Friday, 19 August 2022
Englishman in Dubrovnik Englishman in Dubrovnik

Has it taken a global pandemic to realise that we can have winter tourism?

Written by  Sep 25, 2021

So we had another mass vaccination event this week, or as they call them anti-vaxxer demonstration. It’s just another way to get to the same end. These are basically mass herd immunity events. It has all the elements, a mass of people not wearing masks, unvaccinated people, people shouting at the top of their lungs and people all squashed together.

It’s like Christmas for the virus. I’m all for freedom of speech and civil liberties, although I’m not quite sure what the anti-vaxxers are fighting against. They are basically protesting against something that isn’t compulsory. If you don’t want to get vaccinated then don’t, why do you have to shout about it.

I’m guessing that at some point Croatia will have to open all the restrictions, although that time probably won’t be before next year. My destination for this Christmas, the UK, has absolutely decided that opening up is the best policy. “It’s like a light version of the Swedish approach,” said a friend from London.

Condensing it right down, the government saw that they had reached the upper limits of the people who wanted to get vaccinated, and they saw that the older population were almost totally protected, so they opened up completely to spread the virus amongst the rest of the population. All of a sudden masks were not compulsory, sporting events could have as many supporters as they liked and discos reopened. “It looks like – if you don’t want the vaccine we’ll give you Covid,” commented my friend.

I’m following the situation on the island as we’re planning a big family Christmas this year. And of course in these times the most crucial, and indeed changeable, part of the journey is making sure we follow Covid regulations.

And as we’re driving, and crossing half of Europe, we’ve got a lot to follow. But some good news, very good news, came out of the “reopening” UK this week, news that will a) save us a lot of money and b) earn Dubrovnik more money.

All passengers who are fully vaccinated will no longer need to take the expensive PCR test, at least when returning to the UK from low risk countries. From the 4th of October fully vaccinated passengers arriving from low-risk countries will be permitted to take a cheaper lateral flow test, rather than the privately administered PCR lab tests now required. The insistence on PCR tests has meant that travel from the UK has been expensive, with PCR tests costing up to 80 Euros. That’s basically how one government decision saved me around 400 Euros in PCR tests.

More importantly it caused a wave of holiday reservations as the Brits welcomed the news by clicking “book now” on their laptops. “It is amazing how many people booked flights in October,” a UK travel agent told me. Adding that “If there were flights in November, December, all year round, there would be people booking and coming to Dubrovnik.”

A multiple Emmy-winning investigative reporter and producer from the States, Peter Greenberg, once told me “Airlines must be directed to fly all year round and build up the winter tourism. Otherwise all you are doing is perpetuating the problem of overcrowding. You have to figure out – are you listening to the airlines or are the airlines listening to you. Right now it would seem that the airlines aren’t listening to you at all.” He was right. We are now seeing that people are willing to travel in October and even November, but of course, in fewer numbers than in August, but the demand is there.

Has it taken a global pandemic to realise that we can have winter tourism? But will anything change, probably not as we aren’t the masters of our own destiny, we are hostages to the airlines. As I told you we’re having a big family Christmas this year. We booked the villa which will be our festive base last Christmas. And at the time of booking 70 percent of the villas were already fully booked. Winter tourism is alive in the UK.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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