Spring is always a pleasing welcome to everyone, especially after a long cold winter. Vukovar in particular begins to welcome the first foreign visitors to the town, courtesy of the River Danube. Today we see the first of many river cruisers that are expected to arrive in 2017, along with a large group of American visitors.
Tourism for Vukovar is important; there are many interesting things to see and do whilst visiting this historic town. As the first group of tourists arrive, I wonder what they think as a first impression, when they step onto terra firma! They are greeted with a large “Welcome To Vukovar” sign, as well as directions to some of the sights. Then they will look up and be greeted to the famous Hotel Dunav, which once was the heart of the town.
Whilst the hotel was in function until a few years ago it has since fallen into a state of disrepair. It was an asset of Vupik, which was scooped up by Toderic et al, and then sold to a construction company Eurco. There are plans to redevelop the building and transform the hotel once again into a multipurpose convention centre. As spring began, so did the arrival of construction vehicles to begin the task of renovating this local iconic building.
There is much more construction work happening in Vukovar also, which is part of the overall plan to improve the facilities for the local resident. Work on the winter harbour has been ongoing for some time, and now is really beginning to take shape. Alongside this we have a new walkway which is partially completed. The new walkway connects the port of Vukovar to the town, and is part of a bigger plan to connect Vukovar to Vucedol.
What appears to be distinctly missing is real quality information to cater for the tourists, and in a language they can understand. The cruiser operators pack their guests off in a fleet of air-conditioned buses to other places such as Osijek or Dakovo. Arriving guests are left with a few hours of “free time” to explore an amazing town, yet have no idea where to go. Whilst the town has a tourist information office, there seems to be little effort to welcome these dollar bearing visitors.
Would it take too much to hand out official welcome to Vukovar leaflets, along with a small map of what can be done in a short time? Would it take too much to offer a pleasant greeting as the guests arrive? In an ever competing world, there really needs to be more emphasis on going the extra mile in greeting and meeting. The first and last impressions are the most remembered, and this is what should be considered.
As one aged American from Georgia said to me this morning “Oh, you speak English!” the conversation went on to talk about the history of Vukovar, the amazing destination. All the guest had was the image given to him in his cruise guide, and what was written on the internet. He was astounded with what he learned in a quick 5 minute conversation with a complete stranger. He will for sure go on to tell his fellow passengers what he learned, and this will be his memory of Vukovar.
The season has started, and with more than 200 river cruisers expected to arrive in Vukovar, there should be a way in which we can touch the hearts of the guests on-board. Whilst the image of the town is shrouded in the past, there is an incredible brightness in the centre. The visitors should be left with an image of positivity and enthusiasm, not the remnants of nearly 30 years ago.