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Growth of Croatia Travel & Tourism Industry with 2017 Forecasts

The report provides detailed market analysis, information and insights, including: Historic and forecast tourist volumes covering the entire Croatian travel and tourism sector; Detailed analysis of tourist spending patterns in Croatia for various categories in the travel and tourism sector, such as accommodation, sightseeing and entertainment, foodservice, transportation, retail, travel intermediaries and others; Detailed market classification across each category, with analysis using similar metrics; Detailed analysis of the airline, hotel, car rental and travel intermediaries industries.

The global economic crisis and prolonged euro zone debt crisis presented a challenge for the Croatian tourism sector during the recessionary years of the review period (2008–2012). However, a slow but positive growth in tourist volumes followed the worst years of the crisis. The sector plays an important role in the country’s economic development, accounting for 30.2% of the country’s total employment in 2012. This has encouraged the government of Croatia to increase its focus on the sector to stimulate growth.

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Croatia’s travel and tourism sector contributes significantly to the country’s overall economic development. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the sector contributed 27.8% (HRK80.68 billion) to the nation’s GDP in 2012. The sector also accounted for 319,000 jobs (direct and indirect), representing 30.2% of the country’s total employment in 2012.

Croatia’s entry into the EU in 2013 presents opportunities for tourism development, but the country is not a part of the Schengen Area, meaning that while immigration controls still take place, travelers from other EU states are exempt from customs checks. This is expected to lead to demand for leisure travel from CEE countries. The country’s entry into the EU has also provided investors from overseas markets with the chance to invest in luxury tourism.

The Croatian government is increasing its focus on improving and developing tourism infrastructure in the country. For example, the Croatian Ministry of Tourism has invested more than US$200,000 in developing internet-related facilities at various tourist locations across the country.

Croatia has responded to the global demand for cruise tourism by developing its ports. According to port authorities at Dubrovnik, cruise traffic arriving at the port increased in 2013. From January to August, approximately 440 cruise ships, carrying more than half a million passengers passed through the port. A 10% increase in cruise ships at Dubrovnik is estimated by the end of 2013. In 2012, the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) announced its decision to finance the expansion of the Port of Split, to support growing cruise tourism around this area.

Rising operational costs, low profit margins and intense competition has made it difficult for airline companies to operate profitably in tough market conditions. For example, Croatia Airlines has suffered significant financial losses since 2007. In 2012, the company posted a net loss of HRK487 million, despite 5.9% growth in operational revenues. Competition in the market is expected to increase further due to Croatia’s entry into the EU on July 1, 2013, as more airlines are able to operate freely to and from Croatia.

In order to encourage luxury tourism in the country, the state-owned company Plovput transformed 12 lighthouses into luxury accommodation. According to media reports, Plovput owned around 40 lighthouses in the country. According to Plovput’s director, Darko Mestrovic, the transformed lighthouses generally register a 95% occupancy rate during summer months.

In order to stimulate sales, in May 2013, Nova Rent a Car partnered with telecommunication company, T-Com, to provide mobile Wi-Fi services to its customers. These mobile devices are available for rent at various locations across Croatia, including Zagreb, Zadar, Trogir, Split, Omiš, Makarska and Dubrovnik.

A rise in demand for overseas property was recorded in Croatia. Many foreigners bought holiday homes in the country and then rented them out during holiday seasons. Family travelers are also showing a preference for staying in villas and apartments, which encouraged travel management companies to include such facilities in their product offerings.

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