Tourism minister opens Vespera hotel

MALI LOSINJ, 5.6.2009.
Croatian Tourism Minister Damir Bajs on Friday opened the four-star Vespera hotel in Mali Losinj on the northern Adriatic island of Losinj.

On that occasion Bajs said at a news conference that this was one of the most demanding years for tourism and that more than HRK 5 billion would be invested in tourism this year.

He said bookings for the peak season were improving, although they were not at last year's levels, and that he expected last minute trips to be crucial.

Bajs also pointed out that Croatia had to fight for tourists with lower prices, but first and foremost with quality, and that he expected 147 hotels to be given four- and 22 five-star status this year.

He recalled that funds for the promotion of tourism this year had been increased from EUR 9 to 28 million, and that the temporary suspension of visa requirements for Ukrainian and Russian citizens was already producing results.

Commenting on the private sector's complaints about the bans on smoking and Sunday work of shops after 2 p.m. during the season, Bajs said the law had to be respected, that such bans were also in force in other tourism-oriented countries, and that there were no indications that they were affecting arrivals.

Asked about prices, Bajs said this depended on every company's policy, but that the Tourism Ministry was recommending that hotel owners should be cautious this year and consider the competition's prices.

The minister further commented that he was against selling tourism land that had not been privatized, adding that it should be given in concession, which would enable the state to monitor it and tourism to develop further. (Hina)