ETOA: Croatia 'Surprise Hit' Among Destinations

According to a survey released Monday by the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA), Croatia was selected as the top country in two categories: most exciting and best value for money; it shared the latter category lead with Spain. Although Central and Eastern Europe have been growing in popularity in recent years, the ETOA nonetheless characterized Croatia's selection as a "surprise hit," and ETOA Executive Director Tom Jenkins said the country was selected "because it is perceived as European without suffering the pitfalls of EU [European Union] membership." For example, it is not subject to EU Value Added Tax (VAT) laws and can therefore offer up to 19 percent lower prices, Jenkins added. Another popular Central European country, the Czech Republic, came in second place in the "most exciting" category and third in the "best value" category. Its capital of Prague was selected as the "best for eating cheaply." Other category winners include Paris, the overwhelming favorite for best in romance; Italy/Venice/Rome, best for art; Switzerland, for scenery; and Germany, for service. Tour operators selected the U.K., where the dollar has had sustained weakness for several years, as the worst value for money.