The seasonality of Croatia’s tourism industry has caused mass closures of hotels all over the country as the winter starts to bite. Various think tanks, experts and tourism professionals have tried for years to create all-year-round tourism in Croatia but to no avail. After a record breaking tourism season hoteliers have thrown in the towels en masse and closed their establishments, meaning that from the beginning of November only one in four hotels in actually open.
According to information from the eVisitor electronic guest registration system of the 1,167 hotels in the county only 338 are still open this month, whilst the majority or 829 are closed for winter hibernation.
And the handful that are open are trying to scrape together guests from the festive period, it is expected that with the chimes of New Year still echoing only around 200 hotels will actually be open for business in the first few months of 2019. In other words Croatian hotels will be working at 20 percent of their capacity.
Quite clearly the major problem is that international airlines dominate the Croatian tourism industry, without planes landing it is difficult to fill empty hotels. And the relevant authorities don’t have the strength or commitment to put pressure on the airlines to fly out of the summer season, even though these same airlines fill their pockets during the summer months. Instead local authorities spend their time and considerable amounts of money organising winter festivals and entertainment programs rather than concentrating of actually attracting foreign guests.
According to the newspaper Slobodna Dalmacija the situation is getting worse. Twenty years ago, when Croatia had just returned to the world tourism market after the Homeland War, only twenty percent of the hotels throughout the country actually closed in the winter, and these tended to be the hotels without central heating and ones that were set up as summer retreats. The vast majority worked and were open to groups of guests from Germany, Scandinavia and the UK who enjoyed the winter sunshine as well as having the time and space to really experience the rich history and culture of Croatia.
Two decades later and the situation is almost completely reverse, instead of pushing forward with the most important industry and a huge contributor to the country’s GDP the tourism industry is going backwards. Filling a hotel along the Croatian coastline is hardly a challenge but during the winter it requires hard work, creativity and imagination.