Is The End of Croatia’s Current Tourism Concept Near?

Lauren Simmonds

Croatia is a country which likes to measure its ”tourism success” with the numbers of overnight stays realised, not giving a second glance to any real economic factors that the tourist season has had on the country’s economy, and playing a very surface level type song to the masses, the composer of which is the beloved eVisitor system.

As Plava Kamenica writes on the 6th of July, 2019, as we reported recently, the current tourist information presented by the Croatian Tourism Association (Hrvatska Udruga Turizma), isn’t all that positive. The Croatian Tourism Association surveyed fifteen leading hotel and tourist companies which operate within the Republic of Croatia, and according to them, everything is less this year than it was last year, and the range we’re talking about here is large, from one percent to as much as twenty percent less. On average, about three to seven percent less hotels have been booked in Croatia compared to last year.

Most of the respondents in the aforementioned association’s survey said the tempo of bookings and reservations in hotels is significantly slower than it was last year. The worst hit are apartment areas, and even camps aren’t doing too well, despite the good weather we’re experiencing after a very rainy May, it appears that there have been less reservations recorded this year than there were last year, which wasn’t all that great either when it comes to July and August.

Novi list has placed this information, which may come as a bit of a surprise to some and the birth of an omen for others, as the main topic on its first page. Other Croatian media outlets, including TCN, have been publishing equally bad news about Croatia’s tourism, and Index has questioned some of the representatives of Croatia’s various island-based tourist boards to find out more. The survey showed that most of Croatia’s islands have recorded a decline in tourist traffic, and among the worse of all lies the central Dalmatian island of Brač, which is being considered the island with the worst imaginable tourist policy and practice.

By analysing all these pieces of bad news, we have to be honest with ourselves and say that it is nothing to do with any sort of ”natural” July dip, but about the beginning of the end of the current tourism concept here in Croatia. It’s had its day, it seems.

Croatia’s tourism concept has three critical weak points. Firstly, most of the country’s hotel companies are made for mass, third-rate quality tourism, which simply can’t attract more demanding (and higher paying) guests, while at the same time, Croatia’s hotels can’t compete with massive Turkish and North African tourism, because Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia will always, always be cheaper.

Secondly, largely uncontrolled apartment renting has damaged at least Dalmatian tourism potential in the long run. Thirdly, the state has wiped out the restaurant industry with its draconian taxation policies, and without this industry, there can be no tourism, especially while Croatia’s hotel industry seems to remain uncompetitive.

The negative results of this odd policy of Russian roulette with tourism, in which Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli participated for three years now, are finally rearing their ugly heads, and while it’s difficult to predict just where this will lead – it’s unlikely to be anywhere good.

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