Tourism experts from the region gather in Zagreb for the fifth Adria Hotel Forum.
Minister of Tourism of the Republic of Croatia Gari Cappelli opened the fifth Adria Hotel Forum at the Sheraton Hotel on February 8, 2017. The two-day event is one of the Europe’s leading hotel-investment conferences, bringing together numerous representatives of the hotel industry and tourism from all across the region. Under the slogan “Development and Beyond” 57 speakers and moderators are participating at the conference in several themed panels on changes in the world and their impact on tourism and the hotel industry, the development of infrastructure and continental tourism, new trends and investment demand.
Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli pointed out that tourism is one of the most important economic activities in Croatia, as well as an important activity of the Croatian economy. According to the data, the share of tourism in the national GDP is about 18 percent, while tourism-generated employment is over 9 percent. Foreign currency income from tourism in 2015 for Croatia amounted to 7.9 billion euros, 8.5 billion euros in 2016 but this is planned to hit EUR 14.5 billion by 2020.
Minister Cappelli underlined the importance of reducing non-tax levies, health tourism and investing in four- and five-star hotels in Croatia. He said about 800 million euros would be invested in tourism this year. He emphasized that Croatia, as a competitive tourist destination, is 12th among the countries of Southern and Western Europe, behind Spain, France and Italy.
Minister of Economic Development and Technology of the Republic of Slovenia Zdravko Počivalšek, as a co-sponsor of the Forum, pointed that the security is of one of the main elements that attracts tourists.
The forum underlined the obstacles to faster investments not just in Croatia but elsewhere in Southeast Europe, said to be a hit region for investments in tourism and real estate. This was confirmed by representatives of the Starwood, Accor, Orbis, Hilton, Colliers, Odien hotel and real estate groups as well as Croatian consulting companies. Although they all highlight Croatia’s beauties, safety, growing popularity, and investments in products, none have announced any concrete investments or acquisitions, apartfrom expressing general interest in collaborating with local partners, notably in Zagreb and on the islands.
Due to the increasing competition in the hotel industry, tourism must be increasingly oriented to innovation and new experiences for guests. Although the investment climate is favorable ,and foreign investors recognize Croatia’s potentials, there are many problems that they are facing here, such as the administrative difficulties, the reform of the tax system and a lack of skilled workers. There are many examples of foreign investors who are looking for local partners to facilitate their entry to the Croatian market. After the Croatian tax reform, the Croatian Government launched an action plan to reduce administrative costs by 1.5 billion HRK, which would unburden the economy from excessive administration and make investments and business cheaper and simpler.
Another problem of Croatian tourism is its seasonality. „Croatia must orient to the development of continental tourism in order to extend the season and increase tourism revenues“, concluded Minister Cappelli. „ The Croatian Government is already working on it hoping to develop health and congress tourism which would improve continental tourism and extend the season“, he added. Unlike Croatian seasonal tourism, Minister Počivalšek pointed out that in Slovenia the season lasts all year thanks to its well-developed continental tourism.