On Thursday evening, April 28, 2022, the beautiful hall of the Hotel Croatia in Cavtat shone with special beauty and great excitement. Namely, 400 participants of the 5th International Rural Tourism Congress enjoyed the ceremony of awarding the Sunflower Award of Croatian Rural Tourism.
This event, which was being held for the ninth time, has become a tradition. From year to year, it discovers more and more attractive rural destinations, promotes traditional content, connects the most significant projects, producers, events, and attractions, preserves originality, takes care of sustainability, and most importantly creates new products of rural tourism. This year, 138 projects were submitted and it was very difficult for the judging panel to select the 59 best from all over Croatia.
The ceremony was attended by representatives of scientific institutions, tourist boards, ministries, and government institutions: Ms Marija Vučković, Agriculture Minister and envoy of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia, Mr Kristjan Staničić, director of CNTB, Mr Nikola Dobroslavić, Dubrovnik-Neretva County Prefect, Ivan Anušić, Osijek-Baranja County Prefect, Igor Andrović, Virovitica-Podravina County Prefect, Mr Ernest Petry, Lika-Senj County Prefect, Tugomir Majdak, State Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Croatia, Ms Jelka Tepšić, Deputy Mayor of Dubrovnik, Ms Monika Udovičić, Director of the Directorate for the System of Tourist Boards, Categorization and Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, and Ms Dijana Katica, President of the Croatian Association for Tourism and Rural Development "The Village Membership Club" who presented awards to the winners.
Photo - Klaudio Pozniak
Entrepreneurs, sole proprietors, associations, family-owned farms, tourist boards, and regional and local self-government units competed in eight categories: tourist peasant (family) farms, traditional (rural) households, traditional (rural) gastronomy, wine tourism, craft tourism, active tourist facilities in rural areas, rural tourist projects and projects/holders of protected and marketing identifiers.
But who are our winners of the Sunflower Award of Croatian Rural Tourism? Above all, people with the idea and skill of presenting their own stories in a different and attractive way. The result of their projects is the promotion of employment, development of rural tourism and economy, preservation of traditions, and education. They also create added value in today's tourism, highlighting the until recently hidden natural beauty and other historical, cultural, and gastronomic content. It is certainly worth mentioning the promotion and encouragement of organic production and originality as the basis for sustainable development of rural areas.
Dijana Katica, president of the Croatian Association for Tourism and Rural Development "The Village Membership Club" is very pleased with the progress and development of rural tourism in our country, as well as all the awarded projects. She believes that all candidates are winners in some way, because “with their effort, dedication, and hard work they contribute to the development and positioning of rural tourism."
A total of 59 awards, Golden, Silver, and Bronze charters and special recognitions were awarded, but there are also three championship titles - Big Golden Sunflowers, which go to Osijek-Baranja, Vukovar-Srijem, and Primorje-Gorski Kotar County. The winners are: “Crna svinja” restaurant, Terra Negra Country Club from Čepin, Domestic House Lola from Vukovar, and Village Balatura Hotel from Tribalj.
In addition to the three mentioned and other 56 awards, one special, international award was given: Special Award for humanitarian and social commitment to Antrim and The Wine Routes of Moldova, as well as for the generosity demonstrated in the welcoming and assisting Ukrainian refugees. The award was accepted by Natalia Turcanu, executive director of the National Tourist Association of Moldova.
The awarding was elevated by the music programme of the family-owned farm band Klapa Kaše, one of the most awarded Croatian “klapas” and three-time winners of the Omiš Festival, who prepared original songs from Konavle and Cavtat, and a performance by Antun Rilović Tot, a famous Dubrovnik musician.