There had been fears from some quarters that with Croatia's impending accession to full EU member status, set for 1st July, non-EU citizens could suffer from new lengthy and costly visa application processes. To alleviate these worries for both tourists and the Croatian yacht charter industry the authorities have moved swiftly to clarify the situation.
In line with the freedom of movement act all EU and EEA (European Economic Area) citizens will no longer require a visa to enter Croatia or Croatian waters, taking much of the stress out of pre-holiday hassle. Perhaps more importantly for the yacht charter industry the Croatian immigration department has also moved to simplify the visa process for non-EU citizens, chiefly Russian and Turkish visitors.
According to Dorijan Dujmic, the managing partner of BWA Yachting "from 1st July, the classic visa regime of the EU will now apply for citizens of Russia and Turkey, as well as all citizens of those countries that need a visa for entering EU member countries.
This means that holders of valid Schengen documents will not require additional visas for entry and short term stays in Croatia. The Russian marketplace is big business for the Croatian yacht charter industry and the Croatian tourism industry as a whole and so recognizing this fact by removing some of the red tape from the usual visa application process is a shrewd move.
In the past two years there has been a 10% growth in Russian tourists visiting Croatia and they were amongst the top 10 spenders. It is hoped that these new changes will make the visa process more clear and uniform, encouraging foreign clients to consider Croatia as a holiday destination when they consider booking a yacht for Mediterranean charter.
Previously the Croatian authorities have granted visa waivers to Russian's in summer to promote tourism however now it will be compulsory for all non-EU visitors to have the required, valid Schengen documents. Russian citizens not in possession of a Schengen visa however, will benefit from a fast application approval process that should take no longer than five days through the Croatian Embassy in Moscow.
Captains and crew have come out in support of these changes as they often have to take responsibility for ensuring in advance that their guests have the correct documents when booking a yacht for charter and up until now they weren't sure of the necessary requirements.