On July 1, 2013, Croatia finally became a member of the European Union (EU), following years of preparations, which included economic reforms, a concerted attempt to eradicate corruption in both the public and private sectors, and Croatia’s cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia regarding war crimes.
In January 2012, the country had held a referendum asking the electorate if they were for or against EU membership. The outcome saw 66 percent in favor of joining. However, given the ongoing global economic crisis and the harsh austerity measures that the EU has imposed on other floundering member countries, like Greece, Croatia remains skeptical as to the benefits it will reap from EU membership.
On top of this, some 20 years after the end of the War of Independence, Croatia is still rebuilding its image as a tourist destination following the collapse of tourism during the hostilities.
Up until 2009 and the onset of the global crisis, the mood had been one of relative optimism. Although in the years since there has been a noticeable downturn in most sectors of the economy, Croatia continues to attract an ever-increasing number of foreign visitors, due largely to the growing number of budget airlines flying to the country from other parts of Europe, making it infinitely more accessible. Coupled with this, the tourist infrastructure has been upgraded to include refurbished hotels, restaurants serving contemporary takes on regional cuisines, vineyards open to the public for wine tasting, and adventure-sports companies offering well-organized activities on both land and sea.
The December 2011 general election saw the country choose the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) to form the government, with Zoran Milanović as Prime Minister. The income per capita in Croatia is now higher than that of several other EU members, namely Bulgaria, Romania, and Latvia. (In 1989, while still part of Yugoslavia, the unemployment rate in Croatia was 8 percent, but this figure soared during the war when the country was thrown into chaos.) Unemployment has risen steadily since 2009, reaching 22.5 percent by February 2014. Croatia’s economy has been in recession since 2009, but there are hopes that the situation will improve in 2015. Tourism is doing its part: It contributed 15 percent of Croatia’s GDP in 2013.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.