Tourism needs to utilise Croatia's EU entry, says minister

BELGRADE, 28.5.2013.

Croatian Tourism Minister Darko Lorencin on Tuesday said that Croatia had to utilise it entry to the European Union (EU) for a long term strategy in tourism.

We are endeavouring to utilise the moment of Croatia's entry to the EU, but not just in the short term as 95% of our foreign tourists will be able to come to Croatia without any obstacles as customs and controls will be unified, which will facilitate movement at the border, Lorencin told Hina on the margins of a two-day meeting of the Executive Council of the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), which is being held in Belgrade and has attracted officials from over 30 countries around the world.

"In the short term, this season we will utilise the actual moment of joining the EU but everything else is up to us", he said, adding that he believed Croatia's entry to the EU would have broad media impact which will lead to stronger interest amongst tourists.

He underscored the long term effects of Croatia's accession - development of small and medium businesses through European funds, of golf tourism, of small and private hotels and so on.

He recalled that the number of tourists visiting Croatia was growing each season, however this year that trend may be upset with the introduction of visas for certain countries like Russia and Turkey, but added that procedures to issue visas had been maximally simplified.

During the conference, Minister Lorencin met with UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai whom he informed of Croatia's Tourism Strategy, aimed at making Croatia one of the 20 most competitive tourism countries in the world by 2020.

Rifai commended Croatia on its efforts and results achieved in 2012 despite the difficult economic crisis and enquired about what steps Croatia had taken to simplify the issuance of visas.

He underscored the question of the seasonal nature of tourism in the entire Mediterranean and added that that country which extended its season would enhance its competitiveness and achieve better results. (Hina)