Croatia is steering a course shaped by a strong and focused tourism masterplan and political leaders who understand the industry
long with Slovenia, Croatia is my favourite tourism destination is Europe. The reason is quite straightforward – over 45 years it has never let me down. Since gaining independence in 1995, the country has worked hard to create a fresh approach to tourism and has succeeded through innovation, using its natural and cultural assets to competitive advantage by recognising the importance of tourism to normalising life and the economy. Despite its obvious historical appeal to mass tourism, Croatia is steering a different course shaped by a strong and focused tourism masterplan and, political leaders who understand the needs of the industry. Within Croatia, one of the most appealing destinations has to be Istria – a 3,600 sq km heart-shaped peninsula in the north, 50 km south of Trieste. The coast has traditionally been the focus of tourist activity with its historic towns such as Pula, Porec and Rovinj and the resorts of Umag and Novigrad. The Istrian interior is characterised by medieval hilltop villages set amongst rolling coun-
strategy with the key ‘actors’ realising that quality and unique visitor experiences are the key to achieving a competitive advantage in the market. One of the industry leaders, Maistra Ltd – the most substantial tourism and hospitality company in the region – is changing the face of tourism in the area, with a series of design-led hotels.
INVESTING IN DESIGN Professor Terry Stevens
try and forests – a region that lost almost 90 per cent of its population, who exited during the four years of war from 1991 – 1995. Istria is now leading the re-invention and has become the epitome of a successful transformation in Croatian tourism. It too is driven by an enlightened masterplan which closely follows the themes of the national
Croatia has countryside and a rich heritage, creating a strong base for its tourism industry
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Maistra is the hospitality arm of the Adris Group and was formed in 2005 following the successful merger of two local Istrian tourism companies. Today Maistra owns and manages a portfolio of nine hotels and eight resort complexes in Istria in the towns of Rovinj and Vrsar. In 2014, Maistra acquired the Hilton Imperial Hotel in Dubrovnik, which is now operated by Hilton. Over recent years the company has invested over €400m to create premium hotels. The elegant five star Monte Mulini and the 248-room design-focused Lone Hotel allowed Maistra to introduce two global brands to Istria – Leading Hotels of the World and Design Hotels. Other investments have followed with the renovation of the environment at Lone Bay; the
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