Croatia's summer tourism is exceeding all expectations. The tourism industry in Croatia was once worried that the coronavirus epidemic would deter people from traveling.
Josip Crncevic, a Dubrovnik tour guide, said, "It's better -- almost like 2020 never happened." Dubrovnik is a south-facing city that's known for its Old Town, nightlife, and being the most visited destination in Croatia.
Although the Balkan country was in war for four years in the 1990s it had been a popular vacation destination for Americans and Europeans.
Croatia's summer season is a success, and this has strong implications for its economy. Croatia is one of the most fragile countries in the European Union. Tourist spending can make up as much as 20% of the gross domestic product. This is why locals who rent accommodation or operate other tourism-related businesses are so dependent on visitor spending.
People were prepared for this year's better than the last due to the introduction of COVID-19 vaccinations. However, Nikolina Brnjac, the tourism minister, said that the number of overnight stays in Croatia was 69% higher than the record for the 2019 season.
Dubrovnik is a prime example of tourism revival. This city is known as "pearl of the coast", and is famous for its walled medieval fortress. It is a UNESCO-protected area. The fortress was used as a location for "Game of Thrones". As tour groups crowd the outer walls, Old Town's main street buzzes with activity.
A huge sign is placed on one of the stone walls to remind people of the danger of COVID-19. It warns them to be careful around others, to wash hands, and to use masks. In Croatia, a mask must be worn in enclosed spaces.
Toni Dugandzic was a waiter at Gusta Me and said that the influx of tourists has surprised many residents and businesses after last year's difficult season. He said that the restaurant owners didn't anticipate it and didn't have enough staff to meet their needs.
Dugandzic stated that "We work a bit more because our human resources were not ready."
Officials from the health department organized vaccination drives for those who work in tourism, and set crowd limits. Around 40% of the country's 4.2 million adults have been vaccinated against coronavirus.
The number of daily reported cases has increased over recent weeks to nearly 600 by this week's end. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Croatia has seen 370,000 cases and over 8,000 deaths due to the virus.
A number of tourists decided that renting a sailboat was the best way for them to be safe on vacation. They wanted to explore Croatia's isolated bays and islands. The majority of the sailboats available in the busy marina in Biograd, in central Adriatic, were already reserved.
Marin Katicin (CEO of Pitter Yachting) stated, "Everybody wants a boat!" "We don't have any boats anymore!"
Kate Redder, a German visitor, chartered a boat along with her friends. She explained that sailing around Croatia gives you a sense of independence and allows for a better view over the stunning Croatian scenery. It also gives you the opportunity to isolate yourself on the water.
Redder stated, "It is safer than going into a hotel where there are many people to meet," You are safe. We are here only as a family with our skipper.