For the birthday issue of Diplomacy & Commerce magazine, we have asked Croatian officials for their opinion on political and economic challenges that awaits Croatia in 2020 and the key challenges on a global scale.
Gari Cappelli, Minister of Tourism for Diplomacy&Commerce says:
- What political and economic challenges await Croatia in 2020?
At the beginning of this tourist year, we were faced with challenges related to last-minute booking, which caused certain doubts about the realization of the anticipated tourist results at certain periods. However, as 2019 is drawing to a close, we can say that, through joint and great efforts of both the private and public sectors, we have been able to achieve growth in tourist traffic and increase in tourism revenue this year. In late October, we already accomplish the forecasted results in terms of tourist traffic, which took us 12 months to accomplish in 2018. Next year will be equally challenging in terms of further tourism growth, but we have already begun with preparing well and promoting. I believe that we will be able to attract new guest segments, especially those from distant markets, and extend the tourist season to last longer.
Another challenge facing the tourism sector in recent years concerns finding sufficient skilled workforce for the tourism and hospitality industry. This year, the Government of the Republic of Croatia increased the quotas for the import of foreign workers as a short-term solution. However, the Croatian government also aims have as much domestic workforce in tourism as possible, which is why we, in the Ministry of Tourism, have launched projects aimed at promoting tourism and hospitality professions, providing scholarships for high school and university students and opening six centres of competence in the tourism and hospitality sector, as a crowning achievement. In these centres, in addition to vocational education and the implementation of work-based learning, we are going to conduct training and work on adapting job profiles to labour market needs.
- What will be the key challenges on a global scale?
Under the influence of globalization and new technologies, business is rapidly changing and adapting to current trends in all economic sectors. Tourism is no exception since, as a horizontal activity, it absorbs changes in the environment even faster. Some of the major changes in modern tourism are related to consumer behaviour and preferences. The time of long-term travel planning with the provision of third-party services is long gone. Due to the availability of accommodation, transportation and tourism products in the destination, tourists increasingly organize their trips online and independently, and often decide to travel at the last minute. Therefore, all tourist destinations in the world will need to find creative ways to promote and offer innovative tourist facilities, as modern-day tourists want a destination that can provide them with new experiences, and will choose a destination depending on the variety of the offer it provides. However, tourism is the fastest-growing economic activity in the world, overtaking some of the industries that have been at their peak for years in terms of annual growth rate. In this context, we do not have to be concerned about the further development of tourism, but we need to approach the development of our tourism product in a smart, strategic and quality way and market it in the global tourism market.