Croatia is set to host one of the most prestigious motor sports events in the world – the World Rally Championship (WRC).
The WRC promoter and motor sport’s governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, have given Croatia the ‘green light’ to be added to the WRC calendar, Jutarnji list reports.
Croatia is tipped for a 2019 calendar spot and will find out at the end of the year when the Croatia Rally 2018, a WRC status candidate, needs to be held.
Croatia was reportedly offered a WRC event spot for July 2018, but this was not suitable as it was peak tourist season.
Croatia organisers are looking to hold the event in April, May, at the start of June, or at the end of September or in October.
The Pula Roman amphitheatre is being envisaged as the start point for the rally event, with the finish being in Poreč. Other routes are still in contention and organisers say they would one day like to take the WRC to Vukovar, Vinkovci and Osijek.
The World Rally Championship is watched annually by 700 million people with the event broadcast last year in 155 countries around the world.
This year the WRC calendar sees 13 races, which will increase to 14 next year and to 16 by 2022.
Croatian prime minister Andrej Plenkovic met a WRC delegation in Zagreb earlier this year, where discussions centred on strong government support for a mixed-surface event.
Conservative calculations estimate that the event will see a spend of 22 million euros, with direct revenue (around 4 million euros via VAT) and huge indirect revenues for Croatia.
WRC official data from Portugal showed last year that 910,000 spectators watched WRC races live, with 50% being foreigners. The direct effect on the Portuguese economy was 67.6 million euros, while the indirect effects amounted to 61.7 million euros. Portugal from the WRC alone achieved more than 1.5 million overnight stays per year.
Croatia, as one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in the world, could in some years approach these numbers and go beyond them, organisers say.