May 8, 2020 — Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli claimed yesterday requests from countries wanting Croatia to reopen its border this summer flooded his office. Their wish may come true.
A source consulting with the Civil Protection Directorate on reopening hospitality businesses said Croatia may start loosening border restrictions starting next month, adding the announcement may come as early as this afternoon.
Croatia could first reopen its border with Slovenia on June 1, followed by Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, and Austria on June 15, the source said.
The reopenings would be subject to continued success in controlling the coronavirus, both within Croatia and the other countries.
Opening the borders would signal an unofficial end to the intense anti-pandemic measures Croatia put in place after its first confirmed affection arrived in late February. The country has already pulled back stay-at-home orders, and hospitality businesses will reopen next Monday.
It would also be one of the first countries to allow movement from other member states within the bloc. The European Union will apparently let members dictate border policy via bilateral agreements, rather than unified protocols.
The epidemiological measures and constraints weren’t clear, the source said, but would be presented in the announcement.
Border reopenings remain the last stage in Croatia’s transition to something resembling normalcy in the coronavirus era. The move signals the government’s hopes to salvage what’s left of the economically vital tourism season, which usually drives up to one-fifth of the nation’s GDP.
Cappelli said there were very few cancelations for July and August, suggesting the tourism season may bounce back better than expected
“Italians are still hoping to come to Croatia,” he said ahead of a government meeting in Zagreb yesterday. “Not to mention Slovenia, Austria, the Czech Republic.”
Croatia’s not alone in its desire to move past strict measures. Neighboring Slovenia is reportedly also seeking a way out of the current restrictions, hoping to rescue what’s been a complete loss on a summer tourist season.
The nation has also lobbied Croatia to cut back on travel restrictions for its citizens, many of whom own weekend homes along in Dalmatian. Opening the border for Slovenians would refill many empty houses on islands and along the coast, some of whom also offer accommodations during the summer.
Slovenia is also Croatia’s second-largest source of guests, accounting for 10 percent of overnight stays.
Italians remain off the radar in all discussions. The country’s coronavirus ordeal has statistically crested, and the government recently loosened some restrictions on daily life. But Croatia could be able to push back on opening the borders with Italy until August, when their tourists flood the coast.