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Croatia Leads Greece, Spain, Turkey in First-Half Tourism Growth

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Aug. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Croatia attracted tourists in the first six months of the year at a faster rate than Greece, Spain, Turkey and Malta because its political system is seen as more stable to visitors, Tourism Minister Veljko Ostojic said.

Tourism arrivals in Croatia grew 5.2 percent from the said period a year ago, according to the minister. That compares with 2.9 percent in Spain, and declines of 4.6 percent in Greece, 2.3 percent in Turkey and 2 percent in Malta, Ostojic told reporters in Zagreb today. He cited United Nations World Tourist Organization’s World Tourism Barometer and data from Turkey, Malta and Spain.

“We can’t avoid the fact that certain events in our rival countries had a positive influence on Croatian tourism this year,” Ostojic said. “This year our strategy was also to play it safe and concentrate on markets more resilient to economic crisis, such as Germany and Austria.”

Tourism accounts for one-fifth of the Adriatic Sea nation’s economy. Croatia, which is set to become the 28th member of the European Union in July next year, needs to revive the economy and investment in tourism and the energy industry after three years of recession or stagnation.

About 3.5 million tourists arrived in Croatia in the first six months, while preliminary figures for July show a 1.6 percent increase on the year to 3 million arrivals, according to a ministry report. Tourism in Croatia peaks in July and August.

“It also helped that Croatia is a destination reachable by car, which is convenient to European visitors, and that so far we’ve had great weather,” Ostojic said.

Revenue from tourism could reach 7 billion euros ($8.7 billion) this year, topping a 6.05 billion euros in 2011, Ostojic said.

Finance Minister Slavko Linic on Aug. 2 reduced the country’s 2012 growth forecast to stagnation because of Europe’s crisis. The World Bank predicts the Croatian economy will shrink 1 percent in 2012, while the central bank on July 9 revised its forecast to a 1.6 percent contraction from a 1 percent decline forecast in May.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jasmina Kuzmanovic in Zagreb at jkuzmanovic@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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