Even local tourist boards admit that the holiday home zone is a grey area where commercial activity is suspected.
As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes on the 10th of August, 2018, although almost one third of the total number of overnight stays realised last year in the Republic of Croatia were acheived in so-called non-commercial accommodation, meaning apartments and holiday homes, so-called ”weekenders” are currently being hailed as the weakest link in Croatian tourism.
This area of tourism is generally uncontrolled and is seen by many as a grey zone against which there are very loud voices across the board in Croatia’s tourism sector, mainly because such ”facilities” represent what is generally seen as unfair competition for hotels, campsites, and other types of family accommodation.
The figures when it comes to non-commercial accommodation are believed to stand at around 455,000 beds in 102,000 such facilities across the country. At least, this is currently the information held by the eVisitor system for the payment of sojourn tax, but the actual number is reportedly considerably higher, as despite the fact that the law requires tourists and/or the owners of the facilities tourists are staying in to register arrivals, many don’t bother to do so.
According to eVisitor’s data, 473,000 arrivals and 9.9 million overnight stays in non-commercial accommodation were realised in Croatia in 2016, while in 2017, 508,000 arrivals and 12.1 million overnight stays were realised.
According to the data of the Central Bureau of Statistics, back in 2015, 451,000 arrivals and 8.1 million overnight stays were realised in this segment. This means that the number of overnight stays has risen by a third in just three years. The number of holiday homes has risen as well. At the beginning of last tourist season, 79,000 facilities with approximately 358,000 beds were reported, and today 102,000 non-commercial tourist facilities with 455,000 beds have been registered, meaning that in just one year alone, the number of apartments and houses has grown by a significant 23 percent.
At the same time, the sojourn tax grew at a much slower rate, by only 6 percent. 10,609,102.57 kuna was collected from non-commercial accommodation for 2016, while for the year 2017, 11,197,253.06 kuna was collected. As non-commercial accommodation is subject to a flat rate tax, the aforementioned data refers to the state of payment on August the 6th, 2018.
It’s worth noting that the above data only applies to those holiday homes which are actually registered. Local tourist communities acknowledge that the area of ”weekenders” is very much a grey zone where commercial activity is highly suspected, but such assumptions are somewhat difficult to prove in reality. Some holiday homeowners willingly follow the law and report all of their guests throughout the entire season, others report only themselves, and some owners don’t even bother to notify eVisitor.
“That’s why this segment really represents a side zone which is very difficult to control. It’s only in our power to carry out an inspection if we notice some sort of unusual activity, but that’s it,” Marijana Biondić, Director of the Tourist Board of the City of Crikvenica, told Poslovni.
In Crikvenica alone, it is estimated that there are about 6,500 holidaymakers, with only half of them having actually been reported. The only people who have the ability to really control the black market in this sense are the customs inspectors employed by the Ministry of Finance, and it seems they have their work more than cut out for them.