A Slavonian Geography Lesson for the Croatian National Tourist Board

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It used to be funny, but now I just find it rather sad.

Or perhaps pathetic is a better description. 

Our beloved Croatian National Tourism Board is at it again with its legendary promotional fails, this time with the onboard literature on Croatia Airlines. 


The sad part is that the vast majority of people who work at the Croatian National Tourist Board headquarters probably do not even know the name of the river that flows through Osijek and would see nothing wrong in the text above. 

The people of Slavonia noticed, however, and no less than ten people sent me this image from a recent Croatia Airlines flight. 


As we always try and help the Croatian National Tourist Board with their difficult job, here is a quick geography lesson using the map above. As you can see, the river passing Osijek is called the Drava. This flows into the Danube.

The Danube is Croatia’s natural eastern border from Ilok to Baranja, and a rather fascinating place. It would be nice to promote it on occasion. There really is a lot to see (here is a little taster from a recent TCN trip – Time to Tell the Truth about Slavonia Full of Life.

The fact that the original text was (badly) translated into English and nobody noticed we were talking about the wrong river tells its own story. But I will confess that I have never seen ‘decorations opt for a crisp winter walk along the river bank’ anywhere else in the world. 

As bad as the geography is, the actual content of the text is just as dire. Top reasons to go to Osijek – to look at the Christmas decorations or walk along a riverbank. Really?


Geography has never been a strong point in the Kingdom of Accidental Tourism. Did you know, for example, that the island of Hvar has two airports and a seaport? Having lived in Jelsa for 13 years, I thought I knew the place quite well (it is not the size of Manchester) and I am sure I would have noticed the Jelsa airport the Kings were referring to (in addition to the Jelsa seaplane terminal). Back in the days when the Kings answered my emails, they agreed with me that Jelsa airport did not actually exist, and it was quietly removed.  

golf-tourism3.pngThe same thing happened when I asked the Kings if they could give me precise directions to the 18-hole golf course they were promoting in central Zagreb. I didn’t know Zagreb that well, but I am sure I would have noticed something like a full-size golf course. After some articles on TCN, including Tourism Quiz of the Summer: How Many Golf Courses Will Croatia Have Next Week?, this rather unusual addition to Zagreb tourism was removed. You are welcome.


Such is the brilliance of the marketing genius at the heart of the Kingdom that we are kept guessing on what is a gaffe and what is not. 


The quite inspirational slogan, Croatia Will Waste Your Time, hit the headlines a few years ago, with dozens of comments such as these above. And yet, it is still alive and well on the official Kingdom Twitter account today, so perhaps it was deliberate after all. And who are we mere mortals to judge such mercurial genius?

I sincerely hope that if the current Croatian National Tourist Board director reapplies for the job, as is required by the new tourism law, that he will include these pearls in his application – it will really make him stand out from the crowd. 

Geography lesson over, now learn how the Croatian National Tourist Board tries to silence criticism with SLAPP lawsuits in Diary of a Croatian Lawsuit – the next instalment is coming to a blog near you later this month.


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