I fell in love with Jelsa all over again the other night, and it was an interesting lesson in how outsiders see Jelsa as a destination.
HRT1, the main national TV channel, spent the week on the island, filming a prime-time show called Susur, about the tourist season on the coast. There were four 50-minute programmes – two from Hvar Town and one each from Stari Grad and Jelsa. You can see the Jelsa video at the bottom of the article.
It was a show which was a mixture of pre-recorded material and live filming, and I was very proud of my good friend Andro Tomic for the way he held forth in the centre of the main square, drinking bevanda with his friends and presenter Nevena Rendelli. There is no finer ambassador of the town than young Andro.
Total Hvar was contacted by HRT a few weeks ago to appear on a show, and we had fun filming a mini-tour of Jelsa, including trying my beloved blitva for the first time in 12 years (part of an excellent lunch at Me and Mrs Jones) and filming a dialect lesson with The Professor at Artichoke. I was very surprised to learn that this would be the opening report in the show, and I settled down to watch the show inside at The Office, as Andro and team spoke live behind me.
It was nice to receive an SMS from the mayor immediately after the show thanking me for the positive picture of Jelsa in our report.
I think that the HRT did a brilliant job bringing out the very best of Jelsa district, and they had obviously done their homework, deciding which characters to interview, which themes to highlight. And what a high quality selection it was, ten topics in all.
After the fat blogger came an interview and live performance from Tonci Huljic, followed by an interesting report on fish and wine from Sveta Nedjelja from Nikola Plenkovic of Zlatan Otok. Sveta Nedjelja of course is part of Hvar Town district, but HRT managed to cross administrative borders in their promotion in a way that the five tourist boards of the island of Hvar for some reason cannot.
Andro then talked live about bevanda and wine on Hvar on the square, as footage showed Jelsa as a safe and friendly family destination before he gave way to a live performance from Klapa Cambi from Split. Another insight into the rich cultural heritage and tradition of Jelsa, and live klapa is always a holiday highlight for many.
And then on to natural Hvar, with two great features on the work of Zenska Zadruga (Women’s Association), whose members are producing an array of quality natural products that promote Hvar as the healthy island of natural goodness. Member Antonia then demonstrated how to prepare a traditional Jelsa cookie in her home. A safe, healthy family destination with great wine and gastronomy in a pretty harbour, easily accessibly by seaplane.
And then one more departure from the Jelsa tourist district into Vrboska (Vrboska is part of Jelsa district for administrative purposes, but has its own tourist board for some reason, which never seems to be open), and a great report on the traditional sailboats, including a great interview with our resident Belgian, Norbert from Vrisnik. Dreamy, romantic sailing, another string in the tourism bow.
But HRT did not forget the heritage or the wonders of inland Hvar, and next up was famous mountaineer and fellow FIJET Marco Polo winner Stipe Bozic, who introduced us to the excellent Etno Hvar Festival recently in Humac.
And where to finish before Tonci Huljic sang us through the programme credits that with our very own superhero Lavanderman, with a chat with Toni Faver, whose unique and innovative gallery Dalmacijaland continues to be ignored by the tourist board.
Ah, the Jelsa Tourist Board. There were only two things missing in the programme in my opinion. It would have been nice to have a feature on the beaches, and of course in such a programme, one would have expected to have had some input from the local tourist board. But as many have long ago realised, leadership in the Jelsa Touist Board has been missing for years.
Bravo, bravo to the team at HRT for showing Jelsa how it should market itself as a destination. Long ago, I suggested the branding of Jelsa should be ‘The family destination on the island of sun.’ Add to that the wine, the heritage, the traditional music, gastronomy, healthy diet and seaplane accessibility – all brought out by HRT – and the massive potential is plain for all to see.
But will the brains whose job it is to effect such a plan be either interested or even listening?