Wednesday, 19 September 2018
The Restless Native The Restless Native

The Natives are Restless...Finally

By  Aug 11, 2016

“I want to go where the locals go” - is one of the more popular sentences uttered by travellers to Dubrovnik when inquiring about how to spend their holiday. The problem with Dubrovnik's historical district is that the places where locals go to are becoming less and less – local.

You see, the question posed by our guests isn't “Where do locals eat/drink/have fun/relax?“, it is “How do I avoid tourist traps?“. Guests are wondering about what is authentic, what is not overpriced, and what is generally worth seeing or doing here. In Dubrovnik, as in any other established destination, one can find plenty of overpriced goods and services aimed at tourists, but there are also great places that offer good value for money. However, the real problem here comes with that “authentic” part of the definition. This is turning out to be our Achilles’ heel.

Not everything tied to local culture can be exploited commercially. This is why so many business owners choose to shy away from trying to implement local character into their tourism and hospitality products. Instead they opt for “bells and whistles” over substance, or they simply copy ideas that have worked elsewhere. This is not just lazy, but is in fact the opposite of what promoting your destination really means. In fact, this is a way of diminishing our local culture in general, making it less and less important as it becomes slowly forgotten over time. One day we might wake up with no more local culture...or locals...or culture. We might end up with nothing more than a glorified parking lot where a great city once stood.

It’s not all that bad, though. There still are young, honest working people who recognize the need to re-imagine Dubrovnik and they are doing it. Little by little, we are seeing more interesting spots to go out to, wonderful new restaurants, cool shops, and even some new activities and entertainment festivals that are not only attractive to our foreign guests, but also to us – perpetually sceptic locals. Pretty much all of us have at least one friend or family member who is trying to make a difference. Some have excellent ideas, some only dreams, but there are also those who have already put their financial security on the line and invested their savings or signed for a bank loan in order to make their ideas a reality. Those people deserve our support and help, not just criticism. So, if you care about this city and its people, don't think you need to save it yourself. Not everyone is cut out to start and operate businesses. What you can do is to raise your voice when small businesses and young entrepreneurs need better laws and regulation, you can take an interest in these new businesses and perhaps become their client, and if you have no other options, you can at least promote them on your social networks.

If we, the citizens of Dubrovnik, don't stand together, we will not put up much of a fight when faced with large national and international business interests that care little about what remains after the summer season is over and our guests have flown home.

Bozidar Jukic, AKA The Restless Native, is a Dubrovnik local with too many interests to name them all, with writing being at the very top of the list. He is a lover of good food, music and film, and a firm believer in the healing power of laughter. His professional orientation is towards tourism and travel so it comes as no surprise he spends most of his time alongside Mrs. Jukic running their own local tour company. Their goal is helping travellers from all over the world get a more intimate experience of Dubrovnik and what it has to offer. To find out more about their work, visit their website or Facebook page.

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