An infographic published in leading Norwegian daily Afterposten on June 13, 2016 shows how Croatia is benefitting from global events. Is it something Croatia can build on for the long term?
Tourism trends are constantly changing, as new trendy destinations emerge, and more established ones lose their appeal. An increasingly important factor in the decision of holiday destination in the modern age is sadly linked to the terrorist threat, and recent events in Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt to name but three, have seen their tourism industries decimated by recent attacks. Some 5.9 million Russians holidayed in Egypt and Turkey last year, a massive number of tourists who are now looking for somewhere else.
So too with Norwegians, one of the most coveted tourism countries, with their high spending reputation and desire for late season sun. Tourism from Scandinavia to Croatia has risen significantly in the last decade, with the introduction of direct flights from national carrier Norwegian a majoy factor, and s the infographic above shows, Croatia seems to be the major beneficiary, with a 12% increase in tourism from Norway since 2014, according to a surey from Euromonitor.
While the increase is welcome, it is perhaps now time to strike while the iron is hot, and build on this increase to turn Croatia into a Scandinavian destination of choice for the late season, as well as the peak, with the introduction of the one missing ingredient to make this possible – out of season flights?
Croatia has much to attract Scandinavians out of season – late season sun, culture, heritage, adventure tourism, excellent food and wine, a mere three hour flight from Oslo, but once the summer budget carriers shut up shop for the winter, access is a major stumbling block.
Leading the way commendably is Dubrovnik, which this year is introducing 14 international routes through the winter, while Ryanair appears close to 12-month flights to the Pearl of the Adriatic (although somewhat perversely, the Irish carrier has announced it will be closing its base at Oslo Rygge, with the loss of connections to Pula and Zadar). With the global situation as it is, it now not the time for Croatia to explore and introduce more year-round flights to destinations such as Pula, Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik – all fantastic 12-month destinations (if businesses are given an incentive to remain open all year).
A 12% increase in two years could become significantly more with such an introduction, and not be limited to Norway. Scandinavia, the UK, and Germany and all major growth areas for Croatian tourism, and all countries which would attract visitors out of season.
If Croatia is serious about 365 tourism, flights are the one thing stopping its expansion. I recently spoke to Ante Lacman, director of Intours DMC, who told me that they lose up to 80% of their enquiries due to flights. This, the same agency which recently pulled off the biggest incentive trip in the history of Hvar, with 650 guests at the beginning of May, when flights fortunately worked out.
A great opportunity for Croatia, and a serious investment, but the opportunity to turn Croatia into a 12-month destination is now.