Zagreb (AFP) - Croatia, battling to salvage its key tourism sector hit by the coronavirus pandemic, hosted two million visitors in July, slightly above half of last year's figure, officials said Monday, putting on a brave face despite the downturn.
Due to the consequences of the pandemic on tourism, accounting for around a fifth of Croatia's economy, the Adriatic country is expecting the worst economic crisis since independence in 1991.
Officials forecast earlier that Croatia's tourism industry would contract by 70 percent this year due to the pandemic.
Apart from two million tourist arrivals, Croatia in July registered 14.7 million overnight stays, 59 percent of the last year's number, the national tourist board (HTZ) said in a statement.
Another 700,000 tourists are currently vacationing in Croatia.
"These are, given the circumstances, excellent indicators," HTZ head Kristjan Stanicic said.
The figures are also a "good announcement for August in which we expect the continuation of positive trend", he said.
Tourists, mostly Germans, Slovenians and Poles, visited namely destinations in the northern Istria peninsula and north Adriatic as well as Split on the southern coast.
Last year some 20 million people visited Croatia, heading mainly to its pristine coastline dotted with more than 1,000 islands and islets.
The country sees as it main advantage closeness of its main markets -- Austria, Germany and Slovenia -- all reachable by road.
Camping and boating holidays are also a draw as they enable easier respecting of social distancing measures.
Croatia has seen a surge of coronavirus infections of up to 140 a day for the past month.
The European Union member of 4.2 million has so far reported some 139 deaths and nearly 5,000 infections.