March 11, 2021 – Will Croatia summer 2021 be the most challenging tourist season yet? Croatian travel experts weigh in on how the season will work this year. 

Index.hr reports that Croatia is facing one of the most challenging tourist seasons ever. This became especially clear after the head of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, Krunoslav Capak, said that there would be other travel conditions for people who were not vaccinated, such as quarantine or testing, which exists now.

The number of vaccinated tourists will be minimal because there is a shortage of vaccines in Croatia’s key markets. Simultaneously, the oldest citizens have priority, and they generally do not travel as much as the younger population.

Martina Nimac Kalcina, president of the Family Tourism Association, told Index that Croatia is acting poorly if it does not have a timely plan for all travelers who will have to be tested when entering and leaving Croatia.

“By mid-April at the latest, which is two months before the start of the real season, everything should be organized. So, how will the entry into Croatia look? How and where will tourists be tested? Owners of family accommodation should have all this information in April to inform their guests in time. Every effort must be made to transfer this information abroad in a quality manner through promotion and to the owners of accommodation facilities. If all this is poorly organized, then we will have a bad season because some countries, which are our competitors, will organize it very well,” Nimac Kalcina told Index.

The ease of entering and leaving the country, testing, and its price will play a crucial role in which destination the guest will choose for their holiday. 

“We have been saying for months that we have to prepare very well. This means unifying test prices, that guests who are ready to be tested know the prices, that they know where they can be tested, that testing is easily available to them. We have long been asking for as many testing points as possible to be organized at airports, stations, ports, and other locations, such as hotels or other city-owned facilities where guests leaving the destination would be tested. We continue to insist that the prices of tests be as low as possible because guests will certainly compare the price of testing with other countries that are competitive with us. And the third thing is that if they have to pay them, these prices will be unified because they are very different and in Croatia range from 150 to 700 kuna,” Martina Nimac Kalcina continued for Index.

In the end, she said that this season would be better than 2020 if Croatia prepares well.

Boris Žgomba, head of the Association of Travel Agencies, told Index that he wanted to believe that Capak had expressed himself clumsily.

“It would not occur to anyone smart to quarantine a guest when entering the country. I don’t think the worst season awaits us, but we must prepare well. We need a faster flow of people who have been vaccinated and recovered from Covid in the last 3 to 6 months. I think it will be set at 6 months because these people are not contagious. They will have Covid-passes, not Covid-passports, as some say. They will be called Covid-passes and will be ready in early June, at a time when we should have started to have more serious tourism and crowds at the borders,” Žgomba told Index.

What about those who do not have passes?

“Yes, the third category are those guests who have not been vaccinated or recovered from Covid. They will certainly take antigen or PCR tests; they will have to do it, or maybe not even need to; it all depends on the epidemiological situation. It is in our interest, as in Croatia, to speed up the flow of people. Some countries have already launched this, and we are working on it. Slovenia allows entry to those vaccinated without testing and people who have had Covid in the last 3 months. Poland and Greece are already doing that. I must also mention how the information published on IATA’s (International Air Transport Association) official website says that from March 8, passengers who have a positive test (PCR or antigen) older than 14 days and not older than 3 months can enter Croatia. Meaning those who recovered from Covid-19. The question arises as to why it is a secret. If so, why hasn’t it already been reported to the public or, if it’s not true, why hasn’t it been denied,” Žgomba told Index.

What are his forecasts for this season?

“I think that everything will be regulated and that we will have tourist figures at the level of 60 percent from 2019, so we will be a little better than 2020, but not nearly as close as 2019. I don’t think there should be any fear for those who test positive when they arrive at the destination; we have already learned to live with this virus and the fact that you can’t plan anything. Still, based on some indicators, it could be read that my forecast would be realistic and that we should have about 60 percent of the tourist figures from 2019,” Žgomba said at the end.

The head of the Croatian Travel Agencies Association (UHPA), Tomislav Fain, told Index that there should be no problems if rapid tests are allowed and if Croatia is well prepared so that each region, county, and city provides a sufficient number of rapid testing points that will be cheap.

“Reading the prime minister’s statements, we all depend on the European Commission and its protocols. If rapid tests are recognized, then we will have no problems, and the intention is to recognize rapid tests as relevant. If that is the case, then it will be good because they are fast and affordable. This would solve the biggest problem. I was in Greece in October, and their minister said he would push the idea of ​​recognizing rapid tests that would cost a couple of euros. If Greece succeeds in that, then, as I said, Croatia must prepare well so that guests can quickly and conveniently take the test and get the result,” Fain said.

He states that Greece organized such testing at airports last season and that it was easier for them to control it because most of their guests arrive by air, while Croatia is more of a car destination.

Paško Klisović, president of the Association of Accommodation Providers on Boats – Charter, told Index that they have already held two meetings this week regarding the upcoming season.

“One of the conclusions of the Tourist Business Council at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce – including all representatives of the association, from hoteliers, agencies, charters, family accommodation, marinas, i.e., all employees in tourism – is that testing must take place at tourist checkpoints and that the cost of tests must be minimized. I proposed that the price of the tests is subsidized from the income of the sojourn tax,” Klisović said.

He also states that charter tourism is unfavorable because they are hoping for the first guests in a month.

“As far as I can see, everyone else in tourism is hoping for guests only in June, while we have announcements for Easter. I hope that some things will be organized and agreed upon as soon as possible. We have already had a meeting in Šibenik-Knin County with the local Institute of Public Health on tourist testing points. I have to say they are willing to do it, but we were told there was a shortage of people to do the testing, so we went on to involve private clinics that could jump in. We hope that everything will be organized on time,” Klisović concluded. 

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