After the successful first round table on Split winter tourism in December, the initiative to extend the tourist season received the first concrete vision at today’s second meeting. Organized by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce – Split County Chamber and Total Croatia News, the Chamber of Tourism gathered in Split and presented four programs that can strengthen the offer in the postseason and create a base for continuing flights to Split Airport after October.
Mayor Ivica Puljak reiterated his support for this initiative on this occasion as well.
“Split is a city that is increasingly extending the tourist season, and it will continue to be extended because there is great potential for tourism to stretch throughout the whole year. However, we want that tourism to be sustainable, not to endanger the quality of life of citizens. Therefore, it is up to us, the City, to build infrastructure that can enable tourism to develop well,” said the mayor, expressing satisfaction with all projects and joint partnership as a good and proper way to develop Split tourism further.
President of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce – Split County Chamber Joze Tomaš also emphasized the potential of developing 365 tourism in Split.
“The trend of introducing a four-day working week, present in a growing number of companies in the world, extends the weekend to three days, which with good connections, airlines and everything else, opens additional opportunities for Split,” said Tomaš, emphasizing that we still have a lot of work to do on continuing the current events as well as launching new content.
“The Split Winter Tourism initiative was launched due to the problems that caterers and hoteliers face after the cut that occurs in mid-October. Talking about winter tourism in Split and extending the season, we detected that it is necessary to bridge the period from the end of October to the beginning of Advent, i.e., the month of November, ” said Jasmina Kruščić on behalf of the initiative.
A quality introduction to the topic was provided by statistical data on Split tourist arrivals and the season in general. In addition to the excellent preconditions that Split has as a year-round destination, one of the biggest obstacles is air connections with the rest of Europe, which lack in the winter months. Hence, the initiative aims to increase the percentage of air arrivals.
Programs that would strengthen the offer are based on Split’s digital-cultural and eno-gastronomic promotion and were presented by private sector stakeholders. These are the Split Light Festival, Gastronomy Month (working title Split on a Plate), Digital Nomads, and Winter Sailing.
Split Light Festival would include the lighting of public spaces and monuments and 3D mapping in the form of a trial four-day festival of light and music that would promote the city’s creative industry and cultural heritage. The gastronomic offer of Split has been a critical tourist product for many years, and this year October would be marked as the month of gastronomy, during which Split restaurants would place special offers for locals and tourists. Digital nomads, for whom Split is a desirable destination with an average of 900 visitors a month, are also a niche with a huge space for growth and whose benefits were presented at the meeting. In the segment of nautical tourism, winter sailing was introduced, an offer that is sufficiently developed in the rest of the world and is a logical sequence in the Split postseason. The classic charter offer or sailing school for foreigners during city break stays will surely strengthen this sector toward sustainable development.
In the discussion that followed, which was attended by representatives of the tourist boards of Split and Split-Dalmatia County, Split Faculty of Economics, and the private sector, the presented solutions were discussed, with other offers and defined optimal dates.
All participants agree that Split has enough offseason perks, based on which it can seek better connections with the rest of the world, and that there is a need to work together with all stakeholders, who can only bring change together. It was also emphasized that it is necessary to work more on the domestic tourism component and nearby markets and extend the season step by step, i.e., with flights a week or two earlier and end a week or two later, and gradually expand the circle. To move in that direction, it was concluded that a Business and Tourist Council would be established at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce – Split County Chamber, which will actively work on implementing this offer and other quality initiatives for some of them to come to life as early as 2022, or to be fully ready in 2023.
Five key takeaways from the Initiative organizers
1. Further analysis should be done with the Private & Public sectors and the Split Airport to determine what our focus should be in the future regarding flights, including the best dates.
2. After seeing the Split Airport statistics, we all agreed we need to flatten the curve of flight seasonality and that both the public and private sectors need to work together in creating a strategy on how to achieve that.
3. Restructuring the budget so that the initiatives that are put forward for building the offseason months should have precedence for future competitions.
4. The public sector supports these initiatives but funding may prove to be an issue. The Split-Dalmatia County Tourist Board competition for funding is now live.
5. Lack of communication between the Private & Public sectors continues to be one of the main issues. How will we move forward to ensure that communication improves. A decision was taken to form a sub-committee of public-private partnership, including the city, tourist board, Chamber of Economy and private sector tourism providers to move things forward.
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