Jutarnji List reports that in the last four years, the City of Mali Lošinj has become a leader in numerous initiatives and positive changes, which is the right recipe for improving the quality of life and keeping young families on the island.
The largest city on the Croatian island in the last four years is run by Mayor Ana Kučić, who is proud that this island area has many young people, business people, and farmers. All of them are very much responsible because Mali Lošinj has been in the top 10 destinations in the Republic of Croatia for years. Sustainable development management is carried out at all levels of the destination, which is why Mali Lošinj was ranked among the Top 100 sustainable destinations globally for the sixth time, and in 2019 the island of Lošinj was declared the most successful health tourism destination.
Dedicated work on responsible tourism was also awarded by the Responsible Tourism Partnership, which awarded the Responsible Tourism Award at the World Tourism Fair in London to the City and the Mali Lošinj Tourist Board for responding to the challenges caused by COVID-19. It is a plan that envisages a kind of “Insurance Policy,” i.e., monetary compensation for renters of private accommodation and the costs of self-isolation of the guest, quick coordination of the authorities in case of suspicion of infection, as well as safe return to the home country. Thus, Lošinj became one of the first cities in Croatia to take this problem seriously, aware that the island’s budget is largely, like most of Croatia, dependent on tourism.
Mali Lošinj does not understand youth education only declaratively. Therefore, co-financing a full-time stay for students from 1st to 4th grade, student scholarships and scholarships for those students who reside in the City of Mali Lošinj and study outside it, subsidizing bus tickets to pupils and students to the place of schooling is only part of the measures. The city is also undertaking almost one million kuna from the budget. At the same time, in the past four years, HRK 40 million has been allocated for preschool education, and in 2021 a total of HRK 10.7 million is planned.
Aware of the importance of continuously providing quality health services to residents, the City provides housing for physicians coming from other areas and provides them with accommodation in the existing adapted housing stock owned by the City. Namely, on the island of Lošinj, funding has been provided for years for doctors – specialists who regularly come to the island. The City allocates about 500 thousand kuna, and a total of 1.2 million kuna is allocated from the budget to ensure a quality health program. In addition to the health program, they initiated amendments to the spatial planning documentation to start constructing the future Health Center in cooperation with the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County.
The city’s priority is housing construction through several different models, such as renting city apartments and city ruins and land for a longer period. The first public call is currently being prepared, in which a dozen families will be provided with such housing. The housing construction is oriented not only to the City of Mali Lošinj but also to all other places that administratively belong to Mali Lošinj.
Unfortunately, due to the unenviable situation caused by the pandemic, Mali Lošinj planned as much as 2.9 million kuna for the social program in the budget for 2021, which is almost 40 percent more than, for example, in 2017. The reason for this is the development of social measures in recent years, but also the amendment of the Decision on the social standard of citizens, which increased the amount of social census, which includes a larger number of socially vulnerable citizens and families while maintaining existing standards in health care and all educational institutions and programs.
In the past few years, through eight different measures, more than five million kuna of support has been awarded to the economy and farmers to preserve jobs, facilitating business for entrepreneurs, and encouraging agricultural production and investment in agricultural infrastructure. Aware of the challenges facing the economy during the pandemic, the City has brought several benefits for entrepreneurs to preserve jobs, such as exemption from taxes on the use of public areas and rent of business premises and exemption from concessions and utilities.
The agglomeration project is significant, primarily due to rising living standards and environmental protection. The largest investment that will be realized in the coming years in this area, worth as much as 486 million kuna, will eliminate the use of septic tanks and the discharge of wastewater into the environment in all settlements. This will enable the development and improvement of standards for the provision of water services and directly affect the quality of life of all residents.
From 2017 to 2021, 51 projects were applied for European and national funding sources, and 14 letters of support were issued for all projects whose implementation will take place in this area. The total amount of registered projects is HRK 529 million for EU projects and HRK 33 million for national projects. In addition to the financial injection of EU funds, which is necessary for serious projects, Lošinj and Cres have jointly launched an energy transition project at the European Commission for Clean Energy of EU Islands that develops broadband infrastructure, smart water management, and utilities.
The City of Lošinj annually allocates HRK 10 million for the work of institutions, the Public Open University, the City Library and Reading Room, and the Lošinj Museum, which includes the Museum of Apoxyomenos, and for capital projects in culture, which is one-seventh of the City’s total budget. Funds have also been provided for the repair of the damaged Osor ramparts. A project for the arrangement of Kaštela is being prepared, for which complete archaeological research of the fort has been carried out, and a project for the maritime collection – the Maritime Museum.
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