Croatia impatient to welcome tourists

A few European tourists have returned to Croatia's picturesque Adriatic coast, where the owners of boats, hotels and campsites are hoping their relative isolation will bring the numbers up over the next six weeks, news wires reported. Tourism accounts for almost a fifth of Croatia's economic output, which the government expects to shrink by almost 10% this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the Dalmatian port of Krilo-Jesenice, the Black Swan is among dozens of sailing cruisers still tied up despite the lockdown easing, Reuters reported.  "Sadly, we're still stuck here waiting for the first guests, owner Denis Grubisa, whose yacht can accommodate 38, said. "We hope guests will start pouring in from late June or early July." Even a dozen at a time would make him very happy, he added.

Further up the coast near Split, an ancient port city packed with visitors throughout a normal summer, two couples from Germany have the run of the Stobrec camping facility, which can take up to 1,100 people. "I don't think about coronavirus because we have enough distance," one of them said with a smile.

The Simuni campsite, on the island of Pag, opened on 15 May, one of the first to begin the most uncertain summer season since Croatia's war of independence in 1990s. "So far we've had some Croatian guests and a few from Slovenia," Tena Hoti, who is in charge of contact with clients, said, reporting a growing number of inquiries. "Now we're strongly focused on making sure that our employees and guests feel safe."

The site, which normally also attracts Austrians, Germans and Italians, can accommodate around 4,000 people in their own vehicles or tents as well as in bungalows. Employees wear masks, gloves and visors and buildings are often disinfected, with hand sanitizer available at entrances.

Despite the very cautious start of the season, Croatia still hopes to earn up to 4bn from the sector, a third of last year's income. "For the majority of our guests we're reachable by car," Veljko Ostojic from the Croatian Tourist Association said. "Safety standards are in line with recommendations by the experts."

Croatia has reopened its border with Slovenia and expects a rising number of guests from Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia from early June and from Germany or Poland later in the month, by which time hotels are also set to reopen.

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