Tuesday, 16 April 2024
Revitalizing Winter Tourism: The Potential of Camper Stops in Dubrovnik and Beyond Mark Thomas

Revitalizing Winter Tourism: The Potential of Camper Stops in Dubrovnik and Beyond

Written by  Nov 23, 2023

So that’s that. The airplanes have stopped flying and we are now a ghost town. Not that I’m complaining, far from it, it makes a nice change to finally get to see the stone façades without Chuck from Texas blocking it with his ice-cream.

If you want to visit Dubrovnik in the winter you really, really need to be prepared for some hard work.

“I can’t believe everyone is wearing jackets and jumpers,” smiled a man with a strong Cornish accent. I had bumped into him in Kupari. He was travelling with his campervan and was making the most of the November sunshine in his shorts and T-shirt. “Just been swimming, it’s lovely,” he smiled.

They build them strong in Cornwall. It is the rugged part of the UK that sticks out into the far South-West and is almost cut-off from the rest of the country. I know it quite well as my feet passed around the whole of the county’s coastline last year.

Whiskers of Wisdom Insights from a Cat Lover Volunteering at an Animal Shelter 6

Could we see a new form of winter tourism in Dubrovnik - Photo - Mark Thomas 

 

Swimming in 20 degrees in November in Dubrovnik probably felt like Hawaii for this friendly chap. “Is there anyone I can pay for camping here,” he asked.

So I want to rewind a little. Campervans in the south of Croatia get a bad name, mainly due to the fact that they seem to park everywhere and anywhere in the summer. This could easily be solved in a win/win/win situation. I saw the solution with my own eyes.

So on our recent road trip to Slovenia we were slightly worried that we wouldn’t find anywhere to stay overnight. That was until we stumbled over a website offering so called “autostops.”

The principle is that dotted around Slovenia there are camper stops that offer all a camper need. Basically they are smallish carparks only for campervans and have electricity hook-ups, water and waste disposal. I soon realised that these were being run by the local councils. You buy a ticket to park and enter your number plate. An overnight stay costs between 10 and 15 euro.

Like I said a winning solution in many ways.

Firstly, you help solve the problem of wild camping. Next the local authority is earning, and earning all year round. After the initial capital investment, the sites basically run themselves, there is no need to employ anyone and the actual costs are minimal.

Plus (and it is a big plus) it helps attract tourists out of the main summer season.

Whiskers of Wisdom Insights from a Cat Lover Volunteering at an Animal Shelter 5

Camping in style - Photo - Mark Thomas 

One camp we stayed at near Lake Bled had six other campers, and all had different countries number plates. So clearly there is a need.

Almost every day in Kupari I see a new campervan. And this man from Cornwall was clear evidence that campers are willing to pay. “I seem to see more campervan signs not allowed than open sites,” he said to me.

All it would take is 10 to 12 camper stops dotted over the county and we have a new form of tourism.

And these sites don’t need to be close to the Old City, quite the opposite, place them in a disused piece of land in a small village and overnight you have regenerated the tourism in that place. It isn’t really thinking outside of the box; it just seems like common sense.

Dubrovnik has just been awarded as the Champion of Croatian Tourism for 2023 so maybe now it is time to get more creative and extend our offer away from cruise ships and day-trippers. It is a solution that quite clearly already works, so there is no reason why it wouldn’t work in the south of Croatia. Again, minimum investment, maximum return.

“I’m off for another dip in the sea,” smiled the Cornish man. Adding that he was heading to a new destination. I have no doubt that he’ll be swimming there as well.

It would seem that we have a year-round tourism idea staring us right in the face. The airlines might stop when the north wind blows but the campers don’t. 

Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to

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About the author
Mark Thomas (aka Englez u Dubrovniku) is the editor of The Dubrovnik Times. He was born and educated in the UK and moved to live in Dubrovnik in 1998. He works across a whole range of media, from a daily radio show to TV and in print. Thomas is fluent in Croatian and this column is available in Croatia on the website – Dubrovnik Vjesnik

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