Five Slavonian Counties Sign Agreement on Joint Cooperation

By 6 December 2018

The agreement on cooperation between five Slavonian counties, which is the foundation for their joint participation in the preparation and implementation of the development projects in Eastern Croatia, was signed in Osijek-Baranja County, reports on December 6, 2018.

It took more than 20 years for officials to finally realize that it is only with the synergy that Slavonia can grow and develop. Still, better late than never, and it is never too late. Only those who are proactive, creative, innovative and those who want to deal with market-based development can progress.

Osijek-Baranja County, as the seat of scientific, economic, cultural and numerous other institutions in Eastern Croatia, is the leader in the development of Eastern Croatia. The initiative for joint representation towards the national, European and other sources of funding was initiated by Osijek-Baranja County Prefect Ivan Anušić, and supported by prefects of Požega-Slavonia, Brod-Posavina, Virovitica-Podravina and Vukovar-Srijem Counties.

“We want to work and act in synergy as a region and act in that way towards both the Croatian government and the European institutions through the office in Brussels. This will strengthen our status, our lobbying efforts and influence with the European Commission as a region, as well as with the Croatian government,” said Ivan Anušić, the prefect of Osijek-Baranja county.

He stressed that the five Slavonian counties were still grouped in the NUTS II statistical region together with the city of Zagreb. "I will remind you that Zagreb is at 125% of the EU development average, which means that it is more developed than the EU average. Our counties and their financial potential are definitely below the EU level but, in this way, we have been administratively categorized to be at the same level of development as Zagreb, which prevents us from implementing EU projects because we have to participate in their financing with a very high percentage of funds. In the future, a new statistical region will be created which will include just our counties without the city of Zagreb, as is the practice elsewhere in Europe where major cities belong to separate regions and are not merged with rural areas. This is the first step in that direction, and I am sure we will do an excellent job for our five counties, as well as for whole Croatia,” said Prefect Anušić.

The agreement creates the preconditions for the joint representation of the five Slavonian counties in Brussels through the office of the Osijek-Baranja County Development Agency, a project whose implementation is expected in the coming year.

One of the first joint projects will be the Days of Croatian Tourism 2019, which will be held in Slavonia and will jointly showcase the tourist potential of Eastern Croatia, which could become a national and international tourism brand.

Synergy was one of the main goals of the initiative to hold the Days of Croatian Tourism in Slavonia. First of all, it is necessary for the whole of Slavonia to be presented as a single tourist brand ؘ– Slavonia – which is already underway. To achieve this, it is required to develop the synergy among all local tourist boards and stakeholders, as well as to create a joint development and promotion plan. The second step is to define the joint tourist offer and attractions, which must be accessible through a single platform. The next step involves travel agencies which have to be introduced to the destination since they are the ones selling tourist packages and bringing tourists. That is why, as part of the #DHTSlavonia (Days of Croatian Tourism Slavonia) initiative, negotiations were held with the UHPA (the Association of Croatian Travel Agencies) to hold the UHPA Days in Slavonia, which has been confirmed.

Thus, all of Slavonia will have an opportunity to present its tourist offer to travel agencies and directly meet with the agents and representatives of travel agencies. When everything is done and defined, the grand finale of the Days of Croatian Tourism (DHT) will be an icing on the cake and a great free marketing campaign.

The DHT in Slavonia will generate thousands of earned media reports (valued in millions) before, during and after the event. This is an opportunity to tell a positive story about Slavonia, a chance to promote the whole destination, an opportunity to impress all the DHT guests, a chance for them to become the destination ambassadors.

Thus, the year 2019 will undoubtedly be a major positive turning point for Slavonia since both the UHPA Days and the Days of Croatian Tourism will be held in Slavonia (in Vinkovci and Osijek, respectively). We hope that this will be a moment that will awaken and shake up all the tourist industry representatives and that the destination will know how to take advantage of this for the long run.

Synergy is critical for the potential actually to be realized. Slavonia does not have time to wait for another next ten years for things to change for the better. Slavonia does not need aid, but market-based development. And tourism is an opportunity which Slavonia has to take advantage of due to its incredible potential.

For more on the Days of Croatian Tourism event, which was held on Hvar this year, click here.