NYT writes about dwindling Croatian bookings, cites war in Ukraine
April 6, 2022 – The New York Times (NYT) wrote about the dwindling Croatian bookings we are currently experiencing after high post-pandemic hopes were dashed when Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine. For some outsiders, Croatia is too close on the map of Europe to the battlefield, despite the lack of truth therein.
As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, so far the hardest hit destinations in terms of bookings are countries close to Ukraine, including Poland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia and Hungary, where reservations have dropped 30 to 50%, according to the New York. Times, citing data from analyst firm ForwardKey.
Negative consequences are also being felt in more distant destinations such as Spain. Diego Sanz, a tour guide on Spain’s stunning Mediterranean coast, received his very first international group in over a year in mid-February. It was, he thought, a sign of better things to come.
“We live in paradise here and we were sure that when the coronavirus restrictions were lifted, we would have no more problems and tourists would come back to us like bees come to nectar,” said Mr. Sanz, seated in the silence. of a café in the very popular Spanish port city of Alicante.
International bookings have slowed since Russia invaded Ukraine. In the first week of the war alone, airline bookings in Europe fell 23% and overseas bookings to European countries fell 13%, according to ForwardKeys.
What about Croatian reservations? The Republic of Croatia is often ranked among the most tourism-dependent European economies, as tourism accounts for around a fifth of the gross domestic product of this small country, according to the Croatian Bureau of Statistics (CBS).
Destinations along Croatia’s sparkling Adriatic coast attracted the majority of the 13.8 million visitors and 84.1 million overnight stays in 2021, driving GDP growth of 10.4%.
Although the cancellation of Croatian bookings has been somewhat minimal so far, there has certainly been a marked slowdown in some areas. Dubrovnik Boats, a private tour and charter company whose majority of customers come from across the pond in the United States, expected a banner year, but after the outbreak of war in Ukraine, their booking rate suddenly dropped by 70%. “We are one inch away from Ukraine for foreigners when we look at a map,” said company owner Niksa Smojver.
This year, ship charter companies are also very concerned about rising gasoline prices and the possibility of fuel shortages. For Dubrovnik Boats, for example, the cost of a return trip between Dubrovnik and Hvar is now US$750 higher than last year. So far, the company has not increased the price of its passenger tickets, but may have to do so if the situation fails to calm down. However, Smojver remains hopeful.
”After the pandemic, people are fed up with everything and everyone wants to travel. This season could be one of the best we’ve ever had,” he said.
In other parts of Europe, particularly in countries dependent on tourism, the forecast is bleaker. Cancellations in neighboring Italy have sown pessimism among tour guides and operators, although some have expressed hope that the war will end soon and the season will be saved.
“In general, the mood is depressed because it seemed like it was all over, and instead there was yet another new downturn,” concluded Margherita Capponi, an Italian tour guide from Rome.
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