Expectations from the tourist season are more optimistic than last year. Still, the epidemiological picture and the readiness of destinations to provide the highest level of service and convince tourists that they are safe on holiday is crucial, says the director of Rixos Premium Dubrovnik Ayhan Basci on Novac.hr.
“More tourist arrivals and hotel reservations in Dubrovnik can be expected from the end of June and July, when we could see the first results of the opening of new airlines from the USA, Moscow, Poland, Ukraine, Israel, Paris, Lyon, Luxembourg, and others. Vaccination is certainly a key tool that will enable a return to a kind of ‘normality.’ However, tourists will certainly be measured by the general situation in a particular destination and the level of measures implemented to ensure a favorable epidemiological picture. This certainly includes Ccovid passports as well as the availability of tests. I believe that the combination of all these tools will make the season more successful than last year,” Basci said in an interview with Hina.
Basci notes that countries such as Spain, Greece, Portugal, and others have undertaken numerous promotional and other activities for the summer to attract tourists. At the same time, when asked about the offer and prices, he says that in Dubrovnik, as elsewhere, prices are higher than last year.
“This is not uncommon given the circumstances. Higher prices are an indicator and expected higher demand this summer. Other Rixos hotels in the United Arab Emirates or Turkey have similar prices. However, this season will be more specific in terms of what security and unique destination experience it can provide guests, not at the cost of accommodation,” Basci says.
Regarding tourist demand and supply this year in the still present pandemic, he believes that countries that have approached the vaccination process seriously and where it is taking place without delay should not have problems with the number of reservations and tourist arrivals.
“It is essential for each of us today that travel is a safe zone, and free time and money earned are valued more than before, and in that sense, it is not enough to offer only ‘sun and sea.’ Tourism and hospitality workers should provide their guests with the added value of a destination based on service and offering the highest quality, from top gastronomy to entertainment, nature tours, and more, and destinations that offer selective forms of tourism will be more successful and competitive even after a pandemic,” he adds.
He points out that the biggest advantage of Croatia is its beauty with untouched Mediterranean nature, recognizable history, heritage, and culture, which is why it is regularly placed on the lists of the world’s most desirable destinations and is a member of the EU, and is easily accessible to the European market and can respond to almost all the requirements of the new generation of passengers.
“I see certain shortcomings of Croatian tourism in the limited number of high-quality tourist and catering staff, which is the result of a large number of young people leaving the country for economic reasons. Therefore, Croatia should be more open to foreign workers,” Basci said.
He adds that in the offer of luxury tourism, high-paying guests must be provided with added value through services and continuous review and improvement of their own capacities to provide the best to guests.
Therefore, according to him, a stronger synergy of the private and public sectors is needed, which should cooperate more in managing the destination and agreeing on minimum standards for all levels of services, which everyone then follows and implements.
This would lead to year-round tourism that Croatia can have, so Dubrovnik and other most famous destinations should be open all year round and provide services continuously, says Basci.
“For example, Dubrovnik currently differs from the Cote d’Azur in that it is possible to fly to southeastern France at any time of the year, and hotels, restaurants, bars, shopping, and more are available in winter. If this level of service availability were ensured in Dubrovnik, we would certainly have guests in the winter as well, which would result in several benefits for the local population and the economy as a whole,” says the hotelier.
Noting that the Rixos group has been present in Dubrovnik with one hotel for more than 16 years and that 150 million kuna was invested in its renovation last year, which was the highest for Dubrovnik tourism last year. Basci added that they are ready to receive guests looking for luxury a five-star lifestyle hotel, which is also a certain turnaround in the business.
“The challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic to the tourism sector have adversely affected the business of the Rixos Group, as well as other businesses operating in the field of tourism. However, I am proud that none of the 180 full-time employees at the Rixos Premium Dubrovnik hotel was fired, even though the hotel was empty, and we did all the professional practices,” Basci points out.
Rixos, like other hotel chains, has seen a drop in revenue in the pandemic but hopes for better results this season.
He says that Rixos Premium Hotel is one of the most luxurious in Croatia and one of eight in the world. When asked why he thinks there are not more luxury hotels in Croatia, he says that the answer can be found in destination management.
“The public and private sectors should join forces and, through destination management, strengthen the turn towards the development of a luxury segment of the market, in which there is no place for mass. Luxury tourism for a destination has several advantages, especially in the context of sustainability and minimizing environmental and community impacts. Although Dubrovnik can also benefit from cruises, I think that the development of elite tourism and ensuring the presence of high-paying guests is a better direction for the destination, with not only a luxury hotel offer but the entire offer of places, including quality shopping, excellent restaurants, rent luxury boats, renowned clubs, beaches and the like. In that sense, I see more room for progress in the offer and facilities of Dubrovnik,” says Basci.
Asked whether Rixos is considering or planning a new acquisition or investment in Croatia, Basci said he always analyzes market opportunities, but also that it would make it easier for entrepreneurs who want to do business in Croatia, including the hotel industry, to simplify the entire investment system and related administrative steps.
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