Which locations in Croatia do have a potential to develop in terms of MICE business?
Tomaz: With recognition, strong marketing, old town and tradition, Dubrovnik will remain the number one place for incentive events in Croatia. A big number of 5-star hotels and international chains make a unique combination of traits that Dubrovnik has to offer and no other location can beat this combination. Other locations are also rising, Split still needs some hotel improvements and then it can become really interesting, since it is very different from Dubrovnik. We also see Hvar rising as an incentive destination – every year we have a larger number of MICE groups and with new hotel development and exclusive offer, more exclusive groups will arrive. For congress industry, Zagreb is a very nice destination with good hotel accommodation.
How about the north of Croatia?
Tomaz: In Istria, Rovinj is a high-end destination, very suitable for MICE and it is developing in the right direction in every area, from hotels, restaurants and other activities that it offers. Other destinations are too leisure oriented and we all know that MICE and leisure don’t go well together. Istria offers plenty of incentive activities and we have a lot of ideas – but we first need a proper accommodation and Pula airport does not have enough regular lines yet, since MICE groups don’t generally use low cost airlines and at the same time, airports like Zagreb, Venice and Ljubljana are too far, since we’re mostly limited to one hour drive from the airport to the hotel. Another beautiful destination is Lošinj island, which has an amazing vibe, great nature, exclusive hotel and they are still building new ones. Again, we have a challenge of getting there and until they will build a runway we don’t expect any boom in MICE there.
And where do you see the most potential for the MICE business?
Tomaz: North Dalmatia has the greatest potential in me. If all of the announced hotel construction will be implemented, that will be great for us. Zadar airport is quickly evolving along with other infrastructure and ferry port Gaženica and the investments in this region are huge. In addition, there are several innovative MICE products, such as glamping at Obonjan island, that has a true “wow” effect and it is exactly what our agents are searching for. Besides that, I see the biggest potential in Brač island.
How do you present Croatia to potential clients?
Tomaz: I am glad to say that now, most European event professionals already know Croatia, so we don’t need to start from scratch like in USA, where event professionals maybe heard about it, but don’t know it at all. The main advantage is still in the beautiful coast and Adriatic see, recognition of Dubrovnik, great weather, big diversity and sublime culinary offer. It is also about the fact that Croatia is a Mediterranean country, but it is very different from Greece, Italy or Spain.
What do clients that attend your events say about Croatia?
Tomaz: Our feedback from incentive clients is really good, especially from the ones that came to Croatia for the first time, since their experience is always above their expectations. They love the sea, nature and preserved historical centers of Split and Dubrovnik. The ones that are excited about local culinary experiences love small towns that offer truly local food and overall, they love sophistication of certain destinations.