Croatia touts dazzling coastline to rescue virus-hit tourism sector - GulfToday

Croatia touts dazzling coastline to rescue virus-hit tourism sector

Croatia travel 2

Holiday house look out to sea views at the Krk Premium Camping Resort on the northern island of KrK. AFP

Croatia is touting boating and camping on its azure 1,800-km Adriatic coastline to woo back visitors and revive its coronavirus-battered tourism sector.

After travel restrictions across the European Union were relaxed earlier this month, foreigners are now slowly returning as tourism operators try to salvage the season.

Boats and tents might be the cure, offering travellers built-in social distancing as they relax on the idyllic picture postcard coast.

"Alone in a bay on your boat, there is no better distancing," said Zeljko Cvetkovic, who owns a boat charter company on the northern island of Krk.

"Camping is similar," he adds.


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The two sectors have traditionally accounted for an important but smaller slice of the tourism pie, which accounts for around a fifth of Croatia's GDP.

Its tourism industry is expected to contract by 70 percent due to the pandemic.

This economic pain will be the first challenge of the new government to be elected in on July 5.

Croatia travel 1 Renata Marevic, director of Marina Punat on the northern island of KrK. AFP

As the polls approach, conservative PM Andrej Plenkovic is hoping to capitalise on his government's relative success in combating the virus so far.

Peace and silence

On the island of Krk, tourism operators like Cvetkovic are finally seeing bookings replace cancellations, sparking hope he can achieve up to half of last year's figures.

After months, the Marina Punat is coming back to life with sailors cleaning their boats and sunbathing on the decks.

Home to some 1,000 islands and islets, Croatia is a dream destination for those looking to island-hop, seek out secluded bays or sail from one restaurant to another to taste fresh seafood.

"Despite initial pessimism ... our expectations are slowly growing," said Renata Marevic, who oversees Marina Punat.

Croatia travel 4 The Marina Punat on the northern island of Krk. AFP

Back to nature

Guests are also gradually filling the nearby five-star Krk Premium Camping Resort, which opened in late May.

It is one of the 800 campsites in the country, most of which claim prime real estate on Croatia's beaches.

Many offer visitors various options for their stay, from spaces for tents and camper vans to camping huts or 'glamping' tents for a more high-end experience.

In the Krk resort, reminders of the pandemic are visible but subtle, with signs warning to 'Please keep a distance' at the reception, while tables and sun chairs are arranged to ensure the required 1.5-metre (5 foot) distance.

Croatia travel 3 A view of a quay at the Marina Punat on the northern island of KrK. AFP

Guests at the campground are offered online check-in, food delivery and a 24/7 health and safety manager ensuring adequate medical services.

The camp, run by leading tourist group Valamar, will also cap capacity at 80 percent for safety reasons.

"The advantage is that we are in nature, guests have their private space," explained camp manager Bruno Bogdanic.

Yet experts warn that keeping the virus under control is key.

After registering only a few or no cases of the disease daily since mid-May, numbers have now started to creep up again.

This week authorities re-imposed 14-day quarantines for visitors from neighbouring Balkan states which have logged rising infections rates.

Any new outbreak of COVID-19 "would be a terrible setback that would throw us back to the beginning" warned Cvetkovic.

Agence France-Presse

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