Visit Croatia: Mortar Damage Is Light, No Need for Flak Jackets With AM-Cease-Fire Victims, Bjt

LONDON (AP) _ Visit Croatia - the war in the former Yugoslav republic is all but over, leaving little mortar damage in most places and no need for flak jackets, a tourist official said Tuesday.

''You can go without any problem,'' Zoran Klaric said at an international conference on tourism.

However, the Croatian Tourism Institute official warned that hotels in some areas may be filled with refugees from the civil war in neighboring Bosnia- Herezgovina. And a published guide said some tourist attractions ''suffered severe damage during the aggression.''

An estimated 10,000 people were killed in Croatia after Yugoslavia began to disintegrate last year, but it has been relatively quiet under a U.N.-monitored cease-fire since early this year. About 700,000 people - most from Bosnia - have taken refuge in Croatia, which normally has a population of 4.8 million.

Yugoslavia, with its long coastline, was once a popular tourist destination. But that changed when Serb militants and the Yugoslav army contested Croatia's declaration of independence in June 1991.

The number of nights foreigners spent in Croatia plunged to 3 million last year, down from a peak of 42 million in 1988.

Even though there are still some contested areas in Croatia, Klaric said it is easy to be ''100 percent safe'' by avoiding them.

The British Foreign Office said parts of the former Yugoslavia are ''generally safe,'' including northwestern Croatia; the capital, Zagreb; the Adriatic coast north of Zadar and most of the offshore islands.

''The rest is either under U.N. protection or subject to disturbance, air raids or artillery bombardment, and visitors are advised not to go into these areas,'' a Foreign Office advisory said.

Despite such warnings, Klaric boasted: ''Come to Croatia, you'll be treated like kings.''

A new tourist map lists Croatia's cultural and historical sites, with asterisks noting sites damaged by the war. Some of the blighted cities are better known for the sieges that reduced them to rubble than for their tourist attractions, including Vukovar, Zadar and Osijek.

Dubrovnik, the beautiful walled city on the Adriatic, was damaged ''to an extent that has no parallel in the millennial history of the city,'' the new guide says.

But forces besieging the city recently left, the airport reopened and one hotel is now taking guests, Klaric said.