Minister says 2013 challenging for Croatia's tourism sector

ZAGREB, 27.12.2012.

The next year will be challenging for the Croatian tourist trade because of a series of both favourable and unfavourable circumstances, Tourism Minister Veljko Ostojic has said in an interview with Hina in which he also stated that he would be very pleased if 2013 was at the same level as 2012 regarding the results in the tourism sector and extremely glad if even better statistics were achieved.

As for the favourable circumstances in 2013, the minister emphasises the beginning of the enforcement of a lower, 10-percent rate of the Value Added Tax on a majority of tourism services which he sees as a tailwind to the sector in the long run.

The national tourist sector will also take advantages from Croatia's admission to the European Union, set for 1 July, and the EU membership will open many possibilities in the financing of and investments into the tourist trade, according to Ostojic.

The adoption of a strategy for Croatian tourism through 2020, a document which is nearing completion, is expected in 2013.

The minister is also hopeful of a twofold increase in investments in tourism in 2013 in comparison to 2012, which means that investments may reach at least three billion kuna.

In this regard, the tourism ministry is trying to facilitate access to funds under more favourable conditions for potential investors, and a specific lending programme is being prepared for SMEs in cooperation with state agencies, the development bank HBOR and other relevant ministries.

The minister also announces an improvement in promotion of the Croatian tourism in cooperation with the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) in 2013.

As for unfavourable circumstances, he warns about the continuation of negative trends in the global economy, notably in the countries from which tourists come to Croatia as well as unfavourable changes in visa regimes regarding Russia and Ukraine from which a growing number of guests have been arriving in Croatia in recent years. (Hina)