Dubrovnik the Beautiful, Split the Must See, Korcula Before You Die, Enough of International Lists?

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International travel lists are great for generating website traffic, but are they counterproductive.

We are 12 days into 2016, and I am exhausted. Every day there is a new one. It is relentless. 

The ‘one’ I am referring to is international lists for travel in 2016. As one of the most picturesque tourism countries in the world, it is hardly surprising that Croatia features on almost each of these lists, but does that actually mean anything?

In the last few days we have been told by Mashable that Split is one of the top 12 places to go in 2016, while the New York Times told us that Korcula was one of the 52 places not to miss, just as CNN Traveler was placing Dubrovnik in the top 50 most beautiful cities in the world. And today, January 12, 2016,  Huffington Post said that an event – again on Korcula – was one of 30 not to miss in 2016. 

One list that did not include Croatia for 2016 was the Rough Guides Top 10 Cities. There was a destination which time make the list which was four letters long and began with H. My adopted home of Hvar perhaps?

Nope. Hull. HULL?!? I am not sure that Hull would make most people’s top ten cities in the north of England, never mind the world. It has been a while since I have had the pleasure – it was in 2003, around the time Hull was named the crappest town in Britain. And believe me, it is far harder to be named the crappest town in Britain that make one of the 2016 top lists. Rough Guides of course actually agreed Hull was the least romantic city in Britain in February 2015, “…though Hull is slowly on the up, it’s still far from the place you want to be whisking your loved one to for a weekend.” Fast forward 11 months, and with a 2017 UK City of Culture to look forward to, it seems that a city can be transformed to the country’s least romantic city into an international worldbeater in under a year. Tourism chiefs looking to promote their destinations – get on a plane to Hull to find out the secret. 

But this editorial is not about Hull, and I genuinely wish them well. It is about the content of those lists and the effects those lists have. The Huff Post one caught my eye, the type of innovative research journalism that has one wishing Hvar had the same gun laws as America so one could inflict some self-harm. 30 things to do in Europe before you die.

1. Ride a bike around Amsterdam

That’s it. No explanation of why, or what the thrill is. Let’s move on.

2. Sip coffee with a view of the Eiffel Tower

Inspired. And while tip 1 had a woman riding a bike through some woods, there was not even a picture of the Eiffel Tower, with or without a sipped coffee, never mind any explanation

The inane drivel continues until we get to Korcula, our point of interest. 

15. See in the half new year on Korcula Island, Croatia

Picture? Explanation? Nada. And yet tht one sentence is enough to have people gushing at how Korucla is ‘in’. At least New York Times did a little more in their 52 places to visit piece. 

And tonight, the next amazing list doing the rounds of the Croatian media is USA Today’s 10 reasons “Why you should sail the Croatian coast”. Some of them are quite inspiring and innovative


which is somehow different from 


the difference being it seems that there seems to be no day sailing with the unforgettable partying in tip 9. 

But even this is not the point I want to dwell on. Don’t get me wrong, these types of articles are wildly popular on social media, and as someone who has been promoting tourism for 4 years in Croatia, they are seemingly great for promotion. Lots of Facebook shares and likes, although usually a lot less actual hits – we all know that many people who ‘like’ an article do not actually read it, especially ones like these that have little content apart from the headline.

I love Korcula and I would highly recommend it, both the town and the rest of the island, but one lazy Google search from a Huff Post writer and a paragraph from the New York Times has turned it into a hot destination for 2016. Nearby Hvar, which was in the New York Time 46 places to visit in 2012, has not been mentioned so far this year in the lists. 

Has Korcula done something better than Hvar, or did Hvar do anything better than Korcula a few years ago? Not at all. My experience is that appearing on these lists is quite random, and often due to some lazy googling. When a destination makes a list, there is lots of understandable local self-congratulation, matched only by the similar dismay when they are omitted from one. In very few places is the recognition due to local efforts at improving a destination, although Hull would appear to be an exception to this rule. 

Lists, lists, lists. I have never been one to write them, although the last time I did, the article got a million hits in 24 hours – if you have not read 25 Reasons You Should Never Visit Croatia, here is your chance

I suppose I should have written about Korcula and Huffington Post, Dubrovnik in CN Traveler, and Sailing in USA Today (apparently the sunsets on the Adriatic are nice), but I am all listed out at the moment. 

In fact the only innovative and intelligent list for places to go in Croatia comes from Chasing the Donkey. 16 places in all – no Split, Hvar or Dubrovnik, but 16 refreshing, well researched options. Find out what they are here

Me? I am off to Hull. 


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