Can September be Saved? A Look at Fate of Tourism in Split

Daniela Rogulj



August 23, 2020 – If Croatia strictly adheres to measures over the next ten days, can September tourism be saved? A look at the situation in Split.

Slobodna Dalmacija writes that maybe this is not the end, but only a short break in this year’s tourist season, because if Croatia manages to reverse the trends in the number of cases in the next 10 days, most of September’s tourist traffic can be saved by working and behaving differently. 

This is what Croatian tourism workers and their partners from abroad have said after the UK, Germany and Slovenia placed Croatia, or its regions, on the list of high-risk countries.

This means that after returning from Croatia, their citizens must undergo mandatory self-isolation for 14 days and/or test negative for the coronavirus.

Although some public officials were shocked by the decisions of these countries, from which Croatia received the most guests this summer, no one is seriously surprised by the restrictions because, well, they weren’t decided overnight.

This summer, everyone abroad was amazed by the leisure with which Croatia lives and entertains tourists, without fear, without masks, restrictions, or distance. Everything that was banned in Italy, France, Switzerland, Austria, in the post-corona era, was allowed in Croatia. And while we interpreted it with our charm and spontaneity, Europe perceived it as – irresponsible.

They monitored, watched, counted and tested citizens on their return from Croatia, and in the end, Croatia arrived in the red. Exclusively and only thanks to too much relaxation and endless tolerance in the name of tourism, weddings, cross-border entries from third countries (BiH, Serbia, Kosovo) and nightclubs were the biggest culprits.

“What is there, is there. You can’t go back now. The United Kingdom, Slovenia and Germany have clearly communicated their criteria for putting us on the red list and there are no questions. They also made it clear to us that they would remove us from that list of high-risk countries as soon as the epidemiological situation improved and the number of those infected decreased. So, again, everything depends only on us. Here, the Slovenes removed Portugal and Austria from that list yesterday because their data on the number of patients is much lower. So, we can do that and be on the list of countries again without restrictions for tourists, but only if in the next 10 days we do literally everything we can to make that happen. All these countries have left the door open for us to be quickly removed from the red list if we make the situation better ourselves,” says Veljko Ostojic, director of the Croatian Tourism Association.

Mandatory self-isolation and coronavirus testing, which the UK has demanded from its citizens on holiday in Croatia since their return since Saturday, have led to a large number of Britons leaving the Adriatic. There were around 20,000 in the country. The most affected by the UK’s decision is certainly Split and Split-Dalmatia County, which welcomes several planes a day on flights from the UK, whose citizens are the most numerous guests in Split.

“Split is certainly the most affected by the decisions of Great Britain and Germany because we welcomed the most guests from those two countries in August, and the announcements and reservations for September were above the planned and expected. But we do not want to talk about the end of the season in any way because we have not given up on tourism even in more complex situations and times. We continue to be present in all markets important to us, primarily those with which Split is connected with about 60 airlines. We hope and will do everything to make the epidemiological situation better and that this is the reason for the arrival of guests who planned to spend September in our city,” said Alijana Vuksic, director of the Split Tourist Board.

And it is the air connections with Europe, which have been heading to Split since July, that have brought Split to the very top of traffic in Croatia in August. Thus, Split, as in the best tourist years, was in third place in terms of tourist visits in August, just behind Rovinj and Porec. Airlines to Split have been confirmed for the whole of September with excellent aircraft occupancy, so the question remains whether the new situation will change those plans.

At Split’s Resnik Airport, the two largest markets in terms of the number of passengers are those from Germany and Great Britain, from where there are a dozen daily flights to Split from several airlines. In August, instead of the planned about 150 thousand passengers, 250 thousand of them arrived in Split, while for September, about 130 thousand passengers were planned to land at Resnik.

However, as both Germany and the United Kingdom update their list of high-risk countries every seven to 10 days, if the situation in Croatia improves in the coming days, tourist traffic in September and already made reservations can still be achieved.

Slovenia also stated that it is ready to react quickly and put Croatia back in the yellow travel zone if the figures confirm it.

“There are currently about 100,000 Slovenes in Croatia and they should return in the next three days. Slovenia wanted to bring the epidemiological situation under control before the start of the school year, now that 80 percent of Slovenes were already on the Adriatic. We in Slovenia really hope that in the coming days, the numbers of cases in Croatia will start to drop and that September will be the most beautiful month of vacation for Slovenes on the Adriatic. There are a lot of older Slovenes and those with preschool children who come to Croatia in September and I believe that will be the case. Now it is like this; we hope that this is a temporary closure and that the unhindered arrival of Slovenes in Croatia will continue again soon. Our government updates the list every week and as soon as Croatia has better numbers, it will be removed for sure. No one is interested in this situation and we hope that it will change quickly,” said Primoz Longyka, editor of the Slovenian tourist magazine “Fokus Plus”, a good connoisseur of Croatian tourism.

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