Asian Tourism To Croatia Grows
Croatia emerging as new destination for Asian tourists
The Republic of Croatia is emerging as a new European destination for Korean and other Asian visitors, offering what France and other so-called ``tourism powerhouses’’ cannot.
Croatia has been pursuing sustainable tourism for years not to overdevelop its tourism infrastructure and preserve its nature, said Amelia Tomasevic, CEO of the Zagreb Tourist Board, in an interview with The Korea Times.
Zagreb is the capital of Croatia, which became a sovereign state in 1991, following the collapse of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Tomasevic came to Korea to participate in the 2011 Korea International Travel Mart to promote her country among heads of local travel agencies and tourism officials.
``Many Koreans have been to most well-known European destinations. I think now is the time to turn their eyes to Croatia because it is different from other nations. We are rich in culture, history and most of all, home to a well-preserved pristine nature,’’ she said.
In 2010, about 20,000 Koreans visited Croatia, Tomasevic said, adding that there will be more Korean tourists this year. ``Four chartered flights were arranged by Korean Air last year, carrying Korean visitors to Croatia. I think there will be more than 10 such flights this year to be operated by both Korean Air and Asiana Airlines.’’
The tourism official said no visa is required for Korean nationals, stressing that those coming to Europe should begin their journey in Croatia because Zagreb International Airport, located in the center of Europe, offers convenient connecting flights and state-of-the-art facilities.
``The tourism industry is important to Croatia with its population of five million because it accounts for 20 percent of its gross domestic product. The majority of foreign visitors are Germans. Now we would like to invite many more Koreans and other Asians to experience what Croatia is all about,’’ Tomasevic said.
She said there are no Korean restaurants in her home country. ``But we will soon invite Korean chefs to teach some of our cooks how to make Korean food. It is natural that Korean tourists want to eat own ethnic foods as they become tired of eating European dishes for several days. Our food is quite different from Korea’s,’’ Tomasevic said.
The Zagreb Tourist Board recently published brochures in Korean, she said, stressing that Croatia has and will make all-out efforts to accommodate diverse needs of Korean tourists
``Currently only Croatians can be tour guides for foreign visitors. But there are hardly any Croatians speaking Korean. So, we will get special permission from the government to allow Koreans to work in Croatia as guides for Korean tourists. It will surely help us attract more visitors from here’’ Tomasevic said.
Croatia is located in southeastern Europe between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia, Hungary and Serbia and borders the Adriatic Sea.
Italy lies across the Adriatic. Its mainland territory is split in two non-contiguous parts by the short coastline of Bosnia and Herzegovina around Neum.
The country is famous for its many national parks. Croatian laws provide special protection for 10 natural parks and two natural reserves. Around 10 percent of the total territory of Croatia enjoys special protection under strict laws.
Croatia has a mixture of climates. In the north and east it is continental, Mediterranean along the coast and a semi-highland and highland climate in the south-central region.