Even UNESCO is threatening sanctions.
For the major tourist attractions, the end of a tourist season usually means announcing new records in attendance numbers. For a while, the main goal was to increase the number of tourists, but now the situation has been reversed, reports Večernji List on September 26, 2016.
The question is whether the number of tourists should be limited at some of the most popular locations in Croatia. For example, at the beginning of the millennium, Plitvice Lakes National Park had some 300,000 visitors a year, but now that number has increased to 1,300.000. Dubrovnik in 2008 recorded half a million of visitors, while this year there will almost certainly be over a million tourists.
“We have been struggling with the excessive number of visitors for a while, and this year even UNESCO had to intervene. They clearly sent a message that the park, if we do not protect it, would be removed from the list of World Natural Heritage”, said Anđelko Novosel, director of the Plitvice Lakes National Park, who claims that such drastic measures will not happen. The first step is to prepare an action plan for park management.
“UNESCO demanded it in 1998, but the park administration at the time did not prepare it due to relatively small number of visitors. If they did, today we would not have these problems”, said Novosel. He pointed out that it took a year to develop the plan, so it could be implemented starting from 2018. It is not clear what exactly would the plan contain, but the director said that it would certainly limit the number of daily visitors. Mass tourism is currently destroying Croatia’s oldest and most visited national park, where in some periods there are more than 15,000 visitors a day, although this number should not be above 8,000.
“The number of tickets will be limited, just like in a cinema or a theatre. You will be able to buy it on the internet or on site, but that would be risky. When the final ticket is sold, the entrance to the park is closed for the day”, explained Novosel and stressed that this model would certainly lead to an increase in ticket prices.
The increase in prices in Dubrovnik will happen as early as next year. The entry to the city walls will be 150 instead of 120 kuna. Those who want to get close to the old town with their vehicles will also have to pay more. These are just some of the measures introduced in order to preserve the old town. Currently, the old town is on some days visited by over 10,000 visitors, and the maximum number should be 8,000. The crowds are sometimes so large that it is impossible to move.
However, Mayor of Dubrovnik Andro Vlahušić sees a good side to it. “When it is crowded, you can raise prices, and crowds create interest and attract even more people”, said Vlahušić and pointed out that prices in Dubrovnik were still too low. He also said that in three to five years they would install traffic lights at the entrance to the old town. If there are too many people in it, a red light would show that you cannot enter and have to wait.