|Charters from China to Croatia to launch this winter|
A Chinese business delegation visiting Croatia has confirmed the launch of charter flights between the two countries, initially from Chongqing. Hosted by the Chinese Southeast Europe Business Association (CSEBA), the delegation is on a weeklong visit to Croatia where they have already met with government officials and are visiting the country’s holiday hotspots. It has been confirmed that, in cooperation with a Chinese carrier, flights from Chongqing to Croatia will begin this winter. The service, which will bring in Chinese tourists, will operate every ten days, or up to three times per month. Chongqing is a major city in China’s Southwest. The entire municipality counts almost 29 million people. CSEBA is also negotiating additional flights from Beijing and Shanghai to Croatia. Services are most likely to operate to either Zagreb or Dubrovnik, with CSEBA expected to give further details next week.
The visiting delegation is currently in talks with Croatian airports over pricing and taxes. Chinese tourists will be offered a ten day holiday package in Croatia which will include cruising, tours as well as winter sports this season. Far off markets hold huge potential for Croatia's tourism industry. “I believe this is just the beginning of our excellent cooperation on what is a new market for us”, Ratomir Ivčić, the head of Croatia’s Tourism Board, said. During the first eight months of the year, the number of Chinese holidaymakers visiting Croatia grew by 38%. Charter flights would provide an even greater incentive for tourists to visit the country. The number of Korean holidaymakers in Croatia, which can use several Korean Air charter flights from Seoul to Zagreb during the summer, has doubled to 74.000 last year.
Charters between China and Croatia would mark the first air link between the two countries. CSEBA hopes to eventually introduce scheduled yearlong services next year. Croatia is looking to strengthen ties with China as it seeks out potential investors from the country for its national carrier Croatia Airlines, which is expected to be sold next year. Hainan Airlines, which is interested in expanding its operations in Europe, as well as China Southern Airlines are seen as potential investors and are believed to have shown interest in the Croatian carrier on previous occasions.