Travel and tourism in Croatia
Many people in Croatia were looking forward to the restoration of travel activities, and by today some 380 000 tourists have been reported staying in the country by our Ministry of Interior.
At this point, we can testify that there are tourists in the destination, perhaps more on the mainland than on the islands. Past weekend, I travelled to Hvar Island for some site inspections, having noticed activities in tourism to a mild extent.
Currently, among most tourists in Croatia are families with children, younger and middle-aged couples, boat charter groups of friends, camping enthusiasts or private accommodation users. There seems to be considerable demand for camping sites, as people feel the safest because of social distance and privacy. Same goes for boat charters.
The tourists I have had a chance to talk to were feeling blessed. First of all, they see safety standards applied throughout places where any chance social contact increases. Secondly, there is a great feeling of privacy and calm; no crowds or any kind of rush, which makes social distancing easily applicable, but also gives people a chance to relax and enjoy the nature at its best.
Still, since the numbers of tourist visits are nowhere near previous year’s ones, there is a great feeling of freedom and silence everywhere you go. With an immense amount of restaurants and hotels, private apartments and excursion providers that have emerged as a consequence of the tourist boom that happened in the last decade, colossal contrast of offer and demand is more evident than ever I would say.
Coronavirus in Croatia
As mentioned in our previous travel update, with the relaxation of measures and the gradual increase in arrivals from abroad, the Coronavirus presence among us was expected. However, except for one person in Istria, there still is no report of any tourists infected with Covid-19.
Although there were a few hotspots like recent Zadar tennis tournament outbreak or the one in a nunnery in Đakovo, the authorities have also reported some smaller numbers of infected people throughout the local communities across Croatia.
Under the impression that some measures have been hastily taken off the list, Croatia is currently dealing with repercussions of allowing larger group gatherings.
Still, it is interesting to see no sign of severe cases so far. Moreover, the virus seems to weaken with infected people having flu-like symptoms or no symptoms at all.
Coronavirus in the region
Slovenia was the first European country to have declared the end of the COVID-19 epidemic and one of the first countries in the world with recognised Safe Travels Protocols approved by the World Travel and Tourism Council. This country notes very high demand, mainly by Austrian, German and domestic guests.
However, since stamps and certificates cannot make the virus disappear, this country has cases reported, but seemingly with even better control than in Croatia, as all large-numbered gatherings and night clubs are still banned from operating ever since the start of the outbreak.
In Bosnia and Serbia, the situation is somewhat less convenient to travel, while circumstances and criteria in Montenegro are slightly similar to Croatian.
Nonetheless, due to unpredicted bilateral agreements that cannot be characterised as stable at this point, we advise against combining multiple countries in your itineraries.
Coexistence with the virus
By reopening its borders and returning to everyday activities, Croatia is entering a new phase of understanding and handling the Coronavirus crisis. We can say that the general Croatian population had shifted from sever caution and very high at the start of the Coronavirus outbreak, to the total non-compliance to measures and recommendations during times of no Corona infections reported by local authorities and press.
Now, with new cases reported daily, people are more aware of their responsibilities and therefore, much more cautious conduct is visible throughout the community. It appears that society is currently in somewhat of a new behaviour search mode, adapting to current conditions.
All Covid-19 positive cases and their contacts are regularly being attended according to rules and guidelines introduced by the Croatian Institute of Public Health, as mentioned in our earlier post here. Also, some of them had to be reintroduced – like the mandatory wearing of respiratory masks in all forms of public transportation or banning entrance from some high-risk countries.
For anyone who would like to be updated daily, the government of the Republic of Croatia has created an “Official government website for accurate and verified information on Coronavirus” here.
The indispensable and sometimes exhausting debate
Of course, the latest circumstances have yet again risen many eyebrows; various opinions and counter-opinions have found their place in the press. Since we are in no position to enter the debate, all we can and want to do is brief our partners and clients on travel conditions through this news section. The fact is that tourism still exists and people are travelling, so we wanted to make our small contribution towards the factual, reasonable and positive news as much as we can.
Only time can show how much the current situation makes sense; whether for instance, the space in media could have been used much wiser. In the meantime, we just have to deal with being human.
The fact is that Covid-19 virus is still a great unknown and that there is no shortcut to the solution of its repercussions.
Having said everything above, throughout the world, it is evident how society reacts to media headlines. Therefore, we couldn’t help ourselves noticing how individual news editors in Croatia subject to sensationalism instead of reason, which results with predominant negativity in any way: whether by panicking, avoiding the news or just being aggravated by their greed for attention. Fingers crossed for the news editors to realise their part of the responsibility.
Tourism, virus and sustainability
Times seem ideal on drawing the line and contemplating on the sustainability issues in tourism as we have known it until now. The recently passed over-tourism topics with their negative repercussions on local life and environment appear to be out of even the smallest news articles for now. We believe Linkedin posts or a blog here and there are insufficient to make any severe impact on the industry.
Moreover, we as a society seem currently very thirsty of returning to over-tourism. As travel professionals, we feel ambiguity between compassion for people’s existence concerns and sadness because of the lack of general awareness, unity and will for positive change.