As Jutarnji list reports, Croatia may have strengthened its national tourism brand in the last five years. However, the Brand Tracking survey of the Croatian National Tourist Board (CNTB) for 2020 suggests that children’s diseases still plague us and that we should seriously consider a campaign to promote Croatia on world markets.
Namely, in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, the research showed that the key obstacle related to foreign travel is “fear of various formal protection measures that could be established before or during the trip.” In contrast, passengers’ fear of infection at the holiday destination comes only later.
‘Safe stay in Croatia’ not enough?
This is a bit in contrast to the main messages coming from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the Croatian National Tourist Board, which continuously point out that the most important message for tourists this year is the message of safety, to which Croatia’s primary campaign in the preseason is adjusted.
This refers to, of course, the project “Safe stay in Croatia,” which should give certificates suggesting to tourists that the facility in which they stay is hygienic and safe. Regarding that, unofficial messages have been coming from the tourism sector for some time, noting that this will not be enough to organize a successful season. As the research now shows, it is necessary to work more actively on removing barriers to travel.
The CNTB explains that the fear of infection has less impact on travel intention because tourists generally believe that their behavior can prevent or reduce the possibility of infection. At the same time, nobody can influence the various epidemiological measures that counties introduce.
“Even though the fear of infection does not affect tourists’ intentions as much as possible travel restrictions, some potential tourists, especially the elderly, have expressed this fear. We believe that it is crucial to promote Croatia as a safe environment where it is possible to spend a quality holiday,” said the CNTB director Kristjan Staničić.
Competing destinations Italy and Spain perceived more accessible than Croatia
The research also confirmed that Croatia had not moved away from the perception of a “sun and sea destination.” However, it has been noted that Croatia has made progress in city break vacations, as well as nature-related vacations.
Nevertheless, tourists from geographically closer and more easily accessible markets (accessible by car) still gravitate to Croatia the most. In areas other than our traditional destinations, “there is room for progress in recognizing and promoting key distinctive values,” despite the generous strategic marketing plan we funded through the 2014-2020 period.
Besides, it turned out that Croatia still needs to do a lot to understand better the advantages of the Croatian tourist offer concerning the competition and that it is still insufficiently perceived as a destination for quality accommodation. It is also interesting how Spain and Italy, as Croatia’s competing destinations, are perceived as more easily accessible compared to Croatia.
On the other hand, it was noticed that Croatia’s image, concerning the competition, is based on “value for money.” Over the years, Croatia has managed to position itself as a destination for young people, a segment where only Spain is better perceived than us.
“Young people traveling through Croatia combine different experiences and motives – city tourism, entertainment, festivals, gastronomy, sun, sea, visits to natural attractions. Some young tourists are attracted to party and festival destinations such as Novalja, Hvar, or Split, with a desirable offer,” Staničić points out.
The CNTB’s official page still has old figures on the infection rate
Asked by Jutarnji list journalists to explain why Croatia still has a problem of moving away from the perception of “sun and sea “destination, Staničić answered that it is dominant Croatia’s tourist product and that its role will continue to be extremely important.
“The sun and the sea ensure our recognition with potential tourists. However, intensive work will continue on the establishment of other tourist products,” explains Staničić.
Although the “Safe stay in Croatia “website should provide tourists with the latest information on the epidemiological situation, on Tuesday, it had the old report on the 14-day case rate, which was last updated on March 1.
As Jutarnji list unofficially finds out, the Croatian Institute for Public Health caused the lack of new data because they did not submit the table with the numbers on time.