Croatian Tourism Minister Bozidar Kalmeta said yesterday that the country had received 8.3m tourists in the first nine months of 2004, a 5% year-on-year increase and the most since it declared independence in 1991. The year-end tourist figure is expected to be over 9m. 'Croatia has stabilised and earned the image of a safe and organised tourist destination,' Kalmeta told parliament, according to French news agency AFP. Significance: Although this is a post-2001 record, the increase in tourism is now levelling off slightly. However, it has re-established itself as a significant part of the Croatian economy. The increase in overnight stays was up only 2% year-on-year, suggesting a possible increase in short breaks or visits from neighbouring countries.