This could well be the shortest column I have ever written. As the August sun punishingly burns down the sweat is rolling down my forehead like Niagara Falls and dripping in ever larger spots on my keyboard. Can you get electrocuted from a keyboard? I guess I am going to find out as my slippery fingers punch away.
But it’s the middle of August in Dubrovnik, so what would you expect? If it isn’t going to be hot now, then when will it get hot?
So the overtourism monster has once again reared its ugly head. A few too many tourists and everyone is gripped with shock and horror. Journalists from all over the world are contacting me asking about the crowded Old City and the human crush as cruise ship passengers pour off their ships and flow towards the Stradun. Headlines are filled with revulsion and surprise. And Facebook fills with angered citizens as they struggle to get to work due to the traffic jams. I might be a little controversial here – but get a grip! Why are you surprised when there is more traffic on the roads and more people wanting to get in the Old City and see the sights in the middle of the season, its August for God’s sake if we aren’t busy now, then when will we be busy.
If you drive to work or to the café bar takes ten minutes longer than in February, then leave home ten minutes earlier. If you have to wait an extra five minutes to buy your morning bread or croissant, then get out of bed five minutes earlier. And if you have to wait to get your coffee because your waitress is busy serving tourists their cappuccinos then I have absolutely no sympathy for you. It is August in Dubrovnik what the hell do you expect. Did you think that the roads would be empty? That the waitress was waiting all morning just for you to get out of bed for your coffee? Did you really think that the stone streets of the Old City would be empty in the height of summer? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are delusional.
Dubrovnik is a tourist destination. We all live, one way or another, from the tourist dollar, like it or not. Tourists are our customers. Do you hear Lidl complaining when they have too many customers? Or the Dubrovnik Summer Festival complaining that there are too many people wanting to buy tickets? Or eBay moaning that they have too many clients online and are selling to many products? Of course not, they are all rubbing their hands with glee and watching the cash registers spin. Yes, granted they might have to adjust their policies to allow more customers to shop at the same time, but basically they have a “sweet problem.” And believe me it is better to have a sweet problem than a sour one.
Tourists travel in the summer. And we are in the height of summer. It’s like throwing a lighted match into a bone dry forest and shouting “oh, no there is a fire.” Of course Dubrovnik will be busy in the height of August. And believe me if it wasn’t we would have far greater problems than waiting five minutes for our morning caffeine fix.
What if Dubrovnik had undertourism? Then we would truly suffer. If the shops, bars and hotels were empty, if you’re Airbnb apartment didn’t have any guests, then you would be really crying. So Dubrovnik is overcrowded for a couple of weeks of the year, big deal. You have 52 weeks in the year, surely that’s enough time to find a quiet spot for yourself.
And even during those “red” hotspots all you have to do is drive for 15 minutes and you are away from the crowds. Go to any globally popular tourist destination in the middle of August and it will be busy, it isn’t rocket science. And if that destination is empty then ask the locals which they would prefer. The fact that Dubrovnik is crowded in August isn’t breaking news, it isn’t the end of the world, it is exactly how it should be.