Strong Croatian Presence at Largest Russian Tourist Fair

Total Croatia News

Where are you, old friends?

MITT, one of the five largest tourism fairs in the world, is closing today. Those countries which consider Russian tourists to be important visitors did not miss their “four days of glory”. Attending the fair were 1,800 travel agencies, companies, airlines and hotels from 192 countries and regions, and the number of visitors will climb to 35,000.

Similar to the past years, Croatia had a top-notch booth design that certainly did not go unnoticed, and it included several hoteliers from Istria, travel agencies and tourist offices. There was no kulen, plum brandy, klapa groups or tamburitzas, but there were smiles and hospitality. We always wonder if this is enough to “seduce” the demanding Russian tourists and old friends, especially this year when we expect so much from them? The Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) in Moscow is making every effort to attract the visitors from Russia, and the booth was also visited by Deputy Tourism Minister Robert Pauletić. He met with the director of the Department for Tourism and Regional Policy Olga Jarilova and the acting director of the Department for International Relations Olga Andonjeva in the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, who expressed satisfaction with the establishment of a joint working group on tourism. The first working group meeting should be held in late April in Zagreb.

This would be the turning point in the Russian-Croatian cooperation in the field of tourism. As a part of the meeting where they will talk about activities in the area of cooperation in tourism in the next three years, a B2B workshop of the Russian and Croatian tour operators will be held. Pauletić has proposed a month of Russian tourism to be organised in Croatia, around the time when Russian school holidays begin on 25 May, lasting until 20 June. In this way, an inflow of tourists from Russia would intensify during the pre-season. According to Maja Lomidze, director of ATOR (Association of Russian Tour Operators), despite the economic situation in Russia, the interest in Croatia is growing significantly.

“The number of Russian tourists has been declining in recent years, but they are perhaps our most valuable guests, because they stay in Croatia for more than eight days on average, and they are great consumers (spending around 120 euros per day). Who would not want such a tourist who stays long and spends a lot? We are talking to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the introduction of multi-entry visas in order to possibly reduce the total visa-issuing costs for Russian tourists”, said Pauletić who epmhasized that they will keep working on better transport connections.

The meetings in Moscow were attended by Rajko Ružička, director of the HTZ office in Moscow; Boris Žgomba, president of UHPA; and Rina Eterović Goreta, temporary Charge d’Affaires of the Croatian Embassy in Moscow with her associates. The Deputy Minister met with several representatives of large Russian tour operators, such as PAKS, Natali Tours, Coral Travel and TUI Russia. Croatia has welcomed 112,000 tourists from Russia last year, who had 866,000 overnight stays. Last year, Russia was the 16th market in the number of overnight stays in Croatia, with a share of 1.08 percent in total overnight stays.

“Great news is that twice the number of charter flights (from Moscow to Split, Dubrovnik, Pula…) is expected in comparison with the last year and Croatia Airlines starts regular flights from Zagreb to Saint Petersburg. If twenty percent more Russian tourists would come, it would be a cause for celebration”, concluded Pauletić, stressing that they are not optimistic enough to start throwing big numbers around because the projections say that, because of the crisis, a smaller number of Russians will travel during the holidays.

Visas, visas, visas…
“Visas are a problem and we are continuously working on it. Tourism Minister Anton Kliman has proposed the issuance of visas valid for several years, which would be much more convenient. Russian guests who come this year would therefore not bother with the same procedure the next year as well. The idea is currently in the stage of consideration and operationalisation. In Russia, there are 19 checkpoints where visas can be issued and we are trying to make the process easier and faster. We have even been thinking about covering a part of the costs”, Pauletić said.


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