As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, judging by the last tourist season and the current state of reservations, Croatian 2022 nautical tourism could result in record traffic, but not without some accompanying challenges.
One of the challenges will certainly be disrupted supply chains due to which there will be no new vessels, but Croatia has a comparative advantage because it has a relatively young fleet. Taking everything into account, charterers should finally try to come to their senses and stop lowering their prices to the limits of profitability, especially in the post-season, which is currently filling up rather well indeed in terms of bookings.
This is the message of Selma Cmelnik, the director of the Charter.hr portal, on the occasion of the publication of the analysis of the charter market in 2021, a year which, despite pandemic-induced conditions, was extremely successful for the Croatian nautical tourism segment.
Although there’s somewhat more caution in the pre-season, trends still provide a sense of hope and optimism, but the charter still lacks better strategic planning and unified statistics, believes Cmelnik.
“Boat rental reservations in Croatia for the summer are going very well at the minute, so far everything indicates that Croatian 2022 nautical tourism could hit the records. Currently, the months of July and September appear to be the best, and September has traditionally become a very popular month for sailing, and there are more and more guests.
During the coronavirus pandemic, this segment has proven to be very resilient and desirable to guests, and it’s time to sort out that market, introduce some digital tools, and start thinking in line with trends.
An example is the month of September, a month in which prices are significantly lower than they are in the month before, which is one legacy of the past that is slowly changing in the charter segment, and so profitability is falling. With the increase in supply over recent years, the dumping of prices has appeared in nautical tourism, which should now stop, because the demand is strong,” pointed out Cmelnik.
This was shown last year as well, as stated in the analysis of the Charter.hr portal. Although it started relatively late in early May, the charter season last year achieved some truly outstanding results, with high occupancy of accommodation from June all the way to the end of October 2021.
In the charter season of 2021, 3.1 million overnight stays were realised, equal to about 90 percent of the arrivals recorded back in pre-pandemic 2019, with a reduced fleet of about 500 vessels when compared to the pre-pandemic year. Therefore, with the increased demand, the capacity was also quickly filled up.
”The arrival numbers of guests from certain markets have doubled compared to 2020. The traditional markets of Germany, Austria and Slovenia continued to show their loyalty in arrivals, as did the Czechs and the Slovaks. That said, last year also saw the largest number of guests from the United States to date. We can rightly speak of a kind of discovery of Croatia as a nautical destination for guests from America,” noted Cmelnik.
It is predicted that charters and nautical tourism will be on the rise across all spheres precisely because of the easily sustainable safety and privacy parameters. Looking at the bigger picture, nautical tourism saw its opportunity, both because of the delayed bookings in 2020 that shifted to last year, and because of the flexibility that charter companies have shown. The biggest change that stood out were inquiries for longer-term rentals, ie the amount of time that guests wanted to spend on board increased.
There are many parameters that the current charter statistics don’t actually record, in addition to being partially unavailable, warned Selma Cmelnik, who is looking forward to the opening of new databases announced by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure for this year.
“The eCrew system, which is integrated with the eVisitor system, published by the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ), gives us data only when guests are actually in Croatia. Charter companies need to review the trends before guests do arrive so that they can more easily plan their sales and marketing strategies for the season and during the season,” believes Cmelnik, who is actively working on the availability of this data so that the market can be better researched and monitored.
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