Hvar’s wines are enjoying international acclaim, and there is increased interest in wine tourism. Not that you would know from the official tourist information. Day 2 of our constructive criticism of official tourist information.
Last year a tourist walked into a tourist board office (I will not say which one) and asked for information about Stari Grad as he wanted to visit.
“Take the bus to Stari Grad. They have a tourist office there, and they can explain everything.”
After the immediate action resulting from our post about the marketing of the Wildflower Festival yesterday, we have decided to post some more suggestions as to how tourist information can be improved for all by pointing out some rather glaring ommissions on the official island tourist information.
This is not about point scoring, it is a genuine attempt to improve the level of information, for despite not receiving one kuna of official support for Total Hvar, I do care about the island and the quality of its tourism.
As shocking as the official suggestion above was, it is not surprising. One of the most bizarre aspects of Hvar tourism (and it is the same on other islands) is that there is no united tourist board. Hvar has five tourist boards – Hvar Town, Stari Grad, Vrboska, Jelsa and Sucuraj – with five well-paid tourist directors. All five focus 100% on their own area with no information about other parts of the island. It is one of the reasons I started Total Hvar, and one reason why the site has been so successful.
One of the casualties of this are initiatives which stretch over the boundaries of individual towns. Let’s take wine as an example. The island has a dynamic Hvar Wine Association, which has organised some fantastic events (Hvar tasting in Oslo, month of Bogdanusa in Split etc), they are active on Facebook (unlike most of the island tourist boards), they are regular medal winners at international competitions, and they offer some great tourism options for visitors. And yet… there is NO mention of the Hvar Wine Association on any of the tourist board websites, apart from the occasional mention of an upcoming event.
Above is the fully comprehensive wine information section on the Hvar Town tourist board website. No mention of where to try or buy wines, promoting wine tourism, or even giving any indication that there is a great wine story to be discovered.
Stari Grad does better and has an introduction to the island’s wines, but then does the Hvar winemakers a huge disservice by naming only two winemakers, neither of them in the official Hvar Wine Assocation. Why? Because although the informative page is called Wines of the Hvar area, it only features wines in the Stari Grad area. No mention of the organic gold producer PZ Svirce, of Hvar’s most celebrated producer, Zlatan Otok, or Ivo Caric, just back from Bulgaria with a silver and bronze at BIWC 2013. No mention either for Ivo Dubokovic, Croatia’s leading garage maker, or Andro Tomic, whose visitors in the last month have included BBC Television, Associated Press, Sunday Times and The Irish Times.
The Hvar Wine Association is doing a fantastic job, and is pursuing an innovative approach to promote wine tourism – Hvar Wine Time Traveller. Again, no mention on the official sites.
Does Hvar need five tourism directors each promoting individual parts of the island? I am not so naive to call for one director for the whole island, as there are vested interests and politics, but how about this for a simple suggestion – why not have one website?
Why not put all the tourist information for the whole island in one place so that tourists can make an informed choice? Rather than running five disjointed websites, why not save on hosting and maintenance fees, and improve the tourist experience at the same time? Having heard what one tourist board is paying a month, those savings could be considerable.
Some Hvar wine information links (produced without one kuna of official support):
Caric Wine Shop in Hvar Town (and another opening in Stari Grad)