Mali Losinj Tourist Board Takes Corona-Era Tourism Challenges in Stride

Daniela Rogulj

Romulic & Stojcic

Romulic & Stojcic

September. 27, 2020 – This year, the Mali Losinj Tourist Board made the most of the COVID crisis, from communication, campaigns, ideas, and, most of all, proactivity. The Ferry Free campaign is just one example.

Namely, Goran Rihelj of HRTurizam writes that the Mali Losinj Tourist Board launched the FERRY FREE campaign to attract visitors in September. Thus, for visitors staying in September for more than seven nights, the Tourist Board co-finances return ferry tickets in the facilities that responded to the invitation.

“In our main markets, we have conducted, and still carry out in some, the marketing campaign ‘Losinj – Your island oasis’ with the action ‘Ferry Free’ where guests who come in September and stay at least seven nights, we reduce the price of accommodation by taking care of the return ferry ticket for both vehicles and passengers,” points out Dalibor Cvitkovic, director of the Mali Losinj Tourist Board.

Because the tourist season ended abruptly as the borders closed,  the course and efficiency of the action were disrupted, but the action has borne concrete results in the current framework.

“During September, following the ‘Ferry Free’ campaign, we expect to achieve more than 5,000 overnight stays, which is a direct consequence of the campaign. Of course, we expected a greater economic effect, but our main markets are closed, and most of the guests who took advantage of the action were guests from Germany. According to everything, we can be satisfied, and in cooperation with partners, we plan to continue the action next year. On the contrary, we plan to expand it even more, through more terms; in the pre- and post-season, as well as to focus especially on domestic guests,” said Cvitkovic.

Yet even in these current frameworks, the action has proven to be successful. If we consider that the average consumption of tourists on Losinj is around 100 euro, then it is slightly lower in the COVID crisis (approximately 80 euro). Thus, we come to a simple calculation that, thanks to this action, 400,000 euro was generated in September – which is more than great success. Of course, this is a rough estimate. And September is still here.

When asked how he would comment on the summer season, Cvitkovic said they were satisfied, following the initial announcements. The bitter taste of unrealized tourist traffic in the second part of the season remained. “We are to blame for the increase in the number of infections, which, of course, reflected on the whole situation. The question is whether we have learned anything this year,” adds Cvitkovic.

It is possible to have tourism during the coronavirus pandemic, but we all have to adhere to epidemiological measures, emphasizes Cvitkovic, and this season has shown that, among other things.

“For the first eight months, we achieved an index of 58 in overnight stays, but we hoped that the post-season would have higher numbers. What makes us happy, both in the whole of Croatia and also on Losinj, was that there were no COVID cases in accommodation capacities. Also, despite many people and common rooms, hotel accommodation did not have a single case of new patients, nor were they hotspots. And we know how hotels are generators of consumption and employment and how important they are for every tourist destination,” Cvitkovic points out and says that on the other hand, the Headquarters must work on putting out some possible hotspots faster and more efficiently.

“Synergy within the tourism sector is important, and the Institute of Public Health is currently one of our main partners. We have to form teams to be ready to do the testing quickly, so in less than 72 hours, we have test results. This is a key issue for guests. Also, we all need to network much better, to have a health care system behind us, and to make tests and reservations on time – everything was ad hoc this year, but now we have the opportunity to plan the whole system and story in 2021. Now we are much smarter and more prepared for the whole situation and the challenges that tourism brings during the COVID-19 crisis,” adds Cvitkovic.

In case one of the guests has coronavirus symptoms, the Mali Losinj Tourist Board, in cooperation with everyone in the destination, has prepared clear protocols this year and an “insurance policy” for guests.

Namely, in case of suspicion of COVID-19, the guest does not go to the doctor alone but must contact the hotel’s reception or the owner of the accommodation. Then the questionnaire made by the Losinj Tourist Board is filled in, and the hotel or the landlord calls the doctor and the epidemiological service. Also, Losinj is the first destination in Croatia that covers the cost of accommodation and meals for guests or their families in case of self-isolation.

The lesson for next year is that it is difficult to plan anything. Still, we must be ready to react quickly, as this year, says Cvitkovic and adds: “The situation will change from day to day and therefore we will have more plans because we cannot know in advance what will happen, but we must be ready for all situations,” says Cvitkovic and announces that the Losinj Tourist Board is preparing more action protocols for next year.

“We have to be ready to react very quickly and make decisions quickly. That is why synergy is important and that we have prepared several scenarios. From campaigns, communications to protocols. The 2021 season will not be significantly different than this one. Losinj will continue to be primarily a resting place for holidayers and car tourists.”

Now we have time to prepare well for next year, and as Cvitkovic says, we are much smarter than at the beginning of the crisis.

“Sun and sea, outdoor, wellness, gastronomy – this form of tourism is good for us, our biggest markets recognize it, but I would like to dedicate more time to the domestic guest. Here, the State could turn Cro cards into Cro vouchers, not to put everything at the employer’s expense, but to co-finance partly or 100% as in Slovenia. I think it would be a great opportunity for 2021 to raise the number of domestic guests, because they have no limits with borders, and the domestic guest is more than a good guest. Also, the presentation of new cases from the national level should certainly be viewed in all regions, even destinations. For example, this year, we had zero patients on the island, while in Rijeka, for example, the picture was different. And there were many more such examples,” Cvitkovic concludes.

Quick reaction, communication, synergy, proactivity, courage, and readiness for action are the qualities that adorned the Mali Losinj Tourist Board this year. 

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