Goodbye, Zimmer Frei: Bol Says No to More Tourist Apartments, Yes to Villas

Daniela Rogulj

December. 7, 2019 – Some local-self governments in Croatia have decided to lead the fight against new tourist apartments, like Bol on Brac, for example.

Namely, Jutarnji List writes that Bol is taking the initiative to limit the possibility of building tourist apartments so that the municipality does not experience the fate of some whose infrastructure has collapsed under the burden of ‘zimmer frei’, or vacant rooms. 

As Mayor Tihomir Marinkovic told Jutarnji List, the municipality plans to use the future construction zone in the area of its administrative unit for two specific types of construction – smaller apartments for workers and luxury villas with a ground floor and a maximum of one floor, while special construction conditions, which will not allow a high density of construction, would make this type of investment unprofitable for the builders of commercial apartments.

The idea came about after Marinkovic and the municipal council realized that they would soon have to adopt new spatial plans because their existing construction zones were more or less filled.

“The law says that we can prepare new construction zones when existing zoning plans reach the 80% level of construction. As we are very close to this percentage, the municipality will soon have to find new construction zones within which we will allow construction, but since we do not want these areas to give us the fate of apartments, the municipality has the opportunity to adapt the construction conditions to certain types of construction that we consider to be scarce,” says Marinkovic.

These are, therefore, apartments for workers, especially foreign workers, who today cannot find adequate accommodation in the municipality, and no investment has yet been made in the workers’ hostel announced by the Bluesun hotel group in the Bol area.

Another form of construction Marinkovic sees in the plans for Bol is luxury villas that will be used for housing or rent, but which will require less construction on larger parcels of land to prevent a high density of residential space.

“We have not defined the figures here, but the idea is to allow the construction of buildings with a ground floor and a maximum of one more floor, and then strictly prescribe a construction ratio, which should in no way go at the expense of horticulture. So, this would give us smaller facilities with large green spaces and additional facilities intended primarily for guests of slightly higher spending power,” says Marinkovic.

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, there were a total of 8,300 beds in the municipality of Bol in 2018, but we were unable to obtain data on how much of this relates to beds in private accommodation.

Since the Bluesun Hotel Group operates on Brac, especially in Bol, a good part of these beds are in hotels, and last year, the municipality realized a total of 102,000 arrivals and more than 600,000 overnights.

Bol, however, is not the first to decide to restrict the growth of a particular type of accommodation by special conditions. Recall, Stari Grad on Hvar boasted a similar initiative.

Admittedly, the problem was detected in hostels, so mayor Antonio Skarpa and the City Council passed the Amendments to the Stari Grad Spatial Plan, which now states that “hotels, guesthouses and other catering and tourist buildings can be built inside the settlement, apart from hostels,” and “within hotels and tourist areas, only hotels, tourist resorts, camps and tourist moorings such as pontoons, jettys, quays, and berths can be built or renovated.”

Stari Grad hopes to direct tourism to a slightly more luxurious level, which is why 200 beds in the existing two hostels were considered sufficient for the needs of current guests.

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