Croatian Tourism Structure Changes Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Lauren Simmonds

The Croatian tourism structure is changing as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and the country is seeing a considerable shift in numbers and arrivals from certain countries.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 8th of August, 2020, a survey conducted among members of the Group of Unique Luxury Hotels of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) showed that the structure of guests in this segment of Croatian tourism has changed significantly. Before the appearance of the new coronavirus, the US was the priority market for most respondents, and now it has become Germany. It is interesting to note that Croatia is increasingly visited by guests who spent their annual leave before the pandemic came to be in exotic destinations far from Europe such as the Bahamas and the Seychelles, and that a large number of them are now coming to Croatia.

“Currently, most of our guests come from the German-speaking areas and from Croatia, and there’s been a noticeable increase in arrivals from Ukraine, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, etc. Most of them are guests who come in their own car, and a number also come by plane, often by private flight. Our experiences with them are extremely positive and in most cases these are guests who are visiting Croatia for the first time, looking for an alternative to the long haul destinations they normally visited. It’s interesting that many noticed how much easier it is to choose a closer destination, and many of them said they’ll come again, given the fact that we met their expectations in terms of a high level of privacy, and the quality of accommodation and services,” said Sandra Juric, the director of sales and marketing at the Meneghetti Hotel, which is a member of the Stories group, Croatian Unique Hotels.

Tomislav Milinovic, the director of the Calvados Club travel agency, has also noticed quite the change in terms of Croatian tourism and its emitting markets.

“Otherwise, our main markets are the United States, Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Australia. Other markets are below 5 percent of total turnover, and the EU market is negligible for us. However, agencies and clients from the European market, mostly from Germany and Scandinavia, are now contacting us, but they’re really only looking for luxury accommodation such as villas, apartments in a luxury hotel or a yacht,” Milinovic explained.

Among the respondents, online advertising dominates in attracting guests, whether it is done on social networks, via Google advertising or on classic sites such as, and to a lesser extent at tourism fairs.

When it comes to advertising on social networks, the markets of greatest interest to all are those of the United Kingdom, Austria and Germany, followed by Slovenia and other European countries.

“We’ve undertaken a number of additional marketing campaigns in collaboration with our long-standing partners, agencies, DMCs, the media and on social media, and the results are tangible. Booking has become exclusively short-term and therefore very unpredictable, but it’s much more intense than we once expected. There are obvious oscillations that show a strong and immediate reaction of guests to any change in the situation in Croatia or surrounding countries. The influence of the media or changes in the policy of individual governments change the picture from day to day,” said Juric of Croatian tourism in the coronavirus age.

Half of the participants in the Croatian Chamber of Commerce survey recorded a shortening of the number of overnight stays since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, while a smaller number recorded an increase or an equal duration of guests’ stay. Most of the respondents introduced benefits and additional facilities in the form of discounts, and to a lesser extent, the offer of gastronomic packages, boat tours and the use of sports facilities. Everyone involved in Croatian tourism emphasises the need to intensify marketing activities in traditionally strong markets that are currently in decline, as well as across all markets from which it is possible to visit Croatia by car.

“We’re continuing with strong marketing activities in the US, Canada, Mexico and Brazil because once lost, some markets are harder to regain than to gain new ones. Therefore, I appeal to the system of tourist boards not to redirect marketing funds intended for promotion in overseas markets. On the contrary, we need to think about the future, because all this will pass one day, and we must be ready for that,” concluded Milinovic.

Through the brand Stories, HGK promotes small luxury hotels that are associated in the Group of unique luxury hotels HGK.

“Our goal is to position ourselves on the international market through top service, a unique offer and a special gourmet experience. The crisis we’re all going through shows new trends, but reaffirms the fact that the product is the most important thing and after this crisis our guests will be looking for small hotels with the most authentic and personal experience even more, which is what Stories hotels base and develop their offer on,” noted Nenad Nizic, President of the Group of Unique Luxury Hotels of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce.

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