Croatian foreign tourist arrivals were up a strong 7.5% year-on-year to 9.3 million comparing to 2007, resulting in one of the best tourist seasons on record in Croatia. Latest data for the first two months of 2008 show foreign arrivals up an impressive 21% to some 126,000. Domestic tourism, meanwhile, recorded a more modest growth rate of 5% in the period January to February 2008. Forecast Scenario Real GDP growth in Croatia this year will be the highest this decade, at an estimated 5.9%.
Despite the “credit crunch” that has affected EU and American markets the Croatian economy is motoring along strongly on the back of domestic demand; although general economic uncertainties suggest a consumer spending slowdown, which can be attributed to a deceleration to 4.8% real GDP growth in 2008. The fear of a sharp slowing in the global economy for 2008-2009 will impact on Croatia through lower growth in tourism revenues, and harder access to credit for domestic consumers. Growth should, however, rebound strongly in 2011-2012 with expected EU accession. It is predicted that tourist arrival growth will slow in the short term, mainly due to a deteriorating global economic outlook. A pick-up in the tourism sector is expected in line with anticipated EU accession in 2011. Very strong figures were recorded in the hospitality sector in the early part of this year. In the period January to February 2008, the number of tourist nights totalled around 730,000 (domestic and foreign tourists), up a strong 13%. Moreover, the number of foreign tourist nights was up a significant 20% to 313,000 nights (around 43% of the total).
The top four source markets are Germany, Italy, Slovenia and the Czech Republic, all recorded strong growth.