rade added.

Anyone who enters the hospital will have to undergo an epidemiological triage and contactless temperature taking. Security will be at a maximum. We are practically working so that the hospital will be the safest place to be in the city, he underlined.

Rade recalled that the Rovinj Hospital "was and remained coronafree," and that fact has made it possible to reopen its doors in such a short time.

The hospital suspended its activities on 28 March due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 23 March 2020

Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Sibenik & Rovinj Feature in Cities in 4K 'Stay at Home' Video

March 23, 2020 - A really nice compilation from the guys at Cities in 4K, featuring four Croatian cities as well as many others. While we can't travel, stay at home and dream.

Life is difficult for all of us at the moment, as we adjust to a new temporary reality of staying at home and putting our busy travelling lives on hold. 

One of the interesting aspects of this new reality is observing how people are reaction. Some are complaining, others accepting, and a nice number are looking to add a little positivity to the situation.

I have always been a big fan of the work of the guys from Cities in 4K, and we have featured their videos of destinations in Croatia and Montenegro. This is really gorgeous compilation of day and night timelapses of several fabulous European cities, including four in Croatia - Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Sibenik and Rovinj. 

It is called City Lights Turn On, Stay Home, and the Cities in 4K introduce it as follows. 

During these hard times we decided to create this video to ask all people over the world to stay at their homes so this situation changes into a positive end as soon as possible. So please take it very serious and make yourself comfortable at home.

This video is a combination of day to night time lapse videos from different cities all over the world, like Venice, Berlin, Zagreb, Lion, etc. 

Like a lot of people this affected us and our channel very much, so we are not able to travel in the near future and so it is good to take a look on the cities we traveled in the past. 

Stay safe!

The world may never be quite the same again, but there is still so much beauty to enjoy from the comfort of our own homes, the safest place to be right now. 

You can watch more of the Cities in 4K videos on their YouTube channel. 


Monday, 16 March 2020

Rovinj Feeling Coronavirus Consequences as Tourist Numbers Plummet

The current coronavirus epidemic has its grip firmly locked onto not only public health but the global economy, too. As Croatia dices with the possibility of the season being out of the window, with the pre-season certainly looking bleak, the beautiful Istrian city of Rovinj is feeling the consequences already.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 16th of March, 2020, the director of the Rovinj Tourist Board, Odette Sapac, appeared on N1 and claimed that coronavirus would see Rovinj suffer losses in terms of tourism, but that it was now more important to overcome this situation than to sit counting earnings.

"We've not been in this situation before, we can't compare it with the situation back in the 1990s. This is a case of a virus infection and we all need to be persistent in order to overcome it in the best way.

At this time last year, there were about 3000 foreign visitors in Rovinj, and now there are only about 150 of them, which means that everyone, the guests, the renters and the hoteliers, have all taken the situation seriously.

It's important for us to try to keep the situation under control, to cooperate with the police and the sanitary inspection and with everyone involved in tourism, to provide them with information on how to work in accordance with these restrictive measures, we must persist in this and wait for the situation to pass.

We hope to catch one bit of the peak of the tourist season. At the moment, it's not important that the profits that will be lost, it's important that we preserve the health of our residents and that it all goes away with as little loss of life as possible,'' she concluded.

Make sure to follow our dedicated page for all you need to know about coronavirus in Croatia. Follow our travel page for more on Croatian destinations.

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