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Zagreb welcomes a surprising new market

Zlatan Muftic

Zlatan Muftic, of the Zagreb Convention Bureau, updates ITCM

Zagreb in Croatia is a European capital that deserves to be better known – and Zlatan Muftic aims to raise awareness internationally. He is the Zagreb Convention Bureau Director and he was very happy to bring ITCM up-to-date at The Meetings Show in London.
Zagreb is aiming high. Its present international air terminal was designed to handle 2m passengers per year. The annual traffic has risen to 3m but, opening in 2016, a new terminal is designed for 5m.

Zlatan says that the city also has a new big conference centre in mind, but he is impatient at the delay in progressing the plans. ‘We have had events for up to 2,000 delegates’, he says, but admits: ‘Without a new centre that size is challenging’.

However, anything up to 500 is comfortable and there are quality hotels that can accommodate them.

The biggest sources of overnights in Zagreb are Germany, USA and UK in that order. ‘Recently arrived in the Top Ten’, he points out, ‘is China. We are also promoting the city as a destination for India, for delegates and for holidaymakers. We have Indian restaurants in Zagreb and the hotels can cater for Indian cuisine, but more and more Asian visitors are young and cosmopolitan and happy to experience new things when they come to Europe.’

It’s a surprise, however, when Zlatan informs me that currently the biggest number of arrivals is from South Korea. Has Zlatan and his team been working miracles in a new market? Not exactly. Strange to relate, a South Korean Reality TV Show has been filmed in Zagreb and this has raised awareness of the city enormously. ‘All the viewers want to visit the places they have seen on their tv screens in Korea’, says Zlatan, surprised but not complaining.

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
Zagreb has a lot to offer both within the city and within easy reach outside. ‘It is a compact national capital’, says Zlatan, ‘so most of the top attractions are in walking distance of each other. There is also a golf course not far out. Further afield, it is only one and a half hours to drive to the Adriatic Coast to Dubrovnik, for example. Groups enjoy visiting the tiny mountain villages in the middle of Croatia, many now specialising in arts and crafts.

‘There are activities such as canoeing and many beautiful locations for teambuilding.’

He especially recommends Plitvice Lakes National Park, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979. There are 16 lakes inter-connected by incredibly picturesque waterfalls along a stretch of 8km. It is possible to come across bears and wild boar in the wooded areas. Even wolves.

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