Travel

Dubrovnik to Ban Tourists Claims British Tabloid: Official Statement from Mayor's Office

By 4 January 2017

An alarmist headline in a British tabloid on January 3, 2017, and an official response from the Office of the Mayor of Dubrovnik. 

It is all in the title, I was advised, when I started writing news. The content of an article is nowhere near as important as the title. Make it as 'clickbait' as possible, they told me. 

Over the years, I have learned to detect the obvious clickbait titles, sensing a half-truth relavent to the article in those precious introductory words, and so it was today when I came across The Daily Star (yes I know) exhorting its readers to visit the Pearl of the Adriatic while they still can, for Dubrovnik would soon be banning tourists - a rather unusual strategy for a city which lives predominantly from tourism, I thought to myself over my morning coffee. My curiosity aroused, I entered the article to learn more of this impending tourism doom about a city which is having a record year, with over a million tourists for the first time, which has stretched Dubrovnik's capacity, especially in eak season:

"Now, the mayor Andro Vlahušić has decided enough is enough and has announced a new plan to limit visitors for preservation purposes.

"The small Unesco heritage site will now be capped at 6,000 tourists a day under expert recommendation.

"The plan includes cameras with counters being installed around the entrances to keep track of the number of visitors at any given time."

Ah - from banning tourists in the clickbait title, to limiting them in the text. 

Curious as to what the official strategy of the Dubrovnik authorities is regarding tourism numbers management given the large increase in tourists, I contacted the office of the Mayor of Dubrovnik, attaching the tabloid link, and asked for comment. Here is the reply in full, delivered within hours of my request:

"Dubrovnik is extremely proud of its touristic achievements. In 2008, just eight years ago, Dubrovnik recorded 512,000 tourist arrivals, now this year we are celebrating just over one million arrivals and almost 3,8 million overnights. The city has twice been awarded this year as the champion of tourism. Dubrovnik is the best City Break destination and, most importantly Champion of Croatian tourism in 2016., as chosen by the Croatian Tourist Board, Ministry of Tourism and Croatian Chamber of Economy. This is the second time this year that Dubrovnik was declared the Champion of tourism, since it already got that title from the newspaper Vecernji list. Also, the last couple of years marked an significant decrease of cruise ship passengers in favor of tourists staying in hotels and private accommodation. We still have the peaks during the high season, but it rarely passes a daily number higher of 7000 cruise ship tourists, just 2 to 3 days a month in the main season.

"In recent years we started to develop strategies how to manage the city and large amount of tourists coming to Dubrovnik during the peak season with just one goal - to make Dubrovnik more enjoyable for all its guests. The Old City of Dubrovnik has been under UNESCO protection since 1979. During the last inspection by the UNESCO working group we were advised that the number of people (locals & tourists) shouldn't be more than 8000 at any time. Our development agency DURA, through the program Smart City Dubrovnik, had already acquired cameras, so called "people counters", that will be put at the entrances to the Old City so we can give valuable information through media, smartphones, city displays... that the number of people is above 6000 or 8000. This situation when the Old City gets too crowded is not good for anybody; guests from cruise ships, hotel or private accommodation guests, local people - plus there is a safety issue. There are more measures that would be taken into consideration like new traffic regulations in the Old City area especially for shuttle buses with cruise ship passengers, developing new attractions outside the Old City, establishment of evening working hours for museums and city walls etc.

"However, it is a process. We have worked very hard - the Municipality, Tourist Board, private sector... to achieve these numbers and to build up the overall quality of our destination, to improve the night life, but most importantly the quality of private accommodation which has received complete makeover, from merely renting beds to one of the most valuable parts of our accommodation offer.

"Today, Dubrovnik is the city that lives for 24 hours a day from early May to end of October. Also, by introducing the Dubrovnik Winter Festival last year we are finding ways to conceive new products outside the summer season. The television and film industry projects like Game of Thrones have also helped a lot, not only in promotion, but in making our city desirable location for projects that are mostly done during fall and winter time."

 

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