Porec Waterfront: 26 Million Kuna Investment Continues Despite Pandemic

Lauren Simmonds

As Barbara Ban/Novac writes on the 28th of April, 2020, regardless of the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the popular Istrian city of Porec continued to refurbish part the Porec waterfront, continuing with an investment worth as much as 26 million kuna.

Although this is an enormous investment which covers as much as seven thousand square metres in total, which was unfortunately started at the worst possible time – before the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis that has hit the economy of Istria, including that of Porec, the city authorities decided to see the Porec waterfront project through to the end. The project marks the most significant public investment in the old city centre in the last ten years.

”The works were slowed down for a while because we couldn’t get the materials we needed, but now everything is back on track and I believe we’ll be done in June. And in regard to the horticulture side of things, everything should be completed by July the 1st, 2020.

The original plan for the opening of the Porec waterfront opening was set for June the 1st. We were also slowed down by archaeological works where an ancient vessel which is over two thousand years old was discovered, but also by the fact that our contractor was from Slovenia, so the fact that border crossings were implied slowed down the entire story. But, we’ve still been working constantly,” said the Mayor of Porec, Loris Persuric.

Workers have been busy installing stone slabs, and concrete road is being gradually laid… Before that, completely new infrastructure was erected underground, and when the finishing touches were completed, interesting benches, candelabras, light installations with signposts for monuments and tourist attractions were set to follow. Booths/stands will be removed from this part of the waterfront and boaters will be provided with unified booths for the sale of their respective tourist excursions. There will be no parking spaces on this part of the Porec waterfront.

”We wanted our waterfront to become a kind of living room to bring the citizens and guests of Porec back to the waterfront,” said the Mayor of Porec. There are currently no tourists who would otherwise be walking along this part of the city, so everything is running very smoothly.

”We’ve only been in this situation for two months and we expect the situation to normalise. It will not be as safe as it all was before, but I believe that we’ll all adapt and tourism will start again. When tourism is fully operational in Croatia, I think Istria has an edge over everyone else because it’s a destination that can easily be driven to. Tourists who arrive by air represent Istria’s tourism figures by six to seven percent. We have a pool of one million guests within a five-hour drive. That was our advantage before, and I believe it will be now. I believe that we’ll push through this year and that by July and August, the situation will improve a little. However, when it comes to the question of whether or not it will be as good as last year, we can’t be certain. If time serves us and if nothing else happens on the global market, I believe that we’ll get something out of this season,” stated Porec’s mayor optimistically.

However, this will be the strangest Croatian tourist season ever since there will not be a single event or manifestation being put on.

”We’ve cancelled all of the events – from Vinistra to Porec Open Air. Of course, we also expect that our budget will suffer, because there won’t be as many employees as there used to be in Porec. Last year, five thousand workers came here from all over Istria. Although the city budget is estimated at 300 million kuna, it will be at a mere 40 to 50 percent of last year’s amount of 270 million kuna. And that will also be the case for all other local governments. This means that we’ll have to give up a lot, and we’ve already reduced the wage bill by 17 percent in April,” said Persuric.

Over recent years, intensive investments have been made in new schools, kindergartens, roads, sewage, irrigation, beaches… Parts of those projects are funded by European Union funds, but not all of them, like the Porec waterfront itself.

”As we’re one of the most developed cities in the Croatian framework according to the criteria of the European Union, we couldn’t access EU funding for this project. So, we just decided to do it on our own. It will be arranged through 15 phases, and projects are being prepared for each phase. They’re all in different stages of preparation. We’ll see what will be the further dynamics of the Porec waterfront landscaping will be once this crisis passes, but we certainly won’t give up on it,” said Porec’s mayor.

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