The Contradictions of The Croatian Tourism Sector

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A lot of politicians talk about how tourism will save the Croatian economy. Most of the political party proposals address the symptoms of the malaise in the tourist industry which is not performing up to potential and none address the root causes of the malaise.

Tourism is important to the economy. Tourism is 16.4%% of GDP which ranks Croatia 11th in the world. But is that because we earn a lot from tourism or we do not produce a lot elsewhere in the economy?

In 2013 over 14 million tourists came to Croatia and had 73.25 million nights.
Sounds great - right?

But now - let's get a reality check.
Croatia has significant problems with tourism.

WEF Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013 - 2011 - 2008

Tourism is very important, but the government sabotages it and the sector employees do not provide great service. We are proud of our tourism industry but we are not improving it. According to the World Economic Forum assessment of the Travel and Tourism sector globally Croatia ranks 35th in the world (out of 140). In the 2008 and 2011 rankings Croatia was 34th.

In Europe, Croatia is in the bottom half, 23rd out of 42 countries.

If tourism, and primarily European tourism, is important to Croatia's economy then Croatia needs to be in the top 10 in Europe! Our goal should be to bump Sweden out of #7. What is there to do in Sweden?

From this it is evident that the HDZ did not do much to create world class tourism industry and the SDP has not done anything either - even though it is one of the most important sectors of the Croatian economy.

Digging a big deeper we find this

Of all the criteria countries are assessed on, the following are most embarrassing for Croatia

Rank out of 140 countries

Human Resources
  • Extent of staff training = 122
  • Availability of qualified labor = 98

Affinity for Travel and Tourism
  • Attitude of population toward foreign visitors = 65
  • Extension of business trips recommended = 121
  • Degree of customer orientation = 105

Setting aside these people issues, and looking at government issues. The issues that plague Croatia in all other aspects of the economy are keeping out tourism success at a minimum.

The government really does not seem to care about the Tourism industry.

Why do people come to Croatia?
Is it the service or the land?
It is quite evident that it is for the land.

Now let's compare to Croatia to Switzerland

International tourist arrivals 2011 = 9,926,700
International tourism receipts (US$) 2011 = 9,364,000,000
= $943 per person per visit

International tourist arrivals 2011 = 8,534,300
International tourism receipts (US$) 2011 = 17,540,400,000
= $2,055 per person per visit

What this shows me is that Croatia is doing phenomenally well consideringL

A. The government if not doing as much for tourism as it should
B. Croatians don't like tourists
C. Tourism employees are not well trained
D. Tourism is not price competitive



  1. Željko Zidarić avatar

    Croatians think that they have a HOT tourism industry.

    We need a reality check - which we can get through some benchmarking.

    Croatia is only the 14th most popular tourist destination in Europe.

    Croatia is the ranked 14th in terms of revenue generation from the tourism industry. Compare now to Sweden which ranks 12th for the number of visitors but 10th for revenue in Europe. In 2011 Sweden earned 47% more revenue per visitor than did Croatia. What does Sweden have that Croatia does not?

    Croatia has the second highest number of people employed in the tourism industry. 2011 stats indicate that 143,900 people work directly in the tourism industry. This is 12.7% of the 2011 workforce. Only Malta has a higher percentage of the workforce working in tourism. In Sweden only 1.7% of the workforce works in tourism.

    Croatia earns only a mid-level amount of revenue per visitor. earning only $943 per visitor. The average of the top 10 European countries is $1,472. Serbia has only 7.7% of the visitors that Croatia has but it earns $1,298 while Slovenia earns $1,334.

    Now look at Sweden. In the chart above we see that only 1.7% of employed people work in the tourism interest, but Sweden earns more per visitor at $1,276.

    Sweden earns an astounding $171,375 per employee in the tourism industry.
    Croatia earns just $65,073.