Croatian Tourism Industry Already Feeling Coronavirus Consequences

Lauren Simmonds

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to rock the global economy, those working in the Croatian tourism industry are already feeling the consequences.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 11th of March, 2020, as many as two-thirds (66 percent) of Croatian companies are already feeling the negative effects of the coronavirus situation in their business operations, and more than half, as many as 53 percent, have experienced a drop in turnover, according to a poll recently conducted by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK).

Travel agencies, those who deal with accommodation, food preparation and logistics companies are among the hardest hit, and small and medium-sized businesses operating within the Croatian tourism industry are feeling more negatively impacted than large companies are, according to Glas Istre.

Thus, the coronavirus situation could have far-reaching negative effects on Istrian tourism and the economy, and the first being hit are those in hospitality, hoteliers, travel agencies, and private renters. In discussions with individuals from these sectors, let’s look at the reactions to the current situation with coronavirus in Istria and the forecasts.

Oliver Juric, co-owner of a travel agency: Although they’ve paid, many aren’t coming:

Bookings have stopped. If the situation doesn’t calm down, we could quickly lose up to forty percent of traffic. Group arrivals aren’t being sold now, and although they’ve paid, many won’t take their trips because of fear. We’re following everything with great caution and we’re hoping that the situation will calm down. The question now is what the situation will be in April and May, and if the panic doesn’t cease, we’ll lose groups during those months, and then the question is what will happen next. If we pull out of this in spring, then we could save ourselves and we’ll somehow get somethng out of the season, but if this condition continues, it will be difficult.

Our Austrian partner has stopped their sales because everyone is in awe, nobody wants to travel. The Swiss are in a panic as well, and they’re starting to cancel because more cases have occurred. If the situation in Italy escalates, we can forget the preseason. This is the chain reaction that will most hit people in the Croatian tourism industry, perhaps hospitality workers the most. If the groups don’t come, the restaurants will be empty and those working in hospitality will have nobody to serve.

We’re all generally very concerned. The worst is the “status quo” and what people don’t know is what awaits them. There is no booking and everything has stopped and no one knows how long all of this will go on for. We’re powerless at the moment. If everything stops right now, it’s hard to predict what Easter and May Day will be like. I sincerely hope that the situation will settle down by the beginning of the main season. But right now it’s dramatic! People have been investing in accommodation, they’re now burdened with loans they’ve taken out, and they don’t know if they will have any guests.

Veljko Ostojic, Director of the Croatian Tourism Association: The tourist season isn’t in danger:

The tourist season hasn’t been compromised and we believe that the results will ultimately be satisfactory. At the moment, we have a slowdown in bookings but no cancellations for the main season. With the calming down of this virus, we can have a good season and post season. It should be emphasised that the response of health institutions and the entire Croatian Government in this situation is of high quality, which is crucial for the rapid return to normal after the slowdown because of the spread of the virus.

Ivo Lorencin, private landlord, Medulin: The preseason won’t affect the financial picture

As for family accommodation, the pace of arrival of reservations for June, July and August has slowed down slightly, while for April and May it has completely stopped. There have been no cancellations so far, not even for the accommodation that was already reserved for Easter. But this trend doesn’t have to mean anything, since it’s common for early spring that most bookings are done “last minute”.

The early preseason won’t significantly affect the financial picture of the season because, except for Easter and May Day, we mostly have weekend tourists. But, on the other hand, that’s the first revenue after the winter and spring investment in apartments and in the local environment, so for most family renters who opened in the early spring, this income, though relatively small, is extremely important. If the virus situation resolves in the next two to three weeks, the last minute bookings will work out and I don’t believe we’ll feel the consequences. However, if the situation persists and even if there are no epidemics, people will not dare to travel primarily because of the risk of quarantine.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle and travel pages for more on the Croatian tourism industry and coronavirus.


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