Tourism minister says past five consecutive weekends saw record arrivals

ZADAR, 19.8.2009.
Tourism Minister Damir Bajs said in the coastal town of Starigrad on Wednesday that presently one knew that the disastrous announcements of a big downturn in tourism would not come true.

Only six weeks ago, some people envisaged a decline of up to 25 per cent, and if that had happened, we would have earned less than EUR 6 billion, which would have meant 10 per cent less employees in tourism, or 25,000 persons, but this will not happen, said Bajs.

Seventy per cent of the tourist season is behind us and 30 per cent is ahead, so any adding or subtraction is premature, he added.

The past five weekends, two in July and three in August, saw a record number of arrivals, said Bajs.

In some segments, August saw a higher tourism turnover than last year, which registered record results, and last weekend 25 per cent more passengers and 15 per cent more vehicles entered Croatia than at the same time last year.

This year so far, more than 29.4 million vehicles have entered Croatia, up 1.1 million on the year, which is important as 90 per cent of tourists arrive in their own cars, Bajs said, adding that tourism was a strategic branch of the Croatian economy and that it would be its most competitive sector.

Bajs also met representatives of the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service (HGSS), saying Croatia was a safe tourist country. He recalled that the Tourism Ministry and the HGSS had a cooperation contract.

That Croatia is a country safe for tourists has been confirmed by the fact that foreign ministers have thanked Croatia for the prompt assistance extended their citizens when  required, Bajs added.

He went on to say that Croatia would further improve tourist safety, reduce possible errors, continue marking tourist paths and training new guides.

He also said that over the next five years Croatia would present new tourist areas and mark them with a view to reducing the number of potentially dangerous areas.

The HGSS has had 470 interventions this year, said chief Vinko Prizmic.

A state secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Zoran Sikic, said the safety of tourists was imperative for the development of tourism.

Protected areas, nature and national parks comprise 12 per cent of Croatia's land territory and safety in them is enviable, he said, adding that turnover in protected areas was at or close to last year's figures. (Hina)