No Beds in Dubrovnik: August Overbooked, High Hopes for September and October

By 10 August 2021
No Beds in Dubrovnik: August Overbooked, High Hopes for September and October

August 10, 2021 - August looks much different in the Adriatic pearl than July, as there are currently no beds in Dubrovnik, apart from a few at the most expensive hotels. 

Dubrovnik, which before the pandemic in 2019 was the most visited city in Croatia with the highest number of tourist overnight stays, suffered huge losses last year due to the corona crisis. Since this is an air destination and there were almost no flights last year, Dubrovnik received the heaviest blow on the Adriatic, but the city is finally full of tourists again. The core of Dubrovnik now shows a much different picture, with full bars, long queues for restaurants, and thousands of people walking Stradun, reports

Official figures confirm this. According to eVisitor data from the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, from 1 January to 7 August 2021, 225,163 arrivals and 809,391 overnight stays in Dubrovnik were recorded. In the same period in 2020, 133,532 arrivals and 426,998 overnight stays were recorded, while in 2019, 870,819 arrivals and 2,615,588 overnight stays were recorded.

A large increase compared to last year was recorded in June when there were 40,038 arrivals and 135,895 overnight stays in Dubrovnik, or 201 percent more arrivals and 210 percent more overnight stays than in the same period last year, said the Dubrovnik Tourist Board. In July 2021, there were 115,323 arrivals and 422,679 overnight stays, i.e., 152 percent more arrivals and 131 percent more overnight stays than in the same period last year.

As for August, from August 1 to 7, 36,750 arrivals were recorded in Dubrovnik, and 149,607 overnight stays, which is 90 percent more tourist traffic than last year.

There are currently 21,038 tourists in the city of Dubrovnik, which is 74 percent of the total tourist traffic on the same day in 2019, and compared to 2020, 68 percent more.

"A significant increase and intensification of tourist traffic was recorded at the end of June and continued in July, and according to the announcements, we expect an increase in the number of arrivals and overnight stays in August. In addition, air traffic continued to increase in August. All carriers increased their operations traffic in August compared to the traffic in July, provided that the positive epidemiological picture continues. Given the absence of the pre-season, we hope that more intensive tourist traffic will continue during September and October to speed up the economic recovery," said the Dubrovnik Tourist Board to Index.

Ante Vlašić, a representative of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County Restaurant Association, told Index that since the second half of July, tourism in Dubrovnik picked up and that they are at about 70 percent of traffic compared to 2019. However, he also mentioned the problems they are facing now.

"As for the work of restaurants, those who can organize their team are doing well, but now a lack of workforce is an issue. Moreover, we are constantly afraid in the media about a possible break in the season, so many colleagues were afraid to hire more workers. Here, the local headquarters demanded the closure for another 15 days longer than the rest of the country. Hence, many seasonal workers decided to work in the north, i.e., in Istria and Kvarner. Also, flights were not running yet, and as the Headquarters defended our work, nothing sounded optimistic and good," Vlašić told Index.

He states that due to these reasons, Dubrovnik now does not have enough workers in the catering industry, so queues are being created to enter restaurants.

"Now, we can't even receive as many guests as we would like because we also have restrictions due to COVID-19. So at the moment, we are missing at least a third of the capacity that we should have, so I hope that these restrictions will be lifted as soon as possible. And we hope that the import of foreign labor will accelerate and we stop talking about closures. We are really scared in the south, last year we didn't have anything to do all winter, we were closed longer than the rest of Croatia," concluded Vlašić.

Index also spoke to representatives of family accommodation associations who said that Dubrovnik is fully booked and that only some of the most expensive rooms in the most exclusive hotels are still available. In contrast, some of the hotels did not even open this year.

"Split-Dalmatia County is the first, and Dubrovnik-Neretva County is the second county where more rooms are needed. There are currently no free nights; the latest information for Dubrovnik is that only a few superior hotel rooms remain free, where prices are high. That is now all that is free. Now we hope that this good season will last as long as possible so we can fill September as well, because only then can we talk about earnings. Last year we worked at a loss, and Dubrovnik was completely cut off as an air destination. I want them to work as long as possible. Last year there was no post-season, last year only expenses were covered, there was no income," said Barbara Marković, vice president of the Croatian Association of Family Accommodation.

She also states that it is unbelievable that some people are surprised every summer by the prices in Dubrovnik.

"Dubrovnik is a top destination, I worked a lot in France and Spain, and in some restaurants, the minimum consumption per person is 200 to 300 euros. So Croatia must also have a top destination like Dubrovnik, and what was written for minimum consumption in one place it is not unusual in the world," Marković said.

Nino Dubretić, from the Dubrovnik Accommodation Association, also told Index that the situation in Dubrovnik had changed drastically for the better since July 20.

"Dubrovnik is now sold out. There is a very high demand for accommodation in Dubrovnik, and at the same time, there are not many hotels on the market; you can find a maximum of one or two nights in a hostel or the most expensive rooms in luxury hotels. In addition, some hotels, such as Valamar's three hotels in Babin Kuk, have remained closed this season. On the other hand, some private renters have skipped the season out of caution, fearing corona, and some have turned to long-term rentals. At the same time, some new quality renters appeared, but when everything is added up, it turns out that we are in a small deficit in terms of accommodation capacity compared to 2019. On the islands near Dubrovnik, hotels remained mostly closed because there is no labor force," Dubretić told Index.

He states that the prices from 2019 have returned due to such high demand.

"There has been an overbooking of the destination. By August 20, our occupancy is very high, and we also receive reservations for September and October, and next year, so the situation is slowly normalizing. They are now in trend given the situation and last-minute bookings. Previously, the guest would have booked at least a month in advance and now book a week in advance. Guests decide to travel late because they are waiting to see what will happen. But anyway, now the situation is great, and we hope that it will remain the same in the off-season," concludes Dubretić.

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