WTM 2019: Croatia to focus on sustainability as tourist numbers boom

UK visitor numbers to Croatia grew 4% year-on-year for the first half of 2019, according to Croatian National Tourist Board director Kristjan Stanicic. The figure is expected to grow further next year, with the country hosting the EU presidency for the first six months of 2020, and Rijeka welcoming visitors as the European Capital of Culture.

“The EU presidency will put Zagreb in focus for many of our markets,” he said. “We believe this, along with Rijeka being the European Capital of Culture, will place a greater focus on the country in general.”

According to Sanicic, the majority of arrivals in 2019 were concentrated on Dubrovnik, Split, Konavle, Pula and Poreč, with Hvar the most popular island for Brits.

He said the tourist board was now working to limit issues around over-tourism and spread tourist arrivals across a wider breadth of the year.

“Croatia has a population of over 4 million people, yet in 2018 had a record-breaking year with just under 18.7 million arrivals and over 90 million overnights in commercial accommodation. We recently surpassed these numbers with still two months to go in 2019.

“Given these numbers, Croatia has more tourists per capita than most other tourist destinations. As such, we are very conscious of the limitations this imposes on the infrastructure, traffic and tourist-congestion.

“Many destinations within the country have been actively pursuing and implementing sustainable tourism measures in-line with the UNWTO Sustainable Tourism for Development guidelines.

“At a national level the country is also aware of the impact this has on local communities and works with high-traffic tourism destinations to try and redistribute tourist arrivals to the shoulder season, and change the dynamic and seasonality of the tourists visiting Croatia.”

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