Croatian Tourism 2020 and Coronavirus: Let’s Postpone the Season

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March 29, 2020 – How will Croatian Tourism 2020 look like? Paradox Hospitality CEO Zoran Pejovic on why we should postpone the season, and what that means. 

Yes, there is a possibility that the pandemic will not be over before the height of the summer. Yes, there is a possibility that it might take another 12 months to tackle this crisis. However, in case that we start defrosting sometime in June and ramping up again in July and end up having good August and September, what we are doing to mitigate some of the effects of the lost preseason, of April, May and June? I am going to be kind here and assume that things are being done as we speak, but due to the lack of available information I am going to suggest the three most obvious measures that need to be taken at this point, other than direct financial relief to those who are directly affected by the crisis, especially to those that are legally forbidden to continue with their businesses:

Here are some of my thoughts that I hope Croatian National Tourist Board and Ministry of Tourism are already considering.

Start communicating to the World

I see no communication from Croatian tourism bodies towards the world. I see no visibility or messages of well-being towards the world. I have already written in the importance of staying visible and communicating as well as the type of messages we should be sending out to the world. Here is just one example, of us telling again the stories of Hvar Island literally being a health sanitarium, or the story of more than 600 wild medicinal, aromatic and honey plant species in Croatia, 120 of which are traditionally used in folk medicine, food, oils, spirits, and more. These are perfect stories to tell, they encompass both promotion and prevention emotions dealing in health aspects, well-being and safety simultaneously.

Here are also examples of how Portugal and South Africa have started communicating:

Negotiate with and incentivize airline companies to continue flying pass the current dates

If we take Split as an example, and If we look at the current flight schedules, most of the flights finishing throughout September, some even at the end of August. We need to have the continuous influx of flights throughout October and even November. October must make up for May and November must be our new April.

The airlines are hurting badly, and they are looking for government subsidies, but they are also trying to reschedule flights rather than return money for the tickets. So, perhaps it might be in their best interest to continue flying late into the year as well, much later than initially planned. We will have late start to the season but need to push well into the late fall if we are to salvage anything from 2020.

Shift the focus and start planning “Autumn 2020” project

Autumn can’t be about “sea and sun”, so this is a perfect opportunity to let go of some of the stereotypical views of Croatia as only a summer destination. If schools have managed to go online within a week, and some of the administrative apparatus managed to move closer to the 21. century within weeks, we can finally present Croatian tourism brand as a fusion of culture, history and gastronomy, all underscored with the strong wellness message. All messaging has to reflect this new narrative.

Short term speaking focus back almost entirely towards the most resilient markets, and in this case that means, the wealthiest ones so the Nordics, Switzerland, Benelux countries and Germany. Advertising budgets need to be channeled from Asia and United States to the European emitting markets.

This also means that the ferry lines need to keep going longer into the fall, national parks must stay open longer and many other concessions and trade-offs have to be undertake, some of which might even include free highway tolls for those that are driving to Croatia.

If we don’t salvage something of 2020, assuming the pandemic allows, 2021 will not be a year of recovery, but a year of complete mess and disarray.

You can read more on this subject of post-coronavirus travel from Zoran here:

Travel Industry: Keep Communicating and Visibility

Build Scenarios! Be Present! Take Time to Think!

Post-Coronavirus Travel and Tourism: Some Predictions

You can connect with Zoran Pejovic via LinkedIn.


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