Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Korean Air considering Balkan expansion


Korean Air has said it is exploring opportunities to expand its operations in the Balkans, primarily Croatia and Serbia, but has ruled out the introduction of scheduled flights in the short-term. Speaking to EX-YU Aviation News, Korean Air said, "The Balkan region, including Croatia and Serbia, is an important market for Korean Air, and we are currently considering various possibilities to expand our destination network there. We currently have a plan to operate five charter flights between Seoul Incheon Airport and Zagreb in May and June of this year, however, we do not have specific plans to launch a regular service in the short-term".

As part of the airline's medium-term plans, Korean Air's sister company Jin Air, which is a long haul low cost carrier, plans to introduce services to Zagreb and Budapest next year, followed by Belgrade and Bucharest in 2020. The carrier operates a fleet of wide-body Boeing 777-200ER aircraft. The President of Korean AIr, Won-Tae Cho, previously said that the carrier is also looking into further expanding in Croatia, which could include flights to the coast, upon the arrival of additional Dreamliner jets it has on order in 2019. Dubrovnik Airport's newly appointed General Manager, Frano Luetić, told EX-YU Aviation News last year that, "This far-away market [South Korea] is the most important for Dubrovnik. Korean tourists are most plentiful during the winter months. It is very important for us to improve connectivity with Korea. It is a big market and we could attract even more tourists".

In 2017 some 444.000 Korean holidaymakers visited Croatia, representing an increase of 20% on the year before. The head of the Croatian National Tourist Board, Kristjan Staničić, said yesterday, "This year we expect for the number of arrivals from South Korea to continue growing. We are increasing our promotional activities on this market since Korean tourists primarily travel outside the peak summer months, helping us extend the tourist season". Mr Staničić added that the Tourist Board plans to open an office in Seoul later this year. Korean Air currently codeshares on ČSA Czech Airlines' seasonal flights between Prague and Zagreb, while Croatia Airlines recently inked an agreement with Asiana Airlines, placing its "OU" designator code and flight numbers onto Asiana's services from Frankfurt, London Heathrow and Paris to Seoul. On the other hand, the Deputy Minister for Civil Aviation in the South Korean government, Suh Hoon-Taik, said that flights between Seoul and Belgrade could be established in the near future, noting that there is interest on both sides to commence scheduled flights between Korea and Serbia. He added that he will work to improve cooperation between Air Serbia and Korean carriers. Both Croatia and Serbia have ratified new Air Service Agreements with South Korea over the past two years.

126 comments:

  1. Makes sense. They will send their leisure airline to operate flights to this region since there is little other traffic (business, transfer). Question is if it will be seasonal or year round.

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    1. Another question is whether they will link these flights up or operate them separately. For example Seoul-Budapest-Zagreb and Seoul-Bucharest-Belgrade.

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    2. Probably seasonal. I don't think there would be demand for year long flights.

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    3. @ 9.05 Most likely, they don't have enough planes, they'll have to.

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    4. They plan to get more aircraft.

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    5. Would have preferred Korean Air to Zagreb.

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    6. Jin Air codeshares on Korean Air flights and vv.

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    7. And they also have 2-5-2 config on some of their planes :D

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    8. ^ That's the same number of seats per row as in Emirates B777s.

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    9. Jin Air is a pretty good airline and I think when it comes to flights between Korea and he former Yugoslav republics, it makes much more sense for them to start the flights rather than Korean Air.

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    10. I can see Jin Air testing the waters in Budapest and Zagreb seasonally and then see how they go.

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  2. So after Jin Air starts flights to ZAG in 2019 I assume Korean Air will stop with the charters but might instead start charters to Dubrovnik.

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    1. Would be nice if they began charters to DBV with B787 :)

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    2. Would make sense actually. Around 100,000 Korean visited Dubrovnik last year.

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    3. Turkish Airlines has a lot of Korean passengers on their flights to DBV during the summer.

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    4. A lot, maybe. But 100k is a great number with much more to come. Not to mention the Chinese.

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    5. @AnonymousFebruary 14, 2018 at 9:03 AM

      I highly doubt Jin Air is real or they'll even fly to Zagreb. There's little mention in Croatian press, and aviation blogs about this supposed route starting next year.

      Korean Air will continue flying to Zagreb, they have fleet shortage and can't commit to regular service to destinations that aren't as developed as Prague or Vienna.

      This year we expect 500-530 000 Korean visitors to Croatia. In 2019 that number will be around 620 000. By that point Korean air will need to start directly to Zagreb year round. Koreans visit throughout the year, Same goes for Japanese and Chinese visitors.

      This year we expect to visit Croatia:
      175 000 Japanese visitors,
      220 000 Chinese Mainland visitors.
      160 000 Taiwanese visitors
      90 000 Indian visitors
      255 000 Australian visitors
      55 000 NZ Visitors
      40 000 HK visitors
      32 000 Thai visitors
      150 000 from rest of Asia, (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore...)

      For 2019, at this rate, numbers will be even bigger.

      620 000 Korean visotors
      200 000 Japanese visitors,
      280 000 Chinese Mainland visitors.
      200 000 Taiwanese visitors
      140 000 Indian visitors
      300 000 Australian visitors
      70 000 NZ Visitors
      50 000 HK visitors
      40 000 Thai visitors

      and 2020: Number of Australasian visitors could exceed 2.5 million. Total number of visitors to Croatia in 2020, is expected to be around 24-25 million, 22-23 million foreign. Last year (2017) Croatia was visited by 18.5 million registered visitors, some 20% have holiday homes or stay with friends/airb&b/couchsurfing or similar services and are never registered or counted as visitors.

      720 000 Korean visitors
      250 000 Japanese visitors,
      350 000 Chinese Mainland visitors.
      240 000 Taiwanese visitors
      180 000 Indian visitors
      375 000 Australian visitors
      85 000 NZ Visitors
      60 000 HK visitors
      50 000 Thai visitors

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    6. It was in Korean press and reported by aviation sites in Hungary and Romania. It was actually a press conference by Jin Air CEO where he announced these routes. Croatian press are hardly irrelrvant in information gathering.

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    7. The issue isn't reporting the issue is that it is not Korean Air and noir dresses wanted to boast about Korean Air not some long haul low cost company. Even worse for him they announced other cities in the region, making it less special and loosing boasting rights ;)

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    8. @AnonymousFebruary 14, 2018 at 6:23 PM

      Absolute nonsense.
      I don't like to get my hopes high and then nothing happens. If it happens good, but as there's little evidence it'll happen I am skeptical.

      AnonymousFebruary 14, 2018 at 6:16 PM

      Do you have any links as I'd like to see it for myself, thank you.

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    9. You really think someone just made it up out of thin air? Use google translate for the korean articles.

      http://www.pasazer.com/news/36889/jin,air,poleci,z,seulu,do,budapesztu,i,zagrzebia.html

      http://budflyer.blog.hu/2017/11/28/2019-ben_nyilhat_meg_a_kozvetlen_legijarat_budapest_es_szoul_kozottt

      http://m.mk.co.kr/stock/newsview.mk?year=2017&no=781040

      http://m.inews24.com/view.php?g_menu=022300&g_serial=1062353

      https://airlinestravel.ro/amp/seul-bucuresti-cu-jin-air-din-2020.html

      And there are a lot more...

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    10. Thank you sir, the Polish site was of great help, I couldn't trust some other sources as all of them pointed to this blog as a source. But that Polish site is good, the're actually putting reference and quotations.

      So if Jin air comes to Zagreb in 2019, that'll be spectacular indeed. Zagreb had 128000 Korean visitors last year.

      This year, 150 000 Korean visitors are expected to visit Zagreb. And there's already a small Korean community in Zagreb, 80-100 families strong (250-300 people), hopefully it grows to a vibrant community just as Chinese community, some 400-500 families strong (1400-1500 people). Information based on immigration data and total residency applications 2012-2017.


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    11. Why do you visit this site if you don't trust it...

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    12. I don't trust information until it is verifiable.

      Also i didn't say i don't trust this site, i just don't trust every information published on it. Information has to be verifiable. And as I am not on this site that much, I can't trust everyone who says something. I don't know where information is coming from.


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  3. Nice. More widebodies coming to the region.

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    1. and better spotting opportunities

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  4. Good luck, I hope these flights get launched next summer.

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  5. Wow, with 500k Korean tourists they might as well launch daily service :D although most of them probably visit Croatia as a part of a tour

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    1. Yes, but 450k Koreans is quite a lot. Why not Dubrovnik? Just don't get it.

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    2. Interestingly Bosnia also gets a lot of Korean tourists which probably means a lot of them continue on from Croatia to Bih.

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    3. Imagine how much the numbers will grow even more if they start nonstop flights from Seoul.

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    4. "Interestingly Bosnia also gets a lot of Korean tourists which probably means a lot of them continue on from Croatia to Bih."

      A lot means what? Is there a specific number like the one provided by Croatian Tourism Board?

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    5. 52.056 in 2017.

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    6. wow that's a surprising number. Congrats BiH.

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  6. Only 5 charters? Wasn't it 10 last year? Or they didn't mention it because they do the second batch of charters later in August and September.

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    1. They probably still don't know the amount of flights they will do in the second part of summer.

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    2. We will see which plane they send this year. Last year it was an A330 but they did send B747s in the past.

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    3. I think it's an A330 again this year.

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    4. Five charters in May and June, there will be more in July and August.

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    5. Its 5 in May + 5 in June = 10

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  7. Seems to be growing interest from these long haul low cost Asian airlines to begin flights to ex-Yu. Air Asia X also said it could fly to Zagreb in the future.

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    1. Untapped markets with growing inbound tourism.

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    2. +1
      It's great to finally see some increased interest from far away destinations and more exotic airlines.

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    3. Hainan in BEG is not exotic enough for you?

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  8. Somehow weird, 444K Koreans visited HR in 2017 and this did not justify KE group to operate at least daily flight during SUTT? They should have flown to ZAG since at least the 2nd year of the big Korean hype about HR. Instead of we will sse next year onyl regilar Jin Air flight. Wondering what they are waiting for
    444K is a huge figure and could hve probl been topped if there were scheduled regular flights

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    1. Ironically KE has actually reduced the number of charters. 3-4 years ago they used to have 12-13 charters. Last two years when visitors numbers are at record high they have around 10.

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    2. Most of the Korean tourists in Croatia come there on packaged holidays in groups, meaning they start of their journey in other European countries and then enter Croatia.

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    3. To me it speaks more about the incompetence of HTZ to secure these flights.

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    4. Agree with last anon. Same thing with Chinese and Japanese market. They need to focus on these more, especially since they spend much more money on their trip than the average European.

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    5. Well you have to wonder why there are no flights to any of these markets despite a significant number of tourists. Something must be wrong.

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    6. Airports need to get more proactive in attracting foreign airlines.

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  9. If Korean Air keeps dragging its feet Asiana will come to Zagreb instead.

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    1. Especially now that they have a mutual codeshare with Croatia Airlines.

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    2. That would actually suit OU much more. People could then transfer onto their domestic flights.

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    3. The codeshare is the first step before direct Asiana flights.

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    4. By that logic all airline that codeshare with Croatia Airlines including Air India will be starting flights to Zagreb.

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    5. In time, it will happen ;)

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    6. 56000 Indian visitors to Croatia in 2017,
      90 000 Indian visitors expected this year.
      No idea about anon's code-share logic, but would be nice to see Air India in Zagreb, at least on charter basis.

      Asiana, no idea, know too little about them to make any comments.

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  10. I think that only Croatia have the chance in near future to get these services.

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    1. Well according to Jin Air Croatia, Serbia, Hungary and Romania will get these services.

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    2. Croatia definitely has most potential.

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    3. So the airline announces flights to Belgrade along with Zagreb and even gives you when they will start it and you still claim Croatia has the only chance to get flights in the near future... ok.

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    4. I wouldn't take Jin air thing, seriously, only when it happens we'll know, till then, it is pure speculation.

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    5. So their CEO is lying?

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  11. It's about time regular flights between Korea and Croatia start. I think Emirates, Turkish and Qatar Airways are currently benefiting from a lack of scheduled flights.

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    1. All three of them have been selling promo prices from Korea to ZAG.

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    2. Apart from that Korean could also steal away some passengers from Australia from the Middle eastern airlines if they operated scheduled flights.

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  12. Had Incheon won the concession for either Zagreb or Belgrade (they bid for both) flights would have started immediately.

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    1. Agree. Had they won in Zagreb I'm sure we would have had scheduled flights to Seoul by now.

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  13. This would be good for Croatian tourism. More direct lines are needed to attract people from long distance destinations.

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  14. How many Koreans visited Serbia in 2017?

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    1. 7520. Not a lot but still more plentiful than Japan and UAE.

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    2. And Finland as well lol

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    3. To be more precise 7520 tourists, 9825 overnight stays.

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    4. For a far away market with no diaspora and very few business links it's not bad at all. With a little bit of promotion those number could go up.

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  15. If the 444000 visitors to Croatia was spread out over the year, it could fill an A380 daily.

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    1. If OU had leased an A330 they could fly to Seoul and the US during the summer. I'm sure they would be full.

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    2. Would be nice but with what money exactly?

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  16. Replies
    1. How many Koreans visit Macedonia? When I was in Skopje few months ago I was surprised to see a lot of groups of Asian tourists.

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    2. Ima dosta turista iz Koreje u Ohridu. Oni dolaze avionom do Istanbula pa posle šetaju Balkan autobusima. Tako dolaze i u Ohrid.

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    3. Maybe Ohrid peepz can visit Seoul and the region? :)

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    4. At the end of the day there were less than 4,000 Korean visitors to Macedonia last year.

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    5. Actually to be precise, there were 4415 Korean tourists in Macedonia in 2017.

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  17. These are great news. Are there any infos about other Asian airlines coming to Zagreb?

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    1. Probably an airline from the HNA group will start seasonal flights to ZAG.

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    2. Hope so. That would be great.

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    3. Any plans for JAL or ANA charters? They used to have them a few years ago to ZAG.

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    4. Unfortunately not.

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    5. But they will fly to Dubrovnik like last year.

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    6. 2 flights all season

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  18. The first auto airport to likely receive a connection will be DBV. Infrastructure wise and more activities to be done.

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  19. Amazing how a tv show can impact on tourism and trends. I'm talking about Korean tourists to Croatia. Good luck, I hope these flights get launched next summer! :)

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  20. They announce something like this every year. They are always near to launching flights but never quite there. The Jin Air story seems more rational and I hope that by the end of the year they put those flights on sale.

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  21. The whole focus of exYU airlines flying intercontinental has been back to front for years. Money is to be made flying to Asia or the M.East rather than TATL to N.America. I hope Air Serbia realizes that.

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    1. Not really. Balanced approach with both East & West high demand destinations such as JFK, YYZ, PVG, PEK would work best.

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  22. That’s a lot of Korean tourists. I’m surprised there aren’t already all year flights. Koreans are also cashed up and are nice tourists to attract.

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  23. So there are more Korean tourists in Croatia than from the US and Canada? Correct?

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  24. According to the statistics we have, Croatia received more Korean tourists than Czechia in 2016 and 2017, despite year-round daily flights between ICN and PRG (8 pw during summer):

    Czechia: 322,108 (2016)
    417,438 (2017)
    Croatia: 377,779 (2016)
    444,000 (2017)

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    1. So why no scheduled flights. What's the problem?

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    2. It could be that the numbers in Croatia are purely tourists while in the Czech Republic you may have a mix of business, leisure and transfer passengers. I don't know this is just a guess so please don't bite my head off :)

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    3. Last anon: that’s true. In Prague there live a lot of Asians with their own business. Almost each tobacco and alkohol and small spar markets are owend by Koreans and Chinese aso

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    4. I remember reading about it few years back that there is a significant cargo demand between Seoul and Prague which probably makes it profitable to fly the route regularly even with low lf during weak months.

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    5. Number of Chinese and Korean business opened in Zagreb in past few years, there are two Korean hostels, 2 Korean restaurants, loads of Chinese shops and restaurants too, Japanese as well.

      But it is early days. In 2021 we'll see from population census how many Asians live in Croatia, but from what I see on a daily basis in Zagreb, can tell you there's loads.

      I wouldn't be surprised if in 2020 census there are over 30-40 000 Asians living in Croatia, half of them in Zagreb.

      However, this is still way behind Czech Republic, Hungary or Austria, where number of Asians is somewhat larger. In Czech R, I estimate there are between 70 and 100 000 Asians, there are 30 000 Yanks in Prague alone.

      Number of non-EU/Regional/European nationals living in Croatia in 2017 was estimated @20-23 000. However that data was based on immigration data and requests for permanent residence.



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  25. So number of Korean tourists

    Croatia - 444,000
    Bosnia - 52,056
    Serbia - 7,520
    Macedonia - 4,415

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    1. Forgot to add
      Slovenia - 147,981
      Montenegro - 5,603

      All numbers are for 2017

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    2. Thanks for that data. Puts things into perspective!

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    3. Big numbers for Slovenia and no charters.

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    4. Can we know the numbers also for the neighboring countries - Hungaray, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania? This will make a better picture about the perspectives.

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    5. Don't have the data for 2017 but in 2016 there were 14264 South Korean tourists in Romania.

      Interestingly Serbian tourists are in top 10 in Romania, Bulgaria and Greece.

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    6. and 122,371 in Hungary in 2016.

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    7. I upravo ste dobili netocan zbroj tocnih podataka.

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    8. Ajmo sad malo mucniti glavom.
      Tocan broj turista s Daleka Istoka koji su posjetili gore pobrojane zemlje nije pojedinacni zbroj turista registriran u pojedinoj zemlji.
      Vec smo ustanovili kako ti turisti posjete vise drzava u paketu.
      Dakle, tih 100 000 i kusur sto je navedeno kako su npr.posjetili Sloveniju, siguran sam poprilicno kako su isti ti bili i u HR i u HU i u CZ.......
      Zakljucak izvedi sam.

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    9. Kakve veze ima u kojim su sve zemljama bili pre ili posle. Dao sam samo podatak koliko je turista bilo iz Koreje u zemljama ex-Yu. Nisam tvrdio da ce svi oni leteti avionom bas u tu zemlju jer da je tako odavno bi bila redovna linija za Zg a ne nekoliko cartera godisnje.

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    10. Samo napominjem kako brojke ne daju pravu sliku za potraznjom.

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  26. As tourists numbers grow I'm sure we will be seeing more flights to Zagreb from various long haul destinations.

    At the same time, I expect Vinci will bring in a one or two new long haul routes to Belgrade in 2019 and 2020.

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  27. That number of Korean tourists in Croatia is insane! Wow! What's more insane is that there still are no flights until 2019. Especially if, as mentioned, they travel out of the peak season as well. Which they do everywhere. I'm sorry but can't explain the lack of fligts other than as some failure on Croatian part.
    Koreans fascinate me in general, they are such nice people fascinated with culture, so willing to learn about other cultures, as well as share their own. Very likable! Well-mannered. With a special kind of work ethics. Corruption as well, is so despised in their tradition. Essentially what I wanted to say...they're like the polar opposite of British tourists, lol!

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  28. They should consider INI

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