Prague train with 500 tourists boosts Croatia tourism hopes
ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — A train carrying about 500 tourists from the Czech Republic and Slovakia arrived to Croatia on Wednesday morning as the country seeks to attract visitors after easing lockdown measures against the coronavirus.
The train rolled into the station in the northern Croatian port of Rijeka after an all-night journey that started in Czech capital Prague. The tourists were then bused to their destinations along the Adriatic Sea coast.
The Croatian coastline is a leading European tourism destination, particularly for visitors from Central and Eastern Europe who can easily access it by car or train.
“It was great,” said a Czech tourist who identified himself only by his first name Filip. “The only thing that was different is that we had to wear face masks the whole time.”
Croatia is hoping to salvage as much as possible of the summer tourism season, which has been badly hurt by the virus outbreak. The country’s economy is among the weakest in the European Union and largely dependent on tourism income.
“We are hoping that this will increase the number of tourists here. There are currently around 300,000 of them vacationing in Croatia,” said Tourism Minister Gari Capelli, who welcomed the visitors in Rijeka.
Capelli said the train will run daily and that around 30,000 tickets already have been sold despite a renewed spike in virus cases with the easing of lockdown rules throughout Europe.
Croatia has had 2,777 confirmed cases while 107 people have died. Millions of tourists normally visit Croatia each year, mostly staying at the Adriatic Sea coastline or on the islands.