An article entitled “Dubrovnik is this year paying the price for its long and obscene past (and not just the lack of passengers on planes)” on the popular website Kult Plave Kamenice certainly caught our attention, as well as hundreds and hundreds of readers on social media. To say the article caused a stir, and not a storm in a teacup, would be an understatement. We got in touch with the editor of Kult Plave Kamenice for permission to republish the article (in English of course) so that our readership could make up their own minds as to whether the nail has been hit on the head or have they missed the mark.
Here is the article in full, which was published on the 20th of July 2020 -
Planes from all over Europe took off heading towards Dubrovnik. At least twenty planes land every day. However, the planes to Dubrovnik are half empty, because in this time of the coronavirus pandemic no one wants to travel by plane. And Dubrovnik is almost completely empty. Yesterday, it was officially announced that around 5,500 guests are currently staying in the Dubrovnik area, which corresponds to the average January or February. Dubrovnik is not empty just because of empty planes. Dubrovnik is empty because of the horrible image that caterers, hoteliers and the authorities of the most beautiful city in Croatia created eight years ago, when the Croatian tourist renaissance began.
The tourist image of Dubrovnik consists of obscene prices, unprofessional services and contempt for tourists. That is why Dubrovnik has never had loyal guests. Outrageous prices mean that pubs inside the city walls used to charge 140 Kuna for a glass of Jack Daniels and that restaurateurs worked with profit margins of ten times (three years ago we came across a simple zucchini carpaccio for twenty Euros, in a restaurant that could not boast the most beautiful view in the world). Also, parking in Dubrovnik is much more expensive than in Venice.
The unprofessional service means that 90 percent of Dubrovnik’s chefs have never learned to cook, they use canteen ingredients and that waiters can barely distinguish the main local wines. Contempt for tourists was manifested through the constant criticism of cruise ships and passengers from cruise ships. Today, the people of Dubrovnik would be overjoyed to be able to see a cruise ship.
Dubrovnik tourism also has some very good elements, from hotels such as Villa Dubrovnik, One Suite or Bellevue, through classic large restaurants such as Nautica, 360 and Proto, to some highly civilized and innovative catering projects. However, all such examples are too few to overcome the bad ones, which have created the current undesirable image of Dubrovnik.
Of course, if there is no epidemic next year, this year will be forgotten. The city will be crowded again because everyone in the world has to see Dubrovnik (most only want it once), and some half caterer/half criminal will once again charge twenty Euros for that 0.3 dcl of Jack Daniels. However, for those more rational Dubrovnik caterers, hoteliers and city authorities, this season could still serve as a lesson: serious tourism is not about quick profit maximization but about long-term sustainability.