Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.
EasyJet is set to launch an exciting seasonal route between Basel and Rijeka next summer. Starting from June 24, travellers can enjoy two weekly flights on Mondays and Fridays. Tickets are already up for grabs on the airline's website, and additional flight information can be accessed there.
However, it's worth noting that EasyJet has opted to discontinue its seasonal flights between London Gatwick and the Croatian coastal city, with no plans to reinstate them next summer. The introduction of Basel as a destination marks EasyJet's second connection from Rijeka, complementing the existing route to Berlin.
The beginning of November traditionally marks the time for the World Travel Market (WTM) in London, one of the largest global tourism fairs where the Croatian Tourist Board presents the overall offering of Croatian tourism. This year, the fair is taking place from November 6th to 8th, and a Croatian tourist delegation led by Kristjan Staničić, the director of the Croatian Tourist Board, is in attendance. On the first day of the fair, they met with representatives of important partners such as easyJet, TUI, Jet2.com, and Jet2holidays.
"Our focus is on air traffic and collaboration with the largest and most significant tour operators. Croatia holds a very favourable position in the United Kingdom market, and globally, as indicated by feedback from our most important partners, such as TUI, with whom we collaborate on eight source markets. On the other hand, we have also held discussions with easyJet, which plans to expand and introduce new destinations and air routes," stated Director Staničić, adding that we can be optimistic while emphasizing the need for special attention to pricing policies for the upcoming year. "Any significant price increase must be accompanied by quality, new investments, and improvements, in other words, an increase in the quality of various segments of the tourist offer," concluded Staničić.
In spite of the popularity of Croatia on the UK market the number of direct flights between the two countries throughout the winter months is significant by its absence. For example, Dubrovnik, one of the most popular destinations for Brit tourists doesn’t have any flights to the UK throughout the winter. Meaning that anyone looking to enjoy the city outside of the hustle and bustle of the tourist season will need to plan their connecting flights carefully.
According to the preliminary data from the eVisitor system, which encompasses tourist traffic in both commercial and non-commercial establishments, as well as nautical charter (eCrew system), Croatia has recorded over 19.8 million arrivals and more than 105.8 million overnight stays from January to the end of October, or during the first ten months. This marks a 9% increase in tourist arrivals and a 3% increase in overnight stays compared to the same period last year. These results essentially equal the record year of 2019.
"We are nearing the end of yet another very challenging tourist year, but the dynamics and intensity of tourist traffic, which continue to unfold in our country, are the best indicators of Croatia's increasing recognition as an attractive year-round tourist destination. We are still highly active in promoting our country on numerous foreign markets. Currently, a campaign to promote nautical tourism is ongoing, with plans for a subsequent campaign aimed at encouraging new bookings for the upcoming year. I would also like to remind you of Croatia's presence and representation at the World Travel Market (WTM) in London, one of the world's most important tourism fairs, where 23 co-exhibitors, representing Croatian tourist entities, will be presented at the HTZ stand," stated Kristjan Staničić, Director of the Croatian Tourist Board.
When observing arrivals by counties, during the first ten months, the highest number of arrivals were registered in Istria (4.9 million arrivals, +5% compared to 2022), Split-Dalmatia County (3.8 million arrivals, +11% compared to 2022), Kvarner (3.1 million arrivals, +5% compared to 2022), Zadar County (2 million arrivals, +6% compared to 2022), Dubrovnik-Neretva County (2 million arrivals, +18% compared to 2022), Šibenik-Knin County (1 million arrivals, +3% compared to 2022), and Lika-Senj County (752 thousand arrivals, +14% compared to 2022). In Zagreb, there were 1.1 million arrivals, representing a 21% increase compared to last year, while in the rest of the continental regions, there were more than a million arrivals, a 15% increase compared to last year.
Activities have already begun on all markets to prepare for the new tourist year
"These excellent post-season results confirm that Croatia is increasingly recognized as a year-round destination in the market. This is a clear indicator that we must continue to develop our tourism in this direction. The Government of the Republic of Croatia has created all the prerequisites for our tourism to remain competitive in the future through a strategic and legal framework and secured financial resources for a new investment cycle. Activities have already begun on all markets to prepare for the new tourist year," emphasized Nikolina Brnjac, Minister of Tourism and Sports.
Regarding destinations, the highest number of arrivals during the first ten months was recorded in Dubrovnik, Zagreb, Split, Rovinj, Poreč, and Zadar. Looking at source markets, the highest number of arrivals during the first ten months came from Germany (3.3 million arrivals), Croatia (2.5 million arrivals), Slovenia (1.6 million arrivals), Austria (1.6 million arrivals), and Poland (1.1 million arrivals).
In October, there were 1.1 million arrivals and 3.6 million overnight stays in Croatia, according to eVisitor data. This represents a 13% increase in arrivals and an 11% increase in overnight stays compared to the same period last year.
The Dubrovnik Tourist Board, in cooperation with the Croatian Tourist Board, is showcasing the rich tourist offerings of the city at the prestigious World Travel Market (WTM) in London from November 6th to 8th, 2023.
Participation in the fair will be marked by a series of meetings with British travel organizers, airlines, and prominent media representatives, all of which are essential for establishing and strengthening collaboration with stakeholders from the United Kingdom. It is expected that such encounters will result in an increased number of visitors from Britain in the future, further enhancing the promotion of Dubrovnik in this significant market.
At the world's leading tourism fair, the World Travel Market in London, the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, as one of the co-exhibitors at the Croatian Tourist Board's stand, is presenting the city's tourism offerings, traditionally favoured by the British market. In the first ten months of 2023, Dubrovnik welcomed 174,254 guests from the United Kingdom, recording 777,555 overnight stays.
In the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, from November 2nd to 4th, a group of 6 Chinese agents is visited. This familiarization (FAM) trip was organized in collaboration with the European Travel Commission, the Representation of the Croatian Tourist Board in China, the Head Office of the Croatian Tourist Board, the Tourist Board of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, and the tourist boards of the City of Dubrovnik, the Municipality of Konavle, and the Municipality of Ston. The realization of this trip was significantly facilitated by the Croatian Consulate in Beijing, which expedited visa issuance for the travellers.
This was the first such trip from China since 2019, due to China's closure to international travel, which lasted until the beginning of this year.
The journey involved 7 major Chinese agencies: HCG Shanghai, UTour, China International Travel Service, China Travel Group, Guangzhou China Women International Travel, and Tianjin Zhongxin, accompanied by the Director of the Croatian Tourist Board Representation in China, Mrs. Franka Gulin, and her assistant, Chao Huang.
The agents began their tour of Croatia and Slovenia with a visit to Dubrovnik and its historical and cultural landmarks. Their visit to our county concluded with a tour of Ston, the salt works, the Ston walls, and, finally, the crossing of the Pelješac Bridge, constructed by a Chinese company. The agents also conducted inspections of several hotels and established direct business contacts along the way.
Considering that before the Covid crisis, 190 million Chinese travellers ventured abroad, spending a staggering $458 billion USD, and they prefer to travel before and after the summer months, we look forward to new business successes from this part of the world.
The latest data from the eVisitor system reveals a bumper post-season tourism result in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, as the region welcomed 161,880 tourist arrivals and 520,359 overnight stays in October 2023. This marks a substantial 24 percent increase in arrivals and a notable 14 percent increase in overnight stays when compared to the same period in 2022.
The Dubrovnik-Neretva County continues to attract a diverse range of international visitors, with the highest number of overnight stays recorded by guests from the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Croatia, and France. Notably, October saw a substantial surge in visitors from the Far East, including China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea, along with impressive increases in arrivals from Australia (up by 80%), France (up by 39%), Canada (up by 35%), and the United States (up by 31%).
In terms of accommodation, hotels were the most popular choice, accounting for 316,486 overnight stays, closely followed by accommodations in households with 132,338 overnight stays.
From the beginning of the year until the end of October, the Dubrovnik-Neretva County has seen a total of 1,993,187 tourist arrivals and 8,230,983 overnight stays. These figures reflect an impressive 18 percent increase in arrivals and a commendable 7 percent rise in overnight stays in comparison to the same period last year.
Current Tourism Scene
Presently, the eVisitor system data indicates that there are over 7,000 guests enjoying their stay in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, highlighting the region's enduring appeal to travellers from around the world.
Do you still have Kunas? After the New Year, you will only be able to exchange them in one bank. In Croatia, nearly five billion Kunas still have not yet been exchanged for euros. After the New Year, the exchange will only be possible in one bank, warned the Croatian National Bank (HNB).
Since Croatia became part of the Eurozone on January 1, 2023, citizens and businesses still hold around 4.85 billion Kunas (644 million euros) in cash.
Citizens can exchange cash Kunas until December 31, 2023, at banks, FINA, and at the Croatian Post.
However, you only have a couple of months left to exchange your Kuna notes and coins into Euros, as from January 1, 2024, these institutions will stop exchanging Kunas and you can only change Kunas at the Croatian National Bank.
The Croatian National Bank will permanently exchange banknotes in Kunas, while coins can be exchanged within three years from the introduction of the Euro, or no later than December 31, 2025.
Banknotes and coins in Kunas can be exchanged at a fixed exchange rate of 7.53450 Kunas for one Euro in banks and units of the Croatian Financial Agency (FINA) and in branches of the Croatian Post until the end of the year.
Before the introduction of the euro in Croatia, a total of 500 million banknotes and three billion Kuna coins were in circulation. Of that, 436.2 million, or 87 percent of banknotes, and 742 million, or 25 percent of coins were exchanged.
The HNB emphasizes that despite the reduction in the amount of cash, the experiences of countries that have introduced the euro show that not all cash from the former currency is ever exchanged.
According to Eurostat data, in the fourth quarter of 2022, the highest number of employees who were absent from work in the European Union was recorded in Finland with 14.8, followed by France with 14.7 and Sweden with 14.6.
The lowest absenteeism rates were in Romania with only 2.4, Bulgaria, and Greece. In Croatia, during that period, 9 percent of employees were absent from work, which is lower than the EU average of 9.8 percent.