Zagreb Tourist Board CEO Martina Bienenfeld Reflects on 2022, the Return of Tourism

By 19 December 2022
Zagreb Tourist Board CEO Martina Bienenfeld Reflects on 2022, the Return of Tourism
Vedran Peteh/CROPIX

December 19, 2022 - It has been a great year for tourism in Zagreb after the pandemic challenges of 2020 and 2021. TCN catches up with Zagreb Tourist Board CEO Martina Bienenfeld to reflect on a successful year.  

Advent in Zagreb 2022 - it feels like the pre-pandemic world of 2019, and a great way to finish the year. Are you happy with the reaction to this year's event?

During the whole year, we were exposed to various extraordinary situations, starting with the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, and then the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis and inflation, so I am very happy that, with all our partners, we managed to organize this year's Advent Zagreb. The reactions of our guests are very positive. They are very satisfied with the Christmas decorations of the city, the rich and varied cultural and other programs, the holiday atmosphere, and currently they only criticize the rain - the only factor that, unfortunately, we cannot influence. I hope that the temperatures will drop a little more and bring us snow for the complete winter atmosphere.

Zagreb has been hugely successful over the last 6 years with its award-winning Advent, and you were one of the few cities to keep the tradition going during the pandemic. Tell us about the challenges of making that happen.

The last Advent and the one before it, were organized during the pandemic, which was a completely new challenge and situation. However, we managed to adapt and develop a hybrid Advent concept that had a lot of online events, but also outdoor events that were organized respecting all the COVID measures. But now, we're happy to be back to normal and, in contrast to 2020 and 2021 when trips and events were mostly limited, this year we are noticing a strong recovery in tourist supply and demand.


The world has changed, and so has tourism, with new trends and opportunities. One of the biggest successes of Zagreb in the last 2 years has been its prominence as a top global digital nomad destination. Tell us more about that.

In the last 2 years, Zagreb paved its way as one of the best destinations in Europe on a digital nomads’ map. In 2021, we organized Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, then the Digital Nomad Ambassador program which lasted six months and in December we had Digital Nomad Jolly Wrap Up. This year, actually 2 weeks ago, we hosted Zagreb Digital Nomad Very Merry meeting which attracted numerous participants to our city during weekend. The dynamic fusion of workshops, presentations, social and tourism activities focusing on the key themes, provided a comprehensive and stimulating content for anyone engaged in the digital nomad lifestyle. All these activities helped to make Zagreb a digital nomad hub and the results of the NomadList survey, where Zagreb took 2nd place as the most popular destination for digital nomads, proved that we’re doing a good job. The British platform Reassured also published its research, and our city took 5th place as the best city for digital nomads. Research like this confirm that Zagreb is very well perceived in the world of digital nomads as a city with optimal value for money, quality infrastructure, growing industry, hospitality of the local population and colorful events, which enable digital nomads to conduct business efficiently and easily throughout the year.


Having lived in Zagreb for 18 months now, I am constantly surprised at how there is always something going on somewhere, especially in the parks, streets and squares. It seems that there has been a lot more focus on developing the city as a year-round destination for art and culture. Tell us a little more.

In the last few years, Zagreb has become an increasingly dynamic and interesting tourist destination that offers its guests a number of cultural, sports, gastronomic, entertainment, MICE and business events throughout the year. Zagreb Tourist Board, together with the Zagreb tourism industry, develops year-round tourism and, as a result, Zagreb has a developed, sustainable, balanced, and responsible tourist offer. In particular, Zagreb Tourist Board, in cooperation with partners, designs, sets up and develops projects such as the Festival of Lights Zagreb, Zagreb Classic, Artupunktura and Advent Zagreb, which encompass all four seasons and complement our year-round offer. We also support various cultural, artistic and creative projects which make Zagreb always interesting. The tourist results confirm that Zagreb is a year-round destination, and the months when we have the most visitors are from April to October and, of course, during Advent. However, this does not mean that there are no visitors in January, February or November. Moreover, Zagreb records excellent results even in those months, which is also a characteristic of the city-break destinations. We also conduct comprehensive online and offline, summer and winter marketing campaigns, which, for the purpose of promoting our city as an attractive tourist destination and informing potential visitors, are responsible, among other things, for the results Zagreb has.

The arrival of a budget airline has opened up Zagreb to many destinations. How much has that been a factor in developing tourism, and can you share any information about new flights/airlines in 2023?

Zagreb is the main cultural, university, scientific and technological center of Croatia, connected to Europe and the world with more than 50 airline routes, as well as a modern road network, which also puts it in the position of a year-round tourist destination. Half of the guests come to our city by plane, and a large number of them come from long-haul destinations such as the USA. The presence of low-cost flights is certainly important for the development of the city break segment, but today almost all airlines offer special tariff classes. As for new flights, for the moment, we have only confirmed news from our national carrier Croatia Airlines which will maintain services to fifteen European destinations (excluding domestic routes) out of its main hub in Zagreb. A total of 120 weekly rotations are planned or 240 weekly flights.

It has been a very busy 2022 for Zagreb after the last two crazy years, and there are many positives to reflect on. What were the highlights for you?

The changes in global trends and social values in the last two years have been extremely intense and volatile, and this created an additional possibility for Zagreb's tourism to be even more competitive and attractive. However, the highlight in 2022 for me was to see how quickly tourism recovered and travelling blossomed. Let’s not forget that we started this year with wearing masks and strict COVID measures and now it all seems like a long-gone history.

And what can we expect in Zagreb in 2023?

It’s difficult to predict what future holds, but with entering the Eurozone in 2023 and Croatian membership in Schengen, we should definitely see the positive aspects of deeper integration of Croatia into the EU. Both events should strengthen the Croatian economy and enable the free movement of people and goods which will for sure foster tourism of whole Croatia and its capital, as well.

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