Neum Tourism to Change Forever after Pelješac Bridge Opening

Daniela Rogulj

Updated on:

Igor Kralj/PIXSELL
Igor Kralj/PIXSELL

While the opening of the Pelješac Bridge to Dubrovnik is of significant importance to Croatia, both from the tourist and economic side, Neum tourism workers, especially restauranteurs, are feeling quite the opposite. 

Namely, from Tuesday, July 26, the Pelješac Bridge will officially connect Croatia for the first time in 300 years! 

Last weekend, Neum restaurateurs and hoteliers were not shy about speaking to the media, revealing their worries that nothing will be the same from Tuesday. 

Restaurateurs and tourism workers worry that the traffic on the main road through Neum will decrease significantly, threatening their businesses. Hoteliers and private apartment renters are also concerned because there will likely be fewer guests, reports Čapljinski Portal

“You have to call things by their right names and tell the truth – restaurateurs and merchants made a lot of money from tourists who traveled on the highway to Dubrovnik and vice versa,” said one restaurateur who has operated a restaurant along the highway for many years.

“From Tuesday, things will change. All those tourists, mostly Poles, Czechs, and Germans, after waiting at the border, which used to be long and over an hour, would stop in Neum to freshen up, have lunch or dinner, a drink. And mind you, it was not a small number of people, from the beginning to the end of the season,” they added. 

Travelers also enjoyed Neum because the prices were much more affordable.

“With their standard, these prices were low for them, and of course, they will stop to have lunch or dinner here before coming to Dubrovnik, where everything is ten times more expensive,” they added. 

It seems there is an overall concern for a considerable drop in traffic immediately after the opening of the Pelješac Bridge.

“Come at the beginning of August and follow the number of cars going over the bridge and the number of cars on the highway. Nobody will want to wait at the border for hours now that they have a road to Dubrovnik without waiting. This will affect us,” added the interlocutors for Čapljinski Portal. 

Hoteliers and private apartment renters are also worried, as they believe the number of overnight stays will decrease compared to the previous figures.

“Things simply won’t be the same; the focus will shift to Pelješac. A good number of guests used Neum as an overnight destination, from where they visited Mostar, Dubrovnik, and the Dubrovnik coast in general, but that will surely change now. Nobody wants to wait at the borders for hours,” the interlocutors pointed out. 

But could the newly opened Stolac-Neum road somehow compensate for a drop in travelers?

“Difficult. That road will not bring us anything in terms of tourism. However, it will make it easier for us locals to travel to Mostar and the interior of BiH, as well as for tourists who come to Neum from the interior of BiH so that they do not have to cross the border wait in lines. Those guests, frankly, were not our main consumers, at least when it comes to catering along the highway,” said the same Neum restaurateur. 

According to them, Stolac will benefit the most from this road.

“Stores, fruit and vegetable sellers along the road, cafes, and restaurants located in Stolac could now benefit from passing tourists because it takes an hour to drive from the center of Stolac to the center of Neum, so Stolac is an ideal place to stop for a break,” they added. 

In the end, they concluded that no one would fail in Neum tourism, but it will never be the same as it was.

“We will work, we have to work and live, but I think we can forget the golden times and the good income from foreign guests in Neum,” the restaurateur pointed out.

Neum will thus have to consider offering new content in the seasons ahead to attract guests in summer, as tourism is paramount for restaurateurs and hoteliers, concludes the Čapljinski Portal.

With the ceremonial opening of the Pelješac Bridge on Tuesday, southern Croatia will be reunited with the rest of the country after 300 years.

The opening program starts already at 8 am at the Brijesta rest area, with a vigil by several orchestras from Dubrovnik-Neretva County. During the day, there will be races under the bridge and performances by klapa groups and cultural and artistic societies until the evening hours.

Visitors will be able to walk to the first pylon of the Pelješac Bridge as early as 10 am, the Dubrovnik-Neretva Police Department reported on Monday. From the Komarna side, the bridge will be accessible by organized mini-bus transportation from 10 am to 4 pm (departing from the parking lot in the Klek tourist resort), after which preparations for the official program will begin.

The central ceremony will be opened by the Dubrovnik-Neretva County prefect, Nikola Dobroslavić, and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Sea, Transport, and Infrastructure, Oleg Butković. Afterward, the representative of the President of the European Commission, Dubravka Šuica, will address the audience, followed by a video message from Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang. Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, President of the Croatian Parliament, Gordan Jandroković, and President of the Republic Zoran Milanović will then speak.

The musical program will include the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra, Dubrovnik Trombunjeri, Lado, Linđo, and others, and the ceremony will end with the performance of the “Hymn to Freedom” and fireworks, during which the bells of all the churches of the Dubrovnik Diocese will ring, as well as the blessing of the bridge.

After the bridge’s opening at 10 pm, motorcyclists of the defense forces will be the first to cross it.

tourisFor more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.


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