There’s a phrase that goes something like – the deeper you dig the more you find – can’t remember it exactly but we get the drift. I wasn’t really digging, more like scrapping the surface but I soon uncovered a hidden treasure.
Is it me or are there more foreign voices on the Stradun than in previous winters. What do you think? I have been spending more time in the Old City recently and I seem to be bumping into much more foreign tourists than I had expected. Maybe it is the Winter Festival effect or just the general mild weather we have been having, I don’t know but for sure there is an improvement.
But it also seems that there is more room for improvement. I received an email from a lady in Manchester the other day which troubled me. She is a regular guest to Dubrovnik and after seeing all the images of Dubrovnik at Christmas thought it would be a nice idea to see a different side of the city, away from the sunshine and summer crowds. However she very quickly ran into a problem. Lack of flight connections. So I wrote back to find out what the problem was, after all the UK is our most important tourist partner.
“We would love to see the city in winter when there are (probably) less crowds but mainly to see the city decorated for Christmas,” opened her reply to me. It turned out that she had visited Dubrovnik over half a dozen times before but only in the summer. “I have had difficulty finding flights in December, NONE at all from Manchester and I have not found any from London where we can return home before Christmas Day. We have been in May and October this year, yes we would visit more out of the summer season,” she concluded. So a loyal guest to the city who try as she might couldn’t find a connection to bring her in the winter.
It soon turned out that she was not alone. As soon as I published her story a whole host of other people started contacting me. The idea of me actually organizing a special charter flight for all these people flashed through my mind.
“We have been coming to stay in Cavtat twice a year for the last 10 years and would love to come in the winter to see the Dubrovnik winter festival but we just can't get flights from Manchester. It is such a shame,” read the next comment. Quickly followed by “I would love to visit outside of the May to October period. Direct flights UK to Dubrovnik year round please.” I wasn’t even digging and the comments were flowing in. Ok, I know that we have more flights than ever before, I think around 14 international flights, through the winter but it would seem that there is a demand for more. And if we really want to get to the level of the Advent in Zagreb then making it possible, no easy, for foreigners to get here must be the key.
“Now that there are so many more events going on out of the main summer season I'm sure it would be beneficial for an airline to start running regular flights from the UK to Dubrovnik. After all, I'd imagine there are a lot of people who want to come but are put off from visiting in the summer due to the sheer number of people and the heat,” was a section of the next comment. One can only assume that the more events that this reader was talking about is the winter festival.
And to compound the bad luck the one international destination that we do have regular flights to, three times a week, is Istanbul. A country and a city that is so politically unstable that it makes marketing to Turkish tourists a challenge, to say the least. “It’s such a shame the winter service is so scarce as I think many more people would visit if they could especially from the north of the UK,” was the next in the line of comments. I can understand, the weather in the UK at the moment, well every winter, is terrible.
The sight of bright sunshine, even though an image can’t show the bora, must be very tempting for UK tourists. Add in a Christmas market and decorations and it would seem like we have a recipe for success. With the completion of Terminal C at the airport expected to be finished by next spring it would also seem a perfect opportunity to add to our winter repertoire. To rewrite the great William Shakespeare “Now doesn’t have to be the winter of our discontent.”