The number of tourists visiting Croatia rose by 6% y/y to 19mn in January-October and their overnights went up by 4% y/y to 104.3 million nights in the period, the National Tourist Board announced over data of eVisitor and eCrew online tourist check-in and check-out systems. In October alone tourists’ arrivals were 977,000, up by 13% y/y, while number of overnight stays increased by 1% y/y to 4.3 million. Foreign tourists accounted for 17 million arrivals in January-October, up by 6% y/y, and 92mn nights, up by 4% y/y. During the first ten months most of the overnight stays came from Germany (21 million), Slovenia (10.4 million), Austria (7.6 million), Poland (6.3 million) and the Czech Republic (5.5 million). The number of Croatian tourists rose by 9% y/y and their nights posted 6% y/y growth in the first ten months of the year. HTZ director Kristjan Stanicic noted that during the first ten months of the year, the majority of tourist traffic was registered in commercial accommodation facilities that accounted for a total turnover of 85% with the structure of commercial accommodation being dominated by the turnover realized in family accommodation with a 43% share, followed by 27% for hotels and 21% of campsites in total commercial traffic in the commercial segment. According to Stanicic, this is the reason why further strengthening and raising the quality of the accommodation offer is a strategic goal, which in combination with the focused promotion of selective forms of tourism and the opening of new markets to Croatian tourism will ensure further growth and sustainable development.
Tourism minister Gari Cappelli commented that the results so far indicated successful positioning of Croatia as quality year-round tourist destination. He noted that he was particularly satisfied with the growing number of tourists from the US, China and South Korea, which proved that the current activities and programs aimed at strengthening the presence in distant markets and improving the relations have rendered success. Cappelli also said that this winter Croatia will be connected with over 100 destinations in Europe and the world, while in 2019 some HRK40m will be invested in the existing airline program, which will additionally contribute to even better results.
Overall, the tourism sector is set to post another record this year as it already outperformed the 2017 results when tourist overnight stays rose by 12% to all-time high of 102 million and the number of arrivals rose by similar 13% to 18.5 million. Note however that while the tourism sector is quite important for the economy, it continues to face limitations from the lack of staff. The government raised three times the quota for foreign workers for this year, including for the tourism sector, but still Cappelli estimates that the shortages are unlikely to be covered and has therefore been calling on companies operating in the sector to use part of their reserves for raising the wages in order to retain the current and lure new workers. The government is trying to diversify the tourist product with the HTZ currently conducting a campaign on social networks, portals and other online channels to promote Croatia’s post-season and autumn on 11 foreign markets like Germany, Austria, the UK, France, Italy, Norway, Czech Republic, Spain. At the same time, the recent government decision to hike the tourist tax for 2019 by 25% to HRK10 per person per night might result in an increase in the final tourist product price, thus pulling away part of the foreign tourists next year, especially if the economic expansion of Croatia’s main trading partners slows down, in our view.