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article imageSurge in tourism as new generation of Brits discover Croatia

By Paul Bradbury     Oct 5, 2013 in Travel
The Adriatic coast was once one of the most popular destinations for British holidaymakers. A new generation of Brits is discovering the secrets of a previous holidaying generation.
Budget flights, affordability and its emergence as Europe's premier festival destination are the prime reasons given for the surge in Britsh tourists to Croatia in the first eight months of this year, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph on October 4, 2013.
“There is no doubt that one of the biggest factors behind the growth in visitors from Britain is that so many young people are coming to experience the festival season here,” said Meri Matesic, director of the Croatian National Tourist Board.
“We are delighted so many are coming – and we hope that when they are older they will come back to see more of the country; maybe with their children.”
The statistics are certainly impressive, with some 300,000 Brits visiting Croatia in the first eight months of the year, a 24 percent increase on 2012, according to official statistics.
The waterfront location on Croatia s pristine Adriatic is a major attraction.
The waterfront location on Croatia's pristine Adriatic is a major attraction.
Croatia — albeit under a different name — is no stranger to the British holidaymaker. Before the recent conflict in the region, former Yugoslavia was the second-most popular destination after Spain for British holidaymakers, with the majority of them heading for the Croatian coast and islands.
In addition to the damage done to the tourist industry by the conflict, other sunshine package destinations emerged, such as Egypt and Turkey, making Croatia's task of reclaiming market share all the more difficult. A highly effective campaign, The Mediterranean as It Once Was (see video below), brought the country back into the spotlight, and the Croatia is now perceived to be a hip, affordable destination with great beaches and nightlife.
Digital Journal attended one of the British festivals organised in Croatia in August, the sixth Outlook Festival in the Istrian Town of Pula. According to the organisers, the festival attracted some 12,000 young people, who contributed an estimated 85 million kuna (US$17 million) to local businesses during their 70,000 overnight stays, a nice end-of-season boost for the city.
Nowhere is the increased British interest being felt than in the city of Split, once the Gateway to the Dalmatian Islands, but now an emerging cool destination in its own right. With its airport the busiest on the coast, with more than 80 routes and 43 airlines, the Dalmatian capital is having a record year, with foreign arrivals up 25 percent in the first nine months of the year. While the Germans are the city's most frequent visitors, it is the Brits who are second this year.
Split is an increasingly popular destination for Scandinvian tourists.
Split is an increasingly popular destination for Scandinvian tourists.
Traditionally a beach and sunshine holiday, Croatia is working hard to diversify its tourism offer, and has made great progress promoting its gastronomy (helped by excellent promotions such as Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations programme — see below), heritage, wines and adventure sport credentials, ensuring that the 2014 season could well be the best for some time.
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