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CROATIA SEEKS TOURISTS TO HELP REBUILD BATTERED ECONOMY, TRAVEL WEEKLY REPORTS

 NEW YORK, Sept. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- While neighboring Bosnia- Herzegovina is locked in combat, Croatia is already inviting tourists to return to its Adriatic resorts. At war-damaged Dubrovnik airport, visitors will have to use the cargo terminal until the passenger terminal is repaired next spring. But six hotels are already open in Dubrovnik and about another six are expected to open by next year, reports Travel Weekly, the travel industry's leading newspaper.
 Managing Editor Nadine Godwin, just returned from Dubrovnik, says the city normally derives 70 percent to 80 percent of its earnings from tourism. Right now, the coastal area should be crowded (peak season ends Oct. 15) but has almost no tourists -- a luxury for those who do visit.
 It is also cheaper than usual: group room rates are down 40 percent, according to Atlas Travel, a principal Croatian travel wholesaler. But Americans planning to travel to Croatia should buy only as much local currency (dinars) as they need, advises Travel Weekly -- dinars can't be exchanged for dollars.
 By next year, Atlas Travel told Travel Weekly, hotel prices are likely to be in line with those charged in 1990, the last normal season.
 Dubrovnik, built of stone, fared far better than some surrounding villages. Travel Weekly's Godwin notes that one popular stop, Cilipi, was among 40 villages devastated by war. Some 60 percent of homes are uninhabitable, only 400 of the town's 1,000 residents remain.
 Local officials and travel companies don't really hope for tourism this year, but they insist that the region is now safe to visit. Croatia's minister of tourism, Niko Bulic, said the country will promote more aggressively to the U.S. in 1994. Croatia Airlines, meanwhile, aspires to launch transatlantic service next year.
 Atlas Travel is working on packages that would link Zagreb and coastal points with central European destinations or cruises to some of Croatia's 1,185 islands. Two Greek cruise lines are reportedly considering renewed cruises to the country next year.
 The American ambassador to Croatia, Peter Galbraith, deemed Dubrovnik "great for visitors." However, about 30 percent of Croatia, occupied by the Yugoslav army during the war, is still off-limits to tourists. The U.S. State Department warns of shelling near Zadar, Sibenik and Karlovac as well as Serbian-held parts of Bosnia- Herzegovina. The rest of the country is termed "calm." However, medical facilities are strained, with some drugs in short supply. Doctors and hospitals may expect immediate cash payment for services.
 Still, Dubrovnik doesn't quite fit the image of a war-torn city. The medieval stone buildings still stand, even if the roofs are damaged and the insides of some burned out. Local artists have used the boarded-up windows and doors as their canvases for whimsical figures, says the Travel Weekly report.
 Tourists don't have to wait until 1994 to go to Croatia, Travel Weekly concluded, but they have to want to make the trip and understand the current political and military situation.
 -0- 9/7/93
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: Nadine Godwin is available for comment regarding her trip to Croatia./
 /CONTACT: Nadine Godwin, managing editor of Travel Weekly, 201-902-1565/


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TS-LG -- NY024 -- 9292 09/07/93 11:07 EDT
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Date:Sep 7, 1993
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