In the Twilight Zone of Jelsa Tourism, No Seaplanes Today

Total Croatia News

jelsa-tourism-seaplanes (4).PNG

April 13, 2020 – The Twilight Zone that is Jelsa tourism shows no sign of emerging from its website Groundhog Day. Is there any way to help it along?

There are a few moments in life that are etched in the memory, and you will always remember where you were when they took place. 

September 11, 2001 is perhaps the best example (I was having a beer in an Internet cafe in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo). 

August 31, 1997 and the death of Princess Diana (I was on a squash court in Oxfordshire the following morning when I heard after my opponent apologised for being late due to ‘the news’).

And if you are an expat in Croatia, the first time you came across the world ‘uhljeb’. For those yet to cross the uhljeb Rubicon, A Tale of Two Croatias: Before and After the Uhljeb Discovery might be instructive. 

jelsa-tourism-seaplanes (4).PNG

My journey to the fountain of knowledge was a strange one when I first heard the word ‘uhljeb’. It was back in May, 2015 with an Index special title which included a statement of the erstwhile Jelsa Tourist Board director telling Bradbury that he was not an uhljeb. 

I was really confused. I couldn’t possibly have called him an uhljeb as I had never heard the word until his response in an Index headline. I took to my Facebook wall to ask Croatian friends what this word ‘uhljeb’ meant. 

And so began my journey into The Beautiful Croatia… 

So why am I bringing all this up now, five years later? 

jelsa-tourism (1).jpg

A combination of factors, I guess. I was messaging a friend in Vietnam last week who used to work for the seaplane operator, European Coastal Airlines. While the service was great when it went and while it lasted (ok Babic, am waiting for your comment), there were many cancellations. It is now almost four years since the seaplanes flew. 

My friend in Vietnam and I exchanged self-isolation realities, and he said he could imagine me sitting on The Bench with a cold Lasko, looking out to Burkovo on the mainland.

“No seaplanes today.” he joked. 

jelsa-tourism (3).jpg

Out of nostalgia, I wandered around to the old seaplane station that used to get me to Split in 15 minutes. Despite being closed for almost four years, it looked almost new.  

jelsa-tourism (5).jpg

Certainly, anyone walking past the containers would get the impression that they were closed for the day, rather than forever.  

There was no sign on the door saying that the service had been discontinued, so any tourist passing in the last four years would have been interested to learn that there was a fast transfer seaplane network to Split and beyond. 

I suppose some would then go to the Jelsa Tourist Board website to get more informa… OH NO, please don’t tell me that they are still promoting seaplanes on the official website. 

Those who have followed TCN for years will know all about the Era of Telepathy Tourism. For those of you don’t know about this golden era of Jelsa tourism, your lives are the richer for your lack of knowledge. But if you are curious, Google Search is your friend. 

The last time I looked at the Jelsa tourist board website was in 2016. It was just about to be upgraded to a VERY nice new look. Great photos from the Osijek Maestros, Romulic and Stojcic. I know one of the web developers involved in the project, who confirmed that his company had been paid in full for the job. 

So let’s take a look four years later – timeline April 13, 2020. 

jelsa-tourism-seaplanes (3).PNG

Groundhog Day. And how. 

Not only were the seaplanes being promoted, but so too was Malev, the Hungarian national carrier which went bankrupt in 2012. That was 8 years ago. And quite what that plane from Venice was doing a panoramic tour of Opatija is doing in the Jelsa tourism story is beyond me – any suggestions?

Full disclosure – it is my fault that the seaplanes link is there, for back in 2015, a couple of days before I learned about the word ‘uhljeb’ for the first time, I was walking past the Jelsa Tourist Board one lunchtime and noticed that not only was there no info about the seaplanes at the office (which was closed) or on the website, but the ferry and bus timetables were for the previous winter. I wrote a small blog to that effect, Index decided to run the story, and my entry into the Mighty State of Uhljebistan was assured. 


The bus timetables were miraculously updated the next day, seaplane information added in the office, and a link with ECA logo added to the website. 

I felt emboldened. Perhaps I really could change the world. Even Gandhi had to start somewhere, and updated bus timetables was quite an achievement. 

In my next blog, celebrating this historic day in Jelsa tourism, I suggested that while we were on a roll with updated information, it might also be time to remove Malev, which had gone bankrupt three years earlier. 

And there my powers were curtailed. Malev remained. And remains today, 8 years after it went bankrupt, and 4 since the seaplanes ceased roaring.  

While the Malev battle might be lost, surely my hard-won fight for current bus timetables had brought permanent change?

jelsa-tourism-seaplanes (2).PNG

Time check – April 13, 2020 – Timetables valid until October 2017. 

I don’t mean to be difficult, but how hard is it?

And then I wondered if this was specific to Jelsa. What about the other island tourist boards?

jelsa-tourism-seaplanes (7).PNG

 Svaka cast, Stari Grad Tourist Board. Not only a great website, BUT…

jelsa-tourism-seaplanes (6).PNG

The first thing you see on the homepage is a pop up welcome message from the tourist board director with COVID-19 information and contact details.  

jelsa-tourism-seaplanes (5).PNG

Great progress too in Hvar Town, where the updated website includes some of its latest accolades, including Conde Nast Readers Choice of Best Island in Europe 2019.  

jelsa-tourism-seaplanes (1) (1).png

A reasonable effort too from Vrboska, although if anyone at the Vrboska Tourist Board is interested, the links that I supplied back in 2010 in the How to Reach Us page are to a website that went offline nine years ago. 

And the crazy thing is – it seems – that Jelsa has a great new website gathering virtual dust for four years now. 

Four years ago, I was asked for my input to a new Jelsa tourist board website. It was GREAT, really impressive. And, as I said above, the web company was paid in full for the job. 

So where is the website?

And we do we have bus timetables for 2017, airlines that went bankrupt in 2012 and events which last took place in August 2019?

Jelsa has been incredibly good to me over the years, and I was more than happy to put forward a blueprint to move Jelsa tourism last summer, which made it into the national media. (Here is a Croatian version in Tportal by Damir Petranovic). I didn’t expect the Jelsa tourism chiefs to implement any of the ideas, even though I know they read every word, but I was heartened by many people in the community in tourism who liked the suggestions. 


And, as I posted in the big Jelsa Facebook group above (where my posts have been deleted in the past), I was VERY happy to be able to not only provide extensive coverage of this year’s Za Krizen procession, which is so important to everyone in the community, but also due to my unique access to the procession, I was able to document and show the reality of what happened on Thursday night and Friday morning – totally different to the way it was presented in the media. And I do thank the literally hundreds of people from Jelsa and elsewhere on Hvar for their messaged. They truly meant a lot. You can read Jelsa Za Krizen, Croatia Not Wuhan & Cabin Fever Perspectives (there is also a link to the Croatian version).

I love Jelsa, and I want the best for the place which was my home for a quarter of my life. But I fear for its tourism future with the corona fallout and with this inept tourism leadership.

But can we at least give our tourism businesses a fighting chance by getting some of the absolute basics sorted?

Such as an updated website?

Looking to learn more about the magic of Jelsa? Here is a (2017) article with more on the magic – 25 things to know about Jelsa, the Hvar wine capital



Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment