The Dubrovnik Times caught up with one of the leading American tour operators, Wanda Radetti, who specialises in tours to Croatia. She was born in Rijeka in northern Croatia, grew up in Italy and now is a resident of New York. “My journeys are about creating bridges of cultures, friendships, as well as expansion of the heart and mind,” comments Radetti. Well known throughout the whole region she is also recognised as one of the leading specialists for Croatia and was awarded "The World Top Travel Specialist for Croatia" by Condé Nast Traveler Magazine since 2006. We discovered why she believes that Croatia is so popular on the US market.
Were you aware that American tourists are the second most numerous in Dubrovnik last year? Does this surprise you?
No, not really surprised, as the recognized Conde Nast Travellers specialist for Croatia, I have seen the numbers of our travellers steadily increase in the last several years and Dubrovnik has been, and remains, the centrepiece of everyone’s interest when considering a visit to Croatia. Dubrovnik is a “brand” and is extremely well recognized as a desired “must see and experience” destination for the travellers that reach out to Tasteful Croatian Journeys from around the world. So much so, that until very recently, I ceased to be surprised to learn that Dubrovnik is often considered as a most attractive destination independent and separate from a visit to Croatia as if it was still the Republic of Ragusa. Although Dubrovnik, historically is not a “new” attraction/destination, I think that the National Tourist Board of Croatia has very cleverly used the visual seductions of Dubrovnik in photos, brochures, film and posters as the “pearl” of most international marketing campaigns intended to illuminate Croatia as a tourist destination. It may not be a coincidence that for many years the National Tourist Board was managed and run by some of the most brilliant minds that just happened to have roots in Dubrovnik.
Why do you think Dubrovnik is such a magnet for US tourists?
Dubrovnik is a complete, self-contained destination, it reflects the grandeur and magnificence of a city state, the glory of one of the most respected and acknowledged Republics that ruled the Mediterranean, and yet, today, it is still a city that is measurable by a human’s foot-steps. A most attractive curiosity that entertains and seduces the world traveller, especially the American traveller. The American, well informed, sophisticated traveller that we serve, enjoys every beautiful facet that is Dubrovnik as a wonderful collection of art, history, culture, wrapped in one extraordinary wonder of world architecture. To the citizens of the “New World”, Dubrovnik speaks to the individual’s soul because it is a place where dreams, fantasy and fairy tales happen to become and experienced reality.
What more can we do to attract even more tourists from the USA?
I have been working on developing the interest of travellers, in cooperation with the desired results of the Croatia National Tourist Board, on bringing travellers to Croatia year round. Although it is not a simple feat, I think that Dubrovnik will develop as the focal point for a seven- eight days, tailor designed itinerary that can be organized during the late fall, winter and early spring for our US travellers. Dubrovnik to be used as the base from which the traveller explores, via organized daily excursions, the surrounding points of interest, such as the perfect island of Korcula, the wine, truffles and fruits of the sea pleasures, of the Pelješac Peninsula, the silk culture of the Neretva Valley, where I believe the tastiest mandarins of the world can be found, and, of course an overview of the adjacent country of Montenegro. Personally, I hope that Dubrovnik is not looking to attract “more” US tourist, but would invest in developing a year round “season” for the most sophisticated discerning travellers of the world. We are already seeing, with concern, that the success of huge numbers of visitors that are already arriving in the city cannot be classified as sustainable and we are hearing comments that are not in contrast with what travellers have been reporting about the inconvenience of visiting Venice. Although I am in the business of tourism, whereas increasing numbers of visitors to a location is the goal that can lead to success, I have learned that destinations that continue to well serve the needs and life style of their citizens as paramount considerations of their government, retain and, predictably remain, the most valuable and attractive destinations for travellers that are ever more looking for that local, authentic experience. So, it is with pleasure that I expresses sincere gratitude to one of the most valid local tourist boards that is equal to Zagreb and Istria, to all our extraordinary partners that contribute to our success by presenting Dubrovnik as the beautiful jewel that travellers enjoy, I cautiously ring the bell of admonishment for Dubrovnik that it is not always about numbers, but it is always about quality.