Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Historic Chance to Abandon Old Croatian Mass Tourism Model

October the 12th, 2021 - The Croatian mass tourism model (if you can even call it a model) could finally be sent to the history books as the country has a historic chance before it to bin this method and become more sustainable than simply counting the number of arrivals.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, no matter how successful they considered this tourist season to be due to the sheer volume of overnight stays and income, it was incidental. Many things which occur in Croatia end up being totally accidental, and this season we had a favourable epidemiological picture to thank more than pretty much anything else. While this summer was fantastic for the domestic economy, finally pumping what it desperately needed back into it after a lean 2020, we actually ended up with what we were declaratively running away from, Croatian mass tourism, which is far from sustainable.

Therefore, in 2022, but also every following year, Croatian tourism should build itself on everything that has been learned throughout the coronavirus pandemic, and that is that guests are looking for quality, premium product and are willing to pay more for it, and that the primary interest is sustainability. Getting excited over rising numbers on the eVisitor system is dying of death, and Croatian mass tourism has done far more harm than good if one dares to glance outside of the state budget's purse strings.

More cooperation in the EU

In addition to the above, this country's tourism sector needs to communicate more and set some proper models for building common strategies, and the European Union and its member states all need to work more together to maximise passenger mobility and strengthen people's confidence in travel safety following this unprecedented public health crisis in which faith in airlines and travel companies was lost.

Some of this was pointed out by the participants in the conference on year-round tourism "Tourism 365" held on Friday in Tuheljske toplice in continental Croatia, with the participation of various ministers and state secretaries in charge of the tourism sector from four European Union countries, and the Prime Ministers of Croatia and Slovenia Andrej Plenkovic and Janez Jansa.

"Our goal is not to stick to counting tourists and arrivals and thinking about how to break records. The goal is sustainable tourism, to have a distributed number of tourists throughout the year. Therefore, the Month of Croatian Tourism project, which is ongoing, is also important to us,'' Croatian Tourism Minister Nikola Brnjac stated.

Slovenian Minister of Economy and Technology Development Zdravko Pocivalsek pointed out that even before the coronavirus crisis, Slovenia had begun developing its own model for sustainable tourism, and during the pandemic, they invested more than a billion euros in aid to the tourism sector, including vouchers for residents of Slovenia, which strengthened domestic tourism.

Fernando Valdes Verelst, Spanish Secretary of State for Tourism, stressed the importance of strengthening co-operation between EU countries in the future, in order to stabilise tourist flows.

"There was cooperation this year as well, but it could have been stronger. We also need cooperation in terms of marketing, and the stronger advertising of Europe as a destination towards distant markets, whose opening is expected,'' said Verelst. The extention of the tourist season is part of the policy of sustainable tourism, and in the pandemic, Croatia got a historic chance to develop a sustainable product,'' said Ivana Budin Arhanic from Valamar, adding that this year tourists showed great interest in quality and premium products.

Kristian Sustar from the Uniline agency warned that we shouldn't brag too much about this year's season, so that it doesn't somehow end up becoming an example of good practice. "We had a fantastic result, but it must be seen for what it was, incidental. In reality, we had three months of work and Croatian mass tourism, and that isn't what we say we want,'' concluded Sustar.

For more on sustainable tourism, check out our travel section.

Thursday, 29 October 2020

From Overtourism to Undertourism: CNN on the Future of Dubrovnik

October 29, 2020 - From excessive tourism to empty streets and pandemic blues, CNN reports on the future of Dubrovnik.

Jutarnji List and CNN report that the term “overtourism” was often used last year to describe scenes that could be seen on the hiking trails of Machu Picchu or the streets and canals of Venice. The mentioned destinations and many others wrestled every day with crowds of tourists who wanted to experience a place's natural beauties and cultural goods.

Then came 2020 and the coronavirus pandemic.

No plan, forecast, and projection of tourism experts included the possibility that the sector would crumble and fight for survival. As COVID-19 spread around the world, bans on movement and quarantine forced people to stay at home. 

CNN, therefore, wonders: Is overtourism a thing of the past?

To get an answer to this question, CNN contacted destinations that had suffered from this type of tourism before the pandemic. Dubrovnik is a perfect example. 

The sea of terracotta roofs, city walls, and connection to the TV series "Game of Thrones" led to a significant increase in the number of tourists who visit Dubrovnik every year. Next to tourists enjoying the Adriatic Pearl for an extended weekend are those who came to the city on cruise ships and will leave by the end of the day.

As the crowds grew larger and larger from year to year, Mayor Mato Franković and other city officials promised to bring the situation under control. Last year, the number of cruisers allowed to dock in the old city port was limited to two, 80 percent of souvenir shops were closed, and it was proposed to ban the opening of new outdoor restaurants.

In early 2020, officials wondered if the measures would bear fruit.

The pandemic, which hit Europe hard in March, led to the decision to close the borders, and tourists stopped coming.

When Dubrovnik reopened at the beginning of the summer, and when tourism started again, mostly Croats came to the city. International guests began arriving only when passengers were received at Cilipi Airport again. But it didn't take long as the number of people infected with the coronavirus began to rise again.

"The UK had put us on the quarantine list, and everything sank again. Airlines started to reduce the number of flights," Deputy Mayor Jelka Tepsic told CNN. "Dubrovnik without flights and without the British market achieves minimal numbers."

Local tourist guide Ivan Vukovic said he finds it strange to see Dubrovnik so quiet. Truth be told, he also says that a break from the crowds is good for him.

"The atmosphere during the summer is similar to that of the 1990s when the (Homeland) War was still raging. The only thing is that there is no shelling now," Vukovic told CNN.

Dubrovnik recovered from the war and became one of the world's most famous tourist destinations. The question now is whether the pandemic and the ensuing catastrophe can catalyze change.

Tepsic says the restriction on cruisers and other measures against overtourism will not be lifted when international airlines resume operation, and the city is ready to invite guests to return.

Dubrovnik wants to tell its future guests that it seriously wants to deal with the problems of excessive tourism and coronavirus.

"At the entrance to the Old Town, there is a large sign saying that everyone should wear masks, keep their distance and wash their hands and use disinfectants, and we have special rules within the 'Respect the City' program," said Tepsic.

Unlike many European destinations, Croatia allows Americans to come, but only if they have a negative PCR test for COVID-19 that is not older than 48 hours. The lack of flights makes it difficult for the vast majority to arrive, but those with access to private jets come to Dubrovnik.

Tepsic says the city will continue to focus on luxury tourism.

City officials and entrepreneurs want tourists to walk the city streets again, but they also want a sustainable future.

Vukovic says the goal is not to return to excessive tourism but "some kind of normal tourism, if at all possible."

You can read the full article on CNN.

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