August 12, 2020 – Since the Biokovo Skywalk opening, Biokovo has become one of the most sought after locations overnight, not only on the Makarska coast but far beyond.
Slobodna Dalmacija reports that this heavenly lookout has ushered Biokovo into the new age tourism industry, where there is no time for an in-depth exploration of the destination; most tourists want to put a “check” on their “must visit” list and capture the experience with a camera.
But is Biokovo ready for this rush of hungry tourists? And, quite frankly, what comes next?
Slavo Jaksa, director of the Public Institution Biokovo Nature Park, comments on the future of Dalmatia’s hit attraction.
“The Skywalk is in itself an attraction and an additional product of the nature park that has raised the level of attractiveness of the whole of Biokovo. How much interest has increased, it is difficult to say for now because the year is as it is, and it is not a year to make comparisons,” he points out.
“We expected an increase in the number of visitors and increased interest, but I must admit that we were still surprised by the extent of it,” adds Jaksa.
The current problem is the crowds on Biokovo, which are created due to the enormous interest, and in the current year, this issue is being solved by limiting the number of vehicles. Namely, only 25 vehicles can enter in an hour, but it happens that tourists return because the queues are too big, or because the closing time of the park is approaching. Thus, long lines are standard.
“It is not so much of a burden because we control it. Namely, we also regulate the issue of road congestion and possible pollution,” claims Jaksa, adding that next year they plan to sell tickets online.
“This will reduce congestion and the influx of cars. It would function like at Plitvice Lakes or Krka, and tourists would come at a certain time when they take a ticket and thus significantly reduce the crowds,” the director adds.
Is Biokovo endangered in the sense that it is now suddenly visited by a mass of tourists?
“Not yet. We as an institution are here to protect the mountain, and we ensure the protection of nature and monitor, and when this season is over, we will evaluate and see what can be concluded and applied next year. But I always say that Biokovo protects itself only for the simple reason that it is an inaccessible mountain. We do not yet know whether this is just an opening effect or will be a continuous public interest. We will see where improvements are needed and prepare for the next year in which, we hope, tourism will return as it was, which we all want,” explains Jaksa.
For the next year, other facilities are planned, along with the already completed lookout point and a new bicycle and hiking trail, visitor center, and children’s playground. The project is worth 34 million kuna.
“All this will be completed in 2021 and it is clear that the structure of guests is now changing. We get a wider base, and with Biokovo Skywalk, we see what effect has been achieved, not only for tourism on the Makarska coast, but for the county and Croatia. We have tourists who come from other counties, while so far Biokovo has been visited mainly by guests from the Makarska Riviera,” says Jaksa.
The more extensive base also means the need to educate visitors, which the director says they are already doing at the reception itself.
So, what can we expect next year? How will the road handle increasing traffic?
Jaksa emphasizes that they will be significantly relieved by selling tickets online, and as far as the road itself is concerned, he agrees that it is too narrow. Thus, Jaksa warns to drive at your own risk.
In principle, there are plans to rebuild the road, but for now, it is a long shot. There was also talk of shuttle buses, which are actually the best, safest and most environmentally friendly solution, though this was also left for the second budget period. Recall, a public transport system was discussed within the existing project “New Adrion – Promoting the sustainable use of the natural heritage of PP Biokovo”.