Russians Are Coming Back?
Croatian National Tourist Board has organized a Sell Croatia business workshop in Moscow, which officially opened this year’s season of promoting Croatian tourism in the Russian Federation. Russian tour operators have expressed substantial interest for Croatia and for Istria in particular. Although it is hard to expect a great return of Russians to the Adriatic, perhaps we could see the end of the huge drop in the number of tourists from that country, which began with the introduction of visa regime and continued with a large devaluation of the rouble. With 80,000 arrivals and 800,000 overnight stays in 2012, Istria last year dropped to only 32,000 arrivals and 328,000 overnight stays, reports Glas Istre on February 21, 2016.
The Croatian National Tourist Board claims that this year’s workshop has attracted great interest of Croatian tourist companies and had a record number of Croatian participants. The workshop was attended by 50 Croatian tourist companies and about a hundred of their Russian partners, mainly tour operators and agencies.
“Russia has always been an important and interesting market for us. However, due to certain circumstances which had nothing to do with us, in recent years we have recorded a decline in the tourist traffic from this market. Nevertheless, the Croatian National Tourist Board has continuously carried out promotional activities on the Russian market, and we will continue to do it this year as well. There are plans for special presentations of Croatian destinations in several Russian regions, and we will attend the MITT Fair in Moscow. We have also launched a profile on Russia’s largest social network Vkontake which has more than 100 million active accounts. According to Russian tour operators, this year we might be able to stop the negative trend in the number of Russian tourists”, said Ratomir Ivičić, director of the Main Office of the Croatian National Tourist Board.
The workshop was also attended by the president of the Association of Croatian Travel Agencies Boris Žgomba who said he was satisfied with the interest of Russian tourists, but did not expect any big surprises. “I am pleased that the Russian tour operators have shown great interest in Istria. I believe that this market will begin to grow at a certain percentage. However, we do not expect any big changes in the numbers because our Croatian partners do not have much available capacity for Russian tourists since they have been replaced by other guests”, said Žgomba.
He added that it was still too early for any forecasts since the Russians are quite late to book their travels, and the standard of living in Russia has worsened due to the large devaluation of the rouble. “Local tour operators have stressed the problem of visa regime, but the biggest problem which we cannot solve is the big drop in the value of the Russian currency, which fell by 50 percent in just six months. Their purchasing power has plummeted and the middle class is almost gone. And these are the guests who were coming to Croatia before the crisis and who had travelled the most”, said Žgomba.