Last year the Croatian tourism industry recorded the best results from these four markets, so Hina asked the directors of the Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ) offices there about current booking figures for this year, including the forthcoming Easter holidays.
This and the Safe Stay in Croatia project were also discussed earlier this week at HTZ online workshops for the Slovenian and Polish markets. Over 200 participants from Croatia attended, and the two countries’ workshops will soon be held for the Austrian and German markets.
As for the Easter holidays, tourist arrivals from these and other countries are not expected in large numbers because of the third wave of the pandemic and the restrictions that are in place there, as well as because of the existing measures in Croatia, which requires a negative PCR test or a quarantine until PCR test results arrive for travelers wishing to enter the country.
The initial optimism for this tourist season and travel has diminished in many countries as the vaccination process is slower than expected. New, more infectious variants of the coronavirus have emerged, resulting in increased infections.
The director of the HTZ office in Ljubljana, Metka Bradetić, said that Slovenian partners see Croatia as a country where Slovenians will definitely travel to as soon as the conditions allow. She said that they are not worried about the summer and post-summer seasons but that the pre-summer season is uncertain because the epidemiological measures currently in Slovenia are rather strict. It is hard to make any predictions.
“Slovenian owners of real estate and vessels in Croatia can’t wait for relaxation of the border crossing regime,” Bradetić says, noting that the current booking for Croatia is lower than at the same time last year, but that Slovenian tour operators and travel agencies expect stronger last-minute sales.
The director of the HTZ office in Poland, Agnieszka Puszczewicz, said she is pleased with the response to the HTZ business workshop, where Polish partners said they are hoping that their compatriots will be able to travel to Croatia this summer despite the third wave of the pandemic because Croatia is among the most sought-after destinations.
“Our Polish partners stress the importance of information about health safety protocols and the conditions tourists will have to meet to visit Croatia this summer. They all hope that an increase in the number of vaccinated people and those with antibodies will further facilitate travel. The Polish government’s decision on return protocols will also have an impact, and we should also take into account the fact that a PCR test costs 125 euro in Poland,” Puszczewicz said.
She noted that Poles praise Croatia for its handling of last year’s season and hope that this year too, they will spend safe and carefree holidays in Croatia.
Austrians are mostly interested in the conditions for entering Croatia, the cost of PCR and rapid antigen tests and testing sites, the epidemiological and vaccination situation in Croatia, and the country’s plan to open to international tourism, the head of the HTZ office in Austria, Branimir Tončinić, told Hina.
“Assuming that Croatia will be on the green list and that Austria will change its present regime of return to the country with mandatory testing and a 10-day quarantine, even larger visits from this market are possible than in 2020, but only as of June, because Austria has only recently extended the return regime for its citizens until 31 May,” Tončinić said.
Asked about Austrian owners of real estate and vessels in Croatia who, like Slovenians and citizens of other countries, visited Croatia in the pre-summer season last year, he said that they are mainly interested if there are or there will be any regulations allowing them to enter Croatia to check on their property.
“There is a great interest in Croatia among this section of the public because they own property in Croatia where they can stay in isolation with the greatest possible degree of safety from infection. There is currently fear that because of the Austrian border crossing regime, they will not be able to travel abroad unless their country changes the conditions for returning citizens. They are less concerned about the Croatian border regime,” Toničić said.
Similar information also comes from Germany, Croatia’s most important travel market. The director of the HTZ office there, Romeo Draghicchi, says that Germans are eager to travel but are still delaying booking their holidays and following coronavirus developments both at home and abroad.
Tour operators and airlines will adjust their services to destinations for which German authorities will not prescribe a quarantine on return to the country. Everyone agrees that any facilitation of travel between European countries will positively affect the tourist turnover said.
“The number of Germans who visited Croatia in 2020, mostly in the two main summer months, was about 50% lower than that in the record year 2019. If the coronavirus situation gets back to normal before June and lasts until the end of September, this market season could be more successful than last year. Still, total results will depend on the overall situation with the virus in Europe, especially in Croatia,” Draghicchio said.
He said that Germans are mostly asking about general conditions for entering Croatia, including types of testing. At the same time, property owners are mainly interested in simplified entry procedures, such as short-term visits to check their vessel or house.
“Currently, booking for Croatia in Germany is at 30% of last year’s level, but it is expected to pick up in the lead-up to the summer provided that the pandemic subsides. Everyone is hoping for a positive scenario, a longer season, and better results than those achieved in 2020,” Draghicchio said.
He said that “a certain number of Germans” will visit Croatia already for the Easter holidays. They are mostly inquiring about Istria, which is currently designated as a safe travel destination from which Germans can return home without undergoing testing or staying in a quarantine.