One of the most active and versatile tourist guides, and one of the most passionate lovers of Dubrovnik, is undoubtedly Jelica Čučević, a tourist guide and owner of the tourism company "Beauty and Freedom of Dubrovnik." She has years of experience and has delighted thousands of visitors from all over the world for over 30 years with her interesting stories and presentations about Dubrovnik. Therefore, we had a conversation with her about what it means to be a tourist guide, what are the greatest assets of Dubrovnik, and what interests and motivates business guests the most in choosing Dubrovnik as a congress destination.
I believe that a good guide can change and enhance a planned vacation or business visit
She started working in tourism in 1984 at the largest travel agency, Atlas, where she worked until 2000. She then worked in other well-known tourist agencies in Dubrovnik for several years. After 30 years, she decided to become independent and open her own business dedicated to introducing guests to everything Dubrovnik has to offer, combining her profession with her hobby - acting. She is a member of the Dubrovnik Tourist Guides Association and the national association UHPA, and has also lectured at the Branch Manager Seminar and the Tourist Guides Seminar at the University of Dubrovnik.
- How did your love for the tourism profession come about, and what motivates you the most in your work? In your experience, what are the basic characteristics that a tourist guide must have to be successful in their job?
The love for the tourism profession probably originated by being born in Dubrovnik. However, the fact that I travelled a lot as a long-time member of the Folklore Ensemble "Linđo," later for business reasons, also contributed to it, and I fell in love with traveling, which enriched me in various ways each time. Most importantly, I love people and love helping them, as well as sharing acquired knowledge. For me, a tourist guide is a mirror of the city, the country, and the people who live in that country. I have many older colleagues who have been my role models. A tourist guide must primarily have a basic general culture, good communication skills, knowledge of foreign languages, geography, art history, as well as different cultures.
They need to be resourceful, have high organizational abilities, be physically fit, and always present themselves well.
- In what ways do you motivate guests to listen to the story of Dubrovnik? Do you use any special materials, props, or methods?
I believe that a good guide can change and enhance a planned vacation or business visit, as well as people's opinions about the destination. Additionally, a tourist guide needs to be able to listen and recognize the desires of visitors. I transmit my love and passion for the history and beauty of Dubrovnik and Croatia to my guests. Dubrovnik is an inexhaustible source of information and inspiration. Just when you think you know it all, there are always new discoveries, new books by our excellent scientists, and you have to be proud to be a resident of that city and to have the opportunity to convey it to visitors.
Dubrovnik captivates them from the very beginning
- You are also involved in acting as part of the amateur theatre group Kolarini. Does that experience help you as a guide, and how would you compare these two "roles"?
Certainly, acting is my delightful hobby, and I have been engaged in amateur theatre for 16 years. Of course, I also utilize those skills, especially when I do costumed tours for various events.
- It is well known that Dubrovnik is a gem of the Adriatic, a part of UNESCO's heritage, has a rich cultural offer, and is a popular filming location for series and movies. But what makes Dubrovnik magical in your personal opinion? Can you highlight some details that are not as well-known and are most fascinating to foreign guests?
When I was thinking about what to name my tourism business, I thought about what fascinates visitors the most, and it is undoubtedly beauty and freedom. The beauty of every stone built into the walls, every house, church, museum, and street in the city is indescribable, and freedom has marked the way of life since the 15th century and onwards. We, who witnessed the Homeland War, were most aware of it.
In addition to history, visitors are fascinated by the cleanliness of the streets, as well as the gastronomy and hospitality of the local population.
- Throughout your career, you have hosted a large number of people on your tours, surely with different and specific characters and attitudes. Do you have any particularly interesting or amusing anecdotes that have stayed in your memory?
It's wonderful that we are all different, and therefore, my tours are never the same. Every day, I meet a multitude of different people who also enrich my life. As for anecdotes, there are plenty of them, they should all have been written down and published someday. I remember a question from a guest from the UK who persistently wanted to buy a bird, specifically a swift, and take it with her to England, or a young guest from the USA who asked me if St. Blaise was still alive.
Every day, I meet a multitude of different people who also enrich my life
- As part of your work, you often collaborate with the Convention Bureau of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board in organizing fam trips or site inspections for the MICE segment of tourism. What do they usually involve, which venues are popular, and what activities are most popular?
That's right, I have an excellent cooperation with the Convention Bureau of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, and I often organize tours for business groups. The interest in Dubrovnik as a congress destination is significant. Often, these are larger congresses with even more than 600 participants. The challenge then is to organize a formal dinner outside the hotel at some attractive, historic locations because they don't have the capacity for such events. And precisely these locations, such as the Museum of Modern Art, Lazareti in Ploče, the terraces of the Revelin Fortress or the Lovrijenac Fortress, the Marin Držić Theatre, and the Sponza Palace, are the most sought after because everyone finds the Old City of Dubrovnik most interesting. In addition to gala dinners, these programs often include various activities and excursions.
The love for the tourism profession probably originated by being born in Dubrovnik
- What are the specific interests of business agents, and what are their impressions of Dubrovnik?
Dubrovnik captivates them from the very beginning, but technical details are always important: accessibility for people with disabilities at the venue, the number of sanitary facilities at the location, backup plans in case of bad weather, different menus and options for entertainment programs during dinners.
- How would you rate Dubrovnik as a congress and event destination? What are its greatest qualities and advantages, and is there room for improvement in any areas?
The greatest advantage of Dubrovnik as a congress destination is its geographical location and the length of the season - the pre-season and the post-season are reserved for congresses and events. There is always room for improvement, especially in keeping up with trends in technological development, but there is also room for improvement in the destination's infrastructure.