Croatian National Tourist Board Director: As Many As Possible Should Be Vaccinated by Tourist Season

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Croatian National Tourist Board Director
Croatian National Tourist Board Director

After months of Europe in lockdown and uncertainty that lasted throughout the winter, the start of mass vaccination has restored some optimism that the pandemic will soon be defeated. With optimism, thinking about the little things that enrich life like travel and vacations came back too.

The beginning of February brought the first significant wave of reservations for tourist accommodation in Istria, mostly guests from the German market. In the region where most of the revenue comes from this activity, all news about plans and announcements for next summer are eagerly awaited.

Glas Istre’s journalists talked to the Croatian National Tourist Board (CNTB) director Kristjan Staničić about this topic and the expectations for the upcoming season. Announcing a series of promotional activities of the CNTB in the essential markets, Staničić confirms that this recently reawakened optimism for a solid tourist season is definitely not without grounds.

“We are in constant and direct contact with the markets through our representative offices and partners. According to the information we have, interest in travel exists, and with the intensification of vaccination throughout Europe, it is growing even more. The result is certain accommodation reservations for the upcoming season, which have also intensified recently. However, these figures are, of course, much lower than in previous, so to speak, ‘normal’ years.

Given the current situation, it is to be expected that the tourist season will begin in late May or early June. This means that, given the situation and the epidemic that prevails in all European countries, we have moved a little towards the summer months. But one should be optimistic, and two messages should be sent to the public.

The first is that we must continue to be very disciplined in implementing all measures because this is effective and results in a decline in the number of infected people. This means that it is mainly up to us what kind of picture we will have and how we will enter the season.

The second message is related to the importance of vaccination against COVID-19 and the tendency to vaccinate as many people as possible by the beginning of the tourist season because then it will mean that the pandemic will come within some reasonable framework that allows us to start tourist traffic,” said Staničić.

What can individual tourist regions expect from the upcoming season, and how will they be promoted?

When we look at the regions, it is certain that Istria and Kvarner, but also the northern tourist regions, have a particular advantage because they are closer to key markets such as neighboring Italy, Slovenia, Hungary, but also a slightly wider environment of Austria, Germany, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. But, of course, we also carry out activities in other markets. It is extremely important for us how we will rehabilitate our southern regions, primarily the Split or Dubrovnik area, which is dependent on air traffic.

Therefore, we are active in, for example, the market of Great Britain, Scandinavia, but also other markets. However, our great advantage over the competition is the proximity of the main markets, i.e., the fact that we are primarily a car destination and 83 percent of tourists come to Croatia by car. In that sense, we will conduct the most important marketing campaigns that will start, depending on the situation, sometime in the spring.

What needs to be emphasized is that we will primarily run marketing campaigns in 11 markets and that each campaign will be tailored to each country’s specifics.

When we talk about promotion in a pandemic, many classic channels have fallen into the background. How does tourism promotion actually work in the conditions of the “new normal”?

Of course, the coronavirus has accelerated certain processes, primarily in the direction of digitalization. Last year and the year before, we started promoting it more intensively through digital communication channels, which proved to be very effective. We have been present in the digital space all along. From the last tourist season until today, we have implemented several marketing campaigns on digital communication channels and social networks.

I will only mention the last one, which we started earlier this year. The campaign’s name was “Croatia full of new beginnings,” and over 30 million people have seen it in the past month and a half. We have many impressions, and more than two million people even went a step further and were interested in specific reservations. So digital communication channels are certainly one of the most important tools we use in this period in the promotion and so it will be in the future.

As for tourism fairs which are also an important form of promotion in certain markets, the most important of them have also been held this year or will be held online like the London and Berlin fairs. We are, of course, present at them with specific presentations and use the opportunity to meet domestic and foreign stakeholders in tourism through virtual platforms.

On this occasion, I would also like to commend our Brand and Production Department within the CNTB, which designed a unique platform and went in the direction of enabling b2b workshops and virtual meetings that we organize in cooperation with our offices, which proved to be very good.

How do you choose the tourist market segments that you are targeting with promotional actions, especially before this season?

The CNTB always plans its promotional activities based on very relevant indicators, analyzes, and market trends. Given the coronavirus pandemic circumstances, we have focused on promoting those products in this segment and, in that sense, the most sought after. Staying outdoors, staying in separate facilities, and even nautical tourism were segments that were very pronounced last year.

Likewise, we have focused on specific products that are attractive to certain niche markets and tourist groups. Digital nomads, for example, are just one such group, but we have such an approach in other campaigns as well, and it has proven to be correct given the effectiveness of the campaigns themselves.

At the end of last year, we also measured our strength of the tourist brand and received the information that in the previous period, despite the coronavirus, we have grown in its recognizability. Two elements came to the fore, namely our natural beauty and attractiveness, and security and proximity to the market, which last year proved to be one of the key elements that made Croatia the number one destination in the Mediterranean.

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