As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, although last year they barely made up 40 percent of 2019’s revenue, thanks to state measures, moratoriums on loans and previous stocks, the leading large tourism companies managed to maintain the stability they needed to realise the remarkably successful 2021 season.
The biggest problem this year has been the lack of manpower, which has spread from uncertainty in the travel industry to other sectors, primarily the construction industry. When the results add up after the season, which continued at a more than decent pace throughout the month of September, decisions will be made to restart investments that were blocked by the pandemic.
Both ”pandemic years” have shown that the best result was achieved by the premium segment of the offer, and there are many places to invest in all segments of accommodation, from campsites and hotels to family/private accommodation and entertainment.
Maistra, including Dubrovnik’s Hilton Imperial, recorded 45 percent of the sales it had in pre-pandemic 2019 during a very difficult 2020, realising at the same time 41 percent of their sales of goods and services from 2019. Segment analysis showed that in 2020, campsites performed 9 percent better in terms of the number of units sold than the Maistra average. In the period from June to September, when the business was without significant epidemiological restrictions, the best sales compared to the previous year (2019) were achieved by the luxury hotel segment in the Istrian city of Rovinj.
In 2020, HUP-Zagreb generated only 18 percent of units sold and 18 percent of the sales revenue compared to the previous year of 2019, which is devastating. Maistra’s consolidated revenue from the sale of the tourism segment in 2020 amounted to 587 million kuna, which is a mere 35 percent of the 2019’s impressive realisation.
Profit before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) amounted to 93 million kuna, with a net loss of 136 million kuna. Achieved positive EBITDA indicates the fact that in the crisis year of 2020, the tourism segment achieved a level of operating profit and liquidity sufficient for the operation of normal business, they explained from Maistra. In addition to the blossoming nautical sector, their campsites last year had ”full colour” occupancy in comparison to hotels, which were also weaker than the private accommodation sector, but fortunately that changed this year.
Due to the continuation of the coronavirus pandemic during the first part of 2021, Maistra’s business activity decreased, but sales of 335 thousand accommodation units were realised, which represents growth of 113 percent when compared to last year’s reporting period, and is at 60 percent of 2019’s figures.
In the first six months of this year, the Maistra Group generated 296.5 million kuna in operating revenue, which is about two and a half times more than last year, and is also at the level of 66 percent of the same period in 2019. A positive result before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) was achieved in the amount of 49.2 million kuna. Although we’re still waiting for the results for the third, key quarter, the physical occupancy of hotels this summer suggests significantly better results than last year, for all tourist companies on the Adriatic coast.
So far, only the Pula Arena Hospitality Group has reported on their results for this summer season, revealing that operations in the Republic of Croatia exceeded expectations during July and August, with total unaudited revenue in these two months reaching approximately 90 percent of the total revenue in the same period back in 2019.
Revenue generated in August 2021 is at the level of revenue generated in August 2019. “This result was achieved without the usual gradual growth of seasonal activity, at a time when the rules on covid passports and testing were still in force, and when certain countries from which people usually come had placed travel restrictions on those coming to and arriving from Croatia. Our second region, which consists of operations in Germany, Hungary and Serbia, has also shown signs of recovery, although the pace of such recovery varies depending on the market and is slower compared to the Croatian holiday tourism segment. Unaudited total revenue for this region in July and August represents 39 percent of the total revenue realised back during the same period in 2019. However, with the reopening of the market and the continued progress of the vaccination rollout, we expect this sort of recovery to continue,” they stated from the company.
This excellent tourist season has generally positively surprised the entire sector, because although improvements were expected in comparison to last year, no one could have predicted that August would almost reach pre-pandemic figures and that fiscalisation would even exceed those numbers. Namely, in August 2021, 4.3 million arrivals and 30.7 million overnight stays were realised in Croatia, equal to 59 percent more arrivals and 46 percent more overnight stays than in the same period last year.
Now that it appears things are back on track in comparison to a dire 2020, Croatian employers from some of the most negatively affected industries are on the hunt for qualified staff and this issue is becoming more of an issue than the pandemic and lockdowns were. People who had always worked in construction, tourism and catering and hospitality began moving away from those fields in search of more stability, and it will now prove a challenge to attract them back to the sector which so easily dropped them.
Investments were halted, shelved and in some cases binned entirely as a result of the deep uncertainty the public health crisis caused. If those blocked investments can now get moving, we might just be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel of a truly horrendous and unprecedented period in history.
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