The Dubrovnik Times we caught up with the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Franković, to discover how prepared the city is for 2018 and what we can look forward to in the coming years. Franković has a history of working in the tourism industry and this experience will help him to guide Dubrovnik through the peaks and troughs of the city’s tourism industry. Franković talked cruise ships, movies and fancy French streets.
Dubrovnik is an extremely popular tourist destination and is well known all over the world. In which direction would you like to see the city’s tourism industry go in the future?
The goal of the City of Dubrovnik is to have sustainable tourism. We have to have an eye on the citizens of the city when we talk about tourism in the city. At the same time, we have to improve the tourist offer for the international tourists that visit Dubrovnik. Basically quality is much more important to us than quantity.
Is all round tourism an option? And if so what is being done to attract more flights in the winter months?
365-day tourism was one of the main themes that the city has been discussing over the past few year, however my personal opinion is that all year round tourism is not a good option. Every destination must have a month to two months to relax, to renovate and time to prepare for the next season. Dubrovnik still hasn’t reached the stage where it has the ideal length of tourist season, we still need to extend our season by another month or so. To answer your other question, we have very good announcements for this winter period, with a number of international flights arriving. Frankfurt, Istanbul and London will all have direct connections throughout the winter months. We are most interested in attracting short break holidays and for this winter we can announce direct flights from Brussels.
Frankovic in conversation with Mark Thomas from The Dubrovnik Times - Photo Tonci Plazibat
What steps have been made to control the cruise ship arrivals this year and to bring a better flow of passengers in the city?
Firstly, I need to point out that it was very hard to make any major changes for this year as all of the cruise companies already have contracts. However, with did manage to make a deal with Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) to adjust the arrival and departure times of their members, the cruise companies. Will can see that Dubrovnik will have around nine critical days this season when we will have more than three cruise ships in the city, in fact eight as we have already passed one critical day. By agreeing with cruise companies to move their departure and arrival times we have made helped reduce the large crowds that we have seen in the past. If two cruise ships arrive at the same time then we have a problem, with this new regime this will not happen. For next year we have already agreed many new arrangements with companies, which will again help the flow of cruise ship passengers. In fact, Dubrovnik could receive even more cruise ship passengers, but the organisation must be seriously improved. CLIA wants to be a partner of Dubrovnik and together we can find a better solution.
Is Dubrovnik actively seeking more movie productions after the success of Game of Thrones, Star Wars and Robin Hood?
As a city we are very open to the film industry coming to Dubrovnik in the pre and post season. We are currently working on a new set of regulations, we are making this in partnership with many of the people who have been involved in the previous movie production in the city, which will lay out all the regulations on filming in the city. We want the film industry to come to Dubrovnik, but we would like future films to feature more Dubrovnik. If you take Star Wars and Robin Hood as examples it is difficult to see Dubrovnik in these films. Of course these productions are welcome as well but films that highlight more of Dubrovnik would be ideal. We are currently in discussions with a film producer from Hollywood about the possibility of making one serial in Dubrovnik. And in this serial Dubrovnik would be shown in its full beauty. We hope the new James Bond will also film in Dubrovnik but we have no news on that project yet.
How would you like to see the tourism offer of Dubrovnik improved?
What I believe, and I think 90 percent of citizens would agree with me, is that the Stradun should be like the Champs-Élysées. High quality boutique, a high quality offer, souvenirs yes, but off the Stradun. The City Council will look at all future tenders for properties on the Stradun with the criteria of quality over price. If a high end brand is interested in opening a store on the Stradun then we will look favourably towards them.