Zadar Tourist Board reveals its visitor numbers for 2010

Yesterday’s edition of the Dalmatian newspaper Slobodna Dalmacija reported on statistics provided by the Zadar Tourist Board on the number of tourists in Zadar so far this year – and it’s a little bit of a mixed bag in comparison to 2009.

The tourist board has said it predicts that there will be over one million overnight stays in the town by the end of the year – and seeing as January to August this year already saw 918,343 stays, that’s not a bad prediction. This figure is a rather considerable rise of 13% over the same period last year. However, the number of overnight stays is split into 134,583 stays by Croatian guests (a fall of 3% from 2009) and 783,760 by foreign guests (up 16%). There were 217,030 guests in Zadar during the same period – 36,276 domestic tourists and 180,754 foreign – which is just 1% greater than in 2009.

However, there was actually a fall in the number guests for August alone. 63,182 guests came to Zadar during last month (6,141 domestic, 57,041 foreign) which is a drop of 4% from August last year. Despite the fall in the number of tourists visiting, there was still a rise in the number of overnight stays by 12% to 330,069.

Overall, therefore, the number of guests visiting Zadar is just above last year’s level, though the town’s guests are staying for quite a bit longer.

Top nationalities visiting Zadar were Italians and Germans – despite recording an overall fall in their numbers by 33% and 4% respectively. In the ranking of visitor numbers after these two were guests from Spain, France, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, and the UK, with a healthy increase in numbers from the first two and last country reported. An increase in guests from Russia, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, Australia and the US has also been noted.

Croatian Theatre Group at The Barbican, London, 21-28 October 2010

Those based in London or elsewhere in the UK may be interested in news that a Croatian children’s theatre group are to perform at the prestigious Barbican in London for a week in October.

Parachutists or On The Art of Falling, performed by theatre group Theatre Mala Scena, has played in a number of cities across the globe, including Buenos Airies, Washington D.C., Madrid and Sydney to great acclaim. The wordless piece, aimed at children aged between three and eight years old, asks: what force keeps everything in the world together?

Parachutists is performed by Kristina Bajza Marcinko and Tomislav Krstanovic who spin, tumble and float during the performance, playing with gravity flying and falling. It is directed by Ivica Simic, music by Alen Kraljic and costumes by Hana Letica.

Taking place during school half-term week, there will also be a drop-in art activity taking place in the foyer outside the theatre – where children can make their own parachutist!

Theatre Mala Scena was founded in 1989 in Zagreb, and has become one of Croatia’s leading theatres for children and young people. They offer their audiences a chance to explore and understand the world around them, sparking curiosity and encouraging communication.

Read more

Croatia’s tourist numbers, January – August 2010

Further to my post last week on tourism numbers in Croatia, and the tweets yesterday, many Croatian media sources have reported on the most up-to-date tourism numbers or the country for 2010 so far, which were presented at a meeting on tourism in Opatija this week. Over all, it’s good news – prompting Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor, who was present at the meeting, to declare this year the best tourist season ever.

Overall figures for the year show an increase of 3% in the number of arrivals to Croatia, as well as an increase of 6% in overnight stays. (Numbers are compared to 2009’s figures.) This equates to 8.2 million tourist arrivals so far this year, and 51.7 million overnight stays.

All of the Adriatic counties have recorded increases in the number of overnight stays this year, between 4% and 12%. Dubrovnik-Neretva county has been the most successful, recording an increase of 12%. Most visitors were from Germany or Austria, whilst there was a healthy 30% increase in the number of Russian visitors – no doubt helped by the fact that Croatia suspended visa requirements for Russian citizens for the duration of the tourist season. There was, however, a rather severe drop of 13% in the number of Italian visitors.

Croatian Tourism Minister Damir Bajs also stated that every 50th tourist in Europe came to Croatia this year, whilst for the third year in a row, Croatia has been above the European average for tourism numbers.

Sources: Vjesnik, VecernjiHRT

BA flights to Dubrovnik from £49 one-way!

British Airways are currently running their “Great Big Sale” with deals on flights and holidays to a number of great destinations around the world, including Dubrovnik – so you may be able to pick up a bargain holiday to this wonderful Croatian destination.

As part of their sale, they are offering flights to the Croatian city from £49 one-way, including all taxes. Travel must be between 1st November and 16th December 2010, or 4th January and 31st March 2011. The airline runs flights four days a week throughout these periods (on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays), so a short holiday to Dubrovnik is more than possible.

Alternatively you could also book a mini-break with them to Dubrovnik – they offer return flights and three nights at the 4-star Grand Hotel Park from £179, with other hotels also available. (Travel dates the same as above.)

If you were hoping to visit the city a little sooner, flights are still available for September (from £98 one-way) and October (from £68 one-way), when a daily schedule is operated. Don’t forget that bookings can also be made up to a year in advance, so it’s certainly possible to book a trip for next spring or even summer.

The sale runs until 14th September 2010.

Hvar Croatia

Tourism stats for Croatia so far this year

A recent report in Croatian daily newspaper Jutarnji unveiled some interesting statistics about the tourist season so far in Croatia. As often mentioned in the press, Croatia has had a successful July and August, with tourist growth in some regions in the double digits. Dalmatia and its towns and cities – such as Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik – had the best growth, particularly in August, but areas such as Istria and Kvarner which have struggled during the year, have also seen better results during August but far less than in Dalmatia.

Looking at various destinations, Hvar Tourist Board suggests that the island achieved a rise in visitors by 15% in July 2010 to the same month the previous year, whilst figures for August should be even better. Overall, the first seven months of the year saw a rise in visitor numbers by 16%; there was a vast increase in visitors from certain countries, including 34% more from Norway and 25% more from Spain.

Hvar, Croatia
Hvar Town, on the island of Hvar

Split, however, saw a 30% increase in the number of overnight stays during July, partially due to the fact that more and more people are choosing to stay in the city itself rather than just visit on a day trip. (The average length of stay has increased to 3.5 days.) The director of the tourist office there, Vedran Matosic, stated that there was an increased amount of visitors from England, the USA, France, Spain, Australia and New Zealand.

Dubrovnik, meanwhile, achieved 1.6 million overnight stays from the beginning of the year to 26th August, which is 12% greater than last year, whilst this statistic for the month of August could be between 10-15% higher than 2009. There’s an interesting increase in visitors from Spain (up 25%), Australia (35%) and Russia (30%), with 300% more visitors from Turkey and Greece – though, of course, visitors from these countries are still comparatively low in number.

The tourist association of Rovinj says that in terms of the number of overnight stays, their July is at the same level as 2009, whilst August was 2% better than the previous year – and for the year to 27th August, the number of overnight stays has also risen by 2%. So far, they’ve achieved 2.2 million stays, with 2.65 million expected by year end. The director of tourism in Rovinj, Odeta Sapac, believes the slower growth in Rovinj than in some Dalmatian resorts is a a result of the Istrian town having already nearly reached its capacity – and given the rise in popularity of the region even soon after the war, that may well be true.

Overall, Croatia has achieved 3% more visitors and 5% more overnight stays for the first seven months of 2010. By comparison, the Jutarnji article suggests that many European countries, such as Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Greece – are expecting a drop in the number of the visitors for the first months of this year.


The best cities and attractions in North Croatia

As part of a series of guides to different areas, attractions and activities in Croatia, last week Croatian newspaper Jutarnji focused on the area of north Croatia. An area mostly overlooked by visitors and travellers to the country, this lovely part of Croatia still has a number of interesting places to visit. If you’re looking for something a little different (and can drag yourself away from the coast!), why not give this area of Croatia a go?

St Nicolas Church in Varazdin

The most beautiful towns in the region – as selected by Jutarnji – are Varazdin, Varazdinske Toplice, Ludbreg, Bjelovar, Daruvar, Cazma, Sisak, Petrinja, Kutina and Novska. (Links go to Jutarnji articles on those towns and cities. [Edit: links removed as no longer work.])

Stand-out city from the list is the wonderful Varazdin. Once upon a time the capital of Croatia (and therefore one of its oldest cities), Varazdin has many wonderful sights, including a 16th century castle and an Old Town dating from that century as well, a cathedral and the Baroque Ursuline Church (one of a number of Baroque churches and palaces in the city). Nearby is Varazdinske Toplice, a spa town (the oldest thermal spa in Croatia), which now has health and rehabilitation facilities, but was once a Roman settlement named Aquae Iassae. Part of the Roman settlement has been excavated and can be visited.

Meanwhile,  attractions that are recommended in the region include the Lonjsko Polje Nature Park and Cigoc, a stork village where around 200 storks nest on the houses and locale of a village of around 120 inhabitants – so there are more storks than people! There’s also the Museum of Evolution in Krapina (the remains of Neanderthals were discovered in the local area) and the town of Ozlja, with various Roman and medieval finds, and sights such as its castle and town museum.

Activities in the area include everything from the more standard kayaking, cycling and hunting, though Jutarnji also mentions that quad-biking, paragliding and “speleology” (the study of caves) is possible!


Zagreb becoming more popular

Croatian TV reported a few days that Zagreb has been achieving a healthy increase in visitor numbers for this year. This July, there were 17% more tourists and a 29% increase in the number of nights stayed, compared to the same month in 2009. (Does this much larger number for the increase in overnight stays mean that more of Zagreb’s visitors are staying for longer? I think so.) Of the number of visitors, 88% were foreign – which accounted for 60,000 people.

The rooftops of Zagreb, with the cathedral in the distance

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the highest number of foreign visitors during July came from Spain, of which there was a 16% increase in July this year to last. Other nationalities that were in abundance in Zagreb during July were Germans, French, Americans, Polish, British, Japanese, Italians, Dutch and Russians – with the latter rising in number by quite a staggering 130% from the same period last year.

The increase in visitor numbers can be said to be in part attributed to a number of interesting events and exhibitions taking place in the capital last month, both traditional and modern – including a concert by Leonard Cohen. Good visitor numbers for the rest of the year are also hoped with more big concerts lined up (Guns ‘n’ Roses, Lady Gaga and Prince are all lined up to play the Zagreb Arena) as well as business conferences and similar.

Low-cost airlines’ new routes to Zagreb are also helping to bring in more travellers. Easyjet have announced two new routes to Zagreb – from Paris, starting November 2009 and from London Gatwick in February 2010 – which will surely make it even easier for people to visit Croatia’s capital.

Plitvice Lakes

Croatia’s National Parks bring in the visitors in 2010

Croatian daily newspaper Vjesnik last week reported that some of Croatia’s National Parks are attracting healthy visitor numbers this year. The two main Parks attracting the most visitors are Krka and, unsurprisingly, the amazing Plitvice Lakes, which together account for 1.4 million of the 1.7 million total number of visitors to all of the eight National Parks of Croatia. (2009 figures)

Plitvice Lakes has already passed its half a millionth visitor in 2010, and is hoping to reach the magic million mark later this year. (Last year, just under 850,000 came to Plitvice; there were 550,000 visitors to Krka). In June alone, comparing this year to last, there was a rise in visitor numbers of 6%, with 5% in July; overall, there has been a 7% increase in the first seven months of 2010.

Croatia's National Parks - Plitvice Lakes
Plitvice Lakes National Park

A spokesperson for the park, Vlatka Ruzic, says there has been a substantial increase in the number of Russian visitors this year, helped by the abolition of visas for the summer months. There’s also been a jump in Japanese visitors – who often like to take in a National Park when in this part of Europe; Vjesnik says that each year, visitor numbers to Plitvice from Japan rise by 40%.

As wonderful as these two Parks are, if you’d like to get away from the crowds why not consider one of Croatia’s other nature offerings? Official statistics for 2009 show only just over 100,000 visiting the Brijuni islands, and just under 100,000 going to Paklenica.

Welcome to the Visit Croatia blog!

Yes, we’ve finally succumbed…and gotten around to adding a blog to the Visit Croatia website! Although we’ve been pretty active on Twitter (see Visit Croatia Twitter), the 140-character limit has often felt somewhat constricting…and so here we are with a Visit Croatia blog, where we can witter away to our heart’s content.

We hope to bring you the latest travel news on Croatia, with occasional other features on the country and its people, as well as dispensing travel advice.

If you’d like to see anything in particular here, or need any advice or similar, please don’t hesitate to email us:

Happy reading!

Photos of Dubrovnik

Croatia Travelogue 2009

After their shenanigans at the 2009 Exit Festival in Novi Sad, Serbia, Visit Croatia and three friends decided to take a short holiday in Croatia. Here’s the Croatia travelogue from that trip!

Due to the constraints of work and other usual commitments, we could only spend six days for our trip to Croatia. I know from my experiences of fielding numerous email questions along the lines of “We only have a week in Croatia; what should we see/where should we go/how many places should we visit?” that I always advise, “Try not to do/see to much – you’ll enjoy yourself more!”

Photos of Dubrovnik

The Rector’s Palace (on the right), with the Church of St Blaise seen in the distance

Looks like I didn’t really take my own advice! Part of the reason for this was that my three travel companions had never been Croatia before (in fact, most had never been to anywhere in Eastern Europe before this trip), so we were eager to see as much as we could manage. And we’re not really the kind of people who want to laze on a beach for seven days straight. AND on top of that…who can resist the charms of Dubrovnik…right?

So our chosen route was Zagreb to Trogir to Dubrovnik. Here are our experiences in those three places!

  • Zagreb
    Two nights in the capital of Croatia sees us enjoying this bustling city with a walk around the main sights in the Lower and Upper Towns, and frequent stops at the many cafes!
  • Dubrovnik
    We enjoy this truly stunning city and the sights of the Old Town. Just a shame we’re only here for two nights!

If you’d like to see some photos taken during our trip, please see: