Czech Tourists Throw Lifeline to Croatian Economy, But For How Long?

‘Shooting in the dark’

Some in Croatia, however, are worried the country is putting the economy ahead of public health, with a resurgence in the rate of COVID-19 infection over the past several weeks.

Faced with an economic implosion, not to mention an election that it won on July 5, the ruling Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, may have rushed the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, warned sociologist and political scientist Dario Cepo, an assistant professor at the University of Zagreb.

“The government has put on a big campaign claiming that the Czechs, Slovaks, Poles and Hungarians are keen to come to Croatia, and that the tourist season will be fine,” Cepo told BIRN. “But it is wrong to claim that Croatia is COVID-free and safe.”

Not that you’d know it in Split, said Pavel, where he said rules on wearing masks in shops and on public transport were being widely ignored.

“The beaches are so crowded,” he said. “It takes an age to find even a small spot.”

Satny, the tour operator, stressed that Alexandria’s resorts strictly observe social distancing rules on the beach and in the pool. “It actually makes our clients’ holidays more comfortable than usual,” he said.

Responding to a rise in infections across the Balkans, the Czech health ministry in July dropped Serbia and Montenegro from its list of ‘safe’ countries, but kept travel to Croatia open.

Signs that some Czech tourists were returning from Croatia and testing positive for COVID-19 were quick to make the headlines in Czech media, threatening Croatia’s hopes of recovery.

“The likes of the Czechs would find it much harder to get to Croatia if the data shows a rebound for the virus,” said Cepo, the political scientist.

Satny played down the reports, saying it was “inevitable” Czechs would get infected abroad.

“People will also catch it when on holiday in the Czech Republic,” Satny said. “You won’t hear about them though.”

He conceded, nevertheless, “We’re shooting in the dark.”

“Who knows what will be happening in two weeks’ time?”

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