Saturday, 18 September 2021

Fortis Club Opens New Business Opportunities at Falkensteiner Punta Skala Resort

September 18, 2021 - Georg Unterkircher, general manager of the Falkensteiner Punta Skala resort, talks about the pandemic season, last-minute bookings, the opening of the Fortis Club convention and sports center, and the potential of MICE in the offseason.

Georg Unterkircher is the head of the Falkensteiner Punta Skala resort, and after living in Zadar for the last 13 years, he already understands the Dalmatian mentality and is developing the tourist offer of this area. Although the coronavirus pandemic has stopped the entire tourism industry, bookings are above expectations this season. The resort's offer will undoubtedly be enhanced by the opening of the Fortis Club convention and sports center. The awakening of the MICE segment in the off-season also raises optimism for the good continuation of business, as well as new investments in infrastructure and quality of service.

Poslovni Turizam caught up with Georg Unterkircher to learn more.

Behind us are two difficult business years caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. How did it affect the resort? How have you adapted to the new conditions in hotel management?

This pandemic surprised us at the beginning of 2020, just like all other industries. In the beginning, it was very challenging to make short-term business plans, let alone long-term ones. Fortunately, the entire group is very committed to maintaining the company's stability and preserving jobs, so we have accordingly adopted measures that will ensure this. Despite the uncertainty of the situation, we have been actively working on improving the quality of our products to be ready for another season ahead. Our long-term goal is to provide guests every year with the already well-known outstanding service they are accustomed to in Falkensteiner hotels and also to improve the facilities, programs, and activities that our resort offers.

This year started cautiously, and I have to admit that we had a satisfactory number of primarily domestic guests in the spring months. Unfortunately, travel restrictions were still in force in most countries from which we traditionally have guests, such as the Austrian and German markets. Compared to the previous year, reservations went a bit slower than last year at this time because no pandemic had been declared at that time. What kept us optimistic was that we had a relatively successful season, given the situation throughout 2020. This year we hoped and expected even better results, which of course depended on the global situation and travel conditions. People have been denied travel for a long time, so this gave us hope that the need and desire for travel and vacations will be strengthened and bring good results. I must emphasize that we were active in marketing terms throughout the pandemic to be in sight of our potential guests during the lockdown, and we are pleased to interact with guests and followers on our social networks. With the border openings, primarily Austria and Germany, the situation has significantly improved; we were ready for the last-minute bookings that happened as expected.

We are witnessing a positive trend in tourist traffic in Croatia, equal to that before the pandemic. What is the current occupancy of the Falkensteiner hotel in Zadar and Petrčane? Are there any differences in the types of guests compared to 2019?

I am glad to confirm that our figures are generally better in July and August, but the reasons for this, let’s be realistic, lie in several factors. Croatia is undoubtedly a very popular destination in the last few years. Still, this year it is supported by the unstable situation of other popular Mediterranean destinations (fires in Turkey and Greece, Spain and Portugal in the red zones), the relatively safe health situation on the Croatian coast and its most popular destinations, safe conditions that I believe, is created not only by us at Falkensteiner, but also by other tourist entities, safe arrival at the destination, and more and more car tourists who have decided to travel independently for the past two years. Our traditional markets are Austria and Germany, we record fewer guests from Italy but at the same time an increase in guests from Central and Eastern Europe - the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland. There is a slightly larger number of domestic guests in our resort in the high season than in previous years. But keep in mind that our work does not stop at the end of August and that we must all work together to attract guests in the off-season. As the resort is open all year round, we will host several MICE events in the off-season, which we are happy about because the MICE segment is slowly waking up. In addition, we are planning several exciting weekend events for local guests, but more on that soon.

Apart from the trend of last-minute bookings, what other trends and habits do you notice in sales this year?

This season has been in many ways different from previous ones, especially in terms of last-minute bookings, which are the primary feature of this season. Although we planned promising results, we are glad that it was above expectations. It is visible how guests more often book directly. Above all, they are looking for a safe vacation that we have provided with our Safe stay concept. There is also a focus on active holidays and vacations in nature, where Punta Skala resort offers many opportunities. Today’s guests want a personalized approach more than ever. The sales process requires an individual approach in the short term. Our team has successfully adapted to the demands of the market so that we have focused our sales activities on the requirements of each guest, and we have once again confirmed that we are truly the right choice for all guests in all life cycles.

Last year, the large Fortis Club convention and sports center at the Punta Skala resort was announced. Is it operational, and what results do you expect from that investment?

We are pleased to have finally opened the Fortis Club in July, which has significantly enriched the offer of the Falkensteiner Punta Skala resort and opened the door to new business opportunities in both domestic and international markets. We expect excellent results, primarily in the segment of the MICE industry and sporting events. Fortis has immeasurably enriched the congress, sports, and recreational offer of the Punta Skala resort.

The MICE segment is slowly recovering due to several limitations and epidemiological measures when organizing events. What do you think business events will look like in the future?

We already have reason to be optimistic about organizing various events in our resort because, in 2021, we had the opportunity to hold a significant number of smaller events, while autumn this year brings us several important events. Event organizers focus on an authentic experience and combine smaller business or professional gatherings with active or sports elements. Demands for larger events are also in the direction of active elements. Sure, hybrid events will linger, but they won’t completely replace live encounters. The direct interaction of ideas and knowledge is essential for developing creativity and global progress, especially after a long period when we have not been able to do so.

You also manage Falkensteiner hotels in Serbia and Montenegro. To what extent do these markets differ from the Croatian market?

That's right, I've been working in Croatia for a full and happy 13 years, but in 2020 I also took over Falkensteiner Hotel Belgrade and Falkensteiner Hotel Montenegro. Although there should be no significant differences in a geographically small area, in terms of tourism, our hotels in Montenegro, Serbia, and Croatia are entirely different products. Falkensteiner Hotel Montenegro is a hotel located in Bečići; it is a renovated Queen of Montenegro hotel with a long tourist history in the destination, its dominant guests are air guests, and this year it is evident how much it depends on the agreed flights, especially from the markets of Serbia, Russia, Ukraine, and other CIS countries. In addition, groups come to us from Israel, and the most significant number of individual guests come from Serbia. Falkensteiner Hotel Montenegro is a location that guests choose at the last minute. Bookings are only a few days before arrival, and the previous two years, it is characterized by a very short season that should be extended in the long run with the National Tourist Board.

Falkensteiner Hotel Belgrade is our city hotel located in the business zone in Novi Belgrade, and whose business is affected slightly less than the Falkensteiner Hotel in Prague and Bratislava. The excellent positioning of the hotel and the services we offer attract mostly business people from Serbia and the closer region who often stay with us, so the hotel is recording positive results this year, regardless of the instability caused by the pandemic. MICE is also one of the critical branches of the hotel business, which fortunately is slowly waking up, and we believe that it will ensure good occupancy in the autumn months.

Unlike them, we have developed Falkensteiner Punta Skala in the last few years into a sport and ecological resort with a unique offer in Croatia. Therefore, it is not surprising that many famous athletes have chosen Punta Skala for their professional preparations and private vacation. Furthermore, every year the traditional triathlon championship, Zadarhalf triathlon, which is held for the seventh year, brings many sports lovers here, not only professionals but also their families, making this resort an ideal destination for the whole family.

Fans of active life are thrilled by the outdoor sports center with numerous sports fields, from tennis to beach volleyball. With the construction of the new sports complex, Fortis Club resort also has a professional fitness center on 800 m2, new yoga and group training halls, a new sushi restaurant, a fun zone with a bowling alley, billiards, a gaming zone, and a bar.

As a good sports massage goes perfectly after sports, all lovers of wellness treatments come to their senses because the most beautiful Spa in Croatia is located here - AcquaPura Spa. On as much as 6,000 m2, our guests enjoy numerous spa treatments, relaxation, saunas, swimming pools, and a hammam. All this makes the resort a desirable location for lovers of active life.

Are there any plans to open new Falkensteiner hotels in Croatia, especially on the continent?

The Falkensteiner Group is always active in terms of investments, and this is what characterizes it because it is continuously working on expanding its hotel network and improving services. We are currently realizing new hotels in Austria and Italy, while in Croatia, we are working on new infrastructure within the existing resorts of Borik and Punta Skala. The master plan for the development of the Punta Skala resort includes investments in the complete refurbishment of the Diadora Hotel, which will be even more adapted to children and generally families with children in terms of interactive facilities in public spaces, wholly refurbished and interactive rooms, new Falky playroom, and many other new facilities. In the coming years, we plan to build several luxury villas and the new infrastructure of the resort, which will include smaller local shops, new bars, and restaurants, the central square as a place of events and entertainment, etc. We are convinced that the direction in which we plan infrastructure development, content, and offers will further attract old and new guests to our resort.

Has the tourist development of Dalmatia reached its maximum? Everyone is talking about sustainable tourism, but it is happening slowly in Croatia. What is your vision for the tourism development of this region?

Tourism in the region happens under the influence of several factors; there is primarily the destination's natural beauty, which undoubtedly attracts enormous amounts of guests. Guests will always look for beautiful locations, quality infrastructure, proximity to the sea and beaches. Although this is consistently highlighted as a comparative advantage of Croatia, trends show that some other values ​​come to the fore and significantly affect the final decision on where to stay. The potential of Zadar and Zadar County lies not only in new investments in new accommodation facilities of high categorization that are necessary for the destination but also in stronger branding of the county as a destination for active vacations, culture, gastronomy; the choice is progress. The proximity of several national parks and nature parks provides unlimited recreational opportunities such as cycling, trekking, hiking, etc. They should be well and continuously communicated in all emitting markets. Furthermore, the position of Ravni Kotari opens countless opportunities for the development of family farms and, in the future, quality continental tourism. Istria is the best example of how a destination can be developed in this direction and branded on the tourist map of the Mediterranean.

The potential is enormous; it is only essential that all entities look in the same direction - from political structures, tourist boards to businesses to turn the prospect into a developed and strongly branded destination, with a long-term source of income for residents throughout the region.

You have been the director of the Punta Skala resort for 13 years. Have you settled in, and what do you like most about the Zadar region?

Good question! Yes, I have lived in Zadar for thirteen years, and I already feel a bit like a Dalmatian, especially when it comes to Dalmatian songs. I was born in South Tyrol in a small village near the popular winter destination of Kronplatz, where we opened a new 5-star hotel at the end of last year, ‘adults only’ on the ski slope itself. That way of life shaped my childhood. I later lived in big cities like Prague and Vienna, after which I arrived in Zadar. The first words I learned in Croatia, related to work, are "nema problema" and "sutra. “ Although it was exciting and challenging for me, especially in the first years of living and working in Zadar, the openness of local people and the willingness to create great stories together is what sold me forever. The people I work with today are people I believe in and love to work with, who I love to both relax and sing with. It is this famous Dalmatian way of life that I do not plan to change.

For more, check out our dedicated travel section.

Monday, 16 August 2021

Croatian Hostel Attempts to Charge German Tourists 900 Euros for Two Nights

August the 16th, 2021 - We've been hearing some horror stories of apartment owners deciding to cancel previously booked reservations, often those made by Croatian tourists, to instead go for last minute foreign tourists willing to pay far higher prices. Now one Croatian hostel in Zadar has decided to take advantage of the unexpectedly good tourist season with such shameful and unethical practices, too.

The Croatian tourist season has been remarkably good, with some specific indicators being even better than the pre-pandemic, record year of 2019. Sadly, with this unexpected turn of events, greed has come out to play after a long time of uncertainty, lack of income and ever-tightening restrictions. One Croatian hostel attempted to charge tourists the insane price of 900 euros for just two nights spent there.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the last few days have been full of big, glossy and quite frankly rather unusual stories from up and down the country that testify to the incredible tourist crowds we're seeing in August so far. The latest news is about young Germans to whom a hostel in Zadar tried to charge 900 euros for two nights. 

This case, illustrated by a screenshot from the rental site, only highlights the awful stories we've been hearing about the owners and managers of private accommodation down in Dalmatia cancelling previous reservations agreed at normal prices in order to accept tourists who are willing to pay sky high prices because there is no free room anywhere else, as Kult Plave Kamenice reports.

Post-coronavirus (if we can dare to say that) greed is only on the rise after such a long time spent doing nothing, earning nothing and being unsure what government economic measures are available, if any. That said, such practices are the absolute worst anti-propaganda for Croatian tourism in general and will unfortunately be remembered in the rightly bitter thoughts of tourists long after the pandemic is resigned to the history books.

For more, follow our dedicated travel section.

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Arrival of 14 Zadar Cruise Ships Scheduled! First Arriving on July 20

June the 13th, 2021 - With the epidemiological picture finally becoming more favourable and vaccination across Europe going well, things are beginning to very slowly but steadily return to some form of pre-pandemic normality. For Croatian tourism, there couldn't be better news. So far, 14 Zadar cruise ships are scheduled, the first of which is set to arrive in mid-July.

As Morski writes, the well known Cruise company Viking Cruises is the first cruise company to publicly announce the return of their cruisers to the Dalmatian city of Zadar this summer, and it isn't the only one. As has learned from Rebeka V. Pevec, the General Manager of ZIPO (Zadar International Port Operations), 14 Zadar cruise ships are set to arrive in Zadar's Gazenica Port this summer.

''With an increasing number of cruisers returning to operation and choosing the Mediterranean for their itineraries, we hope that number will increase. Of course, all this primarily depends on the epidemiological situation in Croatia and in the Zadar region, on how much everyone will adhere to the epidemiological measures, and on the level of vaccination of the population. All these are factors that these companies are closely monitoring, and based on that, as well as on the recognisability of the destination, they make decisions that they will include in their itineraries for this season,'' explained Rebeka V. Pevec.

Passengers with deep pockets will arrive on 2020's Zadar cruise ships...

The companies that have confirmed their Zadar cruise ships this year are Viking Cruises, Holland America Line (HAL) and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. All three companies are considered luxurious and passengers generally have a higher purchasing power, and accordingly have higher expectations of their chosen destinations and expect a higher level of service and quality, not only on board, but also in the destinations they visit.

The first announced and so far confirmed of the Zadar cruise is on July the 20th, when Viking Venus is due to arrive, the newest ship in the Viking Cruises fleet of identical ships. Considering that Viking Venus is the first cruiser to visit Zadar after more than a year, and that this is its inaugural arrival in Zadar, we hope that together with the tourist boards and citizens of Zadar and the region we'll give a worthy welcome to both the guests and the crew, to prove ourselves as good hosts and as a good destination for cruisers,'' Pevec added.

Given the pandemic and the slightly better numbers after the start of the vaccination rollout, is there any optimism for this season?

''What gives us optimism and hope is the fact that more and more cruising companies are returning to operation, they're creating new itineraries and depending on the epidemiological situation, we see our opportunity there. However, at the same time, it's important to note that there is a lot of competition between ports and destinations in both the Mediterranean and the Adriatic, in terms of service, shipping costs, fees and the very recognisability of the destination. Therefore, and compared to the announced numbers of tourists arriving in Croatia by land, and the still current classification of the US State Department, according to which Croatia is in the red zone, our optimism is very cautious,'' Pevec stated.

Now is the time to make the best impressions for next year

''As for the epidemiological measures themselves, the recommendations were made in accordance with the recommendations of the most relevant regulatory bodies, the ECDC and EU Healthy Gateways, and since back in August 2020, no incidents have been recorded. Most ships are currently sailing at approximately 50% capacity, the passengers and crew are mostly vaccinated, so things should be fine if good preparation is carried out and if all stakeholders strictly adhere to the prescribed and agreed epidemiological measures.

In this situation and given all the circumstances, we look forward to every guest and every cruise ship arrival and we'll try to leave the best possible impression as a port and as a destination, in order to attract as many arrivals in the future. So, we aren't just focusing on this season, but we're thinking long term, because in this industry the real results are not seen immediately, but are realised through at least two years. The priority is to prove ourselves as a safe destination, with a high level of vaccination and with a culture of adherence to prescribed epidemiological measures, and of course as excellent hosts to ships, their guests and their crew,'' said Pevec.

Given the overall situation across the world, especially in the emitting markets of the cruising industry, a return to the figures from 2019 is expected in five years.

''Of course, it could happen earlier, but with the condition of very strong promotion in all media relevant to the cruise industry, and with a focus on Zadar as a safe and ideal destination for cruisers. With the appearance of the pandemic, all previous results were minimised and now we need to win over cruise companies to choose Zadar as one of their destinations. As a community, we can achieve this only with strong marketing, impressive service and the creation of a reputation as a serious destination that understands and appreciates the cruising industry,'' Pevec concluded for

For more on cruises to Croatia, check our our travel section.

Monday, 5 April 2021

Popular Zadar Kolovare Beach to Get Makeover Before 2021 Season

April the 5th, 2021 - The popular Zadar Kolovare beach is set to get a brand new look before the arrival of the 2021 summer tourist season. 

Although summer 2021 remains in question in the sense of what sort of touristic results Croatia might manage to achieve given the continued poor epidemiological picture across not only the country but within Europe as a whole, accompanied by a very poor, slow vaccination rollout across the majority of the continent with the exception of the United Kingdom - the extremely popular Zadar Kolovare beach will still get a proverbial face-lift.

Zadar never fails to attract tourists from all over Europe and indeed from the rest of the world with its beauty, history and abundance of culture. Those sunsets which were once described by the legendary British film director and producer Alfred Hitchcock as the most beautiful in the world also lend a helping hand. Despite all of the above, this historic Dalmatian city has suffered the same fate as the rest of the Croatian coast as tourist numbers plummeted during pandemic-dominated 2020.

With hopes for summer 2021 higher, regardless of the current unfavourable situation related to the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Zadar Kolovare beach will get some brand new outlines/contours and take on what is being referred to as a totally different look as fingers remain cautiously crossed for summer 2021 and the arrival of foreign tourists once again.

As Morski writes, amid the coronavirus pandemic back in October 2020, the works on the Zadar Kolovare beach began. Those works were long-awaited and things got off to a good start in the part of the beach between the swimming pool and the former restaurant located there.

Upon completion of the works, the local authorities have since announced, Kolovare will have a totally new appearance and a new lease of life despite the circumstances then and now.

The works are continuing in full swing and by the time things are finished up and polished off, the Zadar Kolovare beach will have completely new outlines and an updated look for visitors in summer 2021.

For much more on all you need to know about the City of Zadar, make sure to visit Total Croatia's Zadar in a Page.

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Turks Turning Old Zadar Maraska Building into High Category Hotel

February the 18th, 2021 - The old Zadar Maraska building which is well known all over Dalmatia and the rest of the country for its representation of 500 years of tradition is soon to become a high category hotel, with construction beginning this autumn.

As Morski writes, Zadar Mayor Branko Dukic recently met with the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Turkish Dogus Group Ferit F. Sahenko and his associates. The topic of conversation was the announcement of a new cycle of Dogus Group investments in the Dalmatian city of Zadar.

The Dogus Group is well known across Croatia for its numerous previous investments, and the conversion of the old Zadar Maraska building is sure to be a topic of conversation over the coming months.

''We're close to a partnership with a strong Croatian partner. We're planning to start the first phase of the hotel's construction in the autumn of this year. We're also finalising the blueprints for the living space around the hotel. We were pleased to be able to inform Mayor Branko Dukic about the further phases of the Maraska project,'' said the regional director of Dogus Croatia, Burak Baykan.

In addition to exchanging information on current projects for the development of Zadar's tourist offer and new business opportunities, the Mayor of Zadar expressed satisfaction with the announcement of the imminent start of construction of what will become highest category hotel in Zadar when completed.

''The City of Zadar, as an extremely tourist-oriented coastal city, urgently needs hotel accommodation of the highest category. I'm looking forward to the start of work on the future hotel in the old Zadar Maraska building beginning, which will confirm the correctness of the previous efforts of our city administration to attract new investments in the field of tourism, of which, I'm convinced, will be more and more.

We must continue to invest in our infrastructure, beaches, sport and recreational facilities, the restoration of cultural attractions and everything that will lead us raise the overall quality we can boast of and expand our range of destination products. All these efforts will contribute to the reduction of seasonality and create more new jobs. Zadar lacks accommodation in high category hotels and all investors whose projects can raise the value of Zadar's tourist product are ver welcome. The coronavirus pandemic will pass, people will start travelling again and it's up to us to welcome it and be read,'' Dukic concluded.

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Monday, 1 February 2021

VIDEO: Stunning Aerial Footage of Dolphin Family in Zadar Archipelago

February 1, 2021 – The Adriatic might be too cold for us right now, but conditions are perfect for this dolphin family, spectacularly captured gliding through glacial, undisturbed waters by an overhead drone

The Adriatic might be too cold for us right now, but conditions are perfect for this dolphin family, spectacularly captured gliding through glacial, undisturbed waters by an overhead drone

The footage of the dolphin family was captured spectacularly by keen amateur drone photographer Davor Miljkovic. Davor, who is from Zapresic, usually puts his eye for aesthetics into website design – he works as a PHP website developer for Virtus dizajn in Lanište, Zagreb and as a freelance website developer. But, he is currently taking advantage of working remotely and was able to catch footage of the dolphin family during his off time.

“I live in Zapresic but my grandmother is from island Rava, near Zadar,” Davor told TCN on 1st February 2021, two days after he posted the video of the dolphin family to his Youtube channel. “So, we have a house here by the sea. My fiance and I spend part of the winter here and we are here all summer too.”

The Zadar archipelago (in Croatian Zadarski arhipelag) is an incredibly picturesque group of islands off the coast of the city of Zadar. In addition to island Rava, off which Davor saw the dolphin family, the archipelago also consists of the islands Dugi Otok, Galešnjak, Iž, Lavdara, Ošljak, Pašman, Rivanj, Sestrunj, Tun Veli, Ugljan, Vir, Vrgada, Zečevo and Zverinac.

The beautiful stretch of islands is usually very popular with summertime visitors. It would seem that it's also popular in wintertime with visitors who live in the sea. And, of course, people like Davor who are lucky enough to catch sight of them.

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Tuesday, 22 September 2020

First Zadar Street Food Festival to Enhance Postseason Offer

September 22, 2020 - The first-ever Zadar Street Food Festival will kick off at the end of the month to enhance the destination for both tourists and locals. 

HRTurizam reports that gastronomy trends have recently turned to street food, so following that direction, the city of Zadar will launch its first Zadar Street Food Festival, which will be held from September 30 to October 4, 2020, at the Bamboo beach bar.

While the coronavirus epidemic has dictated how we hold outdoor gatherings, the end of summer is an ideal time for outdoor festivals. In addition to quality content for tourists, they also raise the quality of life for the local population.

Thus, at one of the most beautiful locations in Zadar, Puntamika, with a packed music program composed of local DJs, guests will enjoy simple but top quality dishes prepared by Zadar caterers.

Visitors will be able to try street food specialties directed by Hedonista, OX meet & eat, Maguro restaurant & sushi bar, Delimaris Fish & chips, Salsa Rosse, Burgers & More, and PIK GRILL HOUSE. Every visitor will find something tasty that suits them, from various types of gourmet burgers to fish and meat delicacies, special Pinsa pizza, and more.

The organizers also made sure there is something to satisfy the sweet teeth in the crowd. Led by Cafe Danica, guests can refresh with Italian ice cream, and Bamboo Ice will offer a varied selection of pancakes. There will also be cocktails and the opportunity for guests to taste local wines from the Zadar County area. 

Street food festivals are a unique gastronomic and urban experience, and the city of Zadar is certainly on the list of urban cities with a quality offer outside the tourist season. As we all know, events and congresses are great as a motive for arrivals in the extension of the tourist season.

HRTurizam writes that this festival is a great time for hotels and other accommodation providers to get involved. Because this is great quality content for guests, be sure to inform them about the Zadar Street Food Festival, tell them the story of Zadar and the gastro scene, about Zadar Maraschino, and offer transport to the festival if possible. 

If all goes well, the Zadar Street Food Festival, although conceptually created as a result of the coronavirus lockdown, will become a traditional event and a quality offer of Zadar. 

Find out more about the Zadar Street Food Festival HERE.

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Sunday, 6 September 2020

Beautiful 3D Maps of Croatia, its Islands and the Adriatic

Sunday, 6 September 2020 – Fafarikula from Zadar creates beautiful bespoke 3D Maps of Croatia, its islands, the Adriatic, and the world. Made from wood, they're the perfect souvenir to take from the coast

A stay on the Croatian coast is full of one-off experiences. Each island is unique, every wine and sunset is different. The same cannot be said for some of the mass-produced souvenirs available.

But, one small Zadar company has created a wonderful alternative to plastic keyrings and ill-fitting slogan t-shirts. Fafarikula makes beautiful 3D maps of Croatia, its islands, and the Adriatic. Made from wood and available to order, they can hang in your home and remind you every day of your trip to the Croatian sea.


The 3D maps of Croatia are made using a laser cutter and depict an accurate representation of shorelines and sea depths. Five layers of wood are used in their construction, then fixed atop one another.


Ida Šimunov and Marko Rihelj are the couple behind the 3D maps of Croatia. They founded their quality souvenir company, Fafarikula five years ago. They have a range of maps already available, but if you've fallen in love with one particular destination, they can make a bespoke map just for you. In addition to the 3D maps of Croatia, the company has recently produced maps of the Mediterranean and the whole world. They also make wood-bound notebooks, pendants, and a huge variety of fridge magnets.


Though a relatively new option for visitors, these 3D maps of Croatia come from a long line of map-making. Maps are one of the oldest things that humans attempted to paint. The earliest archaeological maps include cave paintings and ancient maps of Babylon, Greece, China, and India. However, the earliest known maps are of the stars, not the earth. Images dating to 14,500 BC found on the walls of the Lascaux caves in Dordogne, southwestern France map out part of the night sky, including three stars – Vega, Deneb, and Altair - as well as the Pleiades star cluster. The Cave of El Castillo in Spain holds a wall map dating from 12,000 BC of the Corona Borealis constellation.


A map-like representation of a mountain, river, valleys, and routes around Pavlov in the Czech Republic, carved on the tusk of a woolly mammoth, has been dated to 25,000 BC, making it possibly the oldest known map of all time. The word map comes from the medieval Latin 'Mappa mundi' with mappa meaning napkin or cloth and mundi meaning the world.

All photos © Fafarikula

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Thursday, 13 February 2020

Research from Zadar: Cruise Ship Guests Spend 55 Euro Per Day

February 13, 2020 - Cruise ship guests spend an average of 55 euro a day, and spend most of their money in Solana Nin - or 248 euro, according to a survey by the Tourism and Communication Sciences Department of the University of Zadar. The Department surveyed cruise ship tourists that sailed to Gaženica port in Zadar from July to October 2019.

HRTurizam reports that an interesting fact is that cruise ship guests on the Zadar peninsula spend, on average, 43.27 euro, and in the survey, also mentioned shortcomings whose solution would result in significantly higher consumption. The tourists complained about the insufficient number of exchange offices, the inability to pay by card and euros, and the insufficient number of sellers in stores that can serve a larger group of guests in a short time. Zadar now has an unmistakable indication of what to do to increase cruise ship spending, and can learn a lot from this data.

During their stay on land, respondents spent the most at cafes, on souvenirs and in restaurants, and given during their short stay in the destination, their average personal consumption was relatively high.

It is also interesting that cruisers guests made the most purchases in Solana in Nin, where they spent as much as 248 euro per person on average, which is a result of the fact that they had enough time to make purchases. However, they were also drawn to the attractive offer of Solana, which is adapted to the wishes of tourists.

This interesting research, which was presented in Zadar on Wednesday, was conducted with a semi-structured questionnaire and had the characteristics of a scouting survey. As the authors say, the results outline the profile, behavior and attitudes of cruise tourists included in the sample. A random sample of respondents included 1,315 respondents over the age of 18 who, when disembarking from the Zadar port, visited the old town of Zadar or made some of the excursions offered in Zadar County and other neighboring counties. Just over half of the surveyed visitors visited the Zadar Peninsula, and the most attractive destinations were the Plitvice Lakes and Krka National Parks, the town of Nin and the Zrmanja River.

"The respondents are from Germany, Great Britain and Spain, which is partly conditioned by the established cruise lines that land in the city of Zadar. The respondents are mostly older, which is in line with typical tourists traveling with this kind of transportation. Also, these are mostly experienced cruise passengers who are first-time visitors to Croatia and Zadar, so it can be concluded that they prefer this form of tourist travel and choose routes on which they have not sailed during their cruises so far, said Prof. dr. sc. Bozena Krce Miocic.

Visiting the old town or other tourist locations around Zadar was most often motivated by new experiences and experiences, attractions primarily the Sea Organ and Greetings to the Sun, but also cultural and natural heritage and the desire to feel and experience the atmosphere of the destination.

The overall satisfaction and impression of the surveyed tourists are at a very high level, from which it follows that they would recommend a visited destination to their friends and relatives. Most guests would love to revisit Zadar and other destinations, primarily for enjoying the peace and the preserved environment, gastronomy and cultural heritage. However, despite the positive impression of the cruise tourists surveyed, it should be emphasized that there are still supply elements that need to be continuously improved in order to meet this specific segment of tourist demand, concluded the research authors at the University of Zadar's Department of Tourism and Communication Sciences.

This research is important to consider when 124 cruisers with as many as 182,682 passengers sailed to Gaženica, Zadar's passenger port, which was named the world's best cruise ship last year.

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

Friday, 16 November 2018

Zadar's Tourism Leads To Colder Winters, Fewer People

A late-afternoon bura sends a cool gust cutting down Zadar's main thoroughfare, kalelarga. A handful of wanderers and two tourists roam the long, desolate stretch of cobblestone dotted by well-lit stores. Nearly all are empty.

A Yamamay touting fancy undergarments with no one to sell them to. A Swarovski shop’s lonely cashiers stand idly by their registers. A new-ish watering hole calledLa Bodega” holds its doors open to reveal empty bar stools.

Cafes, the stoic holdouts in every Croatian town, keep their outdoor seating available for one final warm spell before Christmas.

Welcome to Zadar in its post-summer hibernation, a six-to-eight month period of desolation and doldrums. When infamous “white paper” covers storefronts and obstructs glass-encased restaurants that otherwise resemble aquariums. Go ahead, try to saddle up for a meal somewhere.

That new restaurant you heard offers dynamite cuisine? It’s closed.

How about the old staple of the local scene which has spent decades consistently serving Dalmatian classics? Nope.

Well, at least the fast food joint must… Bupkis.

The few locals left spend the first hours of every morning fervently crossing off grocery lists then trudging off to work. Then home. A brave few remain outside, meandering past now-empty spaces where commerce used to take place.

Cafes remain the lone outliers, open year-round. After all, someone must offer the remaining Zadrani and students a place to congregate and complain about the lack stuff to do.

Thanks to all the hype and bustling summers, Zadar seems to be a Croatian destination on-the-rise. Yet the empty streets tell a more opaque tale.

Zadar's Fervent 'Yes' To Tourists

Like much of Dalmatia, Zadar milked the engorged tourism cow until it backfired in myriad ways.

The historic peninsula at Zadar’s core is hemorrhaging residents, seeing its population plunge by about 25 percent over the last decade. The few remaining make due in the face of living expenses inflated by tourism.

Now, like much of the coast, Zadar is looking for a way out of a boom-bust tourism cycle tied to mother nature’s fluctuations; all while also reversing depressing demographic trends and the growing sense that Zadar is a great place to visit — but not call home.

It’s first attempt: a glitzy new ad campaign featuring robust young folks running, climbing, jumping, all heavily breathing while subjecting themselves to strenuous exercise in scenic locations.

The ad also includes fleeting images of Zadar’s previous target demographic: happy couples taking selfies, families at play, eating dinner, or enjoying a brief respite by the Sea Organ. In the aggregate, those scenes feel drowned out by the sweaty fitness fanatics peppering the ad.


Because Zadar's new target demographic presumably has zero intention of briefly ditching their Fitbit goals during their vacation, nor does it care if the narrator of the promotional video can actually pronounce the town's name.

It ends with a clarion call to “Say yes,” a zealous demand that tourists give all of themselves to enjoying Zadar as it already is.

Say yes? Locals are desperately fighting the urge to say, “No.”

Why The Ghosts Came To Town

Empty storefronts and desolate streets may be a sign of a bigger, more problematic trend: a mass exodus sucking dry the last remnants of a year-round customer base.

“We have high payrolls, electric bills and other expenses, as well as rent,” said Stipe Kneževic, president of the local small business owners association, in an interview with Zadarski List.

Simply put: there aren’t enough locals to spend during the off-season, leading revenues to fall well short of the cost of staying open. For many business owners, it’s smarter to close up shop and minimize losses, then eagerly wait for the hordes to return in late spring. Knežević’s group asked the City of Zadar to lower rents on all municipally owned properties rented out to locals, to no avail.

Other businesses stay open on a shoestring budget, staffed at a bare minimum then seeking capable ringers to fill out staff during the summer.

Good, experienced employees are hard to find, Knezevic added. Many employers end up investing time and energy into training employees, only to have them leave at the end of the year regardless. “Only an idiot would let a good worker leave,” he added.

It all accumulates into a bizarre Catch-22: Zadar’s small businesses close because there’s no one to work or spend money; citizens leave because even if they could make a decent living they don’t have anywhere to spend.

A round table aimed at reviving Zadar’s historic core convened on Wednesday, featuring a gaggle of tourism honchos and local academics.

Zadar’s new tourism director, Mario Paleka, was short on answers at the round table. Many expected to be wow-ed by the same presentation which reportedly landed him the job despite lackluster credentials.

Yet Paleka’s contribution was limited to a few milquetoast promises of big plans and declaring Zadar needed to exist for its citizens — not tourists.

City council member Mladen Malta was the only participant to offer some advice, albeit well-worn, suggesting an increase in available parking, festivities and events need to be spread more evenly throughout the year, and perhaps luring a famous fashion brand to the historic center would all help.

In the end, the group reportedly spent most of their time finding elaborate ways to describe Zadar’s desolation, without listing specific solutions.

Moderator and sociologist Sven Marcelić reportedly claimed a large number of living spaces — perhaps too many — have been rejiggered to accommodate tourists and not locals. The result, after the summer is over, is a high-priced ghost town.

“The number of stores is dropping, and economic activity outside of 'the season’ doesn’t exist,” Marcelić said.

The dearth of accommodations means students studying in Zadar have to pay rents comparable with the pricey tourism season.

“Zadar is fast becoming one of the most expensive cities to study in in Croatia,” Marcelić said. “The growth in private accommodations didn’t follow the increase in tourism, all while citizens turned into second class citizens.”

Finding A Solution

Even Zadar’s new “Say yes” campaign wasn’t universally welcomed. The nearly three-minute opus left some feeling neglected, with officials from the local municipalities of Preko and Ugljan sending an open letter asking why certain parts of the county were wholly ignored.

“Considering the camera’s lens is very expensive, why doesn’t it have a wide angle?” the letter reads. “It apparently doesn’t, since it can’t film the entire county.”

Zadar does have some hope to hang onto — internal bickering and mass emigration not withstanding. Its airport recently crossed the 600,000-passenger threshold this year for the first time ever. Lonely Planet included the town on its 2019 “Best in Travel” list of places to visit — though it ranked second-to-last. (Locals probably weren’t happy to see Serbia’s Novi Sad ranked No. 3).

Some parts of the region are spreading events out, or adding new ones. Pag, an island whose winter offerings are curtailed by its legendary bura, will have its own version of Advent this year to rival Zadar’s own light version of the Zagreb staple.

Yet rejiggering the summer festival schedule and adding more parking barely address the soup-to-nuts problems facing many Zadrani. They’d gladly say yes to the town, region and even Croatia if it offered a stable, fulfilling job with a salary capable of covering ever-growing living expenses.

Until then, "Yes" will be a word Zadar rarely hears from its residents.

Follow the latest on Zadar's tourism, check out TCN's dedicated page here.

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