Britain's leading newspaper The Sun recently introduced Hvar island to their readers under the credo "more drugs, more drink, more sex", calling one of Croatia's most beloved destinations "new Magaluf". The UNESCO-protected island now stands branded as Sodom and Gomorrah, luring young Brits with promises of unforgettable vacation drenched in booze and sex.
To no surprise, everyone jumped to accuse the unbridled youth and their loose morals, as if the tourists took it upon themselves to personally rebrand the previously peaceful cultural destination. Local tourism boards didn't lift a finger to try and stop the transformation process of Hvar's reputation before the situation spun out of control, and why would they? As long as the income from tourism keeps steadily increasing and they can brag about spiking numbers of overnight stays, it doesn't matter where the profit comes from.
The Sun's piece seems to have shook things up a bit, and now everyone's suddenly appalled and worried – including the Mayor of Hvar Town, Rikardo Novak. The independent candidate won over the mayoral election earlier this month with a promise he'd take care of the party bonanza on the island and stop the tourism suicide on Hvar, reports Jutarnji on June 16, 2017.
Novak got worried after the controversial article was published, and took it as a dangerous incentive for further promotion of Hvar as a destination for partying and getting hammered to no end. Feeling bad about Hvar "not being a synonym for glamour and luxury" anymore, he decided it's time to take care of the abominable image of Hvar's current offer.
"Those with no money don't have anything to do on Hvar these days. In the last 15 years, we got from charging a couple of euro for a room to villas with a weekly renting fee of 15.000 euro, and that elite tourism is still 30% cheaper than the UK. Hvar is known as one of ten world's most prestigious islands for life and tourism, but the other side of that medal is getting visitors who don't know when to stop. Things have taken a bad turn in recent years. We don't want to be recognised as a destination for debauchery. Those party-goers aren't savage tourists who drink cheap bad wine, but a high-income clientele that pays for 200-kuna drinks and has an impression they can do things at Hvar they aren't able to do at home", said Novak.
He's now on a mission to steer the town back to its former image of a place of cultural values, and remind everyone that Hvar holds five items on UNESCO world heritage lists. Partying is a danger to Hvar's tradition, says Novak, and "that can't be sold for five cocktails and all of us need to be aware of that."
Asked about the strategy of rebranding the island again, Novak said he doesn't want to turn anyone away, but that they want tourists to behave as civilised people. "Everyone needs to participate in the upcoming changes: catering business owners, locals, police. Bars and restaurants shouldn't tolerate drunk guests, the municipal officials should make sure nobody walks around the square naked, the police should prevent people from wandering around plastered, and the inspection should take care of music blasting at 2AM. All the measures are at hand, they just need to be carried out. We need to let guests know they are coming to a place of culture. We don't want to end up as strangers in our own town", said Novak.
Measures need to be carried out? Sounds like a great, exhaustive plan so far. Can't wait to see how that goes.