Balkan Insight: Uncontrolled Tourism Threatens Balkan UNESCO Sites

Lauren Simmonds

Dubrovnik has been the subject of debate surrounding the amount of people being allowed to enter into the Old City and onto its city walls for a long time now, and it seems it is not alone…

Balkan Insight is a well known portal which opens the door to the international community about goings on in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania and Kosovo in English language. The site reports on politics, business, arts and culture, news and analysis and entertainment from throughout this area of south eastern and central Europe. 

The site reported on the 17th of April 2017 that uncontrolled tourism is posing a threat to several UNESCO World Heritage sites here in Croatia, as well as in Macedonia and in neighbouring Montenegro, all of which allegedly risk losing their prestigious titles due the negative effects of unbridled, mass tourism. It isn’t a new topic as far as Dubrovnik is concerned, and as the report correctly says ”the sites are suffering unprecedented damage”.

The City of Dubrovnik fell into UNESCO’s bad books recently due to the allowance of completely unrestrained numbers of people to flood through the gates of the Old City and onto one of its most popular attractions – the prized, ancient city walls. Since then, various ideas on how to control the numbers heading straight for the Old City have been thrown around, eventually resulting in cameras equipped with people counters being placed at all five historical entrances. Although the new camera system is in its infancy and will obviously require time to work comfortably and efficiently, new rules will be implemented that will only allow a certain number of people in at any one time, and visitors in larger groups will need to announce their arrival beforehand. It should be noted that unrestricted mass tourism isn’t only problematic to the Old City and its precious infrastructure, but to residents who find it difficult to come in and out of their homes, and also to the tourists themselves. On many occasions, emergency services such as ambulances and other permitted vehicles have struggled to make their way into the Old City due to the uncurbed amount of human traffic – a problem which poses a very real and serious threat to health and safety.

As well as the Pearl of the Adriatic, the report by Balkan Insight mentions the beautiful and increasingly popular Plitvice Lakes in the country’s interior, a site which sees around 1.3 million visitors per year, approximately 15,000 per day in peak season and has been the location of several completely preventable accidents in recent times.

To read Balkan Insight’s full report, click here.


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