Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Biograd na Moru as a (not so) Alternative Destination

August 2, 2022 – Don’t fancy the crowds of Split or Dubrovnik? Finding accommodation on the islands has become a bit complicated? Don’t worry, we’ll sort you out with an underdog, Biograd na Moru.

The national media are beaming with pride reporting record overnight stays, music festivals are back in full force, and the motorways are finally paying off again. Croatian tourism is where we all hoped it would be. In fact, we’re running out of space with the most popular destinations including the famous cities, Istrian villages, and the islands of Dalmatia. It’s time to start looking for alternatives. We tried telling you to go see Lika and Gorski Kotar, Slavonija and Baranja, but we do understand the desire to stay close to the sea. This is why today we will share a little gem that has got it all. Welcome to Biograd na Moru, famous among Croatians and Czechs, but still waiting to be fully discovered.

The little town of some 6000 residents is located only 30 km south of Zadar and about 50 km north of Šibenik, or 130 km from Split. It is nestled between two bays and overlooks the most indented part of the Adriatic coast. Surrounded by national parks and nature parks, it boasts plenty of tourist and recreational facilities but keeps a calm, homely atmosphere even in the height of summer. Get to know this charming little place through our top list of activities in Biograd na Moru. Here are some of our favourites that we suggest you try this summer:

Beach Hop

Whether you are the type to go for an early morning run and swim, like to chill all day or go late night dipping, you will find a spot that suits your needs. With the most famous ones being Bošana, Dražica, and Soline, Biograd offers a variety of terrain and conditions on its beaches. They range from pebbles and rocks, an open swimming pool for training, to a sandy beach perfect for the little ones. There is plenty of space both in the sun and in the shade. For perfect comfort, we suggest renting a lounge and/or an umbrella. As for sustenance and entertainment, you can find pretty much anything there. The little stands include everything from bakeries, fast food and ice cream to fresh fruit and salads. As for the little ones, there are water slides, aqua parks, playgrounds and attractions such as VR.

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Early morning at the beaches of Biograd. Photos by Author

Chase Sunsets

Thanks to the neighbouring islands being so dense and so close to Biograd, a sunset will look different depending on where you stand. If you plan it just right, you could have it so that you can still see the sun nesting between the islands from one point when it’s not visible from another point just a few hundred metres down. Whether you want to see it reflecting in the sea, disappearing behind Pašman, or glistening through the trees, one thing is always true – every sunset is more beautiful than the previous.

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Photos by Author

Count the Islands

The big ones, the one with the lighthouse, the heart-shaped island… Ugljan, Pašman, Dugi Otok, Sv. Katarina, and Galešnjak can all be seen from Biograd or places nearby. Hop on a ferry and visit some of them, or try counting and naming them while having your afternoon swim, we promise it’s fun both ways!

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Galešnjak Island, photo by PIXSELL (Filip Brala)

Eat and Drink

With pubs and restaurants densely populating the entire stretch of the beach, as well as the city centre, we challenge you to stay hungry or thirsty in Biograd! Start with brunch at the beach, have your afternoon iced coffee in the shade of one of the beach bars, go about your evening enjoying some fresh local seafood followed by Italian-inspired gelato, and of course, round it all up with a cocktail or two right by the sea. If you prefer cooking at home, get up early to catch the local fishermen coming back from their nightly catch and buy some of the best fish directly from them, or visit the local market for more fresh produce. As for edible souvenirs, you can never go wrong with some dried figs and olive oil which are produced in something like every other house. If you notice fruit or olives in backyards, try knocking on their doors and finding out if you can buy some to take home. Chances are, it won’t take more than a few knocks to declare mission success.

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Photos by Author

Get Some Movement In

After you’ve eaten and fed your entire family, never go swimming! Embrace the healthy Dalmatian ways and chill in the shade for a bit until it all settles down. Only after a little nap under the pines will you be ready to move. The 4 km stretch by the sea should be enough for recreational joggers, and if you get up early you will be rewarded by the sun rising above the pines in the most charming of ways. If you prefer running long distances or cycling, we suggest heading out of Biograd, and following the Adriatic Highway towards Zadar for some truly breathtaking views. With most of it being covered with cycling paths, it is suitable for all kinds of activity. It will take you through a few charming little villages, but its true beauty lies in the fact that for the most part, it passes right by the sea and provides perfect little private swimming spots.

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Photo by Adventure Park Biograd

Go on an Adventure

If swimming, running or cycling doesn’t cut it for you, and you need a little bit of adrenaline to spice up your day, try one of the activities at the beach, in the forests, or nearby. Our favourite beach activities include parasailing and jet skiing, followed by renting a SUP and exploring the bays. If you’re looking to entertain the whole family, you can also rent a paddle boat and try sliding down into the open sea. Needless to say, always make sure the weather conditions are right and listen to the advice of experts to stay safe! For those who aren’t afraid of heights, check out Adventure Park Biograd and test your climbing, hanging and ziplining skills, or head out for a day of rides in Fun Park Mirnovec.

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Photo by PIXSELL (Dino Stanin)

Discover Vransko Jezero

Tired of the beach, had too much ice cream, or maybe the sea is too salty? Head out to Lake Vrana, a nature park just a short drive from Biograd, which is also the largest lake in Croatia. With an area of 30.2 km2, it makes up its own ecosystem, with interesting flora and fauna. It is filled with brackish water and is home to many species of fish and birds. The area of the park also encompasses a few localities dating as far back as the 9th century. Even if you’re only out for a day of birdwatching and walking, there is plenty to see. If you’re looking for a more active visit, try renting a bicycle or a kayak, or hike to one of the viewpoints to see the Kornati National Park from above.

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Photos by PIXSELL (Hrvoje Jelavic and Dusko Jaramaz)

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Friday, 29 July 2022

High-Traffic Last Weekend of July on Croatian Highways

July 29, 2022 - It is fully expected that the last weekend of July will be the top weekend in the year on the Croatian highways.

It's Friday afternoon, and the Croatian highways are already experiencing problems caused by the high volume of passengers in cars, trying to get to their seaside destinations as soon as possible. Croatian police posted two videos on their social media this afternoon, warning passengers of potential delays:

In those tweets, in addition to the videos, they warn the passengers that the delays are to be expected, and that they should follow all of the traffic regulations, and treat each other with respect, tolerance and patience.

Tomorrow morning we can expect the volume of traffic to be even higher, as it usually is on Saturdays. Luckily, one thing we'll almost certainly not be experiencing this year and in the future, are the problems related to crossing the Croatia - Bosnia and Herzegovina border near the Neum corridor, as most of that traffic will be directed to the freshly opened Pelješac bridge.

Thursday, 30 June 2022

Porec and Surrounding Municipalities Fund Own Additional Medical Teams

June the 30th, 2022 - Porec and several Istrian municipalities have decided to fund the employment of more staff in order to have emergency medical services made available all year.

As Morski writes, the City of Porec and the nearby municipalities of Tar-Vabriga, Funtana, Vrsar, Visnjan, Sv. Lovrec, Vizinada and Kastelir-Labicni recently signed a contract on financing the additional employment at the Teaching Institute for Emergency Medicine of Istria County.

Almost 10% of all Croatian tourist traffic is realised along about 70 kilometres of the coastline of Porec. It's an area which, during the very height of the summer season, goes from 40 thousand inhabitants to hosting about 150 thousand people.

''Unfortunately, the state doesn't recognise that and we have an insufficient number of emergency medical teams, and we're talking about the healthcare services that our fellow citizens have already paid for by paying their taxes into the state budget. In order to have a service equal to other cities of our size in the rest of the country, we came together and decided to set aside about two million kuna a year for something that isn't even within our jurisdiction.

On top of that we're additionally paying for apartments for deficient doctors, the purchase of vehicles, the purchase of equipment, two weeks ago we even paid for the accommodation for additional police officers due to the expressed need for them - all of these are services that should be being provided to us through the state budget, because if we're taxpayers, we the citizens of Porec have already paid. We wonder where the end to all of this actually is because the needs are becoming greater from year to year,'' complained the mayor of Porec, Loris Persuric.

The director of the Teaching Institute for Emergency Medicine of Istria County, Dr. Gordana Antic, pointed out that it's actually only Istria that hasn't received an increase in the latest changes made to the emergency medical care network, unlike other Croatian counties. They have since been doomed to try to find funding for additional teams throughout the year, especially during the summer tourist season.

''Just as an illustration, last year, the Porec health centre had to deal with almost 5,000 interventions throughout the year, and this year we've already reached 3100 incidents. There were 36 resuscitations performed throughout the past year, and this year we've already reached 27. Our volume of work is drastically increasing, especially in the area of ​​Porec,'' Antic emphasised.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Friday, 6 May 2022

Croatia Expects Even Better Tourist Results From Germany This Year

ZAGREB, 6 May (2022) - Germany is Croatia's most important tourism market, generating 30% of all foreign tourist bed nights last year, and this year Croatia expects an even better result from this market based on cooperation with the German ADAC auto club, Minister of Tourism and Sport Nikolina Brnjac said on Friday.

Brnjac paid a working visit to Munich during which she met with representatives of ADAC and tour operators with the aim of better positioning Croatia on that market, notably Slavonia and Dubrovnik-Neretva County.

Recalling a Memorandum of Understanding signed with ADAC last year, Brnjac announced that in addition to already agreed activities, cooperation between the travel industry in both countries is expected to improve and one example is the cooperation between ADAC and the Jadrolinija ferry company whose routes have been included in ADAC online maps.

"I am pleased that a large number of tourists from Germany have recognised Croatia as a quality destination," she said.

ADAC is important for the Croatian camping sector because it publishes an ultimate camping guide throughout Europe and last year it included 134 Croatian campsites on its list of best European camps while 13 were given the Superplatz 2021 award.

German tourists generated 21.2 million bed nights in 2021, the same as in the record-breaking 2019, and so far this year 169,000 German tourists have generated 712,000 bed nights, which is 316,000 or 234% more than in the comparable period in 2021. Compared to the same period in 2019, arrivals were down by 26% and bed nights by 12%, the Ministry of Tourism and Sport said.

For more news about Croatia, click here.

Friday, 25 February 2022

Summer Accommodation in Croatia: 10 Booking Tips for the Upcoming Season

February 24, 2022 - Thinking of spending your long-awaited vacations on the Adriatic coast? Before renting your summer accommodation in Croatia, we recommend you take a look at some tips that can improve the quality of your stay.

When it comes to booking summer accommodation in Croatia, the custom in recent years was to check availability well in advance, due to the huge demand in the tourist season. This, however, changed radically in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, with Croatia seeing an increase in both cancellations and last-minute bookings. But the good news is that it looks like this year could mimic the booking habits of previous years, and early bookings are already showing up along the Croatian coast.

Vaccination against the coronavirus has reduced mortality in many countries around the world, and the epidemiological situation has improved compared to the previous two years. This seems to have encouraged many governments to relax measures and restrictions to combat the spread of the virus, and consequently many airlines to restore commercial flights and availability of summer accommodation in Croatia.

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Makarska, in the county of Split-Dalmatia (Photo: Mario Romulić)

Everything seems to indicate that you're ready to go to start planning your summer vacations! But what do you have to keep in mind before booking your summer accommodation in Croatia? Well, many things. Remember that the demand for the summer season is very high, so time will be an important factor, and you will also want to take into account other details considering that the pandemic is not over yet, and you will not want to risk your days of relaxation in Croatia.

1. Choosing your destination

Island? Beach? Countryside? Ancient Roman cities or fortresses? The Croatian coast definitely has something for everyone. Although it is true that Dubrovnik, Split, Hvar, or Rovinj are the best positioned when it comes to attracting tourists in the summer, there are places that will really surprise you.

The Istrian peninsula proved its tourist strength in the toughest years of the pandemic, achieving very good results in the off-season, such as at Easter. Likewise, they achieved impressive numbers comparable to those of 2019 in the summer. This is because the Istrian peninsula is located on the northern coast of Croatia, making it very accessible by land. If the beach is your thing, check out cities like Umag, Novigrad, Poreč, or Pula. But if you feel the need to connect more with nature or the countryside, give picturesque places like Motovun, Pazin, or Labin a try. Wherever you decide to go, if you are coming from Europe, consider traveling by car or bus. You'll find plenty of five-star hotels, impressive villas, and endless camping spots.

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The Old Town of Krk, on the Kvarner island of Krk (Photo: Mario Romulić)

But the coast is full of alternatives for summer accommodation in Croatia. Close to Istria, consider the magical town of Opatija in the Kvarner Bay, or its islands: Krk, Cres, Lošinj, Mali Lošinj, or Rab. Many aim to the Dalmatian Islands, but the ones mentioned above are gems that cannot be overlooked.

Similarly, if you want to add a bit of culture and history to your summer vacation in Croatia, Zadar and Šibenik are cities with a lot to tell through their streets, churches, and fortresses, as well as getting you closer to paradisiacal islands and beaches.

What a dream it is to be able to go to Hvar, but we really encourage you to include in your plans other islands of Split as possible alternatives, such as Brač or Vis, or perhaps the islands of Dubrovnik, such as Korčula or Lastovo. All equally fantastic!

If you are not quite sure which destinations to choose from on the Croatian coast, or what they have to offer you, our Total Croatia guides have all the information you need in order to choose the perfect place to spend your vacations.

Once you are sure about your destination, you will notice at this time of year that there is the availability of accommodation of all kinds: hotels, hostels, apartments, villas, houses, flats, and much more. Check out sites like Booking.com to see what types of accommodation you can find along Croatia's Adriatic coast.

2. Choosing your ideal summer accommodation in Croatia

Croatia can boast not only countless tourist destinations but also various types of accommodation for you. From studio apartments to villas, from five-star hotels to eco-lodges, from beachfront homes to camping sites... it's hard to make a decision when it comes to the summer accommodation in Croatia that suits best your needs. Clearly, you will have to take into account many things before making a decision:

  • Your budget

If money is not an issue, you won't want to take your eyes off the luxurious hotels found in places like Istria, Dubrovnik, or Hvar. But if you're leaning toward a budget travel plan, you'll notice plenty of high-quality apartments and hotels that fit your budget.

  • When are you planning to stay

Although the high season is considered to be from June to August, prices may vary per week and for various reasons. July and the first weeks of August are usually the busiest and don't be surprised if at some point you find that there is no more availability. Many tourists find a great opportunity to find their summer accommodation in Croatia in June or even dare to arrive a little earlier, in May, or a little later, in September. In both cases, the weather is fantastic and there are plenty of things to do!

  • How many days do you plan to stay

If you opt for a short stay, like a weekend for example, perhaps you can afford to book a hotel, and thus you will not have to worry much about the cleanliness of your room while you go out to discover the beaches and historical sites. Although it is true that booking a small apartment is also a good idea, since you can focus most of your budget on activities or tours, this is a more attractive alternative for those planning a trip of three or more nights.

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Valamar's Marea Suites in Poreč, Istria (Image: Valamar Hotels)

Bonus Tip: Keep in mind that some properties only accept bookings of two or more nights. On the coast, it is popular for guests to book just one night, allowing them to visit a different destination per day.

  • How many people are traveling with you

The number of people traveling with you will filter your booking possibilities. Some apartments, as spacious as they are, have only a double bed, and there are even properties that offer couples-only rates. If you are traveling with an extended family or a large group of friends, you may even consider renting a villa or house, and splitting the budget among your family or friends.

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Luxury Apartments Illyria inside Diocletian's Palace in Split (Booking.com)

  • Your chosen destination

Depending on the destination you have chosen for your vacation, some properties may be worth more than others. If you are visiting historic cities like Rovinj, Pula, Zadar, Šibenik, Trogir, Split, or Dubrovnik, you may find more gratification in staying inside their old towns and transporting yourself back in time. On paradisiacal islands such as Vis, Lastovo or Krk, as well as on wonderful rivieras such as Opatija, Makarska or Brela, you will feel that a house or apartment facing the sea exceeds your expectations.

  • What kind of trip have you planned?

Not all vacations are the same. While some seek all the comforts and services that characterize a luxury trip, others rather aspire to reconnect with Croatia's natural wonders in a more authentic way. Similarly, while the Croatian coast is best known for its festivals, raves, and parties; many seek authentic experiences and get closer to the culture and traditions of the place they visit. Keep in mind what kind of trip you want to plan, because if your thing is comfort and relaxation, you have a large number of alternatives for luxury hotels and apartments of the highest quality. Make sure your summer accommodation in Croatia matches your vacation style!

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Solaris Camping Beach Resort in Šibenik (Image: JetCamp)

On the contrary, if you are looking for an authentic experience on the Croatian coast, check out the camping sites or the now popular eco-lodges, which will help you reconnect with nature and the environment.

3. Use your phone to make reservations

While it is true that it is easier to organize everything on your laptop when planning your next trip, you should seriously consider switching to your phone when looking for the summer accommodation in Croatia that suits best your needs. Sites like Booking.com offer something called the Mobile Rate, a discounted rate for those who book through their mobile website or app. Some properties, through this special rate, can get discounts of up to 20%, so we highly recommend doing your search from your smartphone!

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4. Compare prices

Although it sounds incredible, many properties still do not update their prices for the summer season. Just as it may be to your advantage to find strangely low prices, it may also be the case that you made a reservation with one price and, after checking the availability of that same property on other dates, the prices are lower. Therefore, compare the prices of similar properties in the same location well, so that you have an idea of what the real prices may be.

Also, if your dream is to visit the old walls of Dubrovnik or the old town in Hvar, the high demand and prices might scare you a bit. If you look for alternatives, you will realize that there is an immeasurable number of destinations that can offer you the same experience and for less stratospheric prices.

5. Look for available discounts or offers

It is correct to say, as already mentioned at the beginning of this article, that the current epidemiological situation promises better prospects for the tourist season in Croatia compared to the last two years. Not for that, however, it is reasonable to ignore the still present coronavirus and its variants, and consequently the unpredictable way in which other governments decide to handle the situation.

Therefore, property owners and managers in Croatia do not take it for granted that reservations will take care of themselves, but that an additional effort must be made to attract more and more tourists. Booking.com, for example, offers a wide range of package deals and discounts aimed at various types of potential guests.

One of the most popular is the Genius program, which connects properties and guests. To be part of the program, as a property, it is necessary to meet a series of requirements such as an excellent rating and to belong to the program as a guest, it is necessary to successfully complete a series of reservations in a certain period of time. The reward? Properties in the Genius program generate greater visibility on the platform, and Genius guests can enjoy incredible discounts on their rates.

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But in addition to Genius, there are offers that target guests from a certain country, discounts for couples, discounts for last-minute reservations, etc. When looking for your summer accommodation in Croatia, pay close attention to the offers and discounts that may appear!

6. Look for properties with flexible cancellation policies

The last thing you want to happen is that, shortly before you travel, you encounter an outbreak of a new variant of the coronavirus that forces the government of your country to reinforce epidemiological measures and conditions your trip. In previous years, many guests had to cancel their trips because, within the new measures, they had to self-isolate when arriving in a country, or when returning back to their own. One of the harshest consequences for many was having to assimilate the loss not only of the trip and the reservation but also of the money spent, since the property or room you reserved did not have a flexible cancellation policy.

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We recommend that you carefully review the cancellation policies of the properties you are looking for. Before, many offered free cancellation 7 days before arrival, or even up to a day before. However, considering the improvement in the epidemiological situation, the largest number of properties have a 15-day cancellation policy, in order to have enough time to find other reservations. Also take a look at properties that allow you to pay only a fraction of the reservation, or even others that allow you to pay in cash on arrival.

7. Read the reviews

We wish we could say that everything is perfect when it comes to planning a trip to Croatia, but there will always be a margin of error. You have already defined the destination of your trip, the property that most attracts your attention offers a great rate (with discounts included), has a very good rating, and the photos make you dream of being there now.

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The last thing you know, you realize on arrival that the apartment wasn't as easy to find as it claimed to be, it's not very clean, or some of the facilities don't work as they should. Despite all this, many properties manage to (unbelievably) retain a rating of 8 or 9. So, to avoid a bad experience on that trip you dreamed of, take some time to read the reviews of the property or hotel. Also keep in mind that not all previous guests are seasoned travelers, and some of their reviews may be a bit harsh. For example, some demand elevators, when they forget that they are reserving an apartment inside a 4th-century Roman palace. You be the judge!

8. Check carefully for services and facilities

In addition to verifying the quality of the property or hotel from which you plan to reserve an apartment or room through the experience of other guests, be sure to carefully review the list of facilities, services, characteristics, and rules of the property. While it is true that some places are not very specific with their information, it may be that you are the one who forgot to check the details.

For example, if you are traveling with an elderly person or with a newborn in a stroller, you will want to make sure that the place is properly accessible for everyone. It also may not include certain things like cooking pots in the kitchen, a hairdryer in the bathroom, or a washing machine. Or maybe the property is non-smoking and doesn't have a terrace either, so you'll need to smoke outside. All of this is easy to verify if you take the time to read all the property information, or even if you contact the owner or manager before booking your summer accommodation in Croatia.

9. Use the map to accurately locate your accommodation

Sometimes it is not enough to know what city, neighborhood, or street the apartment you rented is located on. It is better to make sure now before you realize that the airport is very far from the apartment, and the transfer options to the city or town are limited. Before you know it, the apartment is located in a secret passage inside Diocletian's Palace in Split, and there is no host to guide you to the right place. Check well on Google Maps or contact the owner or manager, and you will find the best recommendations so you don't get lost. Otherwise, you will rent a car only to find out later that the property you booked does not have its own parking, and the nearest parking lot has no space left!

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Dubrovnik (Screenshot/Booking.com)

Through its map, Booking.com also offers an alternative view of the different properties you can book. In it, you can see the prices of each property and its location in the destination of your interest. This way, you can compare prices in an exact location, or even make sure you book something close to the sea.

10. Book now!

We know that, at the end of the day, what will define your experience in Croatia will be the places you discover, the food you taste, and the memories you take with you. But summer is just around the corner, and every hour you're undecided is a property or room booked by someone else. No pressure! We want you to make the best possible decision so that your next trip to Croatia is an unforgettable experience. That is why we have compiled the above list of recommendations. However, don't be over-calculating, because not only may it be too late, but there are also current offers that you won't find again soon! Good luck finding your ideal summer accommodation in Croatia!

For more on flights to Croatia and other travel announcements, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

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

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Croatian 2022 Season Lacks 35,000 Workers, Some Hotels May Not Open

January the 25th, 2022 - It might seem like we're far from the sweltering heat of summer and an influx of tourists at the moment, thanks to the temperatures and the weather, but the Croatian 2022 season will be here before we know it. As many as 35,000 staff are required and apparently are struggling to be found, leading some facilities such as hotels to perhaps not even bother opening their doors this summer.

As Novi list/Alenka Juricic Bukarica writes, there will be an estimated shortage of between 30,000 and 35,000 tourism employees for the Croatian 2022 season. The problem of labour shortages escalated last year when some hotels, and not only those of lower category, didn't bother to open their doors during the main summer season because there were no employees who would work the season to be found.

The tourism sector therefore calculated that around 800 million kuna more revenue could have been generated if they had been able to hire labour under more relaxed conditions.

Most of the Croatian tourism sector, with the exception of, for example, travel agencies, no longer have job preservation measures introduced in 2020 available for their employees, which is why the sector launched a series of proposals back in early autumn, immediately after the season, to alleviate the problem of staff shortages and to further facilitate employment. The sector also expects the labour market test obligation to be scrapped.

The problem of waiting for work permits for third country nationals

The 2021 Croatian census showed a sharp decline in the number of inhabitants of the country, and thus the working population, and in the conditions of the pandemic, the trend of local workers going abroad increased, meaning that the already insufficient pool of domestic labour was further emptied. As expected, the Croatian 2022 season will come with great demand for staff from other, mostly neighbouring non-EEA/EU countries, but also the Philippines, India and Ukraine.

Last year, when it came to hiring foreigners, employers ended up having to wait for several weeks to get valid work permits for their staff to that they could work legally, and waiting for even one month during the height of the busy tourist season is unrealistic.

According to the Croatian Employment Service (CES), two thousand and 463 waiters, two thousand and 101 chefs and 689 maids were registered at the bureau at the end of December. According to the same institution, a total of 235,219 workers were wanted for last year's season, of which 27,792 were seasonal workers.

Out of a total of 27,792 sought-after seasonal workers, most were in Istria, Split-Dalmatia, Primorje-Gorski Kotar and Dubrovnik-Neretva counties. When it comes to labour market tests, in 2021 - 28,838 workers were in demand. Thus, work permits were issued to more than 2,000 cleaners from abroad, about 1,700 foreign waiters, 1,300 assistant cooks, about 1,200 cooks, and about 700 hotel maids.

The highest number of requests for the labour market test was received by the Zagreb Regional Office, amount to around 8,500, while Pula is in second place with about 6,800 such requests, and Rijeka is in third place with about 5,400 requests. It's worth mentioning that back during the record-breaking year of pre-pandemic 2019, about 20,000 seasonal workers from abroad were employed in the Croatian tourism sector.

Crisis reactions

Commenting on the situation with staff in tourism last year and this year, Marina Cvitic, the president of the Trade Union of Istria, Kvarner and Dalmatia (SIKD), pointed out that in tourism, it is more than necessary to specifically increase salaries, all the more so given the situation with inflation.

''This was the biggest mistake employers in tourism made at a time when there were staff to be hired. There were enough of them, and the employers had enough money and they could have financially increased the salaries of their employees. Now they have less money, and they give bigger increases than when they did have money. But, unfortunately, there are no staff now. It's a vicious circle. Now, salaries should be increased by at least 50 percent in order to get people to come back,'' she warned.

She added that today anyone who is healthy can find a job. It might not be a quality job, but it will be enough to get by. People don't leave Croatia because there is no work, but above all to find better jobs and more stability. Last year, she said, the staffing situation became very difficult.

''On the one hand, I understand why it was how it was. Employers couldn't plan in time because the pre-season was marked by lockdowns, and until the very beginning of summer, it was practically unknown whether there would be a tourist season at all. Then in June everything started again rather abruptly, and of course all those who weren't invited to come here to work until June, had been looking for a livelihood elsewhere. A large number of workers who would otherwise have decided to work in Croatian tourism went and did other things, usually being engaged in the construction or trade sectors. Wages in these industries increased, so tourism offered low incomes in relation to them. Therefore, without a concrete increase in salaries, I'm afraid that there will be no progress for the Croatian 2022 season and that part of the facilities will remain closed once again due to lack of staff,'' said Cvitic, adding that now is the time to negotiate the price of labour for the upcoming tourist season.

This time last year, the negotiation was to reduce, not increase wages, because there was no need for workers. During the season, through non-taxable awards and other things, they tried to compensate for that.

As for foreign workers, Cvitic revealed, they were really from everywhere, from Nepal, Brazil, Argentina, India, to the Philippines to Ukraine.

''From those countries where it is worse than it is in this country, things are easier, on top of that, Croatia is actually just a stop on their way to Western European countries. The problem is that this type of employee, when in contact with the guest, cannot provide the service that a person who lives here and who is representing this country can do. Croatian are known for their quality and professionalism, and unfortunately we're in a situation in which we educate quality staff, invest in their education and practice, and then those people go to work elsewhere. This is clearly indicated by the latest census data. Personally, I expected that there would be no decline in Istria, precisely because of the progress in tourism, however, the peninsula didn't remain immune to this negative trend,'' concluded Cvitic.

LRH: We are raising the standard for employees

Liburnia Riviera Hotels (LRH) also touched on the Croatian 2022 season staffing issues, said that this year, they will need about 600 additional employees.

''We always need waiters, cooks, receptionists, maids... We'll also need additional strength in other areas. On a smaller scale, we'll also hire staff for some specific positions such as lifeguards, gardeners or handymen, as well as people to come and work in administration. The search for new human resources has already begun. We believe that it is very important to start the search in time to find the best employees, especially given the poor market situation,'' they said.

Initial talks with potential future employees for the Croatian 2022 season, as well as negotiations with some key partners in the recruitment process (employment agencies) began late last season, they said from LRH, adding that they offer employees competitive market conditions with adequate accommodation and food, as well as working continuously and intensively to improve overall working conditions and raise standards in all aspects of employee relations.

Jadran/Adriatic: Scholarships and a stable job

''Considering the situation on the labour market, primarily starting from the ambitious plans for next year, activities related to the labour force haven't stopped for this company.

As of September the 1st last year, a total of 46 employees received indefinite contracts, and some of them had their contracts extended for another year, meaning that Jadran now has 165 full-time employees, an increase of 12 percent compared to the same period back in 2019,'' said Lucija Jukic, the director of sales and marketing of Jadran Crikvenica.

She added that, in addition to continuously advertising the need for labour force and cooperation with the CES, Jadran will also perform at the upcoming virtual job fair Sezonac.hr.

In agreement with the High School in Crikvenica, the Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism in Ika and the PAR Business School in Rijeka, Jadran applied to the programme of the Ministry of Tourism and Sport for scholarships for students studying for tourism professions for which employment approval has been obtained, adding nine new scholarship recipients into the mix.

''Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, we had to abandon the planned, year-round operation of the Boutique Hotel Esplanade, which was to become a centre of excellence, but we're glad to announce the opening of Hotel Lisanj, which will begin working on February the 11th and will not close until the end of the year. Jadran will also employ another 450 seasonal workers during the Croatian 2022 season,'' concluded Jukic.

Valamar: Permanent job and awards

The largest tourist company in Croatia, Valamar Riviera, says that this year, according to the plan, about 7,000 employees from Istria to Dubrovnik will work in their facilities.

''An additional advantage of working at Valamar is the possibility of working in our hotels in Austria during the winter months. After their first season working here, employees can enter the permanent season and have a seasonal job, with year-round income. Last autumn, Valamar started with the selection and employment for the Croatian 2022 season within the Good Job at Valamar programme and invited all those interested in developing a career in tourism to apply for a job with us.

During the COVID-19 crisis, Valamar, with the support of social partners and government measures, preserved all jobs through the Pause, Restart programme, which last year enabled the realisation of a solid tourist season, and we're already intensively preparing for the season ahead. At Valamar, we offer the best working conditions and have been recognised as a top employer in tourism for many years now. We expect to fill most of the job positions this year with employees from Croatia, and we're satisfied with the interest of candidates from the immediate region,'' said Valamar.

When asked what conditions they offer, they stated that last year, they hired 400 employees for an indefinite period of time, and paid the highest awards for the season, awards for excellence and a 13th salary and Christmas bonus.

For more on how companies are preparing for the Croatian 2022 season, check out our business section.

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