At the end of December 2022, the total number of arrivals in Croatia amounted to 330.9k, which is an increase of 38% YoY. At the same time, tourist nights amounted to 839.5k, representing an increase of 32% YoY.
Recently, the Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ) published its latest report on the performance of the Croatian tourism industry, for the month of December 2022, and as such, for 2022 as a whole. In the report, we can see that the tourist arrivals and overnight stays have still increased compared to 2021’s levels, but the increase is a lot lower than the one recorded during the summer months. Considering that Croatian tourism is predominantly focused on summer leisure tourism, this isn’t surprising.
In terms of arrivals, December 2022 recorded a total of 330.9k arrivals, representing an increase of 38% YoY. Of this, foreign tourists accounted for 195.9k or 59%, while domestic tourists accounted for the remaining 135k or 41%. If we were to compare these numbers to the last year of “normal” operations before COVID-19, i.e. 2019, then the total arrivals are 12% lower, with domestic arrivals being only 1% higher, while foreign arrivals are 19% lower.
In terms of tourist nights, they amounted to 839.5k during December 2022, representing an increase of 32% YoY. Of This, foreign tourist nights amounted to 574.4k, or 68%, while domestic tourist nights amounted to 265.1k, or the remaining 32%. Compared to 2019, total tourist nights are 4% lower, with domestic tourist nights being 6% lower, while foreign tourist nights were 3% lower. Meanwhile, the average stay per person amounted to 2.54, representing a decrease of 4.1% YoY.
The decrease in both the tourist arrivals and tourist nights, especially foreign ones is a negative trend we have seen this year, mainly due to higher costs of vacation in Croatia, due to higher accommodation, food, and service costs. At the same time, the budgets of visitors are also somewhat lower, especially after more than a year of elevated inflation. Finally, as already mentioned, Croatian tourism is extremely focused on the summer season, and as such the lower number of arrivals/nights is quite low when compared to the summer months.
Total tourist arrivals and tourist nights in Croatia (January 2019 – December 2022)
Source: HTZ, InterCapital Research
This is also evident if we look at the accommodation choices of the tourists; the majority of tourists in December stayed in hotels (57% of the commercial accommodation and commercial accommodation itself accounted for 94% of the total accommodation chosen for overnight stays). Following it, we have private accommodation at 27%, camps at 4%, and the remaining 12% split between other types of accommodation. Also, if we looked at the tourist nights by country of origin, the largest percentage goes to domestic tourists at 38%, followed by Slovenia and Austria, both with 11%, Germany and Bosnia and Herzegovina, both with 8% and Italy, at 6%. Furthermore, looking at the tourist nights by country, the City of Zagreb achieved the largest amount, followed by Kvarner, Istra, Splitsko-dalmatinska, and Dubrovačko-neretvanska.
All of these examples are mentioned to prove a point; the majority of arrivals/nights not in the summer season are orientated more towards local attractions such as the Advent in Zagreb, most of the arrivals are as such in hotels, and the majority of tourists are domestic tourists, meaning people spending their free time inside of Croatia but not in their county of origin.
Moving on to the data for 2022, total arrivals amounted to 18.9m an increase of 37% YoY. Of this, foreign tourists accounted for 16.2m, an increase of 42% YoY, while domestic tourists accounted for 2.6m, an increase of 13% YoY. Meanwhile, tourist nights amounted to 104.8m, an increase of 25% YoY. Of this, foreign tourist nights amounted to 92.3m, an increase of 28% YoY, while domestic tourist nights amounted to 12.5m, an increase of 2% YoY.
Compared to 2019, the total arrivals in 2022 are 9% lower, while total nights are 4% lower. What is also interesting to point out is the revenue achieved in the tourist industry. According to the latest data from the Croatian National Bank, the revenue from foreign tourists amounted to EUR 8.47bn in Q3 2022, which is an increase of 27% YoY. Compared to 2019, this is an increase of 28%. Looking at the 9M 2022, we can see that the total revenue from foreign tourists amounted to EUR 11.64bn, an increase of 43% YoY, and 23% compared to 2019.
Revenue of the tourism industry in the first 9 months (EURm), YoY Growth rates (%), 2015 – 2022
Source: HNB, InterCapital Research
What does all of this data show us, can this year be called a “record” year? In a sense, yes and no. Croatia did manage to recover and even record significant growth in the tourism industry in 2022. Tourist arrivals and nights are almost at pre-pandemic levels. But this almost is the key word. If the revenue increased so much and the tourist nights are somewhat lower, this would mean that the main driver of the revenue growth was the high prices. High prices might have been more easily absorbed in 2022, with all the savings people had after basically 2 years of not being able to travel, and when inflation and cost of living in general, were still largely under control. 2023 however? With a recession looming and savings being chipped away by inflation? While at the same time, the tourist companies are also under pressure to increase prices due to their own expenses growing. 2023 will prove to be quite an interesting year for Croatian tourism indeed.