Croatian tourism officials anticipate a record year for the industry following the country’s January membership in Europe’s free-movement Schengen zone, which has increased the number of travellers to its scenic Adriatic coast.
Tourism accounts for 20% of Croatia’s economy. After a decline during the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector recovered in 2022, with officials expecting the upward trend to keep up this year based on pre-summer season data.
“We have nearly 5 million arrivals and over 17.5 million overnight stays so far, which is a 20% increase from last year,” said Kristijan Stanicic, director of the Croatian Tourist Association.
The sector generated over €13 billion in revenue in 2022, and Stanic predicted even more significant revenue this year.
Croatia, an EU member, joined the Schengen region and the eurozone on January 1, allowing tourists from the union to travel faster and make payments more easily.
Officials anticipate an increase in weekend travellers from neighbouring nations due to Croatia’s accession to the Schengen zone.
Locals who rent out their apartments to visitors in the Adriatic historical town of Zadar, surrounded by national parks and whose ancient town ruins are a United Nations-protected heritage, complain of bad government investment strategy, citing a shortage of hotels and a larger airport.
However, tourism also depends on nice weather. If Croatians are lucky with this factor this summer, then the tourist season will be a success.