President of TUI Russia and CIS, Chris Mottershead, held a meeting in Rovinj presenting the tour operator’s plans in Croatia recently. The meeting was attended by Meri Matesic, Croatian Tourist Board Director along with representatives of local tourist boards, airports and partner travel agents.
One of the main topics of discussion at the meeting were tourist visas. When the Croatian government announced some months ago that Russian tourists would require visas to travel to Croatia as of April 1st, many feared that it would have a negative impact on tourism in the country, and if TUI Russia’s statistics are anything to go by, this has proved to be the case. In 2012, some 14,932 Russian tourists visited Croatia, in 2013 it was expected that this number would increase to 20,858 and 31,638 by 2014.
According to Mottershead however, due to the new visa regime, those numbers will fail to be achieved, ”The visa alone does not present a problem, however unfortunately the process with its length and the complex nature of issuing becomes a problem. The time taken to make a decision on a holiday today is smaller and smaller and is taken sometimes a few days prior to travel. For visa applications to Croatia it’s possible to apply at the earliest two months in advance and the process at best takes ten days to complete. For example for Spain it takes just three days. Due to this we can definitely say today that the new situation with visas has had an impact on the projected figures not being achieved for the 2013 season. Unfortunately if the situation doesn’t change very quickly are further plans in Croatia as a destination will be questionable.”
Goran Hrnić, Gulliver Travel’s president of the board, which is part of TUI Travel PLC and a partner of TUI Russia & CIS in Croatia added, ”We are certain that our relevant institutions will take all the action necessary in order to resolve this situation as soon as possible because of the implications of issuing visas can have long term on some of our important markets, especially those where there is great potential as in this circumstance with Russia and the Ukraine.