Stari Grad on Hvar to Ban New Hostels Says Mayor Antonio Skarpa

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In Stari Grad on the island of Hvar, it will no longer be possible to construct new hostels or turn existing buildings into hostels. The decision was made by a revision of the local spatial plan, making the town one of the first in Croatia to more seriously focus on the issue of tourism management and the development of local accommodation capacities, reports Jutarnji List on October 31, 2018.

Therefore, there will be no new hostels in Stari Grad. Such facilities usually attract guests who stay for a shorter period and spend considerably less money. They will still have available the two existing hostels, with a capacity of around 200 beds. Mayor Antonio Škarpa said that should be more than enough to accommodate hostel guests.

“We were not really sure whether the idea will be accepted, but we have realised that we do not want to have ‘issues’ like our colleagues in Hvar or Novalja have. We want to avoid the development of mass party tourism. Stari Grad is a town with 2,400 years of history and culture, the town centre is under the UNESCO protection, and we have decided to intervene in time in order to turn towards high-quality tourism and cultural tourism,” said Mayor Škarpa.

The decision to ban the construction or renovation of existing properties as hostels was made by the town authorities in Articles 89 and 90 of the amendments to the spatial plan, which state that “within the settlement, hotels, tourist resorts, camps and other tourist facilities can be constructed, with the exception of hostels.”

The decision was made unanimously by the town council following the Urban Planning Committee proposal, and Mayor Škarpa, who became mayor as an independent candidate in June last year, said that the decision was made in view of announced investments in the town.

“French investors will open two five-star hotels in the next two years, and the preparatory works have already begun. We expect the takeover of the Helios Faros hotels by Valamar and the PBZ Croatia Osiguranje Fund to be completed soon. These investments will move us towards the direction of more luxurious tourism, so we have decided to participate more actively in defining what type of guests we want. The existing 200 beds in hostels is quite enough for our destination,” said Škarpa, adding that hostel guests have not yet conquered Stari Grad but they still wanted to act preventively because potential damage to the destination would subsequently be very difficult to mitigate.

The town authorities’ efforts to influence the development of accommodation capacities are currently limited to the hostel sector, but they say they will soon begin to introduce measures to raise the quality of private accommodation facilities. As early as this winter, they will launch courses to increase the quality of accommodation and infrastructure.

“Of course, we also count on measures which the state provides for the categorization of private accommodation, and we as a local community are willing to subsidise the renovation of facades and similar projects. The plan is to help people prepare documentation for registration for the recategorisation projects,” said Škarpa, adding that much is expected from the new director of the local tourist board. The competition for the position will be announced on November 12.

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