Gari Capelli

Gari Cappelli, Croatia’s minister of tourism, tells Courtney Fingar how the sector contributes to the country’s economy and how Croatia plans to become an all-seasons destination for foreign visitors.

Q: The international tourism market is a highly competitive one. How can Croatia stand out? In which particular segments do you feel the country can compete most strongly, and why?

A: Although Croatia has a long tradition of tourism, we are just at the beginning of our journey as one of the most popular world tourism destinations. During the past few years and especially during 2017, we have had more and more visitors from countries outside of Europe, and now is our opportunity to position ourselves even better as a high-quality and diverse destination.

Croatia is primarily known for its natural beauty, our most popular tourist products still being sun and beach. Nevertheless, we are focusing development on a wide range of diversified tourist products, mostly to ensure the growth of our competitiveness and to counter the seasonality issue that most Mediterranean destinations are faced with.

This aim is emphasised within our Tourism Development Strategy until 2020, where we detected 10 key tourism products with development potential (such as health, culture, sports, nautical, business, gastronomy, cyclotourism, etc), which we will continue to work on. Our goal is to transform Croatia into a popular destination recognised for its rich potential in terms of resources and product diversity that everyone would like to visit the whole year round, and we will continue with our efforts by ensuring that.

Q: How important is tourism to Croatia’s economy? Do you anticipate its share of GDP will grow? 

A: Tourism is very important for the Croatian economy; it contributes from 10% to 18%, directly and indirectly, to the total GDP of Croatia. Tourism is also an industry that can provide better results and give incentive to other industries in Croatia, such as agriculture, construction, transport and so on. I believe the good results the country has in terms of GDP growth in total are achieved, to an extent, thanks to tourism.

Furthermore, that fact improves the image of our country to investors, as they see new opportunities to venture into tourism or other industries in Croatia. On the other side, projections for the period ahead state the majority of total GDP growth in Croatia will be contributed mostly from domestic consumption and demand, as well as investment. So we believe [that] although tourism and tourism receipts in Croatia are expected to grow, the share of tourism in the total GDP of Croatia will not grow to a great extent.

Q: What are the most interesting investment opportunities at the moment in Croatia's tourism industry? What are you promoting most actively? 

A: Direct incentives and support by the government of Croatia for investing in the tourism system, as well as the fact that the country has been increasing the number of tourist arrivals and overnight stays for many years, represent a quality framework for further investments, and position Croatia as one of the most attractive and competitive investment destinations in the Mediterranean.

Similarly, the government, in accordance with the Economic Development Plan, is actively working on the development of various models aiming to reactivate a large number of unused state facilities for tourism purposes. The Ministry of Tourism is always open to questions, interests and suggestions from all interested investors. Our wish is to make Croatian tourism even more competitive and therefore interested investors are most welcome.

This article is sourced from fDi Magazine
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