Zagreb won the award for the best Croatian destination on Days of Croatian Tourism 2018. What do you think how much is the same reward relevant if we take into account that Zagreb is not on the coast and there is no sun and sea as an attribute?
Ms. Martina Bienenfeld: We are grateful for every prize as well as this year’s award that Zagreb received on Days of Croatian Tourism. In total, our city with the hotels Esplanade Zagreb, The Westin Zagreb, The Loop and the amazing caretaker of street lanterns of old Zagreb Mr. Josip Kufner, won 7 Prizes on Days of Croatian Tourism and we extremely appreciate all awards as a recognition of our profession.
How are you planning to develop the tourist quality of our metropolis because now with reward and recognition…it will be more difficult to overcome achieved?
Ms. Martina Bienenfeld: The plan is to make Zagreb a year-round destination and we intend to continue building our offer in that direction. Likewise, Zagreb tourism has the potential to develop specific forms of tourism, such as planning and development of health tourism. Most health tourism services have high added value, and the joint action of the health and tourism sector creates the climate that allows further development of the city of Zagreb as a destination for medical tourism. Likewise, there is also the business, in congress tourism that has its own space for growth.
All year’s work on designing interesting content and active promotion of Zagreb has led to a well-deserved award. Which change would you make to encourage the development of coastal destinations? What do you think they could change? Can Zagreb already share lessons about tourism strategy?
Ms. Martina Bienenfeld: Each of our destinations has its own specific attributes that distinguish them from other and our seaside destinations should continue to develop offer in that direction. Along with historical sights and individual attractions, the main feature of the tourist offer is the emotion and the atmosphere presented in an interesting and authentic way, and guests can recognize it and they like to complement their stay with interesting programs.
Zagreb has traditionally been a winter tourist destination. How was the focus shifted to the summer in the city?
Ms. Martina Bienenfeld: The perception of Zagreb as a winter tourist destination is primarily the result of Advent in Zagreb, but in fact, our city has the most visitors in the summer months. In summer, unlike winter, there isn’t one „strong“ event like Advent, but there are so many different events – such as InMusic festival, Zagreb Classic, „The Courtyards“, Summer on Stross, and new events like Okolo (Zagreb around), open-air market festival Plac Mljac, Crossover Festival, etc. – enriching Zagreb’s summer offer and making the stay of our guests even more interesting. Likewise, Zagreb is an integral part of the so-called. “Circular Trips” when visitors visit several destinations in Croatia and neighboring countries in ten days, and such arrangements are most popular in the summer when most people are on vacation.
In one of your texts, you mentioned the term “Touristification” and how Zagreb as a destination has successfully resisted it. Can you clarify what exactly does it mean?
Ms. Martina Bienenfeld: We strive to develop tourism in a sustainable way, and our projects according to the definitions of the competent city services and profession. It is not only about the quantity of the events itself, but the quality that we are trying to put in the first plan through the Zagreb Tourist board projects – such as the Festival of Lights Zagreb and Advent in Zagreb, and some of the new ones that we have in the plan.
How to objectively look at the Zagreb’s tourism success as compared to the other European tourist destinations?
Ms. Martina Bienenfeld: Zagreb should be compared with cities that are similar in size, offer of accommodation and tradition, and it should be noted that both Vienna and Budapest and Prague (the cities most commonly compared to our city) are twice as big as Zagreb, also the capital cities without sea so they have a completely different development strategy and for a long time they have been the main tourist resources of their state.
Zagreb has certainly transformed itself, today it really has something to show and offer, with more than two million overnight stays it is in the ten most successful destinations in Croatia and is the only ‘sea-free’ town that has been in the very top of Croatia’s destinations for several years!
Do you think the success of the Croatian metropolis and the recognition of the quality of the content is related to Croatia’s entry into the European Union?
Ms. Martina Bienenfeld: When we entered the EU 5 years ago, Zagreb automatically became the new capital on the map of Europe. This certainly influenced the growth of tourism indicators and gave us an additional glimpse of our efforts to promote the capital.
What do you think what kind of manifestations turned out to be the most successful and which provoked the greatest interest?
Ms. Martina Bienenfeld: If we look at the statistics, the Advent in Zagreb, the Festival of Lights Zagreb and the InMusic Festival are the manifestations for which the guests are targeting our city. Likewise, there are one-off events such as a concert by world-famous performers or some great sports events (eg, handball championships, Davis Cup final, etc.) when we note significant increases in tourist scores. On the other hand, Zagreb has events throughout the year and, although it may not be the main reason why someone has decided to visit our city, they certainly create additional value.
What do you plan for Zagreb Advent 2018?
Ms. Martina Bienenfeld: Alongside the traditional sites that will be re-emerging this year and the continuation of cooperation with the Office of the President of the Republic of Croatia within Advent on Prekrižje, the Zagreb Tourist Board and its partners have also prepared new programs for numerous visitors and citizens. Thus, as a new location, the “Advent in Maksimir” will provide a dedicated entertainment for the whole family, in cooperation with ZOO Zagreb Gardens, and there is the “Advent in Tkalča, which will showcase the traditional crafts and revive the spirit of the oldest Zagreb and Gradec settlements. Also, the “Film magic in the Sestara Baković passage”, where you will feel like the leading actor or actress on the set of a Christmas film while the Europa Cinema shows Christmas films for all generations.
This year’s special emphasis is on cultural events that will bring us in the most beautiful way possible to the Christmas mood and anticipation of Christmas!
All photos are the property of The Zagreb Tourist Board.