Zadar Picks New Tourism Director

Total Croatia News

Updated on:

Sept. 12, 2018 — Zadar has a new tourism director. He isn’t the most-experienced candidate. He arguably isn’t the most qualified.

He is a member of the Croatian Democratic Union’s local branch, and friends with the mayor.

Mario Paleka, Zadar’s Sports Director and a kinesiologist, was selected the city’s newest Tourism Board director in a closed-session meeting overseen by mayor Branko Dukić.

The 44-year-old Paleka was one of seven applicants, earning the job with a slim five votes (the next closest earned three). Others candidates included Hrvoje Anić, a long-time local hotel director who applied to merely ensure someone with experience in tourism was among the applicants.

The director’s seat became available after Ante Rados ended his tenure in the middle of the tourism season. The singer and tourism novice faced an increasing backlash over an alleged lack of initiative and lackluster performance.

Paleka, it seems, has a similar background — lacking concrete experience in the field except a brief stint at Falkensteiner as the resort’s sports director.

“I believe that in this case the responsibility is great and expectations are quite big,” Paleka told Zadarski List in his first public comments after his selection. “I promise to do my best.”

The Tourism Council tripped up Paleka in the midst of his presentation with a battery of tourism-related questions, according to Zadarski List. Paleka may be assisted by a city-provided consultant, like his predecessor.

The press release provided by the board doesn’t offer much detail.

“Mr. Paleka presented a one-year program, expressing his own position and philosophy, as well his new ideas,” it reads, as if a lack of plagiarism makes a candidate qualified for the job.

Paleka’s name was first mentioned in the local press after the director’s job became available. Reports claimed he’d been biding his time within the local branch of Croatian Democratic union (HDZ) and was due a promotion. He’s also considered a close friend of Mayor Dukić, who was among the council’s vote.

Zadar’s Tourist Board has long been considered a haven for patronage hires with little experience but plenty of political connections. The Tourism Council President Dražen Grgurović did little to hide the fact, telling Zadarski List, “Everyone talks about whether politics will interfere. Of course it will, but only 50 percent, just like everywhere in the world.”

The local tourism industry is enduring a stagnating high season, with restauranteurs and renters complaining of a lackluster season. Some hoped the selection of a qualified, experienced candidate may help turn things around.

Paleka may need his experience in sports to strengthen his spine. Raising the town’s flagging tourism industry will be a heavy lift.


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment