The tourist trade in Croatia is more
than 150 years old. Although inns and guesthouses
were built throughout the country in the first half
of the 19th century, the beginnings of tourism are
linked with the construction of first hotels designed
for tourists, such as those in Opatija (Grand Hotel,
built in 1890) and Dubrovnik (Hotel Imperial, built
in 1897), as well as with the foundation and activities
of tourist societies, especially those on the islands
of Krk (in 1866) and Hvar (Hygienic Society in 1868).
Porec and Pula had tour guides as early as 1845, while
in Zagreb the first guidebook, called "A Guide
for Natives and Foreigners", was published in
Tourism is characterized by leisure and recreation,
which require good resources and a favorable climate,
along with tourist facilities and their distribution.
Particularly important for Croatian tourism are all
forms of maritime activities because of specific natural
features and the indented Adriatic coast. The poor
organization of other tourist services is the main
reason why some natural and other attractions are
much less used for tourist purposes. This particularly
refers to continental Croatia and its cultural landmarks,
spas, hunting and fishing grounds and other possibilities.
In 1950, 84,000 overnights of foreign tourists were
registered in Croatia while in 1987 this number reached
59,000,000. The largest number of bed nights was recorded
in the 1986-1987 period, 68,000,000, of which foreign
tourists accounted for 86%. Traditionally, most of
them were Germans (40%), while visitors from the United
Kingdom, Austria and Italy altogether accounted for
30-35% of all bed nights. Despite a continual, although
slight, increase in accommodation, the tourist trade
has been on the decrease since 1989. There were a
thousand catering firms in the tourist sector in 1991.
Domestic and foreign tourists were offered 570,000
beds in 479 hotels, 48 motels, 78 tourist complexes
and 175 camps. Although the maelstrom of war virtually
brought the development of the tourist industry to
a halt, it did not completely deter tourists from
coming, particularly to areas unaffected by the war.
Besides a steep fall in the volume of trade, many
tourist attractions experienced mass-scale destruction,
which in turn defined the scope of postwar reconstruction.
After a one-year break, tourism revived in 1992 but
did not really recover until the next year when 2,300,000
tourists and 13,000,000 bed nights were registered.
In 1996, Croatia was visited by 2,700,000 foreign
tourists who generated 16,600,000 bed nights. The
overall number of tourists was 3,900,000, with 21,500,000
bed nights, or 67% more than in 1995. Domestic visitor
nights increased by 12% and foreign by 94%.
The highest authority on tourism is the Committee
on Tourism of the Croatian Parliament and the highest
executive body of the Croatian government is the Ministry
of Tourism (particularly active in the legislative
area). At the national level, tourism is promoted
by the Croatian Tourist Association and the Croatian
Chamber of Commerce, including hotel and catering
associations, travel agencies and organizations promoting
The tourist trade in Croatia generates
an additional market of 60,000,000 consumers who spend
an average 140-150 days in tourist facilities, of
whom 40% come from foreign countries. In the prewar
years, the additional market involved 70% of foreign
tourists who spent nearly $ 2,300,000,000.The volume
of tourist consumption accounted for 10-12% of gross
domestic product, creating direct and indirect employment
for 200,000 people and generating 80% of the overall
commodity exports and 61.2% of the service exports.
The share of basic accommodation in
the overall accommodation potential of Croatia was
About 20% of basic accommodation was high category
and 30% medium (the then Class B) category. The largest
number of foreign bed nights was registered in hotels
(38%), camps (27%) and rented rooms (21%), while more
than 70% of domestic tourists sought cheaper accommodation.
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