Thursday, 7 October 2021

American Lux Tourism Agencies Checking Out Beautiful Istria

October the 7th, 2021 - While Dalmatia and more recently the City of Zagreb have been attractive to American tourists, the gorgeous Istrian peninsula has been somewhat less visited by our friends from across the pond. That could all be about to change with the visit of several American lux tourism agencies to this stunning part of Croatia.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, five travel agents specialising in luxury tourism (American lux tourism agencies) arrived in beautiful Istria recently as part of a nine-day FAM trip (Familiarisation Trip) organised by RealCroatia. During their working visit, they will visit local accommodation and service providers, and check out what kind of experience they can offer to their clients.

These American lux tourism representatives have come to visit this part of the country because Istria, unlike Dalmatia and Zagreb, is not yet "on the radar" of the vast majority of guests visiting Croatia from America. In addition to Zagreb and Plitvice, they will be presented with offers in Opatija, Lovran, Motovun, Groznjan, Buzet, Rovinj, Pula, Savudrija, Brijuni and then further inland in Gorski kotar. Pascal Lee, a luxury tourism consultant at West Rock Travel Working, says she wants to see Croatia from a local perspective:

“Several of my clients, experienced world travellers, have recently returned from excellent trips to Croatia. I decided that I had to find out for myself what the secret of this beautiful country was.''

"We're encouraged by the excellent feedback and results of the April tour," stated RealCroatia director Petra Gracin, noting that North America is a market with better paying power than typical Western European guests visiting Istria and Dalmatia.

"The average consumption per passenger is often over 5,000 US dollars," said Gracin, and back in April this year, RealCroatia organised the first trip of travel agents from America to Europe since the global coronavirus pandemic began, when nine agents visited Zagreb, Plitvice Lakes National Park, Zadar, Trogir, Split, Hvar, Peljesac and Dubrovnik.

According to the data available from the Institute of Tourism, American tourists are the largest tourist consumers per capita in the Republic of Croatia, which likely isn't a surprise. In addition, as many as 83 percent of them claim that they will recommend visiting Croatia to their friends, which is something else putting them firmly in the lead. In comparison, this is 13 percentage points more than in the case of Germany and German tourists and as much as 23 percentage points more than in the case of neighbouring Italian guests.

It is expected that in 2022, about 400,000 North American guests will visit Croatia and that they will realise over 1.2 million overnight stays in total.

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

Saturday, 2 October 2021

Croatian Visa Free USA Travel Might Boost Trade, But Issues Remain

October the 2nd, 2021 - Croatian visa free USA travel has finally been announced after years and years of waiting. As of December the 1st this year, Croatian passport holders will no longer require visas to enter the USA, and this is more than likely to further boost trade between the two countries. That said, issues of course remain.

As Tomislav Pili/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Croatian visa free USA travel, which, according to the US Administration, will begin in December, will improve Croatia's economic co-operation with the world's largest economy, but the main obstacle - double taxation - remains an enormous issue, as the USA is one of the few countries with which Croatia has a trade surplus.

Export growth by 13 percent

As Andrea Grubisic, a senior expert associate of the International Affairs Department of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), explained, last year, the export of goods from Croatia to the USA amounted to a massive 521.6 million dollars, almost 13 percent more than back in pre-pandemic 2019.

Although imports from the US also increased by 5.3 percent, a surplus of 323 million US dollars was realised, which is 18.2 percent more than in the previous year. "The trend continued in the first six months of this year, so Croatian exports to the USA increased by 93.6 percent, and the surplus on the Croatian side increased by almost 53 percent," explained Grubisic. Nevertheless, the world's largest economy isn't really a particularly important trading partner for Croatia.

In the total trade of Croatia with the rest of the world, the USA ranks a mere 15th with a 1.67 percent share. In terms of exports, the United States ranks 8th with 3.06 percent, and in terms of imports, only 23rd with 0.77 percent.

When asked about the level of interest from Croatian companies in doing business "across the pond", Grubisic said that according to the Croatian Chamber of Commerce and contacts with members that are just opening over on the US market, there is interest in exporting consumer goods, including food.

"Certainly, in the last few years, the ICT sector has stood out, from which Croatian companies are increasingly showing interest in opening their subsidiaries or companies in the United States, and according to revenues from exports of services to the United States, this sector looks promising," said Grubisic.

Darinko Bago, President of Croatian Exporters, believes that the facilitation of Croatian visa free USA travel will greatly facilitate the ongoing work on this matter, and that it will also result in the conclusion of new business moves.

“This is especially true for industries that produce higher value-added goods because it eliminates administrative visa application procedures, especially if you need those documents for a larger number of employees. If we look at the experiences of other countries that have a visa free travel regime with the United States, it will undoubtedly raise economic cooperation between Croatia and the USA,'' said Bago.

''However, a much bigger obstacle to trade growth is the lack of a double taxation agreement, which is necessary if we're to achieve a higher form of co-operation with the US,'' Bago added.

Two important reasons...

"Such an agreement would be especially important for Croatia for two reasons: given that America is a technological power, it would provide easier access to technology as part of the digital transformation, and the other is that the United States is also a financial centre.

Croatia is currently ''invisible'' to American investors because they'd have to pay taxes twice on the realised profit from any of their investments, in Croatia and in the USA. That is the main reason why we have a trade surplus with the USA, because American companies are planning for the long term, and at the moment it just isn't worthwhile for them to open a branch in Croatia,'' Bago pointed out.

''It should be clarified that the announced abolition refers to B1/B2 visas that enable Croatian citizens to go to the US for travel and business,'' said Andrea Doko Jelusic, the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Croatia.

"They're a separate category of business visas that every country, including the United States, has for occasional or longer work carried out on their territory," added Doko Jelusic.

She advised Croatian companies to focus on a specific geographical area, specific sectors, and even the size of the company they're targeting. “It's easier to do business with small and medium-sized enterprises than it is to focus on large corporations,'' concluded Doko Jelusic.

For more, check out our dedicated travel and business sections.

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Foreign Minister Grlić Radman: Cancellation of Visa Regime For US is "New Recognition" of Croatia

ZAGREB, 29 Sept, 2021 - The cancellation of visa requirements for Croatian nationals travelling to the United States is "a new recognition" 30 years after the recognition of Croatia, and a law on avoiding double taxation is expected to be signed now, Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Tuesday.

Thirty years after the recognition of the Republic of Croatia this is "a new recognition", the minister said commenting on the announcement by the US Department of Homeland Security about Croatia joining the Visa Waiver Program.

Exactly a year has passed since the end of the fiscal year in the United States and that was the deadline for Croatia to submit a sufficient number of qualified applications, which means the visa refusal rate had to be below three percent, he recalled.

That qualified Croatia for the cancellation of visa requirements in addition to some other minor conditions, such as security in air traffic, he said.

The next step that both countries are expecting soon is signing an agreement on avoiding double taxation, which will facilitate business communication.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

U.S. to Lift Pandemic Travel Restrictions, Easing Tension With Europe

September 21, 2021 - Travelers who provide proof of full vaccination against the coronavirus before boarding a flight will be able to enter the United States, ending an 18-month ban on travel from 33 countries includes members of the European Union as part of the U.S. pandemic travel restrictions.

The New York Times reports that the Biden administration will lift pandemic travel restrictions starting in November for foreigners who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, reopening the country to thousands of people, including those who have been separated from family in the United States during the pandemic, and easing a major source of tension with Europe.

The halt to the 18-month ban on travel from 33 countries, including members of the European Union, China, Iran, South Africa, Brazil, and India, could help rejuvenate a U.S. tourism industry that has been crippled by the pandemic travel restrictions. The industry suffered a $500 billion loss in travel expenditures in 2020, according to the U.S. Travel Association, a trade group that promotes travel to and within the United States.

In New York City alone, the lack of tourists wiped out 89,000 jobs and resulted in a loss of more than $60 billion in revenue, the state comptroller found.

“Everyone says New York is back, New York is back, but it’s not really back until tourists are back from all countries,” said Leyla Saleh, 28, a pastry chef whose father was forced to shut down his gift shop in Midtown Manhattan last year because he did not have enough business.

Foreign travelers will need to show proof of vaccination before boarding and a negative coronavirus test within three days of coming to the United States, Jeffrey D. Zients, the White House pandemic coordinator, said on Monday. Unvaccinated Americans who want to travel home from overseas will have to clear stricter testing requirements. They will need to test negative for the coronavirus one day before traveling to the United States and show proof that they have bought a test to take after arriving in the United States, Mr. Zients said.

“International travel is critical to connecting families and friends, to fueling small and large businesses, to promoting the open exchange of ideas and culture,” Mr. Zients said. “That’s why, with science and public health as our guide, we have developed a new international air travel system that both enhances the safety of Americans here at home and enhances the safety of international air travel.”

The changes announced on Monday apply only to air travel and do not affect pandemic travel restrictions along the land border, Mr. Zients said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers people fully inoculated two weeks after they receive the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Those who have received vaccines listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization, such as the AstraZeneca vaccine, would also be considered fully vaccinated, according to a statement from Thomas Skinner, a C.D.C. spokesman.

The C.D.C. will also issue an order directing airlines to collect phone numbers and email addresses of travelers for a new contact-tracing system. Authorities will then follow up with the travelers after arrival to ask whether they are experiencing symptoms of the virus.

Although the new rules open up travel for some, they shut it down for others.

Unvaccinated people will soon be broadly banned from visiting the United States even if they are coming from countries such as Japan, which have not faced restrictions on travel to America during the pandemic. The restrictions will create substantial complications for people who want to travel to the United States from countries where it is more difficult to get vaccinated, according to Willie Walsh, the director-general of the International Air Transport Association, a trade group of the world’s airlines.

Follow the latest flights to Croatia HERE and the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia HERE.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Saturday, 11 September 2021

Plenković on 9/11: Croatia Stands in Solidarity With US

ZAGREB, 11 Sept, 2021 - Croatia remembers the victims of the 9/11 attacks, extending its condolences to the families and expressing solidarity with the United States and the American people, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković wrote on Twitter on Saturday. 

"The evil of terrorism is a global threat that we can eradicate through joint action and cooperation," Plenković said on the 20th anniversary of the attacks.

Three thousand people were killed in attacks by the Al-Qaeda terrorist group on 11 September 2001 after terrorists hijacked three aircraft and deliberately crashed them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and into the Pentagon. A fourth hijacked plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania after passengers attempted to regain control of the aircraft from the hijackers.  

The 20th anniversary falls less than two weeks after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the longest US war in history, launched in retaliation against the al-Qaeda conspirators and leaders and the Taliban who gave them refuge.

For Croatia's latest news, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 10 September 2021

American Travel and Leisure Mag Praises Hvar and Dalmatian Islands

September the 10th, 2021 - It's no secret that Americans love the Dalmatian coast and the very many stunning Dalmatian islands. Hvar, known as Croatia's premier island, as well as the sunniest, has been having its praises sung by one popular American travel mag.

As Morski writes, throughout this challenging tourist year, when the Croatian tourism sector's goal was to promote Croatia as a safe destination in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the desire to achieve the best tourist results, the renowned American monthly Travel + Leisure magazine (which boasts a highly impressive 3,360,589 monthly readers) ranked the island of Hvar in the TOP 20 best European islands.

The truly gorgeous island of Hvar has earned a prominent position among the ranks of the islands of Mílos, Folegandros and Santorini (Greece), Madeira (Portugal), Sicily (Italy), and others.

The editorial board of Travel + Leisure magazine, which, along with National Geographic Traveler and Conde Nast Traveler, is one of the most influential travel magazines in the world, decided to compile this list of 20 islands, emphasising that Hvar has a rich history and culture, touching on Hvar wines and stays in the island's top accommodation.

There were almost as many Americans on Hvar this tourist season as there were back in in pre-pandemic, record 2019. Petar Razovic, the director of the Hvar Tourist Board, emphasised that once again Hvar has been recognised as a destination by the breadth of its offer and the highest tourist criteria it offers to its visitors.

He added that this recognition was greatly helped by the Safe stay in Croatia project launced by the Ministry of Tourism and Sport, and that tourists from the United States in July and August in the overall structure of arrivals and overnight stays recorded results similar to those seen back in 2019.

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

Thursday, 26 August 2021

American Spartan Race Invests in Croatian Highlander Brand

August the 26th, 2021 - The American Spartan Race has invested in the increasingly popular Croatian Highlander brand, which is attracting more and more hiking and mountaineering fanatics as time goes on.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, just last week, the world's leading event brand, the American Spartan Race® concluded an investment in the Croatian Highlander brand, thus forming a global strategic partnership. The goal of this partnership is to support the growth of the Croatian Highlander brand, whose mountaineering events are held across a total of thirteen countries around the world, and at the same time expand the "tough fitness" portfolio of Spartan Race to hiking.

“Spartan Race’s mission is to create challenging, life-changing experiences for the better,” said Spartan Race founder and CEO Joe De Sena. ''Investing in a partnership with the Croatian Highlander brand allows us to encourage even more people around the world to participate in physically demanding activities that they think are beyond their reach. We are excited to be able to work with Highlander and to increase their global reach, and we're also excited by the fact that we'll be able to offer our Spartan community even more opportunities to step outside of their comfort zones.''

The compatibility of the goals of Spartan Race and the Croatian Highlander brand naturally gravitated towards the aforementioned global strategic partnership. The vision, mission and core values ​​of these two brands form the same core: a strong state of mental and physical well-being that encourages positive lifestyle changes. Within the partnership, the Croatian Highlander brand will have the opportunity to present its concept to a much wider audience and pursue its core objectives.

"We want to encourage people to rise from their established routines and embark on the path of discovering a better version of themselves, all while contributing to a better world," said Highlander CEO Jurica Barac. ''Highlander offers a fantastic adventure that takes place in some of the most impressive locations around the world. That's why we're very proud to be able to work with Spartan Race - together we're going to change the lives of people around the world.''

The strategic partnership will result in the Croatian Highlander brand's real breakthrough into the world's largest markets in the event industry such as the USA, the UK, China and Australia. The conceptual simplicity of the event itself, as well as the fact that hiking has become one of the most desirable forms of physical activity worldwide, greatly contribute to the desire of the brand's founders to allow hiking enthusiasts to attend their events on every continent.

Spartan Race, which began organising hurdle racing (OCR) events back in 2010, then expanding its business to as many as 45 countries, has become a world leader in endurance sports, creating a new “Tough Fitness” category. Over more recent years, Spartan Race has expanded its business initially to trail running with the launch of the Spartan Trail World Championship®, followed by mountain biking with strategic partner La Rute, the world's first multistage mountain bike race in Costa Rica, which has since expanded to Spain.

In addition, Spartan Race has acquired former OCR rival Tough Mudder, launched the functional fitness brand DEKA®, launched a digital app and training platform. In total, more than one million participants participate in all events within the Spartan Race portfolio each year.

For more, follow our dedicated lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Croatian Defence Minister and Chief-of-Staff on Official Visit to USA

ZAGREB, 21 July, 2021 - Defence Minister Mario Banožić and the Croatian Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff , Admiral Robert Hranj are on an official visit to the USA to mark the 25th anniversary of cooperation with the Minnesota National Guard, as part of the State Partnership Programme, the Defence Ministry reported on Wednesday.

This is Minister Banožić's first official visit to the United States since stepping into office.

Banožić and Hranj visited the Sikorsky helicopter factory in Connecticut on Monday where they met with the company's executives and president Paul Lemmo.

The company is a subsidiary of the Lockhead Martin company which also producers UH-60 Black Hawk and SH-60 Seahawk helicopters. 

The Defence Ministry (MORH) points out the importance of military and technological cooperation with the USA which includes donations and the procurement of UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for the armed forces. During the meeting, Minister Banožić said that a US donation in 2019 was an important support to Croatia's national policy aimed at transitioning to equipment originating in the West.

"After that donation, we decided to procure two more Black Hawk helicopters and have allocated $85 million for that purpose. Our ambition is to continue developing this investment because, being a reliable and credible member of the NATO alliance, the transition to Western technology is the only possible and correct path," Banožić said. He expressed his satisfaction that at the moment Croatia's military pilots and aviation technicians are attending various training courses in the US, specialising in particular on the  Black Hawk helicopter.

"We also have two pilots gaining additional flying hours in Minnesota in cooperation and assistance of the Minnesota National Guard. This is important for us, not only in the context of buying equipment but in the context of security because we will obtain the necessary support in training," added Banožić.

Black Hawk helicopters can be used to support civilian institutions - in fighting wildfires, search and rescue missions, and emergency medical transport.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Croatian Olive Growers Win Medals in New York, 2000 Kuna Customs Fee Awaits

July the 1st, 2021 - Croatian olive growers and their produce are praised worldwide and are no stranger to a medal or ten. After recently winning yet more recognition and awards in New York, now around 2000 kuna in customs fees need to be paid in order for them to enter Croatia.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Croatian olive growers have been wildly successful with their produce, and nobody in Croatia really seems to care all that much about the level of promotion this provides the country that relies so heavily on foreign visitors. A little over one month ago, on the world's largest stage, NYIOOC 2021 in New York, Croatian olive growers "picked up" medals by winning 4th place, just behind the likes of Spain, Italy and Greece.

Nobody can stop writing about them - how could they not when a small country like Croatia participating in the world's production of olive oil with only 0.3 percent, takes the top place in terms of oil quality, reports agroklub.

"It happened because Dalmatians joined the Istrian olive growers in this great competition. The Istrians have confirmed their reputation, and the Dalmatians have proven that they have quality to offer as well,'' commented Dr. Ivica Vlatkovic, who once again won gold medals. Croatian olive growers won 66 gold and 20 silver medals in total.

The typically Croatian and utterly absurd customs clearance charges...

Aware of the fact that by participating in a kind of world championship and receiving the highest awards, they have contributed to Croatia entering the very top of the world in the quality of olive oils, they expect (greater) understanding from the state authorities. Unfortunately, the state authorities in Croatia aren't well known for their understanding, or much else in that regard.

Because, as Zlatko Buric said, the man who united the Solta olive growers and together with them managed to protect the Golden Solta oil at the European Union level, unfortunately there isn't much that can make Croatia an economically successful country. ''We've once again proved that we are at the bottom in terms of organisation,'' reported the aforementioned portal.

"Instead of the Prime Minister or the President contacting us and publicly praising us, giving us some sort of reward for our great success, they want to be parasitic by collecting customs duties on trophies which have been properly obtained and are well-deserved," said Buric and other Croatian olive oil producers and growers.

For each statuette and medal, if something doesn't change in the meantime, almost 2,000 kuna will need to be paid. Olive growers are afraid that they will have to pay VAT, so now they are trying everything in order to be able to prove the meaninglessness and even the illegality of this levy individually with some sort of joint action. Some have already contacted Minister Marija Vuckovic, who "called customs and promised that everything would be settled'', but we're yet to see if that occurs.

For more, follow our dedicated Made in Croatia section.

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Time to Strengthen Trade And Investments Between USA and Croatia - Conference

ZAGREB, 30 June, 2021 - The imminent visa waiver for Croatian citizens and the advanced negotiations on double taxation avoidance, are a good basis to strengthen trade and investments between the USA and Croatia, it was said on Wednesday at a conference on  doing business in the U.S. market. 

The hybrid conference was organised by the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP) in cooperation with the US Embassy in Croatia and two consulting companies -- the Armatus Prudentia and Trans-Atlantic Market Development -- which are engaged in helping Croatian businesses to come out on the US market.

The US Embassy's charge d'affaires, Mark Fleming, said that the US continued to be the best place for doing business in the world. With a market of 325 million consumers it is the most attractive and strongest consumer market in the world and it can help companies to build global success.

Fleming underscored Croatia's progress towards the aim of having the U.S. visa waiver program being applied on its citizens as well as the advanced negotiations on concluding a double taxation avoidance agreement.

It's time to strengthen bilateral trade and investments, the diplomat said and added that he expects more Croatian companies to explore the possibilities of doing business on the American market in the years to come.

He said that some Croatian companies were already doing business on the US market such as Infobip, Five, Infinum, HS Produkt, Šestan Busch, Dok-Ing and others.

HUP president Mihael Furjan thanked former US ambassador Robert Kohorst because huge steps were achieved during his ambassadorial term and as a result a double taxation avoidance deal should be signed soon.

Croatia mostly exports medicine and handguns to USA

Furjan said that Croatia's exports to the US were relatively low, and mostly involved medicine and handguns, however, there were at least 50 IT companies doing serious business in the USA.

"If you wish to come out on the global market to develop business then the most important step is entering the US market...if you succeed there you will succeed anywhere," said Furjan, underscoring the importance of competitiveness, cost efficiency and good ideas aimed at attracting consumers.

There are huge American investments in Croatia which are not that evident because many are coming via the Netherlands due to efforts to avoid double taxation, he said.

Businessman: easier to do business in USA than most European countries

Emir Avdić of the Trans-Atlantic Market Development company confirmed that the most popular pistol in the US is the one produced by HS Produkt in Croatia.

Avdić claimed that it is easier to do business in the US than most European countries. The US is known for its minimal red tape and it is quite easy and cheap to launch a business there, he added.

He cited low import tariffs compared with other markets, access to global supply chains which could facilitate accessing other markets like Canada and Mexico as advantages..

Mauro Lukić from the Croatian, Armatus Prudentia consulting firm said that the conference has motivated Croatian businesses to internationalise their business.

The wish is to strengthen economic relations with the USA, said Lukić, expressing hope that this will add a new rhythm and impact a gradual growth of Croatia's economy.

 For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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