As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, no matter how successful they considered this tourist season to be due to the sheer volume of overnight stays and income, it was incidental. Many things which occur in Croatia end up being totally accidental, and this season we had a favourable epidemiological picture to thank more than pretty much anything else. While this summer was fantastic for the domestic economy, finally pumping what it desperately needed back into it after a lean 2020, we actually ended up with what we were declaratively running away from, Croatian mass tourism, which is far from sustainable.
Therefore, in 2022, but also every following year, Croatian tourism should build itself on everything that has been learned throughout the coronavirus pandemic, and that is that guests are looking for quality, premium product and are willing to pay more for it, and that the primary interest is sustainability. Getting excited over rising numbers on the eVisitor system is dying of death, and Croatian mass tourism has done far more harm than good if one dares to glance outside of the state budget’s purse strings.
More cooperation in the EU
In addition to the above, this country’s tourism sector needs to communicate more and set some proper models for building common strategies, and the European Union and its member states all need to work more together to maximise passenger mobility and strengthen people’s confidence in travel safety following this unprecedented public health crisis in which faith in airlines and travel companies was lost.
Some of this was pointed out by the participants in the conference on year-round tourism “Tourism 365” held on Friday in Tuheljske toplice in continental Croatia, with the participation of various ministers and state secretaries in charge of the tourism sector from four European Union countries, and the Prime Ministers of Croatia and Slovenia Andrej Plenkovic and Janez Jansa.
“Our goal is not to stick to counting tourists and arrivals and thinking about how to break records. The goal is sustainable tourism, to have a distributed number of tourists throughout the year. Therefore, the Month of Croatian Tourism project, which is ongoing, is also important to us,” Croatian Tourism Minister Nikola Brnjac stated.
Slovenian Minister of Economy and Technology Development Zdravko Pocivalsek pointed out that even before the coronavirus crisis, Slovenia had begun developing its own model for sustainable tourism, and during the pandemic, they invested more than a billion euros in aid to the tourism sector, including vouchers for residents of Slovenia, which strengthened domestic tourism.
Fernando Valdes Verelst, Spanish Secretary of State for Tourism, stressed the importance of strengthening co-operation between EU countries in the future, in order to stabilise tourist flows.
“There was cooperation this year as well, but it could have been stronger. We also need cooperation in terms of marketing, and the stronger advertising of Europe as a destination towards distant markets, whose opening is expected,” said Verelst. The extention of the tourist season is part of the policy of sustainable tourism, and in the pandemic, Croatia got a historic chance to develop a sustainable product,” said Ivana Budin Arhanic from Valamar, adding that this year tourists showed great interest in quality and premium products.
Kristian Sustar from the Uniline agency warned that we shouldn’t brag too much about this year’s season, so that it doesn’t somehow end up becoming an example of good practice. “We had a fantastic result, but it must be seen for what it was, incidental. In reality, we had three months of work and Croatian mass tourism, and that isn’t what we say we want,” concluded Sustar.
For more on sustainable tourism, check out our travel section.