Croatia looks is set to welcome a record number of Britons by the end of 2012, according to the latest stats from the Croatian National Tourist Office.
Croatia has already enjoyed a bumper summer season this year – 23% more British and Irish holidaymakers visited the country during the past eight months compared to the same period last year.
It’s a destination with its own set of impressive figures: 16 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 8 national parks, over 1,200 islands (only about fifty are populated) and coupled with its reputation as a gourmet destination, it all adds up to pretty much the perfect short break destination for a splash of last minute autumn sunshine.
So far 241.443 British visitors visited Croatia this year which is a boost of almost a quarter compared to 2011 statistics.
"It’s fantastic to see more Brits than ever choosing Croatia as their summer holiday destination. This year we’re on target to reach 300,000 UK visitors, which clearly shows that we can return to our record-breaking figure of 500,000 in 1990," says Meri Matesic, UK & Ireland Director of the CNTO.
"I’m confident that the UK and Irish markets will continue to grow in 2013, especially with the introduction of more flights, new routes and holiday packages from providers like Jet2, giving UK travellers greater flexibility and choice when booking a holiday to Croatia."
This month, the second wave of the CNTO’s 2012 marketing campaign will run in newspapers Britain-wide and the campaign will be encouraging even more Brits to experience a Croatian city break this autumn/winter.
Last year, Lonely Planet ranked Istria among the best travel destinations of 2011 but it wasn’t long ago that Croatia was primarily a destination for the pioneering few looking for somewhere new to explore, or moor their luxury yachts.
Croatia has become something of an insider favourite in the celebrity world. Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Tom Cruise and Ashley Judd are among those who have already discovered this jewel of a destination, and its “untouched” Mediterranean coastline has been acquiring a distinctly Riviera flavour of late.
The country’s beautiful shores, lush natural scenery, Michelin-starred restaurants and luxury hotels are all reasons why the country is now one of the fastest rising holiday spots in Europe – and it will definitely be one to watch in 2013 when it becomes a full EU member.
Timeshare in Croatia/New Developments
Leading hotel group Melia Hotels International is one of the most active brands in the country, and the group has a number of properties in the region. For more information about Melia Hotels International and the group’s vacation ownership brand Club Melia please visit www.melia.com and www.clubmelia.com.
The prime tourism product in Croatia is ‘sun and sea’, but other products are under development, particularly in the sectors of gastronomic and rural tourism. New developments – including yacht marinas on Croatia’s picturesque islands and mixed-use resorts – are magnets for investors and this is due to the fact that both development models usually assure sound returns on investment.
Another major hotel group, Hilton (which also runs a successful vacation ownership division, Hilton Grand Vacations Club www.higvc.co.uk is showing increasing interest in Croatia; latest additions include the Hilton hotel in Split and Doubletree by Hilton hotel in Zagreb.
Like a lot of other Mediterranean destinations, Croatia’s tourist season centres around the summer months, with almost 90% of hotel nights booked during the months of June to September.
Croatia’s proposed entry into the EU as a full member next year should boost the country’s tourism prospects even more. Airlines are already gearing up for a heavier influx of tourists and on the property front, Croatia’s ongoing popularity as a second home hotspot shows no signs of slowing down and that will also increase the demand for a broader flight network.
Although the country has enforced strict regulations along coastal zones to curb over-development, recent changes and looser restrictions will offer more opportunities for building mixed-use resorts along the Adriatic Coast, something which is already attracting new developers.
Croatia’s famous coastline
Croatia lies east of Italy on the map. It has almost 6,000 kilometres of undulating coastline and over 1,000 neighbouring islands, although only about fifty are actually populated. The largest is Krk, near Rijeka, while the queen of the islands is sun-soaked Hvar which enjoys more total hours of sunshine a year than any other island in the Adriatic. For more information visit www.tzhvar.hr/en
Summer is the most popular time to visit but it can get busy in some of the main tourist spots such as Dubrovnik. Late spring and early autumn, which are considerably quieter, are ideal times to explore Croatia’s unique coastline and very special natural beauty.
Leading exchange organisations RCI www.RCI.com and Interval International www.intervalworld.com both have a number of Croatian hotels and resorts that members can exchange into. To view the resorts, click on the region information on their websites.
This year there are more flights than ever from the UK, making it even easier for Britons to discover Croatia’s unique Mediterranean flavour. Dubbed “the Med as it once was”, things are changing however, as resort developers, investors and the national tourist board are looking to promote the country as a lifestyle destination ready to compete with its better-known Mediterranean neighbours.
The country’s stunning coastline will already be familiar to fans of overseas property TV programmes and Croatia is no longer a whispered secret among the yacht crowd who have been drawn to her shores for years by her intoxicating combination of lush virgin scenery and lack of mass tourism.
Currently, tourism accounts for 13% of the country’s gross domestic product and according to the World Economic Forum’s “Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report” Croatia already ranks 34th out of 139 international destinations.
Airlines that fly from the UK include:
Monarch operates services from London Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester to Dubrovnick.
Jet2.com flies from Manchester to Pula and Newcastle to Dubrovnik.
Ryanair announced a new route from the East Midlands to Zadar this summer for July and August, in addition to its current schedules and routes.
BMIbaby flies from the East Midlands to Dubrovnik.
Thomsonfly services the Gatwick-Pula route.
EasyJet commenced its high season schedules earlier this year with London Gatwick and London Stansted to Split and Dubrovnik.
British Airways operates a Gatwick – Dubrovnik service departing four times a week which will increase to daily flights; and Croatia Airlines flies from Gatwick and Heathrow to Zagreb up to three times weekly. To accommodate the increase in overall flight traffic, plans are already in place to expand Zagreb Airport by 2015.
For more information on all the holiday experiences Croatia offers, please visit www.croatia.hr