- All of my jobs have always been connected to tourism - emphasizes Martina Bienenfeld, director of the Zagreb Tourist Board, the head of a team which designed and implemented some of the most popular tourist projects such as "Advent in Zagreb", which has been proclaimed for three years in a row the best in Europe according to the independent portal European Best Destination.
On the tourist map of Europe, Zagreb is becoming increasingly desirable every year. What kind of tourist trends are recorded in Zagreb and where do you see "room" for improvement?
- Zagreb continues to report a growing number of overnight stays and arrivals for several years now. This is the result of many years of effort and work in promoting Zagreb as a tourist, cultural, sports and congress destination, as well as the close cooperation with the city administration and other institutions. Without the cooperation of all the stakeholders in the tourist offer, Zagreb's success, in terms of tourism, would not be possible. In creating the total tourist product of the City of Zagreb, the city offices of the City of Zagreb provide great support; there is also the Zagreb Tourist Board and, ultimately, the tourism industry. There is always room for improvement, and the Zagreb Tourist Board within its capability aims to enrich and expand the tourist offer every year.
Photo: Ivo Biočina, Croatian National Tourist Board
What is the potential of Zagreb when it comes to health tourism?
- This aspect of tourism is growing in importance, and along with it a modern form of medical tourism is developing, where Zagreb occupies a more prominent place. Private and public polyclinics and health centres with expert staff and top quality services are turning Zagreb into a centre of medical excellence. An additional advantage is its proximity to European markets, excellent transport connections and the overall health service offer, which can compete with other health tourism destinations.
From which countries do most of the "health tourists" come to Zagreb?
- Our neighbours from Slovenia, Italy and tourists from Germany come to us the most.
Are you working on attracting health tourists from new destinations and how is the opening of the new Dr. Franjo Tudjman airport contributing to this?
- We are planning to exhibit at specialized fairs in the world, and we are also working on a feasibility study for the development of health tourism in Zagreb. The new Franjo Tudjman airport terminal is showing great results, and I can say that since its opening on 21 March, we have obtained seven new direct air routes to Zagreb, which attracts all tourists, including 'health' tourists.
How can Zagreb's excellent position be optimized - in its immediate vicinity there are several world renowned clinics and spas, while Kvarner with its hotels, health and wellness centres is only a two hour drive away?
- It is of utmost importance to cooperate with all the branches that complement the health tourism offer, from health institutions to various tourist facilities and hotel and hospitality facilities. The capital of Croatia can be one of the leaders in this segment.
Throughout the year, Zagreb offers a range of content and events that complement the health tourism offer. The Zagreb area is just as attractive, with thermal springs and medicinal spas, while the Naftalan Spa, which is half an hour drive from Zagreb, is the only one in Europe and second in the world known for rare natural healing factor sites - medicinal oil, naphthalene and thermomineral water. Kvarner and the sea are also at our fingertips, which our visitors recognize.
How do you see Zagreb in 10 years?
- Today and tomorrow, Zagreb is a human-sized city - comfortable to stay in, neither too big nor too small, with wonderful people who give it soul and where you will never feel alone.