Jutarnji List reports that given the efforts made by the United Kingdom and the United States to vaccinate their populations, it should come as no surprise that European tourism-dependent countries were among the first to dive into precisely those markets, believing they could logically be among the first to send travelers.
This also includes Greece, a destination that is already dependent on the British market, which in recent days has begun to announce that it is ready to lift the quarantine for all tourists who can prove that they are immune to coronavirus when entering the country. According to current Greek announcements, they are ready to lift the quarantine for British tourists in early May, and the Greek government is convinced that the vaccination of the British market will save them in the 2021 season.
However, other Mediterranean destinations will likely try to grab their share of British and American travelers, including Dubrovnik, which is desperate to save the summer of 2021 after an unsuccessful 2020.
Moreover, Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Franković says that the Israeli market is also important for Dubrovnik, as they also have a high vaccination rate and were among the last to cancel flights to Dubrovnik.
More hope is placed in the British and Americans, and Dubrovnik has already received confirmation that EasyJet, British Airways, and Jet2Com will fly to the city this season. The Philadelphia – Dubrovnik line, which unfortunately only operated season, will certainly not be renewed yet this year.
“We have agreed on everything with the British market, although at the moment, it is a matter of waiting until the trips are formally and legally renewed, and we also have an agreement with the British TUI, which will bring passengers to Dubrovnik with their own planes. We are planning strong marketing in the UK market, but we are waiting for the right moment because it is too early to do so while we are in lockdown. For now, we are counting on the end of June, or the beginning of July and market research shows great interest from passengers,” said Franković, adding that the first deals with the American market have already been contracted.
Namely, the Swiss cruiser company Viking Cruises will organize air bridges to Dubrovnik to bring American tourists to the city. They will board cruisers and sail to Split, Šibenik, Zadar, and back to Dubrovnik.
According to Franković, the company has developed strict health protocols that it has already presented to the National Headquarters and the Croatian Institute of Public Health, which include PCR testing of passengers before boarding the plane, new testing before boarding a cruise ship in Dubrovnik, and then daily testing during the trip.
Passengers would stay in Dubrovnik for a part of the trip. Still, these will be so-called ‘bubble groups’ that will not be able to freely see the city or mix with Dubrovnik residents and local tourists but will have separate visits to museums and other cultural and other institutions.
“We had already planned to start with these groups from February, but due to the situation with the virus, we have postponed everything until March, so we will see what the situation will be like then,” Franković explained. He noted that the arrival of Viking Cruises would be a big step forward, given that a ban on cruising has been in force in Croatia for six months now.
Apart from Dubrovnik, American and British tourists are also important for Split. Still, in principle, Croatia will try to use the status of a car destination this year as well, which means relying on Germans, Slovenes, Austrians, Italians, Poles, Czechs, and others.
The Ministry of Tourism is closely monitoring the epidemiological situation in Croatia’s strongest markets, and it seems good so far. However, Jutarnji has learned that the organization of the summer season will require waiting for the EU to take a border crossing stance.
“We reckon that this will be standardized at the Union level so that we do not have the situation this season as the Dutch did last year when they decided to put Croatia on the orange list in mid-July. We now see that the Danes are announcing Covid passports, but we are moving in the direction of regulating this at the whole community level so that there is no rebound. Of course, that means that the Greeks will have to abide by these rules,” says Jutarnji’s source.
In the meantime, the Croatian Headquarters is announcing easing measures at the local level, which would enable the relaxation to be gradual and thus minimally endanger the tourist season.
The cautious opening could be launched before the beginning of summer, and only in counties with a good epidemiological situation. Still, a significant influx of tourists and a full opening is not counted before the beginning of June.