Tuesday, 19 July 2022

Zadar Swimsuit Ban? New Effort to Limit Inappropriately Dressed Tourists in Historic Core

July 19, 2022 - The Zadar Tourist Board is trying to send a message to tourists wearing minimal clothing, but is a Zadar swimsuit ban really in place? A look at the new campaign. 

The Zadar Tourist Board has decided to follow the example of cities like Dubrovnik and put an end to inappropriately-dressed tourists around the city center, reports 24 Sata

"Although it is not officially prohibited in Zadar, we ask that you respect the local customs and cultural tradition by not wearing only swimsuits when you are not on the beach, for whatever reason, even if only for a short time. Thank you and have a nice holiday!" is the text written in English and four other languages. The promotional flyers can be found at tourist offices and on several billboards in the city.


"We want to educate our tourists that they are in a special area, rich in history and heritage, where walking in swimming trunks is inappropriate. I believe that they will appreciate the rules of behavior here and in the future, tour the city wearing appropriate clothes," said the director of the Zadar Tourist Board, Mario Paleka, for HRT.

Another problem they will try to solve is the movement of bicycles and scooters in the pedestrian zone. Although this is partly regulated by law, it is not often respected, which is why pedestrians have problems.

The proposals will be included in two consultations with the public initiated by the city's Administrative Department for Communal Activities and Environmental Protection - on the new Decision on Communal Activities and amendments to the Decision on Communal Order.

"Following the announcements from the Zadar Tourist Board, we are expecting concrete proposals from them regarding banning movement through the historic core without clothing or partly dressed, to integrate this idea into the proposed decision," said Zadar's Deputy Head for Municipal Services, Robertino Dujela.

After the procedure is completed, inappropriate clothing within the historical walls may also see fines in Zadar. However, the Tourist Board hopes that even the first step, i.e., posting flyers, will have an impact. 

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


Friday, 6 May 2022

Meet. Feel. Explore. Zadar: New Zadar Destination Film is Here! (VIDEO)

May 6, 2022 - A new Zadar destination film is here just in time for summer - Meet. Feel. Explore. Zadar.

The new destination video by the Zadar Tourist Board entitled 'Meet. Feel. Explore. Zadar' was solemnly presented on Thursday at the Providur Palace by director Igor Goić and his team, reports Antena Zadar.

The story follows Jack (Dejan Marcikić) who describes a beautiful dream to his partner Jill (Nevena Dujmović Prižmić) and creatively shows the pride of Zadar, from the peninsula and city as a whole to the islands, and museums, but also customs, gastronomy, and locals. The film also features the well-known caterer Erik Pavin in the role of a chef, Hrvoje Dukić as a restaurant guest, and Gabriela Marin and Tea Šegić. Goić especially emphasizes the original soundtrack of the Vodice musician Tomo Cukrov, who composed the music.


"We wanted to provoke emotion, and we succeeded. Suppose local people react to the film in this way. In that case, we believe that the reaction of guests and those who do not know much about Zadar as a destination will be equally strong," said the director of the Zadar Tourist Board, Mario Paleka, after the film promotion. 

The film has undoubtedly already attracted media attention. 

"We continue filming promotional videos that the tourist board has done for many years. After the last film that Igor made in 2014, there was a need to present new content in a modern and interesting way. We are lucky to have people like Igor in the city who do worldly things. The film will initially be shown intensively in Croatia, Slovenia, and Austria, for which campaigns have already been contracted and created. Together with its shorter versions, it will be available to our tourist entities and renters, who will also be able to show guests where they come from," added Paleka.

"I did not want it to be a classic vignette mostly shot by other tourist boards and destination companies, but a small film with its dynamics, i.e., a story. To do it well, we first had to write and agree on the script, and then we did most of the filming last October and earlier this year. Us creatives need to be given the opportunity, and we had it to a considerable extent with the Tourist Board, and that is exactly why the film is as it is," said director Igor Goić.

"One thing is for sure, in Zadar, you can always find adventure, inspiration, a secret or ancient monument no matter which direction you go. And with every step in this city, you are further away from the worries of everyday life. Exactly what you need for a dream vacation, which you will not dream of this time!" concluded the Zadar Tourist Board.

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

Sunday, 1 May 2022

24 Hours in Zadar: A Microcosm of History, Art, and Unique Activities

2May 1, 2022 – Welcome to your day trip to Zadar: open all your senses and let yourself be carried away on this short journey to taste your first 24 hours in Zadar.

Zadar is the oldest continuously-inhabited Croatian city. According to some research and discoveries, Zadar was founded around the year 1000 BC, making it one of the most ancient cities in Europe, even older than Rome!

The city has witnessed and bears the inheritance of the Roman Empire, the Venetian Republic, has passed through Austrian and Italian domination, then was part of the Yugoslavian Federation and finally took its place in the independent Republic of Croatia.

Destroyed and rebuilt several times through its turbulent and yet rich history, Zadar has always risen stronger and ever more beautiful. That is why even a simple stroll in this city will strike you with wonder, curiosity, fondness, and of course...lots of fun!

10.00 a.m - 13.00 p.m.

We recommend you make a grand entrance and enter Zadar from the historical Land Gate, located by the Foša harbor. The Venetians built the gate in 1543 and feature a huge triumphal arch and two side arches, all decorated with images of saint Chrysogonus, one of the four patrons of the city. The winged lion of St. Mark hovering over the central arch is a reminder of Venice’s long rule over Zadar. So, make a nice roar and enter the city.


Foša harbor (Image: Zadar Tourist Board/Screenshot)

As soon as you pass under the arch, almost immediately on the right, you find a narrow passage that takes you to the Five Wells Square, located between the medieval City Walls and the Renaissance bastion Grimani, hosting the oldest park in Croatia named after Queen Jelena Madije. The wells no longer provide drinking water, but they serve as "gates" for skateboarders, who like to practice their techniques during the daytime.

However, in the evening, this square is transformed mainly thanks to the two clubs that excel in Zadar’s nightlife. Ledana Lounge bar is open from 8 am and offers refreshment under the trees during the summer heat, whereas evenings will give place to an exciting and chilling atmosphere on one of three terraces where you can indulge in some live music and concerts as well as huge theme party nights.

Svarog Bar instead offers theme music evenings of R’n’B, Salsa, and house music directly on the square.

Starting from The Petar Zoranić Square, you will admire the Two Palaces' recently renovated art and cultural complex. Next to this, there is the Church of St Simeon, where the main Altar holds a silver casket with the relics of St Simeon, dating back to 1380.

Then, you can start walking along the main road to get to the People's Square in Zadar, the Platea Magna, today’s administrative center of the City, together with the exhibition space City Loggia. From the People's Square, streets lead in four main directions: Kalelarga, the Seafront (Riva), the pedestrian bridge, and the market. On the opposite side of the Square, you can admire the City Sentinel, dating back to the second half of the 16th century, with a clock tower that has stayed in continuous operation since 1803.  

In People’s square, you will find one of the historical bars in Zadar, Kavana Sveti Lovre. You will barely ever find free places outside, but few know that the inside is surprisingly located in one of the oldest buildings in Zadar, an 11th-century church. 


People’s Square, the clock tower, Kavana Sveti Lovre (Image: Zadar Tourist Board/Screenshot)

From there, you will move your first steps towards Kalelarga, the city's main street, not always wide as the name suggests, but definitely a cult space where locals always meet someone they know. Officially called Široka ulica, it is mentioned in many songs, known to be the place of all city gossip or news. If you walk here on a Saturday morning (a time called Subotnja Špica) with fashionable outfits, you can be pretty sure the next day you will appear in some photo gallery of the most popular online local newspapers.

We recommend you to take a sweet stop at the beginning of the Kalelarga and delight yourself at Art Hotel Kalelarga. The Gourmet area is offering a relaxing and enjoyable experience of a unique Dalmatian atmosphere. Here you can start your day with coffee and fresh delicious pastries.


Fresh pastries at Art Hotel Kalelarga (Image: Art Hotel Kalelarga/Facebook)

From there we suggest you dive into the narrow streets and head towards the city market, one of the most picturesque and colorful ones on the seaside. Here, fishermen supply fresh catches every day, but you'll also find herbs, fruits, olive oil, and cheese in the outdoor stalls, as well as an indoor meat market. The best time for a visit is between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m., just do not forget to haggle over the price.

Then you may return to the right path or Kalelarga, and reach the St. Donatus Church dominating the ancient Roman Forum, which was built between the 1st century BC and the 3rd century AD.

The Church of St Donat in Zadar has long been desacralized, meaning no liturgies are held here. But thanks to its exceptional acoustic characteristics, it is the venue for music festivals and in particular the Musical Evenings of St. Donatus that are held in July and August every year.

On one side of the Forum you will find the Church and Monastery of St Mary, founded in 1066, and most of all famous for the Permanent Exhibition of Religious Art – the Gold and Silver of Zadar – with around 200 artifacts that date from the 8th to the 18th centuries. Close to the Monastery, there is the Archeological Museum of Zadar. 


St. Donatus, Roman Forum, and St. Mary Church (Image: Zadar Tourist Board/Screenshot)

If you don’t’ want to miss a 360° view for only 15 KN (2 euros), then climb up the Anastasia Bell Tower, 56 meters tall and about 200 steps to climb. But take care of the wind up there!

Do not forget then to visit the largest church in all of Dalmatia, the Cathedral of St Anastasia, a monumental Romanesque building. It’s closed to tourists on Sundays and remember that rules prohibit bare shoulders and shorts. 

13.00-15.00 p.m.

For lunch, we recommend taking a break in the historic district of Varoš, where you can dive into scenes of everyday social rituals and endless chit-chat (ćakula). There is a large selection of top restaurants, dynamic coffee bars for young people, and cult places for socializing.

Take a moment to fully enjoy a meal in the restaurant and pizzeria 4 Kantuna located right between the four corners of the district and delight yourself with a Dalmatinski pijat and a Ribarska teća alla Četiri kantuna. You won’t regret it!


Dalmatinski Pijat (Image: 4 Kantuna Restaurant/Facebook)

15.00-17.00 p.m.

In the afternoon we propose different options according to your interests and your level of fatigue.

Category: lazy but curious

Stay in the center and visit The Museum of Ancient Glass, a contemporary and unique archaeological museum, focused on ancient glass. It presents a unique collection of over 5000 various glass objects dating to ancient times. They also organize glassblowing demo workshops where replicas of ancient glass are made by using the free-blowing technique. During the summertime, they are open until 9 pm.

After the visit, you can delight yourself with ice cream from the best-known Slastičarnica Donat in front of the Cathedral of St. Anastasia. Otherwise, you can sit on the western Riva, in Gelateria Eva, where they serve both ice cream and vegan sorbet gluten-free. 

Don’t forget to drop in the Maraska Shop where you can buy the original Maraschino, a liqueur obtained from the distillation of dalmatian Marasca cherries, or Pelinkovac, another liqueur produced according to a traditional maceration method and using selected curative herbs, such as Pelin. The company Maraska offers also a wide variety of different fruit juices and nectars (Maraska Shop at Ul. Nadbiskupa Mate Karamana 3).


Maraschino Ad (Image: Maraska/Facebook)

Category: lazy and suffering heat.

Walk to the town beach of Kolovare and enjoy as locals do. The pebble beach and piers are also equipped with deckchairs and sports gear to rent, bars, and children’s activities. From here you can walk back to the Land Gate, the Fosa harbor, and admire the City Walls from another perspective.

Category: active and never tired 

Enjoy a few hours in Preko, on the island of Ugljan, reachable by a no-car boat from Liburnska Obala with the Jadrolinija ferries (ticket office, Liburnska Obala, 7). The routes are very frequent and the journey takes about 15/20 min for a 38 Kn return ticket. Here you can find the timetable. After admiring the shore of Zadar from the sea, you will then enjoy a very lively town full of ice cream bars, pekare (bakeries), restaurants, and activities. In the old town of Preko, you cannot fail to catch sight of the small island of Galevac or so-called Skoljic, which is only 80 m from the shore and is covered by lush vegetation that hides, but not entirely, the beautiful Franciscan Monastery dating back to the fifteenth century. On the islet you can get literally on foot as the depth of the sea between the shores does not fall below 175 cm.


Islet of Galevac – Skoljic (Image: Preko Tourist Board/Screenshot)


19.00-21.00 p.m.

Regardless of the category, you belong to, remember to come back in time on the shore of Zadar by 19.30 and walk up to the Sea organ and Greeting the sun, the two new MUST DO in Zadar. We’ve left these to the end of our day for a very specific reason.

Whether you have a romantic soul or not, the sunset is always a spectacular event. In Zadar, sunsets are the best on the Adriatic coast. No wonder the famous director Alfred Hitchcock declared: “Zadar has the most beautiful sunset in the world, more beautiful than the one in Key West, in Florida, applauded at every evening”.


Zadar's sunset (Image: Like Zadar/Facebook)

The Sea Organ is a unique blend of architecture and music. It stretches out in open water for about seventy meters from the Zadar waterfront (Riva), located at the western point of the city Peninsula. Here, below the level of the lowest low tide, 35 pipes of various lengths, diameters, and slopes have been installed. While the most beautiful sunset spreads over the horizon, the game of lights of the Greeting to the Sun starts. This contemporary installation is made of 300 multi-layered glass solar panels in the shape of a circle with a 22-meter diameter. Throughout the day, it collects the energy of the Sun and transforms it into electricity, which is then used by the installation and its surroundings throughout the night. 

Besides the main circle representing the Sun, looking from the west side, there are similar smaller circles representing other planets of the Solar System. The size of the Sun and planets are proportional, as well as the distance from the center of each plate. On the metal ring that frames the Sun are inscribed the names of all of the saints after which churches on the Zadar peninsula have been named. 


Riva seafront with Sea Organ and Greeting to the sun (Image: Pixabay)

21.00-23.00 p.m.

With fatigue in your legs and eyes full of beauty, you can enjoy an excellent dinner from Cookhouse and club Harbor. It is located on the north side of the natural cove of Zadar port, on the other side of the pedestrian bridge. Once there was the rowing center here, and now this recently built cafe/restaurant is enjoying great success due to its strategic position, a place from which you can admire the illuminated city center and especially the city walls.


Delicious food at Harbor. (Image: Cookhouse and club Harbor/Facebook)

23.00 p.m - early hours

Once the sun sets and your belly is full, it’s time to hit the town. You can choose to explore the nightlife all over the historical peninsula and dance the evening away at the Svarog Dance & Night Club at Five Wells Square (that we have mentioned before) and at the Ledana Lounge & Bar in the nearby Queen Jelena Madije Park.  

You can choose instead to go back to Varoš, the historical district in the south-eastern part, where you can stumble across random parties (the so-called feštice) that sometimes start in the afternoon and simply continue throughout the night, usually on Fridays. 

Or you can really chill out on great sofas and pillows in Garden Lounge bar and restaurant, the open terrace bar facing relaxing views from Zadar’s city walls. 

Having entered the city by the Land Gate, now, if you want, you can leave Zadar by the sea with the Barkajoli, the Rowing Boatmen that, from early morning to the late evening, take passengers and tourists with a little rowing boat across the Zadar peninsula to the mainland and back. This tradition is passed down from father to son, from one generation to another.

And there you have it, the best 24 hours in Zadar very well spent, hopefully showing just a small taste of what the city can offer. On the other hand, 3000 years of history cannot be lived in just 24 hours, don’t you think?

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

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Zadar County Presented to Italian Agents and Media

April 22, 2021 - The Representation of the Croatian Tourist Board in Italy, in cooperation with the Zadar County Tourist Board, is holding a virtual presentation intended for Italian travel agents and B2B media. The topic of the virtual meeting is the tourist offer of Croatia, with emphasis on the offer of Zadar County.  

As htz.hr reports, the virtual presentation gathered more than 60 participants. The presentation included information on the national safety label Safe Stay in Croatia and all measures implemented for the safe stay of tourists in destinations.

"While we are waiting for the full opening of Italy and the possibility of uninterrupted travel, activities such as virtual presentations are an ideal opportunity to, in cooperation with county tourist boards, present the tourist offer of Croatian regions for which Italy is one of the most important markets. In these uncertain times, it is essential to maintain presence and visibility on the market and continuously communicate all current information to partners and the media", said Viviana Vukelic, director of the CNTB Representation in Italy. 

Vukelic added that the Safe Stay's information campaign in Croatia would soon be launched on the Italian market, followed by a B2B campaign in specialized tourist media, and then the main invitation campaign for Italian tourists.

The gathered partners and media representatives were also greeted by the director of the Croatian Tourist Board, Kristjan Staničić. "Good expectations from the Italian market for this season are based on the feedback of the main partners from the Italian market, as well as on the announcements of new shipping and airlines that will connect Croatia and Italy this season," said Staničić.

The presentation of the potential of Zadar County to Italian agents and the media is especially focused on three products, namely outdoor, nautical, and gastronomy.

"Italy has always been our loyal market, which was, unfortunately, the most affected by the epidemic last year, and for which we still expect a good response this year. The Italians greatly appreciate our indented coastline and beautiful archipelago. On this occasion, we reminded the interested partners of our strengths and introduced them to the offer of various opportunities that can be experienced in various parts of the county. Nautics, i.e., islands, with an emphasis on gastronomy, capacities, and various tools to make it easier for our guests to organize their stay, are just some of the prominent topics. We are extremely pleased and optimistic about the great interest shown by the partners for our destinations, which is proven by this virtual meeting", said the director of the Zadar County Tourist Board, Mihaela Kadija.

Regarding traffic connections, along the international ferry line Zadar - Ancona, from July 24 to August 29, 2021, the fast ship of the tour operator Gomo Viaggi with 374 seats will connect Pesaro and Cesenatico with Mali Lošinj and Novalja and Cesenatico with Rovinj. The ship will operate three times a week in July and four times a week in August. The same partner confirmed that it would keep the airline from Ancona to Split in August. Other routes of companies such as EasyJet, Volotea, Ryanair, and Vueling will connect Croatian airports with Rome, Milan, Napoli, Bari, Palermo, and Venice. The cruise company MSC Crociere will start traveling again from June 2021, and Croatia is included in their program. It is planned that their cruisers from Venice, Trieste, and Bari will stop in Dubrovnik and those from Venice and Bari in Split.

Follow the latest on flights to Croatia HERE and the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia HERE.

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

Find more information about Zadar HERE and everything you need to know about the Zadar airport HERE

Saturday, 3 October 2020

Zadar Tourist Board Adapts Website for People with Disabilities

October 3, 2020 - The Zadar Tourist Board and the Administrative Department for EU Projects of the City of Zadar have carried out the complex task of adapting the zadar.travel website for people with disabilities, and promotional materials in Braille will soon be printed.

HRTurizam writes that the Zadar restaurants adapted for people with disabilities or the routes most suitable for people with mobility difficulties are only a part of the new content on the Zadar Tourist Board website, and people with disabilities can access the same and a wealth of other information on their computers. Thus, the zadar.travel website is now accessible to all blind and partially sighted people, respecting different vision levels.

In addition to functional and design adjustments to the font, i.e., size and spacing, which are, for example, important for people with dyslexia, the site also has the ability to work in dark mode, but also an integrated content reader in all languages that automatically turns on if it is used by a visually impaired or blind person that has a default system on their computer.


This project was financed and carried out by the Administrative Department for EU Projects of the City of Zadar and the Zadar Tourist Board. At the same time, the company Llyods Design from Labin adapted the functionalities and web design of the City Tourist Board (zadar.travel).

The project of adapting the content on the web for people with disabilities was carried out by the City Tourist Board in cooperation with disability associations in Zadar, especially with the umbrella Disabled Association of Zadar County, so that all changes have real value.

"So far, we have had nothing, and now we have something. There is still room to supplement because there is a lot of information worth having on the web, but this is the first and essential step. The site will be better and more comprehensive over time," says Filip Jadrijev, secretary of the Zadar County Association of the Physically Handicapped.

Jadrijev was involved in the implementation of the project and gave advice and suggestions from people from other associations, especially those visually impaired or blind from the Association of the Blind of Zadar County, as there were certain requirements when creating and adapting pages.

"The project is very important because it is not intended only for people in Zadar, but also for all guests with disabilities who come to Zadar from all over Croatia and the world. As I am a physically disabled person who uses a wheelchair, it was important to me that the website of the Tourist Board provides information on where and how disabled people can move around Zadar, or whether they can visit restaurants, theater, and museums, or how to access apartments and the like. In that sense, I expect the site to have more and more information day by day. Now we finally have a unique place that can be visited by a large population of people with disabilities, regardless of the type of disability," concludes Jadrijev.

The goal of the European project Tourism4All is to develop and promote a cross-border network of affordable tourist destinations. By improving the accessibility of natural and cultural sights of selected destinations, and the promotion of new tourist services, the social inclusion of disadvantaged or special needs (persons with disabilities, the elderly…) is encouraged, but also reduces seasonality in tourism.

Apart from being the first such website from a tourist destination, the site was also made according to the highest standards of web adaptation in Croatia. Lloyds Design from Labin was in charge of adapting the Zadar Tourist Board website for people with disabilities.

"This is a high level of adjustment and standard that is perhaps the highest in Croatia, and we realized it in cooperation with associations that bring together people with disabilities," said the owner of Lloyds, Domagoj Ostovic, and added:

"As we have different levels of visually impaired people, by emphasizing shades of contrast or color, we have taken into account all the tasks in the adaptation of the web. The job turned out to be extremely demanding and challenging, but we are proud to have been given the opportunity. ”


Creating tourist information materials for disabled people will continue with the production of printed materials in Braille and audio readers of printed info content on mobile devices.

Also, on the Zadar Tourist Board website, there is a special subpage for people with disabilities with various tourist and important information.

The Zadar peninsula is completely suitable for people with disabilities, and ramps with accesses are set up in all places where there is a difference in the terrain. Zadar not only adapted its streets, but also most of the city's institutions and sights.

Thus, various important information for tourists with special needs can be found on the subpage, from disabled-friendly accommodation, disabled-accessible beaches, hotels and campsites, restaurants, facilities, and routes.

You can explore this section of the Zadar Tourist Board website HERE.

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

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Tuesday, 4 August 2020

VIDEO: Drone Footage Shows Cycling On Ugljan Island, A Blissful Paradise

August 4, 2020 - Get a bird’s eye view of Zadar’s closest facing neighbour with this new drone footage of cycling on Ugljan island

Even in the height of summer, Croatia can offer total escape. The crowds and city streets have been all but forgotten by Andrej Šimunaj and his friends, who are currently enjoying cycling on Ugljan island. A new video they shot using a drone offers an incredible perspective of the peace, tranquillity and beauty of this little-discussed island.

The footage shows the visitors passing through peaceful pine forests as they journey to the vantage point of Venetian-built St. Michael’s Fort, high above the town of Preko and just of the edge of the Kornati National Park. From there, the cyclists roll downhill to a small cove named Prtljug, which holds the incredibly clear turquoise seas so beloved by visitors to the Croatian coast.

Cycling On Ugljan Island

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Zadar Tourist Board Awarded by Japanese Foreign Minister for Tuna, Sushi & Wine Festival

February 5, 2020 - The Japanese Foreign Minister has recognized the Zadar Tourist Board for its contribution to connecting Croatia and Japan through the "Tuna, Sushi & Wine Festival", which has been held in Zadar since 2015. 

Namely,  Dalmacija Danas reports that the Japanese Ambassador to Croatia, Her Excellency Misako Kaji, presented the Zadar Tourist Board director, Mario Paleka, with the award at a ceremony at the Rector's Palace in Zadar on Tuesday.

Before the award was presented, a short documentary on the five years of the "Tuna, Sushi & Wine Festival" was screened.

In her address, Ambassador Kaji emphasized that this recognition by the Japanese Foreign Minister is given to individuals and organizations for their contribution to the advancement of Japan and other countries. She called the "Tuna, Sushi & Wine Festival" a "distinctive sign of Zadar in the spring" and emphasized:

"Tuna from Croatia is very well received and appreciated in Japan as a valuable ingredient of sushi, accounting for half of Croatia's exports to Japan, and the Festival brought Japan and Croatia closer to Zadar, bringing the Japanese culture closer to these areas. That is why I believe that the "Tuna, Sushi & Wine Festival" will continue to be organized in Zadar," Misako said, adding that some Croatian wines also found their place in the Japanese market.


Filip Brala/TZG Zadar

Zadar Tourist Board director Mario Paleka also thanked the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs for the award. 

"This recognition confirms the importance and value of the Festival and the efforts of the Zadar Tourist Board. The basic prerequisite for the development of such a project is cooperation at all levels, from local, national and international. The festival, among other things, was a finalist last year in the selection for the Tourism Event of the Year at the Days of Croatian Tourism, all of which confirms the long-term thinking of my predecessors Messrs. Supa and Rados to create, expand and enhance the Festival," said Paleka. He added that this recognition obliges the organization of even more content and attractive festivals and the continuation of cooperation between Japan and Croatia, with an emphasis on Zadar.

Zadar Mayor Branko Dukic was also thankful for the valuable recognition:

"Tuna connected Zadar and Japan, many business relationships were created through the tuna and the Festival, and these relationships grew into a lasting friendship."

The awards ceremony was attended by Ines Stranja, Member of Parliament and President of the Inter-Parliamentary Croatian-Japanese Friendship Group; Head of Sector for Eurasia, Eastern Partnership, Asia and Oceania at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs Drazen Margeta; Ivan Vodopivec, Honorary Consul of Japan in Split; Zadar Mayor Branko Dukić; Zadar Chamber of Commerce President Dario Jurin; president and CEO of "Kali Tuna" Jiro Kamba; Director of the Zadar County Tourist Board Mihaela Kadija and representatives of other Zadar tuna companies.

To read more about lifestyle 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.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Zadar Picks New Tourism Director

Sept. 12, 2018 — Zadar has a new tourism director. He isn’t the most-experienced candidate. He arguably isn’t the most qualified.

He is a member of the Croatian Democratic Union’s local branch, and friends with the mayor.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Merit Or Uhljeb: How Will Zadar Choose Its Tourism Honcho?

August 30, 2018 — One of the most-maligned public positions in Zadar — Director of the Zadar Tourist Board — drew ten applicants from a wide range of backgrounds.

Can the most qualified candidate get the job if it's half-controlled by local politics?

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