Thursday, 15 December 2022

Zadar Turisthotel Plans to Invest 113 Million Euros Over Next 5 Years

December the 15th, 2022 - The Zadar Turisthotel is set to invest 113 million euros into its offer and facilities over the coming five years, aimed at not only improvement but sustainability.

As Marija Crnjak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, over the next half a decade, the Zadar Turistihotel plans to invest 113 million euros in the renovation and construction of new accommodation facilities and entertainment, which was approved by the company's Supervisory Board and presented by the Management Board on Tuesday at the first open day for Turisthotel shareholders.

Financial strength

"Since we started with the construction of a new entertainment and catering and establishment on the beach, which is worth more than 8.7 million euros, Zaton has been a large construction site. At the Zadar Turisthotel, we haven't had any significant investments since back 2018, and we recently adopted a strategic capital investment plan for the next five-year period with the aim of increasing the quality of our offer and content, higher revenues and ensuring the further growth and development of the company.

The Zadar Turisthotel has managed to enjoy significant financial stability, liquidity and creditworthiness, and we're confident that, as long as there are no major global disturbances and instability, we'll manage to realise our plans. In order to ensure success and future growth, we must invest in our offer, our employees and the destination as a whole, all while making sure we're engaging in sustainable and socially responsible development,'' explained Meri Matesic Sicic, the president of the Turisthotel Management Board, adding that the legislative and tax framework is stable and encouraging, as is the financial stability of the company, which remains the basis for planning and implementing new investments in tourism.

Annual figures

The new investment cycle of the Zadar Turisthotel will include the additional improvement and raising the quality of its existing facilities, new catering, hospitality and entertainment facilities, the complete remodeling of the main street within the resort, the reconstruction of the remaining apartments from 3 to 4 stars, the construction and introduction of new facilities, and the Aenona Park project, which includes a new camp, hotel and sport and entertainment facilities in the northern part of the settlement in Zaton.

In Zadar, there are also plans to build a city hotel located within the city centre on the site of the former Pobjeda (Victory) cinema, and to convert the Boutique Hostel Forum into a hotel. According to the plan, Turisthotel will annually invest approximately 22 million euros in those new projects.

As is already fairly well known, the Zadar-based shipping company Tankerska plovidba entered Turisthotel back at the beginning of November, becoming the largest single shareholder of the company by purchasing 24.53 percent of the shares. With the transaction, former longtime director Frane Skoblar dropped to second place with 11.8 percent, and the rest of the shares are held by around 600 small shareholders.

Mario Pavic, the president of Tankerska plovidba, explained that the company wants to diversify its operations as part of its long-term strategy of alignment with the global direction of decarbonisation, although the core business remains shipping. As the largest single shareholder, they plan to coordinate with the co-owners the way the company will be managed as we go forward.

For more, check out our business section.

Thursday, 13 October 2022

Zadar Breaking Nautical Records, 150 Cruisers Announced for 2023

October the 13th, 2022 - Zadar has broken records left, right and centre when it comes to nautical tourism, with more vessels having entered the waters of this Dalmatian city in a single day this year than ever before. 150 cruise ships announcements for next year are also encouraging for many.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, yesterday in the City of Zadar, the record for the number of vessels that entered the city's waters in the same day was officially broken. After the July record of four cruisers, there were as many as five present in Zadar yesterday, and it represented a new test for the Gazenica Passenger Port, reports HRT.

The General Director of the Gazenica Passenger Port, Rebeka V. Pevec, said that everything went smoothly, and that the plan for next year is already being prepared, with the announcement of new cruises and their arrival in the city currently more than great.

"The most important thing to emphasise is that there will most likely be no further restrictions regarding the capacity of ships, and that's the most important thing for us,'' said Pevec, adding that diversity is also very important for the destination itself, because different profiles of guests are arriving. Zadar has that advantage, however, it needs to be raised to a higher level and offer new events.

The recovery of the cruise industry has also been well and truly confirmed by the 130,000 passengers who will pass through Zadar's international terminal this year. For the local economy, it is important to add that about sixty thousand crew members are also involved.

"The entire economy in Zadar County benefits enormously from these cruise ships. Year after year, we're witnessing that the level of service in the hospitality industry and tourism as a whole is rising,'' emphasised the President of the Zadar County Chamber of Crafts, Ante Lukacic.

''For next year, we already have an announcement of 150 cruise ship arrivals. What I can say is that sixty percent of them go to visit the national parks, go to the cities of Nin, Pag... and some forty percent stay in the area of ​​the City of Zadar itself,'' said the director of the Zadar Tourist Board, Mario Paleka.

For more, make sure to keep up to date with our dedicated news section.

Saturday, 30 July 2022

How Much Does Average Family Need for a Week on Croatian Coast?

July the 30th, 2022 - Just how much does the average family need to set aside financially for a comfortable week spent on the Croatian coast?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, summer on the Croatian coast is the ultimate experience for very many foreign visitors to our shores, but that experience really does come with a hefty price tag, especially in the Dalmatian city of Zadar. Zadar, at least according to the latest research, is the most expensive city in the Republic of Croatia, as reported by N1.

According to the data from the Croatian Bureau of Statistics (CBS), an average four-member family with an income of 10,000 kuna per month would need to set aside around 2,000 euros for a comfortable seven-day holiday on the Croatian coast. Most people earning a typical Croatian salary can't afford that.

The City of Zadar is one of the top destinations for summer holidays on the Croatian coast, both for foreign and domestic tourists. The only question is just how many people earning Croatian salaties can actually afford it.

"You need around 1,500 kuna for four days, with accommodation, then it's about 2,500 kuna. I don't think the average family can afford that," said one Croatian resident when asked.

The cost of living in Zadar, according to the well-known website for tracking the cost of living, Numbeo, is twice as high as the standard and amounts to around 20,000 kuna. The average family would need to pay out around 400 to 500 kuna just for a walk and some time spent around Kalelarga (a very popular street in the heart of Zadar). That is too much even for the locals.

It costs 100 euros per night for a room and another 100 euros is needed to go out and have a good time, according to local Zadar residents. For seven days in Zadar, and from the beginning of the story, the average family would need to pay around 300 euros per evening in the centre of the city, and between 150 and 200 euros per evening outside the city in places like Vir, Iz or Bibinje. That is about 2,000 euros or two average Croatian monthly salaries.

The price of food and drink also depends on the depth of any given wallet...

"The prices are now higher than they were back during the first of July, but even those prices have their own market and demand. A family of four can still find an apartment in Zadar for 80 to 100 euros per night," said Daniel Radeta, the president of the Zadar Association of Renters. The price of food and drink depends on the balance a person has in their wallet. Residents of Zadar point out that 100 euros per day is enough, even though restaurateurs have raised their prices by 10 percent.

"One round of drinks for four of people comes in at 100 kuna, and that's the cheapest, so coffee and mineral water. If people fancy an alcoholic cocktail, then that's double the price,'' pointed out the president of the Catering Guild at OK Zadar, Robert Kovacevic.

''One meal is from 40 to 100 euros for a family, so that's why you should be careful where you choose to come and sit down. One lunch and dinner for two are around 40 euros. And for four, with a bottle of wine, it's about 100 euros or more," explained Dominik the waiter, who revealed that 90 percent of the people who do this are foreigners, and that there are almost no locals engaging in similar behaviour on the Croatian coast. After lunch, you should cool down. The best solution is ice cream. N1 found a place where a single scoop of ice cream comes in at a price of 12 kuna.

“It's not a big price at all. There are places where a scoop costs 18 kuna,'' said ice cream seller Katarina.

Even going into the sea itself is no longer a free pleasure in some places along the Croatian coast. In Petrcane, entrance to a private beach costs 50 kuna, and the prices on the public beach are the same as everywhere else else: coffee and a sandwich are around 50 kuna, and other pleasures cost between 100 and 300 kuna. A tour of any nearby islands is about 40 euros per person. However, most cash is spent on street food and souvenirs. The prices in Zadar are now fairly steep, but foreign guests still don't complain.

"Yes, I think it's more expensive here than in some other countries in Europe, but the prices are a bit cheaper than they are in Sweden," said one Swedish tourist.

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

Tuesday, 19 July 2022

Zadar Swimsuit Ban? New Effort to Limit Inappropriately Dressed Tourists in Historic Core

July 19, 2022 - The Zadar Tourist Board is trying to send a message to tourists wearing minimal clothing, but is a Zadar swimsuit ban really in place? A look at the new campaign. 

The Zadar Tourist Board has decided to follow the example of cities like Dubrovnik and put an end to inappropriately-dressed tourists around the city center, reports 24 Sata

"Although it is not officially prohibited in Zadar, we ask that you respect the local customs and cultural tradition by not wearing only swimsuits when you are not on the beach, for whatever reason, even if only for a short time. Thank you and have a nice holiday!" is the text written in English and four other languages. The promotional flyers can be found at tourist offices and on several billboards in the city.


"We want to educate our tourists that they are in a special area, rich in history and heritage, where walking in swimming trunks is inappropriate. I believe that they will appreciate the rules of behavior here and in the future, tour the city wearing appropriate clothes," said the director of the Zadar Tourist Board, Mario Paleka, for HRT.

Another problem they will try to solve is the movement of bicycles and scooters in the pedestrian zone. Although this is partly regulated by law, it is not often respected, which is why pedestrians have problems.

The proposals will be included in two consultations with the public initiated by the city's Administrative Department for Communal Activities and Environmental Protection - on the new Decision on Communal Activities and amendments to the Decision on Communal Order.

"Following the announcements from the Zadar Tourist Board, we are expecting concrete proposals from them regarding banning movement through the historic core without clothing or partly dressed, to integrate this idea into the proposed decision," said Zadar's Deputy Head for Municipal Services, Robertino Dujela.

After the procedure is completed, inappropriate clothing within the historical walls may also see fines in Zadar. However, the Tourist Board hopes that even the first step, i.e., posting flyers, will have an impact. 

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


Friday, 6 May 2022

Meet. Feel. Explore. Zadar: New Zadar Destination Film is Here! (VIDEO)

May 6, 2022 - A new Zadar destination film is here just in time for summer - Meet. Feel. Explore. Zadar.

The new destination video by the Zadar Tourist Board entitled 'Meet. Feel. Explore. Zadar' was solemnly presented on Thursday at the Providur Palace by director Igor Goić and his team, reports Antena Zadar.

The story follows Jack (Dejan Marcikić) who describes a beautiful dream to his partner Jill (Nevena Dujmović Prižmić) and creatively shows the pride of Zadar, from the peninsula and city as a whole to the islands, and museums, but also customs, gastronomy, and locals. The film also features the well-known caterer Erik Pavin in the role of a chef, Hrvoje Dukić as a restaurant guest, and Gabriela Marin and Tea Šegić. Goić especially emphasizes the original soundtrack of the Vodice musician Tomo Cukrov, who composed the music.


"We wanted to provoke emotion, and we succeeded. Suppose local people react to the film in this way. In that case, we believe that the reaction of guests and those who do not know much about Zadar as a destination will be equally strong," said the director of the Zadar Tourist Board, Mario Paleka, after the film promotion. 

The film has undoubtedly already attracted media attention. 

"We continue filming promotional videos that the tourist board has done for many years. After the last film that Igor made in 2014, there was a need to present new content in a modern and interesting way. We are lucky to have people like Igor in the city who do worldly things. The film will initially be shown intensively in Croatia, Slovenia, and Austria, for which campaigns have already been contracted and created. Together with its shorter versions, it will be available to our tourist entities and renters, who will also be able to show guests where they come from," added Paleka.

"I did not want it to be a classic vignette mostly shot by other tourist boards and destination companies, but a small film with its dynamics, i.e., a story. To do it well, we first had to write and agree on the script, and then we did most of the filming last October and earlier this year. Us creatives need to be given the opportunity, and we had it to a considerable extent with the Tourist Board, and that is exactly why the film is as it is," said director Igor Goić.

"One thing is for sure, in Zadar, you can always find adventure, inspiration, a secret or ancient monument no matter which direction you go. And with every step in this city, you are further away from the worries of everyday life. Exactly what you need for a dream vacation, which you will not dream of this time!" concluded the Zadar Tourist Board.

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

Sunday, 1 May 2022

24 Hours in Zadar: A Microcosm of History, Art, and Unique Activities

2May 1, 2022 – Welcome to your day trip to Zadar: open all your senses and let yourself be carried away on this short journey to taste your first 24 hours in Zadar.

Zadar is the oldest continuously-inhabited Croatian city. According to some research and discoveries, Zadar was founded around the year 1000 BC, making it one of the most ancient cities in Europe, even older than Rome!

The city has witnessed and bears the inheritance of the Roman Empire, the Venetian Republic, has passed through Austrian and Italian domination, then was part of the Yugoslavian Federation and finally took its place in the independent Republic of Croatia.

Destroyed and rebuilt several times through its turbulent and yet rich history, Zadar has always risen stronger and ever more beautiful. That is why even a simple stroll in this city will strike you with wonder, curiosity, fondness, and of course...lots of fun!

10.00 a.m - 13.00 p.m.

We recommend you make a grand entrance and enter Zadar from the historical Land Gate, located by the Foša harbor. The Venetians built the gate in 1543 and feature a huge triumphal arch and two side arches, all decorated with images of saint Chrysogonus, one of the four patrons of the city. The winged lion of St. Mark hovering over the central arch is a reminder of Venice’s long rule over Zadar. So, make a nice roar and enter the city.


Foša harbor (Image: Zadar Tourist Board/Screenshot)

As soon as you pass under the arch, almost immediately on the right, you find a narrow passage that takes you to the Five Wells Square, located between the medieval City Walls and the Renaissance bastion Grimani, hosting the oldest park in Croatia named after Queen Jelena Madije. The wells no longer provide drinking water, but they serve as "gates" for skateboarders, who like to practice their techniques during the daytime.

However, in the evening, this square is transformed mainly thanks to the two clubs that excel in Zadar’s nightlife. Ledana Lounge bar is open from 8 am and offers refreshment under the trees during the summer heat, whereas evenings will give place to an exciting and chilling atmosphere on one of three terraces where you can indulge in some live music and concerts as well as huge theme party nights.

Svarog Bar instead offers theme music evenings of R’n’B, Salsa, and house music directly on the square.

Starting from The Petar Zoranić Square, you will admire the Two Palaces' recently renovated art and cultural complex. Next to this, there is the Church of St Simeon, where the main Altar holds a silver casket with the relics of St Simeon, dating back to 1380.

Then, you can start walking along the main road to get to the People's Square in Zadar, the Platea Magna, today’s administrative center of the City, together with the exhibition space City Loggia. From the People's Square, streets lead in four main directions: Kalelarga, the Seafront (Riva), the pedestrian bridge, and the market. On the opposite side of the Square, you can admire the City Sentinel, dating back to the second half of the 16th century, with a clock tower that has stayed in continuous operation since 1803.  

In People’s square, you will find one of the historical bars in Zadar, Kavana Sveti Lovre. You will barely ever find free places outside, but few know that the inside is surprisingly located in one of the oldest buildings in Zadar, an 11th-century church. 


People’s Square, the clock tower, Kavana Sveti Lovre (Image: Zadar Tourist Board/Screenshot)

From there, you will move your first steps towards Kalelarga, the city's main street, not always wide as the name suggests, but definitely a cult space where locals always meet someone they know. Officially called Široka ulica, it is mentioned in many songs, known to be the place of all city gossip or news. If you walk here on a Saturday morning (a time called Subotnja Špica) with fashionable outfits, you can be pretty sure the next day you will appear in some photo gallery of the most popular online local newspapers.

We recommend you to take a sweet stop at the beginning of the Kalelarga and delight yourself at Art Hotel Kalelarga. The Gourmet area is offering a relaxing and enjoyable experience of a unique Dalmatian atmosphere. Here you can start your day with coffee and fresh delicious pastries.


Fresh pastries at Art Hotel Kalelarga (Image: Art Hotel Kalelarga/Facebook)

From there we suggest you dive into the narrow streets and head towards the city market, one of the most picturesque and colorful ones on the seaside. Here, fishermen supply fresh catches every day, but you'll also find herbs, fruits, olive oil, and cheese in the outdoor stalls, as well as an indoor meat market. The best time for a visit is between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m., just do not forget to haggle over the price.

Then you may return to the right path or Kalelarga, and reach the St. Donatus Church dominating the ancient Roman Forum, which was built between the 1st century BC and the 3rd century AD.

The Church of St Donat in Zadar has long been desacralized, meaning no liturgies are held here. But thanks to its exceptional acoustic characteristics, it is the venue for music festivals and in particular the Musical Evenings of St. Donatus that are held in July and August every year.

On one side of the Forum you will find the Church and Monastery of St Mary, founded in 1066, and most of all famous for the Permanent Exhibition of Religious Art – the Gold and Silver of Zadar – with around 200 artifacts that date from the 8th to the 18th centuries. Close to the Monastery, there is the Archeological Museum of Zadar. 


St. Donatus, Roman Forum, and St. Mary Church (Image: Zadar Tourist Board/Screenshot)

If you don’t’ want to miss a 360° view for only 15 KN (2 euros), then climb up the Anastasia Bell Tower, 56 meters tall and about 200 steps to climb. But take care of the wind up there!

Do not forget then to visit the largest church in all of Dalmatia, the Cathedral of St Anastasia, a monumental Romanesque building. It’s closed to tourists on Sundays and remember that rules prohibit bare shoulders and shorts. 

13.00-15.00 p.m.

For lunch, we recommend taking a break in the historic district of Varoš, where you can dive into scenes of everyday social rituals and endless chit-chat (ćakula). There is a large selection of top restaurants, dynamic coffee bars for young people, and cult places for socializing.

Take a moment to fully enjoy a meal in the restaurant and pizzeria 4 Kantuna located right between the four corners of the district and delight yourself with a Dalmatinski pijat and a Ribarska teća alla Četiri kantuna. You won’t regret it!


Dalmatinski Pijat (Image: 4 Kantuna Restaurant/Facebook)

15.00-17.00 p.m.

In the afternoon we propose different options according to your interests and your level of fatigue.

Category: lazy but curious

Stay in the center and visit The Museum of Ancient Glass, a contemporary and unique archaeological museum, focused on ancient glass. It presents a unique collection of over 5000 various glass objects dating to ancient times. They also organize glassblowing demo workshops where replicas of ancient glass are made by using the free-blowing technique. During the summertime, they are open until 9 pm.

After the visit, you can delight yourself with ice cream from the best-known Slastičarnica Donat in front of the Cathedral of St. Anastasia. Otherwise, you can sit on the western Riva, in Gelateria Eva, where they serve both ice cream and vegan sorbet gluten-free. 

Don’t forget to drop in the Maraska Shop where you can buy the original Maraschino, a liqueur obtained from the distillation of dalmatian Marasca cherries, or Pelinkovac, another liqueur produced according to a traditional maceration method and using selected curative herbs, such as Pelin. The company Maraska offers also a wide variety of different fruit juices and nectars (Maraska Shop at Ul. Nadbiskupa Mate Karamana 3).


Maraschino Ad (Image: Maraska/Facebook)

Category: lazy and suffering heat.

Walk to the town beach of Kolovare and enjoy as locals do. The pebble beach and piers are also equipped with deckchairs and sports gear to rent, bars, and children’s activities. From here you can walk back to the Land Gate, the Fosa harbor, and admire the City Walls from another perspective.

Category: active and never tired 

Enjoy a few hours in Preko, on the island of Ugljan, reachable by a no-car boat from Liburnska Obala with the Jadrolinija ferries (ticket office, Liburnska Obala, 7). The routes are very frequent and the journey takes about 15/20 min for a 38 Kn return ticket. Here you can find the timetable. After admiring the shore of Zadar from the sea, you will then enjoy a very lively town full of ice cream bars, pekare (bakeries), restaurants, and activities. In the old town of Preko, you cannot fail to catch sight of the small island of Galevac or so-called Skoljic, which is only 80 m from the shore and is covered by lush vegetation that hides, but not entirely, the beautiful Franciscan Monastery dating back to the fifteenth century. On the islet you can get literally on foot as the depth of the sea between the shores does not fall below 175 cm.


Islet of Galevac – Skoljic (Image: Preko Tourist Board/Screenshot)


19.00-21.00 p.m.

Regardless of the category, you belong to, remember to come back in time on the shore of Zadar by 19.30 and walk up to the Sea organ and Greeting the sun, the two new MUST DO in Zadar. We’ve left these to the end of our day for a very specific reason.

Whether you have a romantic soul or not, the sunset is always a spectacular event. In Zadar, sunsets are the best on the Adriatic coast. No wonder the famous director Alfred Hitchcock declared: “Zadar has the most beautiful sunset in the world, more beautiful than the one in Key West, in Florida, applauded at every evening”.


Zadar's sunset (Image: Like Zadar/Facebook)

The Sea Organ is a unique blend of architecture and music. It stretches out in open water for about seventy meters from the Zadar waterfront (Riva), located at the western point of the city Peninsula. Here, below the level of the lowest low tide, 35 pipes of various lengths, diameters, and slopes have been installed. While the most beautiful sunset spreads over the horizon, the game of lights of the Greeting to the Sun starts. This contemporary installation is made of 300 multi-layered glass solar panels in the shape of a circle with a 22-meter diameter. Throughout the day, it collects the energy of the Sun and transforms it into electricity, which is then used by the installation and its surroundings throughout the night. 

Besides the main circle representing the Sun, looking from the west side, there are similar smaller circles representing other planets of the Solar System. The size of the Sun and planets are proportional, as well as the distance from the center of each plate. On the metal ring that frames the Sun are inscribed the names of all of the saints after which churches on the Zadar peninsula have been named. 


Riva seafront with Sea Organ and Greeting to the sun (Image: Pixabay)

21.00-23.00 p.m.

With fatigue in your legs and eyes full of beauty, you can enjoy an excellent dinner from Cookhouse and club Harbor. It is located on the north side of the natural cove of Zadar port, on the other side of the pedestrian bridge. Once there was the rowing center here, and now this recently built cafe/restaurant is enjoying great success due to its strategic position, a place from which you can admire the illuminated city center and especially the city walls.


Delicious food at Harbor. (Image: Cookhouse and club Harbor/Facebook)

23.00 p.m - early hours

Once the sun sets and your belly is full, it’s time to hit the town. You can choose to explore the nightlife all over the historical peninsula and dance the evening away at the Svarog Dance & Night Club at Five Wells Square (that we have mentioned before) and at the Ledana Lounge & Bar in the nearby Queen Jelena Madije Park.  

You can choose instead to go back to Varoš, the historical district in the south-eastern part, where you can stumble across random parties (the so-called feštice) that sometimes start in the afternoon and simply continue throughout the night, usually on Fridays. 

Or you can really chill out on great sofas and pillows in Garden Lounge bar and restaurant, the open terrace bar facing relaxing views from Zadar’s city walls. 

Having entered the city by the Land Gate, now, if you want, you can leave Zadar by the sea with the Barkajoli, the Rowing Boatmen that, from early morning to the late evening, take passengers and tourists with a little rowing boat across the Zadar peninsula to the mainland and back. This tradition is passed down from father to son, from one generation to another.

And there you have it, the best 24 hours in Zadar very well spent, hopefully showing just a small taste of what the city can offer. On the other hand, 3000 years of history cannot be lived in just 24 hours, don’t you think?

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

Monday, 18 April 2022

Record Tourist Numbers Hoped for in Zadar County as Covid Restrictions Ease

April the 18th, 2022 - Zadar County is looking back at their tourism figures from record years and hoping that something similar can be repeated this year as coronavirus restrictions ease almost entirely across Europe.

As Morski writes, with the arrival of the Easter holidays, the tourist pre-season in the Republic of Croatia traditionally begins. Expectations from this season are high, despite the war that is still going on in Ukraine following Russian invasion, because after two dull, pandemic-dominated years, people desperately want to travel once again. In Zadar County, they're also hoping for figures similar to those enjoyed back during record years.

The whole of Dalmatia has always lived from the sea and tourism, and Zadar County was far from immune to the horrendous blow that the global coronavirus pandemic dealt the entire sector.

''I can only brag and boast! Our hotel has been full for Easter and will also be full for some time after Easter, so we're very satisfied,'' says the director of one Dalmatian hotel.

Across Zadar County, the final touches and beautification is coming to an end because the first guests from abroad have already arrived and the city's famous Kalelarga is also filling up rapidly.

''We heard that this is a beautiful country, so we wanted to explore and visit everything,''

''It's absolutely impressive, beautiful weather, kind people, clean and tidy...''

''The culture is what fascinates me, I also like the sea, the beaches and of course the local people...'' are just some of the comments left by foreign visitors about numerous gorgeous Dalmatian cities.

All this is accompanied by nice, warm weather, as enjoying the sun isn't just a privilege used by Dalmatians. Numerous guests are also enjoying themselves, most of whom are residents of Croatia from other parts of the country, writes HRT. However, they are quite closely followed by Austrians, Germans and Slovenes, and in the first two weeks of April alone, 50,000 overnight stays were realided.

''Foreign guests are mostly staying in hotels and in private accommodation, but this is also accompanied by nautical accommodation and camp sites,'' said Mihaela Kadija, the director of the Zadar County Tourist Board. Those guests who arrive by plane are very much counted on in Zadar,cand the city will be connected to more than 70 European and global destinations by air this summer.

''The figures we expect this year should be similar to those we saw back in 2019. That means about 800 thousand passengers,'' said Tomislav Zepina, the head of the commercial department of Zadar Airport. Coronavirus ruined people's plans in the past, and the prestigious title that Zadar's Gazenica won before a biological disaster struck the globe as the world's best cruise port wasn't capitalised, but that looks as if it will alter throughout 2022, according to Djoni Stambuk, the interim director of the Zadar Port Authority.

The record pre-pandemic numbers Zadar County enjoyed back in 2019, according to current announcements, could finally be reached.

For more, check out our travel section.

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Fortis Club Opens New Business Opportunities at Falkensteiner Punta Skala Resort

September 18, 2021 - Georg Unterkircher, general manager of the Falkensteiner Punta Skala resort, talks about the pandemic season, last-minute bookings, the opening of the Fortis Club convention and sports center, and the potential of MICE in the offseason.

Georg Unterkircher is the head of the Falkensteiner Punta Skala resort, and after living in Zadar for the last 13 years, he already understands the Dalmatian mentality and is developing the tourist offer of this area. Although the coronavirus pandemic has stopped the entire tourism industry, bookings are above expectations this season. The resort's offer will undoubtedly be enhanced by the opening of the Fortis Club convention and sports center. The awakening of the MICE segment in the off-season also raises optimism for the good continuation of business, as well as new investments in infrastructure and quality of service.

Poslovni Turizam caught up with Georg Unterkircher to learn more.

Behind us are two difficult business years caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. How did it affect the resort? How have you adapted to the new conditions in hotel management?

This pandemic surprised us at the beginning of 2020, just like all other industries. In the beginning, it was very challenging to make short-term business plans, let alone long-term ones. Fortunately, the entire group is very committed to maintaining the company's stability and preserving jobs, so we have accordingly adopted measures that will ensure this. Despite the uncertainty of the situation, we have been actively working on improving the quality of our products to be ready for another season ahead. Our long-term goal is to provide guests every year with the already well-known outstanding service they are accustomed to in Falkensteiner hotels and also to improve the facilities, programs, and activities that our resort offers.

This year started cautiously, and I have to admit that we had a satisfactory number of primarily domestic guests in the spring months. Unfortunately, travel restrictions were still in force in most countries from which we traditionally have guests, such as the Austrian and German markets. Compared to the previous year, reservations went a bit slower than last year at this time because no pandemic had been declared at that time. What kept us optimistic was that we had a relatively successful season, given the situation throughout 2020. This year we hoped and expected even better results, which of course depended on the global situation and travel conditions. People have been denied travel for a long time, so this gave us hope that the need and desire for travel and vacations will be strengthened and bring good results. I must emphasize that we were active in marketing terms throughout the pandemic to be in sight of our potential guests during the lockdown, and we are pleased to interact with guests and followers on our social networks. With the border openings, primarily Austria and Germany, the situation has significantly improved; we were ready for the last-minute bookings that happened as expected.

We are witnessing a positive trend in tourist traffic in Croatia, equal to that before the pandemic. What is the current occupancy of the Falkensteiner hotel in Zadar and Petrčane? Are there any differences in the types of guests compared to 2019?

I am glad to confirm that our figures are generally better in July and August, but the reasons for this, let’s be realistic, lie in several factors. Croatia is undoubtedly a very popular destination in the last few years. Still, this year it is supported by the unstable situation of other popular Mediterranean destinations (fires in Turkey and Greece, Spain and Portugal in the red zones), the relatively safe health situation on the Croatian coast and its most popular destinations, safe conditions that I believe, is created not only by us at Falkensteiner, but also by other tourist entities, safe arrival at the destination, and more and more car tourists who have decided to travel independently for the past two years. Our traditional markets are Austria and Germany, we record fewer guests from Italy but at the same time an increase in guests from Central and Eastern Europe - the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland. There is a slightly larger number of domestic guests in our resort in the high season than in previous years. But keep in mind that our work does not stop at the end of August and that we must all work together to attract guests in the off-season. As the resort is open all year round, we will host several MICE events in the off-season, which we are happy about because the MICE segment is slowly waking up. In addition, we are planning several exciting weekend events for local guests, but more on that soon.

Apart from the trend of last-minute bookings, what other trends and habits do you notice in sales this year?

This season has been in many ways different from previous ones, especially in terms of last-minute bookings, which are the primary feature of this season. Although we planned promising results, we are glad that it was above expectations. It is visible how guests more often book directly. Above all, they are looking for a safe vacation that we have provided with our Safe stay concept. There is also a focus on active holidays and vacations in nature, where Punta Skala resort offers many opportunities. Today’s guests want a personalized approach more than ever. The sales process requires an individual approach in the short term. Our team has successfully adapted to the demands of the market so that we have focused our sales activities on the requirements of each guest, and we have once again confirmed that we are truly the right choice for all guests in all life cycles.

Last year, the large Fortis Club convention and sports center at the Punta Skala resort was announced. Is it operational, and what results do you expect from that investment?

We are pleased to have finally opened the Fortis Club in July, which has significantly enriched the offer of the Falkensteiner Punta Skala resort and opened the door to new business opportunities in both domestic and international markets. We expect excellent results, primarily in the segment of the MICE industry and sporting events. Fortis has immeasurably enriched the congress, sports, and recreational offer of the Punta Skala resort.

The MICE segment is slowly recovering due to several limitations and epidemiological measures when organizing events. What do you think business events will look like in the future?

We already have reason to be optimistic about organizing various events in our resort because, in 2021, we had the opportunity to hold a significant number of smaller events, while autumn this year brings us several important events. Event organizers focus on an authentic experience and combine smaller business or professional gatherings with active or sports elements. Demands for larger events are also in the direction of active elements. Sure, hybrid events will linger, but they won’t completely replace live encounters. The direct interaction of ideas and knowledge is essential for developing creativity and global progress, especially after a long period when we have not been able to do so.

You also manage Falkensteiner hotels in Serbia and Montenegro. To what extent do these markets differ from the Croatian market?

That's right, I've been working in Croatia for a full and happy 13 years, but in 2020 I also took over Falkensteiner Hotel Belgrade and Falkensteiner Hotel Montenegro. Although there should be no significant differences in a geographically small area, in terms of tourism, our hotels in Montenegro, Serbia, and Croatia are entirely different products. Falkensteiner Hotel Montenegro is a hotel located in Bečići; it is a renovated Queen of Montenegro hotel with a long tourist history in the destination, its dominant guests are air guests, and this year it is evident how much it depends on the agreed flights, especially from the markets of Serbia, Russia, Ukraine, and other CIS countries. In addition, groups come to us from Israel, and the most significant number of individual guests come from Serbia. Falkensteiner Hotel Montenegro is a location that guests choose at the last minute. Bookings are only a few days before arrival, and the previous two years, it is characterized by a very short season that should be extended in the long run with the National Tourist Board.

Falkensteiner Hotel Belgrade is our city hotel located in the business zone in Novi Belgrade, and whose business is affected slightly less than the Falkensteiner Hotel in Prague and Bratislava. The excellent positioning of the hotel and the services we offer attract mostly business people from Serbia and the closer region who often stay with us, so the hotel is recording positive results this year, regardless of the instability caused by the pandemic. MICE is also one of the critical branches of the hotel business, which fortunately is slowly waking up, and we believe that it will ensure good occupancy in the autumn months.

Unlike them, we have developed Falkensteiner Punta Skala in the last few years into a sport and ecological resort with a unique offer in Croatia. Therefore, it is not surprising that many famous athletes have chosen Punta Skala for their professional preparations and private vacation. Furthermore, every year the traditional triathlon championship, Zadarhalf triathlon, which is held for the seventh year, brings many sports lovers here, not only professionals but also their families, making this resort an ideal destination for the whole family.

Fans of active life are thrilled by the outdoor sports center with numerous sports fields, from tennis to beach volleyball. With the construction of the new sports complex, Fortis Club resort also has a professional fitness center on 800 m2, new yoga and group training halls, a new sushi restaurant, a fun zone with a bowling alley, billiards, a gaming zone, and a bar.

As a good sports massage goes perfectly after sports, all lovers of wellness treatments come to their senses because the most beautiful Spa in Croatia is located here - AcquaPura Spa. On as much as 6,000 m2, our guests enjoy numerous spa treatments, relaxation, saunas, swimming pools, and a hammam. All this makes the resort a desirable location for lovers of active life.

Are there any plans to open new Falkensteiner hotels in Croatia, especially on the continent?

The Falkensteiner Group is always active in terms of investments, and this is what characterizes it because it is continuously working on expanding its hotel network and improving services. We are currently realizing new hotels in Austria and Italy, while in Croatia, we are working on new infrastructure within the existing resorts of Borik and Punta Skala. The master plan for the development of the Punta Skala resort includes investments in the complete refurbishment of the Diadora Hotel, which will be even more adapted to children and generally families with children in terms of interactive facilities in public spaces, wholly refurbished and interactive rooms, new Falky playroom, and many other new facilities. In the coming years, we plan to build several luxury villas and the new infrastructure of the resort, which will include smaller local shops, new bars, and restaurants, the central square as a place of events and entertainment, etc. We are convinced that the direction in which we plan infrastructure development, content, and offers will further attract old and new guests to our resort.

Has the tourist development of Dalmatia reached its maximum? Everyone is talking about sustainable tourism, but it is happening slowly in Croatia. What is your vision for the tourism development of this region?

Tourism in the region happens under the influence of several factors; there is primarily the destination's natural beauty, which undoubtedly attracts enormous amounts of guests. Guests will always look for beautiful locations, quality infrastructure, proximity to the sea and beaches. Although this is consistently highlighted as a comparative advantage of Croatia, trends show that some other values ​​come to the fore and significantly affect the final decision on where to stay. The potential of Zadar and Zadar County lies not only in new investments in new accommodation facilities of high categorization that are necessary for the destination but also in stronger branding of the county as a destination for active vacations, culture, gastronomy; the choice is progress. The proximity of several national parks and nature parks provides unlimited recreational opportunities such as cycling, trekking, hiking, etc. They should be well and continuously communicated in all emitting markets. Furthermore, the position of Ravni Kotari opens countless opportunities for the development of family farms and, in the future, quality continental tourism. Istria is the best example of how a destination can be developed in this direction and branded on the tourist map of the Mediterranean.

The potential is enormous; it is only essential that all entities look in the same direction - from political structures, tourist boards to businesses to turn the prospect into a developed and strongly branded destination, with a long-term source of income for residents throughout the region.

You have been the director of the Punta Skala resort for 13 years. Have you settled in, and what do you like most about the Zadar region?

Good question! Yes, I have lived in Zadar for thirteen years, and I already feel a bit like a Dalmatian, especially when it comes to Dalmatian songs. I was born in South Tyrol in a small village near the popular winter destination of Kronplatz, where we opened a new 5-star hotel at the end of last year, ‘adults only’ on the ski slope itself. That way of life shaped my childhood. I later lived in big cities like Prague and Vienna, after which I arrived in Zadar. The first words I learned in Croatia, related to work, are "nema problema" and "sutra. “ Although it was exciting and challenging for me, especially in the first years of living and working in Zadar, the openness of local people and the willingness to create great stories together is what sold me forever. The people I work with today are people I believe in and love to work with, who I love to both relax and sing with. It is this famous Dalmatian way of life that I do not plan to change.

For more, check out our dedicated travel section.

Monday, 16 August 2021

Croatian Hostel Attempts to Charge German Tourists 900 Euros for Two Nights

August the 16th, 2021 - We've been hearing some horror stories of apartment owners deciding to cancel previously booked reservations, often those made by Croatian tourists, to instead go for last minute foreign tourists willing to pay far higher prices. Now one Croatian hostel in Zadar has decided to take advantage of the unexpectedly good tourist season with such shameful and unethical practices, too.

The Croatian tourist season has been remarkably good, with some specific indicators being even better than the pre-pandemic, record year of 2019. Sadly, with this unexpected turn of events, greed has come out to play after a long time of uncertainty, lack of income and ever-tightening restrictions. One Croatian hostel attempted to charge tourists the insane price of 900 euros for just two nights spent there.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the last few days have been full of big, glossy and quite frankly rather unusual stories from up and down the country that testify to the incredible tourist crowds we're seeing in August so far. The latest news is about young Germans to whom a hostel in Zadar tried to charge 900 euros for two nights. 

This case, illustrated by a screenshot from the rental site, only highlights the awful stories we've been hearing about the owners and managers of private accommodation down in Dalmatia cancelling previous reservations agreed at normal prices in order to accept tourists who are willing to pay sky high prices because there is no free room anywhere else, as Kult Plave Kamenice reports.

Post-coronavirus (if we can dare to say that) greed is only on the rise after such a long time spent doing nothing, earning nothing and being unsure what government economic measures are available, if any. That said, such practices are the absolute worst anti-propaganda for Croatian tourism in general and will unfortunately be remembered in the rightly bitter thoughts of tourists long after the pandemic is resigned to the history books.

For more, follow our dedicated travel section.

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Arrival of 14 Zadar Cruise Ships Scheduled! First Arriving on July 20

June the 13th, 2021 - With the epidemiological picture finally becoming more favourable and vaccination across Europe going well, things are beginning to very slowly but steadily return to some form of pre-pandemic normality. For Croatian tourism, there couldn't be better news. So far, 14 Zadar cruise ships are scheduled, the first of which is set to arrive in mid-July.

As Morski writes, the well known Cruise company Viking Cruises is the first cruise company to publicly announce the return of their cruisers to the Dalmatian city of Zadar this summer, and it isn't the only one. As has learned from Rebeka V. Pevec, the General Manager of ZIPO (Zadar International Port Operations), 14 Zadar cruise ships are set to arrive in Zadar's Gazenica Port this summer.

''With an increasing number of cruisers returning to operation and choosing the Mediterranean for their itineraries, we hope that number will increase. Of course, all this primarily depends on the epidemiological situation in Croatia and in the Zadar region, on how much everyone will adhere to the epidemiological measures, and on the level of vaccination of the population. All these are factors that these companies are closely monitoring, and based on that, as well as on the recognisability of the destination, they make decisions that they will include in their itineraries for this season,'' explained Rebeka V. Pevec.

Passengers with deep pockets will arrive on 2020's Zadar cruise ships...

The companies that have confirmed their Zadar cruise ships this year are Viking Cruises, Holland America Line (HAL) and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. All three companies are considered luxurious and passengers generally have a higher purchasing power, and accordingly have higher expectations of their chosen destinations and expect a higher level of service and quality, not only on board, but also in the destinations they visit.

The first announced and so far confirmed of the Zadar cruise is on July the 20th, when Viking Venus is due to arrive, the newest ship in the Viking Cruises fleet of identical ships. Considering that Viking Venus is the first cruiser to visit Zadar after more than a year, and that this is its inaugural arrival in Zadar, we hope that together with the tourist boards and citizens of Zadar and the region we'll give a worthy welcome to both the guests and the crew, to prove ourselves as good hosts and as a good destination for cruisers,'' Pevec added.

Given the pandemic and the slightly better numbers after the start of the vaccination rollout, is there any optimism for this season?

''What gives us optimism and hope is the fact that more and more cruising companies are returning to operation, they're creating new itineraries and depending on the epidemiological situation, we see our opportunity there. However, at the same time, it's important to note that there is a lot of competition between ports and destinations in both the Mediterranean and the Adriatic, in terms of service, shipping costs, fees and the very recognisability of the destination. Therefore, and compared to the announced numbers of tourists arriving in Croatia by land, and the still current classification of the US State Department, according to which Croatia is in the red zone, our optimism is very cautious,'' Pevec stated.

Now is the time to make the best impressions for next year

''As for the epidemiological measures themselves, the recommendations were made in accordance with the recommendations of the most relevant regulatory bodies, the ECDC and EU Healthy Gateways, and since back in August 2020, no incidents have been recorded. Most ships are currently sailing at approximately 50% capacity, the passengers and crew are mostly vaccinated, so things should be fine if good preparation is carried out and if all stakeholders strictly adhere to the prescribed and agreed epidemiological measures.

In this situation and given all the circumstances, we look forward to every guest and every cruise ship arrival and we'll try to leave the best possible impression as a port and as a destination, in order to attract as many arrivals in the future. So, we aren't just focusing on this season, but we're thinking long term, because in this industry the real results are not seen immediately, but are realised through at least two years. The priority is to prove ourselves as a safe destination, with a high level of vaccination and with a culture of adherence to prescribed epidemiological measures, and of course as excellent hosts to ships, their guests and their crew,'' said Pevec.

Given the overall situation across the world, especially in the emitting markets of the cruising industry, a return to the figures from 2019 is expected in five years.

''Of course, it could happen earlier, but with the condition of very strong promotion in all media relevant to the cruise industry, and with a focus on Zadar as a safe and ideal destination for cruisers. With the appearance of the pandemic, all previous results were minimised and now we need to win over cruise companies to choose Zadar as one of their destinations. As a community, we can achieve this only with strong marketing, impressive service and the creation of a reputation as a serious destination that understands and appreciates the cruising industry,'' Pevec concluded for

For more on cruises to Croatia, check our our travel section.

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