For the quality preparation of the next season, the key will be the extension of the Government's measures to support the preservation of jobs and the survival of economic entities until April next year, when the first signs of more serious tourist traffic, quality communication of Croatia in key emitting markets which we will enable the safe arrival and stay of as many foreign tourists as possible, is the message of tourism workers from the first day of the 22nd Congress of Hoteliers.
In terms of tourist traffic, especially the share of foreign guests, Croatia was the best in the Mediterranean this year, but the financial result of the season is far weaker than the physical indicators of overnight stays or arrivals. This is a big blow to the domestic tourism sector, especially in a situation where the return of traffic to the level of 2019 cannot realistically be expected before 2022.
"We are now focused on preparing for the next season which brings with it many unknowns and the only thing we are completely sure of is that it will be a demanding year of struggle for every guest. Significant investments are necessary for the quality preparation of the season, so in the sector we are counting on the help of the Government through the extension of measures to preserve jobs to next year, at least until April. With financial support, quality Croatian communication as a destination in key markets and efficient exchange of information and coordination of the tourism sector and civil headquarters system, as well as diplomatic networks and networks of Croatian Tourist Board representations in key markets will be crucial. ”, said Tomislav Popović, President of the Management Board of Maistra dd
The Minister of Tourism and Sports, Nikolina Brnjac, told the gathered via video message that the Government supported the sector with three different sets of measures. The first is a measure for preserving jobs that has a focus on workers and on preserving employment, the second refers to solving short-term and medium-term liquidity, the so-called COVID loans, in the amount of one billion and 300 million kuna and the third measure is to cover fixed costs, or one part of fixed costs for all those who are unable to work
"Since the beginning of my mandate, I have been emphasizing the importance of the potential of EU funds that we need to use to make tourism resilient and enable growth on a sound basis. Through the Recovery and Resilience Instrument, we will provide funding for those projects that will contribute to recovery after the crisis, because we consider the recovery of tourism to be one of the preconditions for the recovery of the economy as a whole. The projects in which we will invest should contribute to increasing the level of gross value added of tourism through the departure from seasonality and overtourism as well as the development of tourism products that can provide stronger resilience to future crises. Another important source of funding is the Multiannual Financial Framework for the period from 2021 to 2027, and operational plans are under development. It is important for everyone in tourism that the Ministry of Tourism and Sports is included in all working groups that will work on operational programs, because in this way a better starting position for financing our projects is provided. ", said Minister Nikolina Brnjac.
Tourism professionals used the announcement of the beginning of the process of drafting a new tourism development strategy until 2030, to identify key obstacles to further tourism development. Siniša Topalović, Global Director of Tourism Consulting, Horwath HTL, presented figures that show the serious structural problems of Croatian tourism.
"This year, Croatia recorded the historically most uncompetitive accommodation structure with hotel accommodation, which fell below 10 percent in the total number of accommodation units, and on the other hand with over 85 percent of accommodation in private units and other accommodation. At the same time, Croatia is the champion of tourist density, with 19,7 beds per square kilometer, as well as the number of tourists per unit area, in which Croatia is second in the world. Such a load on resources is not sustainable and needs to be changed in the coming period, ” Topalovic emphasized.
Because of all this, tourism needs a significant step forward to catch up with our biggest competitors in the area. Domestic tourism has an investment potential of a total of 35 billion kuna (25 billion kuna from members of the Croatian Tourism Association and 10 billion kuna in the rest of the sector) which can be realized in the medium term, but for the realization of these investments it is necessary to adopt measures for increase the competitiveness of Croatian tourism, and on the other hand provide support through EU funds.
"It is difficult today to plan new investments in tourism because none of us has a solid indicator of when the pandemic and the uncertainty we have today will stop. In such a situation, it is crucial to see how we can support these investments with EU funds and other incentives to motivate investors. What we know is that we have ready investments in projects in the segment of green tourism, digitalization, raising the quality of accommodation and tourist infrastructure. For their realization, a stimulating environment should be provided and space for EU funding should be opened through a clear definition of criteria", said Željko Kukurin, President of the Management Board of Valamar dd
At the panel discussion on safety as a prerequisite for tourist traffic, it was once again emphasized that the key to a successful season behind us was good cooperation between the tourism sector, the Government, the CNTB and the civil protection system. The participants confirmed that the safety factor will be one of the basic preconditions in making the final decision on tourist trips for the next and future seasons.
"During the implementation of promotional activities in the next year, we will focus even more strongly on digital promotion channels and social networks with a focus on the nearest European markets where Croatian destinations are easily accessible by road, such as Germany, Slovenia, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic, Italy, Hungary and others. The goal is to position our country as a diverse and well-prepared destination that can guarantee its guests a safe and quality stay, which was confirmed during this year in which Croatia achieved one of the best tourist results in the Mediterranean, or more than 54 million overnight stays. a good 50 percent of last year's result ", said Kristjan Staničić, Director of the Main Office of the Croatian National Tourist Board (CNTB), during the panel discussion.
Although much hope for next season is placed in a vaccine that, according to experts, can only effectively stop the spread of coronavirus, there is a consensus that we need to be careful.
“The vaccine will not solve all the problems in travel and tourism. It is certain that by the beginning of next season only one part of the population will be vaccinated and it is realistic to expect that a significant part of next year will be marked by pandemics and measures. In such a context, we need to prepare and elaborate scenarios on how we will define measures at the state and sector level for crossing the border, in traffic, in hotels and other facilities. It is already time to start preparations, and if we do it well, we will take care of the quality epidemiological situation in the country and encourage the creation of a system at the EU level that will enable unhindered tourist traffic. The tourist year can be successful", said Veljko Ostojic, director of the Croatian Tourism Association (HUT).
Participants agreed that the next tourist season, according to current information, should be better than this year's.
Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic also said he was sure that next season would be even better than this year. This assessment is based on the imminent arrival of the vaccine, but he said that we must do everything to make our guests feel even safer. “This year we saw how important it was for tourists to come on vacation, and after a year of pandemic, everyone will need a vacation even more. And Croatia is an ideal destination for that, Bozinovic believes. The recipe for a successful tourist season in a pandemic is cooperation between the private sector and the state, especially in preparation for next season. We have shown this year how this cooperation must look to achieve results, so it should continue not only in tourism but also in other sectors.", Concluded Bozinovic.