Might Cooler Autumn Months Bring Optimism for Zagreb Tourism?

Lauren Simmonds

Updated on:

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, the months of September and October are traditionally important months for Zagreb tourism, which in good years carried a fifth of the annual turnover, in terms of business and private events as well as in terms of growth of holiday guests who want to avoid the summer heat and crowds.

Although the Croatian capital is experiencing a weaker recovery in tourist traffic when compared to Adriatic destinations, and with fears of new epidemiological measures still firm, the sector wants to be optimistic about autumn and the rest of the year and expects significant improvements next year.

The vaccination programme and covid certificates should bring some calmer days, especially for Zagreb tourism business events, which should start returning in live in part this autumn, according to numerous organisers. A very important segment, which includes weddings and other private events for hotels could finally come back to life, perhaps regardless of the epidemiological situation, if the practice of covid certificates is properly established. There are also announcements of new flights to Zagreb, boosting Zagreb tourism’s overall picture.

“The summer went well enough for us so far to hope that the same scenario as last year won’t be waiting for us in autumn. Vaccinated people no longer want to go back to how things were, they no longer care about the red zones, because they want to return to normal life, which means freedom of movement and travel,” stated Josipa Jutt Ferlan, president of the Hotel Association at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce and director of the Hilton hotels cluster for Zagreb.

As has since been found out from the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ), which extracted statistics on traffic and the accommodation structure in the capital city from eVisitor, from the beginning of the year to the end of this weekend, Zagreb had 327 thousand visits and 523 thousand overnight stays, which is about 38 percent more overnight stays than last summer, and about 44 percent of the realisation from the same period in 2019. As it is known, Zagreb realised less than a third of the turnover from the year before, when there were a total of 2.6 million overnight stays.

Although tourist traffic in July and August this year was twice as high as last year, in August that still meant 64 percent of turnover from the record 2019 was realised. August is also the best month so far this year for Zagreb tourism, and since Zagreb hasn’t yet “reddened” on the ECDC map.

The events that attracted visitors this summer also contributed to more people visiting the capital, which is often somewhat empty during the hot summer months as residents flock to the coast.

A big loss for Zagreb tourism is still the absence of its traditionally important markets on the distant markets of Korea and China, and this summer, the British were also somewhat more absent than usual. Most of the overnight stays this summer were realised by Croatian guests and Germans, while the Americans doubled their numbers compared to last year, but American arrivals are still much weaker than before the pandemic struck.

With a total of 290 thousand overnight stays, August was also the strongest month back in record 2019, when a total of 2.6 million overnight stays were realised in Zagreb. September and October in 2019 saw about half a million overnight stays in Zagreb, which was about 20 percent of the annual turnover for Zagreb tourism. Last September, the city had only 77,000 overnight stays, barely more than a quarter of the turnover from the year before.

Zagreb is, as mentioned above, entering autumn with slightly more hotel rooms than it had last autumn, which isn’t the case with private accommodation, which is weaker by about 1000 beds than it was back during 2019, as it now has about 6.2 thousand beds to offer in private apartments.

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