Monday, 8 August 2022

ULTRA Europe Festival's Joe Basic Talks Split Tourism Development

August 9, 2022 - Last week's TCN editorial, Is Split Tourism 'Strategy' Killing the Goose with the Golden Eggs? caused a lot of discussion. Now listen to the viewpoint of one very switched-on stakeholder, ULTRA Europe Festival founder, Joe Basic. 

It takes a lot to succeed in Croatia, especially when you are bringing a new product. And especially when that product is the largest music festival on the Adriatic coast.

Canadian Croat Joe Basic returned to the Homeland over 25 years ago to try his luck in the newly independent Croatia and to do his bit to help shape the country's future. Despite many falls along the way, he has achieved considerable success, the most notable of which is undoubtedly the ULTRA Europe Festival, which will be celebrating its 10-year anniversary next year (9th edition, with a break during the pandemic). 

Unlike the majority of expats living in Croatia, both Joe and I well remember how Split was ten years ago. It was the year I started Total Split, which was the first meaningful portal in English about the city, with many places written about for the first time in English. Back then, Diocletian's Palace was a little bit intimidating, especially off-season, when it became a ghost town with a medium-sized drug problem. 

Split itself was better known not as a tourist destination but as 'the Gateway to the Dalmatian islands.' It was undoubtedly beautiful - with a spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Site and Riva just metres from the ferry - but a far cry from what we see today. Joe, meanwhile, was busy trying to put his country - and particularly Split - on the global map. 

Something that the ULTRA Europe Festival most certainly did. 

And so, for a few days in July, the Dalmatian capital gave way to the ULTRA party, which attracted 75,000 people in the first year, and which has been growing ever since. Nine years later, Split is beyond recognition as a destination, and the current problems with drunkenness, nudity, and anti-social behaviour are the cause of much discussion. Some point the finger of blame at ULTRA, saying that everything went downhill from there. 

I disagree. And for those who have followed me for 10 years, you may recall how against ULTRA Europe I was on my adopted island of Hvar. But for Split, I think ULTRA has been a good thing. It would have been even better if the biggest problem that has arisen had a solution in place - a strategy and operational plan to manage the rapid growth in tourism. Such a thing does not exist, and that is the main cause of Split's current issues. At least in my opinion. 

And the good news is that things are solvable. I have little faith in the current Split Tourist Board, which has been worshipping at the temple of numbers, numbers, numbers for years without coming up with any kind of discernible strategy. But I do have hope in the new mayor, Ivica Puljak, who has recently been returned to power with a much stronger mandate, after calling a snap election to strengthen his position earlier this year. Mayor Puljak's active participation in the TCN Split Winter Tourism Roundtable initiative is evidence of his involvement and positive engagement.

I thought it would be useful for the debate to get the perspective of Joe Basic. As the man who brought the ULTRA Europe Festival to Croatia and Split, he is very well-positioned to comment. He also understands the scene and the Croatian way much better than I do. Additionally, he understands the trends and can clearly see where Split is going wrong - and how to (relatively easily) fix it. I will be tagging Mayor Puljak and the Split Tourist Board when I publish this, in the hope that they will take on board Joe's insights and recommendations.  


A Canadian-Croatian returnee, it was only when I sat down with Joe that I realised what a proud Croat he is, and how much he is working on several fronts for a better Croatia. 

Our conversation took us back a decade, a time when Split was not recognised globally or in Europe as a travel destination.  Back then, Split was seen as the biggest Croatian city on the Adriatic coast, a city known for its sports teams Hajduk, Jugoplastika, and the home town of athletes Goran Ivanisević and Blanka Vlasić.  A city people only visited on their way to other destinations such as Hvar, Bol or other Dalmatian islands connected by ferry in Split.  When the ULTRA Europe Festival was presented as an event to be organised In Split, many locals commented that they could not see how this event could be organised here, and that there were many other locations more attractive than Split for this event. 


Split was a VERY different place to today. The average stay for tourists was less than two days, and as I pointed out in last week's editorial, there were less than 5,000 registered private beds, with hotels also lacking. The spreadsheet above, provided by the Split Tourist Board, shows just what an (uncontrolled) explosion there has been, particularly in private beds. 

According to Basic, the ULTRA Europe Festival recognised that Split offered an attractive destination with access for guests from around the world by plane, car, train, boat and other means of transport.  As the largest city on the coast, it ensured potential local support and attendees of the event.  With its historic old town, beautiful sea views, beaches, and other attractions, it provided the opportunity to create the first destination music festival where guests not only attended the music festival but had an opportunity to experience all that the destination offered.  A chance to maximise the overall experience of festival goers with all that the city of Split offered.

Pulling off the first ULTRA Europe 

Given the fact we live in a bureaucratic country where foreigners have to produce an original birth certificate no more than 6 months old for their annual residence permit renewal, I can only imagine the nightmares he must have had pulling this off for the first time.

Basic explained that initial support from local authorities to organise the first ULTRA Europe Festival was minimum and almost zero.  The city of Split and other government authorities did not financially support the event and ULTRA had to organise everything. The city did not have the infrastructure to support events of this scale, and as a result, ULTRA needed to secure equipment from all over Croatia and Europe.  Local services and agencies, including security, cleaning and others, did not have the required number of staff, so they were sourced from other cities, thereby increasing the overall costs.  Transfer vehicles, hotel rooms, and presidential suites in 5-star hotels were limited and/or non-existent, making it difficult to meet the expectations of artists arriving to perform at the ULTRA Europe Festival.  In the first year, there were over 75 000 people attending the event, in a city with less than 200 taxis available. And of these, very few offered their services after midnight.  Today, there are over 2000 taxis are in the city of Split during the ULTRA Europe Festival.

People who arrived to attend the ULTRA Europe Fetvial in 2013 from around the world were, for the most part, introduced to Split and Croatia for the first time.  Most people had never heard of Split and were coming to attend the ULTRA Europe Festival, not visit the destination.  For instance, many people who attended didn't even know Split was a coastal town with beaches and arrived without bathing suits.  No matter how much Croatians believe everyone in the world knows about Croatia and Split, this was certainly not the case In 2013, especially in countries outside of Europe.  Basic says he and his team spent a lot of time and money presenting and promoting the destination worldwide to inform and educate our attendees about the destination.

What was the ULTRA Europe effect?

The ULTRA Europe Festival was very controversial when it first came, but Split locals quickly got to like the tourism boom it brought for a few days in July. I asked him about 'the ULTRA effect' in Split during those festival days, including some numbers. 

He told me that the ULTRA Europe Festival is very powerful as it generates a high level of awareness globally, generating over 200 million impressions which present Split and Croatia in an attractive manner.  It has branded the City of Split as a leading global destination, and today it is clear that Split and Croatia are definitely more well-known, and the ULTRA Europe Festival has a lot to do with this, especially in the young adult segment (18-35).  These are the most sought-after tourists in the world and most difficult to attract as they seek relevant and trendy activities to animate them. At the same time, they tend to generate the greatest financial impact as they spend more than the average tourist.  This higher level of expenditure and increased intensity of activities when visiting generates a higher level of impact as these guests seek more while visiting.  For instance, according to Basic, boat excursions and taxi boats In 2013 compared to 2022 have increased 1000%. Taxis, restaurants and other activities have all grown 10X since the first ULTRA Europe Festival.  The average night cost less than 50 EURO in 2013, whereas today the average room is over 200 EURO, with rooms in hotels costing more than 350 EURO / night during the ULTRA Europe Festival.

In 2013, the first two weeks of July were known as SRPANJSKA RUPA (the July Hole/Gap), where there was a drop in tourists and occupancy numbers. This would increase and peak in the season starting after July 20th to the end of August.  This was a problem for hotels and apartment owners, and for this reason, the second weekend of July was chosen for ULTRA Europe. Today you have 10x more capacity, and you are unable to find a room in the first two weeks of July. It is now considered to be peak season for many hotels and other accommodations in Split, based on the average price per night.  This is not true for other cities in Croatia, such as Dubrovnik, Zadar and Rovinj.

What about the perception of Split as a destination 9 years later and the ULTRA effect on that?

Basic answered that the image of Split has changed immensely since the ULTRA Europe Festival started.  It has become a global destination recognised as a vibrant city and a perfect destination to visit.  This is especially true for young adults as the ULTRA Europe Festival has made this more attractive and welcoming for these guests.  Over 1 million people have attended the ULTRA Europe Festival since 2013, and the positive experience and word of mouth promoting this destination from these guests alone have created a tremendous amount of interest to visit Split.  It needs to be recognised that young adults (18-35) are the hardest target group to attract to any destination.  They are a target group that tends to spend the most on average and are especially valuable guests as they will repeat their visits over an entire life span, returning with their families and children later In life.  Typically, destinations in the world who can consistently attract young adults are those destinations which will become leading world destinations recognised for being trend-setting and top of mind in the world.

Basic also believes that the ULTRA Europe Festival has also been a catalyst in generating changes in the overall offer In Split, with many new restaurants, cafes, shops, hotels and other openings catering to an international market. This was not the case before 2013.  When comparing Split to other coastal cities in Croatia in the period since 2013, Split has changed much more by far in its overall offer than any other city.

Which brings us to the problems of today and a younger crowd with access to cheap alcohol and pub crawls through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Diocletian's Palace. 

Basic explained that Split has become a GLOBAL TOURIST DESTINATION attracting guests of all ages seeking a vibrant and attractive place to visit.  No longer is Split a transit city, where people do not wish to stay and visit.  It has now become a primary destination when visiting Croatia.  With average night stays exceeding 5 days from less than 2 in 2013, Split has truly become a destination of choice for travellers from around the world.  The fact that young, hard-to-attract travellers are visiting Split is a confirmation that Split has become an attractive destination, offering something special and unique.  ULTRA has definitely helped to generate this interest and draw people to Split, highlighting its old town, beaches and other attractions in a modern and attractive manner.  Basic believes this is what every destination seeks, and this success should be recognised as a positive and not a negative result.  However, issues being experienced today in Split are common issues with any city transforming itself and dealing with the changes required in a process of change which Split has faced in the last 10 years.  This amplitude of change has happened In Split much quicker than typical due to the high interest the ULTRA Europe Festival generates each year for Croatia and Split. However, it is something that can be managed and is In the interests of all as they transform and improve their overall potential and financial prosperity.

This growth needs to be managed and a strategy defined and put into place to determine what Split desires to become.  At the moment, no clear strategy exists, especially a strategy that will unite all key decision makers. The changes occurring are beginning to reveal the weaknesses.  One example of this are young adult visitors who are coming to visit Split for a weekend of drinking and low-cost fun.  With Split now being recognised as a cool and trendy destination to visit for young adults, tour operators are taking advantage of this and organising trips to Split, focusing on bringing In as many people as they can for the least amount of money.  With communication like „THE BEST NIGHT YOU WILL NEVER REMEMBER, “ it is clear that the interests and positioning of this type of event are not In the interest of the City of Split or Croatia.  This is the least attractive type of guest for any destination as these guests simply seek to come for 3-4 days, to spend as little money as possible while getting drunk with their friends. 


These tour operators are not investing any money or organising anything in the destination; they are simply using the destination and negotiating the cheapest deals possible to maximise the number of attendees.  This includes famous PUB CRAWLS, which attract young adults to drink as much as possible for less than 30 USD In 2 hours.  ULTRA Europe Festival guests coming to Split on average are spending over 3000 EURO to travel and visit Split.  These PUB CRAWL guests are coming to Split trying to spend less than 250 EURO for 3 days of partying. These tours present the worst of Split by bringing people to C-category venues, offering questionable alcohol, and encouraging people to get drunk as quickly as possible.  The more the merrier, without any controls in place with security guards or registration of events with city. 

By law, events in public places with more than 40 people are required to be registered, and an organiser and responsible person must be defined.  Approvals and registration of this event are needed to be allowed to operate, and the organiser needs to have all the required documentation, insurance policies and good standing with tax authorities, ZAMP and others to guarantee a safe and responsible event.  Unfortunately, this is not the case with PUB CRAWLS In Split, and organisers are taking advantage of this and basically raping the city as a result of its current popularity, leaving behind all that destinations want to avoid.  This is similar to a town where gold is found, attracting people from all over the world to get rich, mining the rich ore while it lasts, not concerned with what is left behind.  However, cities and countries where gold mining is regulated and managed invest and develop themselves, prospering from the riches mined and are successful well after all the gold has been mined.

Below are examples of the positioning and offers being presented by organisers of PUB CRAWLS.  This is the lowest possible offer that can be made for visitors to Split and is something that is not representative for the city and is potentially dangerous, as these events are being organised without a responsible person or entity.  You also need to ask yourself how taxes are being paid for these organised pub crawls.


Basic was keen to point out that as an organiser of the ULTRA Europe Festival, he is responsible for ensuring that his guests are supported and safe. This requires big investments in production, infrastructure and security.  Without these investments, approvals and other such things, he would not be able to organise the ULTRA Europe Festival.  PUB CRAWLS are below the radar and are being organised without any approvals and infrastructure, and the security required to support this is not being invested and/or required. As a result, this is now out of control, and issues are occurring.  This needs to be regulated and or stopped as it is damaging to the city of Split and for all those trying to develop quality and responsible development of the City of Split into a respectable and attractive destination.

Is ULTRA Europe partially responsible for the direction Split has taken?

All the above makes a lot of sense, and the issue of no plan or strategy was one that consultant Mario Seric homed in on during my editorial. But was the ULTRA Europe Festival at least partially responsible for the direction Split has taken?

Basic answered that ULTRA was responsible for generating a high level of interest for Split and Croatia, with over 200 million impressions being generated each year and over 35 million in promotion and advertising to attract people to come to Split for the ULTRA Europe Festival.  However, ULTRA is not responsible for the issues the city is now experiencing. This is occurring because nobody is managing or controlling the rapid development of the city into a global destination.  Since 2013, the infrastructure and people managing tourism in Split have not changed, while the number of beds registered has increased from 4000 to over 40,000 (see the spreadsheet above).  No strategic investments in the city have been made to support or improve the visitor experience by the city, including public washrooms, water stations, or signage.  These are crucial investments required to be made by a city to ensure this increased number of visitors can be managed.  For instance, PUBLIC WASHROOMS in the city of Split that do exist are usually locked and closed after midnight.  Based on this, where are tourists supposed to go to the toilet after midnight other than in public areas?  Unfortunately, PUB CRAWLS for the most part occur after midnight, and the end result is clear.  For the ULTRA Europe Festival, Basic is aware of this problem, and as the organiser, he invests each year in providing temporary washrooms throughout the city to give his guests options to go to the washroom when walking home from the venue.  He claims to have minimal / no issues with this during the ULTRA Europe Festival.

As a result, a strategic plan needs to be clearly defined, defining what type of destination Split wants to become.  Once this strategic plan is defined, it can determine the pace and required investments needed to support this plan.  This plan needs to be accepted by the public, and all need to support it in a coordinated method to achieve maximum results to the satisfaction of all participants.  When this is achieved, it will also be clear to visitors what expectations are for the City of Split and what it represents.  This strategic plan should be organised with representatives from all key sectors of tourism and involve government institutions required for implementation.  There is a clear consensus that this is required, and Basic is confident that very quickly a working group of highly qualified and professional people can be developed to tackle the issues the City of Split is facing.

So what kind of destination should Split be, attracting which type of tourist?

Basic thinks that Split needs to become a vibrant and active global destination attracting guests of all ages and walks of life.  It needs to become a city with visitors coming all year round to enjoy the historical and cultural attractions the city offers along with organised activities highlighting what makes Split special.  The City of Split needs to maintain the importance of remaining a city where locals live and work, as tourists always comment on how friendly and welcoming the people of Split are, while offering accommodations, restaurants and cafes which will make guests feel comfortable.  Split needs to focus on international guests travelling by plane, seeking an attractive hotel or b&b, aged between 20-45, who will establish the city as a relevant tourist destination while maximising expenditure while visiting.  Split has been able to achieve this in the last 10 years, and now it needs to be supported with infrastructure and support. Without this, it could lose all the benefits gained

I made him Mayor of Split and Split Tourist Board director for a day and asked him about his strategy to develop the city's tourism.

He was quite clear about what he would do. The first step would be to establish a consensus on what the City of Split wants and desires to become in 2 years, 5 years and 15 years.  When this is defined, form a working group of qualified and respected people from each sector of tourism to be joined by public offices from the city and county required for implementation, including  the tourist board:

  • Large hotels
  • Medium hotels
  • B&B / apartments
  • Tour Operator
  • Organiser of large events
  • Organiser of small events
  • Taxis
  • Bus Operators
  • Day Trips / Excursions
  • Boats and Ferries
  • Restaurants
  • Cafes
  • Bars
  • Media
  • Other

When this working group would be formed, its objective would be to develop a 2, 5 and 15-year strategy within 6 months to be presented and discussed In a public forum for final approval.  During this process, public debate in the media would be organised to get a better understanding of what the public desires and to challenge certain options.  This process would fllter and ensure that the strategy developed will achieve its required objectives and have the public support it needs for success.  Once this is defined, a leader / manager needs to be put into place to take responsibility and ensure that the defined objectives are being achieved, publicly sharing results (good and bad) during the process of development.  The success of the manager will be monitored based on results and milestones being achieved.  This would include qualitative and quantitative objectives like

  • number of guests per month
  • countries from where guests are visiting from
  • % of accommodations In 5-star hotels available and number of apartments
  • Managing surveys and feedback from guests visiting the city of Split
  • Promotion and advertising messages to support strategy
  • Organisation of events and other to support the development and reinforce key communication
  • Required infrastructure

How about some quick wins to improve the current situation?

Only three? Here is what he suggested:

  • Inspection of how PUB CRAWLS are organised and elimination of the same with regulations and controls of venues.

      • No tolerance policy

  • Introduction of a working group defined above with clearly defined dates and milestones for development

  • Improved communication and presentation of issues, results and requirements with the public to gain understanding and support of the process of change the City of Split is going through.

Being such a key player in Croatian tourism, what were his thoughts on the direction of Croatian tourism in general?

He said that he believed Croatia was doing an excellent job in positioning and developing tourism In Croatia.  Based on his work with other countries in the world, Croatia is looked upon as a great example of what can be done.   However, during this transition, continual changes need to occur and methodology improved.  Instead of focusing on numbers of overnights, shift to average spending by guests. Total nights and return visits need to be monitored and communicated to ensure long-term success.  Segmentation and specialisation of the market will occur and needs to be supported as certain destinations will transform themselves to certain niches and will not be for all types of guests.  This process of change also needs to be managed and supported properly if it is to be successful

And finally, what next for Joe Basic?

He told me that he is currently working on a number of potential major international acts who have not been to Croatia as of yet to perform in 2023 and 2024.  Negotiations are positive, and it is clear that these artists desire to perform in Croatia, which is a pleasant change, as it was very difficult to convince major artists in the past to consider or accept Croatia as an option.

You can check out the ULTRA Europe Festival website and reserve your spot for 2023.

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


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.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners 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

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Joe Bašić on Ultra Europe Return: "This Festival Means Too Much for Split"

July 13, 2021 -  The Ultra Europe return may happen as soon as next year, as organizer Joe Bašić speaks of its importance to Split. 

If the Ultra Europe festival had not been postponed for the second time in a row last weekend, Split would have been the center of international entertainment again, according to the organizers of this festival, which brought world-famous DJ stars and thousands of guests to Split.

Ultra Europe could be organized next year, however still under special measures. This was announced by the organizer of the Ultra Europe music festival, Joe Bašić, who also told Radio Split that DJs are working hard in the studios in the meantime, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

"Considering everything that is happening in the world, I think that we will definitely bring Ultra back to Croatia next year. I am convinced that the pandemic will be under control and that these measures, COVID passports, testing, and more will be part of our story, but will enable us to hold the festival still," said Bašić about Ultra in Split.

The pandemic has thwarted plans for the festival again this year, but intensive preparations for 2022 are already underway.

"We will certainly pay more attention around the guests themselves; the measures will play a big role. I am convinced that through this year, all the countries of the world will prepare for such a life, we will not get rid of COVID, but we will have to learn to live with it. We, as the organizers of the largest festival in the world - Ultra, have the opportunity to prepare everything at a level that will enable the arrival of this large number of people again in Split," he said.

He also commented on the significance of the festival for Split, but also for the whole country.

"Ultra Europe was the engine of development of Split and Croatia, as far as the destination is concerned. It also attracted people who would not otherwise come to Croatia. However, I think that there is definitely a shortage of guests worldwide, especially in Split. Renters, hoteliers, and the airport all comment on how much Ultra is missing and that it is essential to return those numbers from 2019," claims Bašić.

Meanwhile, he says, the performers are not resting.

"We are in touch with all the DJs and artists we work with. They definitely miss live performances. Now they are more in their studios, but they can't wait to come to Croatia again for Ultra Europe. We will do our best to bring the Ultra Europe Festival back to Croatia in 2022; I believe in that. The energy that we have all experienced in the last seven years in Split, I believe that it will return, that the whole world will dance with us again in Croatia," concluded Joe Bašić.

For more on lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Organizer Joe Bašić Hopeful for Ultra Europe 2021: "Still Too Early to Draw Conclusions"

March 16, 2021 - Organizer Joe Bašić is hopeful that Ultra Europe 2021 will be held this summer, as the electronic music festival in Split is still four months away. 

Spring is just around the corner, and with it comes the growing speculation about the upcoming festival season, which starts in May. European countries are opting for various tactics: from COVID passports and mass vaccination of citizens to fast and accessible antigen tests, which could save events on the coast. Especially the ones organized by the UK.

Some of the world's largest music festivals have already written off 2021, but festivals in Croatia are not yet giving up. 

In Croatia, the outdoor festival season lasts from May to September, and since it came to Split, Ultra Europe is certainly the most popular event on the Adriatic. A three-day mass party with mainstream electronic stars brings tens of thousands of tourists and significant income to the city, and during the week of Ultra, Split garages, sheds, balconies, and yards are even rented. Festivalgoers sleep outdoors; some do not sleep at all. They come from all over the world, and they are there to have a good time.

Some locals are bothered by the crowds and noise, others by the garbage and clutter that is inevitably left behind after thousands of party-goers are in the city, but no one can deny the economic impact it has on Split. Will thousands of international party people march through Split with the flags of their countries again?

24 Sata reports that Ultra Europe organizer Joe Bašić hopes so. Still, the news from Miami, published just a few days ago, isn't too optimistic. Recall, Ultra in Florida has been canceled again, and the culprit is, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It is too early for any conclusions about Ultra in Split. There are four more months until then. We monitor the situation, and it changes from day to day. We are cooperating with the city, we respect the measures of the Headquarters, and we can only hope that everything will be fine by July," Bašić said.

Security restrictions are there for a reason, but there would be equal bans for caterers. Is it worth organizing the festival at all if it turns out that Ultra can only have 20% or 30% capacity and that guests must adhere to strict measures?

"We will have to sit down and see what can be done in such a hypothetical case and what cannot. I can't tell you anything more detailed so far; it's hard to be really smart at the moment," Bašić admits.

There is a lot of talk about 'COVID passports.' Spain will test the model in Ibiza, the celebrated mecca of partygoers, as early as May. If this proves to be a good enough protection model, they will implement it nationally in the summer season. Bašić says that nothing concrete has been said about it so far, but he will consider all the options that can help this year's festival in Split see the light of day. If the worst-case scenario comes true, Ultra will be transparent with its audience.

"We will refund the ticket money to those who request a refund, and for those who choose to keep the ticket, it will be valid next year. Our policy was the same last year," Bašić announces.

Just a week before Ultra, the Dimensions Festival is a treat for slightly different electronic music fans. This summer, it is moving from Istria to Tisno and Šibenik to St. Michael's Fortress, and despite the pandemic, the organizers announced that the music event is scheduled for July 1-5. For now, they expect that we will be able to have fun by some 'old standards.' It should not be forgotten that last summer, after the first wave of the virus subsided, a music festival experiment on Martinska succeeded. It was one of the few locations in Europe where several smaller festivals and concerts were held, and where no increase in the number of cases was recorded.

Outlook and Seasplash festivals have already been announced, and additional information about Membrain, Blast, Regius, Kanal Fest, Slurp! will be released soon.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 12 February 2021

Joe Bašić on 2021 Ultra Europe: We Will Know More in 60 Days

February 12, 2021 - The organizer of the Ultra Europe music festival, Joe Bašić, revealed to Enter Zagreb the plans for this year's Ultra Europe in Split. He also admitted that he expects an explosion of fun after we're on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thousands of partygoers from all over the world did not meet last year at Ultra Europe in Split, as the festival was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. We are still waiting for an official decision on this year's festival, as well, reports 24 Sata

"It is certainly too early for conclusions now; I believe that in 60 days we will be in a better situation and that we will be better able to assess the circumstances related to COVID and the possibilities of organizing the festival," said Bašić.


"As responsible organizers, we monitor events, work closely with the authorities, all those responsible for making decisions for the safety of visitors and the festival. Internationally, we work with several groups of people trying to find a solution for the festival's future, from Covid passports to rapid tests. I’ve been to more of these conversations, trying to find a solution, but unfortunately, it’s hard to be smart there. Every day something changes, and we, as serious and responsible organizers, cannot confirm anything. We also cannot make decisions without an official decision from the state and the city," Bašić believes.

Speaking generally about the future of the festival, Bašić is optimistic.

"As for the music industry, I think it is an industry that will be proactive and find a solution for the future. Music is an integral part of life; people will always find an opportunity to enjoy it. I think that psychologically it is an important factor, young people can't wait to go out, they are waiting for socializing. At the moment when it is possible to return to festivals and events, I think it will be one big show," he concluded.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 28 February 2020

Ultra Europe's Joe Basic: Split Leading Destination for Music Tourism in World

February 28, 2020 - Ultra Europe's main man Joe Basic talks about the potential of the music festival in Split - and things are just getting started.

Within the “Talk & Grow by UNIST" lecture cycle, organized by the University of Split, Joe Basic, founder and director of MPG, a leading marketing and promotional agency in Southeast Europe, and director and promoter of Ultra Europe, explained how Split had become the world's leading destination for music tourism.

Namely, Slobodna Dalmacija reports that in his lecture, which he called "A Small Country for a Big Music Festival", Basic said, among other things, that one music festival could generate more than HRK 10 billion in additional spending, as it manages to attract the attention of 200 million people from around the world annually, and how much that ad is really worth.

“When we surveyed young people in 2013, only 34 percent of them knew how to show Croatia on the world map. Today, thanks to Ultra, 67 percent know where it is,” Bašić boasted.

He did his best to explain all of what Split would lose in the next five years if by any chance that famous, world-renowned electronic music festival left our town:

“The numbers are large, they would lose two million overnights, one billion euro spent, 150 million euro in the name of taxes, and Split would definitely not be the number one European destination for young people between 18 and 35,” said Basic.

He answered the students, who asked him questions about the problems he had discovered with Croatian bureaucracy and about his Croatian roots, but he also emphasized that Ultra in Split had not yet reached its maximum.

“I’m sure we're only halfway there. We have the opportunity to reach half a million overnights. By comparison, in the beginning, the ticket cost 85 euro, today it costs 169 euro, then, seven years ago, Split had only 6,700 beds, today there are 36,000. Overnights in 2013 were 24 euro, and today it is 67 euro, on average,” Basic concluded.

Ultra already announced the new release of Ultra Europe, which will take place from July 10-12, 2020.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 28 June 2019

Joe Bašić Talks New Ultra Europe Site, Festival Layout, and Plan for Residents

June 29, 2019 - Ultra Europe, as you already know, will leave Poljud and move to the Park Mladeži stadium this year. Since it’s been the talk of Split this week, Ultra Europe’s main man Joe Bašić, the owner of MPG Live, has finally sat down for an interview to discuss the new chapter for the massive electronic music festival in Split. 

Namely, Bašić sat down with Slobodna Dalmacija to run through the stadium and auxiliary grounds, answer the concerns of Split citizens, discuss security, and address how adequate the new space is for such a manifestation. 

So, why is the public concerned that the new location isn’t suitable for this event?

“Because people have not experienced it yet. I brought the best foreign and local experts who worked with the world's greatest spectacles and they said that this space was ideal. And when we say space, we are talking about the main stadium, a few terrains around the stadium and a large lawn, as well as part of the Turkish Tower. This is a huge area in the city center that is not well utilized. We've been reviewing and analyzing all of this for weeks, and professionals who work on the biggest projects said that the space, with some modifications, is great for Ultra. That’s when we officially went out to the public with the news.” 

And what do the US owners of Ultra have to say?

"Everything was approved by the management from Ultra in Miami before we signed the contract. We had to document everything, explain it all to them, and then they checked everything. Do you think Americans would bless an inadequate ground? This is no joke to them, and if something weren’t right, they would tell us to look for another location. Believe me, this is an unused ground that we will, in a few days, with a little bit more effort, turn into a compact whole. You will all be surprised at how good it will look.”

How many people can fit in the stadium and the surrounding area?

“According to the estimates, about 55,000 people. All this together has about 60,000 square meters. The main stage is the same as Poljud, and this year it is even bigger, then we have the Ultra radio stage at the parking lot of the Turkish Tower, which will be open to the public, and then the Resistance stage in the meadow to the left and the UMF stage on the right, opposite the Joker Mall. We have about 25,000 square meters of pure green space, meadows that we did not have at Poljud. So people can sit and drink beer with each other and enjoy one of the three major stages in these three spaces, which are close to each other, and it does not take much time to travel between the Resistance stage to the Main Stage, for example, which was an issue when the festival was organized at Poljud.”

Screenshot 2019-06-29 at 09.31.58.png

What's the price tag on renting the new location? 

"People think we wanted to move here because it was cheaper. That is not true; we will have the same costs as at Poljud.”

And will they be investing in the space?

“This area is segmented: football, athletics ... We, in agreement with our new partners, want to make it a unique place for sports and events, to make it more modern, more practical. But most importantly, this is the agreement of all partners . So, it's a new part of Split that will be used by both the city and the sports clubs, as well as Ultra. But we do not want to have the exclusive right to this space, and we should open it for other events as well.”

When will work begin for this year's festival?

“We already began. About 1500 people will work in the entire production. Part of it is easier than at Poljud because the whole area is already enclosed by fences and walls, while around Poljud we had to implement complicated fencing.”

The media raised the issue of security this week. 

“We had a meeting with the police. They walked the space with us and were surprised by the potential and size of it, as well as the number of emergency entries and exits, and the number of places that could be used for emergency services. The flow of people will be greater than at Poljud, and thus the safety. As I mentioned, the space is already fenced and it will be easier to secure it.”

And the issue of noise, since many residential buildings are nearby. 

“Many think that the noise was ideal at Poljud. But it will not be anything different here. We will turn to the north, and we have sound experts who will arrange it all. Of course, the music will be heard, but we will do everything to make the tenants of the surrounding buildings feel it the least.”

How are ticket sales going?

“For now, we have sold 15 percent more tickets than last year, which would mean about 45,000 visitors per day, and about 120,000 for those three days.”

Screenshot 2019-06-29 at 09.32.33.png

Where will the main entrance be located?

“The main entrance will be from Ul. Hrvatske Mornarice and the crossroads leading to the Turkish Tower, and there will be a special entrance for VIPs, emergency services. In the parking lot of the Turkish Tower, there will be ticket booths and other accompanying facilities, and then there will be a large official entrance with security check and bracelet check.”

And the exit?

“The exit will be towards the Joker Mall. When the party ends, they will exit at that second exit, where there will be taxis, buses.”

What will happen with the other entrances, for example, those near Ul. Hrvatske Mornarice and the residential buildings that face the stadium?

"It will all be closed, secured, and no one will have access, so the visitors will not come close to the residential buildings. This will already reduce noise and pressure towards the buildings near the stadium.”

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Joe Bašić: Ultra Europe Expects 160,000 Festivalgoers in 2019

Preparations for the next Ultra Europe Music Festival are underway. Hundreds of people have been tirelessly working on the project that has changed Split - from finalizing and arranging performances to logistics, meetings with city authorities, police, utility services, and more. 

Joe Bašić, the owner of MPG Live, the alpha and omega of the Croatian Ultra, revealed everything we need to know about the upcoming edition, and just how Ultra got here in the first place, reports Slobodna Dalmacija on January 2, 2019. 

How did Joe come up with the idea of organizing Ultra?

“I have been involved in organizing various events, concerts and music festivals in North America, and in Croatia since 1997, for over 25 years. The economy started to change here in 2006 and Croatia became a marketplace where it was possible to organize international music events but needed further development and investment in infrastructure to attract the best performers and projects. That same year, MPG began developing strategies and investments in local and regional music events, concerts and festivals. One of the important steps was to develop the electronic music fan base in Croatia because we recognized that the new generation wanted new and different music to express themselves. Before that, electronic music was ‘underground’ and just released in small clubs and could not get mainstream radio and media attention.”

When did this change begin?

“Well, with the events we've organized, like Fat Boy Slim, Armand Van Helden, Sebastian Ingros, Axwell, David Guetta, Fedde Le Granda, Eric Moril and others, which gathered between 3000 and 10,000 people. Recognizing the potential and great interest, we organized Umagination and Big Beach, and they attracted fans from Europe, Canada and the United States. With more than 20,000 people attending these festivals, electronic music has become more popular and has also found its way to the most important media in Croatia. After five years of creating a strong base of fans and our recommendations as organizers, we launched a discussion with leading world festivals with the intent to consider the possibility of organizing a major international event in Croatia. We felt that the Ultra Music Festival was the best way for us and after 18 months of presentation and negotiation, we managed to sign an exclusive partnership in Europe for their brand. In 2013, when Croatia joined the European Union, we organized the first edition of the ULTRA Europe Festival and the rest of it is history.”

How did the Americans react to this proposal?

“First they thought we were crazy! They never heard about Croatia and they thought we were from one of the former Russian states. But after seeing our references and rich experience, they decided to seriously consider our proposal. By presenting ULTRA Europe to them and once they arrived Croatia, they became convinced of the beauty and potential of this project, and the partnership decision came quickly.”

Which Ultra festival is the most successful with regard to the location? Of course, not counting Miami.

“ULTRA Europe is the second biggest event in the great Ultra Worldwide family, right after the Miami Festival. There are currently more than 30 events around the world, on all continents, with more than a million tickets sold annually. Our release has 15 percent of total sales and generates more than 200 million impressions in the media annually. ULTRA Europe's visitors come from more than 140 countries, while in Miami festivalgoers come from 90 countries, which is 50 fewer than us.”

What’s in store for the future?

“The US owners are convinced that our festival will become the largest Ultra festival in the world, but this will certainly require additional support from the Government and local partners, new hotels and all the necessary infrastructure for an additional 20,000 visitors. In 2013, Split had 7,000 registered beds, and today it has grown to 32,000. There is a need for additional investments in hotels of higher categories and the development of traffic, especially air traffic, so that Split is ready to increase guests.”

What should we expect for Ultra 2019?

“Our plans and current indicators are moving towards 160,000 visitors in 2019, so, this is the number of visitors who will visit Poljud all three days, as well as the events on the islands and all other events related to the festival. This will be possible with additional flights to Split, Zagreb and Zadar and increased investments in marketing activities and promotion of the festival in the world, and we are working diligently.”

Will there be any changes compared to Ultra 2018?

“The novelty is certainly the ULTRA WORLDWIDE STAGE on which we will present performers from all over the world. We will also promote our country through works by local artists, food and other entertaining events. We will continue to focus on improving the overall visitor experience, so we will further work on food, toilets and the arrival to the stadium. Given the excellent results, we will continue with the development of destination events on Bol, Hvar and Vis, and our goal is to show the world all the beauties of Croatia so they extend their stay here. Be sure to expect a lot of good surprises.”

How are preparations going for 2019?

“Great! We have entered the seventh year on the wings of last year's most successful edition so far. I think that behind us is tremendous knowledge and invaluable experience and we are most focused on improving the overall experience of visitors and for even better promotion of all the benefits that our festival offers as a unique destination in the world. We recently announced the ULTRA Europe 2018 Aftermovie, and in the first 24 hours it was viewed by more than 200,000 people. We are extremely pleased with the sales that again recorded a growth of 20 percent more than last year, and a 100 percent increase in the DESTINATION ULTRA Europe tickets, which includes the entrance to all seven festival events. We plan to invest more in the RESISTANCE stage, and there will be special RESISTANCE tickets for those who want to visit all the events under this brand, in Split, and on Hvar and Vis.”

To read more about Ultra, follow TCN's dedicated page

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Ultra Europe: Joe Bašić Talks Record Year, Split Accommodation, and Economic Benefit of Festival

Ultra Europe will return to Split from July 6 to 8, 2018. 

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

ULTRA Europe Sells 120K Tickets Already, Poljud Expecting Sellout

Joe Bašić said that the scale for organizing the 6th edition of the event was set high and that the festival will see more than 180,000 people from all over the world this year. 

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

ULTRA Europe 2018: Ticket Sales Begin Today!

ULTRA Europe returns in 2018 for the sixth edition of the festival. 

Page 1 of 2