How to Promote Croatia?

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Copyright: Stojcic and Romulic

If Hollywood films and reality TV shows aren’t it, then how does one promote Croatia?

 In the last 24 hours, we have written about the topic of filming in, and the promotion of Croatia; from the effects, the filming of Mama Mia could have on the island Vis, to the most recent BBC3 reality tv series that is to be filmed in Novalja, Pag. Then our recent Editorial by Paul Bradbury takes a more in-depth look at ‘The Good, the Bad and the Totally Stupid’ in terms of marketing decisions.

However, being the romantic-optimist that I am, I wanted to take the chance to highlight some promotions that are, in my opinion, doing it right.

It goes without saying that I need to start with the Tourist Board of Istria, who, for three years, has run an incredible campaign called “Share Istria”. Through this initiative, they invite some of the world’s most popular travel bloggers, authors and photographers who have a strong social media presence (50,000 followers being the prerequisite to get an invite), to spend a week in Istria. The tourist board organises a full itinerary, taking them to local taverns, on wine and olive oil tastings, adventure activities, with the simple idea that these ‘influencers’ will “share (the best of) Istria” with the world. What a notion!

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Credit: Two Monkeys Travel

To a lesser scale, but definitely warrants a mention is Omiš, a tiny coastal town that lies just south of Split on the edge of the Cetina River. This tiny town packs a punch in terms of events and promotion. Omiš holds such events as the Omiš Guitar Fest, Klapa competitions (a Capella), it has a full summer program, and, on the 17th and 18th August 2017, it will host its famous battle of the Omiš pirates.

Not only this, but Omiš has perhaps, one of the best promo videos that I have seen for a destination – promoting its plethora of nature and adventure activities. From rafting and ziplining, to water sports, hiking, biking, trekking, you name it – Omiš has it. And, who would have thought, not one cocktail in sight! Through its events, Omiš promotes its culture, heritage and history – without resorting to cheap party tricks. While its promotional video focuses on the stunning nature and adventure tourism. Just watch the video below and tell me it doesn’t show Croatia in a flattering light.

Next, island Brač – the largest island in Dalmatia, with the tallest peak. As Paul Bradbury mentioned in his editorial, Brač refused to host the Ultra Europe Festival, turning down, no doubt millions in revenue because that is not the image it wants to portray. Brač is another destination rich in history and culture; famous for its stone, the Pučišća stone mason school, olive groves, wine and of course, one must mention Zlatni Rat beach on Bol. Just this week Brač hosted its ‘Mala Noćna’ (little night) regatta – whose history dates back to the turn of the 20th Century; as well as a new event (but hopefully lasting) – the Brazz Festival – Brač Jazz, do you see what they did there?

Speaking of Jazz, starting tomorrow until Sunday 20th August 2017, Makarska is also holding its fourth annual, summer jazz festival; giving a stage beneath the Biokovo mountain range to local and international talents.

In Rovinj, their Eco-museum Batana celebrates its maritime history; however, it is not just a museum, they have merged this project with the people and the town itself. A fully immersive approach for visitors, that includes demonstrations of fishing net repairs, weaving, making traps and various gastronomy nights.

Korčula is another island with a wonderful summer program. You will find live music on the streets most every night, various gastronomy fairs and the traditional performance of the Moreška sword dance throughout the summer.

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Island Šolta is a tiny island, which has been receiving a lot of international media love lately. Their slogan is ‘a return to innocence’ and their Tourist Board is doing their best to promote, the tranquillity, nature and adventure you can find on this ‘hidden’ treasure.

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Hvar is soon to celebrate 150 years of Tourism, note, not – party tourism. We could write a novel on the wealth of culture and history on Hvar, in fact, Total Hvar basically has, with his thousands of articles about the island over the years. Lavender, vineyards, the Easter Procession, Stari Grad, the Stari Grad Plain, the oldest Theatre in Europe, the dormouse festival… the list goes on.

I recently wrote about the beautiful tradition of ‘Fishermen’s Nights’, an event which takes place in every small coastal town and to me, shows the true spirit of Dalmatia – music, food, community, dancing, laughter…

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So far, I have only listed the coast (sorry, I live here so am a little biased) but there are many treasures to be discovered inland. At the beginning of the season, we had a team building trip through Inland Dalmatia and I was more than impressed. Again, a tourist board who just seems to get it – the Alka Museum in Sinj, a 600-year-old flour mill, wine cellars, the blue and red lakes of Imotski and the best part? It is not overrun by tourists (yet).

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It’s not all about summer either, the Capital Zagreb, leads the way with its Christmas markets, being voted the best Christmas market in 2016 and 2017.

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Ok, truth be told, not all of these are promotions at a national or international level like Zagreb or the “Share Istria” campaign and I am well aware that for the most part, I have simply listed events. However, being the optimist that I am and someone who has recently made Croatia home, I just wanted to point out that this country, is beyond phenomenal (bureaucracy aside). There are such amazing events taking place up and down the coast on a daily basis, which portray the vivid tapestry of history, culture, arts and cuisine that this country holds; what I have written is barely the tip of the iceberg.Trust me I started writing this with the intention of a few paragraphs and I couldn’t stop!

I don’t pretend to be an expert on PR and Marketing, but it’s safe to say that Croatia has a lot of material to work with. Just imagine, if the whole country ran campaigns like “Share Istria” or made videos like Omiš… it may not stop Hollywood, but with planning and vision, it would definitely stop trashy reality tv shows.

We can only hope right?


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