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(Bloomberg) -- Croatia’s revenue from tourism may exceed 7 billion euros ($7.9 billion) this year as it attracts more visitors put off by political uncertainty in rival destinations, including Greece, Tourism Minister Darko Lorencin said.
“Early bookings for the season are on the rise, and that may be due to a perception of security issues in countries such as Greece, Egypt and Turkey,” Lorencin said in an interview in Zagreb yesterday.
A government change in Greece earlier this week brought to power Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who vowed to curb mass tourism, saying it alienates visitors from local businesses. Tourism in Turkey may be curbed by warnings from western governments for their citizens to avoid travels to the country following a Jan. 6 suicide bombing in Istanbul.
Croatia’s tourism revenue last year was an about 7 billion euros, “almost matching” 2008, the best year on record, Lorencin said. “This year could exceed this.”
The former Yugoslav republic, which joined the European Union in 2013, wants to boost income from tourism as it struggles to emerge from a six-year recession. Tourism, centered around the country’s 5,800-kilometer (3,600-mile), island-dotted Adriatic coast, accounts for about one-fifth of the economy.
“We had a war and a political crisis 25 years ago and tourists had then fled to our Mediterranean peers,” Lorencin said. “Out turn to profit came in the last several years and we discretely let our prospective visitors know that Croatia is a stable country with a low crime rate in tourist areas.”
While most of visitors to Croatia come from Germany, Slovenia and Austria, the strengthening of the Swiss franc is “guaranteed” to boost arrivals from Switzerland.
Croatia will proceed with concession tenders for two large tourist developments, Kupari Bay near Dubrovnik and Veliki Brijun island, part of an archipelago in the northern Adriatic.
A call for binding bids for a 99-year concession on a derelict Yugoslav-era military resort in Kupari will be issued in February, Lorencin said. The value of the development on a crescent pebble beach 6 kilometers south of the walled city of Dubrovnik is estimated at 250 million euros.
Turkey’s Rixos as well as Croatia’s Valamar Riviera d.d. and Karisma, a unit of Agrokor d.d., have already submitted non- binding bids last year.
The government will also invite expressions of interest in February for a concession on the Brijuni Island, estimated at 2 billion kuna ($294 million), Lorencin said. The island, once an exclusive retreat of Yugoslav strongman Josip Broz Tito, is now a holiday resort and a national park.
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