Have you heard about Run Croatia yet?
If you don’t know about the Run Croatia platform yet, now is as good a time as any. Founded in 2015, Run Croatia was launched to promote sport, healthy lifestyles and the winning spirit. They cooperate with running communities, cities in Croatia and the rest of the world, various sponsors, and organize running events which promote products and services at the highest level. Because there are more than 50 million runners in the EU who spend an estimated 9.6 billion euro per year, Run Croatia has already become a magnet for marketing agencies and other companies interested in investing in their promotion.
Run Croatia’s main goal is to organize international, regional and national sport events aimed at promoting Croatia as a top destination for professional and amateur athletes, though they also hope to improve and expand Croatia’s tourism offer, organize events and introduce new ideas into the existing Croatian tourist offer to prolong the peak tourism season, increase revenues – especially in the offseason – promote Croatia as a top tourist destination for athletes internationally, and create a distinguished and recognizable image of Croatian tourism, writes Run Croatia on their website.
It hasn’t even been two months since Croatia received the first ‘Run Friendly’ hotel in Europe, and now Run Croatia boasts new hotels that have a special offer for millions of runners around the world. After LifeClass Terme Sveti Martin, the Westin in Zagreb and the Falkensteiner park hotel in Punat joined the ‘Run Friendly’ hotels of Croatia – and soon enough, this list will grow even more.
Positive energy, passion, a vision and an excellent tourism story are the main elements behind the Run Croatia concept, i.e. an ecosystem that grows each day and includes an increasing number of partners who create a unique platform for runners.
The Run Friendly ecosystem, in other words, the platform of the Run Croatia team and its partners, is a system that works for itself. To achieve this, the platform boasts good content and a variety of partners who offer many quality services and products for a specific target group, which in this case is for runners, said Berislav Sokač of Run Croatia who spoke with HrTurizam on October 7, 2018.
Run Croatia works with partners including ‘Run Friendly’ hotels, health clinics, restaurants, gluten-free and organic food producers, and even supports banking through eWallet or non-cash payments through the blockchain 2.0 loyalty program.
The Run Croatia platform, which is growing day by day, already partners with Bagatin Pokatinat, the hotels mentioned above, Motion Travel – the first tourist agency specializing in runners, OPGs, the platform Zdravi Pinklec, and even the Edward Bernays High School for Communication Management and distillery Duh u Boci.
“We signed an agreement with the first Run Friendly academic institution. Among others things, students will have field-based volunteering courses in order to have a socially responsible activity, and will also be recommended for employment in a Run Friendly company,” Sokač said, adding that they are also cooperating with the distillery Duh u Boci, which became the first ‘Run Friendly’ distillery. Old Pilots Gin is the first Croatian craft gin that exclusively works with plants harvested in Croatia.
“Just by cooperating with Duh u Boci, Run Croatia wants to show that it’s more than just running,” emphasizes Sokač.
Additionally, they have cooperated with various OPGs that offer gluten free and ecologically-grown foods, and two plantations for cherry trees and aronia. The entire ecosystem is joined with the Zdravi Pinklec platform which delivers healthy, homemade, organic food – and the entire story is self-sustaining, as these OPGs are directly linked to the Run Friendly hotels.
In partnership with Croatia Airlines, the first airline in the world with an offer for runners, a 20% discount will initially be offered on flights to encourage Croatian runners to experience running in Europe, while foreign runners are encouraged to visit Croatia.
“The idea is to work together with Croatia Airlines to promote Croatia as a country moving away from a destination of cars. Our target group is the 55 million active people we want to get here in a quicker and more comfortable way. I am already very positive with the development of the project, but I will be completely satisfied when we paint at least one Croatia Airlines plane with the slogan: Fly to Run Croatia with Croatia Airlines. In my opinion, this is the only real call to action for the development of our tourism and economy. The message has two positive verbs, fly and run. Imagine that this message is cleverly commercially used and the airline links the markets where 25% of the population is on Run?” says Sokač.
And this story is definitely not over, because they plan to include other healthcare institutions, banks through the blockchain 2.0 loyalty program, and many other services and products that connect with runners – because running is not just a run, but a way of life. It is a win-win and a unique example not just in Croatia, but the world. It is an example that we can be certain will be presented on the UNWTO Sustainable Tourism Development platform and become one of Croatia’s top export products.
“The Run Croatia platform is open to anyone who wants to use their positive energy for a better society as a whole and economic processes,” Sokač concludes.
By joining the Run Croatia ecosystem, you become part of positive change – which is exactly how strategic and sustainable tourism develops. Run Croatia is a small, but powerful idea that has grown into a major project – a platform for the development and promotion of all of Croatia through running and run friendly destinations. It has grown to a project of strategic importance for Croatia’s tourism, or at least it should have such status.