Meet the True Heroes of Croatia 365: Adria Bike and HD Navigatio

Total Croatia News

Continuing TCN’s look at private businesses delivering Croatia 365 on the ground, Hrvoje Šepić, Founder and co-owner HD Navigatio on March 9, 2016, to find out how one group of enthusiasts is putting Croatia firmly on the international competitive cycling map. 

1. Tell us a little about yourself and what you do?

After 15 years of business experience within marketing and sales in a few domestic and international companies, we decided to start our own business and exploit the area we love the most – biking.

Our company, HD Navigatio, is the only company in Croatia specialized in cycle tourism within a destination management area. We own the Adria Bike brand, and we are experts in organising bike events. In addition to that, our area of expertise covers consulting services for the development of specific niches of cycle tourism. For a few years now we have presented two bike events, the ‘4 Islands MTB’ stage race, an international race, and ‘Adria Bike Marathon Plitvice’ – the most visited bike event in the region. HD Navigatio currently employs 4 people, and our ambition is to grow business further and recruit more people passionate about what we do.

2. The MTB 4 Island race is already sold out for April. How did the event come about?

When you want to achieve something you need to try. In the past 6 years we have had the opportunity to host passionate riders accross the globe. We entered the bike tourism area by creating island riding programmes, and each time our guests were astonished by the beauty of Croatia, but also how biking here can be interesting. I suppose they never thought of Croatia as a biking destination.

We had the pleasure of hosting a couple from South Africa, who are actually organizers of a few bike events back in their country. After showing them how biking in Zagreb can be fun (we took them to Sljeme), we spent 4 days on Vis talking how these things work in countries where biking is more developed. It was amazing to hear that bike events there are taking place each weekend and it’s always full. And when you talk to people, you learn and you are inspired, I would say we got the idea of ‘4 Islands’ while returning from Vis that time.

It was not easy – two years have passed from the idea to realisation, mainly due to financial limitations. Luckily the idea was attractive to some of our partners and sponsors, and there we go, we started. The first edition was held last year and we gathered 100 teams. This year we have sold out the race 2 months in advance and doubled up the number of participants so we have 200 teams (400 people) and 100 people currently on the waiting list. And it’s really an international race, riders from 25 countries from 5 continents.

3. How has cooperation been with local, regional and national authorities? Were they involved from the start?

Besides our commercial partners (sponsors), the main roles have been played by Hotels Baška and the tourist board of Baška. They supported us from the start, in logistical and financial terms. Already last year tourist boards of other islands and the tourist board of Kvarner joined and started to support our initiative.

4. You are obviously adrenaline junkies. Are you satisfied with the way adventure tourism is promoted in Croatia, and what would you like to do differently?

First of all we are passionate about biking. However, we actively monitor and evaluate other activities in similar areas. Unfortunately, on a national level Croatia does not have a strategy for developing this type of tourism, and it is lacking vision, competence, ambitions, plans… We are not leveraging the potential we have. On the other hand we can recognize some succesful individual moves and activities and cooperations with local and regional tourist boards. In our case we could single out cooperation with the tourist boards of Baška, Rab, Mali Lošinj and Kvarner, all of whom have been very active in promoting and supporting the 4 Islands MTB stage race.

I’ve already mentioned that we offer consulting services related to cycle tourism. The tourist board Zadar approached us as they are very keen to introduce and develop this type of holidays in their area. We co-operate with them and I’m sure you’ll hear more about it in the course of time.

5. You are located in continental Croatia. Tourism is perhaps understandbly has been focused on the coast, although there have been initiatives to increase coverage of continental tourism in Croatia. Have you noticed any change, and what impact has Croatia 365 had in the areas in which you are operating?

So far we cannot say we’ve seen the results or even initiatives from the project Croatia 365.

6. Tell us more about the potential of adventure tourism in Croatia. Pretend I am a potential first-time visitor.

It goes without saying that Croatia is a beautiful country. So much diversity placed in such a small territory is purely fascinating. An optimal climate, rich gastronomy and tradition in a classical approach to tourism. But not only that – adventure tourism has yet to be discovered. From mountain to road biking, trail running, hiking, rafting, sea kayaking, diving, sailing, wind surfing, kite surfing and mountain climbing. And for this Croatian size is an advantage – the coast, islands and inland are just a few hours drive away so you can experience sea kayaking somewhere in Mediterranean one day and climbing on Paklenica the other day. A moderate climate means conditions are suitable for activities from April until November, and all you need to know are the right people.

Learn more about the Adria Bike Group on their official website.


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