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Croatia celebrates bumper summer season after joining the euro. But locals aren't so happy

Tourists in Croatian town of Trogir

The streets of Trogir, a small town on Croatia’s Adriatic coast, are packed with tourists.

According to figures released by the Croatian Ministry of Tourism on Monday, more than 9 million people have visited the Balkan country this year, a 12 per cent increase compared to 2022.

And for the first time, the tourism sector's revenues are higher than they were in 2019 before the outbreak of Covid-19.

According to the Zagreb government, the reason is simple. It says this is thanks to Croatia’s accession to both the eurozone and the Schengen area on 1 January this year.

A person renting jet skis told Euronews that the opening of the northern border with Slovenia and Hungary was good for tourism, giving more people easier access to Croatia.

The area next to the port in Trogir is occupied by a succession of hotels and restaurants. Antonio Miskovic is the sales manager at one of the biggest yacht clubs in the Adriatic. He sees the advantages and disadvantages of closer European integration.

“The eurozone made everything easier for tourists. They don't have to look for exchange offices, don't need to check the rates. But I think for people who live here, it was a big change. They still trying to adapt to the new prices."

Many Croats are finding inflation hard to handle. It peaked at 13,5 per cent last November, and while it has gradually been coming down, there was a spike in January when Croatia switched to the euro. It has now it has settled at 7.6 per cent.

Many vendors in the town, however, say they do not believe the ministry’s figures. They believe there are at least 20 to 30 per cent fewer tourists.

With tourism accounting for 20 per cent of Croatia's GDP, its good performance is vital for the country. For the moment though, there seems to be a big difference between what the locals feel and what the figures show.

Posted on 18 Jul 2023 14:29 link