Why Jelsa’s Tourism Future is Bright: Explained in 1 Tourist Facebook Post

Total Croatia News

Mirko Crncevic

August 3, 2019 – While Jelsa may be having a poor season with its current 2-star tourism strategy, the future is very bright indeed – listen to what the tourists are saying after they discover the secrets Jelsa doesn’t share. 

I have spent a bit of time this summer looking at the current state of tourism in my beloved Jelsa on Hvar. Saddened by the poor quality in a destination which could do so much better, I decided to give something back to the town which has given me so much – a proper tourism strategy, much of which can be implemented in time for next season. You can read Some Simple Steps to Improve Jelsa’s 2-Star Tourism Strategy on Hvar, as well as a Croatian version here


One of the key failures of Jelsa currently, after 108 years of tourism, is that nobody knows what Jelsa’s brand is. There is something vague about it being a relaxing place, family-friendly, good wines. Nothing more. One local probably summed the general feeling better than most:

Jelsa today is not “branded”. Now regarding the type of destination, I’d say it’s a reasonably pleasant, family-friendly town

It doesn’t exactly get you booking your flight, does it?

My suggestion (and you can read more in the link above) is to brand Jelsa as the Relaxed Family Lifestyle in the Dalmatian Wine Capital.


I want to tell you about one guest who rented our place recently. After arriving in Jelsa (and possibly through the information we made available, but not necessarily), he heard that there was a British Master of Wine somewhere near Jelsa, the only one in all Croatia. 

With no car, the couple went off in search of the winery of Jo Ahearne MW, but ended up in the wrong village, in Pitve, before finally tracking down the winery in Vrisnik. They were disappointed to find it closed (Jo does tastings by appointment generally, as she is a one-woman band and there is plenty to do elsewhere). I am not in Jelsa at the moment, and when I spoke to my wife that evening, she mentioned that the guests were very keen to taste her Rosina rose in particular. Jo is a good friend of mine and I knew that she was playing with her Posip grapes on Korcula. I messaged her to find out when she was back, and it turned out there was a window before the guests left the island where she could accommodate them. As they had no car, my wife happily drove them to Vrisnik. As for the rest, I leave it to the Facebook comment on Jo’s winery’s Facebook page:

We did not know anything about the Dalmatian wine scene before coming to Hvar, and was prepared to drink beer and water as we have done on previous occasions. To our great surprise the island of Hvar has an immigrated master of wine in Jo Ahearne (you will only find around 400 masters of wine in the world, it is not like any other college degree), living only ten minutes drive from where we stayed in the beautiful city of Jelsa. We booked a tasting of her bottled wines (two whites, one rose and two reds), and was blown away by the quality of her winemaking. She uses mostly local grape varieties (Posip, Drnekusha and Plavac Mali). This is a totally different ballgame than other wines we have tried in Croatia, and absolutely worth a trip if you are into wine. Drenkusha is for example an indigenous grape found on the island, almost extinct, and in Jo´s hands turned into top-notch rose (which also landed a 90 point rating in the English wine magazine Decanter this July). Thank you for a great visit, we look forward to drink all the bottles that we brought home.


Fantastic, a win all round. Very happy guests, a successful tasting and some money in the pocket of a local business. Bottles purchased to take home and sample, perhaps with friends who could then learn more about Dalmatian wine and its capital. 

But the post got me thinking. Everything about the story was ‘slucajno’ – accidental. The guest happened to hear about the Dalmatian wine scene, then about Jo. The tasting was finally arranged late at night (after 10pm) because the host happened to be a friend of the Master of Wine. 

What IF the guests had known about the Dalmatian wine capital before arriving? While Jo is the undoubted star of the Hvar wine scene, there are many other winemakers in and around Jelsa who provide diverse and fascinating wine tasting options. I went into this at some length recently with my concept to brand Hvar as a gourmet destination – The Dalmatian Wine Capital with the UNESCO Mediterranean Diet


What if instead of Jelsa today is not “branded”. Now regarding the type of destination, I’d say it’s a reasonably pleasant, family-friendly town, we changed it to the Relaxed Family Lifestyle in the Dalmatian Wine Capital.

“Hey honey, take a look at this place, it looks perfect. It is the capital of Dalmatian wine, with some great tasting experiences. The island’s Mediterranean Diet is UNESCO-protected, so I bet the food is healthy and good. This Jelsa place apparently has great beaches, has a chilled lifestyle, great day trips, is very safe, laid back and family-friendly with a great little square for morning coffee and croissants. So lots to do with the kids, and all those indigenous grapes look really exciting to explore. Heck, they even have a British Master of Wine doing tastings of her wines made from indigenous Hvar grapes. What do you say, shall I see if I can find some nice accommodation with a terrace and sea view? It looks gorgeous.”


Learn more about the Jo Ahearne MW tasting experience just a couple of kilometres outside Jelsa

Interested to learn more about Jelsa? 25 things to know about Hvar’s (and Dalmatia’s) wine capital.


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