Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic said on Wednesday that this year he expected an even greater interest in investing in tourism as the most competitive branch of the Croatian economy.
The prime minister was speaking at the opening of the Adria Hotel Forum conference that brought together about 300 domestic and foreign hoteliers and investors. He said that attracting investment was part of the government's strategy, adding that the most important activities were those that created added value in combination with other compatible activities.
"Last year we earned more than 8 billion euros from foreign tourists alone. I believe that last year's investments of half a billion euros contributed to it and this year investment in tourism will be 40 percent higher," Oreskovic said, noting that it was important to work on innovations.
He said that the government would work on converting former military facilities for tourism purposes and encouraging greenfield investments. He added that an increase in business competitiveness and investments from EU funds would be a driver of change.
"Tourism is very important to us. We have already launched five strategic projects, including the Mali Losinj airport, the Hotel Park in Rovinj, the Costabella resort in Rijeka and others. I believe all these and other projects will increase investors' interest," Oreskovic said.
Tourism Minister Anton Kliman said that the hotel industry was a very important segment of the tourist industry and that the aim was to increase its share in the total accommodation capacity by 2020.
"The plan is to invest 2.2 billion euros in tourism by 2020, or more specifically in 20,000 new rooms, and I believe we are on track to achieve this because this year investment will increase to 670 million euros, mostly in hotels," Kliman said.
He said that the role of the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development (HBOR) should be strengthened, state-owned tourist companies fully privatised and the problem of tourism land resolved.
The chairman of the Croatian Association of Hoteliers, Kristijan Sustar, said that the reduction of the VAT rate in the tourism sector and the strengthening of the investment climate should be among the government's top priorities.
Montenegro's Minister of Sustainable Development and Tourism, Branimir Gvozdenovic, said that the Mediterranean countries had a great chance to further develop tourism.