Inside Croatia at USTOA

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana - Among the Mediterranean destinations, Croatia is one that is still relatively undiscovered. With its anticipated European Union status, it won't be long before the destination is rubbing elbows with some of the region's heavy hitters.

Travel Agent attended a press conference held by the Croatian National Tourist Office at the Sheraton New Orleans at the 2010 USTOA Annual Conference & Marketplace, where we learned that this small country along the coast of the Adriatic Sea offers much more than just the 1,200 miles of coastline it is known for.

Yes, Croatia has beautiful beaches and an archipelago of over 1,200 islands, making it a maritime playground, but the interior of the country could also serve as a standalone destination.

Croatia is home to eight national parks, castles, lakes, seven UNESCO sites, 10 Intangible Cultural Heritage sites and a cuisine that fuses Italian, Central European and Balkan flavors. The country is also equipped with 23 five-star hotels, 150 four-star hotels and a sophisticated network of roads that makes it very easy to get around in the country.

According to the nation's tourism office, the trends the country has experienced include an increase in the number of family travelers, who come to seek the history and natural attractions, as well as honeymooners and betrothed couples. Dubrovnik is being rediscovered as a wedding destination.

2010 was a fantastic year for the country, with 11 million arrivals and 60 million overnight arrivals, bringing in roughly $9 billion.

Negotiations for Croatia's admittance into the EU will be finalized at the end of June 2011. The process will optimistically be complete in 2013. We hear that there is the possibilities of two direct flights to be added from the United States, which will land in Zagreb on the way to Kosovo. These, if put in place, will be the first direct flights to Croatia in two decades, but sufficient backing needs to be provided.

More than 20 tour operators feature Croatia on their itineraries.



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