Is Hvar Going in the Right Direction? Interview with 'Zveljarin'

By , 21 Feb 2017, 20:32 PM Island News

Share this:

An important interview with Žveljarin co-founder, Zorka Bibić.

'Žveljarin' means alarm-clock in Dalmatian and Hvar dialect. The Facebook page Žveljarin is a non-profit, political and social page where my colleague Joško Rosso and I share the news and articles which are, we think, important for our community. We also write articles about local politics, different social and cultural problems and issues. We try to be direct, independent, honest and open-minded. As the alarm-clock wakes up people every morning, we try to write and share articles through which we would like to reach the same goal - to wake up the local community and motivate them to think, to ask about everything and, the most important, to act.

 1. Local elections are coming in a few months. What are the key issues in the campaign?

At this moment no one has officially announced his or her campaign yet, therefore it is difficult to answer this question properly. Although there are less than 3 months till the next local elections in May, the names of the possible candidates are known only by local rumours. I have to ask how someone can convince people what is the best for our town in less than three months? Still I think the election program will be basically the same for all candidates: how to improve tourism, how to complete different infrastructure projects, such as the new sport centre, public library, retirement home, new cemetery. Maybe I am wrong, but the same projects have risen in every single campaign since the first local elections in 1993... and nothing changed. We are tired of hearing it. We need proper action, irrespective of who the mayor will be.

 2. Tourism is obviously a key part of life on Hvar. Are you happy with the general direction of tourism on the island, and what improvements would you like to see?

Maybe it would be better to say that this type of tourism on the island is without any direction and strategy. What we have seen over the last few years are the consequences of bad politics and bad decisions, and there is even worse to come if we don't react and stop this. Authentic Mediterranean life has been almost destroyed in Hvar town for the sake of money and we will become the new Venice if something does not change, especially since there is, as in Venice, UNESCO heritage on our island. 

This paradox is still unknown to many people because now it is much easier to live tourism by chance, to sell everything but the authentic way of life, to grab money and to disrespect this island, this nature, this sea. The price is very high. We will destroy ourselves for a bunch of euro, pounds and dollars. It is nonsense. To see the improvements first there should be much more communication and true will to change this situation. It’s fundamental. When we make that happen, we can make improvements, step by step.     

 3. There has been some great energy of local people and their initiatives in recent years - PlatFORma, Pjover, Pokret Otoka to name but three. Can you tell us more about that, and tell out readers a little about their initiatives?

As you said, those are really great initiatives. Their goals are to make the cultural and social life on Croatian islands better, to bring new, alternative cultural movements from the mainland, to connect people from all Croatian inhabitated islands, to share examples of good practice, their experience, projects, exhibitions…Croatian islands have been forgotten by the  Croatian Goverment for a long, long time, and thanks to these initiatives, let's mention at least one positive thing among so many others, there is a preparation for the new, updated Law about the Croatian islands (Zakon o otocima) which is to make, hopefully, a better life and better chances for approximately 100 000 people who live on the islands. 

However, although these initiatives became well known in Croatian media and among the people, I think they should break the strongest and toughest barrier in our country - the ignorance and selfishness of political parties. They are the answer to Croatian politics which is basically the same on the islands. They should present themselves in political way, run for the local elections, make a list for a town councils, present all the good initiatives and their solution for the local problems. I am sure they would be winners and brand new force for the better political, social and cultural life in our local communities.

 4. What, in your opinion, is the strategic direction which Hvar should aspire to with its tourism? It has so many riches, and so many interested parties with different visions. What is yours?

The town of Hvar became very popular 150 years ago among the Europeans (especially from Central Europe: Austria, Hungary, Germany, Czech Republic...) because of its mild climate and beautiful nature. Because of that, Hvar was a very popular winter resort, and it was very similar to contemporary wellness and spa resorts. Europeans, especially wealthy ones, enjoyed the nature and monuments. Maybe it is the time to go back to square one and try to rebuild the modern winter resort. We live in the society where we have to deal with the enormous stress and anxiety and Hvar could be the perfect cure. One could relax here, go hiking, walking, swimming, sailing, sightseeing, enjoy the fragrances of island wild herbs, picking olives, taste great island wine, feel the authentic life that is, I truly hope so, not lost for good. I am aware that this could be the complete turnover but even this party, party, party tourism cannot last forever. There has to be an alternative.

 5. Can Hvar really be a 12-month destination, and if yes, what needs to change?

Yes, Hvar can really be a 12-month destination, as it was before, but we have to change our minds first. Most people don’t want to work all year long and there is no will to make some efforts to show the world that Hvar is much more beautiful in autumn, winter and spring. When we manage to change that, first at the political level, then we can make some plans. The great role in making the difference should be even in our four island touristic boards, but all I can see is, and I am sorry to say that, the lack of strategy, planning and projects. 

 6. As local residents, you have seen Hvar change a lot in your lifetime. How was Hvar ten years ago, and how do you think it will be ten years from now?

There were less hostels, apartments and greed ten years ago. One might think that I am against tourism. No, I am completely against this type of tourism and everything that my town became because of it. If we continue like this, Hvar will become a deserted, depressing place, just like those once great resorts in Spain or Greece. It will become just an empty shell and it will be us who will destroy the pearl. But I don’t want to be pessimistic, even if I have a lot of good reasons. Let’s be realistic: it is the time to make the positive change once for good. The mayor, town council, restaurant owners, entrepreneurs, young people, everyone who is important in our local community. Let’s talk about everything we can do, let’s congregate, let’s work.

 7. And finally, show us a little of your Hvar. Your favourite three places, and why?

It is difficult to highlight the most beautiful places in our island. Everything is so beautiful. However, I’ll stick to Hvar, my hometown. It is very inspirational to walk through the cobblestone streets in Groda, Gojava, Glavica and Burak, where every stone has its own history and so many stories to tell. Then, Škoji or Pakleni islands, which are really heaven on earth, especially in autumn and spring. And the last, but not the least, the hills surrounding the Hvar town and ancient wooden paths that connect old villages, beautiful bays, secret places. 

Follow the Žveljarin Facebook page here. 

'Žveljarin' means alarm-clock in Dalmatian and Hvar dialect. The Facebook page Žveljarin is a non-profit, political and social page where my colleague Joško Rosso and I share the news and articles which are, we think, important for our community. We also write articles about local politics, different social and cultural problems and issues. We try to be direct, independent, honest and open-minded. As the alarm-clock wakes up people every morning, we try to write and share articles through which we would like to reach the same goal - to wake up the local community and motivate them to think, to ask about everything and, the most important, to act.

 

 

  1. Local elections are coming in a few months. What are the key issues in the campaign?

At this moment no one has officially announced his or her campaign yet, therefore it is difficult to answer this question properly. Although there are less than 3 months till the next local elections in May, the names of the possible candidates are known only by local rumours. I have to ask how someone can convince people what is the best for our town in less than three months? Still I think the election program will be basically the same for all candidates: how to improve tourism, how to complete different infrastructure projects, such as the new sport centre, public library, retirement home, new cemetery. Maybe I am wrong, but the same projects have risen in every single campaign since the first local elections in 1993... and nothing changed. We are tired of hearing it. We need proper action, irrespective of who the mayor will be.

 

 

  1. Tourism is obviously a key part of life on Hvar. Are you happy with the general direction of tourism on the island, and what improvements would you like to see?

Maybe it would be better to say that this type of tourism on the island is without any direction and strategy. What we have seen over the last few years are the consequences of bad politics and bad decisions, and there is even worse to come if we don't react and stop this. Authentic Mediterranean life has been almost destroyed in Hvar town for the sake of money and we will become the new Venice if something does not change, especially since there is, as in Venice, UNESCO heritage on our island.

 

This paradox is still unknown to many people because now it is much easier to live tourism by chance, to sell everything but the authentic way of life, to grab money and to disrespect this island, this nature, this sea. The price is very high. We will destroy ourselves for a bunch of euro, pounds and dollars. It is nonsense. To see the improvements first there should be much more communication and true will to change this situation. It’s fundamental. When we make that happen, we can make improvements, step by step.

 

 

  1. There has been some great energy of local people and their initiatives in recent years - PlatFORma, Pjover, Pokret Otoka to name but three. Can you tell us more about that, and tell out readers a little about their initiatives?

 

As you said, those are really great initiatives. Their goals are to make the cultural and social life on Croatian islands better, to bring new, alternative cultural movements from the mainland, to connect people from all Croatian inhabitated islands, to share examples of good practice, their experience, projects, exhibitions…Croatian islands have been forgotten by the Croatian Goverment for a long, long time, and thanks to these initiatives, let's mention at least one positive thing among so many others, there is a preparation for the new, updated Law about the Croatian islands (Zakon o otocima) which is to make, hopefully, a better life and better chances for approximately 100 000 people who live on the islands.

However, although these initiatives became well known in Croatian media and among the people, I think they should break the strongest and toughest barrier in our country - the ignorance and selfishness of political parties. They are the answer to Croatian politics which is basically the same on the islands. They should present themselves in political way, run for the local elections, make a list for a town councils, present all the good initiatives and their solution for the local problems. I am sure they would be winners and brand new force for the better political, social and cultural life in our local communities.

 

 

  1. What, in your opinion, is the strategic direction which Hvar should aspire to with its tourism? It has so many riches, and so many interested parties with different visions. What is yours?

 

The town of Hvar became very popular 150 years ago among the Europeans (especially from Central Europe: Austria, Hungary, Germany, Czech Republic...) because of its mild climate and beautiful nature. Because of that, Hvar was a very popular winter resort, and it was very similar to contemporary wellness and spa resorts. Europeans, especially wealthy ones, enjoyed the nature and monuments. Maybe it is the time to go back to square one and try to rebuild the modern winter resort. We live in the society where we have to deal with the enormous stress and anxiety and Hvar could be the perfect cure. One could relax here, go hiking, walking, swimming, sailing, sightseeing, enjoy the fragrances of island wild herbs, picking olives, taste great island wine, feel the authentic life that is, I truly hope so, not lost for good. I am aware that this could be the complete turnover but even this party, party, party tourism cannot last forever. There has to be an alternative.

 

 

  1. Can Hvar really be a 12-month destination, and if yes, what needs to change?

Yes, Hvar can really be a 12-month destination, as it was before, but we have to change our minds first. Most people don’t want to work all year long and there is no will to make some efforts to show the world that Hvar is much more beautiful in autumn, winter and spring. When we manage to change that, first at the political level, then we can make some plans. The great role in making the difference should be even in our four island touristic boards, but all I can see is, and I am sorry to say that, the lack of strategy, planning and projects.

 

 

  1. As local residents, you have seen Hvar change a lot in your lifetime. How was Hvar ten years ago, and how do you think it will be ten years from now?

There were less hostels, apartments and greed ten years ago. One might think that I am against tourism. No, I am completely against this type of tourism and everything that my town became because of it. If we continue like this, Hvar will become a deserted, depressing place, just like those once great resorts in Spain or Greece. It will become just an empty shell and it will be us who will destroy the pearl. But I don’t want to be pessimistic, even if I have a lot of good reasons. Let’s be realistic: it is the time to make the positive change once for good. The mayor, town council, restaurant owners, entrepreneurs, young people, everyone who is important in our local community. Let’s talk about everything we can do, let’s congregate, let’s work.

 

 

  1. And finally, show us a little of your Hvar. Your favourite three places, and why?

It is difficult to highlight the most beautiful places in our island. Everything is so beautiful. However, I’ll stick to Hvar, my hometown. It is very inspirational to walk through the cobblestone streets in Groda, Gojava, Glavica and Burak, where every stone has its own history and so many stories to tell. Then, Škoji or Pakleni islands, which are really heaven on earth, especially in autumn and spring. And the last, but not the least, the hills surrounding the Hvar town and ancient wooden paths that connect old villages, beautiful bays, secret places. 

Hvar Travel App

Hvar Travel Mobile App

Hvar on Twitter

Hvar Map

hvar map