The Croatian Minister for Tourism, Gari Cappelli, has said the country is looking to secure flights from Far East Asia in order to better cater for the growing number of tourists from the region. Mr Cappelli singled out South Korea, Japan and China as key markets. Currently, Korean Air and Japan's ANA serve Croatia through summer charters to Zagreb and Dubrovnik respectively. The minister noted that crisis-hit holiday destinations in North Africa and Europe are beginning to recover, which is why Croatia must do more to attract tourists from Asia. "We have to be prepared that some countries are returning to the scene and will try to attract consumers with low prices. That is why we are turning towards the Asian market, primarily Korea, Japan and China, where we are concentrating a lot of our efforts. We might see direct flights between China and Zadar", Mr Cappelli said.
China Southern Airlines recently commenced talks with Zadar Airport over the possible introduction of flights from its main base in Guangzhou. It marks Zadar Airport's second attempt at establishing services to China following a failed effort in 2014 with Hainan Airlines. Talks are said to have gone "very well", with China Southern requesting additional technical data. However, Guangzhou Airport has noted it would contact other carriers if China Southern decided against launching the service. "In addition to flights, we plan to open the office of the Chamber of Commerce and even our Tourist Board in China. The arrival of Chinese guests would guarantee a stronger pre and post season because they are not interested in the beaches", the Minister said. China's Ambassador to Croatia emphasised the need for direct flights to be established between the two counties in order to attract more tourists. Despite plans from Beijing Capital Airlines to launch services to Zagreb this June, they are unlikely to materialise.
Korean Air plans to maintain its summer charters between Seoul and Zagreb this year. It is believed the airline is considering operating scheduled year-long flights in the foreseeable future. The two countries recently concluded a Bilateral Air Service Agreement, which allows for the South Korean national carrier to operate daily flights to the city and offers the potential for more codeshare agreements between airlines operating out of both countries. "By concluding this agreement, the primary assumption is that regular nonstop flights between our two countries will be established”, the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The Croatian Minister for Tourism added, “We are seeking to establish regular flights to Korea to cater to a surging number of Korean tourists visiting Croatia. Korea is the most important market for us in Asia”.