Thursday, 21 July 2022

More than 1 Million Tourists in Croatia

ZAGREB, 21 July 2022 - More than one million tourists are currently staying in Croatia, of which about 900,000 are foreigners, and the highest number or 277,000 are staying in Istria County, according to data from the eVisitor system, as carried by the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) on Thursday.

HTZ also underscored that the number of one million tourists per day this year was recorded almost a week earlier than last year.

In terms of the number of tourists, Istria is followed by Split-Dalmatia County, where about 188,000 tourists are currently staying, followed by the Kvarner area with about 185,000 and Zadar County with about 167,000 tourists.

According to destination, the most tourists are currently located in Rovinj, Vir, Medulin, Poreč, Umag and Dubrovnik, while foreign tourists for the most part are from Germany and Slovenia.

Tourists are mostly staying in family-run accommodation facilities (434,000), followed by campsites (205,000), hotels (157,000) and nautical charters (24,000).

HTZ said that this confirmed the very good tourist trends in July, with 97% of the tourist turnover from the same period of the record year 2019.

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

Thursday, 21 July 2022

How to Become a Better Host for Your Guests this Summer?

July 21, 2022 - Traveling is all about the experience, and as a host, you too can do your part to make that experience unforgettable for your guests this summer in Croatia. Take a look at these tips that can help you become a better host this season!

There are those who say that Croatia sells itself and does not need strong advertising campaigns. On the plus side, it can give you peace of mind that bookings will eventually land as everyone wants a bit of Croatian summer. On the downside, this can make you overconfident and make you believe that doing the bare minimum is enough to succeed in the private hosting business. But once your guests arrive, you will surely want to do your bit to make their experience unforgettable. How? Here are some tips to be a better host for them.

1. Communicate with your guest in advance

While it is true that the current circumstances have increased the number of last-minute bookings, many tourists continue to book their accommodation weeks, or even months, in advance. I know that feeling of wanting to close your eyes, lie back and do nothing until they arrive. It's not the right thing, though. I have also been to the other side, and as a tourist, I have felt the uneasiness and anxiety of thinking that I will arrive somewhere I've never been before and I do not know how to get there from the airport, or where can I store my luggage since I will arrive before check-in time.

It is best to write to your guest as soon as they make the reservation. Give them peace of mind that, even if there are months or weeks to go before their arrival, everything will be fine and there is nothing to worry about. Confirm their check-in time, ask them how they will get to the city, and offer recommendations on how to get from the airport, bus, or train station to your accommodation. Also, if there are activities or tours in your city that require reservations, let them know. Not only do I recommend you write to them to confirm all their arrival details, but it is better if you respond quickly to their questions and concerns if there are any.

2. Try to meet them in person

In the most difficult times of the pandemic, most guests requested contactless check-in alternatives, but as the situation has improved over time, we have returned to the good old days when host and guest meet in person. Nevertheless, I keep walking through the streets of Diocletian's Palace and I see newcomers, lost, carrying their suitcases from one place to another, under the scorching heat, unable to find their accommodation. This happens very often in the old towns of Croatian coastal cities, and most owners prefer to provide the address and a password to enter the accommodation. While that can be beneficial for owners, in many cases it means getting off on the wrong foot and surely affects their guests' first impressions.

If possible, arrange with them a time and place to meet and, from there, show them the way to your accommodation. They will value that first gesture and it will also help them memorize the easiest way to locate their apartment. After a heavy trip, you will also want to help them with their bags, since you know the city well and you know that there are stairs and narrow alleys everywhere. Take the opportunity to talk to them, make them feel that they can trust you for anything, and at the same time give them a brief tour of the city, telling them a little about the history of the place. 

3. Get to know your guests

If you have the privilege of meeting your guests in person, I highly recommended that you take the opportunity to talk with them (respecting their privacy, of course). You can ask them what they plan to do during their stay and what kind of activities they want to do. Based on this, you will know what recommendations to give them. Make sure you know who you are giving tips to, as a solo traveler will not be the same as a couple or a family of five. For the solo traveler, you may want to recommend bars to meet people, the best romantic spots for the couple, and for the family of five a fun tour that they can equally enjoy together.

Also, knowing your guests well will help you filter your restaurant recommendations, since some of them may be vegan or have a specific diet. Don't be afraid to ask questions that will help you improve the experience of your guests during their stay.

4. Give them as many recommendations as possible

How to get to your accommodation or good restaurants around the city are a good starting point, but it doesn't hurt to go a little further and share more of your recommendations, especially in a country like Croatia where every city has so much to offer. Some ideas of recommendations that you can give them are:

  • Best tours in the city and surroundings
  • Islands to visit for a full day
  • How to get to the islands
  • Souvenirs to take home
  • Supermarkets nearby to buy groceries
  • Nearby parking lots
  • Nice beaches without crowds
  • Best ice cream shops
  • How to use public transport
  • What to do in case of emergency

5. Always do "something else"

At the end of the day, what appears on your website or on your Booking or Airbnb profile is what you offer, and it should be enough for guests to see that everything is in order for them to give you a good rating and review once their stay is over. However, there is no better feeling than knowing that, in cities where there are many apartments just like yours, you stood out as a host by improving the experience of your guests. How did you do it? Always offering something more. It doesn't have to be an expensive bottle of wine or paying them for lunch, but rather meaningful details. For example, leave some bottles of water in their fridge, help them carry their bags, suggest a particular dish at a restaurant, or even offer (if possible) a late check-out if their flight is in the afternoon.

It may not make you richer, but it may be the case that your guests are able to appreciate those nice gestures and that, in addition to giving you a good rating or review, they also feel encouraged to recommend your accommodation to family or friends, or even come back next summer!

For more, check out our business section.

Thursday, 13 January 2022

Airport Passenger Numbers Increase Again in November 2021

ZAGREB, 13 Jan 2022 - In November 2021, 204,000 passengers passed through Croatian airports, which is 270.6% more than in November 2020, and the number of flights increased by 55% to 4,354, according to the data provided by the State Bureau of Statistics (DZS).

This is a decrease of 42% compared to the pre-pandemic November 2019, when 351,000 passengers transited through Croatian airports. November 2021 generated 58.2% of the passenger traffic in November 2019.

In terms of passenger traffic, Zagreb Airport ranked first, with 162,000 passengers, 286.6% more than in November 2020. It is followed by Split Airport with 26,000 passengers or 225.9% more while Dubrovnik Airport saw 13,000 passengers or 206.2% more than in November 2020.

The most significant international passenger traffic was to airports in Germany, with 51,000 passengers or 304.3% more than in November 2020, when 13,000 passengers were recorded.

DZS data show that in the first eleven months of 2021, 4.5 million passengers transited through all Croatian airports, an increase of 116.9% from the first eleven months of 2020. In that period there were 56.3% more flights or a total of 80,894. Cargo transport through Croatian airports increased by 13.7% to 7,959 tonnes.

Compared to November 2020, cargo transport increased by 28.3% to 829 tonnes.

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

Sunday, 8 August 2021

1.05m Tourists Vacationing in Croatia

ZAGREB, 8 Aug, 2021 - There are 1,055,000 tourists vacationing in Croatia - 886,000 foreigners and 169,000 Croatians, the Tourism Ministry said on Sunday. 

Among the foreign tourists, the most numerous are Germans (257,000), followed by Slovenians (125,000), Poles (81,000) and Austrians (68,000).

The largest number of tourists are staying in Istra County (271,000), followed by Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (180,000) and Split-Dalmatia County (170,000).

Croatia has registered 7.4 million arrivals and 44.5 million overnights this year to date, respectively 58% and 68% of the results logged during the same time in 2019.

In the first seven days of August, there were 981,000 arrivals and 7.4 million overnights, respectively 78% and 91% of the figures recorded in the first week of August 2019.

For more on travel, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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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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Sunday, 9 August 2020

Croatian Tourism Structure Changes Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

The Croatian tourism structure is changing as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and the country is seeing a considerable shift in numbers and arrivals from certain countries.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 8th of August, 2020, a survey conducted among members of the Group of Unique Luxury Hotels of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) showed that the structure of guests in this segment of Croatian tourism has changed significantly. Before the appearance of the new coronavirus, the US was the priority market for most respondents, and now it has become Germany. It is interesting to note that Croatia is increasingly visited by guests who spent their annual leave before the pandemic came to be in exotic destinations far from Europe such as the Bahamas and the Seychelles, and that a large number of them are now coming to Croatia.

"Currently, most of our guests come from the German-speaking areas and from Croatia, and there's been a noticeable increase in arrivals from Ukraine, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, etc. Most of them are guests who come in their own car, and a number also come by plane, often by private flight. Our experiences with them are extremely positive and in most cases these are guests who are visiting Croatia for the first time, looking for an alternative to the long haul destinations they normally visited. It's interesting that many noticed how much easier it is to choose a closer destination, and many of them said they'll come again, given the fact that we met their expectations in terms of a high level of privacy, and the quality of accommodation and services,'' said Sandra Juric, the director of sales and marketing at the Meneghetti Hotel, which is a member of the Stories group, Croatian Unique Hotels.

Tomislav Milinovic, the director of the Calvados Club travel agency, has also noticed quite the change in terms of Croatian tourism and its emitting markets.

"Otherwise, our main markets are the United States, Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Australia. Other markets are below 5 percent of total turnover, and the EU market is negligible for us. However, agencies and clients from the European market, mostly from Germany and Scandinavia, are now contacting us, but they're really only looking for luxury accommodation such as villas, apartments in a luxury hotel or a yacht,'' Milinovic explained.

Among the respondents, online advertising dominates in attracting guests, whether it is done on social networks, via Google advertising or on classic sites such as, and to a lesser extent at tourism fairs.

When it comes to advertising on social networks, the markets of greatest interest to all are those of the United Kingdom, Austria and Germany, followed by Slovenia and other European countries.

“We've undertaken a number of additional marketing campaigns in collaboration with our long-standing partners, agencies, DMCs, the media and on social media, and the results are tangible. Booking has become exclusively short-term and therefore very unpredictable, but it's much more intense than we once expected. There are obvious oscillations that show a strong and immediate reaction of guests to any change in the situation in Croatia or surrounding countries. The influence of the media or changes in the policy of individual governments change the picture from day to day,'' said Juric of Croatian tourism in the coronavirus age.

Half of the participants in the Croatian Chamber of Commerce survey recorded a shortening of the number of overnight stays since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, while a smaller number recorded an increase or an equal duration of guests' stay. Most of the respondents introduced benefits and additional facilities in the form of discounts, and to a lesser extent, the offer of gastronomic packages, boat tours and the use of sports facilities. Everyone involved in Croatian tourism emphasises the need to intensify marketing activities in traditionally strong markets that are currently in decline, as well as across all markets from which it is possible to visit Croatia by car.

“We're continuing with strong marketing activities in the US, Canada, Mexico and Brazil because once lost, some markets are harder to regain than to gain new ones. Therefore, I appeal to the system of tourist boards not to redirect marketing funds intended for promotion in overseas markets. On the contrary, we need to think about the future, because all this will pass one day, and we must be ready for that,'' concluded Milinovic.

Through the brand Stories, HGK promotes small luxury hotels that are associated in the Group of unique luxury hotels HGK.

“Our goal is to position ourselves on the international market through top service, a unique offer and a special gourmet experience. The crisis we're all going through shows new trends, but reaffirms the fact that the product is the most important thing and after this crisis our guests will be looking for small hotels with the most authentic and personal experience even more, which is what Stories hotels base and develop their offer on,'' noted Nenad Nizic, President of the Group of Unique Luxury Hotels of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce.

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


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Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Tourists Filled Half of Croatian State Budget in 2019's First 9 Months

The Croatian state budget has been half filled by tourist revenue generated by foreigners during the first 9 months of 2019, marking an increase when compared to the first 9 months of 2018. While this marks a considerable increase, the source of the money is worrying indeed.

As Morski writes on the 31st of December, 2019, according to the Croatian National Bank (CNB/HNB), in the first nine months of 2019, foreign tourist revenues amounted to a massive nine billion and 447 million euros in total, representing a nine percent increase, or 769 million euros, over the same period last year.

''This year, we achieved 5 percent more tourist arrivals with an increase of 9 percent. Over the next year, with the introduction of the "Croatian Tourist Card" (Cro card), which we estimate will increase revenues by an additional 1.35 billion kuna, I'm sure that we will lay the groundwork for further enhancing the value of our tourist offer and thereby further emphasise ourselves on the world tourism market,'' said the Minister of Tourism, Gary Cappelli, when announcing the results on 2019's tourism revenue.

In the third quarter, that is, during July, August and September 2019, revenues from foreign tourists amounted to an impressive six billion and 638 million euros, which represents a nine percent increase, or 553 million euros, when compared to the same period last year's revenues of six billion and 85 million euros during that same time period.

It is not bad news that Croatia has enjoyed a steady 9 percent increase, but it is worrying that this is half of the Croatian state budget as a whole, and it has been generated by foreign tourism.

When converted to Croatian kuna, foreign tourists left 71.3 billion kuna in Croatia during the first 9 months of this year, while the total Croatian state budget stands at around 140 billion kuna.

Unfortunately, tourism, despite being Croatia's strongest economic branch, still cannot possibly compete with the production and exports industry. Any stronger influence on tourism development would throw Croatia to its knees, so this self-praise done by Minister Capelli should be taken with a dose of rational reflection and concern.

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

Monday, 25 November 2019

Croatia - Full of Personal Life: How to be a Tourist?

November the 25th, 2019 - The summer tourist season is long gone. We sold as much of the sea and sun as we possibly could, stripey parasols are safely packed away in garages, and summer seems like it was in a previous life.

A cold wind from Medvednica mountain is pushing the last leaves of autumn along Zagreb's pavements and people are walking just a tiny bit faster, covering their faces with their coats, attempting to hide their frozen cheeks from the harsh wind. Winter in Zagreb is just around the corner, and so is Zagreb's Christmas fair. Next to the good old summer, the biggest Croatian tourist event is just about to start and bring the tourists back!

We have few days left of this brief peaceful time between summer and Advent in Zagreb in which the tourists give us a break and some peace so we can deal with our own problems, drop the fake touristic smile and – just be our grumpy old Croatian selves again!

So, I took the oportunity of this quieter time to write a few words - on how it feels to be a tourist in Croatia, but first let, me write a few words on Regal.

What is ''regal'' you ask? 

When I was a child, every ''decent'' socialist household had a living room with a regal. It was usually placed on the living room wall. It was a huge darkwood cabinet which stretched from floor to ceiling filled with crystal glasses and bone china plates, with a glass front. The glass front had two purposes: a) to keep the dust away from the expensive porcelain plates and crystal glasses b) to make our house guests be aware that we're a nice family who actually has expensive porcelain plates and crystal glasses.

In my house, the regal was treated as a sacred place. The crystal glasses and Grandma's porcelain plates, delicately placed in the regal were only supposed to be brought out into daylight for one occasion: Kad dođu Gosti / When guests arrive.

''Mama, zašto nikad ne pijemo iz ovih čaša? / Mum, why don't we ever drink from these glasses? – I'd ask my mum holding one glass while she was carefully cleaning the glassfront of the regal.

''Ne diraj to! To je za goste! / Don't touch that! That's for the guests!'' mum would say in a dramatic tone of voice and took the crystal glass out of my hand.

Since we did not entertain much and guests were a rare appearance in our household (mum was not very keen on having them over) I pictured these guests like some sort of royality who would appear in front of our house in a carriage with horses. The day the guests would actually arrive, mum would turn into a cleaning dragon, turning the house upside down, giving out orders, dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, polishing and finally when everything was spotless, she would tell my father:

''Dodaj mi one kristalne čaše iz regala! / Get me those crystal glasses from the regal!''

''Koje čaše? / Which glasses?'' replied dad, who was cluless about that.

''Pa one za goste, nego koje! / Well, those for the guests! Which ones do you think I mean!'' mum would shout back.

''And please move your socks from the sofa, I asked you a million times! And go and put on that shirt I ironed for you!'' the dragon, also known as mum, would yell.

Tourism is much like the regal from my childhood. You hide away your socks from the sofa, put on your Sunday shirt, open the regal for the crystal glasses – and the party can start.

And how does the tourist season start in Croatia?

April – the beginning

There is one thing you must know about Croats. We're born, raised and live our lives believing that Croatia is the most beautiful country in the world. No offence, we know your countries are pretty as well, but facts are facts. God gave us the sea, the sun, the sound of crickets chirping, and beautiful clean beaches – What more can a tourist possibly want for their dream holiday?

The next logical Croatian thought is – we don't even have to do much about it, we don't have to bring out the crystal glasses to impress our guests! We're simply God-sent to be presented to tourists! Every tourist season in Croatia starts in the same way. You are sitting on your sofa watching the evening news with the usual political charades - parliament discussions on whose grandfather said what in World War II, when suddenly red letters appear on your screen.

BREAKING NEWS – followed by dramatic music in the backround and an excited, slightly nervous host saying: ''We're reporting live from…''

What? What is going on? An earthquake? The prime minister has resigned? An allien invasion? And then they appear on your screen. An older couple from Northern Europe hugging and grinning on Stradun, The main street in Dubrovnik, just blissful with joy and happiness, then they start to tell their story about how they've been visiting Croatia for the last 35 years and it's simply beautiful and the people are beautiful and everything is beautiful. They explain how they never ever want to go anywhere else but Croatia. Ever.

This year I started to suspect that the same couple are shown every year. They're starting to look kind of familiar to me. Your eyes fill with tears, and you are bursting with national pride.You are proud to be a Croat! So, it is true! We do have the best sea! And we do have the best sun! You just want to embrace and hug all those happy joyful tourists in your home and show them the famous Croatian hospitality! You want to bring out the
best crystal glasses and show them what Croatia is really about!

Untill they actually arrive. In June.

June - the arrival – keep the noise down, we're trying to live here!

As it usually happens with those long expected guests for whom you cleaned your entire house, once they're actually there, sipping wine from your best glasses, after an hour or so – you might find them – just a bit annoying.
The same thing happens with the tourists. If you're nervously standing in a packed tram praying to God the driver catches the green light so you can get to work on time, and a bunch of people with confused faces staring at the facades of buildings jump in front of your tram, you'll be slightly annoyed with this whole tourism thing!

''Go home, will you! There's nothing to see here!'' You yell through the tram window.

Just this summer, there was an old lady from Dubrovnik complaining on TV about how they simply cannot stand the dreadful noise from the tourists during the season. They are walking around, talking, laughing in the middle of the night, drinking wine, having fun! Ugh, the nerve of those people!

Errrr… well yes, tourists walk around, talk, laugh, breathe, clank the cutlery while dinning and – all in all – they make noise. You can't exactly turn our touristic slogan into Welcome to Croatia – Please keep the noise down! We are trying to live here!

At this point, I need to say a few words about baba (an affectionate term for grandmother, or older woman).

Tourism with baba

Since Croatia is a Godgiven touristic country, it is only natural that in Croatia, everybody is into tourism. So, you have a wide range of possibilities when visiting Croatia – from superluxurious all-inclusive hotels (if you a have deep pockets) to some less expensive solutions – camping - hostels – apartments... and... baba – standing in a port with a sign saying sobe/rooms in her hands.

The minute you arrive to Hvar port and step off the catamaran, you will spot a dozen babas dressed all in black – holding signs saying ''SOBE'' in their hands and yelling at each other.

First you might think that there is some local protest going on, what with all these women holding signs, pushing each other and yelling.

Because ''SOBE'' doesn't mean anything to you. You see, baba doesn't know any English and she doesn't care to know it either. If you knew a bit of Croatian, you would realise that ''sobe'' is the Croatian word for rooms before they start pulling on your sleeves and shouting: ''Oni su moji! Prva sam ih vidjela! / These are mine, I saw them first!'' and pushing other babas (their competition) away from you.

Before you know what has happened, baba will, (through sign language of some sort) explain to you that she has a beautiful room for 200 kuna, just around the corner. The next thing you know - you're dragging yourself uphill at an angle of 40 degrees up some dusty, narrow, steep island road following baba and looking back at the sea, the beaches and the town centre miles away, fading over the horizon.

It's noon. It's hot. You need water. You are half crawling uphill, with the sun burning your back.

''Where is this place?'' you yell to baba, who is happily hopping along in front of you, satisfied she caught her prey for this week.

''How… much … longer...?'' you gasp to baba with your last breath.

''Tu je, tu je, samo ravno! Ni pola minute! / Oh, its just around the corner! Just half a minute away,'' baba reassures you, like she cares that she doesn't speak English and you don't speak a word of Croatian.

''Evo, tu smo! / Right, we're here!'' baba says while unlocking the doors of the dusty old bedroom filled with 19th century furniture, papers and old books.

''Moj sin tu drži neke papire, valjda vam neće smetati / My son keeps some paper here, I hope you won't mind. To će biti 200 kuna / That will be 200 kuna,'' she says as she holds out her hand.

You're so happy that the endless dusty road is over, that the sun is not burning your skin any more and grateful for that glass of water she gave you, so you give your money to baba and lie down on the bed, raising a huge
dust cloud. But, the story is just beginning… You and baba – partners in crime...

You might have noticed that baba didn't ask for your documents, or even your name. You see, baba doesn't want to know your name, baba doesn't want the state to know that you're staying at her place, because baba does not want to pay taxes.

So, if while staying in baba's dusty living room, a pile of those old papers drops on your head , it's your own fault. Baba will never admit to the local tourist board that you're actually here. She will in fact deny it.

A while ago, I was staying with few of my friends in a little island village with some baba, on the upper floor of her house. She took the money, showed us our room upstairs and went downstairs to mind her own
business. On the first day of our stay there, I wanted to ask where the bus station is. So I went down and knocked on her kitchen window:

''Hello? – This is my first day here, can you please give some information about…''

''Oh, no, Madam, we don't have rooms for guests!'' she replied nervously but firmly, ''I just have some relatives upstairs!''

''Yes, I know, I'm staying in your living room,'' I replied confused.

''No, we don't rent out, I just have a couple of relatives upstairs. My nephews...''

And then it hit me.

For some reason, probably because of my serious face and the reading glasses I was wearing when I knocked on her window, baba thought that I was from the tourist inspection and that some village folks had ratted her out for having illegal guests. After 10 minutes of convincing her that I am indeed living in her living room, I just gave up and became her partner in crime.

Croatia – full of... personal life!

As one of our touristic slogans says – Croatia is full of life. But I'm starting to think some of our tourist workers got that slogan wrong. Let me tell you about the story my good friend experienced this summer. She was visitng the island of Vis with her family. A holiday on a Croatian island is not cheap for a Croatian family. Among other expenses, she decided to pay 500 kuna for a trip with a modern motorboat to the beautiful Blue cave with a
professional tourist guide for an hour and a half.

At least that's what the advertisment said.

When she got to the little port, she spoted a young barefoot unshaved man with a ponytail. He was dressed in a messy white undershirt and army short pants and had an old JNA motorboat.

''Is this the trip to the Blue cave?'' she asked as she approached him.

''Yes, yes, it is,'' the unshaved guy mumbled with a cigarette hanging from his mouth.

''Idemo, kasnimo! / Let's move it! We're running late!'' he yelled to the crowd when starting the rusty engine.

''Excuse me, how long is the trip?'' my friend asked.

''An hour and a half, but we can make it in 45 minutes,'' the guy yelled over the sound of the old engine and Thompson song blaring from the old CD player.

''And will we be hearing something about the place?''

The guy sighed and threw the cigarette butt to the sea.

''Gospođo, what is there to say? Enjoy the sun and the sea!''

Apparently the professional tourist guide didn't have too much to say about the Blue cave itself, but one hour and one pack of cigarettes later people did hear a lot about how life on the island is difficult, how toursits are rude and ungrateful and how none of this is worth the money he gets and how next summer he will just f… this whole thing off and go and work with his cousin in Germany.

Tourism is very important in Croatia, you see, until it interferes with your personal life.

So, don't be surprised if you're ever riding in a tourist taxi boat on the island of Hvar and the driver suddenly turns away from his route because at 14:15 he has to collect his neigbour who is going to work. Or if the receptionist gives you the full report on how he isn't feeling too good because his cat had surgery on Tuesday, and his old aunt just slipped and broke her leg so he has to go to the hospital after work.

The customer is always right... Or is he?

The first tourism rule is: The customer is always right. Hm. Until you visit a small family hotel on the Croatian coast, where my aunt and uncle go every year.

The place is run by a guy named Marinko, also known as Buco, his wife Biserka and their son Šime. Now, Buco is busy all day behind the bar or in the kitchen. Šime is busy chasing foreign girls on the riva and Biserka is in charge of everything else. One early and warm August morning, my aunt and uncle were enjoying a nice breakfast on the hotel terrace while Biserka was circling around tables like a seagull, serving guests with a white cloth on her shoulder, smiling gently and chatting with the crowd.

Suddenly, a black Alfa Romeo rushes into a parking infront of the terrace in an attempt to park.

''Hey, you can't park here!'' Biserka yells across the terrace – waving her white cloth to the Italian who stepped out of the car. The italian guy shrugs his shoulders in a ''I don't understand you'' manner.

''You CAN'T PARK HERE! It's private parking! Hotel guests only!'' Biserka is now screaming across the tables – waving with the cloth. The Italian guy exits the car waving his hands, still in the ''I don't understand!'' mode.

''Nema parkiranja! No parking!'' Buco got involved – yelling from behind the bar. ''Nicht parkplatz! Nema parchieggo!''

You could see that Biserka was getting very upset.

''Jeste gluhi? / Are you deaf? Nema parkiranja!''

She made a move towards Italian, but then she spoted all the eyes of her guests on her and remembered the ''customer is always right'' rule. She threw the cloth at his direction and yelled ''Ma idi u…. p….m, park wherever you want! / Oh, go f… yourself! park wherever you want!''

Like I pointed out earlier, we have a wide range of touristic possibilities in Croatia.

If you want to stay in a luxury hotel – fine. If you want to camp under the stars - we have it. If you want to stay illegally in baba's living room – also good. But, when you think about it, all the tourists of the world can be divided in two large groups:

a) tourists who want to be animated:
If you want to be entertained by jumping around the swimming pool while a guy in a clown suit is doing zumba – we have that in Croatia, no problem. But, also, we have a very nice programme for group b) tourists who want to be left alone in the peace and quiet.

If you want to enjoy some peace and quiet with a beer in one hand and good book in another, well, then you're my kind of tourist.You can join me for a holiday any time. You can usually find me sitting on a deck chair in the shade, drinking beer and staring at the sea.

I'm a very nice tourist actually.

I don't make any noise. I don't need to be animated. I'm staying with baba, so I'm no problem to the tax office. I walk on my tip-toes. I never read my book out loud. I don't clank with the clutlery too loudly. So, if you happen to see me on a lonely beach somewhere with my book and a beer, under a huge summer hat, just keep one thing im mind... Please, please don't entertain me!

Just keep the beer cold and the conversation to a minimum, and keep those animated zumba clowns away, please, I have some staring at the sea and blue sky to attend to.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Zagreb Economist Claims Tourism is ''Curse'' For Resources in Croatia

A young Croatian scientist from the Faculty of Economics in Zagreb has stated his opinion on just what Croatia's deep attachment to tourism and little else is actually doing to the country. As Novac writes on the 9th of September, it isn't all as much of a walk in the park as many who rely on Croatia's strongest economic branch think it is.

''If there were no tourism, I believe that Croatia would be among the winners of the transition [countries] because we'd not be able to continue going down this wrong path,'' said Velibor Mačkić of the Zagreb Faculty of Economics for Novi list, adding that "tourism is an absolute curse of resources" and that without it "we'd have behave in a different way".

According to Mačkić, people in Croatia today aren't seeing investing in knowledge worth bothering with because ''why would someone invest in knowledge and graduate from a university that lasts for a minimum of five years and then get a job and have to pay huge amounts of income tax when they can stay in Primorje, Istria or Dalmatia and rent out some apartments and pay only a flat rate for doing that.''

In addition, he said that there is no real need for innovation in Croatia, because "jobs in Croatia aren't obtained because you're more cost effective or innovative, but because you know the right people." As a result, the perception of the state, and so the state itself, has become very weak.

''The state grew in size, but was increasingly inefficient and actually ''broke glasses'' when it brought the food to the table,'' Mačkić describes in illustrative terms.

''Instead of moving towards neo-corporatism, the Croatian state ended up as a weak state and is now in the ranks of the likes of Bulgaria and Romania,'' Mačkić explained.

To remedy all of this, the young scientist believes that we must start from a position of absolute transparency, both in terms of the budget and in the adoption and implementation of public policies and procurement processes.

''After that, then, rather paradoxically but unfortunately necessary in the domestic context, we'd need to reach a consensus on the importance and role of the public sector in the production of public good, correcting market failures and laying the foundations on which the private sector can secure and build the unprecedented competitiveness of its goods and services.

This includes the termination of the crusade against the so-called ''uhljebs''. Then, local and regional self-government unit employees will be brought into line. The politically determined and unnecessarily large number of local and regional units should be viewed in the context of administrative decentralisation, but more importantly fiscal decentralisation,'' says the young scientist.

''At this point, the next recession automatically implies a fall spending and revenue from VAT, while increasing expenditures on social services, ie, an increase in the budget deficit. The cards are split, those sitting at the table have no incentive to change anything. So the impetus for change can only be external. Only the next crisis can inspire us to change and that's Croatia's biggest tragedy,'' he told Novi list.

He also said that "Croatia had missed the chance to change under the burden of the past crisis."

''Milanović's government sought to change the structure of the economy, initially trying to stimulate the economy with private investment, so a phase in which we were trying to do this with government spending ensued, but by joining the EU and the excessive deficit procedure, this all stopped.

In 2014, for the first time since 1993 and 1994, we recorded a positive contribution of net exports to GDP. But as this could not generate GDP growth, in 2015, by parametric changes in the income tax system, Minister Lalovac increased personal consumption, which also ensures GDP growth.

Orešković's government then came into power, and Plenković's government is doing the exact same thing, and since 2017, we've completely cancelled the contribution of foreign demand and are back to domestic demand as a motor for GDP growth. Unfortunately, Croatia hasn't learned anything from the past recession,'' explained Mačkić.

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Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Croatia's Tourism Suffering, How Are Things For Our Competition?

We've talked a lot about how the tourism situation in Croatia this tourist season has been a little off. Very much off, actually. While some report no particular changes, highly popular restaurants in Dubrovnik are being pictured just half full, Jadrolinija ferries are being pictured half empty, bookings are down significantly, and Croatia has quite strangely restricted access to tourism figures. Weird, right?

There are a multitude of reasons why Croatia's 2019 tourist season is a drag, but one of the reasons Croatia needs to get its act together in regard to bringing tourists in and stop relying on old (and accidental) glory is the fact that some of its competition countries in the Mediterranean are recovering, and their prices are usually far, far more attractive than Croatian ones.

As Marija Crnjak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 17th of July, 2019, the European Commission for Travel (ETC) expects that the demand for tourism in Europe will remain with an upward trend in 2019, with growth of 3.6 percent.

It isn't only Croatia that has recorded minuses or stagnation this summer, owing to competition countries who returned to the ''tourism game'' in 2019, primarily Turkey, which, with its very low prices, has pulled many tourists away from the likes of Montenegro, Greece, and even from Europe's tourism king - Spain.

Although the European Commission for Travel does continue to provide optimistic forecasts for destinations in Europe in its report for the second quarter, the current situation is causing many to fear the decline in tourist traffic and tourism revenues this year.

The European Commission for Travel's report (ETC) for the second quarter cites expectations that tourism in Europe will remain upward in 2019. A growth rate of 3.6 percent is projected, which is more in line with the annual average from 2008 up until 2018, but is in fact less than last year's growth.

The report states that in the first two quarters of 2019, the Balkan region was the most successful in terms of growth in arrivals, with Montenegro as the record holder with a massive fifty percent increase in the period from January to the end of April, while Turkey experienced such growth at a mere twelve percent. Both Slovenia and Greece recorded significant growth in the first quarter of 2019, both with eight percent growth, and the EC has given a positive forecast for Greece, despite the return of Mediterranean rivals like Turkey.

As is well known, Croatia had six percent more arrivals and three percent more overnight stays in the first six months of this year than it did during the first half of 2018, but for the first time in a few years, there was a significant slump in July.

Namely, in the first twelve days of July 2019, the number of Croatian overnight stays fell by almost five percent, while tourist arrivals dropped by 6.2 percent, according to eVisitor data. The year, however, is still in the surplus, but for the time being, the encouraging percentage figures are drawn entirely from Croatia's successful pre-season, which of course also yields significantly lower tourism revenues than the summer months do.

Optimism hasn't managed to touch on the announcements of Croatia's hoteliers either, a segment in which reservations have dropped during summer so far, and were in the range of three to seven percent in mid-June. On certain portals which have group deals, there are several offers for leading Adriatic hotels and destinations for the end of July, which have been overcrowded over the past three years. Worrying indeed.

Although official figures suggest that the tourist season in neighbouring Montenegro remains at last year's level, those ''from the field'' in Montenegro have warned that the situation is much worse than last year, and that there is a fear that, if this trend continues along with possible unfavourable weather conditions, the season in the popular coastal town of Budva could experience collapse.

The Montenegrin Tourism Association's Petar Ivković, has stated that online sales figures in Montenegro indicate almost forty percent less individual reservations, and that reservations have been booked on the markets of Turkey, Greece, and Egypt.

Ivković agrees that Croatian and Montenegrin tourism are facing a very similar problem - the overgrowth of private accommodation facilities, and has added that only through water consumption and garbage collection calculations in Budva can they mathematically come to the conclusion that Mongenegro's private accommodation is half empty.

Even Greece is experiencing a growing problem of unfair competition in private accommodation, and more and more Greek hoteliers are now expecting a fall in revenue, occupancy, and so prices will have to be lowered in order to fill hotel capacities this summer.

The new Greek government will continue with the tourism policy created by the previous government, and thus facilitate the sector through tax breaks. The new Greek Minister of Tourism of Harry Theocharis has his priorities in order, the first of which is the reduction of the VAT rate from the current 24 percent down to 13 percent for accommodation (with the goal of reaching 11 percent). In addition to the tax breaks, the ministry's agenda is to review resident tax and introduce incentives for the energy renewal of Greek tourist facilities.

The aforementioned Greek ministry will also address the revision of the structure and activities of the Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO). They are also planning to partner with the private sector to promote and improve the country's brand, and organise the promotion of alternative tourism.

Even the Spanish Tourism Excellence Association (EXCELTUR) confirmed that this summer there has been a slowdown in Spanish tourist traffic, which is currently at 2018's level, with a moderate increase in revenue.

EXCELTUR expects growth of 1.6 percent this summer, down slightly from 2 percent last year. However, in the second quarter of 2019, Spain recorded a decline in tourist traffic in destinations selling just sunshine and sea, unlike Spanish city destinations.

The largest minus have been seen in the traditional beach destinations in Spain, which are more dependent on the demand of foreign tour operators, especially on the Canary islands and in the Balearic islands. Barcelona, ​​Madrid and Valencia have the best forecasts for the rest of the summer. In addition, as vice president of the association José Luis Zoreda explained, the results vary considerably between those destinations and hotels that invested in reconstruction and renovation of their facilities, and those who didn't invest.

Spanish entrepreneurs in tourism are still optimistic according to surveys, and as many as 40.7 percent believe they will increase their sales when compared to last summer. Obviously, Turkey is an absolute hit this year, and in the first five months of the year, it had 11 percent higher turnover than it did last year, with growth expectations of 10 percent year-on-year.

Can Croatia adjust itself accordingly to repair its tourism situation? Only time (and an actual strategy outside of obsessing over eVisitor's figures) will tell.

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