Jelsa Mayor Niksa Peronja Appears on TV

Total Croatia News

In an hour long interview of the Jadran TV, the Mayor of Jelsa, Nikša Peronja speaks about his 3 years on the job.

Watch the video (in Croatian) here:


Here are some highlights in English (mostly paraphrasing, not quoting) of the first part of the interview.

Everyone says, that the life on the islands is slowly disappearing, young people leaving. How did you decide to come back and to work for the municipality?
After my studies in Zagreb I worked a few years there and then decided to came back to Jelsa to work at Suncani Hvar Hotels. I thought, some things could be done differently and I dared to run for mayor and won. This was 3 years ago. I inherited the municipality with a debt of 14 million kuna, which was huge, giving the fact, that it is the same amount as the yearly budget of the municipality. Salaries of all employees were 3 months late. We managed to consolidate the finances and all salaries and payments are now paid on time. We managed to invest 100 million kuna in various projects and I hope we will manage the remaining 20 million too until the end of my mandate. 
How did you do this in only 3 years on the job?
The key factor was to get organized, to get the whole system working properly. Maybe, people will say, that we should have had done more. Of course, more is always possible, but not everything can be done overnight. Before my arrival, there were no investments and the municipality was focusing on returning those big debts from the past. It was hard to get things moving, but with a good cooperation with the Ministry and the County, we managed to finance projects, which were prepared by the previous administration and even to start a few new ones.
Did you bring new people when you took over the job? Do young people get employed and kept on the island?
We kept the number of employees almost the same. There were several people who left and there are new ones, but overall, not much has changed when it comes to the number of people working at the municipality. As much as I would love to employ young educated people, we were not in a position to do that in the past 3 years, so we used the national program of employing trainees, mostly to prepare EU projects. Jelsa actually has enough young people, who are coming back to the island. We support them by giving them concessions for their business, not by directly employing them.
What is the current situation with the debt of the municipality? After 3 years of your mandate, did you manage to return all debts?
No, not yet. We managed to lower the debts considerably. We managed to refinance one loan of 4 million kuna, which had really hard conditions (big amount to be paid once per year). As for those remaining 10 million kuna, we managed to lower it to 4 millions.
After the successful last year´s summer season, what is waiting for us this year?
According to the results of the tourist board, there was an increase of 3-3,5% in overnight stays in 2015. The problem in Jelsa remains the lack of quality of hotel accommodation. I am aware of the fact, that with the existing capacities, hotel employees are giving their best to secure a successful season, but it is not easy. But there are good news too. After a long term court case between the owners of the Hotel Adriatic in Vrboska and the municipality, we managed to settle with them for a part of the land, where the buildings are. This resulted in a current investment of 30 million kuna and we are getting a 4 stars hotel this season.
Who is actually choosing Jelsa for its holiday destination? Which type of tourism are you focusing on? Is it family tourism, or sports, or health..?
That is a good question. For the last 15 years, we have had no official tourism strategy in Jelsa. Although Jelsa lives from tourism, nobody made a clear decision about the direction of the tourism development. Through various investments to infrastructure and tourism, we are trying to move things to the right direction. Given the fact, that Jelsa municipality takes more than 50% of the territory of the island of Hvar, I would say, that there is room for many tourism segments. We are focusing on nautical tourism, but definitely family tourism together with sports and adventure tourism will be the main goal of this area. Jelsa municipality could get an interesting recreational zone on the island.
People in Jelsa are grumbling. Restaurant owners say, there is more dust than guests in Jelsa these days..
Yes, I know. The inner part of the Jelsa harbor was built during the Austro-Hungarian era, in 1868. After 150 years, we have an investment of 21 million kuna coming from the County Port Authority. The first phase is done, the 2 remaining ones are currently causing much dust in Jelsa. The phase of the Kanun pier extension should be done by the start of this season. Maybe not completely done, but it should be functional. The former catamaran docking place remains to be a problem. It collapsed during the reconstruction works last year. It was an accident. Everything needed to get re-projected and more finances were needed. We have a good cooperation with the County Port Authority, but all these problems and delays are causing much frustration to everyone and to me personally, as we are doing our best to have everything done by the start of the season. We hope it will be all done by the end of this month.
How about the connection between the islands? There was a story about connecting Vis, Hvar and Šolta. Did you manage to carry out this idea?
Unfortunately not. We talked about it a lot, but more institutions need to get involved to make it happen. The government and the ministry above all, because they are the ones making these decisions. However, this year a tender for all ferry connections will be published. The initiative from the Jelsa municipality, which was supported by my colleagues in Hvar and Stari Grad towards the Agency for the regular coastal transportation was to condition the Split – Stari Grad ferry with the max. duration of the crossing. We ask for 85 minutes (currently it is 120 minutes or more). I expect a positive answer from the Agency, everything else would be unacceptable.


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment