In the recent years Croatia has witnessed a significant development in naval tourism noticeable through the increased offer of the yacht chartering businesses. These are the properties of the Croatian Adriatic coast that are currently the backbone of the naval touristic offer of the country: advantageous geographical, oceanographic and meteorological parameters, great traditional, cultural and gastronomical offer as well as an ample variety of preserved natural riches. While observing the potential of the Croatian naval tourism, the diversity of the Adriatic coast is immediately evident. With respect to this notion, the following paragraphs will offer a short overview of the differing coastal regions and the present state and future potential of their naval offer.
When discussing the yacht charter offer, Croatian coast is usually divided on the following areas: South Adriatic, Middle Adriatic, Kvarner and Istria. All of the regions documented a significant development of naval tourism in the recent years. While observing the state of the yacht charter offer in the year 2014, out of 3150 vessels chartered in Croatia, 1620 vessels were located in the Middle Adriatic, 1186 in the Southern Adriatic, 220 in Istria and 124 in the Kvarner area.
The Extensive Offer of Southern and Middle Adriatic
As we can observe, the regions of Southern and Middle Adriatic pride themselves with highest numbers of chartered vessels. Middle Adriatic region peaks with around 51% of Croatia’s charter offer while the southern Adriatic region follows close behind with 38% of chartered vessels. This can be attributed to more moderate and stable climate conditions and the fact that the larger geographic area of these regions can house more marinas and municipal ports. The region of the Middle Adriatic has especially favorable climate, since it is the region with least rainfall. The stable growth of naval tourism in these regions is being maintained and advanced by the expanded offer in marinas. This position is also reinforced by investments in the traffic infrastructure of the regions. The challenges that these regions face may lie in the endeavors to maintain a varied, maintained and fresh offer in the hospitality sector as well as maintaining a further development of boat maintenance services. Another all pertaining challenge is balancing the growth of marinas while keeping in line with the principles of sustainable ecology.
Potentials and challenges of the North Adriatic region
The regions of Istria and Kvarner provide a smaller chartering offer than the Middle and Southern Adriatic; Istria maintaining 7%, while Kvarner contains 4% of chartered vessels in Croatia. This is an expected ratio, taking into consideration the smaller size of the regions in question and the fact that many tourists visiting this area arrive on their own boats from the neighboring countries like Italy, Slovenia and Austria. However, these areas still have significant potential for growth and improvement. While Middle and Southern Adriatic are diverse regions in their own right, the areas of Kvarner and Istria portray quite different geographic properties of the Croatian coastline.
Nestling 4 large islands in its bay, Kvarner forms a system of tightly knit harbors, marinas and ports which makes it a safe and well supported sailing region. The strong points of this region are its tradition in boat maintenance with many small shipyards, good traffic connectedness that is continually improved as well as a varied offer of cultural, natural and heritage sites. West of the Kvarner Bay lies the peninsula of Istria. Its slightly indented coastline is a home to numerous naturally protected coves which make it a very popular sailing location. In addition to that Istria is very favorably positioned for international exploration due to its vicinity to Slovenia and Italy. This also affirms Istria’s nautical potential. The challenges to the yacht chartering businesses of the area lie in improving the qualities of the marinas in an ecologically sustainable way, maintaining the development of the traffic connections, especially air traffic infrastructures as well as regularly renewing the offers of the hospitality sector.
By observing the yacht charter offer in the Croatian coast, it is notable that there is great diversity between the coastal regions. The differing climate, varied advantages and disadvantages of the regions to an overall varied geological properties and cultural offer; these are the most prominent properties of the regions. Regardless of these differences it is possible to single out key challenges to yacht charter enterprises on the Croatian coast. In order to assure a comfortable arrival and departure of the yacht charter clients, it is of highest necessity to maintain the existing quality of the transport infrastructure and to expand and make improvements wherever possible. With respect to the second key challenge to Croatia’s nautical tourism, it is necessary to observe one of most important selling points of the Adriatic coast – its preserved cleanliness and natural wealth. At the same time, productive yacht charter offer is conditioned by the number and quality of marinas and other ports on the coast. Due to the slight contradiction between these two points it is necessary to make the marinas and ports as ecologically sustainable as possible. Further development of yacht chartering and naval tourism will depend on the way these diverse regions of the Adriatic address these challenges.