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EU camp site survey – customers are willing to pay for quality

HAK (Croatian Automobile Club) ANNOUNCES BEST CAMPSITES


As part of the Croatian Tourism Days, an international expert conference on camping was organised by the Croatian Automobile Club (HAK), introducing the results of the campsite quality survey. The outcome of the survey shows that campers are willing to pay for what they look for in a campsite – quality service, helpful staff and innovative channels of promotion.


Zagreb, 24 October – Croatian campsites have seen increasing quality year on year, however, while camping has been booming, making for 24 per cent of all overnight stays by tourists in Croatia, there is still plenty of room for progress, as Croatia ranks only eighth among countries with the most overnight stays. That was the message of the international expert conference of European automobile and camping clubs, organised by the Croatian Automobile Club as part of the Croatian Tourism Days.

Croatian Tourism Days is the most important tourism event organised by Croatia’s Ministry of Tourism, National Tourist Board, Chamber of Commerce and the public broadcaster Croatian Radio television. The event took place at the Solaris tourist resort near the coastal town of Sibenik from 19 to 21 October, with the participation of more than 1,400 representatives of the Croatian and international tourism sectors. The event featured expert workshops and seminars, as well as the traditional award ceremony for best achievements during the tourist season. The Croatian National Tourism Board presented awards as part of its different promotion campaigns – Blue Flower for the best Croatian seaside town appearance, Green Flower for the best Croatian inland town appearance and Croatia’s Tourism Worker of the Year. The Croatian Chamber of Commerce conferred awards to the winners of the Tourist Flower – Quality for Croatia campaign.

As one of the co-organisers of the event, the Croatian Automobile Club held an expert conference on “Trends in Camping Tourism” on 20 October. About 70 participants took part in the conference, with 20 of them coming from European automobile or camping clubs. Apart from several contributions the conference also presented the results of the campsite quality survey.

HAK President Ivo Bikic delivered the opening address, highlighting the connection between road transport and camping. ‘[…] More than 84 per cent of tourists come to Croatia by car. The link between road transport and tourism is deep and complex. Transport is a factor in the development of tourism destinations. Campers have specific needs such as a secure and developed transport network, available services in cases of accidents and breakdowns, traffic reports, availability of petrol stations and rest areas along main transport routes. All these factors contribute to the quality and appeal of tourist destinations.

Croatia’s Minister of Tourism, Damir Bajs, was also invited to speak at the opening of the conference, pointing out that the cooperation between the Ministry of Tourism and HAK was an example of a real partnership between the public and non-profit sectors. ‘Croatia today is a destination that offers the highest road safety standards. HAK provides a service that makes a difference, because it has identified what tourists need and has adapted its services to them. HAK provides road assistance, but also monitors campsite quality, promotes tourism and as of this season it also provides car servicing upon entry to Croatia,’ according to Minister Bajs.

Mr. Igor Vidas, President of the Croatian Camping Association, declared: ‘[…] 13.46 million overnight stays had been recorded in Croatia by the end of August, an increase of 753,000 units. This year was the best in the camping sector, with the most frequent guests coming from Germany, Slovenia and the Netherlands.’ Campers are especially interested in environmental protection and cultural, natural and historical heritage. The average camper traveling to Croatia is 47 years old and either holds a high school or university diploma. 76 per cent of visitors earn more than 1,500 EUR a month. Campers are no longer low-income visitors; they are wealthy owners or renters of expensive camper vans or luxury trailers. Therefore campsites must continue to work on offering better services and improving overall,’ added Mr. Vidas.

The President of the International Naturist Organisation (INF), Ms Sieglinde Ivo gave her contribution by commenting on the relative drop in the number of nudists in Croatia, which is due to a number of reasons. ‘The first reason is that nudists tend to be loyal to their chosen location. When nudists were obliged to leave Croatia and go to neighbouring countries because of the war, then they stayed there even after it was over. The second factor is “ideology”, because nudists who practise direct and personal contact expect strict nudism without clothed guests at the campsite,’ according to Ms Ivo.

During the conference a committee member of the International Federation of Camping and Caravanning (FICC), Mr Eero Ollila, spoke about his experience with Croatian campsites: ‘[…] while visiting campsites in 2010 I found that campsites in Croatia were managed with quality, pleasantness and professionalism. I hope I will have the opportunity of promoting Croatian campsites to Scandinavian campers.’

Ms Irina Patrascu addressed the conference on behalf of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) in a bid to present the new features and benefits of the Camping Card International (CCI). ‘FIA has started a new website, offering an online search engine, a web map which allows campers to pinpoint campsites and basic campsite info.  Campsite managers themselves can keep this information up to date. Furthermore, a new application for the iPhone and for Android is being developed alongside Facebook and Twitter pages.’

Mr Johannes Pijnenburg, representative for camping at the Dutch touring club ANWB, mentioned the needs of Dutch campers and the club’s ambitions. He said, ‘Croatia is an important destination for us and is also the fastest growing one. Moreover, out of 1,400 campsites visited around the world, two Croatian campsites rank first and eleventh. However, Croatia still ranks quite low on the list of destinations frequented by the Dutch, 40 per cent of whom choose France. Unemployment in the Netherlands is low, but camping is very popular. 1.3 million families in the country go camping, with one million of them being ANWB members.’ Mr Pijnenburg offered some specific recommendations on how to approach the Dutch market and presented the club’s new camping card and web portal. He touched on the large untapped potential of Croatian campsites in attracting Dutch tourists and encouraged them to join the ANWB booking system to accommodate for the high interest shown by its clubs and members.

This year’s campsite quality survey results were presented by Ms Irena Rozic from HAK. The traditional survey is carried out in cooperation with the Croatian Camping Union and the Croatian Camping Association. The survey tested 84 campsites in 2011, dividing them in three categories by size – large, medium and small. The survey comprised of a preparation phase, a field-testing phase from 1 July to 24 August and by a phase in which results were analysed. Points were weighted and awarded on the basis of specific criteria. On top of that 14 campsites were supervised. In September, just as the year before, the three camps that had constantly been among the best in the previous surveys received special recognition. Those campsites were Zaton, near Zadar, Politin on the island of Krk and the Jasenovo campsite in Zaboric, near Sibenik.

‘New award categories were introduced for the best nudist campsite and the best inland camp,’ highlighted Ms Rozic. The best nudist camp was Valalta in Rovinj, while the recognition for the best inland campsite went to camp Slapic in Duga Resa.

Among small campsites, the best one was camp Palma in Kuciste on the island of Peljesac, the runner-up was camp Adriatic in Mokalo also on the island of Peljesac, while the third best campsite was Ulika in Rovinj.

Of the medium-sized campsites, the best was Oaza Mira in the village of Drage near Pakostan, the runner-up was Vira on the island of Hvar, while Kozarica in Pakostan was the third best campsite.

The number one campsite among the large ones was Strasko in Novalja on the island of Pag, the second spot went to Solaris in the Solaris resort near Sibenik, and third place was assigned to Bi-Village in Fazana.

More information on the event and on the campsite survey results can be found at the HAK website: www.hak.hr or at the Ministry of Tourism website: http://www.mint.hr/default.aspx?id=7568

Contact person: Alan Vojvodic,

099 2118 008, vojvodic@hak.hr