Will the Next Tourist Season in Croatia Break All the Records?

Daniela Rogulj

Croatia just had a record tourist season, but in order to achieve this development strategy until 2020, every year should be a record year. On the one hand we have a chance to attract plenty of tourists as the fear of terrorism has shied many away from places like Greece, Turkey, and Egypt, but on the other hand, each of our outbound markets has its own characteristics, with their political or economic crises playing a large part in their good will. Germans are wary of migrants, earthquakes have shaken Italy, and Russians are troubled by an economic crisis. What makes the most sense is that the Austrians have, most importantly, a “safety destination”, while the French and the British are to announce a new air service next summer … On the upside, the forecasts are looking good, and that has been confirmed by representatives of the Croatian Tourist Board throughout Europe.

One thing is for certain: Security is paramount.


“Croatia will, along with Italy, be a leader on the Austrian market for 2017,” announces Director of the Croatian Tourist Board in Vienna – Ranko Vlatković . He also notes that 72 percent of Austrians, when choosing a destination for their vacations, look at safety as a factor first, reports N1 on 14 November, 2016.


“Because of this, the most wanted destinations should have quick and easily accessible transport, and these places are precisely Croatia and Italy. It should be noted that this year we have been leaders in the market and that information is disclosed by Instituts für Freizeit und Torismusforschung (IFT), and we have surpassed the previously unattainable Italy. We are fighting in the Austrian market for the 50 percent of the other half of Austrians because their holiday is realized in their own country,” says Vlatković.


“Most Austrians look for charter destinations in Spain, regardless of what has been announced with the increase of hotel prices in Spain by 10 percent. Italy will increase prices by from 2-4 percent, and charter services will grow by 4-4.5 percent. Greece will play on those islands where there will not be migrants, so if they can do that they will have a good season. Austrians, in the focus of interest, will not be going to Turkey, Egypt, and Tunisia, however, Portugal and Bulgaria will again benefit as they have very low costs. Our biggest problem is the lack of hotel beds, especially in high season, and particularly in the segment of 3 and 4 stars. This is why early booking is expected for timely insurance accommodation,” adds Vlatković.


Optimism comes from Italy, as Branko Curić, Director of the Croatian Tourist Board in Milan, says that expectations for 2017 are positive.


”It is expected Italians will further increase their travels, especially in countries that are close to them, which includes France, Spain and Greece, and Croatia, and an increase in spending is also expected,” says Curić.


Otherwise Italy, according to data from E-Visitor, is the fourth market of importance for Croatia for arrivals and overnights. Most Italians were recorded visiting Istria and Primorje-Gorski Kotar County.


“For 2017, we expect an increase of 3 to 4 percent, or 30,000 to 40,000 more Italians and 150,000 to 200,000 more overnight stays than in this year,” estimated Curić and advised that the next year should be particularly dedicated to the campaign focused on the great holiday schedule that falls outside the weekend as Italians like to combine holidays with weekends. In the preseason we have Easter, when Italians traditionally travel, then April 25  is Liberation Day, and so on. The emphasis in these campaigns, says Curić, will be on special programs Italians enjoy, such as food and drink, culture and historic monuments, the nature of our national parks and nature reserves; then medical tourism in its broadest sense, sailing and nautical tourism, while adding in all of the programs related to the active life, and the outdoors.


“There are three dangers why Italians go on vacation, and these are primarily earthquakes which have heavily disrupted their lives, then the constitutional referendum was announced that could bring political instability, and there are slowing economic indicators, which have been anticipated in the last quarter of this year,” notes Curić.


What about the French? Croatia is definitely becoming one of the most popular destinations for the French. According to Central Bureau of Statistics, in the first eight months, an increase of 6.6 percent in arrivals and 10.7 percent in overnight stays were recorded this year.


“These figures should further increase by the end of the year as both arrivals and overnight stays in the post-season are on the rise. This success is even greater if one considers that the main competitor of Croatia in the French market is just France alone. Therefore, the HTZ in France, in cooperation with the HTZ Head Office, are turning to the promotion of selective forms of tourism with a focus on cycling, enogastronomy, city breaks, health tourism, sailing, and more…. because it is the way to realize additional acquisitions in the off season and the increase in average spending,” says the director of HTZ in Paris, Danijela Mihalić Djurica. She also points out that this year nine new routes were introduced with departures from Paris, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nantes and Marseilles.


Germans are wary of migrants…


This year, the German market was interesting as the crisis in eastern Mediterranean destinations has changed the flow of travel and created a delay for German guests at the beginning of the season.


“Travel agencies noted that customers put off decisions on their journeys and destinations, which has created difficulties in the operation of agencies and tour operators. The overall level of travel by Germans realized in all destinations during the past summer season will be either at the level of last year or slightly below this level. Specific figures will be known at the beginning of 2017 but it is already known that in the tour operator business, revenues fell 4 percent compared to 2015,” says the director of the Croatian Tourist Board in Berlin, Romeo Dragichio.


“Germans are still concerned about the migratory flows in recent years due to Brexit. As far as Croatia is concerned, 2016 was a positive season and we assume that the results will be announced before the start of the season, but we estimate that about 100,000 more Germans visited Croatia compared to 2015 and that we will get close to the figures of 2.3 million arrivals from this market.”


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