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A rugged coastline, clear turquoise sea, more than 1000 islands and islets, and harbour towns with typical stone buildings, churches, and palaces that simply radiate history - the Croatian coast is one of the most beautiful in the Mediterranean. It is less populated that the coasts of Italy, France, and Spain and has thus far succeeded in maintaining its original character.
The development of tourism
The Croatian government is only too aware of the contribution of tourism to its economy and has taken a wide range of steps aimed at making Croatia one of the most popular seaside destinations. The fact that this is proving a success can be seen not only in the stable growth in the number of tourists to visit in recent years (6.2 million in 2001, 7.4 million in 2003) or the arrival of international hotel chains on the Croatian market, but in what the popular American travel book Lonely Planet has to say about the country, stating that Croatia was one of the most popular tourist destinations of 2005. Croatia also harbours ambitions to become a new destination for conferences. One of the government priorities is to improve the infrastructure and this year the final section of the motorway from Zagreb to Split was completed, with the continuation of this road on to Dubrovnik set for completion by 2008. Access by air continues to improve year-on-year and the regular flights operated by traditional carriers such as British Airways have now been joined by low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and EasyJet.
Croatian property
Ever since 1998, when foreigners were allowed to own property in Croatia (based on reciprocal contracts), the interest shown in property on the Adriatic coast has risen rapidly. For example, 17 000 properties were sold to foreign investors in 2003, whilst this figure more than doubled in 2004. Prices of property are increasing by an average of 20 – 30 % per annum and it is expected that this growth will continue. Indeed certain studies estimate price growth of up to 400 % within a period of 5 years (from 2005 to 2010). The government wishes to prevent an unrestrained increase in the construction of new hotels and apartment complexes on the coast and for this reason issued a decree setting out a protected coastal area of a breadth of 1000 m from the line of the coast in which a special regime will be in operation – new construction is to be restricted and stricter regulations for the approval of new construction work are to apply. These restrictions will not only contribute to preserving the typical character of the coastline, but will also help increase the attractiveness of property in the front line as the range of properties on offer is limited and is set to remain as such into the future. Among the most attractive investments on this market is the purchase of an older building in need of reconstruction in a good location in close proximity to the sea. These sorts of properties are often sold for good prices in comparison with new structures.
Where to buy
If you are deciding where to buy property in Croatia, think like a tourist. Visitors want to spend as little of their own time as possible travelling, transferring to the airport, or taking the ferry. The main airports are found in Zagreb (the capital city), Split (Croatia’s second largest city), and Dubrovnik (perhaps the best-known resort). These places are bound to be the most interesting from the perspective of the growth of tourism and benefits to the local market. It pays to take note of the construction of infrastructure, in particular motorways. One golden rule for buying property is that it should be located a maximum of 1 hour from an airport. The motorway from Zagreb to Dubrovnik will play a major role in the development of the Croatian coast, which has yet to undergo a great deal of building development. The popularity of the Peljesac peninsula is also bound to rise with the completion of the motorway to Dubrovnik in the very south.