Google Streetview for Croatia was launched today – and let me tell you, that’s very exciting news! It seems like they’ve really covered a great deal of the country (I’ve just been pootling around in a small Croatian village near the Hungarian border!) although this report suggests they’ve filmed around 50% of the country.
What’s most exciting is when you get to see or “walk through” some of Croatia’s most famous views…such as the harbour in Hvar Town; overlooking Dubrovnik and the island of Lokrum, or in the Old Town of Dubrovnik itself (by the harbour); the Arena in Pula, Zagreb‘s main square, or the Riva – the main promenade overlooking the sea – in Split. Or look at Zadar‘s Greeting to the Sun installation and get slightly scared by that massive cruise ship next to it.
The Streetview images are stunning, and it’s well worth taking a look at these or other places you know and love in Croatia. Perhaps it’s the wonderfully sunny weather that many of the images seem to have been filmed in, or maybe it’s just that Croatia really is that beautiful (I mean, I and many others know it, but it’s nice to be proved right!) – I think Streetview shows Croatia in a wonderful way.
Of course, just as when Streetview was launched in other parts of the world, many want to see the humorous things the Google cameras have come across during filming – the illusions, the practical jokes, the people caught doing things they shouldn’t. I wonder what Google Streetview will show for Croatia in that respect?!
A couple of things I’ve noticed – quite a few people on Dubrovnik’s Stradun took photos of the Google cameras as they were walking past, including this guy. (Which gives the odd sensation that he’s taking a photo of you, whilst you’re sitting in front of your computer.) Like Stradun, Split’s Riva is fully pedestrianised, which means that the camera was carried on someone’s shoulders instead of being mounted on a car. And that person wore a bright red baseball cap, which makes an appearance (in a spooky, floating way) in quite a few of the images!
The three-day Days of Croatian Tourism (Dani hrvatskog turizma) conference, the traditional annual gathering of tourism professionals from both Croatia and abroad, came to close on the evening of Friday 21st October. Held in Sibenik this year, the event was organised by the Ministry of Tourism, the Croatian National Tourist Board, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce and Croatian Radio Television (HRT) and was intended to act as a forum for discussion of this year’s tourism results and to also look ahead to next year’s plans.
The culmination of the event saw a number of awards given out for the best tourist resorts and destinations in Croatia, both on the coast and in the interior, as well as awards given out in specific categories (such as best tourist information centre, souvenir, and site of interest) and to employees in the industry. (Some of these awards – in particular destinations that placed second and third in the Plavi and Zeleni Cvijet categories mentioned below – were in fact announced in a separate ceremony on Thursday night.)
The biggest winner on the night, awarded the “Tourist Flower – Quality for Croatia” prize presented by Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor, was the town of Rab. Other coastal destinations that were winners of the “Plavi Cvijet” (“Blue Flower”) awards were Opatija (in the category of over 10,000 inhabitants); Krk (3,000 – 10,000 inhabitants), Nin, which is near Zadar (1,000 – 3,000 inhabitants); and Mlini, near Dubrovnik (less than 1,000).
Interior destinations received the “Zeleni Cvijet” (“Green Flower”) award, and these went to Velika Gorica, just south of Zagreb; Djakovo, near Osijek; Nasice, also near Osijek; and Groznjan, in the Istrian interior. (These four towns are winners of the same categories according to number of residents as mentioned above.)
For the first time this year, three awards were given out to recognise cultural achievements in tourism in Croatia. The town of Zadar was winner of the Destination of Culture category; the Nikola Tesla Memorial Centre in Smiljan was winner of the best cultural institution; and the Rab Fair on the island of Rab, a medieval summer fair, was winner of best cultural event.
According to the European Environment Agency just publishing bathing water quality report, Croatia has the second cleanest beaches in Europe – with beaches in all EU member state, plus Croatia, Montenegro and Switzerland, tested.
As reported by HRT yesterday, of the 913 bathing water sites tested in Croatia in 2010 – 887 of them on the coast - 97.3% were found to meet the strict EU water guidelines. This placed Croatia second on the list behind Cyprus, where 100% of sites met the strictest criteria, and ahead of countries such as Greece, Portugal, Spain, France and Italy. In less stringent tests, a slightly higher 98.7% of water bathing sites met the minimum EU guidelines.
These figures in fact decreased ever so slightly from the previous year. In 2009, 99.6% of sites met the EU’s minimum guidelines, whilst 97.9% passed the stricter tests. In 2009, however, the total number of bathing sites in the country was 8 less – 905. No sites were required to be closed after undergoing testing last year, which was also the case in 2009.
You can read more about the EEA’s Bathing Water Report – including individual reports on all the countries – on their website: Bathing water quality remains high around the EU where there’s also a rather nifty interactive map. You can also look up the results of particular beaches across Europe on their Data Viewer page – although in the case of Croatia, you’ll find almost all ranked excellent!
A recent survey by Croatian website Posloni Turizam, which concentrates on the promotion of business tourism in Croatia, revealed the extent to which Croatian hotels use the Internet as a means of marketing and to attract sales.
The survey, conducted amongst 95 hotels, showed that all have websites (I certainly would not be able to believe that any hotel wouldn’t in this day and age!), whilst 93% offer means for booking accommodation online – shame on those who don’t! Even fewer, 79.3% of these hotels, offer a way of accepting payment online. However, 93.1% of these hotels do offer their accommodation through some kind of travel portal or booking site, such as Booking.com or Expedia.
Whilst it may be thought that online booking would be a very popular method of attracting sales, respondents in the survey revealed somewhat otherwise. Only 17.3% of these hotels said that online booking accounted for half of their total bookings. 15.5% said they achieved 25-50% of total bookings online, while by far most – 56.9% – said this method accounted for up to only 25% of their total bookings.
However, about half (in fact 49.8%) of those that took part in the survey suggested that in five years’ time, they expect the Internet to account for half of total bookings taken. For that reason, these hotels intend to invest more in Internet marketing in the future, although at present 44.8% of these hotels stated that less than a quarter of their marketing budget went on advertising online. At the present time, those that do engage in online marketing say that they advertise on search engines (which 65% of respondents claimed they do); banner advertising (58%); targeted online advertising on foreign sites (55%); and advertising on Facebook (51%).
We at Visit Croatia actively follow all mentions of the country (on all subjects, but from a travel perspective most of all!) in the papers and see the full spectrum of different types of articles, from well-researched to poor, detailed to the hole-filled, incredibly useful to the downright patronising! We try and put together all travel articles (and even a simple mention here or there – if it’s worth it) on Croatia in our What The Others Say section. (We’ve got links to articles going right back to 1998 – take a look at how things have changed over the years!)
Here are our favourite pieces (these aren’t ranked in order of how much we like them, but purely on when they were published, oldest to newest!):
- First up, a nice piece on Zagreb titled On the edge of elegance from the Sydney Morning Herald. Arriving by train from Split, author Nicola Walker enjoys the very grand (though yes, it is pricey) Regent Esplanade hotel, once used by travellers from the Orient Express.
- Natalie Paris enjoys Summer Festival-hopping in the Daily Telegraph – thought not festivals of the more modern, dance kind! Instead she uncovers some more traditional and well-established ones, such as medieval games on Rab and the film festival in Motovun.
- Not really a travel article, it was still enjoyable to read how Trogir was used as a filming location – in place of 16th-century Venice – for an episode of Doctor Who, again in the Daily Telegraph: Why Doctor Who is vamping it up in Croatia. Trogir also stood in for 19th-century France in another episode in the series!
- The Financial Times explored the delights of the tranquil islands near Zadar on a sailing holiday: The deserted bays of Kornati islands.
- Radio station BBC 6 Music – via the BBC News website – had a really enjoyable piece on the INmusic Festival that takes place every June in Zagreb. Last year’s event saw acts like The Flaming Lips and Massive Attack perform; the BBC spoke to them, whilst also taking a general look at the Festival: A Massive Attack of music in Croatia.
- Travel expert Simon Calder recounts a trip to the “secret” island of Solta, near Split, in the Independent: Slavic secret: Solta is steeped in history and rich in beauty. Whilst it’s perhaps not quite as overlooked as he writes, it certainly isn’t an island at the top of people’s lists so enjoyable to read about.
- A lovely piece in the Guardian by Kate Edgley about a biking holiday in Croatia is nicely dotted with some humorous touches: Blazing saddles: Croatia on two wheels
- In a similarly (well, -ish) active vein, David Atkinson in The Daily Telegraph enjoys a slightly different side of the island of Brac by embarking on a walking holiday there: Brac: Walking in the rural heart of Croatia.
- Rudolf Abraham writes about Istria’s culinary delights – truffles, in particular – in fantastically detailed piece on CNN Traveller: Croatia: A Taste of Istria.
- Finally – so good, we had to give them a second entry – the truffles of Istria and the restaurants they are served in are covered by Anja Mutic in the Washing Post: Falling in love with truffles on Croatia’s Istrian peninsula.
Croatia and its sights, resorts, beaches and more received numerous accolades throughout 2010, perhaps best of all being named 4th favourite European country in the Guardian’s Travel Awards, as voted for by their readers.
And finally – as they always say in newscasts! Something we’ve delighted in reading about over the year – and it has received plenty of coverage from a very wide range of sources – is the unusual Museum of Broken Hearts in Zagreb. There’s no better way to discover a bit of it than in this short report from the BBC News website: Sad stories from the Museum of Broken Relationships.