Saturday, 27 November 2021
Englishman in Dubrovnik Englishman in Dubrovnik

I gave up on the idea of winter tourism in Dubrovnik a long time ago

Written by  Oct 17, 2021

We went from swimming to shivering! It is the same every year. It’s as if there somebody presses a light switch and we go from short sleeves to scarves. Dubrovnik doesn’t really do seasons. It’s either bright, sunny and hot or windy grey and cold. There is no middle ground, no happy medium. Those long colourful autumn days they have in New England, or even middle Croatia, are only something that we can see on screensavers.

So as October marches on the Indian Summer has been blasted out to sea by the whistling northerly wind our thoughts turn to the long winter ahead of us and looking back over our shoulders at what turned out to be a positive (no not that positive!) season.

So what will the winter bring? Well there will certainly be much fewer conferences than a usual season. I feel it will be a winter of planning, of rethinking and reorganisation. With two years of a pandemic behind us we are (or at least should be) wiser and more equipped to understand what we can and can’t do.

I am predicting that we will still be divided into two groups, the pro and anti-vaccine. If we can just get to a percentage that herd immunity kicks in, then I’d be happy and the anti-vaxxers can protest as much as they want. They are basically protesting about something that isn’t compulsory. It’s a bit like protesting that you don’t want to eat ice-cream. The rest of society is silently screaming “Don’t eat f***ing ice-cream then you imbeciles.”

As we slowly start the hibernation process, the central heating gets turned on and the winter wardrobe is uncovered we should really pat ourselves on the back for a successful tourist season. In spite of the flood of pessimism at the start of the year the season, or more importantly the earnings from tourism, were much higher than anyone expected.

How can Dubrovnik learn from Split? 

Although some people were calling to “shut down the country” and to lock ourselves away in a New Zealand approach to fighting Covid they were proved wrong. From around the middle of July to the end of September we were full, completely full.

I do have one question though. How is it that Split Airport has so many more flights and passengers than Dubrovnik? I have actually heard this same sentence amongst business meetings all year. In fact, Split Airport set to be the most frequented airport in Croatia in 2021, taking the title away from Zagreb. For a coastal destination to have more passengers than the capital is unusual.

So what are Split doing than we aren’t? 330,000 passengers used Split in September, Dubrovnik came in at around 208,000. And this winter Zagreb will be connected to a whole range of destinations with the budget airline Ryanair. We, on the other hand, will be in our long winter sleep, busy congratulating ourselves on how clever and how lucky we were that the season ended up being positive.

I gave up on the idea of winter tourism in Dubrovnik a long time ago. It’s just not possible. The problem isn’t that we don’t have the conditions or the offer, the problem is that in our heads we really don’t want to work in the winter.

It isn’t so much a lack of creativity more a lack of need. Earnings in the summer more than cover our winter needs, well in most cases, and we just can’t be bothered, we’re lazy. We won’t have flights in the winter because no airline wants to fly here, we’ll have no flights because we don’t want them to fly here and spoil our sleep.

Do you think that the airport would be empty if it were named Hamburg, Belfast or Manchester, no! But that “all work no play” attitude isn’t our style. It’s a characteristic that starts at school when a pass is seen as all you need, rather than striving for excellent.

We seem all happy with a pass, to be average. But being average in a world-class destination seems a little ironic. “Most people are happy being average. Most are happy being faceless in a sea of faces,” wrote Robert Kiyosaki.

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