The shining stars of Croatian tourism who led the way in 2022
Another successful tourist season is behind Croatia, in which the minuses caused by the covid pandemic were almost completely erased. The tradition of awarding prizes to the best ones, which was taking place in October for years, continued at the event Days of Croatian Tourism, organized by the Ministry of Tourism, the Croatian Tourist Community, the Croatian Chamber of Economy and Croatian Radio and Television. It is an opportunity to gather the major players of the tourism sector after the season and also start discussions on the preparation for the next tourist year.
On the closing night of the award ceremony, the city of Rovinj was pronounced the tourism champion in 2022. The prize for cultural attraction of the year was awarded to Arsen House of Art from Šibenik and the Providur’s Palace from Zadar, and for natural attraction to the public institution Velebit Nature Park. The so-called RetrOpatija was proclaimed the event of the year, Grand Park Rovinj the hotel of the year, Istra Premium Funtana the campsite of the year, and Zoi from Split the restaurant of the year, while ACI Dubrovnik was proclaimed the marina of the year and Adriatic DMC Dubrovnik the travel agency of the year. The Anton Štifanić Annual Award went to Arsen Ercegović from the Croatian Association of Private Shipowners and Vladimir Bakić, long-time director of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County Trade Union and the Association of Croatian Travel Agencies (UHPA). The Croatian tourism award for lifetime achievement was given to Dane Slamić from the hotel in Tisno, and posthumously to Franko Lukež, a gastronome and sommelier, and awards for sustainability were also given to Valamar Riviera and the National Association of Small Hotels.
“Another very successful tourist season which was diligently prepared by all Croatian tourism workers is behind Croatia. It is the people, along with our beautiful nature, destinations and resources, that is the most valuable asset we have. For this reason, we traditionally award Croatian tourism awards so as to give recognition to our valuable tourism employees and institutions and thank them in a symbolic way for their exceptional contribution to achieving the goals of Croatian tourism. Such recognitions, in addition to gratitude, also aim to give an additional motive for the implementation of all future activities,” The Collection director of HTZ, Kristjan Staničić explained.
In this issue of our magazine, we present some of the award winners, whom we asked what this award meant for their business and position on the market.
Destination of the year – City of Rovinj
This year, Rovinj has achieved five per cent more overnight stays compared to the same period in 2019, whereby the number of overnight stays increased mainly in the pre-season and post-season, i.e. in the periods of the year when the main backbone of the tourist offer is differentiated tourism products such as congress tourism, wellbeing offers, gastronomic tourism and sports or outdoor tourism.
“The fact that Rovinj was proclaimed the destination of the year at the Days of Croatian Tourism in 2022 is a sign that, in terms of the development of the tourist offer, we are on the right track. We are developing the destination on potentials such as indigenousness, art and tradition, cultural heritage, and the tourist offer is adapted to the demands of the modern tourist in accordance with sustainable development and current trends. All of these are factors that encourage further development according to the guidelines of the new Strategic Plan for the development of tourism in the City of Rovinj-Rovigno for the period until 2030, whose development principles are the limitation of quantitative growth, sustainable development, prolongation of the tourist season with the aim of efficiently meeting the needs of tourists and improving the quality of life for the city residents,” they said in the Tourist Community of Rovinj.
Tourist agency of the year – Adriatic DMC Agency
Adriatic DMC is specialized in group tours, ordered tours, land tours, cruises, MICE programs and logistical support in Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Serbia and North Macedonia. Adriatic DMC is the holder of the Travelife Certificate and is also a member of “The World’s Leading Ground Operators and Ensemble Travel Group”. The company was founded by Srđan Krištić, Periša Boko and Ivan Gavranić in 2013.
This Dubrovnik agency played a key role in resuming travel after the outbreak of the pandemic, working closely with the world’s leading cruise companies and local and national authorities to facilitate the movement of ships on round trips along the Croatian coast of the Adriatic. Adriatic DMC’s operations continued this summer at the pre-pandemic level and an excellent year 2023 is predicted.
“I am extremely proud of my team and the quality of service we were able to deliver to our partners in these challenging times, and thus win this award.” Our commitment to organizing high-quality and authentic experiences for our guests has been recognised, as well as our commitment to sustainable business in all locations and social communities in which we operate,” Srđan Krištić, director of Adriatic DMC said.
Restaurant of the year – ZOI Split
ZOI restaurant is located on the Split Riva, a place of exceptional historical and cultural heritage, on the southern wall of Diocletian’s palace, near the location of the Emperor’s former chambers. The emperor’s dining room used to be located right next to the restaurant, which gives this place a special energy. The history of Split is the cornerstone from which the idea of this creative restaurant emerged.
Since its opening in 2017, the ZOI restaurant in Split has won numerous awards, and this year alone the ZOI team has received several international and domestic awards, including Michelin plate, Galut&Millau, Falstaff, TripAdvisor Travelers Choice, 100 leading Croatian restaurants – Restaurant Croatica, THA award and now and finally the award for the best restaurant of the year at the Days of Croatian Tourism.
“This award is a wind in the sails of our team, proof of excellence, effort and creativity in all aspects of the business. We believe that attention to detail is what leads us to offer an interesting, high-quality and unique gastronomic experiences every year. This attention to detail is something that characterizes our entire team. In the kitchen, we work passionately on finding top-quality ingredients, a special taste or spice, new technology and a unique presentation of each dish. In the service department, we are constantly working on efficient and more pleasant service and a top-quality offer. Every detail in the space is important, and the communication of the entire team is the key to how we find ways to develop,” Andrea Tavolacci, director of the ZOI restaurant emphasizes.
Hotel of the year – Grand Park Hotel
Grand Park Hotel Rovinj, opened shortly before the pandemic in 2019, operates as part of the Maistra Rovinj Adris Group. The hotel is located in one of the most beautiful locations on the Adriatic, in front of the marina with a view of Rovinj’s old town centre and in the vicinity of the hundred-year-old park-forest Zlatni rt and Mulini Beach. Guests have at their disposal 198 rooms, 11 suites with terraces and private pools, a wellness and spa area of 3,800 square meters, seven restaurants and bars, some of which have been recognized by Michelin and Falstaff, congress facilities and an attractive promenade with shops. The interior of the hotel is designed by the Italian designer Piero Lissoni and the architecture by studio 3LHD. The hotel is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World and Virtuosa collections.
“The award received is a recognition to all hotel employees who are committed and achieve excellent business results. Also, this is an additional confirmation of the justification of Adris’s long-term investment in the luxury segment of tourism and persistence on the excellence of the tourism products and services. Thanks to the offer and quality of the hotel’s service, Grand Park directly influences the change in the structure of guests of the destination and, most importantly, opens up space for prolongation of the season, which ultimately reflects on the total revenue of the destination. It also significantly contributes to the development of the local community, as this investment has created more than a hundred new jobs and as much as 70 percent of all suppliers are from the region,” Maistra points out.
Through its offer, the hotel also strives to preserve the existing cultural and natural heritage. It is interesting that upon arrival, guests receive something like a travel diary which is a guide through the stories of Rovinj and a collection of memories in one place. All outlets have names that are connected with the historical locations of the destination or historically interesting facts – Tabakina, Cissa bar, Viva Eufemia, Albaro wellness&spa. The hotel’s unique selling points include the restaurants Agli Amici with one Michelin star and Cap Aureo, which has a recommendation, a sunbathing area with a 50-meter swimming pool, a multi-purpose conference hall with a glass wall of 15×3.2 meters, which is like a framed postcard of the centre of Rovinj, Rovinj Signature Suite with a sea view of 175 square meters in size with a walk-in wardrobe, a large living room with a relaxation area, a private garage, a spacious balcony with sunbeds and a small private pool.
Camp of the year – Istra Premium Camping Resort
Istria Premium Camping Resort by Valamar offers a rich selection of luxury accommodations, from modern plots by the sea and modern camping homes to glamping tents and stylish camping villas with swimming pools. In the last five years, Valamar Riviera invested more than HRK 500 million in Istra Premium Camping Resort, which, in addition to accommodation at the 5* level and the highest level of service quality, enabled guests to enjoy out-of-the-box facilities such as a premium family water park, attractive beaches, modernly equipped rooms for play and entertainment, children’s playrooms, sports zone V Sport and charming restaurants, bars and shops.
In Valamar, they point out that this is not the only recognition for Istra Premium Camping Resort by Valamar this year. It is one of as many as five Valamar campsites that have received the recognition ADAC Superplatz 2022, awarded by ADAC camping guides in collaboration with the camping portal PiNCAMP. In addition, at the 16th Croatian Camping Congress, 11 Valamar campsites, including Istra Premium Camping Resort, received special recognition for quality, “Croatia`s Best Campsites 2023”, awarded by the Camping Association of Croatia.
Recognition for excellence in applying sustainable tourism principles – Valamar
Valamar is recognized as the leader in sustainable business in tourism and in Croatia, which was confirmed by the prestigious recognition of the Financial Times, which included Valamar Riviera on the list of European climate leaders for 2022. This year, the largest Croatian tourism company also won the National Environmental Award – Green Prix in the Decarbonize the Community category. Valamar is also the first tourism company in Croatia that integrated sustainable development into business and development management and announced sustainability goals according to the ESG framework until 2025.
“In the past period, Valamar invested 800 million euros in improving the quality of accommodation and services, of which, since 2015, it directed 65 million euros into sustainable and socially responsible business projects, renewable energy sources and energy efficiency, tourist infrastructure, and numerous programs for employees, society and community support. The company plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025 and plans to invest 50 million euros in destinations and social performance,” they emphasize in Valamar.
They mention that Valamar Amicor Green Resort, the first green eco-resort in Croatia, was opened on the island of Hvar this season, in compliance with the highest standards of green construction and energy efficiency. Amicor is unique, first of all because of its location – it is located in a natural environment, then only natural materials were used for the construction of the buildings, renewable energy sources are used for electricity, water and it will be possible for every guest in the eco villa to measure the consumption of water, electricity, air quality and to have a display of the resort’s CO2 footprint. Amicor is a particularly ambitious project also because it will be the first tourist project in Croatia with a DGNB certificate, which is a certification system developed in 2009 by the German Council for Sustainable Construction. This is the only certification system that complies with EU regulations and norms and has become a benchmark for sustainability on a global level, primarily due to a comprehensive approach to the evaluation of buildings and urban areas.
It is the only certificate that gives equal importance to the economic and ecological aspects of sustainable buildings, and it is interesting for Amicor because it is highly valued in Germany and Austria which are important emitting markets.
Marina of the year – ACI Marina Dubrovnik
ACI Marina Dubrovnik is the ideal starting point for a complete nautical adventure along the coast and picturesque islands. It is also one of the ACI marinas that has won many trophies and various awards. With a swimming pool and sunbed renting, tennis courts, two restaurants where live and ambient music is performed during the season, facilities for children, a shop, the possibility of renting electric scooters, bicycles and mopeds, massage services, several centuries-old summer house Sorkočević, top nautical services and the unique ACI Golf Range practice area – ACI marina Dubrovnik is an important link in the tourist offer of the city of Dubrovnik.
During this and last year, the water supply and drainage, electrical network, installations and lighting were reconstructed in the marina, and a coastal wall was built which provided more than 230 meters of new shoreline for entering and hosting four to five meters long vessels. The construction of the largest service area in the southern Adriatic is also planned, as well as the reconstruction of the beautiful several centuries-old Sorkočević castle.
“All these awards are primarily the result of the joint effort and work of all ACI employees, whom I would like to congratulate. ACI, as the largest chain of marinas in the Mediterranean, wins awards in various categories every year, which is confirmation to us that we are on the right path,” Kristijan Pavić, President of the ACI Management Board said.
Cultural attraction of the year –Arsen House of Art
Arsen House of Art, opened last year in the area of the former Odeon cinema, which is remembered by many generations of Šibenik residents, pays tribute to Arsen Dedić, who is the greatest ambassador of the city and its spirit. Arsen is an intimate hall that will never be able to boast of hundreds of thousands of visitors a year, simply because of its capacity of around a hundred visitors depending on the type of program and the hall’s setup, but that is also where its uniqueness lies. During the 16 months of operation, more than 250 programs were organized there, almost from all artistic fields, from one-off programs to festivals, and hundreds of people from the area of culture from all over Croatia have already been in Arsen. Individuals, independent players from the cultural scene, cultural associations, and artistic educational institutions have also been included in the programs.
“The HTZ award for the cultural attraction of the year is particularly important to us because it means that it is recognized on a national level that the Arsen House of Art is a space that lives independently of the tourist season and as a home of all kinds of art. In a short time, since its opening in June 2021, it has become a key place where the audience and culture meet throughout the year. If you come to Šibenik in October, February or May, you will have the opportunity to come into contact with a high-quality cultural program, be it a recent Croatian independent film, superb jazz, classical music concert or contemporary dance, children’s theatre or workshops, and in August, Arsen was transformed into a gallery. It is precisely such a diverse year-round program that is the precondition for raising cultural tourism in Šibenik to an even higher level,” they point in Arsen.