With Domestic Tourism Encouraged, Can Croatia Attract Foreign Tourists?

Lauren Simmonds

Croatia currently has a very favourable epidemiological picture. The battle with coronavirus has gone well here, and the numbers of both those infected and those who have unfortunately died remain very small indeed. Croatia was praised by Oxford University for its stringent anti-epidemic measures, and with other European countries like the United Kingdom and Italy suffering horrifically, Croatia deserves praise. With that being said, can Croatia attract foreign tourists at all this season?

More and more countries are leaning towards incentives to keep their nationals and residents within their country’s borders and to take holidays and other leisure trips to different destinations at home, as opposed to travelling abroad. With these incentives on the rise, the question: Can Croatia attract foreign tourists to its shores to save at least part of 2020’s season? is growing ever louder.

Croatia is also trying to encourage domestic tourism, but with pockets empty and the immediate economic situation looking rather bleak, one has to ask just how Croatian families will afford travel this year, especially when staying in the homes of friends and relatives, as well as summer homes along the coast is much more normal for Croatia’s residents than booking stays in hotels is.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 7th of May, 2020, it wasn’t only Croatia that came up with the idea of ​​encouraging domestic tourists to stay within the country’s borders in order to spend the money intended for trips that would otherwise be spent abroad here at home. Now we have a new problem with the attempt at rescuing this year’s tourist season. In the countries from which most tourists come to Croatia, holidays at home are being actively encouraged.

Croatia is in a line with the likes of Greece, Spain, Italy, Turkey and more, entire lists of countries that primarily live from tourism revenue that will do their best to keep as many domestic tourists within their borders and thus help their own the economies are growing longer and longe, but not all governments have announced their plans yet, according to a report from Večernji list. Could Croatia therefore seek to attract foreign tourists after all?

In Germany, which puts tens of millions of tourists out ”into the world” per year (about three million German citizens come to spend their holidays in Croatia), spending a holiday in one’s own country has never been more topical.

Holidays within German borders are chosen by about 35 percent of Germans in pre-coronavirus times, and now, disciplined and aware as the Germans so famously are, they will not need to listen to too many explanations as why it’s good to spend their euros at home as opposed to abroad in 2020.

If there is no continued escalation of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, German tourist hosts even believe that some German destinations which aren’t that used to massive volumes of traffic could face a real tourist invasion.

In neighbouring Slovenia, holidays at home, within the country’s borders are also being more and more popularised. The Slovenian Government is also preparing tourist vouchers, much like Croatia’s Cro card, to encourage domestic tourist traffic. Croatia’s other neighbours, the Hungarians, also have similar plans in the works for their residents.

The possibility of vouchers being given to employees for the use of annual leave in the Czech Republic and not taxed has already been mentioned there. The value of that voucher would be around 400 euros. By the end of May, it will be known whether the hard-hit Italians will also receive financial support to spend their holidays in their country. Amounts of 300 to 500 euros for an arrangement with at least three nights in an Italian destination are now being discussed. Announcements about the introduction of vouchers for domestic tourism are also coming from Poland.

Can Croatia attract foreign tourists at all this year? Is it time for the country to finally stop resting on its laurels and be more proactive? As the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, and with the concern of a possible second wave brewing, it seems only time will tell.

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