1. You are very new to the position of Central Dalmatia Tourist Board director, taking over in July. Give us your impressions of the season so far.
We are all very pleased with the season so far, results are great, and there is a significant improvement in the quality of events and tourist offers. The season is extending, and we are heading in the right direction.
2. A new director often brings a new perspective. What are your priorities for tourism in Central Dalmatia County?
My vision of developing tourism in the area of Split-Dalmatia County is based on tourism that is authentic, high quality, sustainable and year-round. Also united and presented to the world through modern channels of communication and promotion. My perspective is based on bringing traditional products up in the first plan, values, gastronomy, and authenticity of local products. We have so much to offer as a destination, but we need to be authentic, recognizable by our values and unique way of life.
3. Let’s talk about Split, which has been in the media for all the wrong reasons this summer. An explosion of pub crawls, a significant increase in public drunkenness. What are your thoughts on the season in Split in particular, and how do we get the balance right?
Split has generated great numbers this season and delivered significant projects, but before anything is mentioned, the collaboration of different entities is what makes the difference. Great numbers often bring different issues that we need to cope with. Tourism needs to improve the quality of life for local inhabitants, and they need to feel positive effects.
It is our responsibility to offer quality contents and destinations that are opposite of what was happening this season. In cooperation with the city officials, we are working on keeping the order of communal infrastructure.
4. Having followed Croatian tourism for a decade, I have noticed an official obsession with numbers, numbers, numbers, with little consideration for quality or the damage to the environment or quality of life for locals. And yet in the same breath, we hear the mantra of sustainable tourism. Where do you stand on this?
Numbers are important but not crucial. Almost every interview begins with questions about numbers and results. We must not be obsessed with the results measured in numbers; we need to enforce ourselves with the quality of the offer, impress with tradition, and protect our way of living. Traditional values, local inhabitants, protection of our culture, and tradition are what make us distinct and unique. Tourism needs to be an advantage, not an issue for our citizens.
5. What specific ideas and plans do you have to introduce a more sustainable tourism strategy to the region?
I am addressing the problem of sustainability with projects branding our tradition, and the specific way of life here in Dalmatia. We have plenty to offer, starting with our history, natural beauties, rich gastronomy, high quality of living, authentic products, and people. Branding our county as a whole year tourism destination including lots of potential that we have in the nautical segment is what makes us sustainable.
6. The beach and islands are understandably popular – tell us more about your plans to promote inland Dalmatia.
It is important to develop the area of Dalmatia Inland according to the principles of sustainable tourism and valorize the rural area, natural and cultural-historical resources and autochthonous traditional elements in the best possible way.
The goal is to encourage the development of tourism and eco-agriculture in symbiosis, to network the tourist communities of this part of the county, and to offer a number of unique products.
7. Last December, TCN and local partners organised the Split Winter Tourism Roundtable initiative, which brought all the stakeholders from the public and private sector together. Momentum is building, and KLM has just announced year-round flights to Split from Amsterdam. How much of a priority is winter tourism for you, and will you financially support the concept of winter flights?
I support the extension of the season, but it must be planned and sustainable. We are aware of the fact that 80% of the total accommodation capacity in the area of our county is private family accommodation, which is occupied by students during post and preseason. Namely, our capacities, from infrastructure to the offer of events as well as gastronomy, must work together in synergy in order to achieve a true extension of the season. Winter flights are a very important part of market strategy, and we are in communication with airline companies. They are important, but by themselves, without an elaborated overall strategy, they are not enough.
8. The remote work revolution is here, and Split is the de facto digital nomad capital of Croatia, even though almost nothing has been proactively done by official bodies. How important is developing this sector in your plans?
Digital nomads are another trend that became popular during the covid pandemic. People have embraced technology that allows them to collaborate virtually and increase flexibility. They are excellent promoters and tourism ambassadors of the country in which they are located.
9. Define Central Dalmatia as a destination in a paragraph, including why people should come.
All the great emperors and kings who came to our region came in early spring or late summer, when Dalmatia is the most beautiful. The colors are the most intense, the sounds are the purest, and the fruits are ready for tasting. This is exactly what we want to show the world.
10. And finally, 3-5 of your favourite places in the region, and why?
The first place I hold dear is my native Marina, the place of my heart. The second in order for me is the unreplaceable view from Vidova Gora. And third but not last is the particularly moving and emotional place of Sinj during the procession on the day of the Great Lady.
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