Australians in Dubrovnik: How the Pearl of the Adriatic was Presented in 1997

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Dubrovnik is a hit destination with Australians these days. A look back at Dubrovnik just 21 years ago, via Australian TV show Getaway. 

Just over a year ago, we published an article on the 25th anniversary of the start of the siege of Dubrovnik. Apart from the importance of remembering such events, the reaction on social media was fascinating to observe. A new generation of tourists were pouring into Dubrovnik, with many expressing shock and surprise at the video of the siege which accompanied the article. Did this REALLY happen? Just 25 years ago – wow! A lesson in how quickly history can be forgotten, and how some people truly do believe that Dubrovnik really is just a film set for Kings Landing

Dubrovnik has made a spectacular recovery since the war, and tourism today is truly booming in a way locals hardly dared to hope for as the old town was being shelled. It is also worth noting, as tour guide Ivana Sepak did in a recent interview on tourism in Dubrovnik, that while many complain about the cruise ships coming to Dubrovnik today, they were among the first visitors after the war, and they were welcomed by locals with open arms, flowers and more. 

A lot can happen to a destination in 20-25 years. 

Let’s go back to 1997, just over 20 years ago, and two years after the war. This is how Dubrovnik was presented on Australian travel show, Getaway, on Channel 9.

An idyllic, almost sleepy, Dalmatian town, where one of the attractions was the lack of tourists, and where entrance to the Old Walls (closed Mondays!) was just 7 kuna, compared to (I think) 150 today. 

The rest is history. The Aussies – and others – came in their droves, and the destination was transformed into the confident, vibrant destination it is today, with its good sides and its bad. And just 15 years after this show was aired, a former Croatian tourism minister was fired for her comments on ‘drunk and crazy’ Aussies and Kiwis, stating that it would be better if they did not come:

“Already when entering the city they are drunk and crazy. And that’s absolutely not appropriate for any city and in particular for Dubrovnik,” said Pave Zupan Ruskovic, then destinaton manager for Dubrovnik.

“This summer season we’ve had an increased number of visits from young people from Australia and New Zealand and we were not delighted.”

“It would be better if they did not come.”

Dubrovnik tourism has undergone enormous change in the last 20 years. How do you think it will look in 2038?


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