How safe is water sports when it comes to the corona virus? SeaHelp asked this question in a survey involving 1213 water sports enthusiasts who had spent their vacations in Croatia, a country which, according to the Robert Koch Institute and the Austrian government, was responsible for a large number of infections in Germany caused by people returning from trips.
The inquiry revealed however a completely different picture: From the 1213 water sportsmen only three persons had become infected. And because surveys inevitably reveal a certain inaccuracy in their statements, the results could be validated by PCR tests conducted by KIRT Styria (KIRT stands for Kranken- und Intensivtransporte, editor’s note), which operates in Austria and Croatia: With his mobile test station he had, according to his information, taken 1178 tests in the marinas in Croatia from water sportsmen and had them examined in the laboratory of the Austrian MED University of Graz. Only one test turned out to be positive. Thus the result of the SeaHelp inquiry might be sufficiently validated.
PCR tests among water sports enthusiasts: Less than one per thousand infected in Croatia
The PCR tests, which the KIRT Styria took in Croatia and had examined in Austria, served as official evidence for the Austrian government authorities to free these travel returnees from the quarantine ordered in Austria at the time. This was therefore quasi an official document. However, one should also take into account a certain inaccuracy in the mass of tests – according to the German “Ärzteblatt”, a test with a specificity of 95% gives a false positive result in five out of 100 healthy people. If one considers that the person who tested positive was not alone on board and the rest of the crew tested “negative”, the statement is again put into perspective.
Risk of infection in Croatia not higher than in Germany or Austria
Even if it is difficult to waste thoughts on the coming water haven season in view of high infection numbers with the Coronavirus and a shift of the boat Duesseldorf on April already – it comes as surely as the Amen in at present still empty churches. And because then despite possible inoculations and sufficiently available Corona tests with numerous boat owners the fear, or however at least an unpleasant feeling also on board goes, SeaHelp points out that water sportsmen are exposed also in countries as for example Croatia to a clearly smaller infection risk. This news is nothing new in itself, but was sufficiently validated for the first time by the survey among water sports enthusiasts.
Returning travelers, especially water sports enthusiasts not responsible for spreading
But this statement, which describes water sports as an extremely safe form of vacation in times of the Corona pandemic, could also be groundbreaking for all water sports, but also for a country such as Croatia, to which one all too gladly wrongly attributed a complicity in the infection happening. This decision was ultimately also politically motivated in order to limit the flow of tourists to their own country and to boost the local tourism industry.
Croatia: Corona protection measures in marinas rated very good
However, the survey not only provided valuable data on the infection incidence among water sports enthusiasts, but was also intended to shed light on the situation on site in Croatia with regard to the possibility of infection with the corona virus. When asked how the participants in the survey perceived the protective measures in the Croatian marinas, 42.6 % of the respondents described the measures, i.e. compliance with the rules of hygiene and the possibility of keeping the prescribed distance, as very good, 40.7 % as good and 8 % as satisfactory.
Croatian restaurants also did well
The survey participants rated the corresponding prescribed measures in Croatian restaurants almost as highly. A total of 28.6 % felt that the hygiene measures were very good, the vast majority of 40.8 % rated them as good, and as many as 15.9 % said they were satisfied with the protective measures against the coronavirus.
Predominantly very good for corona measures of Croatian supermarkets
Croatian supermarkets received similar results when it comes to protecting their customers. 42.5 % considered them to be very good, while 38.6 % still thought they were good. No wonder, given that the Croats, at least in the north of the country, paid attention to the possibility of hand disinfection, distances even at the checkouts, and that the maximum number of customers in the supermarket was not exceeded.
Boat owners were the first to return to Croatia in 2020
However, one essential point should not be ignored: When Croatia relaxed its entry regulations in late spring, water sports enthusiasts were among the first guests to be allowed to visit the country again. A charter contract or the proof of a berth in one of the numerous Marinas was considered as the tickets to the probably most beautiful coasts of Europe. Also the Croatian government knew that the infection risk on board probably goes against zero and who behaves, similarly as also at home, responsibly in the Croatia vacation, should remain just as spared in Croatia from the Coronavirus as also at home.
Croatia’s economy dependent on tourism
Due to the high incidence figures, the government will take further strict measures by early 2021 at the latest, starting in December with a lockdown light, as is probably the case in most European countries. 20 % of Croatia’s economic output depends on tourism. After the gross domestic product has already fallen considerably this year, the Croatian government will hardly be able to afford to cancel the vacation season. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, a high number of vaccine doses and tests have been organized in order to be able to guarantee a safe stay for the 2021 season according to the circumstances.
Croatia’s success in 2020 should be repeated in 2021
In 2020 this finally worked, Croatia was one of the safest European vacation destinations in summer and was able to realize the highest number of foreign tourists of all vacation countries in Europe. This leap of faith should also bear fruit in 2021, especially since it has probably been recognized at the political level that travel returnees, especially not water sports enthusiasts, are to be regarded as drivers of new coronavirus infections, as the television appearance of the Austrian Chancellor Kurz made clear.