The tourism season is off to a flying start in Dubrovnik and almost 8,500 tourists holidayed in the city last weekend. Easter is traditionally the start of the tourist season in Dubrovnik, however, this year it started a good ten days before that festive period. With more and more airlines landing at Dubrovnik airport as the summer flights schedule comes into force the city is looking forward to a successful tourism season. On Easter weekend alone a total of 73 flights landed at the southernmost airport in Croatia.
According to official information from the eVisitor system there were close to 8,500 tourists in Dubrovnik last weekend, which is an incredible 11 times more than from the same weekend last year. With the Covid-19 travel restrictions easing, and indeed the pandemic seemingly coming to an end, Dubrovnik is on course to return to pre-pandemic numbers. And as the vast majority of the city’s budget is tied, either directly or indirectly, to tourism the wait for a “normal” season can’t come soon enough.
Cruise ships dock again in the city
Cruise ships, often a hot topic in Dubrovnik, have also started to return to the city, and reportedly around 340 cruise ships will dock in Dubrovnik this year, which is five times more than last year. It is expected that around half a million cruise ship passengers will arrive this year. There is a limit of 4,000 passengers in the city at any one time, which is roughly two ships at any one time.
Early swimmers on the Banje Beach in Dubrovnik - Photo - Bozo Radic/CROPIX
And these figures from last weekend don’t include the number of cruise ships, or rather passengers, that were in the city. As the eVisitor system basically counts the number of tourists that slept in the city. Meaning that not only is that figure of almost 8,500 considerably higher due to the cruise ship passengers, but it is also boosted by the number of day-trippers.
Busy Easter weekend in Dubrovnik - Photo Bozo Radic/CROPIX
And although the tourism figures from the start of this year are indeed positive it also must be pointed out that last weekend saw only 64 percent of the number of tourists from pre-pandemic 2019. There is an argument that 2109, which was a record breaking year in terms of tourist numbers, was a year that overtourism came to the fore in the city, a fact that was highlighted with a series of international media outlets. And finding the right balance between a collapse of the infrastructure due to mass tourism and the feeling that you have the historic sights of the Old City to yourself has been a perennial challenge.
British tourists return to Dubrovnik in large numbers
Without question one of the most significant factors in the bounce back of Dubrovnik’s tourism industry is the return of the UK market. The easing of travel restrictions for Brits has inevitably led to a thirst for travel after two-years of lockdown. And with Brits traditionally being the most numerous guests in Dubrovnik their return has been eagerly awaited. Last weekend the majority of tourists in the city were from the UK, out of the 8,442 tourists, 1,254 were Brits. Now, if you compare this with last year, there were only a handful of tourists from the UK, 18 to be precise.
Along with the British and locals, the most numerous guests were from France, Germany, USA, Spain, Ireland, Greece, Italy and Serbia.
Since the beginning of the year, 91,100 arrivals have been registered, and about 259 thousand overnight stays, which is almost six times more than in the same period last year, and 61 percent of tourist traffic realized by the end of April 2019.
And with the pre-season slowly coming to an end and the height of the main summer season becoming as bright as the Mediterranean sunshine, how will the most important months of the year play out. There is cautious optimism. Caution due to a few factors, the continuing war in Ukraine, the knock-on effect on fuel prices and the ever-present Covid-19 pandemic. 2019 levels might not be reached, however there are many in the tourism industry, and indeed citizens, who would welcome that fact.