The hotel investment conference Adria Hotel Forum (AHF) is leaving Zagreb, and its seventh edition will be held at Hotel Crown Plaza in Belgrade in late February next year. The reason for the move is the investment climate in Croatia, reports Poslovni.hr on November 23, 2018.
Although organizer Marina Franolić tried to explain that the move actually fits in with the regional character of the conference, sources say that the major factor in the decision to leave Zagreb was the inactive investment climate in Croatia, with low interest for foreign investors and hotel brands. The atmosphere in Belgrade is very different, said the entrepreneur who launched the AHF to revive the market and bring leading global tourism investors to Zagreb.
“The relocation news was positively accepted by forum partners, such as global hotel companies, consultants and investors, who have confirmed their arrival, as well as local hotels who have been fully supporting us. Croatia has not been able to capitalize on the fact that the AHF was held for six consecutive years in Zagreb. We can still see that investment activities, especially those related to foreign direct investments, are very low. That is not the main reason for the relocation of the conference, but it certainly influenced our decision. People are asking us daily about investment opportunities in Croatia, and we have nothing or little to offer,” explained Franolić.
The AHF is the only hotel-investment conference of international character in the region and one of the five largest in Europe. Franolić added that the conference gathered more than 1,800 participants, 250 panelists and 150 partners in six years, and its importance was demonstrated by the arrival of some of the most important players in the global hotel industry who came to the conference. Last year, they brought to Zagreb investment funds which manage assets worth over 500 billion dollars, as well as high-ranking representatives of AccorHotels, Hilton and other companies.
Belgrade was not selected by accident as the new conference seat. Although Croatian tourism is considered more developed than the one in Serbia, in the corporate and public sector, apart from the fact that Serbia has significant growth in the number of foreign tourists, Belgrade has been attracting foreign investors and global brands more successfully than Croatia. In addition to the Holiday Inn, the Hyatt Regency, the IHG Crown Plaza and the Falkensteiner Hotel, Hilton and Accor’s Mama Shelter were opened this spring, while in 2020 it is expected that Hilton’s DoubleTree and Marriott’ St. Regis brands will also open their hotels.
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Translated from Poslovni.hr (reported by Marija Crnjak).