Destination news: Croatian tourism to benefit as tourists shun Greece


Croatian tourism, accounting for about a sixth of the Balkan nation’s economy, will grow around 5 percent this year as Greece’s crisis drives visitors north, analysts at Zagrebacka Banka d.d. and Splitska Banka d.d. said.

The country’s statistics office is expected to release its June report tomorrow on the tourist industry, after a 0.2 percent annual drop in May. Authorities have reported declines in tourism for 14 of the past 17 months.

Croatia’s Adriatic Sea resorts include the ancient walled city of Dubrovnik, the island of Hvar and the sailing destination of Kornati archipelago. The government relies on an annual average 10 million visitors to its blue waters and green islands for revenue. The debt crisis in Greece, transportations strikes and political instability give Croatia a competitive edge for the rest of this year, analysts said.

“Many travellers have probably avoided Greece this summer, adding to Croatian profits,” said Zdeslav Santic, an analyst at Splitska Banka in a phone interview.

The growth won’t help this year, with gross domestic product expected to contract 1.5 percent this year, according a forecast by the European Commission.

The central bank estimated that revenue generated from tourism last year was about 6.5 billion euros ($8.49 billion), compared with about 7.5 billion euros in 2008.

Still, Goran Saravanja, an analyst at Zagrebacka Banka, said this year’s total should rise about 5 percent from the year before, while Splitska’s Santic sees revenue generated by the industry to be below the 2008 earnings.