A question that is probably of burning interest to most water sports enthusiasts, boat owners and charter guests: How will the 2022 water sports season in Croatia turn out under the omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus? The SeaHelp editorial team has once again dared to take a look into the much-cited crystal ball to get an idea of how the 2022 water sports season might go, based on the data from 2021 and surveys of the booking status at charter companies and marinas. What seems remarkable here is the fact that despite the corona pandemic and the Omikron variant of the coronavirus, nautical tourism in Croatia in particular seems to be defying the pandemic trend.
Nautical tourism in Croatia defies Corona pandemic and Omikron
The basis for this rather positive outlook is based on tourism figures for 2021, as communicated at a recent press conference (online) by the Croatian National Tourist Board: According to the report, by the end of October, the portal nautika.evisitor.hr counted more than 450,000 arrivals of nautical guests, achieving a booking level that realized a total of 83% of the arrivals from the boom year 2019, despite the Corona pandemic. They seemed to have enjoyed it for the most part, as these nautical guests provided more than three million overnight stays, or 86% of the number of overnight stays in 2019.
Water sports enthusiasts from Germany were disproportionately represented, with more than 80,000 guests (92% compared to 2019) and 560,000 overnight stays (95% compared to 2019). Thus, despite the Corona pandemic, the nautical segment of Croatian tourism should be halfway back to normal levels – a good basis for development in 2022.
Nautical tourism stronger
What is also certain, however, is that nautical tourism clearly performed better than general Croatia tourism, which, with just over 13 million arrivals, was only able to realize 67% of the 2019 result. With 83 million overnight stays, guests still achieved a reasonably good result in 2021, ranking only 77% below the 2019 figures. Incidentally, Germans were also among the most numerous guests here, with 2.8 million arrivals (96% compared to 2019) and 21.1 million overnight stays (100% compared to 2019).
Individual arrival advantage for Croatia
Considering that the 2021 season didn’t really take off until May, it’s clear from these numbers: Croatia is one of the most popular travel destinations, especially among German-speaking guests. In addition, there is a factor that should not be neglected, especially during the pandemic: most guests arrived with their own cars and thus enjoyed the security of being able to travel home with their own means of transport in the event of a change in the pandemic situation at short notice. Omikron will not change that.
Safety from 2021 should make itself felt in 2022
Another point that also suggests that this positive development will be repeated in 2022 and may well be exceeded: The large number of tourists, also from the nautical sector, realized through last year’s visit that during the summer months a stay in Croatia can be classified as safe also thanks to the project “Save Stay in Croatia“. An average vaccination rate of about 70% among tourist workers in coastal regions and the fact that water sports enthusiasts spend most of their time outdoors certainly did the rest. This positive word of mouth is probably the best advertisement for the vacation destination on the Adriatic, even if Omikron is more rampant.
Number of flight connections rises in 2022
Flight connections from Germany alone also took this into account, with Eurowings increasing capacity by 30% compared to 2021 and resuming the Berlin – Zagreb connection. Condor flies from Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich to Split, Rijeka and Dubrovnik, and Croatia Airlines and Lufthansa serve Croatian destinations from Frankfurt and Munich.
Charter companies with good booking levels
Another indicator that provides information about the 2022 season is the booking figures of charter companies. Most have only remaining places for the period from Whitsun 2022 to the end of August 2022. Crews planning a charter vacation should decide quickly. Overall, however, despite Omikron, they are talking about a very good booking level for 2022.
ACI reports good business figures
ACI President Kristijan Pavic also confirmed the overall positive review as well as the outlook for 2022 at the current press conference, saying, “The third quarter showed the full potential of Croatian tourism, including nautical offers. We have achieved a higher turnover this quarter than in the record year 2019 and are now waiting for the final accounting to summarize what this year has brought us overall in financial terms. What is already certain, however, is that it is significantly better than last year, and that is why we are optimistic for 2022, said the president of ACI at the press conference just before Christmas.
Chances of a successful 2022 are good
And one thing may have been learned from the Corona pandemic, appropriately enough at the turn of the year: “Same procedure as every year” is the motto in “Dinner for One” and probably also in 2022. After the Omicron variant of the Corona virus has subsided, it should probably be possible to start water sports in Croatia on Easter 2022. And since Easter Sunday 2022 falls relatively late on April 17, the chances of an early start to the water sports season are more than good, according to the SeaHelp glass globe.