July 17, 2023 – The Peljesac bridge significantly contributed to positive economic, especially traffic and tourist trends. Overnight stays on the Peljesac peninsula by mid-July were 10 percent higher than in the same period in 2019, Croatian Tourist Board and Croatian Roads point out on the anniversary of its opening.
As Index writesm the Croatian Tourist Board, the Dubrovnik-Neretva County Tourist Board (TZ) and the Croatian Roads (HC) once again emphasized the importance of the Peljesac bridge for faster and easier access to the far south of the country, but also as a tourist attraction.
According to the data, more than 2.1 million vehicles drove over the Peljesac Bridge from its opening on July 26, 2022 until July 14, 2023. They note that with the arrival of summer, their monthly number increases significantly.
On average, according to their data, in May of this year a little over 6,000 vehicles crossed the bridge, in June it was more than 8,700, and in the first half of July alone there were more than 11,000 vehicles.
Close to 16 thousand vehicles, however, were counted immediately after the opening of the bridge (from July 27 to 31, 2022). In August last year it was more than 14.6 thousand before it decreased to around 8,400 in September.
Peljesac Bridge is a Tourist attraction and incentive for road trips to the south
“The bridge is a new tourist attraction for many travellers and tourists who enjoy a wonderful view of the bridge from the surrounding viewpoints and roads. For all sailing under the bridge, it is an equally special experience as well. It has already justified its existence and has certainly contributed to good tourist trends in the pre-season. In the long term it will encourage further road trips to the south”, assessed HTZ director Kristjan Staničić.
He emphasizes that the bridge is also important for the arrival of tourists by road from markets such as Germany, Poland, France, Slovenia and Austria, but also for domestic travellers, so increased demand and attendance from these markets is expected.
“All of this perfectly fits into the image of Croatia as well positioned and recognized as a high-quality tourist car destination, to which large infrastructure projects such as the Peljesac Bridge contribute significantly,” Staničić believes.
Increase in tourist traffic, but also interest in investments in tourism
Although tourism on Peljesac was developing long before the opening of the bridge, and there is tourist infrastructure on the peninsula, the opening of the bridge provided new opportunities for investment in the development of tourism, points out Julijo Srgota, the director of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County Tourist Board.
Physical tourist traffic, arrivals, and overnight stays are growing, but so is the interest of investors. Recently, a new small hotel Crystal was opened in Orebic. Croatian emigrants from Australia invested 7 million euros there, which is also the largest investment in hotel facilities on the peninsula.
Investments in apartments, family houses, and other types of private accommodation are also noticeable, says Srgota, and he believes that investments in quality small hotels and similar facilities should continue.
“It is important to maintain a sustainable direction of tourism development on the peninsula, as well as in the entire county, determined by the county’s tourism development strategy. Peljesac is one to four clusters as a car destination”, emphasizes Srgota.
The figures also confirm the increase in tourist demand. The Peljesac peninsula achieved 10 percent more overnight stays this year until mid-July compared to the same period in 2019, with around 393 thousand overnight stays, which is 8 percent more than in the same period last year in 2022.
The entire Dubrovnik-Neretva County counted almost 3 million overnight stays this year, which is 16 percent more than in the same period last year.
“The Peljesac bridge is a project that brought big changes for Peljesac and the county from last year, right after its opening. This year it’s even more so with the additional opening of the Ston bypass, making that traffic direction even stronger. It brought the south of the country closer to many traditional markets of Central and Eastern Europe, and we can see an increase in tourist arrivals from those markets,” adds Srgota.
Extension of the season, greater visibility and a combination of traditional and new offer
The positive tourist effects of the bridge this year, he says, are felt by more or less everyone, especially small places near the bridge itself. Until now they were quite inaccessible and even invisible, which is changing. Many still stop around the bridge to take photos (selfies, etc.), and often they are just tourists who want to see the bridge. They also tend to have something to drink and eat nearby, which opens up opportunities for new businesses.
Srgota also notes that since the opening of the bridge, all hotels, campsites and other accommodation providers of other tourist services in Orebic and throughout Peljecac have had more reservations and better results.
Apart from Orebic, Ston also stands out, with, as he says, the new splendor of restored historical and cultural antiquities and its already well-known gastronomic offer (oysters and other shellfish, etc.). And places like Trpanj and Viganj, as well as many small towns around the bridge like Brijesta and Komarna, are only now becoming visible to travellers and tourists.
For many in these places, it also gives hope for new jobs. Locals, especially young people who left could come back because they could engage in tourism in a sustainable way and keep the spirit of their places.
Srgota highlights the offer of top-quality local food, thanks to the fruits of the Neretva valley and sea fishing. There are also top wine spots there, with some of the best wine varieties in Croatia and much further afield.
The peninsula has some of the most beautiful sandy beaches on the Adriatic, as well as excellent conditions for various sports activities on land and at sea due to sea currents and wind.
The bridge has also contributed to the extension of the tourist season. “Overall, we expect that 2023 will be much better in terms of tourism for Peljesac and the county. The bridge enables faster and easier access by road due to the increase in seasonal airlines to Dubrovnik from many European and distant destinations,” concludes Srgota.