Hvar Turning to Luxury Tourism Direction: Interview with Petar Razovic, Tourist Board Director

By 24 April 2019

April 24, 2019 - A new direction for one of Croatia's top destinations, Hvar Town? A wide-ranging interview with Hvar Tourist Board director, Petar Razovic.  

It is the destination which truly has everything. I had never even heard of the island of Hvar 48 hours before I arrived on the island and bought a house there. But it turned out to be the best decision of my life. And the more I looked around this spectacular Dalmatian jewel, the more I was blown away. The oldest organised tourism in Europe, the oldest public theatre in Europe, the most UNESCO heritage of any island in the world, the sunniest island in Europe. The list went on and on. 


One of the most attractive aspects of life in Hvar Town was (and is) its egalitarianism. Here was a destination which literally had everything, and tourists would mingle easily, be they celebrities, backpackers or superyacht owners.  There has been a strain on that coexistence in recent years, as the party tourism aspect has expanded, and the town was in danger of becoming better known for its partying than its rich cultural heritage. 

While there is still much to do, it seems that the winds of change are coming once more to this historic town, with the town's chiefs working to steer it back along with the path of more elite tourism. 

Last week, I visited Hvar Town, and it was a pleasure to meet the new tourist board director, Petar Razovic. Petar kindly agreed to an interview to showcase his vision of the destinaton, as well as outline what concrete steps are being taken. 

1. You have been in the job for about one year now. How is it going? How is the reality different from your perception before you took the job?


On 5 March 2019, I marked one year as director of the Hvar Town Tourist Board. I spent six months preparing and presenting my operational programme to the Hvar Town Tourism Council, so I knew the situation in Hvar tourism. The main problem I first encountered was that guests were experiencing and seeing the town of Hvar as a party destination. It was that experience and image of Hvar to the world which we had to start to change immediately.

2. Hvar is a destination which is dear to so many people, and its direction has come under media attention in recent years. Share your vision of Hvar the destination.


My vision of Hvar as a destination is that it must be recognised throughout the tourist year as a place where art, culture, nature, sports and social life for all generations magically meet.

The town of Hvar must restore its old glory and again become the most desirable luxury destination on the Adriatic.

3. Bringing change always takes time, but can you tell us a little about what you have achieved so far and what you expect to change in 2019?


In the coming years, Hvar will experience significant changes as we have started two projects for the development of sustainable, more responsible and higher quality tourism, involving private rental owners, agencies, hoteliers, caterers, retail businesses and wellness workers.

The first is the IQM destination Hvar (Integral Quality Management) – systematic promotion and implementation of quality management at the destination, and the other is the CROSTO (Croatian Sustainable Tourism Observatory) – a project for measuring and monitoring the sustainability of tourism.

Also, by conducting surveys of Croatian and international guests, we will get the results we will use to develop the destination further.

4. Hvar as a party destination, coexisting with its more elite and cultural tourism, has caused tensions in recent years. I hear that plans are in place to bring more control to this. Can you elaborate?


At the end of last year, members of the Hvar Town Council agreed with the owners of the nightclubs in Hvar the organisational rules for their operation. In the town centre, loud music will be allowed until midnight, and after that, the parties will move to the club on Pakleni Islands until 5.00 am or to a disco club. 

There will also be changes in the schedule of transfers by boats to Pakleni Islands. They will start at midnight. Communal officers and security guards will take care of the behaviour of young people during late nights.

5. 2019 sees the reopening of the oldest public theatre in Europe in Hvar Town, which is excellent news. Tell us more about that and how and when people can visit the theatre. How often will plays be performed?

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After 20 years of restoration, we will open the oldest public theatre in Europe on 1 May. In the tourist sense, this will provide us with the most valuable cultural treasure in the town of Hvar. For this tourist season, it is planned that the theatre will be open for tourist visits throughout the day, with the possibility of expert guides being engaged.

Performances themselves are planned as part of the 58th Hvar Summer.

6. 2019 also sees the opening of the first 5-star hotel on the island, as Palace Elisabeth, heritage Hvar hotel opens its doors this summer. How important is this for the development of Hvar tourism?

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The opening of the first 5-star hotel in Hvar – Palace Elisabeth – is the most important event for further development of luxury tourism in the town of Hvar. With its opening, Hvar will be placed on the world's 5-star tourist destination map, and I believe that in the coming years the profile of guests coming to Hvar will be drastically changed. The whole destination will have to make an additional effort and invest financial resources to keep up with the further development of the tourist activities.

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The promotion of the town of Hvar will be richer for one more perfect postcard, a joint photo of Fortica and the new 5-star Palace Elisabeth Hotel.

7. You have been working hard to improve connectivity to the town, and with some success with more catamarans planned. Tell us more.

Until two years ago, Hvar was connected with a maximum of 4 catamaran lines during the season. For this tourist year, we have already confirmed 15 catamaran lines that will stop at Hvar, with the possible increase of that number.

Due to the construction of the new airport in Kaštela, we have connected Resnik and the town of Hvar with catamarans, which will facilitate the transfer of guests coming to Split and then to Hvar by plane. Due to the introduction of the Philadelphia-Dubrovnik flights, there has been a 75% increase in the catamaran traffic on the Dubrovnik-Hvar route, so three new lines have been introduced for this year compared to the last year.

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Last year, an extension of the Hvar waterfront was built, so it now provides much better operational capacities. Two catamarans can dock at the same time, reducing the crowding in the port. 

We are planning to improve the signalling in the Hvar port as soon as possible (by setting up a display with all catamaran lines), and some changes have already been made in the Split port in cooperation with the Split Port Authority.

8. I must ask you about the famous signs threatening fines for people improperly dressed and drinking in public places in the centre. The story went around the world. How effective has the campaign been, and what is the official advice for tourists coming to Hvar?

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The signs with rules of behaviour and dressing in public areas were often photographed and shared on social networks and were featured in the global media, so they did attract some media attention. They will remain for this summer as well and serve as a guide to how to behave and dress in a town that has a 150-year-long tourist tradition. I do not advocate punishing the guests but prefer them to be educated. If needed, the town does have communal officers who will be able to issue fines as a final measure after a warning.

Last year, the Tourist Board distributed official t-shirts as part of a campaign in which we dressed people in swimsuits, and this produced excellent results since the guests also received a memento of their stay in Hvar.

9. Hvar is a town of great culture, and the Hvar Cultural Summer has been taking place for over 50 years. Many tourists may not be so aware of it. Tell us about some of the fantastic locations where performances are held, and what is in store for this year's cultural summer?

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This year, we will organise the 58th Hvar Summer which will be held at several locations in the town of Hvar.

After 20 years, we will have performances in the theatre and Arsenal, and we will continue with Veneranda, the mansion of Hanibal Lucić and the Franciscan monastery. Many events that will be held in these areas will open these valuable cultural and historical monuments to guests and revitalise them after the winter period.

I am particularly pleased that we will realise international cooperation through the visit of the Lviv Theater from Ukraine, on 30 June at Veneranda.

10. One of the great debates here is whether the island of Hvar should be promoted as one destination, or Hvar Town as its own destination. What is your view?

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By the end of this year, the Hvar Island DMO should be established that will have as its task a joint promotion of Hvar island in tourism markets. Given that I have been involved in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism on the drafting of all documents since the very beginning, my opinion is that it is necessary to promote the island of Hvar as a single destination jointly, because only together can we offer guests the complete atmosphere and all the beauties that Hvar has to offer.

The entire Hvar island has 6 UNESCO monuments of intangible cultural heritage that every guest wants to see, and only one of them can be seen in the town of Hvar (the Hvar lace in the Benedictine monastery). This example shows why we should promote the island of Hvar as a unique tourist brand.

Also, the development of cycling paths and cycling tourism must be done for the whole island of Hvar.

What we will leave for the Hvar town are significant events that raise the quality of the Hvar town tourism (OTILLO, Bahrain Merida Camp), as well as promotions in the British and American markets, since guests from these markets mostly come to the Hvar town.

 11. And finally, your favourite places on Hvar, and why?

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You have left the toughest question for the end. The father’s side of my family comes from a small town of Vrbanj, located in the middle of the island, while the mother's family is from Vrboska, a place that was created as a port of Vrbanj, and is known to guests as "Little Venice". I like Stari Grad due to its fantastic history and great significance for the formation of the island of Hvar, Jelsa attracts me since last year I was a cross-bearer as part of its 550-year-old “Za Križen” tradition which is UNESCO protected, and I adore the town of Hvar because it is the place where I have achieved my professional success as the director of the Hvar Town Tourist Board.

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Yet, on this perfect island, there is a place I would not exchange for anything. It is a small cove on the northern side of the island where I learned to enjoy excellent fish and wine, sun and sea. Once you jump into the sea there, you feel connected with the whole world and all the guests who have come or will come to visit the town of Hvar on the island of Hvar.

Want to learn more about Hvar? Check out the Total Croatia guide, Hvar in a Page.