Novalja and its famous Zrce beach is one of Croatia’s top destinations, but as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the economic crisis that ensued, the area remains quiet and desolate for now. Novalja is without people, and Zrce is without its parties.
As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 28th of May, 2020, the owners of Novalja’s apartments and hotels have prepared protective equipment, disinfectants, everything has been arranged, but there have been no reservations made. Only one guest from France contacted an agency that rents a hundred apartments on the popular island of Pag. Those who have clubs on Zrce are already ready for the blackest of scenarios to come to fruition – a completely failed tourist season for 2020.
Depending on who you asl, the drop in revenue is estimated at an extremely concerning 65 to 80 percent. These are tens of billions of kuna on which Croatia depends. And that’s why the battle for each and every possible guest has already started.
“If we had this conversation on this same day a year ago, Novalja would be much happier and much livelier and there’d be all sorts going on, all of the cafes and restaurants would be open, everything would already be in operation,” explained landlord Miljenko Dabo for RTL.
“At this moment in time, we’d be full, the hotel and the restaurant would be full,” added Boris Suljic.
The first guests were due to arrive in March, and July and August were almost completely filled up. Now Novalja’s tourist workers and apartment owners are preparing for the season to arrive, but they themselves don’t know what to expect from it at all.
“Before coronavirus came along… last year was great. It was amazing. We didn’t have any problems, we were all very satisfied. We had a lot of reservations, for now we only have two, one in July and one in August,” said Dabo.
And while they all wait, they’re trying to adjust to this new sort of normalcy.
“And we’re being careful, we have small children, we have grandchildren, the youngest is only six months old, the latter is two and a half. And we have a grandmother who is almost 100 years old. So it’s not easy, we have to be careful because health is the most important thing,” noted Dabo.
The trouble specific to Novalja is that most tourists are partygoers, and the clubs are not doing well. Margarita Matas, the owner of a travel agency, also claims that the situation is not good for them either. She runs about 100 apartments and has a hostel herself.
“The situation is quite bad at the moment. It was great, about 20 percent stronger than last year. We were watching that unfold back in February, on the same date last year we were doing 20 percent better than we are now. We had over a thousand reservations, but now… there are just two percent of that thousand left,” said Matas.
By early March this year, about 60 percent of the beds in Novalja had been booked. Boris Suljic, the owner of the Boskinac hotel, restaurant and winery, as well as the Kalypso club on Zrce, said:
“Our expectations are very realistic on the basis of somewhere around 30, 35 percent when compared to last year’s business. Based on the work of hotels, restaurants and wineries. Another segment of business is the one that depends on party tourism, that will be one or zero percent,” said Suljic.
He opened his restaurant and hotel in mid-May, and he hopes to open at least as a cafe on Zrce.
“We have to hold onto our mental condition and image. In all this, we need to not sink into desperation and give up because we’re selling happiness. We sell experiences, pleasure… That’s why we must not fall into trouble and deliver that same trouble, we must deliver hope,” concluded Suljic.
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