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Banje Beach in Dubrovnik Banje Beach in Dubrovnik Shutterstock

Should We Open for Tourism?

Written by  The Dubrovnik Times Jun 05, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disturb what we once called “normal life”, and with many people being locked inside their homes, we can’t help but dream of going on a holiday to get rid of the accumulated stress. But, is now a good time for going on holiday? Will people think it is? What does WHO say?

The Croatian response to the pandemic

Croatia has received praise for the way it handled the pandemic, even more so since, on top of everything, Zagreb was hit by the worst earthquake in the area over the last 140 years. While other countries were seemingly clueless about how they should act, Croatia took the initiative.

The first case of COVID-19 was found in Croatia in late February, and, by March, Croatia was described as the country that had the strictest measures and restrictions on the globe with the aim of reducing the infection, by having in mind the relation to the number of people who were infected.

Those very strict measures helped enormously, on top of early detection of spread routes, a quick response from the government, and, of course, cooperation from Croatians all across the nation, have made the story of Croatia a success in helping to contain the pandemic from spreading and affecting thousands.

Croatia has passed 2,000 cases on April 24, but, ever since, that number has grown very slowly, with less than 1% per day, in almost all days. If things go as planned, Croatia could soon defeat the virus, as the slowing down of the numbers has put it in the same league as countries like South Korea and New Zealand.

This makes Croatia one of the few European countries that have managed to keep the situation under control, similar to Latvia, Estonia, or Greece, well below the number that even a small country like Luxembourg has (as of now, Luxembourg has around 4,000 cases), while many other European countries have cases in the double digits now.
The death rate in Croatia is also really small, as a direct result of the small number of infections, with less than 100 deaths in total, which is really impressive, considering the fact that some countries are aiming to lower their death toll to 100 deaths at least per week, as thousands die across the continent.

In fact, Croatia has never surpassed the 100 new cases per death threshold, again, a number that some Western countries dream of achieving, as they regularly have way over 100 new cases every day, on top of the ones already existing, which truly makes Croatia a success story.

The Dubrovnik case

Dubrovnik-Neretva county is the sixth most affected county in Croatia, but, while that sounds like a lot of cases, due to the small number of cases overall in the country, that means this county barely has over 100 cases in total. It also has recorded less than 10 deaths, placing it fifth in the country ranking.

For several days, actually, Dubrovnik hasn’t recorded any new cases, which goes to show that strict rules and following them work, but now the new struggle is to keep them this low. With tourist season coming up, will we be able to do that, especially in an area that is near the sea?

Mountains regions have a sort of advantage, as getting a tan is not a priority, and wearing a face mask can help you fight a colder wind, that’s typical in those areas even during the warm season. But will people be willing to wear a face mask while they are in a town by the sea? That is a question that people in the tourism industry are asking.

Countries like Croatia, Greece, or Italy depend a lot on tourism. Between 1999 and 2019, the GDP from tourism rose in Croatia, reaching around 25% of the GDP, a number similar to another country willing to risk it all, Greece. This comparison is highly relevant. Italy’s GDP from tourism is only at around 13% and it also wants to reopen for tourism soon.

All countries are predicted to take an economic blow this year, and by keeping tourism away, the blow will only be felt harder. But if we do plan on opening the cities and beaches, we must take care of ourselves further on, and make sure all tourists follow suit, and respect all of the rules.

WHO discourages people from traveling in the next few weeks or months, and many governments of the world seem to agree that keeping the border closed is the best option. But if we take tourism out of the discussion, what will countries that depend so much on it do? Who is going to help us, while we try to help the world? Remains to be seen.


The Voice of Dubrovnik


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