The main reasons why Croatia is lagging behind other Mediterranean countries in golf tourism are slow administration, complicated regulations, inter-departmental shifting of responsibilities, and a negative public attitude to golf tourism, it was said at the fifth conference on golf tourism in Zapresic outside Zagreb on Monday.
The event, organised by the D.S. Golf and Julius Rose companies, brought together about a hundred participants, mostly golf enthusiasts and representatives of several ministries, local officials, and representatives of Zagreb and other counties.
Sinisa Horak of the Tourism Institute, which conducts surveys on golf tourism with D.S. Golf, said that the negative public attitude to golf was caused by actions of environmentalist associations which claim that golf tourism undermines nature's balance, as well as by unlawful activities involving land.
Horak added that a public opinion survey to be published soon would show if anything had changed in that regard, adding that a public communication campaign was being planned to better explain advantages of golf tourism to the public.
An advisor to the Tourism Minister, Ivan Herak, too, believes that the negative public attitude to golf is unfounded, stressing that the public is not sufficiently familiar with the importance of golf tourism for the community and how much golf protects the environment with new technologies.
"Despite an action plan for the development of golf tourism, there is unfortunately still no such offer that could significantly prolong the tourist season and we cannot be satisfied with lagging behind many European and Mediterranean countries," he said, stressing that the key problem was the non-implementation of projects, a frequent reason being problems with obtaining a location permit.
The state secretary at the Construction and Physical Planning Ministry, Zeljko Uhlir, recalled that last year the utility management law was changed and now local government units can, if they want, exempt investors from paying utility taxes.
The owner of two golf courses, Antun Mikec, called for simplification of the decision-making process, noting that while in Croatia decisions were awaited, businesses in Austria, the Czech Republic and other countries opened and ran golf courses.