Sunday, 8 August 2021

Plenković Says Tourism Results Good

ZAGREB, 8 Aug, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković was attending the 306th Sinjska Alka tournament in Sinj on Sunday, saying it was "a beautiful event" for the area and Croatia because it was "our tradition, our heritage and everything that embodies Croatia's identity."

Speaking ahead of the lancing competition, he congratulated the people of Sinj and the Alka Knights Society on the 306th Sinjska Alka.

The tournament commemorates a victory over 60,000 Ottoman soldiers on 14 August 1715 by 700 Croatian defenders of Sinj, about 30 kilometres inland from the southern coastal city of Split.

The event features period-clad horsemen riding at full gallop and aiming their lances at an iron ring, called the alka, which is suspended from a rope above the race track.

It was inscribed on UNESCO's world intangible cultural heritage list in 2010.

Members of the press asked Plenković to comment on the COVID situation in Sinj, whose Mayor Miro Bulj asked that hospitality establishments be allowed to stay open longer for the tournament, a request rejected by the national COVID crisis management team due to COVID rules.

The prime minister said the rules were the same for all and that they were adopted for, not against, citizens and tourists.

He said he saw no problem, as more spectators would be allowed than last year, and that after 18 months it should be clear to everyone why bars were not allowed to stay open after midnight, not just in Sinj.

Plenković went on to say that the tourist season was above all expectations, and that the state and all other segments of society had done everything for it to be better both in terms of the COVID situation and efforts to promote Croatia.

He announced a tourism sector meeting in Opatija on Tuesday to be attended by six ministers aimed at reviewing what has been done in this year's tourism season which, according to current estimates, will be at 65-70% of the results achieved in the record year 2019.

"Considering our neighbours and the situation we were in, that is brilliant," Plenković said

He added that people should be more disciplined, wiser and more responsible to each other in order for the season to last as long as possible, so that Croatia's coastline was an orange COVID zone for at least two to three more weeks which, he added, would indicate strong economic recovery.

He said the growth announcements for the second quarter were "brilliant" and that if the season continued like this, they would be "very good" for Q3 as well. "That's what is most important at the moment to me as prime minister."

Asked to comment on the Hague war crimes tribunal's confirmation that Slobodan Milošević took part in a criminal enterprise against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Plenković said Croatians knew that very well and did not need proof.

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Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Research Shows Tourists More Afraid of Border Regimes than Coronavirus

March 10, 2021 – The results of the Croatian National Tourist Board's Brand Tracking survey for 2020 represent key obstacles related to foreign travel, showing tourists more afraid of border regimes than coronavirus infections.

As Jutarnji list reports, Croatia may have strengthened its national tourism brand in the last five years. However, the Brand Tracking survey of the Croatian National Tourist Board (CNTB) for 2020 suggests that children's diseases still plague us and that we should seriously consider a campaign to promote Croatia on world markets.

Namely, in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, the research showed that the key obstacle related to foreign travel is "fear of various formal protection measures that could be established before or during the trip." In contrast, passengers' fear of infection at the holiday destination comes only later.

'Safe stay in Croatia' not enough?

This is a bit in contrast to the main messages coming from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the Croatian National Tourist Board, which continuously point out that the most important message for tourists this year is the message of safety, to which Croatia's primary campaign in the preseason is adjusted.

This refers to, of course, the project "Safe stay in Croatia," which should give certificates suggesting to tourists that the facility in which they stay is hygienic and safe. Regarding that, unofficial messages have been coming from the tourism sector for some time, noting that this will not be enough to organize a successful season. As the research now shows, it is necessary to work more actively on removing barriers to travel.

The CNTB explains that the fear of infection has less impact on travel intention because tourists generally believe that their behavior can prevent or reduce the possibility of infection. At the same time, nobody can influence the various epidemiological measures that counties introduce.

"Even though the fear of infection does not affect tourists' intentions as much as possible travel restrictions, some potential tourists, especially the elderly, have expressed this fear. We believe that it is crucial to promote Croatia as a safe environment where it is possible to spend a quality holiday," said the CNTB director Kristjan Staničić.

Competing destinations Italy and Spain perceived more accessible than Croatia

The research also confirmed that Croatia had not moved away from the perception of a "sun and sea destination." However, it has been noted that Croatia has made progress in city break vacations, as well as nature-related vacations.

Nevertheless, tourists from geographically closer and more easily accessible markets (accessible by car) still gravitate to Croatia the most. In areas other than our traditional destinations, "there is room for progress in recognizing and promoting key distinctive values," despite the generous strategic marketing plan we funded through the 2014-2020 period.

Besides, it turned out that Croatia still needs to do a lot to understand better the advantages of the Croatian tourist offer concerning the competition and that it is still insufficiently perceived as a destination for quality accommodation. It is also interesting how Spain and Italy, as Croatia's competing destinations, are perceived as more easily accessible compared to Croatia.

On the other hand, it was noticed that Croatia's image, concerning the competition, is based on "value for money." Over the years, Croatia has managed to position itself as a destination for young people, a segment where only Spain is better perceived than us.

"Young people traveling through Croatia combine different experiences and motives – city tourism, entertainment, festivals, gastronomy, sun, sea, visits to natural attractions. Some young tourists are attracted to party and festival destinations such as Novalja, Hvar, or Split, with a desirable offer," Staničić points out.

The CNTB's official page still has old figures on the infection rate

Asked by Jutarnji list journalists to explain why Croatia still has a problem of moving away from the perception of "sun and sea "destination, Staničić answered that it is dominant Croatia's tourist product and that its role will continue to be extremely important.

"The sun and the sea ensure our recognition with potential tourists. However, intensive work will continue on the establishment of other tourist products," explains Staničić.

Although the "Safe stay in Croatia "website should provide tourists with the latest information on the epidemiological situation, on Tuesday, it had the old report on the 14-day case rate, which was last updated on March 1.

As Jutarnji list unofficially finds out, the Croatian Institute for Public Health caused the lack of new data because they did not submit the table with the numbers on time.

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Friday, 13 November 2020

Tourism Professionals from Lika-Senj and Karlovac Counties Optimistic about 2021

November 13, 2020 – Tourism professionals from Lika-Senj and Karlovac counties expressed optimism about next year in their area, but also in Croatia as a whole.

As Hina reports, the panel "What about (corona) tourism in 2021?" was held on Thursday, November 12 2020 as part of the 6th regional forum of family accommodation in Karlovac, which was organized with partners by the Family Tourism Community Section for the Lika-Karlovac region at the chambers of Karlovac and Otočac.

Panelists presented their views on the next tourist year and this year's experiences, which they described as "a good lesson from which much could be learned and prepared for the future."

The owner of the hotel and winery Boškinac from Novalja, Boris Šuljić, rated this year as one of the most challenging in tourism, but also for him as an entrepreneur. However, he added that at the beginning of the spring closing, they managed to keep all employees and use the time to work on the company's progress.

"That's why we had a very successful season this year, but as trends change and regardless of corona, we still have to constantly adjust. I am optimistic about 2021 and I believe that flights, maritime traffic, and car tourism in the full profile will be established to a greater extent," said Suljic.

He also believes that everyone in tourism should be well prepared for next year, and that "the difficult experience from this year should be a guide". He also said that "the most important thing in tourism is to deliver high quality".

"We are already working hard on new dishes and we believe in the classic continuation of our business and a return to the 'old normal'," said Šuljić.

Krešo Rogoz, director of the Croatia Open Land DMC company from Karlovac, is also optimistic for next year, saying that after stopping all plans, they used this year to search for new resources, but also to prepare a different, more individual tourism for smaller groups.

"It's also interesting that we raised prices and thus got smaller groups that accumulated more money. The key is to team up, collect additional content and excellence, and we all hope for a normal spring and base our plans on car tourists," said Rogoz, who believes that it is time to jointly devise how to brand destinations to be even more recognizable in the tourist markets.

The director of the Homeland War Museum in Karlovac, Hrvojka Božić, notes that this year they used digital channels a lot to bring back visitors, which they succeeded in doing, and in the summer months they had about 80 percent of last year's attendance.

They are optimistic about 2021, believing in the power of community collaboration and networking of stakeholders within the destination, as well as in the development of content tailored to individual visitors and smaller groups.

Although they had only 25 percent of last year's overnight stays this year, Rakovica Deputy Mayor Mihovil Bićanić also hopes for a speedy recovery.

"We believe in stabilization in 2021, in which we should additionally focus on domestic tourists and on raising awareness about the offer of continental tourism, in which there is still a lot of room for additional content and strengthening quality," concluded Bićanić.

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Monday, 2 March 2020

Coronavirus to Hammer Croatian Tourism? Sector Expresses Concern

Coronavirus is a threat to not only public health, but to the global economy. With China, from where COVID-19 originated (Wuhan), being the place almost everything tends to be made, the global economy is taking a massive hit. Things for international tourism are also looking somewhat concerning. With Europe's tourist season just around the corner, how much of a hammering can Croatian tourism - the country's strongest economic branch - expect?

As Novac/Ruzica Mikacic writes on the 2nd of March, 2020, the world's tourism industry, which has been steadfastly resisting terrorism, wars, epidemics, fear of (a lack of) security when on holiday, tsunamis and storms for a decade, could now be dragged to its knees. The coronavirus outbreak is the first reason why the global tourism industry has had to admit that it isn't strong enough to deal with it without fear and danger, the cancellation of the biggest ITB World Trade Fair in Berlin being the best confirmation of that.

That has never happened in the 54-year history of the huge Berlin Fair and ITB, so the concerns of tourism professionals at the threshold of the preseason are thus much greater.

The casualness with which tourist professionals shook hands until yesterday, saying that everything surrounding the epidemic of coronavirus would calm down by Easter without major consequences for tourist trips, disappeared overnight when Germany quarantined thousands of its citizens in the last 48 hours and became one from the top ten countries with the highest number of infected and carriers of the quickly spreading virus.

The fact that during the five days of the largest ITB World Tourism Exchange, the German capital would see about 160,000 visitors crammed into place and at least another 50,000 employees at the booths of 180 countries, set alarm bells off at the German Federal Ministry of Health which made the decision to put a stop to the event.

Irredeemable financial losses

It's now quite clear that the coronavirus has shaken up tourism developments across the world more than any problematic situation in the past turbulent decade. Until a week ago, the balance of pre-season travel reservations was dormant, there were no new bookings, but there were no significant cancellations. In just a few days - things changed significantly, for Croatian tourism too.

''With the cancellations from Asian groups alone who were planning trips through Croatia over the course of several months this winter will see my company lose several hundred thousand euros in traffic and it will be impossible to make up for all that.

We're now in a problem with other markets as reservations haven't been being made for days now, and our partners from abroad are already inquiring about cancellation options and looking for better conditions for cancellation. Specifically, everyone now wants to extend the cancellation period without penalty to just one week before the trip, so tourists can decide at the last minute whether they want to embark on their travels or not. Everything turns into a "last minute" sale, which makes it impossible to work normally,'' says an experienced travel agent operating within the Croatian tourism industry for the Slobodna Dalmacija publication.

Concerns are also growing with Croatian tourism companies well. Currently, those in the best position are those who have received numerous bookings since December 2019 and mid-January this year.

''Now we have 50 new airlines compared to last year, a successful year is ahead. We've spoken with the largest tour operators in Germany and it's too early for accurate figures, but Croatia's position is good and stable. Compared to its competitors, Croatia has the best position at the moment. We plan to increase German arrivals by 3 percent, but even if we were to repeat what we had in 2019 with three million Germans in Croatia, we'd be satisfied,'' said Kristjan Stanicic, director of the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ), in Munich a few days ago.

''The bookings for 2020's season was off to a great start in December and by mid-January we had up to twelve percent more bookings. Since mid-January, everything has stopped. Hopefully it will be better in early March. The reason for this is coronavirus, because the Germans, like everyone else, are frightened and they aren't booking because they don't know how things will progress with the virus in the future. This is not only the case for Croatia, the virus is everywhere, Greece, Turkey, Italy, all cruiser ships, everyone is experiencing worse sales right now.

Looking at the total balance of bookings for this year, we're still positive and we have six, seven percent growth. Private accommodation is also doing well, we have a big plus in bookings of eighteen percent. Sales for the post-season by the end of October are excellent, and the preseason months until June are significantly slower than last year,'' said Konstantin Gaitanides, director of ID Riva Tours in Munich.

Last minute bookings are likely to cause issues and confusion for tourism companies worldwide, including for the Croatian tourism industry...

A similar situation to that of Croatia has been seen for reservations for Italy and Turkey, according to German tour operators, who are expecting a strong "last minute". Specifically, at the beginning of March, 65 percent of Germans still hadn't booked their holidays abroad, and this is absolutely atypical for German booking habits. At this time last year, there were 20 percent more bookings already booked in Germany, according to analyses and reports such as IPK International and Reise Analyse, published over recent days.

This year, however, the Germans are waiting and delaying their decisions because of the current coronavirus epidemic. All this worries tour operators in Germany just like it worries their hosts here in Croatia, especially now that ITB has been cancelled.

Namely, as the world's largest business tourism gathering, in the run-up to the preseason, the basic contours of what the coming business year will look like are provided, directions, trends and signposts of how tourist traffic will unfold are seen. Without hundreds of conferences, analyses, contracts to be signed in Berlin this year and the launch of a new offer, the tourist world has now lost a very important compass in its business thanks to coronavirus fears.

Billions have now been lost

The World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC) announced on Saturday that a drop in consumption and a reduced volume of travel worldwide have already cost the tourism sector the equivalent of about 22 billion dollars. The data was obtained with the help of the Oxford Institute, which compared the aftermath of Sars 2002/2003.

According to the WTTC, if coronavirus continues in this manner for as long as SARS did (about six months), then global tourism losses could doubledto around 49 billion dollars. But if it lasts longer than June, the losses will rise to 73 billion dollars, with Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines among the biggest losers in terms of tourism.

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