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country profile


Croatia The Adriatic country, winning plaudits for the quality of its hotels, restaurants and clean beaches, is expecting more UK and Irish tourists this year, who will arrive on a host of new flights, says Ben Lerwill Don’t miss... Zagreb Croatia’s underrated capital has plenty to win over clients, and is now a bona fide city-break destination in its own right. Expect history, culture, gastronomy and a lively cafe scene. Dubrovnik Croatia’s crown jewel – an intact medieval citadel set against the Adriatic – remains one of the classic sights of European travel. Walk a circuit of the city walls to appreciate its good looks in full. Split Not many coastal cities can claim a 1,700-yearold Roman emperor’s palace right in its heart. Built in 305 AD, the structure is massive and more resembles a fortress than a royal home. Hvar Reputedly the sunniest part of the entire country – and certainly one of the best geared to luxury travellers – the island of Hvar is as famous for its high-end yacht culture as its natural beauty.

My 20-mile pedal, from one of Korcula’s coasts to the other, took me past vineyards full of fat grapes, quiet inlets lined with fishing boats and a succession of sunny, slow-moving villages. For much of the journey, across one of Croatia’s 1,000 islands, the big, brawny slopes of the mainland provided the backdrop. A cycling holiday is just one of any number of different forms a trip to Croatia can take – as UK travellers are discovering. The country had more than 792,000 UK visitors in 2017, up more than 25% on the year before. “Now is a great time for agents to be selling the country,” said Ivona Grgan, Director of the Croatian National Tourist Office (CNTO) UK & Ireland. “Zagreb was Lonely Planet’s top European destination last year; we now have Michelin-starred restaurants in Rovinj, Sibenik and Dubrovnik and our beaches and Adriatic seas are consistently listed among the clearest and most beautiful in the world.” “We are dedicated to showing Croatia’s diversity and authentic charm to travel agents through fam trips and roadshows” she added.

New flights This year sees new services to Dubrovnik from Birmingham, East Midlands, Newcastle, Southend and Manchester, to Pula from Liverpool and Southend, and to Split from Birmingham, Manchester, Gatwick, Bristol and Glasgow. In addition, there’s also a new service from Dublin to Zagreb. Croatia, shaped over time by everyone from the Slavs to the Romans and the Venetians to the Austro-Hungarians, drew more recognition

BOOK IT WITH REGENT HOLIDAYS Priced from £1,445pp, the South Croatia fly-drive holiday is a 13-day exploration of the Dalmatian coast, including three nights apiece in Dubrovnik, Split and Korcula, as well as visits to Ston, Cavtat and Krka National Park. The deal includes flights, car hire and accommodation with breakfast. – 020 3131 2003



in 2017, in the form of two new UNESCOWorld Heritage-listed attractions: St Nicholas Fortress in Sibenik and the fortified city walls of Zadar. On a far more modern note, the new James Bond film – coming out in 2019 with the working title Bond 25 – is rumoured to be using Dubrovnik as a key location. Similarly, the new Tom Hanks blockbuster Black Money Games is to feature several scenes on Hvar. And Dubrovnik already draws Game of Thrones fans, thanks to the Old Town appearing multiple times in the series.

Diverse and accessible “Croatia has a huge variety of holiday options,” says Chris Rand, Sales and Marketing Manager at Balkan Holidays. “There are quality hotels in the resorts and you can dine out in excellent restaurants for value-for-money prices. It has one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, and you can get from Gatwick to Dubrovnik in just two and a half hours.” No less than 24 new four and five-star hotels opened in 2017, including the four-star Hotel Salona Palace in the Dalmatian town of Solin, just north of Split, and the five-star Hotel Royal Blue in Dubrovnik. Marriott is reported to be opening a new property in Split, as part of the new Westgate development, while Brizenica Bay on Hvar is set to welcome a 148-room Four Seasons Resort, together with 33 Four Seasons private villas. The opening is tentatively set for 2019. And Croatia is not all about sea and sun – Zagreb’s Christmas market has been voted the best in Europe for the past two years. 

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Selling Travel May 2018  

The world in one magazine Cover Story: Solo travel, plus how to sell... Japan • Cyprus • Alabama • Thailand • Mauritius • Scandinavia and mo...

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