Dalmatia Dreams About a Tourism Minister Closer to Home

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Are Croatia’s tourism chiefs too centred on Istria? 

The appointment of yet another candidate from Istria as the new Croatian tourism minister has annoyed Dalmatia. After Istrians Veljko Ostojić and Darko Lorencin and, before them, Damir Bajs from the Croatian mainland, many felt that it was about time for Croatian tourism industry to be led by someone from the south of Croatia, preferably from Split-Dalmatia County, since that county has never had its candidate as a tourism minister, reports Vecernji List on February 1, 2016.

Since Croatia gained independence, Dalmatia has had two tourism ministers, Niko Bulić and Pave Župan-Rusković, but they both came from Dubrovnik. On the other hand, Istrians have been dominating the post. In addition to Ostojić, Lorencin and Kliman, Istria also had Marčelo Popović and Ivan Herak as ministers. Tourism professionals from Dalmatia have nothing personal against new minister Anton Kliman, but they do believe that not all tourism experts live only in Istria.

“In Dalmatia, from Zadar to Dubrovnik, we have world-class tourist experts who have been in tourism for decades and have both the experience and results”, said a well-known tourist industry representative from Dalmatia who wanted to remain anonymous. “It is true that Istria accounts for a third of Croatian tourism, but Dalmatia is strongly going forward, both in the development of new tourism projects and in the extension of the tourist season”, says the source.

“Neutral” tourist professionals from the mainland would have preferred someone outside of Istria as well. “Birthplace is not a guarantee of anyone’s ability, but Dalmatian tourism has its own special characteristics in comparison with Istria. Therefore, it would be good if some other region would now have the position of tourism minister”, say tourism professionals from Zagreb.

Current Minister Anton Kliman believes that it does not matter from where a minister comes if he or she wants to help solve the problems. “Each region has its own particular characteristics and advantages, but we all have common problems in tourism”, says Kliman.

Damir Bajs, who was the Tourism Minister in Prime Minister Sanader’s cabinet, agrees with him. He was also under a barrage of criticism due to the fact that he came from Bjelovar, a town far from the sea which is not known as a tourist hotspot. He says that it is more important what kind of influence will tourism have in the new government. “Prime Minister Orešković says that tourism will have a special attention of the government and people are talking about VAT rate being lowered. So, the indications are good so far”, says Bajs.

The number of ministers coming from Istria perhaps would not be so conspicuous if the Croatian National Tourist Board was not also led by a man from Istria, Ratomir Ivičić. He hopes that we will remain in his post, but we will know for sure in a few weeks. By the end of February, Ivičić must present his annual report to the Tourism Council, which is chaired by the Tourism Minister. This could be an opportunity to create a regional balance at the top of Croatian tourism, but Istrian tourism lobby certainly will not give up easily the control over the Tourist Board.


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