Croatian Tourism Enjoys a Bumper June: Up 20% on Previous Year
Austrian and German tourists are behind the large increase, as Tourism Minister Damir Bajs heads inland to promote Croatian tourism away from the coast.
Figures released by the Ministry of Tourism revealed a sharp increase in visitors holidaying in Croatia, according to a report published by Vecernji List on July 21, 2011, with foreign tourism up an impressive 20.8% against the corresponding month in 2010.
Increase in Domestic and Foreign Tourists
The paper reported that 1.6 million tourists spent time in the country in June, with 1.4 million from abroad and 200,000 domestic tourists. These figures also reflected a healthy 13% rise in Croatians choosing to vacation within their own borders.
Official statistics released by the ministry indicated that the largest rise in foreign visitors came from Germany and Austria, whose citizens have a long association with the Croatian coast given its relative proximity. Fewer guests were reported from Greece, France and Japan. The main beneficiaries were the resorts in Istria, which reported a 27% increase, followed by Licko-Senj, Kvarner and the capital, Zagreb.
Improved Access to Croatian Airports
The increase is welcome news for the Croatian economy, which is struggling as many others with the global crisis, and is heavily dependent on tourism for income. The figures are also borne out by other surveys, such as a recent study by booking engine Skyscanner, which placed Croatia in the top ten European destinations for British tourists, based on ticket sales.
Since rebuilding its tourism industry in the wake of the recent war in former Yugoslavia, access to the coastal hubs by air has been limited, with budget airlines slow to enter the Croatian market. The situation is improving every year and there is now an impressive number of flights into the main airports on the coast, namely Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar, Pula and Rijeka.
In addition to the budget airlines, several new routes have opened with direct flights with national carriers, including Aeroflot from Moscow to Dubrovnik, JAL from Tokyo and Osaka to Dubrovnik and the first direct flights for many years from America, with Chicago and Zagreb connected by charter flight.
Promoting Inland Tourism
While the main focus of tourism in Croatia is its stunning Adriatic coast and 1,185 islands, the government is keen to promote inland tourism, and Tourism Minister Damir Bajs visited Medjimurje on July 20, in an attempt to boost interest in the region. Inland tourism accounts for just 5% of Croatia's tourism, a number Bajs wants to increase, and he praised the first gastronomic tours in the Medjimurje region as a step in that direction. His visit also took in the Museum of Mining in Mursko Sredisce and the nearby border crossing with Slovenia, which saw 2.2 million people crossing last year, a number which is expected to rise.
With Croatia now entering its peak season from mid-July to late August, the government will be hoping that the encouraging June statistics will continue.