At the beginning of this New Year 2021, let’s look back briefly at the year behind us. It was supposed to be a record year for Rijeka, Kvarner and Croatia. It started off great with records as expected, tourist arrivals in the first two months 19% up, we had a spectacular opening of the European Capital of Culture, record visits by journalists and guests during February and early March with excellent announcements in all national and international media, Rijeka carnival has never been better, everything was record to record and everything was according to plan.
And then…the challenging part of the year began, which in all aspects of our private and business life was marked by the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, which had a huge impact on all of us throughout the year. At the beginning of the vaccination, we hope that the second year will soon be under control and that we can return to the old normal as soon as possible. But unfortunately, that was not all, and the two devastating earthquakes that occurred in the spring and now in December put us in front of great challenges that we all hope to successfully overcome together.
And so the past year 2020 was both a record-breaking and challenging year and a year of numerous cultural and other events, and all that, as is usual in this new normal, in safety and under new epidemiological measures.
But let’s start with a short overview of the most important events and projects that we had in the past 2020.
European capital of culture
It all started when Rijeka was officially awarded the title of European Capital of Culture in 2020. Intensive preparations began, numerous meetings, agreements and telephone conversations were held. We organized study trips for hundreds of journalists and other media representatives right up until the very beginning of the European Capital of Culture and the spectacular opening on February 1, 2020.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, most of the program had to be either canceled or held in an adapted form, but the project, despite all the challenges and problems it had, was an excellent publicity motive for all interested guests and media representatives. And that’s not all, because the European Capital of Culture and Rijeka’s record-breaking cultural year continues exceptionally well until April 2021, where numerous programs will be waiting for us, which will be held in safe conditions.
Immediately at the beginning of the pandemic, all planned promotional activities were adapted to the new conditions and coordinated with all important partners and stakeholders of the destination’s tourist offer. Right at the beginning of the year, the online campaign #FromRijekaWithLove was launched, where emphasis was placed on the main tourist attributes of Rijeka and where guests were invited to virtual walks in the destination until the moment the market opened, which followed at the beginning of this year’s summer season. Unfortunately, this year’s season was short and new additional challenging conditions were put before all partners in the destination, which they all successfully overcame and together contributed to a relatively good tourist result.
“Rijeka – I miss you” multi-award winning promotional film
Part of the advertising campaign and an excellent visual attribute in all activities is the new promotional film of the Tourist Board of the City of Rijeka “Rijeka – I miss you”, which was filmed in cooperation with the production company Balduchi film and world-award-winning and well-known partners: producer and screenwriter Spomenka Saraga and director Herva Tirmarche.
During the filming of the film, which was before the outbreak of the pandemic, it was not possible to imagine or plan how the title of the chosen soundtrack and the film itself, [nedostaješ mi]would mark the tourist season and thus actually become the slogan of tourism and tourist activities in 2020. year.
The promotional film was shot at numerous attractive locations in Rijeka, presenting Rijeka as a year-round tourist and city-break destination. Through a series of attractive frames, the film wanted to “take the viewer” through the city and the peculiarities that adorn it, from the beautiful Trsat castle that stands proudly above the city, Rijeka museums with unique exhibits, superb delicacies from beautiful Rijeka restaurants, all the way to one of the most beautiful fish markets in Europe.
At the end of the year, we all do some inventory of what happened to us during the year. Despite the corona virus pandemic, a weaker tourist season, less work for me and my team, as well as for the production company BALDUČI FILM, the past 2020 brought happy moments. We have won as many as 21 awards worldwide for our films, 9 of them with the film “RIJEKA – i miss you”.
We shot the film in the most beautiful parts of the city of Rijeka, discovering its peculiarities, and I think that the film really shows the great atmosphere in the entire crew during the filming, which resulted in a cheerful tourist film, which the members of the jury liked and awarded us awards. We are particularly pleased with the award for the best combination of music and video, which we won in Portugal as chosen by the students of the Faculty of Tourism, and as an example it will be included in lectures at the Faculty of Tourism.
I would like to thank TZ Rije gradake for the opportunity and excellent cooperation during the filming, as well as the film crew: director Herve Tirmarche, cinematographer and editor Jalil Armijo, our wonderful actors and actresses Natalija Đorđević, Jana Škrgulja, Lara Zgrablić, Alen Liverić, Edi Ćelić and Ivi Znaor. Thank you to everyone who helped us make this beautiful film, the citizens of the city of Rijeka, Zamet’s bell ringers and other extras.
Spomenka Saraga, producer of the film (Balducci film)
During the year, in addition to its visual promotions for guests, the promotional film achieved a record year at professional film festivals and received 9 awards and recognitions so far.
Rijeka – I miss you won an award / second place at the 20th anniversary film festival “The Golden City Gate” in Berlin in a great competition of candidates in the City International category. The film also won second place, or a silver medal, at the New York Film Festival – Film & TV Awards in the Corporate image – Public Relations & Social Engagement category. He also won second place at the 41st American festival The Telly Awards in the Branded Content: Travel/Tourism category. The fourth prize was a special recognition of the jury at the famous International Tourist Film Festival Tourfilm Riga. Na Međunarodnom festivalu turističkih filmova ZAGREB TURFILM FESTIVAL promotivni film osvojio je dva prva mjesta i to u kategorijama za najbolju međunarodnu turističku destinaciju-grad i u kategoriji hrvatskih turističkih filmova za turističku destinaciju – grad.
Award in the category for the best original soundtrack at the ART&TUR International Tourist Film Festival in Porto. It won the eighth award at the famous film competition IFA Istanbul Film Awards in the category Best Short Film in the travel category, and we closed the year with the 9th special award that the film won on the 23rd. International tourist film festival in Solin.
The first travel guide for the Italian market
Part of the preparatory publicity activities was a specially prepared unique Guide to the tastes and pleasures of the city of Rijeka – the European Capital of Culture 2020. The guide was prepared specifically and targeted for the Italian market in cooperation with the most widely circulated Italian newspaper and publisher La Repubblica. The guide emphasizes our main tourist attributes of Rijeka, Kvarner and Gorski kotar.
The guide is supported by the Croatian Tourist Board and in this form represents the first guide ever made by this publisher on Croatia. The Italian market is one of our most attractive markets, and this year’s tourism result, which was achieved despite the pandemic, confirmed that our dear guests from Italy love our offer, which is extremely diverse and adaptable.
Despite all the challenges, during 2020, Croatian tourism achieved one of the best results in the Mediterranean with more than 54 million overnight stays, i.e. 50 percent of tourist traffic from 2019. Good results were also achieved in Kvarner, where, among other things, RegioJet’s first railway line between Prague and Rijeka, which carried more than 60,000 passengers in both directions during the summer months, certainly contributed to the positive trends, and due to great interest, the same line will operate and in 2021, which makes us especially happy. There is also the title of Rijeka as the European Capital of Culture, which this city, in an extended period, will proudly wear until the end of April, which is an additional opportunity to present the cultural wealth of Rijeka and Kvarner and all the originally planned activities. We are also proud of the successful realization of the first guide for the Italian market, created in cooperation with the most widely circulated Italian newspaper La Repubblica, which presented the tourist offer of Rijeka, Kvarner and Gorski kotar to Italian guests.
I optimistically believe that the entire tourism sector will achieve much better results this year, bearing in mind that our priorities are above all responsible behavior, building the image of Croatian tourism on the basis of sustainable development and safety, and further creating a tourist offer based on quality and innovation
Kristjan Staničić, director of the Croatian Tourist Board
First tourist railway link Prague – Rijeka
This year’s tourist traffic was also marked by our many Czech and Slovak tourists who came to us on the new seasonal RegioJet train line from Prague via Brno, Bratislava and Ljubljana to Rijeka. Although fewer lines and a shorter period were initially planned, due to great interest and tens of thousands of tickets sold, the railway connection was extended and increased to daily traffic. The significance of this line, which was realized with the cooperation of the Croatian Tourist Board and the Ministry of Tourism, is the fact that on the first line, in addition to selected Czech and Slovak journalists, was the owner of RegioJet, Mr. Radim Jančura, who was delighted with what he saw and the cooperation they had with all necessary partners in the destination.
The past year, despite all the challenges that were put before us in terms of content, programming and financial problems, slowed down a little but did not stop the creation of the new Rijeka website. The website www.visitRijeka.hr was programmed and published in a new design in cooperation with the Rijeka company Iconis. The website is among the first pages that guests visit when choosing a destination, and with the new page we have adapted to the information they regularly use, but we also offer other information about the destination and tourist products. The page with its regular daily update and the update of partners who directly update their information, through that large online data bank that gathers all destination information, represents the most accurate page of Rijeka not only for general destination information but also for all events or contact information of accommodation and catering facilities with their offers. The website of the Tourist Board of the City of Rijeka is also the first website that was published and complies with the Law on Accessibility of Websites and Software Solutions for Mobile Devices.
The site is innovative in the part that starts it, that is, in the part of the new online bank of all destination data that we, as the first tourist board, created in a completely online form and which is available 24/7/365 to all members and partners who publish data on our pages. This new way of collecting and updating data allows all our partners to directly and independently decide on the information that is published. With the publication of the page and the start of using the online data bank under the name ODIS-Unified Destination Information System, the Tourist Board of the City of Rijeka completed the activity of complete digitization of destination information.
Tourist traffic in Rijeka
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the achieved tourist traffic in 2020 suffered a significant drop compared to the record year 2019. Due to the prescribed epidemiological measures during the spring and autumn, as well as to put the Republic of Croatia on the “red list” for its citizens who come from our strongest emitting tourist markets in mid-August, a large number of accommodation facilities did not work or worked with significantly reduced capacities.
During 2020, there were 61,675 arrivals, which is 37% of the total number of arrivals in the same period of 2019. Tourist traffic of 219,795 overnight stays was achieved, which is 47% of the total number of overnight stays realized in the same period of 2019. Foreign tourists made 163,675 overnight stays. Compared to the same period in 2019, 42% of last year’s overnight stays by foreign tourists were realized. Domestic tourists made 56,120 overnight stays, which is 70% of the overnight stays made by domestic tourists in the same period of 2019.
The four most important markets, i.e. the highest achieved tourist traffic, were achieved by domestic tourists and tourists from Germany, Italy, and the Czech Republic. Most nights were spent in private accommodation with 66.9%, followed by hotels with 13.8%, other facilities in non-commercial accommodation with a share of 11.3%, hostels with 7.4% and overnight stays with a share of 0.6 % in the total tourist traffic of Rijeka.
Tourism result of Rijeka and the Rijeka ring
The Tourist Board of the City of Rijeka is a member of the specialized international association, European cities marketing (ECM), a non-profit international organization that conducts analyzes and, in addition to numerous other activities, provides insight into examples of good practice of its members with the main goal of improving the competitiveness of the leading tourist destinations in Europe that are also members of the association.
In the just published analysis of the achieved results of tourist traffic in over 100 members of the association, Rijeka and the ring in the category of smaller destinations in the period from 2015 to 2019 has the highest percentage and nominal growth. The average growth at the level of the observed cities is 4.7% per year, while Rijeka and the ring have 22.7% annual growth, that is, 129,108 nominal growth per year, while the average growth is 29,721 at the level of the observed destinations.
The year from which we expected a lot is behind us. She began promisingly. 19% more arrivals in the first two months, numerous foreign and domestic media wrote about Rijeka, the European Capital of Culture.
We achieved success with our new promotional film “River – I miss you”, which in 2020 won 9 awards at prestigious world festivals. new city museum was opened in the palace of the sugar mill, Ex port on the delta hosted many exhibitions, Fiumanka was held in a new time. Despite everything and precisely thanks to everyone who complied with epidemiological measures, we achieved 47% of tourist traffic.
In 2021, a challenging year awaits us, a return to the old normal, the Rijeka Carnival in a somewhat more modest edition than we are used to. he last big manifestation before the lock down was the Rijeka Carnival and we hope that this pandemic ends with the burning of this year’s feast, i.e. everything bad in 2020.
Petar Škarpa, director of the Rijeka Tourist Board
Rijeka Carnival 2021.
We know that Rijeka has five seasons! Last year, they were somehow mixed up due to the threat of the Covid-19 corona virus pandemic, but it remained intact and the fifth season was fully experienced – the carnival season! Rijeka’s carnival is unique and experienced personally because it is prepared with love. For the people of Rijeka, carnival is not only a mask on the face, but also a way of life.
Soon, the sound of Antony’s horn on January 17 will mark the beginning of the much-desired carnival season. The truth in a slightly shortened form from the one we are used to, adapted to the epidemiological measures that will be prescribed at that time. We will adhere to them, respect them, aware that this is the only way we can preserve our health and that of our loved ones, but this will not break the spirit of carnivalists.
We are all united in the desire that the sounds of Antony’s horn, bell ringers and the music of carnival groups drive away this invisible threat, and that, as our ancestors have done for centuries, with new hope, in health, we start the new/next year, when the awakened spring will breathe new saps and strength in all of us and re-strengthen us for the new battles that the future will bring us.
The Rijeka carnival also has its own queen, who is chosen from among the representatives of the carnival groups. Given the epidemiological measures in force this year, the 25th Queen of the Rijeka Carnival 2020, Dori Pilepić, representative of the “Siti i Pijani” Carnival Association from Rijeka, will have her mandate extended and be declared the 26th Queen of the Rijeka Carnival 2021! She will be assisted in her duties by first runner-up Sanja Pešćica, representative of the Spinčići Carnival Committee from Kastvo, and second runner-up Sara Puž from the Carnival Association “Zijat, sost, tancat i pit” from Matulja.
The official handing over of the City key will also symbolically mark the start of the fifth carnival season, Rijeka’s favorite carnival chaos.
Dear carnivalists, our fifth season and our rule is coming. On Antonje, according to tradition, we raise Pust, carnival flags and masquerades take over. We still remember 2020 as a successful and unforgettable carnival year, and especially the final International Carnival Parade, in the year when we were the European Capital of Culture.
Unfortunately, due to known reasons, the year 2021, the epidemiological situation of Covid and the victims of the earthquake, will be much more modest and without an audience as is usual. In order to “not lose the rope”, we will do those manifestations that are possible, including our traditional carnival procession without gathering people and large gatherings, because the city of Carnival deserves it.
Be happy, stay healthy, stay responsible. KREPAT MA NE MOLAT !!!
For safety reasons, the 25th Children’s Carnival Parade will not be held. The participants of the most playful and nicest manifestation of the Rijeka Carnival will think and plan with which imaginative creations they will surprise and delight us at the next Children’s Carnival Parade of the Rijeka Carnival 2022.
Carnivalists have always been cheerful, good-willed and big-hearted people. On February 2, 2021, 2. at the initiative and organization of the Tourist Board of the City of Rijeka and the Rijeka City Red Cross Society, and in memory of the late Veljko Vrzić, a voluntary blood donation campaign will be held, which will once again confirm the humane side of the Rijeka Carnival.
The fact is that this “new normal” in which we have been living for almost a full year is constantly asking us to give up. Not even our Rijeka Carnival was spared. I know it’s hard for all of us, but for now it’s still most important to adhere to epidemiological measures, to protect others and ourselves. I don’t know if by mid-February the epidemic will calm down enough for the three carnival groups, with whom it all started 38 years ago, to make a trip around Korzo. But, regardless of that, I know that all masquerades and bell ringers, even if they are socially distanced, will chase away not only winter but also all the bad things that last year brought us.
Vojko Obersnel, Mayor of the City of Rijeka
The 38th International Carnival Parade of Rijeka Carnival 2021 will be held symbolically on the last Sunday of the carnival period – February 14, 2021, with the participation of three carnival groups, as in 1982, with the participation of a certain number of carnivalists, in accordance with epidemiological measures, if possible. If the epidemiological measures allow it, the participants of the final parade will parade through the center of the city of Rijeka and thus bear witness to the indomitable spirit of carnivalists.
At the end of the procession on Rijeka’s Riva, the end of the “fifth season” in the city of Rijeka will be marked by the unique lighting of a bonfire on the sea. We expect that, as always until now, the Mayor will once again take over the keys to the City.