Croatian authorities issue appeal on Czech tourists to be less adventurous


Croatia's Adriatic Coast is the most popular foreign holiday destination for Czechs, with an estimated 800,000 expected to flock there this summer, that's nearly a tenth of the whole Czech population. But several Czech tourists have suffered accidents in Croatia this summer, with 14 dying, several of them at sea. Now the country's police have issued an appeal: they say Czechs should behave more carefully, and not underestimate the dangers of the Adriatic.

This summer alone, seven Czechs in Croatia have lost their lives at sea, and seven others died from natural causes, mostly linked to exhaustion, as many are not used to the heat. The latest victim - a sixteen year old boy, who went out in a rubber boat knowing that a storm was brewing. He was struck by lighting. Two other Czechs, who were last seen in small boats at sea, are missing. Police fear the body of a man found on Wednesday, may be one of them. Dozens of other Czechs would have suffered similar fates, had they not been saved by the local police and coastguards.

These statistics are unusually high, says Croatian Interior Ministry spokesman, Zlatko Mehun:

"During this summer season, a large number of Czech tourists have lost their lives, while on holiday in Croatia. We urge tourist services and the people working with them, as well as local communities, to advise tourists of our local weather conditions - the strong winds at the Adriatic sea and possible storms."

The Czech Foreign Ministry has joined the Croatian authorities' appeal and has asked all travel agencies to brief their clients on potential dangers. They say their agents have been warning Czechs but fail to reach a substantial number of adventurous clients. This year, sailing has been popular among a large number of younger Czechs, many of whom visit Croatia on their own, without the help of travel operators.

There are so many Czechs in Croatia that Czech Radio even has its own summer broadcasts to the Dalmatian Coast. The Czech Consul, Veronika Honcova, is working closely with Czech Radio to warn holidaymakers of the dangers. "We have recorded a number of reports with Czech Radio's Radiozurnal service that are broadcast on the local Split FM radio station, warning Czechs and calling onto them not to overestimate their own capabilities and take local weather reports on the conditions at sea seriously," she says.

Ms Honcova explains that Czechs underestimate the dangers of the Adriatic Sea because they come from a landlocked country. Croatia also has climatic conditions that are very specific to the region, with strong winds that blow from the coast out to sea, often catching swimmers and people on floats and small boats off guard.

The most recent statistics show that, so far this year, seventy Czechs have died while on holiday abroad.