As Hvar Storm Goes Global, Slavonian Tourism Full of Lifelessness

By 12 February 2016

Why are private promotional videos about Croatia so much better and more popular than the official videos, despite large budgets? The new official promotion of Slavonia, released on February 8, 2016, takes things to a new low. 

It is beyond ironic. 

Croatia's much-derided new tourism slogan, which replaced the successful 'Mediterranean as It Once Was' has officially become an oxymoron with the release of the latest promotional villa, this time for Slavonia, under the title 'Slavonia - Where the Horizon is Always Golden.' 

'Croatia, Full of Life' is the new direction, something one would have been hard-pressed to grasp from the new video, which managed to 'promote' a destination without a single human being appearing in the video. In fact, apart from a few galloping horses and a couple of birds, there is no life whatsoever. Even the famous Slavonian vineyards are depicted without so much as an open glass or bottle of wine. If farming is your thing, the video offers enough aerial drone shots of the fields of Slavonia to make you dizzy, but quite what the video has to do with tourism or a concept of a destination being full of life has left many commentators scratching their heads, with one quipping that the video perfectly depicts the depopulation of economically depressed Slavonia, as thousands emigrate or move elsewhere in Croatia in search of work. Judge for yourself:

The only good news for people with a genuine interest in promoting Slavonia is that almost nobody has seen the video because - despite having the full marketing resources of a national tourist board and almost 1.5 million Facebook fans, less than 6,000 people have seen the video since it was released 4 days ago. Despite churning out lots of videos (presumably at significant cost for the preferred contractor), except for a handful of cases, the videos are hardly watched at all - see screenshot from the official YouTube channel. Some videos have less than 200 views after more than three months. 

Those 6,000 views pale into significance when compared to another video about Croatia uploaded on the same day, ironically from two photographers from Slavonia, who are regarded as among the best in the country, Mario Romulic and Drazen Stojcic. Their privately produced Hvar Storm has clocked up more than 200,000 views in the same period, been seen in 145 countries already, and has just been taken by Reuters for distribution to their clients. Watch it here. 

Hvar - into the storm from Romulic & Stojcic on Vimeo.

It is important to note that Hvar Storm is a video about weather, despite having glorious shots of Croatia's premier island, but its initial success mirrors another similar project, Timelapse Croatia, which was hailed by some in the national media as the finest promotion of Croatia ever, now with more than a million views. Watch it below.

Timelapse Croatia - showreel / teaser from Romulic & Stojcic on Vimeo.

Romulic and Stojcic achieved these impressive numbers of views with no promotion, just simple social media sharing. The quality of the product did the rest on both occasions. What would be possible not only with the official budget, but also with the official marketing arm? A little more than 6,000 views in four days for a lifeless video that says nothing about the destination.


The efforts of Romulic and Stojcic are not the only viral efforts, privately produced, which are excellent products which reached a truly global audience, and the lifelessness of the new Slavonia video could not be better contrasted with the new Ultra Europe 2015 Aftermovie, both in terms of the content and popularity. With more than 830,000 views in just three weeks, don't be fooled that this is just a party video - there is excellent promotion of the destination, as Ultra Europe has succeeded in branding Hvar, Split and Brac in its own image, with little official competition, as we previously wrote

Ultra Europe has a big budget too, to make such a professional video, but as we learned last summer, even the amateur tourist, making videos for fun, can outshine the official approach, both in terms of quality and popularity. Consider Pascal Tang, a tourist from Paris for example, who made a video just for fun, so much did he like the energy of Croatia. 

Road Trip in Croatia 07.08.2015 - 21.08.2015 from Pascal Tang on Vimeo.

436,000 views later, the video remains for many one of the best memories of the summer that was 2015. So impressed were the Croatian media that they clamoured for something to be done. The Croatian National Tourist Board director met them in Paris and in October they were back in Croatia, this time in Baranja and Slavonia (remember the lifeless place where this article started?). It rained, there were no expensive drones, but so far, almost 90,000 people have seen that there is life in Slavonia and Baranja. See below.

Invited to Baranja 09.10.2015 - 18.10.2015 from Pascal Tang on Vimeo.

With such talents as Romulic and Stojcic who are able to stun the globe with their work available for hire, and with a proven track record of not only reaching every corner of the planet with their work with no budget, but for promoting Croatia in the best possible light (and we at TCN have lost count of the emails of appreciation we have received on their behalf for the quality of our Photo of the Day section), is it not a little strange that the national tourist board ignores that skill set in favour of not only sterile alternatives, but ones which for the most part never see the light of day beyond a few people?

I was beginning to think it was a problem of tourist boards in general until I started blogging for the Central Dalmatia Tourist Board a few years ago. Here is a region which understands social media better than any other region in the country, and with an impressive 370,000 fans, it regularly achieves ten times the national board's page in terms of Facebook likes, despite having a quarter of the fans. So too with its videos - just six on the official channel at the moment, but with 4.6 million views, including its champion, Heart of Adriatic, which not only has 2.2 million views, but also won Gold Medal in Baku. See it below.

Some people may say this is a bitter article from someone who has not been employed by the official channels, especially as the Osijek maestros are good friends of mine. Perhaps it might have been once, but now I find it amusing more than anything else that some of Croatia's brightest talents are routinely ignored in favour of something less... well you get the point.

My own epiphany came at the National Society of Journalists in Zagreb on December 2, 2014, when I was both surprised and delighted to win the FIJET Marco Polo award for the best international promotion of Croatian tourism for 2014. A big honour, and the statue of Marco sits proudly in our living room. At the award ceremony was the Deputy Minister of Tourism Daglas Koraca, and while I thought he might have said hello to the winner, the real wake up call was the very detailed report of the event which appeared shortly after, with not only no picture of the winners, but also no mention of the winners whatsoever. More important of course was the report on what the deputy minister had been up to. 

Croatian tourism promotion at the national level is a mirror image of Croatia and its economy in general. Croatia, Full of Talent, Croatia Full of Potential, all of which is stifled by Croatia, Full of Self-Interest, which leads to official promotion which is Croatia, Full of Lifelessness. 

Who cares about tourism promotion anyway? Croatia is the king of Accidental Tourism. With sun, sea and all the other God-given gifts it possesses, it is almost impossible to screw up.