Ultra Europe will return to Split from July 6 to 8, 2018.
Joe Bašić, the man behind Ultra Europe in Croatia, spoke to Slobodna Dalmacija about what we can expect from this year’s record festival on May 20, 2018.
Just a few days ago, plenty of accommodation was available in Split during Ultra weekend. What does this mean compared to festivals in the past?
“Everyone rushed to rent out their accommodation because they saw that they had made good money in the past years. Then the options grew smaller, and festival-goers were more or less forced to take up expensive housing. However, you cannot rent a flat for a couple of days, raise the prices to the sky, and then live for the rest of the year. When Ultra came to Split, there were about 6,500 tourist beds in the city then, and now we have more than 30,000. Now the guests can choose what they want, and those who offer real prices and do not cheat their guests will remain on the market.”
Before Ultra, some apartments rent for 800 kuna, and during Ultra for 3,000 kuna – making them five times more expensive!
“Apartment prices can be raised slightly for special events, but I think that no one will rent a flat at such a price. That’s what I would call frivolous. But, that does not worry me too much because the law of supply and demand will alleviate this excess and there will be fewer of them. Also, tourists are not stupid, because not even a wealthy festival-goer will pay 3,000 kuna for an apartment if they can pay that for two nights in a double room at a four-star hotel. And they still get breakfast.”
How many festival-goers will we see in Split this year?
“We have already seen a 15 percent increase in tickets sold. They are coming from Australia, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Africa, Iceland, Canada, Argentina, China, Korea. The whole world will practically be represented at Ultra.”
How much is this in figures?
“We can already say that there will be about 45,000 people per day at Poljud, which would mean 135,000 visitors over three days.”
What is the supporting capacity at Poljud and what is the maximum number of festival-goers the venue can accommodate?
“Well, we are growing at a good pace, and concerning all of the Ultra festival’s around the world, we are succeeding just behind the original Ultra in Miami. Our plan is to have 60 to 70,000 people per day in Split, so around 200,000 visitors over all three days. The Stadium and field, as well as the area around the stadium and auxiliary fields, can accommodate up to 70,000 people at Poljud at once according to our experts from America. But this is really a huge figure which Split is not ready for yet. That number should come gradually. This is a big project, and its growth has to go slowly. Great things do not happen overnight.”
And what about the missing infrastructure in the city?
“That’s part of it. Luckily, a new airport terminal is being built, and the entrance to Solin is improved. The city lacks car parks, and we are chronically missing out on luxury category hotels, but it is all changing. There was a need for a well-decorated, large central city beach in Split, which we will finally get with Žnjan, which is also a great location. Mayor Andro Krstulović Opara knows all this, and I think he is leading this city well.”
The people of Split are already starting to feel the uneasy crowds during the summer…
“Split needs to build sustainable tourism that will not be felt by the local population and will disturb them less in their daily activities. Split will, I believe, eventually become one of the great and sustainable destinations where tourists and citizens will find a common language. But this will not happen overnight. Tourism in the city must be planned thoughtfully, and not with a narrow mind. Tourism must not run the city, but the city must manage tourism.”
How are preparations going for Ultra 2018?
“Great. Everything is done. We are now at the end as most of the work is done.”
What do Ultra owners Adam Russakoff and Russell Faibish say about the Croatian Ultra?
“Ultra has become a festival with the largest number of tickets sold in the world. Last year, a million tickets were sold for Ultra on all continents. Ultra has expanded from Miami to Mexico, Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile, Brazil, South Africa, Thailand, Australia, Hong Kong, China, and the center of Ultra for Europe is Croatia. The owners have said it is the most beautiful here, and always say that Croatia is a stunning combination of the sea, sun, food, and beach. I am not exaggerating by saying that the owners of Ultra are in love with our country.”
What is Ultra’s economic benefit for Split and the surrounding areas?
“The Economics Institute made a study evaluating the overall impact on the economy, which is estimated at around 500 million kuna. Here is just one detail. Last year, we recorded some 200 million different imprints from Ultra on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. That number was made through a video analysis that was set up and watched on the Internet, through photos, and various tags. You can only imagine how much free advertising Croatia received.”