Thursday, 4 August 2022

Zagreb's Backo Mini Express Museum Threatened with Closure

August the 4th, 2022 - The City of Zagreb's Backo mini express became a museum for little trains back in 2019, and it is now being threatened with closure. 

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Mladen Miletic writes, Zagreb's Backo mini express turned little train museum attracted global interest thanks to its "setting" of 150 trains and their compositions per 1,500 rails in a mere 350 square metres of exhibit space, and in addition to Croatian and foreign tourists, the museum was also visited journalistic teams from China, Japan, Korea, Australia, and elsewhere.

During his visit to Zagreb, world-renowned Danish conductor Michael Schønwandt also visited the location in the very heart of Zagreb (Gunduliceva). But the global coronavirus pandemic and the tragic Zagreb earthquakes of 2020 saw the trend of many visits turned very much on its head.

“Over the last five years, we've been able to get around one hundred guests a day, and today we're record these figures on a monthly basis. In five years of existence, we haven't experienced such a bad summer. There are almost no Croatian guests visiting anymore, and foreign ones have become very rare.

The issue being faced by the Backo mini express train museum is also exacerbated heavily by the ongoing renovation of buildings in the heart of the city following March 2020's devastating earthquake, meaning that everything has been regularly being covered in dust, there has been construction work, there has been scaffolding,'' explained Antun Urbic Backo.

As the number of visitors continues to fall day by day, and Zagreb's tourist traffic is nowhere near at the level it was before the global coronavirus pandemic emerged, the future of the Backo mini express train museum in the very heart of the Croatian capital is being called into question, with the threat of closure continually hanging over their heads.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Thursday, 4 August 2022

Zagreb's Garden Brewery Expands its Offer with Burgers and More

August the 4th, 2022 - Zagreb's well-known Garden Brewery has expanded its horizons, settling not just on the production of beer, but also on burgers.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, the opening of a new larger brewery and catering facility at the Zitnjak location and the return of festival events in Tisno will mark the business of Zagreb's Garden Brewery for the year 2022, which continues to grow in all business segments, and the biggest growth of all is still being recorded by their burger sales.

During the first half of the year, the Garden Brewery generated total consolidated business revenues of 57.3 million kuna with EBITDA of 6.5 million kuna.

The second quarter marked the start of the brewery working at a new location with significantly expanded production capacities. As is well known, the group consists of The Bird (the brewery), Yellow Submarine (their burgers) and Lula (the festival business).

According to the semi-annual group report, the Garden Brewery's business results from the second quarter, and the particularly strong realisation of retail locations for the brewery, have secured the growth of operational business revenues.

In the segment of sales, craft beer sales grew by 7 percent, to 11.7 million kuna, while the yellow submarine segment with a revenue of almost 43 million kuna experienced growth of 41 percent.

“Yellow Submarine continued to implement all strategic plans during the second quarter, primarily in terms of preparing and opening new business locations. A new location in Split has been opened and new locations are being prepared for opening in Zagreb, and we'll continue with that pace over the second part of the year,'' they revealed in their report.

With the opening of the new outlet, the only decline was experienced by the Garden Brewery's online business, which is a logical outcome. During the first half of this year, they earned 20.7 million kuna through the online segment of their overall business, which is a mere 36 percent of the sales revenue generated back during the first half of the 2021.

The group emphasised the challenges of strong inflationary pressures and the growth of production inputs in all segments of the group's business, beer production, original craft burgers and the production of music festivals.

For more, make sure to check out Made in Croatia.

Thursday, 4 August 2022

Zagreb Startup Brombul Expands its Zuluhood Home Security App Offer

August the 4th, 2022 - The Zagreb startup Brombul is expanding the services offered by its Zuluhood application (app), which has been hailed as the ''Uber of home security''.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, smart homes make it possible to protect the house or apartment itself, the things in it, as well as household members from unwanted accidents or burglaries, so people are busy investing more and more in them.

Research says that at the end of 2020, there were 51.4 million "smart" homes across Europe, and it is predicted that there will be more than 100 million by the end of 2024. On that note, the Croatian "Uber for home security" was born, as was the Zuluhood app, which was developed back in 2019 by the Zagreb startup Brombul.

Now their protection has been strengthened through cooperation with the company AKD Zastita (Protection), which provides its users with physical security guards as and when they're needed. As was explained by this company, headed by the founder and executive director Maja Krejci, it is a platform that is constantly upgraded and provides users with the services they need at that moment in time.

Additional protection

"Zuluhood - the first Croatian mobile platform for home security - now offers the services of the security company AKD Zastita on request. In other words, the principle is similar to that of Uber: through the free application you can order one of Zuluhood's services exactly when you need it," Krejci explained.

Security guards are available 24 hours a day, so their presence can be requested at any time of the day or night through the Zagreb startup Brombil's Zuluhood mobile app. A home inspection means a regular visit to the home and to household members by professional security guards who will inform their clients about the conditions they found there.

In addition to receiving information about whether or not everything is in order at home, the physical presence of a security guard also serves as additional protection because it sends a clear message that the home is properly guarded. For the first time, the alarm forwarding service for smart home systems, such as D-Link or Arlo camera and Google Home and Amazon Alexa, has also been fully enabled.

The service has also now been made available on request and for shorter periods, such as during weekend trips or holidays. The user doesn't have to be physically available - all alarms are automatically forwarded to the monitoring centre, which then dispatches security guards if necessary.

As they pointed out from the Zagreb startup Brombul, cooperation with AKD enables users, regardless of whether they need this service for just a few hours or a few days, to easily order home security services through the application. Ultimately, the Safe socialising service means that when organizing a larger gathering, celebration or wedding, users can simply reach out to a security guard who will make sure that everything goes smoothly.

"The aforementioned services are currently provided by AKD Zastita, but soon users will be able to choose between several security companies. On top of that, new services are being prepared, such as care for the elderly," stated Krejci. The Zagreb startup Brombil's Zuluhood app, he added, enables everyone to distinguish between what is urgent and not. Users can rely on the quick response of a security company available at any time of the day or night, but also on the help of friends or neighbours who will also be notified through Zuluhood in emergency situations.

"Our goal is to enable users to connect various smart home systems to the Zuluhood app. The reactions we've had have all been very positive so far, it's great to hear when they tell us 'I needed something just like that' or when they compare us to the likes of Uber for home security.

For more, make sure to check out Made in Croatia.

Is Split Tourism 'Strategy' Killing the Goose with the Golden Eggs?

August 4, 2022 - It has all the ingredients to become one of the top destinations on the Adriatic, but is the lack of a Split tourism strategy killing the goose that lays the golden eggs? 

And on the Seventh Day, God created Dalmatia. 

It really is one of the finest places on the planet.

Some time later, a retiring Roman Emperor decided to embrace the fjaka lifestyle in his declining years and built a retirement home. Diocletian's Palace became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the finest attractions on the Adriatic Coast. 

And slowly, over the centuries, a magnificent city started to emerge around Diocletian's final home, which was constructed over 1700 years ago.

Fast-forward to the 21st century, and Split had all the ingredients to be a world-class tourist destination.  Just consider. 

Diocletian's Palace and the magnificent riva as centre stage; the majesty of Marjan, the lungs of Split, for greenery and escape into nature (where else can you rock climb past ancient churches carved into the rock just outside the city centre); a vibrant arts and culture scene with museums galore, including world champion exhibits, such as the celebrated sculptor Ivan Mestrovic museum; island hopping heaven to Hvar, Brac, Solta, Vis; a diverse gastro scene including the gateway to Croatia's 130 indigenous wine varieties (the original Zinfandal comes from right next to Split Airport, a modern airport connecting to 100 destinations in the season); the de facto digital nomad capital of Croatia with a vibrant remote work community.

I could go on. Split is a destination which has EVERYTHING. Both God and Diocletian chose well.

So how, in 2022, did we come to this?

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(Screenshot of most-read articles on Dalmacija Danas portal)

One tourist urinated on a homeless man, another filmed. Then a man from Split saw it.

How I stopped an idiot urinating on a homeless person while his friend was filming.

SHOCKING SCENES IN SPLIT They had sex in the middle of the street in the center of the city, the people of Split were horrified.

Two girls relaxing in the center of Split, people comment en masse: "They think they are in Bačvice."

2022 was the year I stopped focusing on Croatian tourism. There is only so much you can say about the country's one-dimensional strategy of sun, sea, and numbers, numbers, numbers. Besides, there is nothing really new to write about Croatian tourism after 10 years, and the Croatia away from tourism is WAY more interesting, fun and positive - Enjoying a Croatian Summer with No Tourism or Coast: Bliss!

But the inbox will not let me be, and I have had a steady stream (increasing a LOT in the last week) from locals, expats and tourists, all writing about one topic, and one topic alone. Could I research and write an article?

The decline of quality in tourism in Split. 

Numbers, numbers, numbers. While the Kingdom of Accidental Tourism talks about the importance of sustainable tourism, it all comes back to numbers, numbers, numbers. 

I spend little time in Split these days, but it is a city I know quite well, having started the Total Split portal back in 2012 and co-written the first modern guidebook for city back in 2013 with Mila Hvilshoj - Split, An Insider's Guide.  There has been an uncontrolled explosion of tourism in that decade, but the profile of tourism has also changed. As has the tourism offer.

I was quite shocked to see the rise in pub crawls around the Roman Emperor's final resting place. The once majestic and upmarket Marmontovaarea has been transformed into a drinking, urinating and vomiting hot spot, with one big club just off it, a huge one about to open on Marmontova itself, fast food and booze shops now dominating the shops where more exclusive shopping used to roam. 

I have been sent videos of a couple openly having sex in a club, as well as THAT 6-minute video on the streets of the palace, of a couple pleasuring each other, she by performing oral sex, he manually to the girl naked from the waist down. In public and in broad daylight.

This is the first in a series of articles on the issue, and this one will be 95% in the words of those directly involved. This includes voices from my inbox, Split tourism expert, Mario Seric, Director of the Split Tourist Board, Alijana Vuksic, and the Mayor of Split, Ivica Puljak.

The aim of this article is to highlight the issues and to show the decision-makers that change is possible. The situation might look terrible, but actually some firm and decision action now can get Split back on track relatively easily.

Voices from the inbox and Facebook groups.

From what we see around,  the groups of 20 yr olds that came to party and are disrespecting the town (loud, leaving trash everywhere, drunk, throwing beers on the floor, leaving glasses on windows during the night) are heavily replacing our pre-pandemic type of tourists over 30 with middle to high income that were coming to relax and enjoy Split. The lack of attitude from the City is what brought us here, we have rules but nobody to enforce them, I doubt inspectors fined even ONE tourist walking around almost naked in the old town or for drinking in public. We rarely see local police patroling at night...we are truly genuinely worried that we need to pack up and move somewhere else entirely or find a business model that caters to 20 yr olds, because I do not see this getting better with literally no action from the authorities, and although I read the deputy mayor saying we do not need more tourists, we need better quality ones, so far it is just an empty statement and if no signal is being sent NOW, the next season will be even worse. We had better sales in June than we do in July (makes sense, youngsters were still in school and did not yet fill our town to full capacity). We had worse sales days in July this year than in 2021 and about 50% less than in 2019.

The change in and around Marmontova is terrible. You have 305 club on Trogirska. Total nightmare already. Many articles written already about youngsters peeing and pooing and vomiting around. From 9 pm all we see around us are youngsters some already intoxicated. And the huge space that was the Bershka shop on Marmontova is being transformed into the biggest club in the old town. I am afraid the new Marmontova club will be the straw that broke the camel's back. Marmontova itself that was a classy charming street with higher-end or at least ok quality shops, is now full of fast food and booze shops.

Meanwhile more bars are catering/encouraging drunkenness, 1L "Cocktail Buckets" and ` Happy Hours`. Hostel owners bemoan the drunken idiotic behavior of their guests.

I have been living in Split since May 2021 and came for a visit in fall 2020.  So all to say I don’t know what tourism looked like pre-pandemic.  I truly love it here but July and August put that in question particularly this year.  Though I love the city coming to life, I question the type of tourism that Split is going for as I see rather high numbers of tourists still drinking at 5 am from the night before on the streets.  The lack of respect and clothing in the old city.  And the amount of trash.  Luckily Split has some of the most amazing cleaning crews and by 8…. But this morning, was a whole other level of disgust.  Besides the 50+ people from the night before… I was approached and almost sought out (as I was trying hard to steer away from the tourists out) while out with my dog.  This person then proceeded to pull out 200 Kuna and asked me for a sexual favor.  I was horrified and livid.  Feeling almost assaulted at 6 am.  There is no good time to enjoy Split right now and it’s sad.  I am happy I am here, but the tourists and the direction Split is going give me pause as I look to applying for a second digital nomad permit.

The downtown had a soul but it's dead or dying. Many things changed and mostly in a bad way. We're more like a big hotel than a town. I used to bring my kids for a walk, at least once a week. Now maybe once a month or even less.

As an expat, I don’t find it attractive in summer. We came to Split in winter and not for holidays but to make it home for a year (at least) but it’s incredible how it changes in summer. Suddenly everything is more expensive, restaurants don’t take cards anymore, only cash, noisy and busy as hell, can’t help but feeling like a walking wallet… If I could choose again I don’t think I’ll pick Split.

It's a complex problem. As a home-owner / expat / part-time resident I run away for summer while still wishing I could enjoy the city all year.

The profile of tourists changed as well. Split was always just a day or two transit hub for island hopping, serving all kinds of tourists. The ferry, train and bus station are all next to each other for that reason. Meanwhile, it became a festival spot and tourists are frequently T-shirtless, drunk, puking and pissing around youngsters (bcs they don't understand the Palace is a 1900 y/o monument to respect).

Oh, and another thing we hate this year...because of the dispute on who should charge for the yachts parking on west riva, all spring and summer nobody has been charged for parking there and nobody could use water or electricity. That meant no big yachts came, west riva became the wild wild west with all the local charter boats parking as they pleased....and west riva used to be a beautiful place for superyacht watching

The most interesting (and concerning) part of Split&tourism is how the city center lost its famous and vibrant lifestyle and became a ghost town out of the season (locals also avoid approaching the palace area in the season). It would be a great case study of what tourism should not bring.

And my favourite - ah, Hrvatska...

The reason why “communal officers” can’t charge fines for pissing and other things is that foreigners don’t have a Croatian OIB (personal ID number). Their system can’t recognize the payment. So that’s why they call the police. Then the whole procedure until they take them in front of the judge, if there’s a reason to do that, and only there can they pay the fine.

I asked a friend to list some specific incidents.

Guy wanting to pee on a homeless man.

Guy peeing in the fountain.

Girl pooing in the street vase.

Girl peeing on the street.

Girl giving blowjob on the street.

Couple having sex at Matejuska.

Guy peeing on the street (these must be a normal occurrence, a couple of metres from us where there is a dark spot that smells like a urinal...also last night, I had a Canadian couple tell me they were appalled to see a guy peeing on a monument). I personally saw a very drunk young man touching women's breasts on Marmontova...him and all his friends laughing. 

How did we get here from where we were, a stunning cultural destination, with a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Roman Emperor's retirement home at its core?

Rather than give my own thoughts, I turned to a tourism expert who knows the city intimately. Mario Seric is an international tourism expert with a Split address, who has undertaken 169 projects in 16 countries. His knowledge and expertise on Split and destination management were key factors in the launch of the TCN Split Winter Tourism Roundtable initiative earlier this year.  

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(With Mario Seric earlier this year for the initial planning of the Split Winter Tourism Roundtable)

The situation we have now is the consequence of five factors: no professional destination marķeting, almost no destinaton management, an abundance of relatively affordable apartments and rooms to rent, an abundance of liquor stores (working longer than the bars), imbecile behavior of generation Z as compared to other generations when they were their age.

Split is one of the cities that do not have any professionally done strategic document for tourism, be it a strategic development plan, strategic investment plan, strategic management plan or strategic marketing plan, nor any operational plans that should follow previously defined strategies.

Some documents are done but with limited scope, poor quality, and by persons without the required know-how to do them. The current tourism situation of Split is the result of a lack of the above-mentioned documents and responsibilities to perform the tasks stemming from them.

In conclusion, nobody has ever done anything serious, nor were there people responsible for any kind of execution.

The areas of development and investments (preparation of investments) should primarily be the responsibility of the city government while the areas of management and marketing the responsibility of the tourist board... with strong cooperation between the two and some more parties involved.

No mayor has done anything related to the development and investments, and even if he wanted to, he was soon out of office (constantly changing mayors). The tourist board has been doing more or less standard activities inherited from the 1990s with some modifications, yet tourism has been exploding, but not due to their efforts.

So how is that? It is quite simple. The 2000s were marked by the following factors on the European market: low-cost airlines, interest in visiting city seaside destinations, and interest in discovering Croatia by visiting several destinations relatively quickly. So, in addition to Dubrovnik and Hvar, Split was the one that was filling this hole: it is on the sea, it had some heritage, and it had its airport. So it was a logical choice, and that this how this "golden triangle" was formed (Dubrovnik - Hvar - Split).

More or less the same airlines were flying to both Dubrovnik and Split, thus allowing customers to organize their trips easily; three destinations were a great choice for 5 / 7 / 10 days, usually including Mostar / Krka / Plitvice... And it all started exploding, first with European markets and then with overseas markets. This was Croatia's playcard for the world... Zagreb later benefitted from this as well.. all the same as already experienced in other Mediterranean countries.

And then local entrepreneurs started understanding what was going on and started investing in boutique hotels, hostels, restaurants... this trend then spread to rooms, apartments, clubs... big events started, and the market principles of supply and demand were in overdrive.

And all these with only two big hotels in place (Le Meridien and Radisson)

So there was a tourism explosion without strategic documents and without a critical mass of big hotels. It is actually an interesting phenomenon, but the lack of strategies and hotels have led us to where we are now. More than 80% of beds are in relatively affordable rooms and apartments, while less than 20% in relatively expensive hotels and similar establishments. And that is why we have two very different markets creating a bipolar destination... those who want to have cheap accommodation and eat cheap (fast foods, buying in markets over restaurants) and those who stay in hotels and eat in relatively expensive restaurants.

And the first market segment is dominating the market, especially in July and August when, of course, young people can travel.

And naturally they choose Split... regardless of the music prohibition after 11pm (since 2019) and regardless of the early closing of the bars (since recently), which is actually amazing... Not to mention that these prohibitions do not make any sense... as evidenced by the fact that now we have even more young people creating chaos despite the prohibitions. If they by any chance prohibit alcohol consumption in bars (which will never happen of course) I think we will have even more young tourists as they always find ways to get drunk. Anyway, the youth are not the problem... they are the way they are, but the question is why Split has allowed itself to come to this situation, especially with the cultural heritage that it has.

Ultra Europe is a great event, and it is not the one responsible for this. Ultra contributes a really tiny percentage of guest nights, and it has loyal followers, but is just one of numerous big party organizers.

You have the same parties elsewhere in Europe as well, but they do not necessarily position a certain destination in one direction.

And a few more things I would like to add which I think are important.

Similar things are also happening in other cities in the Mediterranean, even though not to this extent, but with the same market (young people, which is generation Z, i.e. those born after 1996, drinking heavily, behaving without any manners, so some things are actually even generation specific).

Second, here in Croatia, you can easily categorize apartments in residential buildings for tourism purposes, which, for example, in Spain is legally not possible!!! So for example, in Croatia, if we want, we can legally convert the whole of Split into a holiday resort, which, in my opinion is insane.

Give me 5 quick wins for Split tourism.

Quick win 1. Get involved in the 2023 Split Tourist Board budget to clean it up as much as possible.

Quick win 2. Get the financing for airlines for Spring 2023 and November 2023 (at least one airline for 2 or 3 destinations with minimum 3 to 5 flights weekly for each).

Quick win 3. Get the financing for global events for Spring and November (at least one for now).

Quick win 4. Embrace the advice of expats and digital nomads on what should be done.

Quick win 5. Announce the preparation of big investments (for new tourism offerings) and strict yet just regulations (for managing the destination, from stimulating the entrepreneurs, setting up the max number of tourist beds in the city, etc.).

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I emailed the Split Tourist Board with some questions on the subject.

Dear TZ Split team, 

TCN has received dozens of complaints, mostly from residents of Split, about the decline in quality of tourism in the city, particularly in peak season. 

We are currently researching for an article which we plan to publish on Wednesday called 

Is Split Tourism 'Strategy' Killing the Goose that Lays the Golden Eggs?

Rather than publish it without your knowledge, I would prefer to get your input. I have the following requests/questions - if you could please send by Tuesday evening, so that I can include? 

1. Could you please send the breakdown of beds by year from 2010 - 2022 for private accomm, hotels and hostels, similar to the one attached that you kindly sent me a few years ago?

2. Could you please define what is the strategy of Split tourism in a sentence/paragraph?

3. How would you describe the season so far? Are you happy with the results?

4. Residents are telling us that there has been an explosion of party tourism, with lots more drunkenness, pub crawls through the palace. Is this something that you have noticed?

5. Several residents and expats have told us that they have to leave the city this peak season (unlike previous ones) as it has become unbearable. What message do you have for them?

6. Locals also tell us that they rarely go to the palace these days, as it has become a tourism zoo in the season, and a ghost town out of season, with little local life. Have you noticed anything similar, and what strategies do you have to reinvigorate local life?

7. Marmonotova used to be a prestigious address in the city, and now it is slowly being turned into a bar and club area, with the accompanying debauched behaviour. Do you support this new direction?

8. Recently, new signs have appeared around the centre, see attached - urging people, among other things, not to urinate in the street. Why is this necessary? Surely the type of tourists you are targeting know how to behave and not to urinate in the street?

9. The same signs talk about proper dress and no drinking alcohol in public, or there will be fines. There are many cases of inappropriate dress and people drinking in public. How much are the fines, and how many people have been fined so far?

I will publish your answers in full and would be happy to include a statement from the Split Tourist Board director.

I look forward to your response.

Kind regards,

Paul Bradbury

The Split Tourist Board was kind enough to respond within the deadline. The response in full:

Dear Paul,

thank you for your queries. Attached you can find the requested data, and below in this message are answers to your questions, by Tourist Board director Alijana Vukšić.

Regarding your claim that the number of beds dropped from 2010 to 2022, the data that we sent you before shows the annual rise in the number of beds before 2020. In 2020, due to insecurity caused by the pandemic some rentals were cancelled.

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(How accommodation units have increased in Split from 2010 to 2022 - the rise of hotel beds, already under representative for a balanced destination, has not kept pace with the explosion in private accommodation. Read more in How Croatia's Tourism 'Strategy' Created Tax-Free Paradise for Private Renters).

All accommodations and permits have to be approved by the County Tourism office. We can say that number of beds declined during the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year brought a large number of newly registered accommodations.

As you know, most of the questions you asked are the responsibility of the City of Split, and its departments, and not of the Tourist Board. We in the Tourist Board neither have legal possibilities, nor authority to make a difference with the issues you mentioned. However, as an important part of the tourism market, we will use all our knowledge to meet those problems and to assist in regulating the local situation for the benefit of the citizens of Split, and to the satisfaction of our guests.

Tourism brings negative impacts, and many famed destinations in Europe and the world have that experience. We are all aware of it, especially with the fact that with returning to pre-pandemic numbers we have to deal with increased problems of public order violations.

There is a global trend of mass travel among young adults (18 to 24 years of age). However, they are just one of the segments of the tourism market, mostly members of Generation Z who grow up in times of big global changes. They have their patterns of behaviour which don't include the violation of public order. On the other hand, there are always individuals who can create a false image of young tourists. This age group is only one of the guest populations in Split, but they are important visitors who are extremely satisfied with Split, and who will probably return to Split with their families.

During this week, the City of Split will have several meetings with all relevant players about the issue of public order violations in Split. Every single service or organization will have to undertake their share of activities to find a solution for the problem. We hope that the City will bring its Public order rules as soon as possible, to make sanctions against offenders possible.

Regarding this year's season, the satisfaction of our visitors and Split citizens is way more important than the number of arrivals and bed nights. That includes both those who are pleased with the season, as well as those who express dissatisfaction.

Nevertheless, here are some numbers. Split recorded 1.4 million bed nights this year. That is 93 per cent of bed nights in 2019 as the record year.

Since you write an investigative piece, it would be good if you include the City's institutions. We all live off tourism, and everyone intends to make it sustainable and responsible and blended into a local community.

All institutions in charge are aware of those problems, and we all work together to decrease the negative side effects of tourism, and emphasize those positive ones. It's our goal to direct all activities in one direction, to create Split as a desirable host to its citizens and visitors, 365 days a year.

Our many activities are directed toward sustainable tourism. This is why we emphasise support and development of events and tourism products dislocated from the historical centre. Further, we continue to encourage and launch events taking place in different seasons. For example, this autumn we will promote Split gastronomy with several activities.

All our marketing activities are also directed toward sustainability. A good example is our Respect & Enjoy campaign, but we also prepare a campaign that will promote a closer connection between tourists and Split as their destination. That includes learning about the traditional habits of the local population, and the rise of awareness that they visited a city with exquisite cultural, historical and natural beauty.

We think that only the cooperation of all local shareholders, led by the City and its departments will bring "better tourism", responsible for the local population, and the rich natural and cultural heritage of Split.

In the end, you commented that "Surely the type of tourists you are targeting know how to behave and not urinate in the street?“. We take that remark as benevolent since we believe that you should realize that nobody has "urinating tourists" as a target.

Best regards,

TZ Split team

Not all my questions were answered.

Dear TZ Team, 

Many thanks for your response, appreciated, I know how busy you are in the season. Your answers, while comprehensive, do not answer some of my questions. Perhaps I was not clear enough. Some comments on the unanswered questions to maybe help below:

1. Could you please send the breakdown of beds by year from 2010 - 2022 for private accomm, hotels and hostels, similar to the one attached that you kindly sent me a few years ago? ALL I AM LOOKING FOR IS THE SAME SPREADSHEET OF DATA YOU SENT LAST TIME, BUT UPDATED TO 2022 (OR 2021 IF YOU DONT HAVE THIS YEAR). I WILL DO MY OWN ANALYSIS.

2. Could you please define what is the strategy of Split tourism in a sentence/paragraph? A SIMPLE STANDALONE SENTENCE OR PARAGRAPH PLEASE

7. Marmonotova used to be a prestigious address in the city, and now it is slowly being turned into a bar and club area, with the accompanying debauched behaviour. Do you support this new direction? IS IT PART OF YOUR STRATEGY TO HAVE NIGHTCLUBS IN AND AROUND MARMONTOVA? DO YOU SUPPORT THIS CHANGE?

9. The same signs talk about proper dress and no drinking alcohol in public, or there will be fines. There are many cases of inappropriate dress and people drinking in public. How much are the fines, and how many people have been fined so far?

VERY SIMPLE QUESTIONS

1. HOW MUCH ARE THE FINES?

2. HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE BEEN FINED SO FAR?

3. IS THE LEGISLATION ACTUALLY IN PLACE TO IMPOSE FINES?

Thanks for your anticipated quick response. If you were able at least to send the spreadsheet in Question 1 this evening, it would allow me time to analyse. And if you could get the answers to the rest by midday tomorrow, that would be very helpful. 

Cheers Paul 

And a very typical response, which says nothing, apart from sending the data. Would it have been too much to expect a tourism board to be able to say what its tourism strategy was in a sentence?

Dear Paul,

Thank you for your queries.

1.      Attached you can find the requested data.

2.      The values of the further development of tourism in the city of Split are defined by the Strategic Marketing Plan - which includes year-round tourism, a significant multiplier effect and responsibility towards heritage – as well as total resources and the local population.

Other issues are the responsibility of the administration of the City of Split, so please contact them directly.

Best regards,

I reached out to the Mayor of Split, Ivica Puljak.

Reelected a few weeks ago with a much stronger showing in the town council after calling a snap election earlier this year, Mayor Ivica Puljak, an eminent scientist, is new to the political scene, and tourism is not his strongest area of expertise. Having said that, he has shown his willingness to engage in the issues, and to take action. I have personal experience of this, due to his enthusiastic support and engagement in the ongoing TCN Split Winter Tourism initiative, which is moving forward steadily.

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(TCN Split Winter Tourism Roundtable: State Secretary for Tourism, Tonci Glavina, Former Central Dalmatia Tourist Board Director Josko Stella, Split Tourist Board Director Alijana Vuksic, and Mayor of Split Ivica Puljak) 

In the last ten years, Split has experienced a large increase in the number of tourists. From a transit city, it became a tourist destination. Today, a large number of citizens of Split live from tourism, which has become an important part of our economy and everyday life. Such a sudden increase in tourism brought with it many challenges, from overstretched infrastructure to problems with maintaining public order and peace. I think that Split is now entering a new phase, in which tourism should be seen as an opportunity for further development, connect it with the modern economy and use its full potential. Therefore, it is necessary to make a comprehensive tourism development strategy and harmonize it with the city development strategy. It is a very important process, which will define the future of the city in the long term.

This year, a special challenge is the fact that the structure of the guests is dominated by young people who want to have fun. Part of the tourist offer, which developed somewhat spontaneously, includes the widely and easily available consumption of alcohol, which produces frequent violations of public order and peace. Due to inherited rules and procedures, which do not foresee punishments for many forms of indecent behavior, the introduction of public order and peace is difficult. Therefore, we have prepared short-term and long-term measures to improve the situation in tourism.

Short-term measures include increased controls of the most frequented locations, along with synchronized actions of city, county and state authorities, police and inspectorates, as well as increased cleaning and beautification of the city.

Long-term measures are based on creating a tourism development strategy, changing the structure of guests, making a new decision on communal order, which will incorporate all the observed shortcomings and take over the best practices of cities that have encountered similar problems, then increasing the number and scope of operations of the order services, the inspectorate and the police, limiting and demotivating the sale and consumption of alcohol, up to incentive measures for the development of cultural, scientific, health, sports and congress tourism.

In the end, our view of tourism and its role in the development of the city is positive. Tourism can be an engine for the development of a modern economy, and as an instrument for the modernization of society and integration into world social and economic trends. On the other hand, in the development of the city, we will always put the interests of the citizens of Split first. When a city is good for its citizens, it will also be good for its guests.

Encouraging words. Let's hope they will soon be backed up with actions. 

Rather than add my own thoughts to all this (which had been the original intention), I will stop here, as you don't need me to interpret the direct words of some of the major stakeholders.

But TCN will be exploring this topic in more detail, and we are reaching out to other key stakeholders for their points of view. I am very grateful to the founder of Ultra Europe, Joe Basic, for agreeing to an interview on this topic and the Ultra factor, as well as Zoran Pejovic, a renowned, Split-based luxury tourism consultant, whose many achievements include introducing the first wine par, Paradox Wine and Cheese Bar, to Split a decade ago (when Split was a different city), as well as delivering the excellent 5-star Maslina Resort on Hvar.

If you have some expertise to contribute to the debate, please contact me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Subject Split Tourism.

Discussions like these are always painful, but often necessary.  I am confident that with the right approach, we can fix a lot of these problems relatively quickly and get Split back to being the world-class destination that it fundamentally is.  

ULTRA Europe Festival founder Joe Basic was kind enough to give me an interview on the subject, and he had some GREAT analysis and suggestions. ULTRA Europe Festival's Joe Basic Talks Split Tourism .

****

What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

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20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years: the Insider Guide to Surviving Croatia will be out by Christmas. If you would like to reserve a copy, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject 20 Years Book

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Anti-War protest: Crimes in Storm Operation are Responsibility of Us All

ZAGREB, 3 August, 2022 - Several NGOs held a half-hour anti-war protest in Ban Jelačić Square in downtown Zagreb on Wednesday to commemorate people killed and expelled during and in the aftermath of the 1995 Operation Storm, stressing that the crimes committed are the responsibility of the state and should be prosecuted.

Participating in the rally were representatives of the Centre for Women Victims of War - ROSA, the Centre for Civil Courage, the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, the Association for Social Research and Communications from Sarajevo, and the Women's Network of Croatia, who expressed solidarity with all victims of war and war crimes.

"We cannot understand the irresponsible behaviour of Croatian politicians when it comes to dealing with the past. The current political leadership in Croatia does not show sincerity, humility and respect for the victims of crimes, for the people who were killed," said Nela Pamuković of the Centre for Women Victims of War.

Until Croatia faces the war crimes committed in Operation Storm, it has no right to point the finger at others, the protesters said.

According to the protesting NGOs, during and in the aftermath of Operation Storm more than 600 civilians are estimated to have been killed and more than 22,000 houses were burned, while about 150,000 Croatian citizens fled the country and their return was systematically discouraged and prevented for years.

No peaceful future without acknowledging past mistakes

"We oppose the state's denial of the facts and warn that our fellow citizens of Serb ethnicity were killed, their property was looted and destroyed, their family members were expelled, and their return was de facto prevented for decades," said Pamuković.

There are no prospects for a peaceful future in a society that is based on not acknowledging its mistakes from the past. Protests and incidents show that our society is still divided, she added.

During the half-hour protest some passers-by protested against the activists, some took pictures of their banners and talked to the activists, some expressed their displeasure and displayed counter-banners, and cursed the activists, calling them a "Chetnik gang."

Ana Gvozdić of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights believes that the fact that many people are against their protest shows how poorly the public is aware of the crimes committed against civilians, and that this is the problem they have been warning about, demanding that state institutions enable the right to truth and justice for the victims and for society.

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Delegation from the American Embassy Visit AC Hotel by Marriott Split

August 3,  2022 - The American Embassy pays a visit to Croatia's tallest building, in Split. 

A tour of the facility, a tour of the interior and getting to know the employees of AC Hotel Split were the reasons why Marko Fleming, chargé d'affaires of the US Embassy in the Republic of Croatia, visited Split's Dalmatia Tower.

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The delegation of the American Embassy visited the 135-meter high tower last summer and expressed their satisfaction with what they saw, considering that most of the rooms are nearing completion. They expressed their belief that AC Hotel Split will be an excellent product thanks primarily to the unique view of Split, design and Marriott standards, as well as their interest in future joint collaborations.

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In addition to Chargé d'affaires Marko L. Fleming, the second secretary, Rob Crotty, political specialist Kruno Badel and Duška Lastrić - Đurić from the US Embassy were on the tour of the facility.

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Let's also add that more than 200 associates are currently working on decorating and furnishing the interior of the hotel according to the high standards of the AC Hotel by Marriott brand, which will have 214 accommodation units, i.e., 210 rooms and four suites.

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Two Men Reported, Placed in Custody for Threatening HRT Reporter

ZAGREB, 3 August, 2022 - A 44-year-old Croatian national and a 56-year-old Slovenian national have been reported and placed in custody for threatening HRT reporter Maja Sever and judge Sandra Artuković, the Šibenik-Knin County Police Department said on Wednesday.

The incident happened on 1 August on the island of Tijat, where Sever and Artuković, a former deputy justice minister, went to check if the Spirito restaurant, recently closed by the state inspectorate because it did not meet the minimum technical requirements, was open.

According to witnesses, the two women were attacked by the restaurant's owner, who seized their cell phone and threw it away.

The police said the two suspects repeatedly lunged with their boat at the boat with the two women and threatened them, with one of them taking Sever's cell phone. The phone was returned to the reporter later the same day, police said.

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Southern Croatia Could be Faced with Shortage of Drinking Water

ZAGREB, 3 August, 2022 - Karst waters in southern Croatia depend on precipitation more than other waters, and if the lack of rainfall continues, a shortage of drinking water could become a problem there as well because water consumption has increased due to the tourist season.

Croatia has had high temperatures for some time now, and in late July they rose as high as 39 degrees Celsius, but the current water levels in rivers are significantly affected by the lack of precipitation in recent months, the Croatian Meteorological and Hydrological Service (DHMZ) said on Tuesday.

As a result, the availability of water could become a problem further south along the coast, which is what has already happened in Istria. Karst waters are particularly important for water supply, especially in areas where water resources are in short supply.

Although river water levels in Croatia are lower than usual, they have not yet exceeded the absolute minimums, but the stagnation of river water levels is expected to continue in the days to come.

Istria County introduced water restrictions on 18 July banning watering public and private green areas, the use of showers on beaches, car washing, and washing streets and squares, except farmers' and fish markets.

County Prefect Boris Miletić confirmed on Tuesday that the measures will remain in force for at least another week.

Danube and Drava rivers less dependent on precipitation

Apart from the rivers in the Adriatic basin, rivers of the Black Sea basin flow through Croatia as well, and the situation there is somewhat better. The Danube and Drava, which are part of the Black Sea basin and whose sources are outside Croatia, are less dependent on local rainfall and reflect the hydrological situation of their basin.

Unlike the Danube and the Drava, the Sava river basin significantly depends also on local precipitation, given that it occupies almost half (43%) of Croatia's territory.

For the time being, it is less likely that any hydrological extremes, that is, minimum river levels, will occur in these basins, the DHMZ said.

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Tourism Minister: Number of Overnight Stays in Jan-July 4% Below Record 2019

ZAGREB, 3 August, 2022 - In the first seven months of 2022, Croatia recorded 10 million tourist arrivals and 56 million overnight stays, 4% fewer overnight stays than in the record-breaking year 2019, Tourism and Sport Minister Nikola Brnjac told Hina on Wednesday ahead of a meeting with representatives of the tourism sector.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and his cabinet ministers are meeting in Zadar on Thursday with representatives of the tourism sector, the heads of the coastal counties, and business executives to discuss the results of the tourist season so far and further plans.

The largest number of overnight stays was recorded in Istria County, followed by Primorje-Gorski Kotar, Split-Dalmatia and Zadar Counties, and the majority of foreign visitors came from Germany, Slovenia, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom, Brnjac said.

According to the data from the Croatian National Bank (HNB), in the first quarter of this year revenues from foreign tourists reached €495 million, an increase of 2% over the same period in the pre-pandemic 2019.

In the year to July 2022, the value of fiscalised receipts was 33% higher than in the first seven months of 2019.

Brnjac said that thanks to the cooperation between the government and the enterprise sector and local government, and the government's job retention and cash flow schemes, Croatia maintained its position as a competitive tourist destination during the pandemic.

She said that tomorrow's meeting would focus on labour-related issues, further steps to speed up the digitisation process, unvalued construction land, and the adoption of decrees to facilitate investment.

Brnjac said that eight 4- and 5-star hotels had been opened this year, adding that it was important to increase investment in this segment.

Also discussed would be increased energy prices and investment in energy efficiency in the tourism sector.

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Defence Minister Won't Attend President Milanović's Reception

ZAGREB, 3 August, 2022 - Defence Minister Mario Banožić clarified on Wednesday that he will not be able to attend a reception organised by President Zoran Milanović on Thursday ahead of the 27th anniversary of Operation Storm because of his scheduled work obligations.

The President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is holding a reception for Homeland War commanders at the Knin Fortress on Thursday on the occasion of Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and Croatian Veterans Day to mark the 27th anniversary of Operation Storm.

Banožić said that two years ago, the Defence Ministry decided to include the President in the event, even though he was a guest until then.

"Then scandals began to happen, some associations got involved and the organising became unacceptable. We provided the necessary support and that's how the event was organised. Decorations will be awarded and thus we will participate in the anniversary on 5 August,'' he said.

President Milanović had earlier invited Minister Banožić, Veterans Affairs Minister Tomo Medved and Interior Minister Davor Božinović to the reception, but they have declined the invitation, according to the media.

After the Jutarnji List daily reported that the President's Office ordered soldiers to first lay out the red carpet at the Knin Fortress, and then to put it away, reporters asked Banožić to comment. "I have said on several occasions that unacceptable things are happening for the Croatian Army. We have never had a situation where soldiers were ordered to do something. The army can help, but it cannot take over organising the event based on orders, as this is a political event,'' said Banožić.

President's Office reacts

In the meantime, the President's Office reacted and denied the allegations in the media that anyone had ordered the red carpet to be laid out.

The President's Office protocol staff went to Knin Fortress today to see how the preparations were going and saw that soldiers were installing panels for the red carpet which were not necessary so the panels were removed.

It is sad, although not surprising, that the Hanza Media company has no respect for Croatian veterans and soldiers, and was not able to cover the biggest national holiday dedicated to Croatian freedom with the least bit of professionalism, the President's Office said.

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