Cutting the number of cruise ships and passengers that visit Dubrovnik is quite clearly one of the new Dubrovnik Mayor's major priorities. This year almost 750,000 cruise ship passengers will disembark in the city on 538 ships and the Mayor, Mato Frankovic, thinks that number is way too high.
Speaking to the British newspaper The Telegraph he commented that he would half the cap of passengers allowed in the historic Old City from 8,000 to 4,000. “I am not here to make people happy but to make the quality of life better,” he said. “Some of the cruise lines will disagree with what I’m saying but my main goal is to ensure quality for tourists and I cannot do it by keeping the situation as it is.”
The control on the number and the flow of cruise ships is a problem that has troubled Dubrovnik authorities for years. With the Old City acting as a magnet the vast majority of passengers gravitate towards this UNESCO World Heritage Site. And it was this very organisation that gave the recommendation that no more than 8,000 guests should be in the city at one time. The former Mayor of Dubrovnik, Andro Vlahusic, acted on this recommendation by installing surveillance camera on all the entrances into the historic core to act as people counters with the plan that when the magic number was reached the flow of passengers would be slowed down.
Could these sights be a thing of the past?
In reality this wouldn’t mean barriers stopping people entering the city but the coaches that transport the passengers would be asked to wait in the Port of Dubrovnik with their guests until the number eased off. Now the new Mayor wants to halve this number to 4,000. “We will lose money in the next two years - a million Euros maybe by cutting the number of tourists - but in the future we will gain much more. We deserve to be a top quality destination,” he commented.
But what about the other side of the coin? How does the cruise ship industry feel about this potential move by the Mayor of Dubrovnik?
The Dubrovnik Times contacted The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the world's largest cruise industry trade association, to get their side of the story. “Dubrovnik is a unique destination, and the cruise industry is deeply committed to protecting its cultural heritage and safeguarding its sustainability. The city is a treasure, and ensuring its preservation is crucial for all who live and work there, and indeed all of us who love it,” commented a senior spokesperson for CLIA Europe. MSC, Costa Cruise, Aida, Carnival, Celebrity Cruises, Disney, Thomson and Royal Caribbean Cruises are among the members of this organisation. In fact The Dubrovnik Times contacted many of these cruise lines for a response and all of them urged us to contact CLIA Europe. Almost every cruise company that operates ships to Dubrovnik is represented by CLIA Europe.
And the news that the Mayor planned to halve the number of guests to the city wasn’t greeted with enthusiasm, “The presence of cruise ships in Dubrovnik substantially benefits the economy not only of the city, but of communities all around the Adriatic. The cruise industry believes that the decision to drastically limit the total number of tourists allowed in the Old Town at one time to 4000 without consultation is disappointing. CLIA hopes that the comments made by the Mayor of Dubrovnik will not be put into action without discussing their impact with the cruise lines and the tourism sector.”
It would appear that CLIA Europe hadn’t been contacted by either the Mayor or the Port of Dubrovnik. “Dubrovnik is a Pearl of the Adriatic and the cruise ships that visit are committed to maintain that, but we believe there should be consultation and agreement among vested stakeholders to ensure the best sustainable outcomes,” concluded the cruise ship association.