Are Croatian Tourism Companies Ready to Invest Post Pandemic?

Lauren Simmonds

December the 2nd, 2020 – The coronavirus pandemic has forcibly put the key in the lock of many a previously planned investment, especially in the Croatian tourism sector as companies suffered and continue to suffer the economic fallout as a result of the anti-epidemic measures. With that being said, just how much are Croatian tourism companies willing to invest when the pandemic finally draws to a close?

As Marija Crnjak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Croatian tourism companies have ready projects for investment worth a total of a massive 25 billion kuna, which can be realised over the next five years, in four segments, green tourism, digitalisation, the reconstruction of accommodation and last but by no means least – infrastructure.

Great help in the realisation of these projects is expected from European Union funds, and that same realisation can begin as soon as the end of the pandemic arrives and the normalisation of the tourism industry arrives, said Zeljko Kukurin, CEO of Valamar Riviera at a hotel congress which was held on Tuesday.

The congress was held, much like other events in 2020, in a semi-virtual edition for the first time, and the main focus of the participants is the return of Croatian and global tourism after the pandemic, which became likely with the announcement of coronavirus vaccine registration. The congress was opened by Minister Nikolina Brnjac, who stated that the Croatian Government just yesterday presented a new package of assistance to Croatian companies worth 2.1 billion kuna.

“We’ve initiated the development of a new programme for the allocation of state aid to the tourism sector and other related activities, which we will soon send for approval to the European Commission, and then for adoption by the Government,” assured Nikolina Brnjac.

The Croatian tourism industry is optimistic, as are Croatian tourism companies, and the government is of the opinion that in 2021 about 60-70 percent of 2019’s turnover could be realised, as opposed to 2020 in which we reached about 50 percent of that period’s turnover. Invesments from Croatian tourism companies will begin when tourist traffic start bringing revenue back in. Valamar, for example, delayed its largest investment yet by 12-24 months. That investment is in the Hotel Pinea and is worth a massive 100 million euros. As such, they have high hopes in the emergence of a vaccine against the novel coronavirus.

“The fastest return of tourists is expected by Istria and the north of the country in general, Zagreb could see a return in the autumn of 2021, and the return of the south and east of the country, ie air destinations, will be slower. We expect to realise about 70 percent of last year’s traffic next year. The vaccine is currently the only solid point we can cling to, but the question is how the realisation of all that will go. Despite that, we’re convinced that 2021 will be better than 2020,” said the President of the Management Board of Maistra, Tomislav Popovic.

Hoteliers across Croatia are aware that a lot of improvisations will need to be done next year, plans will need to be made and bridges crossed when arrived at, there will be a lot of ”last minute” going on, but this year a lot has been learned and implemented in business and there will be fewer surprises.

“It would be very good for us if the epidemiological picture was favourable from mid-February, on so that we could tell our guests that we’re a safe destination and start working towards the Easter period. It should come as no surprise, because this year we’ve managed to introduce many solutions in regard to safety that would otherwise have taken several years, from the digital privacy of guests to better standards of cleaning and hygiene, which the hotel industry has strictly adhered to,” said Veljko Ostojic, the director of the Croatian Tourism Association (HUT).

The CEOs of the largest Croatian tourism companies, Valamar and Maistra, confirmed that there was no coronavirus infection reported within their facilities, although they were very well filled during the season. “It’s something we have to communicate to our guests next year as well,” Kukurin concluded.

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