The old saying of “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” has never been more applicable. Never has the time been better to solve the one problem that has plagued Dubrovnik’s tourism industry for decades.
It seems highly likely that tourism in Dubrovnik, and indeed the rest of Croatia, will firstly be around 40 percent of the levels it was last year, and secondly start in mid-June at the earliest. Whichever way you look at it the loss of revenue will be huge, but of course in times of crisis revenue is the last thing on people’s minds. It also seems likely that the unemployment lines will grow, with many businesses forced out of work and a recession is pretty much guaranteed.
There is no magic saviour for the tourist season, no Harry Potter wand that will make it all better, we have been given lemons. So now the lemonade part.
“Even if the season is 50 percent of last year our hotel will not be able to survive the winter period. You’ll see lots of companies making employees redundant in December,” said one hotel director to me. This got me thinking.
By definition a pandemic is global. Not only is our tourism business sinking fast but so is the business of every other country, we are in the same boat. So this is the ideal time, in fact an unprecedented time, to finally get our act together and create all-year-round tourism. Of course this all depends on the COVID-19 situation, but it seems such a great chance to have winter tourism.
Airlines are on their knees and will probably be more than willing to fly out of season, hotels are facing bankruptcy and are desperate for heads on pillows, travel agencies are fighting over a few scraps, tourist boards are already cutting salaries and the most important factor, tourists around the world are desperate to change the view of the four walls they have been looking at for 3 months.
Models will have to be created, discounts offered, packages worked out, events organised and much more, and there is no guarantee that the borders will be open anyway. But to quote Mr. Trump “What have we got to lose?” (By the way don’t inject disinfectant, please)
Look how some businesses have used the shutdown to their advantage, they have got creative and are seeing earnings go through the roof. Now is the time to get creative with tourism.
Yes, the weather won’t be ideal, but this year, more than any other year, the weather isn’t a key factor. Guests simply want a change of scenery. And once they see that Dubrovnik is actually more beautiful (that’s my opinion) in the winter then they might come back the next winter.
It’s like the markets now delivering their home-grown produce to homes, when you are forced to use it you see that it works quite well and is actually easier than what you were doing before. Dubrovnik in winter is stunning. But only a handful of tourists actually get to see it. If an 84-year-old pensioner is now buying her fruit and vegetables online, I am sure we can at least create some kind of winter tourism.
Without a shadow of a doubt the one greatest thing that has held back winter tourism in Dubrovnik is the mind-set of the local population. In fact to be honest that is really the only factor, but this is mind-set that is tough to change, only an event like this could maybe chnage it. If we all believe that Dubrovnik is only a summer destination, and 99.9 percent does, then any plans and projects to elongate the season are futile. So when life gives you lemons – make winter tourism!