Photograph: predsjednica.hr

The Port of Vukovar has huge potential for the development of the town itself, this part of Croatia and Croatia in general, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said on Friday after a closed meeting with the port's executives.

Grabar-Kitarovic said that transport connections were an important component of the national development strategy and that Vukovar should be connected with the Adriatic ports of Ploce and Rijeka through transport corridors.

"Vukovar can play an extremely important role within the Baltic-Adriatic-Black Sea initiative," she said, adding that a prerequisite for this was the further restructuring and expansion of the Port of Vukovar. 

Grabar-Kitarovic said she was pleased with the fact that river cruising was one of the fastest growing branches of tourism and that the Vukovar Port Authority played a prominent role in it.

Vukovar Port Authority director Bozena Matos said that because cruising tourism in Croatia had increased by between 10 and 15 per cent over the past few years the Port Authority wanted not only to popularise leisure cruises but also to build new quays and upgrade the existing ones.

Last year cruise ships brought about 40,000 visitors to Vukovar, which was nearly a third of the number of all visitors to Vukovar-Srijem County, Matos said.

Port director Tomislav Mihaljevic stressed the need to connect the seaports of Ploce and Rijeka with Budapest via Vukovar, which in that way would become an important hub connecting the Adriatic and Croatia with the Baltic.

In 2015 the Port of Vukovar handled 303,920 tonnes of cargo, which was 23 per cent more than in 2014. Its most important partner was Kutina-based artificial fertiliser producer Petrokemija, which accounted for as much as 70 per cent of the cargo transloaded at the port, Mihaljevic said.

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