Saturday, 21 August 2021

Zrce Beach in Public Health Institute's Study on Coronavirus and Clubbing

August the 21st, 2021 - The world famous Croatian Zrce beach has been involved in a study carried out by the Croatian Institute of Public Health on the effects of clubbing in regard to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, vaccination against the novel coronavirus, a liberal approach in the form of anti-epidemic measures against the spread of the pandemic and an indestructible desire for fun, with the good organisation of testing points, all saw Zrce beach get some significantly better results this season than expected.

Moreover, due to extremely good epidemiological results despite high traffic, the Croatian Institute of Public Health selected Zrce beach in their preparation of a study of the relationship between clubbing and the spread of the infection, which should provide many answers about this segment in the coming period.

The traffic at the end of the summer on Zrce beach will be taken care of by the closing festival brought to Croatia by Amnesia, one of the most famous clubs in the world from Ibiza. Clubs on Zrce beach entered the summer season ready for another year of improvisations, organising smaller festivals, and understanding that every day the risk of infection posed the potential closure of the beach.

Club Noa on Zrce beach had even better traffic in July and the previous part of August than in the same period in pre-pandemic, record 2019.

"Of course, we weren't allowed to work in June and this will be reflected in the annual results, as will the fact that there were no big festivals, but the rest of the summer was very successful, thanks to our guests who acted very responsibly and respected the order of things, I have every praise for them. Zrce beach was chosen as the location for testing because it is the location that has the largest sample of the population of at least 1500 to 2000 people a day, or between 500 and 700 people per club,'' revealed Zlatko Balasko, the owner of Club Noa.

Namely, Club Noa has become a partner of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, which, in cooperation with the Institute of Public Health Zadar, will prepare a study that should provide answers on the connection between clubbing and the spread of this particular infection, as well as the safety aspects of the industry, given all of the measures conducted on site.

Despite tension between the clubbing industry and  thedecision-makers on measures to protect the population from infection on the eve of the summer, Zrce beach praised the good cooperation with national and local civil protection directorates.

"Apart from proving that our industry is resilient, as well as the natural desire of young people to have fun, it has been shown that the liberal model of managing this crisis is justified, to which the state agreed and enabled us to work as much as possible. It's true, this year there were no big festivals such as Hideout, Sonus, Fresh Island, but, the traffic has been much better than we expected.

We put a lot of effort into it, the festivals were transformed into lower budget ones to reduce the overall risk, we developed new brands, several old brands used vouchers for tickets that couldn't be used last year, it's all part of the flexible business model we had to adopt,'' explained Boris Suljic, the owner of the Kalypso club, who this year brought the new brand Tattva to Zrce beach, a combination of a beach club and a restaurant whose development he expects to continue over the coming years.

By the end of the year, Kalypso is preparing three more smaller festivals, and the final “Ibiza Takeover Croatia”, which will be the result of the very important cooperation of all Zrce beach clubs with the Amnesia club from Ibiza and the company BSH Events.

We're told that this cooperation is really a big deal in this business, and a great recognition for the strongest Croatian party destination, although it must be admitted that this happened due to the fact that the coronavirus pandemic kept all clubs in Ibiza closed this summer.

Amnesia from Ibiza is one of the world's most famous clubs, which has been named the best global club four times at the IDMA Awards in Miami. Amnesia opened back in 1976 as a gathering place for hippie culture and bands. Numerous world-famous programmes were held at the club, and almost all the world's leading DJs have performed there.

The arrival of Amnesia in Croatia and the Ibiza Takeover Croatia festival is therefore a great recognition for Zrce beach, as well as an opportunity to promote Croatia and the island of Pag at the global level. Balasko pointed out that this could be the basis for future cooperation of these locations and with clubs from Ibiza.

"It's great that the world's strongest club from Ibiza has included us in its programme. These closing parties are very popular in Ibiza and it's great that we'll be able to end this season like that. The season has so far been a pleasant surprise, compared to what we expected at the beginning of the summer, with daily traffic of between 500 and 1000 people. We can also thank the National Civil Protection Directorate for that, as they've enabled us to reach the end of the season with strict controls and without incidents,'' said Ivan Busljeta, the owner of the Papaya and Nomad clubs.

For more on coronavirus specific to Croatia, bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and choose your preferred language.

Sunday, 8 August 2021

Zrće COVID-19 Testing: 2-3 Infections Out of Average 2,000 Daily Tests

August 8, 2021 - Zrće COVID-19 testing is producing better results than expected. Out of almost 2,000 daily tests, only 2-3 return positive. 

The party island of Pag, and especially Zrće, remembers better days. Although up to five thousand people are there at night, it cannot be compared to 2019, when up to 13 thousand young people danced until the early morning hours. But tourism officials say the season is still better than last year. There are 4 testing points on the beach. More than 90 percent of the guests are foreigners, reports HRT.

Marsha came from Germany and broke her foot on the first day of her vacation in Novalja. She was so drunk that she didn't even notice, she told HRT. She added that ‘it doesn’t matter, mainly that she is negative for coronavirus.’

And to enter the beach after 9 pm, a negative test result or a Covid confirmation is required, along with the obligatory identification, so that there is no cheating. And then it all needs to be shown again in front of the club.

"We test an average of about 1,500 to 2,000 people a day at all points on the beach. On average, two to three of them are positive per day. One day there were eight of them," said Darko Božićev, a representative of the beach concessionaire.

They are being tested, among others, by Hilmo Demirović - a young medic who likes what he does on Zrće, even though he is there until 4 am. In case of a positive result, he explained, that person is automatically isolated through the passage, sent home, and is contacted by the epidemiologist immediately.

Then, if there is a possibility of repatriation or own transport - that person immediately returns to their place of residence, said Ivan Peranić, Chief of the Novalja Civil Protection Headquarters. 

Hassan from Germany and Alexander from France hope that they won't suffer that fate. They were vaccinated and said they had to come to Zrće. Alexander's mother was born in Split.

"Unfortunately, there is a lot of resistance in our country for vaccination - especially among young people. Unlike these young guests who are vaccinated in 90 percent of cases. That is fantastic," said Šime Oštarić, director of the Zrće beach concessionaire.

When it comes to the number of guests, the situation on Zrće is better than last year. But they are hoping for even bigger numbers soon. 

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

Saturday, 31 July 2021

Austria Goes Zrće: Austrian Embassy in Zagreb Claims 250 COVID-19 Cases Connected to Croatia

July 31, 2021 - The Austrian Embassy in Zagreb has claimed that 250 positive COVID-19 cases in Austria are connected to the Austria Goes Zrće event in Novalja. 

"According to the information provided to the Embassy by the Austrian authorities, the festival "Austria goes Zrće" held in Novalja is likely the cause of the spread of coronavirus infection among the participants in that event. As of today, 250 festival visitors have tested positive for COVID-19 after returning to Austria."

This is the answer from the Austrian Embassy in Zagreb to Novi List's question about how the Austrian media pointed out that in Croatia, at the festival in Novalja from 17 to 24 July, as many as 94 Austrians became infected with the coronavirus.

This caused a great deal of shock, and the competent services in Novalja reacted immediately to refute everything. According to their medically-based data, not a single Austrian left Novalja infected. Moreover, in Novalja, there are secured accommodation facilities in which all infected, if they wish, can spend an epidemiologically defined period before returning to their countries healthy.

The Austrian embassy wisely emphasizes the category of "probable," which, of course, gives the story a different light. Therefore, there is no definite claim because in Novalja, as in all other Croatian tourist centers, rigorous measures of testing and protection of tourists are implemented. After all, stringent police measures are in place to control the implementation of prominent epidemiological measures.

Given the seriousness of the situation and the severity of the claim, inquiries about the implementation of measures to clarify the situation were sent from Novi List to the Croatian Embassy in Austria, which in turn redirected them to the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. Still, neither they nor the Ministry of Interior responded to Novi List. 

More than 19,000 people came to the festival from Austria, most of them in their own cars or buses, according to Austrian media.

Judging by the statement of the Austrian embassy, ​​they diplomatically distanced themselves from the categorical claims of the Austrian media, claiming that the festival was a 'probable cause'.

The Novalja Civil Protection Headquarters and the local Tourist Board on Thursday refuted the articles according to which the "Austria goes Zrce" Festival was a breeding ground for at least 94 Austrians suffering from Covid-19. They pointed out then that there were 12 coronavirus positives in their quarantine and that there were no Austrians among them.

The head of the Novalja headquarters, Ivan Peranić, sharply denied the reports that there were 19,000 Austrian tourists at the festival and that there was a mass infection among them. He pointed out that in a week, from July 17 to 24, 12,151 tests were performed. Some people, he added, have been tested several times. 16 coronavirus positives were detected, but none of them were from Austria.

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

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Zrće Beach Has More People Tested Than in the Rest of Croatia

July 28, 2021 - The new ECDC map, which places the Croatian coast in an orange zone, has alerted all localities and tourism boards in the region. Some destinations, such as Zrće beach on the island of Pag, have adopted their own measures and requirements to combat the pandemic effectively and save tourism.

After last week's session of the Government, when it was said that new measures apply to Dalmatian counties this week, which primarily emphasizes the control of the implementation of already introduced anti-pandemic measures, Večernji List interviewed Zrće beach concessionaires and Noa Beach Club owners to find out what this means for them.

The new measures came into force today, what do you plan to actually change compared to the previous measures? Will there be parties on Zrće beach?

"There will be entertainment and tourism, we are not giving up on the season or our business. The catering industry, as well as the organizers of concerts, festivals, and traditional events and musicians, are definitely among the most affected groups. We all struggle with the same problems. Precisely because we knew what all could await us this season, we were ready from day one. For a start, all our 400 employees were vaccinated with two doses of vaccine", says Josipa Žižić, spokesperson for the Noa group, and adds: "We were the last to go to the Noa Beach Club with the opening, to make sure everything was according to protocol. We have 100 people in the security of all entrance routes and 4 teams of medical staff for testing and verification''.

''We adhere to everything that the Headquarters and the Institute point us to. At the moment, we only let people into the facilities who have been vaccinated, have a PCR or Covid antigen test made when entering the Covid free zone. We use the CovidGO mobile application, which reads the correctness of EU digital COVID certificates, and which is impossible to bypass, and if all the conditions are not met, we do not allow entry. We go a step further, we plan to introduce even stricter measures - a quick test will no longer be valid for 48 hours, each entry will mean a new test and a spot check that the test is negative. I think that this direction is good, considering that we have not had any infected people yet and that everything is going according to plan without any complications."

Are there any plans to tighten more measures on Zrće beach, if possible, given that you are already adhering to all the prescribed measures?

"Every day, over 4,000 people enter through our three checkpoints. From 01.07.2021, we test over 1000-1200 people every day at a total of three entrances with over 20 wardens. At the same time, we control the entrance to the beach and the control of the entrance to the clubs, which would mean that each visitor goes through the checkpoints twice, all for the purpose of respecting the measures and quality control of our visitors and their safety. For each entry to the beach, in the Covid free zone, it is necessary to have a Covid passport proving vaccination, ie that they have overcome the disease in the previous 180 days, have a PCR or rapid test. All those who do not have a Covid passport issued for vaccination or overcoming the disease, will have to, according to the next stricter measures we plan to introduce, make a test that is valid only for that one entry", said Sime Oštarić, director of Nasa doo. We also asked what exactly these stricter measures mean: “With each entry, visitors will have to have a new test, so we will even leave the practice of 48 hours of the valid test. There are currently no infected people on Zrće beach, tourism has been taking place here for some time, and there are no hotspots, with these measures I do not know how it would be. Even the Hideout festival was canceled, which was usually attended by a lot of visitors from Great Britain", answers Oštarić.

"This is what we live on, it is in our least interest for anyone to leave Zrće beach infected. We plan to continue to follow the instructions and, I repeat, tighten the measures. If all guests are vaccinated, if they take a test on the spot and if we no longer allow even a 48-hour test, and later we only receive vaccinated on the model of Greece, which has already started to do so, then really the danger of hotspots should not and will not be. So far, we have controlled over 60,000 people and tested over 20,000, and statistics show that 90% of our guests are vaccinated mostly with two doses of the vaccine. Moreover, since the beginning of the season, in total with the city of Novalja, at 6 points, we have tested more visitors than the whole of Croatia", adds Žižić.

One of the suggestions was on-site vaccination?

"As we announced, we plan to soon introduce a measure according to which only vaccinated guests can enter, just as Greece has already done. Regarding vaccination on the spot, we discuss this with the competent institutions, we will be guided by their instructions, recommendations, and possibilities. But this is certainly another method that we are willing to implement and organize so that Zrće beach and Noa remain a safe place as before", Žižić answers.

If you want to know more about Zrće and the island of Pag, be sure to check the Total Croatia guide, where you will find everything you need to know from how to get there, where to stay, where to eat, and what to do on one of the most popular islands of Croatia. Now in your language!

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border, and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of vaccination points and testing centers across the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Supreme Court upholds sentence for Briton convicted of Zrće murder

ZAGREB, 26 July, 2021 - The Croatian Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal by British national Douglas Cane, upholding a ruling sentencing him to 24 years in prison for murder and attempted murder at the Zrće beach on the northern Adriatic island of Pag in June 2018.

Without revealing the identity of the accused, the Supreme Court said that the sentence by the appellate court was appropriate given the accused's profile and the circumstances of the crime.

The Supreme Court said that the sentence was neither too harsh nor too lenient, recalling that Cane was sentenced to 17 years in prison for murder and to eight years for attempted murder and that he was given a combined sentence of 24 years.

The court cited his earlier convictions in the UK and his attempt to flee Croatia after the crime. He had shaved his head in an attempt to disguise his identity, police said at the time.

Early in the morning of 27 June 2018, after an argument with three persons, Cane attacked and stabbed Briton Ugo Wilson to death. The other victim, also a Briton, rushed to help Wilson but Cane stabbed him as well, using a sharp object resembling a knife. The man was rushed to the hospital and survived.

The media said at the time that it was most likely a showdown of drug dealing gangs.

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

Sunday, 20 June 2021

New Novalja and Zrće Beach COVID-19 Testing Points for Tourists Announced!

June 20, 2021 - Novalja and Zrće Beach COVID-19 testing points have been announced to facilitate travel for tourists in the area! 

Tourist season preparations are in full swing in one of the most visited tourist destinations in Croatia. To ensure its guests a more pleasant stay and a safer return home, the City of Novalja, in cooperation with the Novalja Tourist Board, Novalja Health Center, and Medico Special Hospital from Rijeka, provided 2 additional COVID-19 testing points for tourists, reports HRTurizam.

In addition to the existing one at the Novalja Health Center, and the new location in Slatinska Street (parking location), a testing point on Zrće will start working next week.

"Certainly, the demand for rapid and PCR tests in the coming days and weeks will grow, and by equipping two additional points and providing testing services for COVID-19, we create one of the most important prerequisites for a successful season, but also health safety," said Marina Sciran Rizner, director of the Novalja Tourist Board.

"This is the second season done in aggravating circumstances and we care that tourism and the economy in our area achieve better results. We are working to enable people to come, all the prescribed measures will be respected, we will be one step ahead of COVID-19, we will follow the good examples from Istria and we will break the rumor about Zrće. This summer, Zrće will not be a bad example and an infection point, nor a threat to the tourism of the island, let alone Croatia," said Ivan Dabo, the mayor of Novalja for Večernji list.

The pandemic has significantly accelerated digital transformation, while it has not bypassed tourism. Everyday changes in the constraints of international travel require quick and efficient adaptation and flexibility to the needs of the tourism market, and quick and simple solutions such as testing applications, significantly relieve the already overloaded health system. Therefore, in addition to fixed points, an organization of mobile teams has been agreed with SB Medico for the needs of testing larger groups of tourists by arriving at accommodation facilities.

Following the above, if the guest needs a test, it is simply necessary to register beforehand using the app.medico.hr application and choose the type of test they need. After registration and payment, the professional medical staff takes a swab and performs the test in an accredited laboratory. The result is sent by e-mail in a form recognized by the European Commission within the deadline set for each type of test.

The first step is to choose a service.

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For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border, and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of vaccination points and testing centers across the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Croatian Ibiza Suffers from Corona: Only 30 People Counted on Zrce Beach

July 5, 2020 - After the City of Novalja prohibited music festivals from Croatia's most well-known party beach, Zrce is vacant, with only 30 beachgoers counted on July 1. 

It was the first day of July. The temperature was above 30, the sun was scorching, and the sea crystal clear. An endless row of deckchairs were neatly arranged with a carefully measured distance, and club music could be heard in the background from one of the bars. It is a perfect backdrop for a good time.

Only there are no people.

Jutarnji List reports that Zrce beach in Novalja, a paradise for partygoers from all over the world, an entertainment industry and money factory, is empty. In letters and numbers, on the 25 thousand square meters of the most famous beach in Croatia, on the first day of July, a total of 30 people were counted.

Half of them were the staff that is there for the few guests who do not want to give up on Zrce even after the City of Novalja officially banned all festivals, after-parties and other mass gatherings on the beach. For club owners and those who live indirectly from Zrce, and there are quite a few of them in Novalja, this was the last nail in the coffin of an already lost season.

And Zrce really looks sad. In the huge parking lot, which was once inaccessible due to the crowds, there is currently an empty concrete field with only a few cars with Zagreb license plates. Boards were nailed to the openings of countless small bars selling food and drinks on the beach, and a "no money" notice was posted on a dozen ATMs and closed exchange offices.

Of the five big clubs, only Calypso, which works in part as a cafe, opened its doors on the Novalja side. On the Kolan side, because the beach is administratively divided between the two municipalities, Noa opened seven days ago, though it might as well be closed, as only twenty or so people fill the space that can accommodate a few thousand of them.

On the terrace of one of the only two open beach bars, Sime Ostaric, the beach concessionaire for the last four years, the director of the company "Naša ideja", which holds all the entertainment facilities on Zrce, sat alone.

"The Hideout festival started on this day last year. More than 15,000 foreigners from all over the world were partying in this desolation that you see now. How am I now watching this? It's painful. If I may be frank, it's f*cking painful," Ostaric says openly. 

Last year it employed 250 people, now it employs a total of 12. Not even five percent. His managers work as waiters; there is no choice or election; everyone is aware of the problem.

And at the beginning of the year, everything smelled like records. Bookings for festivals, which bring thousands of partygoers to Zrce every weekend, was 30 percent better than the year before, and three entirely new events were planned. And then at the beginning of March, the cancellations started, they slowly dropped out one by one until finally, by the decision of the City, they were not banned from all gatherings.

"This year, we were supposed to break records. Instead, we live on gasoline money, on loans that are terribly hard to get no matter how much is said otherwise. I first opened eight days ago and only because of the destination, although I know we won’t even be at zero. In fact, we will be far below zero. There are no people, that is the beginning and the end of the story. This is an entertainment industry that works on the principle of large numbers.

In Novalja, in fact, on the whole of Pag, you have countless apartments, villas, apartments that are filled only by Zrce. Not only did the corona attract partiers but also family people, other tourists, who came here because of what we have created here. Not the state, not local self-government, but private initiative. In the last three years, we have invested 21 million kuna in this beach. Zrce is the driver of all tourism on the island; I would dare say that there is no brand in Croatian tourism like this. But, it seems to me more and more that no one cares about that," says Ostaric.

His words would probably be signed by the owners of the other five big clubs who tried in all possible ways to save what was left of the season. And by day, not by night.

When a new wave of corona started, they tried to organize smaller programs that would allow the gathering of 20 to 30 people, with all possible epidemiological measures such as temperature checks, protective masks at the entrance, places for isolation ... they were already warming up, inquiries began, and then a rude awakening. The Civil Protection Headquarters of the City of Novalja, after a session at which they analyzed the events that are planned to be organized in nightclubs on Zrce, prohibited the organization of all festivals.

"I am aware that this decision does not suit everyone. We are only guided by the interests of the city and the intention to preserve and not endanger this 50 percent of tourist traffic from last year. With irresponsible behavior, especially party tourism, which is certainly inappropriate for anti-epidemic measures, we will endanger what we have," the mayor of Novalja, Ivan Dabo, said in response to the objections from Zrce.

Out of 1.7 million overnight stays last year in Novalja, as many as 900 thousand were realized in private accommodation. By far, the largest number, over 800 thousand, falls on young party members who come here primarily because of Zrce. Contrary to the typical Croatian prejudices that this is the youth who sleeps among the pine trees with a backpack on their back and no kuna in their pocket, lives on sandwiches from the store and drinks water from the tap, the truth is somewhat different. They are excellent consumers, and statistics show that their personal consumption is much higher than that of the average tourist in Croatia and far exceeds, for example, the amount spent on holidays by family members who come as tourists.

In Novalja, they calculated that each of their party members spends a minimum of 120 euro a day on accommodation, food, going out and all other services. When this amount is multiplied by the number of at least eight hundred thousand overnight stays, as many as the guests from Zrce, we come to the figure of an incredible one hundred million euro that turn in just one season. Perhaps it is now clearer why an empty beach hurts so badly, and how much the law of large numbers in mass tourism can be fickle.

The private renters who are most connected to the guests from Zrce know this best. As many as 20,000 beds in private accommodation were difficult to fill even in normal seasons, let alone in this tourist apocalypse.

"I'm afraid this is not the worst thing that could happen to us. Because the next season, which will be entered at the end of August, when contracts are being made and sales for the summer of 2021, will start to become questionable. If it continues like this, it will not be good at all. And then we will all kneel together," Ostaric concludes.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

City of Novalja: No Music Festivals on Zrce Beach this Summer

July 1, 2020 -  The Novalja Civil Protection Headquarters says no to music festivals on the famous Zrce beach. 

HRTurizam reports that on June 29, 2020, the Civil Protection Headquarters of the City of Novalja held a video conference to discuss the current situation in the City of Novalja regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, with an emphasis on events planned to be held in nightclubs on Zrce beach. 

Namely, the clubs on Zrce have announced that they will open their doors in the first week of July, namely the clubs Kalypso, Papaya and Nomad, while the club Noa has been operating for the last twelve days, of course with all the recommendations and measures. This news raised a lot of questions in the media, even in Slovenia.

The City of Novalja reacted with the mentioned session at which they pointed out that no electronic music festival has been organized in the area of Zrce beach in agreement with the owners of clubs and festivals, and stressed that the City of Novalja does not want to issue any consent for music events on Zrce beach. 

Given the recent events in the Republic of Croatia, and related to the appearance of the coronavirus in some nightclubs, the Headquarters decided that this summer tourist season will not issue approvals to clubs and concessionaires on Zrce beach for festivals, after parties and similar parties. The same goes for party boats.

It was proposed that the same Conclusion be forwarded to the Municipality of Kolan, where the Noa Club and other smaller clubs are located, and which was accepted. An identical conclusion was agreed during the day at the session of the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Municipality of Kolan.

Furthermore, the Headquarters has decided that no further concerts, festivities and outdoor parties will be held until further notice, where a larger number of visitors can be expected.

By the way, there are no people infected with the coronavirus in the City of Novalja. According to the eVisitor system, until June 28, 5,293 tourists (without occasional visitors or weekenders) were registered in the City of Novalja, which is 53.28% compared to the same day last year. Most of the tourists (57.05%) are staying in the Strasko camp.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 29 June 2020

Popular Zrce Beach Clubs to Open Doors at Beginning of July

June 29, 2020 - The preconditions for opening the clubs on Zrce beach have been closely monitored in communication with competent epidemiologists and authorities since the beginning of the COVID-19 virus. Only now, when the prescribed decisions, measures and recommendations allow it, will the summer club season open.

Namely, HRTurizam reports that the clubs Kalypso, Papaya and Nomad will open their doors in the first week of July, while the club Noa has been operating for the last ten days.

One of the most recognizable club destinations in the world for the last 20 years has actively developed various tourist offers, music festivals, recreational facilities and other events and attracts foreign investors, raises quality and helps develop the entire destination of Novalja and Pag.

Club tourism on Zrce, in the usual circumstances, is characterized by high attendance, which in some periods of the season recorded over 13 thousand guests, so COVID-19 inevitably hit hard. This is supported by the fact that the beach season usually begins in mid-May.

"We believe that the opening of this summer season is one of the key segments of maintaining the continuity of tourist arrivals and visits, and thus a successful next season. The destination is kept current, and the arrival of interested guests who have been visiting Croatia and Zrce beach for many years can remain uninterrupted," said Tea Cafuta, a representative of the clubs on Zrce beach.

Recall, in Croatia, indoor events are allowed under strictly prescribed and certain conditions, but the clubs on Zrce beach see the advantage in the fact that all their events and club programs are held exclusively outdoors and are very large, allowing prescribed physical distances.

In parallel, in Switzerland, for example, up to a thousand people are allowed indoors, while in Italy, outdoor events are also allowed with respect to physical distance, even though it was one of the most affected countries, Cafuta points out and emphasizes:

"Tourists, but also domestic guests, who will visit the Croatian coast this summer, can be just as safe in clubs on Zrce as when going to the store, using public transport, staying and spending the night in a hotel and apartment or going to the beach."

For the safe and epidemiologically controlled work of outdoor clubs, Zrce beach facilities will adhere to all prescribed measures and recommendations and carefully monitor the further development of the situation in order to keep all segments of functioning and operation under full control.

"Clubs have a detailed plan of compliance with measures that include primarily strict control of the entrance of people, monitoring guests at all points within the facility, and the number of people by zones. Hygienic measures will also be observed, which include the installation of disinfectants at the entrances to facilities, toilets, and next to/at each bar inside the premises, disinfection of work surfaces, and the entire space as well as temperature measurement of employees and guests at the entrance. Then there are measures to regulate physical distance when guests enter the facility, the distance of tables inside the facility, reducing the number of chairs, the possibility of keeping guests in certain places, and all other measures that can create conditions for safe work and unburdened entertainment of their guests," Cafuta added.

Communication between club management in close cooperation with epidemiologists and the competent institution takes place regularly, which implies monitoring the changes and decisions of the Civil Protection Headquarters, instructions and recommendations of the CNIPH and following the situation, adapting and changing the way of work when needed. They concluded that this is ultimately the only way to ensure responsible and relaxed club fun this summer within epidemiological frameworks.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Novalja Apartment Owners Bite Nails as Reservations Lack

Novalja and its famous Zrce beach is one of Croatia's top destinations, but as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the economic crisis that ensued, the area remains quiet and desolate for now. Novalja is without people, and Zrce is without its parties.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 28th of May, 2020, the owners of Novalja's apartments and hotels have prepared protective equipment, disinfectants, everything has been arranged, but there have been no reservations made. Only one guest from France contacted an agency that rents a hundred apartments on the popular island of Pag. Those who have clubs on Zrce are already ready for the blackest of scenarios to come to fruition - a completely failed tourist season for 2020.

Depending on who you asl, the drop in revenue is estimated at an extremely concerning 65 to 80 percent. These are tens of billions of kuna on which Croatia depends. And that's why the battle for each and every possible guest has already started.

"If we had this conversation on this same day a year ago, Novalja would be much happier and much livelier and there'd be all sorts going on, all of the cafes and restaurants would be open, everything would already be in operation," explained landlord Miljenko Dabo for RTL.

"At this moment in time, we'd be full, the hotel and the restaurant would be full," added Boris Suljic.

The first guests were due to arrive in March, and July and August were almost completely filled up. Now Novalja's tourist workers and apartment owners are preparing for the season to arrive, but they themselves don't know what to expect from it at all.

“Before coronavirus came along... last year was great. It was amazing. We didn't have any problems, we were all very satisfied. We had a lot of reservations, for now we only have two, one in July and one in August,'' said Dabo.

And while they all wait, they're trying to adjust to this new sort of normalcy.

"And we're being careful, we have small children, we have grandchildren, the youngest is only six months old, the latter is two and a half. And we have a grandmother who is almost 100 years old. So it's not easy, we have to be careful because health is the most important thing,'' noted Dabo.

The trouble specific to Novalja is that most tourists are partygoers, and the clubs are not doing well. Margarita Matas, the owner of a travel agency, also claims that the situation is not good for them either. She runs about 100 apartments and has a hostel herself.

"The situation is quite bad at the moment. It was great, about 20 percent stronger than last year. We were watching that unfold back in February, on the same date last year we were doing 20 percent better than we are now. We had over a thousand reservations, but now... there are just two percent of that thousand left,'' said Matas.

By early March this year, about 60 percent of the beds in Novalja had been booked. Boris Suljic, the owner of the Boskinac hotel, restaurant and winery, as well as the Kalypso club on Zrce, said:

"Our expectations are very realistic on the basis of somewhere around 30, 35 percent when compared to last year's business. Based on the work of hotels, restaurants and wineries. Another segment of business is the one that depends on party tourism, that will be one or zero percent,'' said Suljic.

He opened his restaurant and hotel in mid-May, and he hopes to open at least as a cafe on Zrce.

"We have to hold onto our mental condition and image. In all this, we need to not sink into desperation and give up because we're selling happiness. We sell experiences, pleasure... That's why we must not fall into trouble and deliver that same trouble, we must deliver hope,'' concluded Suljic.

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