UNWTO leader says Croatia will be among first countries to welcome tourists

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World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said on Wednesday that Croatia would be among the first countries to welcome tourists this summer now that its COVID-19 vaccination campaign had gained momentum. 

Speaking to Hina in Madrid after his meeting with visiting Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman, Pololikashvili said that Croatia would be one of the first countries to relaunch its tourism industry this summer, which he described as crucial.

Croatia and neighbouring countries have made headway with vaccination, which gives us hope that with its infrastructure and varied tourism products Croatia will be among those countries where international travellers will start arriving first, Pololikashvili said.

According to government statistics, 25% of Croatia's adult population has been vaccinated and by the end of June that rate is expected to climb to 55%.

The vaccination campaign also includes tourism workers.

In the pandemic year 2020 Croatia registered more than 54 million overnight stays, around 50% of the record year 2019.

We are satisfied and happy with what Croatia has achieved in the last 15-20 years, Pololikashvili said, adding that he considered Croatia as the best example of how to develop and transform in order to make tourism a priority.

The UNWTO official said that he was optimistic regarding the coronavirus pandemic and that very soon tourism statistics would return to the level before the outbreak of the disease, noting that he was particularly optimistic regarding Croatia because of its past and its tradition as a tourist country.

Speaking of the European green certificate, designed to facilitate travel in the current conditions, Pololikashvili said that people from the rest of Europe, notably those from neighbouring countries, would be the first to travel to Croatia.

He said that he believed that the end of June or early July would be the best moment to relaunch tourism.

The green certificate, which is supported by everyone, is not the only solution in the current difficult situation but it is certainly an instrument that will give a boost to tourism and make it safe in terms of public health, he said.