Six million Russians want new destiantions
Despite requirement of visas and fear of the Russians immigrants, the biggest problem still might be some kind of indecision of Croatia concerning expansion on the Russian market and the lack of a strategic approach, says Kristijana Ribaric Matusan from „Imperial“ Rab.
According to some estimates 6 million Russian tourists could visit other countries this summer instead of those which they used to visit so far, primarily due to current geopolitical problems, and the fact that the most part of the Russians will not go to Turkey and Egypt. As these countries compete with Croatian tourism, local tourist staff hopes that some part of the Russians will come to Croatia. Due to that aim last week Croatian tourist expedition was in Moscow on business workshop. Among them there was the Marketing Director of „Imperial“ has said Kristijana Ribaric Matusan who has pointed out that the workshop was good and it had a great attendance.
It was a business workshop where our companies engaged in tourism met their tour operators and agencies. They announced the participation of 140 companies and this number was confirmed, which is not always like that. According to the data the number of potential visitors from Russia is higher than Croatia is able to accommodate. It is expected that about 6 million Russians might choose a new destination but Croatia is able to accommodate up to 600 000. Until now Croatia used to have 200 000 Russian tourists, has said Ribaric Matusan.
Due to the theoretical increase of 200%, these are great figures however it is only the estimation. It’s unlikely that many Russians might come to Croatia this summer. About 2 million Russians have already arranged a trip to Greece, so we are too late. Besides, the situation with Turkey does not seem that Russians will not go there anymore. It is true that Russian planes are not permitted to fly to Turkey, but foreign are not prohibited so there are connections, has said Ribaric Matusan, who in Moscow has found out some obstacles of arrival of a large number of Russians in Croatia and it was a surprise to her.
What surprised us was that the Russians asked about safety and the situation with immigrants, although immigrants are not arriving at Adriatic. In addition, the barrier for Russians is the visa, which was implemented when Croatia became a member of the European Union. Since existence of visa regime the number of Russians coming to Croatia has fallen, and the EU would like to have stricter rules for issuing visas for Russian, which is certainly a barrier to the expansion of the Russian market, has said Ribaric Matusan.
The biggest problem still could be some kind of indecision of Croatia when it comes to the expansion of the Russian market. We have been asked whether we have actual interest in the Russian market because we are not so regular in the promotion of Croatian tourism in Russia. Just few people visit Russia. I for instance was 8 years ago there. The country should join the Russian market strategically. If one company is investing in the Russian market, it may be something, but this is not the deal. The members of CTB have emphasized in Moscow saying that it was only an experimental workshop and was not a part of the strategy, has said Ribaric Matusan, which considers it a shame not to deal with the Russians since their agencies have showed interest and have informed the Croatians that they like this destination. The crisis with Turkey and Egypt is our chance. Russia is not far from us as the flight takes 3-4 hours by plane which is not so long in comparison to the Maldives where flying period takes 10 hours. Those who realize the market say that Ukraine is still potential but there is a need to work on that, she has said.
Kvarner is a hole between Dalmatia and Istria
Russians have never stayed for long on the island Pag and since the entry into the EU there has been a further fall. For example the area of Rab in 2012 year visited 574 guests from Russia, in 2013 year 474, in 2014 year 455 and in 2015 year 469. The Russians always have a barrier towards the islands. But it does not mean that it is still valid. It is well-known that they prefer branded destinations such as Dubrovnik and countries known for fashion like France as they like to go shopping. They used to stay only in the hotels of high category, but now they are interested in apartments as well. Also there are regular tourists who are interesting to us, has said Marketing Director of „Imperial“. Rab and Kvarner in general have transport problems in comparison to other parts of Croatia. A disadvantage of Rab is that there is no airport nearby. I have talked to the representatives of 20 agencies and the first information they wanted to know was how far an airport is. We use Zagreb, Zadar and Rijeka which are equally distant from us. Transfer from the airport is about two hours which is too long for some people and not so long for the others. And it is a real problem. Therefore, Split is popular among Russians and our region remains a gap between Dalmatia and Istria, has said Ribaric Matusan.
Where the Russians spend their holidays in Croatia
According to the data in 2014 year Istria had 440,000 overnight stays by Russian tourists, Split-Dalmatia region around 220,000, Dubrovnik-Neretva region had 200 000. Kvarner had about 100 000, and Zadar region as well as Sibenik-Knin region about 50 000. Last year the turnover fell by 20%.