Croatia gears up for a good tourism season as air passenger traffic at its airports soars 33% y/y in April

Croatia gears up for a good tourism season as air passenger traffic at its airports soars 33% y/y in April
The tourist season gets off to a good start with 33% more people using Croatian airports this April than in April 2016.
By bne IntelliNews June 14, 2017

The number of passengers serviced by Croatia's airports rose 33% y/y to 570,000 in April, after contracting 3% y/y in March, according to data from the statistics office signalling a great start to this year's tourism season.

Traffic at Croatian airports rose 13% y/y to a record high of 8.11mn in 2016 thanks to last year's favourable tourism season, which benefitted from political uncertainty and security issues in rival destinations. To cope with a continuation of this trend, the government has started to upgrade works at the country’s main airports.

In January-April, air passengers in Croatia also rose by 14% y/y to 1.26mn. Zagreb Airport, the largest airport in Croatia, saw a 19% y/y increase in passenger traffic to 239,887 in April alone.

The total passenger traffic at seaports also increased by 15% y/y to 1.81mn in April and by 7% y/y to 4.61mn in the first four months of 2017. In 2016, the number of sea passengers rose by 9% y/y to 31mn.

Cross-border traffic on Croatian highways rose by 21% y/y to 5.81mn while the number of cross-border passengers rose by 6% y/y to 18mn in January-April. Cross border traffic was up 2% y/y to 76mn in 2016.

Croatian Airlines currently flies to 39 destinations in 24 European countries. Recent flight openings for the summer season are expected to support Croatia’s tourism performance this year. Dubai-based Emirates Airlines launched scheduled flights from Dubai to the Croatian capital Zagreb on June 1. TUI Group, the world’s largest tour operator, launched charter flights from Brussels to the Croatian Adriatic island of Brac on May 23Also in May, Croatian Airlines has launched flights from the Croatian capital Zagreb to the Swedish capital Stockholm, Finland’s Helsinki, Norway’s Oslo and Romania’s Bucharest.

Last month, a new passenger terminal at Croatia’s Dubrovnik Airport, the second largest airport in the country, also came online. The upgrade project will continue. Passenger traffic at Dubrovnik Airport rose by 52% y/y to 143,299 in April. Also in May, the HRK6mn (€0.8mn) upgrade of Brac airport, the smallest airport in the Adriatic country, was completed, making the runway suitable for large-scale passenger planes. The number of passengers at Brac airport is expected to rise by as much as 70% y/y in 2017. Previously, Brac airport was almost totally inactive, serving only seven passengers in March and 150 passengers in April, according to the latest data from the statistics office.

GDP growth in Croatia accelerated to 2.9% y/y in 2016 from 1.6% in 2015 thanks to the favourable tourism season, alongside private consumption growth and the recovery in foreign demand