Croatia’s goal at WTM London will be to capitalise on its rising popularity among football fans, following its second place success at the FIFA World Cup in July.
The country’s tourism homepage saw at 250% rise in the number of visitors during the cup final – and there were two million impressions on Twitter, 8.5 million Instagram visits and a total reach of five million Facebook users.
The Croatian National Tourist Board developed a promotional slogan, ‘Croatia, Full of Excellent Players’, and won awards with its ‘Ambassadors of Croatian Tourism’ video, featuring famous Croatian athletes and footballers.
It hopes the sporting success will help the country surpass the 18.5 million arrivals seen in 2017.
A host of new flight connections will also boost numbers, including services from Dublin to Zagreb; and northern England, Scotland and East Midlands to Dubrovnik, Pula and Split.
The first eight months of 2018 saw 14 million arrivals – up by 5% year-on-year – with Germany its biggest source market, followed by Slovenia, Austria, Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic making up the rest of the top six.
The UK is number seven, having seen numbers rise 26% in 2017.
Other sectors expecting to see further growth include arrivals by cruise ship; gastronomic tourism; and luxury hotels.
Further positive publicity about the country is likely to be generated by Hollywood movies, such as the forthcoming Robin Hood: Origins, starring Jamie Foxx, Jamie Dornan, Taron Egerton and Eve Hewson, and filmed in Dubrovnik and Istria.
The island of Vis saw a spike in popularity during 2018 as it was the location for many scenes in Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again.