Longest Zipline in Europe Causing Tensions in Lika

Total Croatia News

Initially, it seemed as though the zip line was to be one of the best tourist initiatives in the region. But higher than expected revenues have caused tensions…

In May last year, when the longest zipline in Europe opened in Vrhovine in the Lika region, it seemed it might be one of the best tourist initiatives in Croatia. But its success has now caused tensions between the municipality and the association which was supposed to run it, reports Jutarnji List on August 24, 2018.

The two main protagonists are the mayor of this municipality located next to the Plitvice Lakes National Park Milorad Delić, who wants to upgrade the project by developing an aerial centre and two additional ziplines (one of which would be the longest in the world), and Saša Kmezić, the initiator of the zip line project through the Rudopolje Moje association.

The municipality financed the zipline project with two million kuna and gave it to the association as a 20-year lease, with the first season free of charge. In the first months, the project recorded revenues of up to 750,000 kuna and a profit of over 100,000 kuna.

Immediately after the association reported financial results at the end of last year, the municipality terminated the contract. This was followed by unpleasant incidents in which the two project partners broke each other’s locks and filed criminal reports against the other side. Everything culminated in a lawsuit filed by the association against the municipality and its utility company.

The association has lost the case recently, and the municipality has completely taken over the management of the project. It has published a tender to find a company which will lead the project in the future, that is, do what the association members were planning to do themselves. The formal reason for the termination of the contract was the establishment of the Municipal Public Institution “Sports and Recreation Centre Bijeli Vrh”.

Before the start of this season infrastructure works began. The works were carried out by a local utility company, which replaced the locks at the entrance of the complex. The association members would still enter the premises while they were unlocked and refuse to leave or install their own locks. All this was happening in front of tourists who came there just to have a good time.

The two sides ultimately agreed that the association would pay the municipality an amount of 5,000 kuna a weekend to use the facility, with Mayor Delić coming every Saturday and Sunday to unlock the entrance and then lock it in the evening. This is how the zipline is currently operating.

The association did not want to formally comment on the situation, fearing the further moves of the mayor. “We tried to develop tourism, at the same time fighting with our partners, suing them in court, and doing the marketing together. It is a totally unusual situation. We have offered them several times to pay for the concession, but that was not accepted. They wanted to manage everything and use us as a workforce. By terminating the contract, they have in some way succeeded. They think that the municipality has invested a lot in this project, and in return, they did not get anything in the sense that the mayor can employ someone there or say that he is managing it, which is very important for all politicians. There were allegations that he installed us there only to get the money out of the project. He defended himself from these charges but apparently, he felt the pressure,” said one association member.

Mayor Delić summed up the issue in one sentence: “The Law on Provision of Tourism Services was adopted on 15 December, and on 21 December the municipality adopted a decision on the establishment of the sports and recreation centre, which can legally manage the zipline, and subsequently we cancelled the contract with the association.” He further explained there was no personal animosity or problems, claiming that “the guys are still there, working the whole season, and will continue to work.”

Translated from Jutarnji List (reported by Mario Pušić).


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