Dubrovnik Airport is the front line for tourism for the city. The vast majority of tourists who holiday on the Adriatic land at the southernmost Croatian airport. And 2020 has been, to say the least, an extremely challenging year for the airport. Just looking at the statistics will have people who earn their living from tourism holding their heads in their hands. 2.89 million passengers passed through the airport in 2019. So far this year just over 321,000 have landed. That’s quite a drop off.
In April with the start of the Covid-19 pandemic the airport closed its runways, and it took some time for the passenger numbers to start to pick up. In fact, the first ever case of Covid-19 was recorded at Dubrovnik Airport back in the middle of March this year.
August, traditionally the height of the tourist season, was the busiest month for the airport. Although when you compare the same month from this year and last year the difference is substantial – in 2019 524,615 passengers, in 2020 119,838. The season looked might it take-off slightly in August, however as soon as the UK took Croatia off the safe-corridor list numbers plummeted.
The statistics for 2019/2020 for Dubrovnik Airport - Image The Dubrovnik Times
Brits are the most numerous guests in the county, and have been for a number of years. In 2019 a massive 303,314 UK tourists visited the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, taking the number one position, followed by 194,493 American tourists. This is the specific travel situation that makes Dubrovnik unique in Croatia. In many of the other coastal destinations tourists arrive by car, meaning from Germany, Italy, Poland and Hungary. 2020 saw only 33,431 UK tourists enjoying the Adriatic sunshine, and Americans dropped to just over 10,000. In other words, only a mere 11 percent of Brits arrived in 2020 compared to 2019, and US tourists dropped to 5.6 percent.
Of course, Dubrovnik wasn’t alone. The three busiest airports in the country, Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik, all suffered equally. When you add all the passenger numbers from these three airports together for October they jointly couldn’t scrape to 100,000 passengers. Whereas in Dubrovnik alone in October 2019 almost 300,000 passengers were handled.
And the winter period is unlikely to greatly improve the statistics. Apart from a handful of flights to international destinations, Dubrovnik will greatly rely on passengers on internal Croatia Airlines flights for at least the next five months.