Tourist Season Positive, But Echoes of Tourism Boom Fade

Lauren Simmonds

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Croatia is oozing with potential, and yet we continue to offer so little of it to eager tourists.

With last year’s record tourist season behind us, one can’t help but wonder just how long the positive trends will continue for Croatia, especially with its long-standing rivals like Turkey gaining ground and recovering as a desirable summer destination. Many reports of stagnation have surfaced over recent weeks, as the summer season slowly draws to a close, and the echoes of previous years’ incredible numbers and record breaking months seem to be a more and more distant cry.

The voices advocating for ”365 tourism” are ever louder, and despite the need for Croatia, particularly the coast, to at least attempt to pull itself out of the very restrictive binds of a ”sun and sea” destination aimed at Northern Europeans looking for a cheaper dose of Vitamin D, it seems the real will and motivation is, of course, lacking. Are you surprised? No? Thought not. While Zagreb is a shining example to all when it comes to rising from almost nothing at all on the tourist map to the star of Advent and Christmas tourism, the rest of the country, particularly stubborn Dalmatia stuck in its traditional three-month-season mentality, is a little slow to catch up.

As Vecernji List/Radmila Kovacevic writes on the 10th of September, 2018, for the first time after many years, we had almost forgotten the so-called ”July hole” felt like, not to mention a significant shortage of tourists visiting Croatia for almost an entire half of August, otherwise a historically very lucrative month.

This year, with expectations high, hasn’t really matched up to last year’s dazzling success, not that you’d have noticed that during the height of the season. Many, spurred on by the ”promise” of another incredible tourist year, exaggerated with their respective prices, tourists had their desired relaxation time inhibited by the overwhelming crowds in some of the country’s more popular destinations like Dubrovnik and Split, and, without going overboard with the negativity, the list goes on, and on, and then on a bit more. Unfortunately.

Despite all of this, and in spite of the numerous articles focusing on tourism stagnation even in the country’s top destinations across coastal Dalmatia, it would appear that 2018 is about to go down as yet another record tourism year for Croatia. Tourist authorities are counting on having five percent more tourists than they had back in 2017, and during the first eight months of 2018, with five percent more arrivals and four percent more overnight stays than last year, they’re pretty much correct in their estimations and assumptions. Unfortunately, this outlook is very much skin deep only. Tourism in Croatia as a whole faced enormous, concerning issues even during the very height of the tourist season, and a lot has been written about it over recent weeks.

The glitz and glam of the Adriatic had to swallow not only its pride, but also a very bitter pill, and realise that there are no longer three esteemed European guests just waiting for each bed, and long gone are the days of any price offered being okay for them. As previously mentioned, Croatia’s old rivals and competition is recovering rapidly, and the ”classic” Mediterranean is much cheaper than the Adriatic is for the vast majority of tourists, especially for those from the rest of Europe simply looking to top up their tans and get away from it all. All in all, Croatia, in the eyes of many markets, is simply no longer a tourist sensation, nor has it managed to remain a hit destination.

Every dog has its day, and what goes up must (eventually, anyway) come down, as they say, and Croatia’s focus now needs to be directed entirely into investing more into agencies and companies who offer year-round tourism. A recent article cites Austria as a good example, as the country simply stopped investing or financially helping companies which do not offer a twelve month package of some sort, Slovenia has also done well by advocating what it has, rather than relying on one constant theme.

Croatia is much, much more than just the sea, yet the tourist agencies offer such a small slice of the wealth of possibilities the country boasts. Constant complaining about tourists only coming for a cheap holiday in the sun and not engaging in the rest of what the country has to offer will do no good. The fact that this has become the trend is nobody’s fault but our own, and the responsibility falls on every single person who works in Croatia’s tourism industry to turn things around.


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