September 5, 2019 – But in a sign of progress, the Croatian Tourism Ministry seems to have mastered the spelling of the word ‘until’ since 2013.
Accountability – or the complete lack of accountability – is something that fascinates me living here in The Beautiful Croatia. I have lived in some interesting places on the planet, but nowhere have I ever come across a country where there is less accountability than in Croatia.
When I was an aid worker in Rwanda after the genocide, I caught my warehouse manager stealing from the warehouse, and we reported the theft to the military regime which had taken over after the most murderous 100 days in human history. After a short ‘trial’, the warehouse manager had admitted his guilt and the Colonel presiding over proceedings looked at me with an air of impatience:
“So he is guilty. What do you want us to do with him? Shoot him?”
The power of life and death, just like that. I replied along the lines that I expected him to be punished according to the prevailing law of the land for the crime committed, and I was relieved to learn that this was not death by firing squad but a prison term from which he emerged hopefully a better person.
I have thought of that incident a lot over the years in Croatia, for here is a country where there is no accountability whatsoever if you are part of the chosen few (and not so few).
And so to one of my favourite documents in this beautiful land – the Croatian Tourism Ministry’s 7-year strategic plan for developing tourism. A plan with absolutely no relevance to what has happened in the years it had been planned for, but rather than have a look at what went wrong and lessons learned, Minister Cappelli is busy talking about tenders to create a new expensive 7-year plan.
The 2019 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report has just been released, and it shows that the Croatian Tourism Ministry has failed in its main goal of development in the last six years, which – as you can see above – was to become ranked among the top 20 countries in the world by 2020. The report, which comes out once every two years, has Croatia languishing in 27th place, immediately behind Ireland, Greece, Belgium and Luxembourg, quite some distance from the entry level to its stated goal. You can read the entire report here.
The 2020 vision, as envisaged back in 2013. We still have a year to go to realise it…
Over the coming weeks, TCN will be taking a closer look at the success of the various target sectors outlined in the 2013 strategy, which are summarised above. We will be looking for feedback from the ministry, as well as tourism experts in the various fields of niche tourism identified for Croatia’s development all those years ago.
One of the sectors which we will not be covering in this is golf, as we have already written extensively about it. Golf does set the tone of the effectiveness of the implementation of the strategy, however. The 7-year plan envisaged no less than 30 golf courses to be built by 2020. With three months to go until (note the spelling – not ‘untill’), not only has no planning been approved or work started on any course, but the Croatian State is facing a US$500 million lawsuit from an Israeli golf investor in Dubrovnik. The fact that nothing is being built does not deter the Kings of Accidental Tourism – there will be no less than THREE golf tourism conferences in Croatia in 2019 alone. Quite what they talk about is beyond me.
But while one might argue that the lack of progress from 2013 is not the fault of the document strategists, one might argue that their plan was a little ambitious, given the fact that only one golf course has been built this century, and even the King of Golf himself, Jack Nicklaus, had to give up on his 200 million euro golf resort dream, despite the public endorsement of the then Prime Minister.
Despite the lack of progress, the golf dream is not dead, at least not in the eyes of the Croatian Tourism Ministry, where a senior official confirmed to me that golf would be very much part of the next strategic plan. Presumably with lots of golf tourism conferences thrown in to make things look busy.
The first two niches we will be looking at are medical tourism and MICE. If you work in these sectors and have something to contribute, please contact us on [email protected] We will also be contacting the ministry for their input.
And here is hoping that the 2021 Strategic Plan can spell basic words like ‘until’. That would be real progress.