Gari Cappelli Assures ‘Everything is Under Control’ for Tourist Season

Daniela Rogulj

Minister of Tourism Gari Cappelli was a guest on the HRT show ‘Now the Government’. As expected, before the beginning of spring, there is a lot of talk about the upcoming tourist season, reports T.portal on March 20, 2019. 

Last week, reduced bookings for Croatia were announced, and those that panicked declared that the season would fail.

“Tourists reserve accommodation later, and we have to get used to it. There will be bookings in April and May. As for the preseason, we have about 13 percent more tourists and about 9 percent more overnight stays. Current predictions speak of a small minus in the peak season, but in the end, it should be at the level of last year’s results,” says Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli, adding that new markets are opening up.

The US and China have double-digit growth in the number of tourists in Croatia. The British market began to grow, though it undoubtedly slowed down after Brexit announcements. Minuses can be seen in countries such as Spain, France or Portugal, which are essential destinations for British tourists. At the same time, the minister of tourism claims that the growth of British bookings in Croatia is 3 to 5 percent.

As for other traditional markets, everything is under control.

“Italy and Austria are somewhere in the middle, Slovenia has a slight growth, Germany was a bit in the minus, but we expect things to straighten out. Russia again has made a huge step forward, and has grown about 20 percent.”

Easter this year falls on April 21, which is often an indicator of how the season will continue. Cappelli says a 10 percent increase is expected as many will enjoy Easter until May 1, which could be an “outstanding two weeks”. 

Some legal changes related to tourism have also been announced, and membership fees, sojourn tax and the system of tourist boards will be discussed. The counties will discuss the increase in the sojourn tax in the future, and the minister believes that they will have some significant breakthroughs. 

“We will determine the minimum and maximum sojourn tax in the rulebook, but the final decision will be made by the counties. We also want to set up the Croatian Tourist Board as a promotion agency, for example, like Italy, Austria or Portugal did a few years ago.”

In Dubrovnik, a sojourn tax for cruisers will be introduced by a new law. Similarly, it could happen in Zadar, Split, and other major cities. 

Cappelli added that private renters have flooded the market and account for 60% of the total accommodation capacities in Croatia.

“The problem is that more than 70 percent are apartments and rooms with three stars. We intended to equate quality. The market will regulate the surplus of apartments, and the loans offered are to give renters an opportunity to raise their quality. Already last season showed that there was a surplus and it is a warning that we should not continue to register new apartments and private facilities, but to upgrade them.”

Investments in tourism in recent years grew by 40 percent. There are several large facilities, and there are significant investments in camping tourism. Croatia lacks large hotel chains and larger hotel capacities. We have ten percent less than what we should, Cappelli added.

“We will continue having this problem because the tourist season has been extended. We also have the first direct line between Philadelphia – Dubrovnik, three times a week. We have realized the possibility that objects can be opened a month to a month and a half earlier, and that some work until the New Year. We must send a message that we are no longer a seasonal destination.” 

Cappelli added that funds had been invested in additional medical teams on the coast.

“Next year, we should introduce a helicopter service, and build six new ships for transporting patients. There’s a lot of work here, but a lot of progress has been made. They all understood that they must be in the service of tourism,” the minister concluded.

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