Published on : Friday, January 14, 2022
Renowned for its Mediterranean islands, medieval towns and natural wonders, Croatia, the southeastern European country depending heavily on tourism revenue, suddenly faced uncertain times with no tourists in sight after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. Last year, Croatia recorded 7 million tourist arrivals in the year.
The colleagues from Asia were warning them of the problems that the pandemic could bring about, but it seemed impossible that the whole sector could fall apart. When it did, it collapsed in only a few days. All tours were cancelled.
For the rest of the year, Smrkic, as well as many other tour guides in Croatia, were out of a job. The Croatian government introduced measures to support job preservation, but still many employees were forced to leave the tourism sector.
In 2020, the COVID-19 related travel restrictions hit Croatia’s tourism sector very hard. The country logged a mere 7 million tourist arrivals in the year, 64.2 percent less than in 2019. Its gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 8.4 percent, which was one of the largest in the European Union (EU).
According to the Croatian National Bank, tourism revenues in July, August and September last year amounted to 6.8 billion euros ($7.7 billion), an astounding 100 percent growth compared to the same period in 2020.
The Ministry of Tourism and Sports in Croatia said this week that Croatia generated the best tourism results in the Mediterranean with 13.8 million arrivals and 84.1 million overnight stays in 2021. Compared to 2020, this was an increase of 77 percent and 55 percent, respectively.
The Croatian National Tourist Board told that this is the result of the dedicated and quality work of all tourism workers who, through their unified effort, quick reactions and coordinated action, have ensured the status of a high-quality, safe and well-prepared destination for their country.
According to the board, Croatia has been promoting the image of a safe country where the pandemic is under control. The main slogan of the board is “Stay Safe in Croatia” – and not without reason. As soon as vaccines became available, people working in the tourism sector were among the first to receive the shot.
Moreover, the government offered free COVID-19 tests to all foreigners staying in Croatia. The clear border crossing protocols with minimal restrictions made Croatia even more accessible and attractive.