Thursday, 3 September 2020

Free Holidays for Austrians and Slovenes this September and October

September 3, 2020 – A bold and open gesture from the winemaking industry on the Pelješac peninsula to appreciated neighbours – cost-free accommodation will allow free holidays for Austrians and Slovenes in September and October 2020

Of all the incentives to assist Croatian tourism in the troublesome year of 2020, this one may be the boldest. In order to show appreciation for visitors from two of Croatia's nearest neighbours, winemakers from the Pelješac peninsula are arranging to offer free holidays for Austrians and Slovenes in September and October 2020.

In an interview published in Slobodna Dalmacija just yesterday, famous Pelješac winemaker Mato Violić Matuško revealed the plan. Matuško is also president of the Pelješac Wine Routes, a forward-thinking initiative in and of itself. It has massively increased wine tourism on Pelješac with its joined-up approach and has managed to bring together many individuals operating with the winemaking and tourism sectors of the region. Who better to organise free holidays for Austrians and Slovenes at harvest time?

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Just one of the breathtaking views available on Pelješac. The peninsula is most famous for its incredible wines © Romulić & Stojčić

Winemakers who are members of the Pelješac Wine Routes Association are those who will be involved in offering the free holidays for Austrians and Slovenes. The plan is to offer free accommodation to Austrian and Slovene tourists in order to thank them in particular for their returning custom. Visitors from these nations are among the most frequent to come. The incentive also aims to bolster tourism numbers well past the point of late summer.

Although some revenue in accommodation rentals may be lost due to the offer, the idea is startlingly inventive. It is hoped money put into the local economy by visitors taking advantage of the free holidays for Austrians and Slovenes will benefit the wider population in what has been a difficult season for many. Austrians and Slovenes taking advantage of the incentive will also surely be offered some excellent Pelješac wine on their visit.

You can read here a TCN interview from August 2020 which also shows how the wines of Dubrovnik Neretva County have assisted in keeping visitor routes open during a difficult year for tourism in south Croatia  - Croatia Wine: ”Every Visit Is A Voyage Of Discovery”

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Sunday, 23 August 2020

Old Vessels Turned into Floating Museums in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County

As Novac/Lidija Kiseljak/zupan.hr writes on the 21st of August, 2020, "Mala Barka 2: The preservation of the maritime heritage of the northern Adriatic" is a project from Primorje-Gorski Kotar County with which they entered the finals of the selection for the best EU county project within the Contribution to cross-border cooperation category. The project is part of the Interreg V-A Slovenia - Croatia 2014 - 2020 cooperation programme and relates to the location of the border area that includes Kvarner and Istria, as well as the Slovenian Littoral just across the border.

The project lasted from the 1st of October 2016 to the 31st of March 2019. The project holder itself is Primorje-Gorski Kotar County and the partners are the Kvarner Tourist Board, the Maritime and Historical Museum of the Croatian Littoral of Rijeka, the Association and Ecomuseum “House of Batana” Rovinj - Associazione Ecomuseo “Casa della batana” Rovigno, the Municipality of Izola - Comune di Isola, the Izola Tourist Association - Ente per il turismo Isola, the Municipality of Piran - Comune di Pirano and Maritime Museum - Museo del mare “Sergej Masera” Piran - Pirano.

The value of the project stands at an enormous 2,124,018.17 euros, of which the amount of 1,805,415.44 euros is covered by the European Regional Development Fund. The financial part related to Primorje-Gorski Kotar County stood at 540,141.41 euros and the amount of 459,120.20 euros was co-financed from the European Regional Development Fund.

Maritime heritage is a great and untapped tourist potential of the northern Adriatic and unfortunately the urbanisation and modernisation of society are erasing the traditional maritime heritage of this area, which could largely disappear irretrievably.

''Our motive, but also our challenge, was how we can find a way to permanently protect and promote the valuable and rich maritime heritage of Kvarner and this part of the Adriatic. Therefore, the main goal of the project is the preservation, protection, promotion and development of the maritime heritage of the border area through tourist valorisation and based on the principles of sustainable tourism. This project sought to maximally protect the existing tangible and intangible maritime heritage throughout the coastal part of the border area and to use it systematically through a series of measures (the setting up of interpretation centres, holding educational and demonstration events, the establishment of a virtual museum, etc)'' they say from Primorje-Gorski Kotar County.

The Mala barka (Little boat) project started back in 2015 and continued with "Mala barka 2".

''We've upgraded our maritime network by creating small floating ''open-air museums'' - restored traditional wooden boats and interpretation centres in Krk and Losinj. The biggest attraction is the floating Interpretation Centre for Maritime Heritage of the Island of Losinj, the Nerezinac camp. We also included experts in maritime heritage in this project.

Furthermore, we invited skilled masters of traditional construction who participated in the renovation processes, and passed on their knowledge to younger generations through the Academy of Maritime Crafts and Skills. They also joined the traditional interpretation events and presented their knowledge and skills to visitors and tourists. We haven't forgotten to highlight other important forms of maritime heritage, such as old ports, museums, old maritime factories, craft workshops and other smaller maritime elements. Our goal was to make it visible and recognisable,'' they say from Primorje-Gorski Kotar County.

Furthermore, a strong promotional campaign was conducted based on many traditional events, including traditional small boat regattas, exhibitions of restored old wooden boats, etc. Cross-border tourism itineraries were also developed in the name of this prokect. A virtual museum was created, which enables the availability of the entire tangible and intangible maritime heritage to all groups of society. The practice was even transferred to Italy as part of the current implementation of the Arca Adriatica project, which is implemented within the Interreg Italy-Croatia Cooperation Programme 2014-2020.

For more on EU and cross-border projects in Croatia, follow our lifestyle page.

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Thursday, 20 August 2020

Croatia On Slovenia RED List. What Does That Actually Mean?

August 20, 2020 – Slovenians must quarantine if returning from Croatia after the weekend, but what are the implications of Croatia on Slovenia RED list?

Update on August 20, after the official placement of Croatia on Slovenia RED list by the Slovenian government was made public: in order to make things easier for their nationals currently vacationing in Croatia, Slovenia has decided to extend the deadline for the return to Slovenia until Monday. Slovenians who own real-estate and boats in Croatia are given an extra 48 hours, so they can take care of their property before leaving Croatia without self-isolating upon return. 

As reported in TCN yesterday, Slovenia has designated Croatia on Slovenia RED list as a country on its red list for travel. Sounds bad. But, what does it actually mean?

Well, for Slovenes, the choice is pretty simple – return home before the end of the weekend, or you'll face a mandatory two-week quarantine and Coronavirus test when you do. The quarantine and test will apply automatically to any Slovene travelling to Croatia after Friday.

But, what are the implications of Croatia on Slovenia RED list?

Well, the mandatory quarantine and test apply to any Croatian entering Slovenia after the weekend. There are exceptions – if you're just passing through, say, on your way to Austria or Germany, the quarantine doesn't apply. You'll have a maximum of 12 hours to travel into, through, and out of Slovenia. The same goes for delivery drivers who are just dropping off or picking up. You can stop for gas and use the WC. Special permits are also available for those who have to cross the border for daily trade.

Not such a big deal for Croats, then? Well, we'll have to wait and see. But, it doesn't look good. The economic implications could bite much harder.

From June, Slovenians have accounted for 7 million overnight stays in Croatia. As reported continuously in TCN's 2020 travel and tourism coverage, regional tourism - lead by those travelling by car – has accounted for the largest number of arrivals this year. Numbers of Slovenes holidaying in Croatia are actually up by as much as 3 percent compared to the same period last year.

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In 2020, visitors from Croatia's next-door neighbour have been more important - and more numerous - than ever before, until Croatia on Slovenia RED list

According to the Croatian National Tourist Board, Slovenes accounted for 8.7% of arrivals and 11.5% of overnight stays in total over 2019, second only to Germans. During this 2020 season, in which their custom is more important than ever, the financial impact on Croatia may be much more damaging than that incurred from similarly imposed classifications by Austria and Italy, who recently announced mandatory testing for all returnees.

The peak days of the season are already behind us but, truth be told, the season only began in earnest a month ago. There was no pre-season this year. Hopes of an extended season, based on the optimistic numbers of July / early August, now seem to be dashed, due to the rise in number of COVID-19 infections. Certainly from the Slovenian market.

Will Slovenes and others accept a mandatory quarantine in exchange for their annual break on the Croatian coast? Some may. Surely, some won't. Any Slovenes planning trips in late August or September have been given serious cause to reconsider, thanks to the new classification. School and work start again in September – how does a two-week mandatory quarantine fit into that schedule?

Nobody really knows how long the 'red card' Slovenia has given Croatia will last, nor when it will end. The answer presumably lies in Croatia's ability to address its number of newly infected. Before all criticism for the stranglehold this classification places on the 2020 season is attributed to Slovenia, Croatia must first ask itself some tough questions; could Croatia – from staff and owners in the service industry, right the way up to state level - have done more to keep the numbers down? For it is the numbers now that can help save the remainder of Croatia's 2020 tourist season, not the Slovenes.

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Thursday, 20 August 2020

Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac: Croatia is a Safe Destination for Tourists from Slovenia

August 20, 2020 - The coronavirus spokesman of the Slovenian government, Jelko Kacin, confirmed on Wednesday what was speculated - Slovenia will put Croatia on the red list Thursday night. However, he said that in reality, Croatia is already on the Slovenian red list. Croatian Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac responded.

Index.hr reports that Slovenian tourists will most likely have until the end of the week to return to Slovenia to avoid a two-week self-isolation.

"In reality, Croatia is already on the red list today, and formally it will be tomorrow," Kacin said, adding that the situation in Croatia is dramatic.

He went a step further and said that Croatia no longer controls the situation with the coronavirus.

"We have to be realistic and understand that they are no longer in control of their situation; their epidemiologists can no longer do that. There will be big problems in the health system. The situation requires sober heads and decisive moves," Kacin said.

"The situation in Croatia is so bad that we have no choice but to call on our citizens to return to Slovenia as soon as possible. Things are getting worse quickly and it will be much worse," Kacin added.

The Minister of Tourism and Sports, Nikolina Brnjac, answered him.

The press release received from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports is transmitted in its entirety:

"Following the latest statements by the coronavirus spokesman of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia, Jelko Kacin, we reject his allegations that the situation in Croatia is dramatic.

We remind you that Slovenia is continuously at the very top of the market crucial for the overall result of Croatian tourism, which is illustrated by eVisitor indicators according to which in June 2020, we recorded approximately 207 thousand arrivals and 1.1 million overnight stays from the Slovenian market. July reached a level of approximately 382 thousand arrivals and 3.4 million overnight stays.

According to preliminary indicators for August (as of August 18), we are currently at the level of approximately 238 thousand arrivals and 2.2 million overnight stays of Slovenes, of which 71.4 percent are realized in Istria, Kvarner and Lika. We want to point out that in these three counties, a total of 10 cases of newly infected with COVID-19 were recorded in the past 24 hours.

The perception of Croatia is extremely good for most Slovenian tourists; in Croatia, they feel safe since they know it well and are the owners of numerous properties (more than 100,000).

Minister of Tourism and Sports Nikolina Brnjac is in constant contact with representatives of associations in the tourism system, to ensure full compliance with epidemiological measures in tourist facilities, as well as the possibility of introducing testing for foreign tourists in tourist facilities.

Croatia will continue to do everything in its power to ensure that the relevant foreign institutions have all the accurate and precise information on the basis of which they make decisions on the inclusion of countries on risk lists, i.e., on the lists of safe countries," the Ministry said.

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Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Brnjac: Regular Communication With Austrian And Slovenian Colleagues

ZAGREB, Aug 19, 2020 - Tourism and Sport Minister Nikolina Brnjac has said that she has been in touch with her Austrian and Slovenian counterparts regarding measures taken due to the coronavirus and the number of infections in Croatia while some tourism companies have introduced free testing for COVID-19 for Austrian citizens.

"The epidemiological situation is a very important factor and that is why we are constantly transparently presenting data on the situation in Croatia and individual counties," Minister Brnjac told reporters after a meeting of the inner cabinet on Wednesday.

Asked by reporters if Slovenia, like Austria, would introduce mandatory tests for coronavirus for their citizens returning from Croatia, Minister Brnjac said that the authorities "are trying to explain to those countries that their tourists feel safe in Croatia, particularly when looking at the situation in other countries in the neighbourhood."

She underscored that she expects and hopes that the Slovenian government will take into consideration that some counties with a better epidemiological situation could be exempted from some measures, such as Istria and Primorje-Gorski Kotar counties.

"Each country is concerned about its citizens and has its own ways and methodology of counting," she said and added that the most important thing is that everyone in Croatia adheres to measures recommended by the national Covid-19 response team. "It is difficult to expect the number of infections to drop suddenly but we expect that to occur in the period ahead and based on that, some of those measures could be revised," she said.

Asked by reporters about the precise number of Austrians who left Croatia last weekend due to the latest measures by Austria, Brnjac said that most of the guests left because their vacations had ended and that this was a logical exchange of guests which usually occurs in the second half of August.

She added that currently there were more than 170,000 German tourists in Croatia, who are the most numerous guests, followed by Slovenians, Poles, Czechs and Austrians. 

Valamar Riviera offering free testing for Austrian guests

Considering the situation regarding Austrian tourists, the Valamar Riviera group, the largest tourist company in Croatia, on Wednesday said that as of this week it would ensure free testing for Covid-19 for its guests, which means a discount of €100 for each guest.

Valamar underlined that not one case of the virus had been registered among any of their guests since the start of the epidemic, which it considers an indication that preventative measures are being implemented well and that tourists are very safe in Croatia.

Falkensteiner too to conduct fee PCR tests

Due to warnings of the risk of travelling to Croatia that Austria issued on August 17, the Falkensteiner Hotels & Residences has introduced free PCR tests for all their guests from Austria who have at least a three-night booking in one of the group's hotels or campsites in Croatia.

Additional testing for tourists on Kvarner islands and in Rijeka

Since the end of last week already, additional PCR testing has been organized on the Kvarner archipelago and in Rijeka for tourists and Croatian citizens travelling to countries where these tests are required.

Testing can be conducted in Rijeka, Mali Losinj, Cres, Rab and Krk from Monday to Friday, and in Rijeka also on Saturdays, during the morning hours. It is recommended to book in advance.

A test for the coronavirus costs HRK 698.21 (approx. €93).

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Friday, 14 August 2020

Slovenian Government Spokesperson: Croatia Could Find Itself on Red List!

The Slovenian Government will introduce a red list for those countries where the epidemiological situation has significantly worsened, and for all those who enter that country from countries that are on the red list, a 14-day quarantine is mandatory.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 13th of August, 2020, Jelko Kacin, the spokesman of the Slovenian Government for coronavirus, stated that Croatia could very easily be end up on the Slovenian Government's red list due to the large increase in the number of infected people, the Slovenian media reports. According to the media in Croatia's neighbour to the north, Kacin is worried about the latest data from Croatia in regard to the number of newly infected people.

On Wednesday, Jelko Kacin told 24ur that the Croatian numbers could add to those infections that were recorded in Slovenia which were actually imported from Croatia, N1 reports.

"Then those Croatian numbers are much higher," Kacin commented. The key fact is that they test less than us, he pointed out, adding that tourists do not trust the Croatian health care system and that they prefer to return to their homeland if they get sick during their vacation.

Kacin believes that this will certainly have negative consequences for Croatian tourism in the future. He added that Croatia "could quickly find itself on the red list" because there is too much contagion among tourists.

"It should be emphasised that a large percentage of Slovenes behave extremely responsibly even when on vacation," the Slovenian Government spokesman said. However, he is worried about the data coming from Croatia in recent days.

"What saddens me is the fact that Croatia will change the law on infectious diseases, but only after August the 20th," Kacin said. The holiday season will be over before the measures are actually implemented.

For more on coronavirus and relations between the Slovenian Government and the Croatian Government, follow our politics page.

 

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Thursday, 23 July 2020

Slovenia Won't Put Croatia on Red List for Now

ZAGREB, July 23, 2020 - Slovenia will not put Croatia for now on the red list of countries for which quarantine is mandatory, Slovenian Health Minister Tomaz Gantar said in Ljubljana on Thursday.

For now "there is no initiative to declare Croatia a red zone," he told press.

Decisions on putting countries on the red list are not made so fast and epidemiologists who follow the situation in neighbouring countries want these decisions to be agreed and that there is a joint response, Gantar said.

It is good, he added, that Croatia has imposed new measures to contain the spread of coronavirus and restricted entry from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro, all of which are on Slovenia's red list.

According to its Public Health Institute, Slovenia had 12 new cases per 100,000 over the past fortnight. Croatia had twice as many. Both are in the yellow epidemiological zone.

Gantar said that in order to determine a destination's safety, besides the number of coronavirus cases, additional criteria were being used over the past fortnight, such as whether a country was a neighbour with a high passenger frequency or a distant one from which the risk of importing the virus was far smaller.

Also taken into account is the number of persons tested per inhabitants and a comparison with Slovenia's epidemiological situation.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Slovenia Warns Croatia to Close Nightclubs Amid Coronavirus Re-Emergence

The Croatian situation with the coronavirus pandemic has been smouldering yet again ever since the holding of a highly questionable tennis event in the Dalmatian city of Zadar. Adria Tour saw the re-emergence of the virus following two weeks or relative peace. Nightclubs in Zagreb have also been an issue, causing the Croatian capital to become a coronavirus hotspot once again.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 29th of June, 2020, Slovenian Government spokesman Jelko Kacin announced that Croatia could be removed from the list of Slovenia's list of safe countries because of the escalating situation.

This statement from the Slovenes comes despite the fact that the professionals here claim that it isn't something to be too concerned with at this moment in time and that the health care system is coping well.

''Slovenia expects Croatia to take appropriate measures and ban the gathering of large numbers of people at parties,'' Jelko Kacin said today, announcing that Slovenia could remove Croatia from the list of safe countries because it is likely to reach a cumulative value of 10 infected people per 100 thousand inhabitants in fourteen days.

''This doesn't mean that I will advise people not to travel there, everyone can decide for themselves, but the warning alone is strong enough,'' said Kacin. The number of coronavirus cases in the Republic of Croatia has unfortunately increased dramatically in recent days, and Slovenia is closely following developments. Four new cases of the infection have been reported in the country today.

''The focus is in the City of Zagreb. Surprisingly, Croatia decided to open its nightclubs, a move neighbouring Slovenia never did. However, there are also problems with data control. I think there are enough reasons for concern and action.

The prime ministers have been talking, and Slovenia expects Croatia to give up on these night clubs, which has proven to be a source of infection coming from everywhere, including from South Korea,'' he said, adding that "the younger generation is hiding symptoms."

For more on coronavirus in Croatia, follow our dedicated section.

Friday, 15 May 2020

Restrictions for Travel across Slovenia-Croatia Border Relaxed for EU Citizens

ZAGREB, May 15, 2020 - The Slovenian government's decision to declare the end of the COVID-19 epidemic has surprised many, and the government spokesman said on Friday that the decision was based, among other things, on the improved situation in Europe and dialogue between Slovenian and Croatian epidemiologists.

On Thursday evening, the government led by Prime Minister Janez Jansa also decided that citizens and residents of the European Union and the European Economic Area (EEA) are free to cross into Slovenia provided that they did not stay outside Europe in the last 14 days.

Restrictions for third-country citizens remain in place. Third-country nationals must undergo a mandatory two-week quarantine, with exceptions for diplomats, members of rescue and relief services, attendance of funeral, lorry drivers and persons with certificates issued by the competent Slovenian ministry showing they will provide urgent services.

Asked by the press about new regulations for travel from Croatia to Slovenia, government spokesman Jelko Kacin said that the two countries now had similar epidemiological situations.

The additional reason for the relaxation of restrictions for travel across the Slovenia-Croatia border is to make it easier for students in the contiguous areas in Croatia to continue attending school in nearby Slovenian towns. Slovenia's schools will reopen their doors for pupils on Monday after two months of online learning.

Slovenia is the first European country to declare an end of the coronavirus epidemic.

Monday, 11 May 2020

Coronavirus: Slovenes Interested in Coming to Croatia, Prerequisite Missing

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 11th of May, 2020, the Slovenes are very interested in travelling across the border into Croatia after the announcement of the relaxation of the anti-coronavirus measures due to the favourable epidemiological situation in both countries, but the Slovenian Government continues to emphasise that a bilateral agreement should first be reached between national public health institutes of both Slovenia and Croatia, as well as the police in both neighbouring nations.

As its coronavirus crisis spokesperson Jelko Kacin said at a government press conference on Monday, experts from the Croatian Institute of Public Health and the Slovenian Institute of Public Health are holding a meeting today to reach an agreement on the possibility on the aforementioned issues and the necessary protocols that need to be put in place.

The consular department of the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been being flooded with phone calls from Slovenes who want to come to Croatia as soon as possible, especially owners of real estate, boats and caravans. They are primarily inquiring about the technical details of entering Croatia and returning back home to Slovenia after that, given that the provision on mandatory self-isolation (which is seven days in Slovenia's case) after returning from abroad is still in force, explained Kacin.

It was also added that the Slovenian side is considering the possibility that those who go to Croatia over the weekend, or for a shorter period lasting a maximum of 72 hours, can be allowed to return to Slovenia without having to immediately go into mandatory quarantine or self-isolation, if they adhere to all of the prescribed epidemiological measures on both sides of the Croatian-Slovenian border when travelling.

Kacin assessed Croatia's decision in principle to allow Slovenian citizens to enter as a welcome "political" message from the Croatian side, expressing the desire for as many Slovenian tourists as possible to come to Croatia, but warned that it was not yet operational, as an agreement between the two national institutes for public health and the police forces of both countries needs to be reached first.

''That could happen very quickly, so it is better to wait a few days before travelling,'' Kacin warned.

In addition to reaching an agreement at the level of the institutes of public health of both countries, it is also necessary to reach an agreement on protocols between the Croatian and the Slovenian police forces for the crossing of the border, in order to avoid possible differences in the interpretation of the agreement, said Kacin.

For more on coronavirus in Croatia, follow our dedicated section. For more on travel, click here.

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