Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Diary of a Split Tour Guide in the Age of Corona - Part 6

May 12, 2020 - Part 6 of Ivica Profaca's Diary of a Split Tour Guide in the Age of Corona - you can start at the beginning here.

There is not so much normal in "the New Normal". Following the stage three of softening anti-COVID measures (Total Croatia News extensively updates all info on the pandemic in Croatia), I wrote a blog for the Tourist Board of Split with the hope that opening things might really move the whole society up, especially the economy. In some ways it does. Among other things, it's possible to travel around Croatia, in some cases even crossing the national border without a two-week quarantine. You can now have a drink, or a meal in bars and restaurants, with some restrictions, and get together with up to 40 people. There are flights, buses and trains in Croatia, hopefully there will be some international ones soon, too. British Airways and Ryanair already announced their flights from June, easyJet never took their flights off their website. Hotel openings were announced, although not on a very big scale. Maybe it's not great, but it looks good, at least as a start. The situation with the virus is also promising, even with the latest outbreak on the island of Brač.

All this brought hope for different segments of the tourism industry that there might be something out of this year's season. Shops, cafés, bars, restaurants, etc. might really have some traffic. It's miles away from what they all got used to, and if you ask people in these segments they will tell you that the future is not really bright, maybe just black turned into grey.

On the other hand, what does all this mean for guides? Much less than to those in the previous paragraph. Along with some other fellow guides, I was asked by T-portal reporter about prospects of this season, and the verdict is pretty much unanimous. We can't hope for anything serious before September. A wild guess is that most tourists will be those from other parts of Croatia. They will bring some work to accommodations, or to those selling drinks and food. Guides? In years of doing this I can hardly remember if I ever had a request from Croatian tourists for a tour. Maybe it's about saving money for other stuff, or maybe people coming on vacation usually do sightseeing on their own. This is not an objection, just a fact. After all, even when I travel abroad I do the same; do my homework, and then research on my own. It can't be compared with guidance by an experienced local guide, and I enjoyed those few times when I hired someone, but those are the usual habits.

In the last few days there were also some events which make relying on September and October too optimistic. Firstly, all the main tourism markets are still COVID-active, some of them extremely active. On a day when I write this, the number of confirmed cases in Germany tripled, the UK passed over Italy and France in both cases and deaths, plus they have more deaths than Spain. As expected, the epidemic in the USA is still raging. Border openings? Only two days after Croatia announced that passengers coming from other EU countries will not need a quarantine, a plane from Frankfurt brought at least a dozen new cases, possibly more still waiting to be confirmed. With the regime softening in most European countries in the last week or so, we still need to wait for some time before it will be proven that everything went well.

Almost at the same time when some airlines announced re-launching of their flights (with others giving up their plans), bad news came from cruise companies, which bring many clients to guides. There are no ships cruising around at least till the end of June, some companies berthed their vessels till the end of July. Holland American Line made a step forward, or backwards, and made a move that might become a faith for the whole industry; they simply cancelled their operation for the whole of 2020.

On the home front, it means that the number of cancelled jobs for this year is now officially bigger than those still alive, even with included bookings already postponed to 2021. On this date in 2019 I had a few dozen jobs already done, this year it's five since the New Year. Of those five, three were brought in by friends who wanted to do a favour to someone. Now even big September hopes look more and more like a bubble with few new cancelations in that month. Months before September are already almost empty. State support called Program of saving jobs affected by COVID ends next month, and the situation won't be better than when we all applied for it two months ago. Actually, it's even worse. Not to mention that the danger of COVID is still present, and safety must come first. I'm not sure I would be delighted with the prospect of passing through possible crowds created by further regime softening, not to mention ideas of huge events like Ultra Europe, with people coming mostly from those countries I mentioned before in this writing.

So, to conclude - the possibility of putting big X across 2020 is bigger and bigger.

We will be following Ivica Profaca's journey through the rocky weeks ahead.

If you find yourself in Split, or are planning a post-corona visit, check out his range of tours on his website - families, look out for the kids tour of Diocletian Palace. It will not only entertain your kids while allowing you to absorb this unique UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it will bring out the inner child in you too. Learn more about it here

You can read other parts of Ivica's Split Tour Guide in the Age of Corona series here.

(To be continued)

Monday, 4 May 2020

Split Ambasador Hotel Opening Delayed by Corona: "We'll Open Before Christmas"

May 4, 2020 - The opening of several hotels in Split was announced for the upcoming tourist season, including the Ambasador on the West Coast Riva.

Slobodna Dalmacija writes that Tonci Medic, CEO of Retoi, whose portfolio also includes Ambasador, and a close friend of German businessman Klaus Alex Birkenstock, owner of this hotel, assures us that, given the coronavirus crisis, they won’t be able to open their doors to guests until Christmas. 

“The corona crisis has definitely surprised us all. In March, we started collecting CVs and organizing interviews with potential employees, but of course, we had to stop. The plan, in fact, was to ‘permanently’ hire 55 staff and hire another thirty seasonal workers. Since we were planning to open the hotel doors this summer, we hired six people key to its operation earlier this year; among them the director and the chef.

This has completely hindered us - outside construction work has been suspended at the request of the contractor, that is, workers' fear of contracting the virus. As for the works inside the building, we thought it was pointless to rush to finish them when we had to keep the hotel closed.

We simply estimated that we did not want to risk anything and that it is better to skip this season, if there is one at all, than to begin during a pandemic and fear whether any of the staff or guests will transmit the virus to our hotel,” says Medic, a well-known caterer from Brela.

Recall, Klaus Alex Birkenstock bought the hotel on the West Coast in 2016 from Regina Ivic, the widow of Tomislav Ivic, the legendary Hajduk coach. It was announced that the Ambasador would be open in the spring of 2018, but the investor could not meet the deadline due to the inability to obtain a building permit.

For this reason, the demolition was delayed of the building built in 1937, which was later the JNA House, as was the execution of the works. The investor was forced to ask the County to extend the construction period from two to four years.

In the meantime, there was a change in investment from the previously announced EUR 14 million to EUR 23 million. This should give the Ambassador at least four and a half stars, and they hope, Medic says, to get a fifth.

According to the project of architects Nena Kezic, Emil Sverk and Nora Roje, the hotel will have 101 rooms and suites, a restaurant capacity of 240, spa, gym, nightclub and underground garage with 59 spaces. Otherwise, the hotel's catering facilities will be able to accommodate 640 guests, in addition to the 240 in the restaurant.

The fitness and wellness center will be sunlit thanks to a large atrium on the terrace facing the sea. It is also interesting that in the superstructure of the movie theater, which was erected next to the “Ambasador” in 1953, there will be a 120 square meter large swimming pool, which will be partially enclosed by glass, so that passers-by will be able to look in. Swimmers, on the other hand, have a view of the coast.

In any case, Birkenstock has announced that it plans to turn this Split hotel into a new favorite resort for tourists from the UK, Germany, Austria and France. Unfortunately, the plan is currently on hold, but hopefully not for long.

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

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

PHOTOS: A Split Spring in Self-Isolation

April 29, 2020 - How does Split look during self-isolation? A collection of photos from our readers. 

On day 41, 50, or 500 in self-isolation (depending on your mood), we're relatively sure the flood of emotions everyone is feeling range from the positive 'there is a light!' to those of us going through the motions murmuring 'I'm okay...' to the inevitable 'WAKE ME UP FROM THIS NIGHTMARE'.

All emotions at this time, of course, are warranted. 

Those of us in Split, however, are quite lucky. After all, there could be far worse places to be stuck. Not only do we have the Adriatic Sea at our fingertips, but we're surrounded by mountains, forests, and ancient buildings that fuse to form the masterpiece that is the backdrop of our quarantine dreams. 

While we are still advised to #stayhome, solo walks and ventures outside are still permitted so long as groups of people don't gather. And with the quintessential spring weather we've been having, it's hard not to get outside to grab a small dose of Vitamin D - even if it's from the comfort of our balcony. 

Our always fabulous TCN readers sent in photos of Split over the last month as the typically busy streets emptied to flatten the coronavirus curve.

Whether you're here now or dreaming of your next trip, Split will always be this beautiful.


The Riva, almost unrecognizable. 


The West Coast without a soul in sight.


No visitors at FroggyLand, either.


The benches that usually host groups of Croatian singers in the summer are quiet in spring.


The Silver Gate of Diocletian's Palace.


Riva favorite Brasserie on 7. We can't wait to share a coffee with you here again.



The parking for the Riva, usually lined with vehicles, mopeds, and shoelace dealers.


Vacant Marmontova.


Grgur Ninski looking extra regal. 



Split's famous shopping street... without shoppers.



Usually bustling with buyers looking for everything from smoked meat to underpants.


And a busier Bacvice Beach at the first sign of warmer weather. 

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

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Diary of a Split Tour Guide in the Age of Corona - Part 5

April 28, 2020 - Part 5 of Ivica Profaca's Diary of a Split Tour Guide in the Age of Corona - you can start at the beginning here.

Why would any guide wait to see what some European Union body would say? If you are not a news junkie (I confess, I am one), political decisions like those rarely influence our job, except in cases when they regulate some segment of guiding work, such as the licensing issue or something similar. And yet, Coronavirus has brought even those under the spotlight.

A video conference of the EU ministers of tourism was expected to give some answers as to whether or not there would be any tourism this year, and if yes what it would look like. The prospects are bad. Borders are closed, and will stay closed for some time ahead. Big markets such as Germany or the United Kingdom (and some others) don't plan to ease regulations any time soon. In the meantime, new regulations were introduced everywhere for hotels, restaurants and other venues, in some cases strict, in some others a little bit more doable. Tourist boards everywhere are trying to give a message of hope, I was proud to take part in a campaign launched by the Tourist Board of Split. However, all efforts might be limited only to domestic travel, because of that magic word - borders. It's not just about the date some of them might re-open. It's also about the psychology. Let's say borders re-open sometime in June, would you really travel only because of that, even with all precautions taken? I'm not sure, at least not before late August or September.

Here's an example from my calendar. In previous articles, I told you how bookings - those that survived without being cancelled - moved to later dates. Little by little, months that are otherwise extremely busy for guides emptied almost completely. April is gone, May is getting close to that, and now it's June and even July getting empty. Completely understandable, when we know all that I wrote before. The last birds that are still marked are the few cruisers which were scheduled to come to Split, but it's actually just a note on certain dates with almost no chance of happening. Cruising companies which operate those ships just extended their closure period, Holland American Lines till June 30, and P&O Cruises all the way to July 31. The situation is pretty much the same with others. It's not only about cruisers, but a very similar situation is also with airlines. Some encouraging news from Germany or Austria where the media said that Croatia might be a big magnet for travellers went adrift with the extension of anti-Corona measures. The Czech Republic announced borders opening, but with all other countries still locked, where they will travel? Again, maybe later. Plus, not really encouraging for guides licensed for languages other than German or Czech. My regular clients, for example, are Americans, Australians, or Canadians, and they will most likely stay home this year or at least in the next few months. It's just too complicated for them to travel that far. Plus, with a terrible situation still raging in the USA, for example, who will plan a vacation? And yes, we still don't know what will happen with the virus, when the vaccine will arrive, will there be a second wave later this year, etc. I usually don't whine, but in this case, I'm just being realistic.

Some of my fellow guides have even bigger problems. If they are registered for seasonal business, they can't count on state help for March, April and May, so will be left almost completely without any income this year. Since they have their businesses open hoping for some aid in the following months, or any kind of job, they can apply for unemployment help. Even us with year-round businesses might be left dry after three months we received or will receive aid aiming to preserve jobs. There are no signs those three months will be extended after May, and most of us will not have a single kuna of income in June and July, probably August too.  

So, what's left? Let's try with some optimism. Hopes for September and later months are still open, for now. And yes, domestic travels within Croatian borders. Fortunately, we live in a country which has so much to offer to enjoy. I wrote already about my initial traveling plans (yes, guides do travel during summer) of walking along the Hadrian's Wall in England. It's most likely not going to happen, but if I will be able to afford it, why not do some long walking on island Brač? Not to mention discovering other islands, or equally attractive hinterland.

Counting on changing of habits, recently I translated my AirBnB tours description to Croatian, there is always a chance someone might be interested in some of those tours, although Croatian tourists traveling in their home country rarely hire a guide. This might be their chance, too.

Svi ste dobrodošli.

We will be following Ivica Profaca's journey through the rocky weeks ahead.

If you find yourself in Split, or are planning a post-corona visit, check out his range of tours on his website - families, look out for the kids tour of Diocletian Palace. It will not only entertain your kids while allowing you to absorb this unique UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it will bring out the inner child in you too. Learn more about it here

You can read other parts of Ivica's Split Tour Guide in the Age of Corona series here.

(To be continued)

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

VIDEO: City of Split Shows Empty Streets in Spring

April 21, 2020 - Scenes from an empty Split in spring. 

Dalmacija Danas reports that not even Croatia could escape the effects of the global coronavirus pandemic, though, with 1881 cases and 47 deaths so far, we are doing better than many other parts in Europe and the world.

Although Split-Dalmatia County is among the leading in Croatia by number of cases, over the last few days, there has been a significant decrease in the number of newly infected people, and due to the improved situation, we can now move freely within the borders of our county, excluding the islands.

The corona crisis already established a new normal and has completely shifted what we are used to in everyday life. 

While we’d normally be embracing a sunny preseason spring, the measures in place by the National Civil Protection Headquarters to ban gatherings in public areas, public transport, and international travel, all while social distancing, have made Dalmatia unrecognizable in recent weeks.

While we’re used to welcoming the start of the preseason after Easter, this year, the tourist season in April is a loss. Because of this, some parts of the city are deserted, which was even more pronounced in March and early April.

A video was released by the City of Split showing just that - the streets empty and eerie, an image we hope never to see again.

On April 17, 2020, the City of Split sent a message to citizens:

"Dear fellow citizens of Split,

Thank you for following the instructions, measures, and decisions of the National Civil Protection Headquarters. Field reports confirm this, and hopefully the same will soon be seen in the growing number of people infected in our city.

We have a sunny weekend ahead, so once again we invite you all, no matter the weather, do not leave your homes without a real need. If you have to, then please keep an eye on social distance, keep a distance from each other. Do not go to public areas where it is strictly limited, beaches, playgrounds, parks, and sports grounds.

It is still extremely important to adhere to all instructions and decisions of the National Staff and to keep in mind that the success of all anti-epidemic measures depends primarily on ourselves."

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


Sunday, 12 April 2020

Diary of a Split Tour Guide in the Age of Corona - Part 4

April 12, 2020 - Part 4 of Ivica Profaca's Diary of a Split Tour Guide in the Age of Corona - you can start at the beginning here.

Ever since I started working as a guide, this was going to be my sixth season, I was trying to be as meticulous as possible in running my assignment calendar. Or, in more recent times, calendars. It might be a professional disorder inherited from my daily journalism days, with my addiction to deadlines and article size precision. As soon as I would get a new booking, the whole series of administrating moves begins; write it in the excel table, sorted by dates. Then Google Calendar, which notifies me half an hour before the appointed hour. Then calendars in different online platforms or applications, where I need to delete tours I offer on different dates. For example, if I get a morning assignment from some agency, I block that date for morning tours which I have online, and usually leave those scheduled for afternoons. The last time when I counted, I was maintaining four different calendars, plus excel. I know, there are apps which can do it at once, but I just don't trust them. I'm pretty sure I would end up with double bookings, or miss an important one.

When it comes to payments, I'm even worse. Minutes after I come home after any guiding job, I send an invoice. It's not because I'm especially dedicated, I'm just afraid that if I wait until the next day, not to mention a longer period, I would just forget it. Even with clients who make me send an invoice once a month, I create it at the beginning of the month, and then update after every job. The last day of the month, it's gone.

I described this because for the last two months of Corona, this whole procedure looks like an "undo" command in computer programs. I get a cancellation (because there are no new bookings) for, let's say, some date in May. When I delete it from excel, I enter it in another excel table named Cancellations 2020. Of course I don't really need that, but with self-diagnosed minor OCD of counting, and running statistics it's there, don't ask. You never know, says my little OCD ghost, maybe it will be useful someday. Then I turn to calendars. It's easy to delete it (or change date) in Google Calendar. But, when it comes to online platforms, it gets more demanding. Now I re-schedule all those tours which were deleted or blocked when the original booking arrived, and it takes some time of careful going from one web site to another. Again, I'm completely aware that if, for example, guests cancelled a tour on April 25 due to the COVID-19 situation, no other booking will arrive for that same day. However, it gives the impression that I really am doing something about this season. Completely useless, but I do it. After all, the days are getting longer, and it takes more effort to make them pass while staying home, even with some other jobs I do, like writing or translating.

I learned to act that way when I was forced to start working at home ten years ago, after almost twenty years in different newsrooms. Unfortunately, many people are experiencing it in the Corona Age. You probably know that - how to force yourself to change from pyjamas into barely decent clothes, or comb your hair before work nobody sees you doing it. Well, to play with calendars and jobs which will never come is my way to create a new normality, no matter how abnormal it actually is. It's like that even in more leisure parts of the day, with wine parties over Zoom or some other communication app. Until "all this" stops, and we begin turning back to normal normality. If possible. And it will stop, I'm still optimistic.

Those two excel spreadsheets I run - Bookings 2020 and Cancellations 2020 - go in opposite directions, the first one is still bigger, but the latter is approaching faster then I want. As I said before, bookings were poor anyway, because they stopped sometime in January or early February, but what is really worrying is the steady stream from one spreadsheet to another. The whole of April is now gone, May is emptying, only dates later in that month still stand, but it's hard to count on those bookings will surviving. Later, prospects are a little bit better, but for now it's in the hands of the virus and those trying to stop it.

Some countries have announced the possibility of softening their lockdowns, but it's hard to say how that will work. Maybe more than ever before, countries will depend on each other in the post-Corona economy. That dependence is not whether they will help each other (I hope they will), but how to re-open any economy, if most others are still locked. What's the use if Croatian airports, harbours, borders, museums, bars and restaurants open, if nobody can come? What's the benefit for Croatian tourism (or most of other industries) if Croatia continues doing a good job (or at least it still looks like a good job) in stopping COVID-19, if it still ravages some of our main markets?  That's why I believe that the dilemma of whether or not to concentrate on the economy, or on stopping the pandemic is mostly false. There is no economy if the pandemic is alive.  When it stops, my calendars await, I'm looking forward to filling them. So many things to do.

We will be following Ivica Profaca's journey through the rocky weeks ahead.

If you find yourself in Split, or are planning a post-corona visit, check out his range of tours on his website - families, look out for the kids tour of Diocletian Palace. It will not only entertain your kids while allowing you to absorb this unique UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it will bring out the inner child in you too. Learn more about it here

You can read other parts of Ivica's Split Tour Guide in the Age of Corona series here.

(To be continued)

Saturday, 4 April 2020

Diary of a Split Tour Guide in the Age of Corona - Part 3

April 5, 2020 - Part 3 of Ivica Profaca's Diary of a Split Tour Guide in the Age of Corona - and some good news!

This is an easy job to do. I can just start every part of this series with something announced, or predicted in the previous one. Last time I was hoping that my application for financial aid through the Government's program aiming to help industries affected by COVID-19 would be accepted. And it was. It was great to get an e-mail with a PDF document attached saying "your request has been accepted", or something like that. Sure, it's nothing even close to those notes, now almost forgotten, with sentences from another world: "Are you available on that-and-that day for a tour?". From time to time, I read some of those still sitting in my inbox, just as a reminder.

Anyway, me and a whole bunch of fellow guides (and thousands of others) will get State aid, and with the second package that the government prepared, now things look a little better. Or, if you want, as well as can be expected, because I guess nobody is too excited at being on State aid. With the second package, the monthly payment will go up to 4,000 kuna, with paid tax, health and pension insurance, for a wider population affected by these measures. It means that the government finally accepted the demands coming from people in the business world. Problems are probably yet to come, because the national budget masters will have to find that money somewhere. We'll think about it tomorrow, Scarlett O'Hara would say, hopefully someone is making plans.

Speaking of plans, everything really depends on how long the pandemic will last. That's a zillion dollar question, and only a few dare to give any prognosis. I mean those who might really know something. There is a whole army of those others, much louder, making it difficult to differentiate what is worth listening to. Will it be June, or we can't expect any good news before September, with prospects of a second wave next autumn and winter? The phrase "anything is possible" these days has a special meaning. Besides, with the death toll rising minute by minute, what's the point of looking for anything else, but how to stop this horrible chain of events? 

When it's done, other things should come back, including tourism. easyJet, an extremely important airline for tourism in Split and Dalmatia, is already advertising Summer 2021 Holidays. Just a little bit more optimistic is their Winter 2020/2021 advertising. Unfortunately, still no sign of an extension of seasonal flights to Split by any airline. Maybe when that priceless question gets some more firm answers there will be someone who will come up with the idea of turning November into the new April, just like Zoran Pejović suggested in his Total Croatia News article. There are still no ideas how to do it by  the Croatian tourism authorities, but maybe they could take this idea into consideration. In previous parts of this series I have already mentioned that I still have more postponements than cancellations, and that trend is still the same. Maybe it will change sooner than I want, but so far it's like that. Some of those bookings still don't have a new date, but are waiting to see how the situation develops, but they are still active. The last one I got of that kind is a group of hikers from Taiwan who wanted to hike Kozjak mountain mid-June. The date is cancelled, but with a note "they will definitely come when crisis calms down". It's a thin hope, but what else do we have?

Speaking of easyJet, like all other airlines, they have their planes grounded (except for emergency flights). However, you can still book a flight from London to Split from May 1. All those before that date are marked as "sold out", it's probably some IT solution for not to delete flights. I can only try to imagine the level of lack of information with someone who would really book a flight as early as the beginning of May. Or perhaps they know something we don't know. But seriously, who can even remotely believe anyone would travel in just a few weeks from now? Not only by air, but by any means of transportation. It would be fun to make that booking, just for the sake of imagining the faces of those who would receive a notification that someone wants to fly. I would offer a free tour.

Screenshot 2020 04 04 15.52.52

Of course, this little anecdote about easyJet is not something that should be taken as a strategy foundation. When I get first queries for availability, or at least some info request, that will be something to build on. Everything else is still in "one day it will pass" domain. For example, recently I saw an article on Travel Pulse, US-based website specialized in travel news. Pledging that "all is not lost", they found five destinations as "beacons of hope". Guess what? Croatia is one of them, and main photo of the article is the one from Split. Or, what about predictions made by Luxury Travel Advisor?

It worked twice so far; I mentioned something in these articles, and it happened before the next part of this series. Maybe the same will happen with those two. Stay posted, and if you know someone who would need a tour this summer, let me know. Until then, #StayHome.

We will be following Ivica Profaca's journey through the rocky weeks ahead.

If you find yourself in Split, or are planning a post-corona visit, check out his range of tours on his website - families, look out for the kids tour of Diocletian Palace. It will not only entertain your kids while allowing you to absorb this unique UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it will bring out the inner child in you too. Learn more about it here

You can read other parts of Ivica's Split Tour Guide in the Age of Corona series here.


(To be continued)

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Split's Hotel Park Carries On in Corona Crisis: "We Worked in All Wars; We Haven't Closed in 100 Years"

March 17, 2020 - Hotels all over Croatia have started closing their doors, many of them small establishments. But one hotel in Split has decided to carry on during the coronavirus crisis - Hotel Park. 

Slobodna Dalmacija reported that Hotel Katarina in Dugopolje is no longer receiving guests, and when searching for offers on Booking.com, they were not the only ones.

Slobodna added that Heritage Hotel Life Palace in Šibenik said that it is also locking its doors this week. The situation is similar in Zagreb, where Art Hotel explained that they usually have a capacity of twenty-five rooms, but are not currently open.

However, a slightly different story comes from the Split’s Hotel Park, which said that closing is not an option.

“Hotel Park has not closed in a hundred years of its existence, and it will not close now. We worked during all the wars, and we will continue to work. Concerning the coronavirus, we are fully equipped,” said the famous Split hotel, whose occupancy is currently at less than ten percent, with cancellations until the middle of May.

“If the situation continues like this, it is certain that the whole season will be questionable. We have sent a proposal for measures to assist the relevant tourism associations treated through the Government. We have come up with concrete proposals that are enforceable immediately,” emphasized Director Silvia Jelavic about the seriousness of the situation they are currently in, and explained the measures they have taken to continue receiving guests.


“We bought the suits on time while they were still cheap and while they were on the market. We also have masks, gloves, and shoe covers. We held an exercise that explained what to do in a crisis. A quarantine is ready. All equipment is ready, we have disposable utensils, procedures are in place, and the staff is trained. We are ready for the coronavirus. Our staff is mostly young, and those who are older will be sent on vacation so that we can protect them,” Jelavic added, emphasizing that the people of Split have recognized the gravity of the situation.

“People visit us for coffee, but they enter the terrace only from the outside,” Jelavic concluded. 

Follow the latest coronavirus updates on the dedicated TCN section.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Saving Split Tourism: Mayor Opara Creating Measures to Rescue Sector

March 16, 2020 - Mayor Andro Krstulovic Opara presided over a session of the Tourist Board of the City of Split on Monday.

In addition to the members of the Council and the Tourist Board Director Alijana Vukšić, the President of the Croatian Chamber of Economy, Split County Chamber Jozo Tomaš participated, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

Following the findings and projections of the coronavirus on tourism in Split in the coming months, it was decided that the mayor would send a set of measures to the City Council to mitigate the negative effect.

The need to preserve jobs in the tourism, hospitality and economy sectors as a whole was also discussed, and it was stressed that incentive measures would only make sense if employers did not lay off existing staff.

“This emergency has not only health but also economic significance. Of course, our priority is health, but at the same time, we are monitoring and addressing the economic segment to mitigate the negative effects of the crisis that will follow after this first phase. That is why we are not waiting for the epidemic to end to start dealing with the consequences that will affect the tourism and the economy as a whole, but we must act immediately,” said Mayor Andro Krstulović Opara.

They also discussed the period after the end of the crisis, the need for enhanced promotion of the tourism product, and the measures and incentives for the recovery of the hospitality, tourism and economic sector in the Split area.

“The Tourism Council and the Croatian Chamber of Commerce are monitoring the development of the situation and are constantly looking at the effects that the spread of the virus has on the local economy. By working together and acting and taking certain measures, the aim is to support the Split economy, tourism and hospitality industry to start and continue its growth and development trend as soon as the crisis is over.”

Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli said that the Government would travel the tourism sector with a measure of delayed payment under the "3 + 3" model.

“It is important for us to have a delay, such as a deferral of payment of the tourist tax, tourist membership fees, hoteliers paying concessions in camps on tourist land - that all go for delays through the 3 + 3 model. In this direction, we are going to postpone it depending on the events for three months. That way, both personal income and everything we can deal with immediately and urgently is likely to be addressed. So we're sure we can cover that for the next six months. Workforce protection and liquidity come first," Cappelli said.

Follow the latest coronavirus updates on the dedicated TCN section.

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.

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