Croatian tourist officials expect to see a record number of Chinese tourists this year.
Director of the Croatian National Tourist Board Kristijan Stanicic said this week that in the first months of this year, more Chinese tourists want to visit Croatia, with large numbers expected between May and October.
"There have been 193,000 Chinese tourists since last year. Most often, along with the main city of Zagreb, they visit Split, Zadar and Dubrovnik, and go to Plitvice Lakes. Chinese tourists usually stay in hotels, but lately also show interest in private accommodation," according to the Croatian National Tourist Board.
After 16 Croatian-speaking Chinese citizens graduated on this week from the first tourist guide training course designed for non-EU citizens, there is an increasing interest for Croatian citizens to learn Chinese and work as official guides, the Zagreb Tourist Guide Association said.
Chinese tourist guides were restricted by Croatian law from doing the job. Things changed early this year when authority eased restrictions and allowed non-EU citizens who have long-term residence in Croatia to obtain qualifications through training and exams.
"The knowledge of Chinese language opens all doors. There are so many inquiries that we cannot accept all of them for the jobs we offer in tourism," Andrija Mavric, a travel guide from Zagreb, told Xinhua.
Chinese form the fourth largest group of tourists in the capital of Croatia.
"Zagreb has become a hit destination for Chinese tourists, and there are numerous actions to attract new guests from China. This summer Zagreb will host a number of new projects that will enable Chinese tourists to get to know the old city and history of Zagreb," said Martina Bienenfeld, director of the Zagreb Tourist Board.