In order for Croatia to keep its position on the tourist market and successfully fight the competition, it is necessary to increase funding for promotion on European markets as of next year, and expand activities overseas, National Tourist Board (HTZ) director Kristjan Stanicic has told state news agency Hina.
This year, like in 2018, the focus is on China - the HTZ opened an office in Shanghai last year and will attend the China International Import Expo in November. That same month there will be promotion in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, in Singapore in October, while in September the HTZ and the Slovenian Tourist Organisation will hold joint promotional events in Seoul and Tokyo.
Stanicic says the US, South Korea, Canada, Japan, and Australia are also important overseas markets this year, with increases recorded in all of them in the first half of the year, by almost 20% in arrivals and 10% in nights. Plans include promotion in India and South America as well.
In September and October, the HTZ will open offices in Los Angeles and Seoul, Stanicic says, adding that focus on overseas markets will partly reduce the dependence of Croatian tourism on European markets and stimulate turnover in the off-seasons.
He says the HTZ plans to open an office in Madrid, with a decision expected by the end of the year.
As for European markets, he says this year's turnover is better or the same as last year, with a mild decrease in some of them, but notes that the peak July and August weeks are still ahead.
Stanicic says the HTZ's promotional campaigns and cooperation with PR agencies in those markets contribute to results.
A recent survey conducted in the eight most important markets - Germany, Austria, the UK, Italy, Sweden, France, the Netherlands and Poland - shows that awareness of Croatia's tourism brand has risen from 57% in 2013 to 72% last year, he says, while understanding of the brand and what Croatia offers has risen from 25% to 31%.
Those percentages show that there are about 18 million potential visitors from those markets aware of Croatia's tourism brand now, he adds.
Stancic also credits the communication activities of local tourist boards, hotel companies and tour operators.
He says the HTZ is currently promoting Croatia in 18 European markets on TV, in key print media and on social media as well as in cooperation with world travel platforms and media such as Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor and the BBC.
A recent campaign with Expedia in the US has resulted in "more than 16 million impressions... the booking of 5,900 nights and the purchase of 7,900 airline tickets for Croatia totalling $2.8 million," says Stanicic.
He adds that by the end of the year the HTZ will promote the shoulder season in a number of European markets as well as health tourism, business tourism and Advent, while in cooperation with the Tourism Ministry it is preparing a special campaign to motivate domestic tourists to travel around the country in the post-summer season.