Baby Lasagna Boosts Croatian Tourism

Lauren Simmonds

baby lasagna boosts croatian tourism
Luka Batelic/PIXSELL

June the 4th, 2023 – Eurovision star Baby Lasagna boosts Croatian tourism as people all over Europe have their attention drawn to Croatia.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Roksandic writes, Croatia has a proverbial fight on its hands every summer with competitive Mediterranean countries, and utilising its famous people can be a great choice for tourism.

This was demonstrated by the recent success of the Umag-born performer Marko Purišić aka Baby Lasagna at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Sweden. However, opinions on the topic of how effective Croatia actually is in utilising Baby Lasagna and his success differ significantly.

The director of the Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ), Kristjan Staničić, states that in addition to sun, sea and nature, Croatia is also very well recognised as a quality festival destination. Public relations expert Božo Skoko believes that a globally attractive event by which Croatia would be recognisable has yet to be designed.

Event organiser Lee Kosović from LOL Event Management also points out that despite excellent promotion, Croatia fails to turn plenty of its great successes into an attractive tourist event.

HTZ of course, didn’t merely sit back and watch the success of Baby Lasagna and do nothing… “We know that Eurovision is watched by around 160 million viewers, so we used this opportunity to further present and bring Croatia’s tourist offer closer to the European public. For promotion and other activities this year with an emphasis on the X (formerly Twitter) platform, we secured 15,000 euros. When we talk about the selected markets [we’re aiming that at], the emphasis is on the the campaign on Sweden, where the competition was held. It’s also on other European markets such as Slovenia, Poland, Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom, Italy and others. At the centre of the promotion were the tourist towns of Istria, with an emphasis on Umag since this year’s performer is from Umag, and other segments of the Croatian tourist offer were also promoted, such as culture, ethno-gastronomy and active holidays,” said Kristjan Staničić.

baby lasagna boosts croatian tourism in the form of events – 33 of them!

Luka Batelic/PIXSELL

Global successes like Baby Lasagna’s are actually the best opportunity for the local community from which the signatory of the success originates. The potential of the Dora winner and runner-up at the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest was immediately recognised by the Umag Tourist Board, and they signed a long-term collaboration with the author of the hit song ‘Rim Tim Tagi Dim’. His first performance after the Eurovision stage was actually was at the Sea Star festival in his hometown of Umag.

“All this brought Umag immeasurable promotion across foreign markets and saw it grow popularity as a destination. The first analyses of searches for the destination Umag on popular search engines show a huge increase in interest in the destination. The visibility that Umag, Istria and Croatia as a whole is actually immeasurable”, they told us from the Umag Tourist Board.

Božo Skoko, a professor public relations at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Zagreb, also believes that Baby Lasagna will greatly help his homeland with his roaring Eurovision success. He believes that he “will primarily increase the popularity of rural tourism across Istria, which he brilliantly promotes, and then his native Umag”. Baby Lasagna’s now iconic music video was shot in several locations in Istria, and the musician wears the Istrian national costume in that same video.

“They could definitely use him as a brand ambassador,” believes Skoko. HTZ confirms that the echoes of Purišić’s performance at the Eurovision Song Contest continued in the sense of a prolonged positive impression on Croatia.

“We noticed an increased interest in Croatia at that time, and our partners reported the same, which gives us great hope for the season. It isn’t only Sweden, either, but also. Denmark is also interested, with an emphasis on the area around Copenhagen, which has been closely following all of this. We have the largest number of flights to different airports in Croatia from Copenhagen,” says Staničić.

Baby Lasagna boosts Croatian tourism, but so do others. Lee Kosović from LOL Event Management noted that some other events achieve a greater effect. “European or global successes like the one caused by Marko at the Eurovision Song Contest often generate significant media interest and increased global recognition of the country in question. But, honestly, I didn’t really notice the effectiveness of turning such a success into events aimed at attracting tourists. The biggest things that turn into events in this context are the receptions of sports champions all over Croatia, which foreign media also write about,” commented Kosović.

The event organiser also notes that locals organises big receptions for everyone who achieves great success under the colours of the Croatian flag, and this leads to an increase in the number of foreigners who start Googling and asking about the country, but…

“The fame surrounding such successes may be short-term, but the association of Croatia’s identity with it is long-lasting. We don’t turn any of that into events, although every year something new springs up, which strengthens the offer of the so-called tourist events”.

croatia needs a globally attractive, original event

Luka Batelic/PIXSELL

When asked what Croatia as a country lacks when it comes to event management, Skoko points out: “Croatia doesn’t have a globally attractive original event that would contribute to the popularisation of its identity, the popularity of Croatia in the world and the strengthening of the brand in general.”

Staničić, on the other hand, explains that through support and cooperation, HTZ encourages the organisation and holding of various events such as the Sea Star festival, the ATP tournament Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag, the INmusic festival, the Rijeka Carnival, the Dubrovnik Summer Games, the Sinj Alka and many others.

Overall, HTZ cooperates with 33 organisers of the biggest events in the country, and one Staničić singles out one in particular: “The ULTRA EUROPE Festival in Split should certainly be highlighted, which generates an extremely large number of guest arrivals and overnight stays in Split, but also across Split-Dalmatia County as a whole. HTZ is also a partner at that festival”.


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