Is Croatian Nautical Tourism Truly Floundering This Year?

Lauren Simmonds

croatian nautical tourism

August the 22nd, 2023 – Croatian nautical tourism excelled in a rather unprecedented way back during the pandemic and shortly after it ended. Why does it appear to be under-performing this year, and with satisfied guests, is it something to even be worried about?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Šibenik-Knin County has the most extensive and, according to many, the most attractive waters. That said, Croatian nautical tourism in that part of the country is down 4.3 percent this year compared to 2022. However, this doesn’t really worry the tourism sector too much. They say that 2022 was noticeably better even than the record pre-pandemic year of 2019 due to a combination of circumstances.

The decline has mostly been felt by the charter fleet, and this has been seen in the decline in demand for the largest and most expensive vessels. There’s no need to start scrambling for better statistics, a higher number of arrivals and overnight stays, according to the profession, but the goal of Croatian nautical tourism as a sector must be a quality offer and better income, according to a report from HRT.

It’s still too early to say much about this season yet

“It’s currently still too early to say whether this summer season has been a worse season. The quantitative data speaks in favour of this, but there’s been a decline in the demand for slightly larger vessels, and that in a not so worrisome percentage, from a mere 4 to 6 percent. Taking into account the increase in the prices of all possible services, including in the Croatian nautical tourism sector, I think we need to exercise some patience so we can see the financial effect of all this. I’m an optimist. The time of sudden and constant growth has passed. We can be happy to have a season like the one we’ve had,” said Sean Lisjak, vice president of the Association of Nautical Tourism at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK).

Lisjak also pointed out that prices in the Croatian nautical tourism sector increased minimally, taking into account inflation and the increase in other prices, from energy products to the costs of arriving at the destination itself. The marinas themselves also raised their prices by 6 to 12 percent in some segments. He emphasised that surveys have shown that the guests are very satisfied with the quality of the service they’re offered and that there’s nothing they are extremely dissatisfied with.

“We can still work on the variety of commercial services, better restaurants, but that’s where we come into another sphere that we often talk about – let’s adapt our legal solutions to that and we’ll be able to do that too. Unfortunately, the current solutions we have aren’t particularly good, especially now that the Law on Maritime Property has been passed, which didn’t look quite deeply enough into the future. That’s what worries us”, believes Lisjak.

The concession issue is a big one

“If you look at any of Croatia’s marinas that have been under construction for 30 years, you now have the ACI system, whose concessions will soon expire. If we stick to the platitude that when the concession expires, you practically have to go to the tender and apply again for the same location that you practically built yourself and put yourself in a situation where you lose that concession to what’s offered by your competitor, it’s not a good situation,” believes Lisjak.

Much less interest in luxury vessels

It still goes without saying that Croatian nautical tourism this year has been lagging considerably behind last year’s achievements. In the county with the most moorings and the most attractive water area – there was a drop of about 4 percent in July. The charter fleet under-performed, and this refers primarily to the rental of the most luxurious vessels, in which there has been a significant drop in interest.

“We have a situation where we had some good circumstances for two years. We now have a situation of recovery of other competitive markets. We’ve seen an increase in the fleet, for example, in nearby Greece. We have, of course, a general situation regarding inflation and its impact on budgets and on our primary guests and markets,” explained Paško Klisović, the president of the Association of Croatian Nautical Tourism at HGK.


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