Agents and tour operators from the UK and suppliers from Croatia attended Selling Short Breaks & Holidays’ Destination Dialogue on Croatia at The Dorchester, London. In a palatial setting, and in collaboration with the Croatian Tourist Board, this was part of our We're Backing Agents campaign and an opportunity to discover more about the destination and learn new ways to sell it more successfully.
CROATIA IN CONTEXT
Visitor numbers to Croatia from the UK increased by five percent, to 260,000, last year. More than 160 UK tour operators offer the destination selling primarily to the 45-55s. The tourist industry generates 20 per cent of the country’s GDP and is actively targeting increased sales from 18-35s and family markets.
- Lack of awareness. Older clients will know it as part of Yugoslavia, younger generations know it as Croatia, not all are clear about what is on offer beyond the historic towns
- Across Europe many nations know Croatia as a family holiday market but this sector is less dominant in the UK possibly due to the limited availability of all-inclusive hotels and theme parks
- Zagreb, the capital, is less well known for city breaks but equally attractive as many other popular short break cities
- Sandy beaches do not abound – many are stoney however because of this the waters are exceptionally clear
- Key markets are 45 to 55 year olds and increasingly the 18-35s and families
- Croatia has a strong wine growing area and has won awards for its wine so push emerging wine routes.
- Medical tourism is growing fast. Dental work in particular can be 50-70 per cent cheaper than in the UK
- Gulets and sailing holiday options are widely available. Cruise options are growing
- Weddings can be held in some beautiful historic sites here. Specialists who can help include Balkan Holidays
- Self-drive holidays can be offered with confidence, roads are generally safe and destinations are easily linked
- The range of golf courses is expanding so this is a sector to watch
- Croatia has a good reputation for being relatively safe which should be stressed to families
- Repeat bookings are strong
- Music festivals here are growing in popularity among the younger generations
Some 10 airlines operate flights to Croatia’s seven international airports from 23 UK regional airports. Croatia Airlines operators from Gatwick to London 12 times a week; Split three times a week, Rijeka once a week and Dubrovink once a week.
“Croatia is a safe and diverse destination which can generate good repeat bookings. Clients explore many different landscapes and have many different experiences all within a relatively small area.” Meri
Croatian Airlines www.croatiaairlines.com
Balkan Holidays www.balkanholidays.co.uk: Varied programme including weddings
Light Blue Travel www.lightbluetravel.co.uk: Boutique hotels
Completely Croatia www.completelycroatia.co.uk: specialises in multi-centre trips and has detected a trend towards longer durations – up to 20 days.
Inghams www.inghams.co.uk: Offers a small Croatia programme with Dubrovnik as the top seller
Classic Collection www.classic-collection.co.uk: Small programme mostly to Dubrovnik
“Zagreb is a great city destination, especially in winter. It can be sold as a short break as an alternative to Prague. The architecture is stunning."
CROATIA - FAST FACTS
Location: Croatia was created from the former Yugoslavia and is perhaps best known for the attractive walled city of Dubrovnik. Its capital is Zagreb, in the north-west, and other key cities include Split and Zadar for their historic sites. Beach resorts abound along the 6100km of coastline and cruising and sailing markets are strong. Off shore, 1000 islands add further diversity and inland there are around 20 national and provincial parks.
Average length of stay: The average length of a visitor’s stay to Croatia is around five days but British travellers tend to stay up to 10 days which makes them highly attractive to Croatian suppliers.
Top destinations: Zagreb is a great city break destination and Dubrovnik, Split and Zadar are the honeypot destinations for historic interest and culture. Coastal resorts are also popular.
Hot news: Thomas Cook has reintroduced Croatia for this year with two flights a week to Pula and two a week to Split. Light Blue Travel took over the forward bookings of Holiday Options. As these were mostly to Croatia the company is continuing a programme into Dubrovnik and Spilt for 2011 featuring top end boutique hotels.Theme Park and Attraction ticket specialist, Attraction World has added Croatia with 15 tours now featured in Dubrovnik, Istria and Kvarner. All tours are fully commissionable.
Flying times: Around 2 hours 25 minutes, London to Zagreb
Average Costs: Croatia’s currency is the Kuna although confirmation of its acceptance into the European Union and Eurozone is imminent. Currently a meal out will cost visitors between £4 and £8 a head and a beer is about £1.50.