Germans, Austrians boost Croatian tourism: official data

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The tourism industry in Croatia, the key sector of the Adriatic country's recession-hit economy, grew in the first six months of the year, official figures showed on Tuesday.

During the January-June period more than 3.2 million tourists visited Croatia -- led by Austrians, Germans and Slovenians, the national tourist board figures showed. This was 11 percent more than in the first half of 2010.

Tourists accounted for 13.7 million overnight stays which was a 13-percent increase from the figure for the same period last year.

As European countries recover from the economic crisis Croatia hopes to attract a record number of tourists this year. The tourism industry makes up around 18 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP).

Last year Croatia had 10.6 million tourists, visiting mainly its stunning Adriatic coast in July-August period, while the income from tourism amounted to 6.24 billion euros (8.7 billion euros).

According to first estimates during the first six months of the year tourists in Croatia spent around 10 percent more compared with the previous year.

After a continuous rise in the number of tourists since the end of the 1991-1995 war, Croatia registered a fall of some 2.5 percent in 2009.

The country's economy plunged into recession at the beginning of 2009. Despite the 2010 improvements in tourism, since then only seen quarterly growth once -- 0.3 percent in the third quarter of 2010.

The former Yugoslav republic is set to join the European Union in mid-2013.

© 2011 AFP

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