Hvar Hostel Owner: It Would Not Happen in Dubai

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I haven’t written much about the destructive effects of the Hvar party this year. There is little point when the chance of change is so unlikely. When a town council votes unanimously (13-0) to put a stop to some of the excesses, following a petition from residents, and the Mayor does nothing, one understands that there are higher forces at play. 

The recent incident of two drunken Australians being arrested for climbing on (and damaging) the roof of Hvar’s historic cathedral was something that spurred me to blog, and quite by chance, I met one of them the other day in Split, and a very remorseful young man agreed to an interview about the incident, which you can read here

I had expected to meet a boorish Australian, but the person I spoke to was educated (he is an architect), reserved and clearly totally embarrassed by his behaviour. A lot of the young party tourists coming to Hvar are young, educated and in well-paid jobs (some of those yacht parties don’t come cheap) and they seem to forget their normal behaviour when they come to a town which is becoming known as one of the party destinations in Europe. 

I met with a Hvar hostel owner recently and we discussed the whole party scene in Hvar and how things are changing, and the owner said something very interesting which got me thinking and which inspired this blog:

“This kind of behaviour would not happen in Dubai.”

Dubai of course is famous for its intolerance on matters related to alcohol and sex, with draconian punishments for those who cross the line, and while nobody would for a minute suggest that Hvar needs something similar, the hostel owner has a very good point.

My drunken Australian architect told me that the appeal of Hvar was party, party, party, with any history or culture lost in the party story, and he also told me that Croatia was a wild place where pretty much anything goes. Had he known for example there were rules about drinking in public, he would have respected them, but there is simply this vibe about partying, seemingly without rules. 

While one would expect any educated person to behave with common sense, could the town of Hvar do itself a huge favour and improve conditions for itself and its other tourists, by introducing some simple and visible measures to educate its party visitors on what is, and what is not acceptable?

There was a motion to introduce a code of conduct to the town a couple of years ago by one of the political parties. Some ten thousand leaflets were printed in various languages, for distribution around town. You can see the English version of the message above. The leaflets sit today in an administrator’s office in the town, undistributed. 

There was also a motion to ban alcohol consumption in public places (there has been a sharp increase of people buying alcohol from shops and sitting in public places without toilets, with several unfavourable consequences), and to introduce at least six uniformed town wardens to patrol the town.

Simple measures reminding guests that although they are on holiday, there are some rules, just like there are at home. Would a visible combination of the above have prevented our drunken Australian architect from damaging the cathedral roof? Perhaps, perhaps not, but politely reinforcing the message that Croatia is a great tourist destination but not one where ‘anything goes’ should lead to a reduction in some of the excesses witnessed this summer. 

Nobody wants to have the strictness of Dubai on Hvar, but nobody wants to have the reality of Magaluf either. There is a middle way. 


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