• By: OLM Staff

The Canada-Croatia bond is built on tourism, trade an investment

Marica Matkovic is the Croatian ambassador to Canada and works from the recently renovated embassy on a historic property in Ottawa’s leafy Sandy Hill neighbourhood.

Croatia has a centuries-old history and has been a key player in European affairs dating back to the ninth century when the first Croatian king was crowned.

Today, Croatia is a modern and open middle-European country and one of the world’s most popular gastronomy and tourism destinations. It is the youngest member of the European Union, joining in July 2013.

In October, Croatia celebrated its 25th anniversary of independence from the former Yugoslavia.

Recognized for its sweeping landscapes, unspoiled beaches, reasonably priced high-end hotels and villas, Mediterranean sunshine, fresh seafood and popular markets, the country is the hidden gem of Europe.

Zagreb was named the best Christmas market in Europe in an online poll by the website European Best Destinations for the past three years.

In 2016, 16 million tourists visited Croatia. In the first ten months of this year 175, 562 Canadian tourists visited Croatia, up 25% when compared to the same period last year. This number is incredible given that the country has only 4.3 million inhabitants.

Croatia gave the world the pen, the cravat, the parachute and the world’s first electric speedometer. It has developed one of the world’s fastest electric cars — not a surprise considering Croatia is Tesla’s birthplace.

As well, Croatia is also a location of choice for films and series like Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Robin Hood and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. 

Marica Matkovic

Canada has strong bi-lateral affairs in business, investment and cultural and academic affairs with Croatia.

Matkovic said her main goal since arriving in Canada has been to push bi-lateral relations between the countries.

In 2017, exports from Croatia to Canada (mainly medications, electrical transformers and aluminum foil) totaled more than $50 million, while exports from Canada to Croatia (medications, dried leguminous vegetables and aircraft parts) amounted to $23 million.

Matkovic said this, combined with Croatia's strong information technology sector and innovative companies, make it superb investment and a low-risk opportunity for Canadian investors.

Matkovic added that the Croatian Chamber of Economy has a program that promotes private and public projects including infrastructure projects such as the reconstruction, modernization and development of seaports, airports, other transport and trade integration projects, tourism, greenfield and brownfield projects and energy projects.

The Croatian Investment Promotion Act is one of the most attractive in all of Europe.

By constantly improving the investment climate and adopting agreements to avoid double taxation — with more than 50 countries, including Canada — Croatia offers many tax, employment, education and other incentives to potential investors. 

Matkovic said the embassy works co-operatively with Canadian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce (in Toronto) to help Croatians export to the Canadian market.

Canadians can already buy chocolates and sweets from Kraš; vegeta, (a famous condiment that is a mixture of salt, spices and vegetables); Croatian wines and hard liquors such as rakija; and footwear by Borovo.

Canadian companies have responded to Croatian investment opportunities.

Canada’s Algoma Central Corporation purchased five ships from Croatia’s Uljanik Grupa Shipyard and Canadian Vermilion Energy Inc. has licenses for the extraction of several different hydrocarbons.

On the tourism side, Canada’s Dundee 360 and Dalmi Resorts, together with Croatian partners, have invested $750 million in building tourism facilities in the Dalmatian cities of Primosten and Cavtat. 

Matkovic said she expects the Canada/Croatia relationship will grow in coming years.

She invites Canadians to visit Croatia to see what a wonderful place it has become for visitors and investors alike.

Ambassador Marica Matkovic can be reached at vrhotta@mvep.hr or at (613) 562-7820.

**Named by the Association of Travel Agencies from Quebec, October 2018.