Published on Thursday, July 30, 2020

'We're safe', insists Croatia as ministers eye high-risk countries

Croatia tourism has insisted the country is safe for visitors despite reports suggesting it could be next on the UK government quarantine hit list.

Belgium, Luxembourg and Croatia were all named yesterday in several media outlets as countries being studied by UK ministers amid concerns of a rising numbers of Covid cases.

The UK Government has made clear it will act rapidly in telling returning holidaymakers they need to quarantine on their return from countries regarded as high risk.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said failing to act quickly - which it did over Spain last weekend - would be a 'dereliction of duty'.

"We had to act when we did," he said, after cutting short his own holiday in Spain.

"The figures since have shown why that was required and I'm desperately sad and sorry for people who have lost their holidays.

"I decided I needed to come home early and begin my 14 days quarantine just to make sure that I can get on with my job."

Shapps revealed ministers had looked at excluding the Balearic and Canary Islands from the coronavirus quarantine.

But he added: "Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, was very clear with us that he was concerned about the data, we had seen how the data had come very fast forward in Spain in 20, 48 hours, it had gone up by 75%."

UK Director of the Croatia National Tourist Office, Darija Reic, said reports that Croatia could follow Spain was concerning and could dent consumer confidence in the destination.

"It is always concerning when something comes out in the media as it can have great impact," she said. "We have not recognised it as an issue just yet and there are still a lot of Brits who are willing to travel and are looking for alternatives. Hopefully, Croatia will be one of those because we are perceived as a safe destination.

"Obviously, with any bombshell news such as what happened with Spain there is going to be a slight shock effect and more hesitation, but those who were willing to travel will still do so."

Reic acknowledged the number of Covid cases in Croatia has climbed in recent weeks but was limited to less visited eastern parts of the country and was caused by "large scale weddings and family gatherings".  

"Since then Croatia has cracked down and further tightened measures," she said, adding that numbers have now stabilised.

"The coast remains safe for travellers," Reic added. "We have many more travellers coming into Croatia than we could have expected so it must mean we are doing something right

"We have measures in place to protect the locals and visitors and are focusing on the health and safety of everyone in Croatia."

The tourism body said two million visitors arrived in Croatia in July, 54% of the 2019 figure.   

By Steve Jones, Contributing Editor

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  • Using a sledgehammer to drive a nail

    Chris Witty is a very eminent epidemiologist, but can it really be true that he is basing his advice to the government on the crude figures for all of Spain? I suspect that it's the government that doesn't want to have to distinguish between regions rather than countries for quarantine purposes.

    By Peter Lewis, Thursday, July 30, 2020

  • Shappsolutely ridiculous

    The fact that the transport secretary was jetting off on holiday in the middle of all this just seems to sum up this government's attitude towards our industry. I know everyone needs a break from work, but companies are going to the wall while Grant is topping up his tan...

    By Tom O'Hara, Thursday, July 30, 2020

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