Constructive Suggestions for Local Tourist Boards: Trains and TZ Split

Total Croatia News

It is more than four years since we started the Total project with a first blog on Total Hvar on October 13, 2011. Since then, we have spammed you with some 15,000 articles – most of them postive – on our expanding network of sites: Total Hvar, Total Split, Total Inland Dalmatia, Total Munich and Total Croatia News. The sites have been generally well received, and we have been humbled by the literally thousands of emails, as well as a truly global reach promoting Split and Hvar via internationally media, culminating in the 2014 Marco Polo award for best international promotion of Croatian tourism at the National Society of Journalists in Zagreb for Totals Hvar, Split and Inland Dalmatia.

With the admirable exceptions of Central Dalmatia and the tourist boards of inland Dalmatia (despite their tiny budgets), one of the constant themes of our work over the last four years and more has been the total indifference of the tourist boards of Hvar (all FIVE of them!) and Split. A little discouraged, we decided to proceed with our humanitarian mission to provide what was missing on Hvar and in Split – quality tourist information.  

Having been a humanitarian aid worker after the genocide in Rwanda, the aftermath after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the challenges of the warzone of eastern Somalia, I can with confidence state that the Total humanitarian tourism information mission in Dalmatia has been the most inspiring and exhilarating mission of all. So much so that we have decided to continue. 

Over the years, when we have had a minute, we have – in the humanitarian spirit with which the Total project exists – found the occasional minute to provide a little free consultancy to local tourist boards on Hvar, so that they could improve their information servive to tourists. Who can forget, for example, the decision of the Stari Grad Tourist Board to embrace the recommendations of our blog Stari Grad Working Hard to Attract Croatian-Speaking Foreign Tourists? Or the Jelsa Tourist Board implementing their pre-season strategy to update the 2014 bus and ferry timetables in mid-May 2015? Or perhaps my favourite, the Hvar Town Tourist Board realising from our blog that there were more recent breaking news stories than snow falling in a destination which had nothing to do with Hvar Town 14 months previously? 


The season of giving has just been with us, but the Total Family has decided to extend it to benefit local tourist boards, who have plenty to do enjoying long coffee breaks and ensuring their sizable salaries are paid on time. In the spirit of the humanitarian principles on which the Total Project operates, we are today launching Total Local Tourist Board Watchdog, a new (free) service to local tourist boards, where we point out areas where their tourist information could improve a little with a little tweaking. 

We start with one of my favourite tourist board website pages of all – the Split Tourist Board ‘How to Get There by Train’ section. I have been looking at it longingly every time I get depressed for more than a year. You can view it here

The new expensive Split Tourist Board website was launched over a year in an impressive six languages, but one has the feeling that the official translators were not sweating too much on the translations of the page’s contents, for here on the page one can find the names of every main train station in Croatia. Useful. The names are accompanied by a phone number and, for the lucky few, a fax number (come on, hands up, how many of you have ever sent a fax to a train station?). Email addresses? No chance. Websites? No chance. So if you actually wanted to find out when a train might arrive or depart, good luck with that phone number (all of which omit the international dialling code of course – THAT would indicate there was interest in promoting information to international tourists). Of course, you could always try that lucky fax number… 

But this is not the reason I have been gazing at this page during my darker hours over the past 12 months. Naively, I assumed that an official Split Tourist Board information page on called ‘Arrival by Train’ would have something to do with arriving in Split by train. How naive I am!

Above is the rail map of Croatia. The only line which operates from Split is to Zagreb. I think it is twice a day at the moment, three in the season, including an overnight train. Two of the train stations on the comprehensive list of Croatian train stations on the Split Tourist Board website are Metkovic and Ploce (which even has its own dedicated fax number). The only problem regarding arriving in Split is that the rail network in Ploce only connects to Metkovic, and the rail network in Metkovic only connects to Ploce (you can get fax confirmation of this if they respond to your fax). Quite what it is doing on the Split Tourist Board website it a little unclear, just as the phone numbers of other train stations apart from Split and Zagreb make little sense.

At least to us humanitarians.

Much more sensible, we would suggest, is (now with an English version). Simply insert Split and where you want to go (that would be Zagreb…) and, as they say in Manchester, Bob’s your uncle.

And if you are stuck in Ploce and nobody is responding to your fax, you can maybe find the bus station, a key stop on the Dubrovnik to Split route, a guide to which have updated this very morning.  

Thus ends the first in the series of the Total Local Tourist Board Watchdog. We hope the Split Tourist Board finds it useful, and perhaps some changes may occur, which might lead to a reduction in fax traffic to Ploce, but hopefully this will be offset by an increase in useful information for the people who are supposed to matter – tourists. 

Next week we will be looking at flight information, as one of the strange things we noticed on the Split Tourist Board flights page was that although the city (one would have thought) proudly boasts the first scheduled seaplane operation in modern European history, there is not a mention of the European Coastal Airlines seaplane service (which connects Split all year to Italy, Pula, Dubrovnik and several islands and other mainland destinations). 

Perhaps ECA does not have a fax number. 


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