Europa Nostra meets Mayor of Dubrovnik to discuss new plan to curb mass tourism in UNESCO Old City

On 29 September, the recently elected Mayor of Dubrovnik Mato Franković hosted a meeting with Europa Nostra’s Executive Vice-President John Sell and Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, during which he put forward an ambitious plan to curb mass tourism in the UNESCO World Heritage City of Dubrovnik. The main goal is to reduce to 4,000 the number of daily cruise visitors allowed into the Old City in two years. Such a limit would be much lower than UNESCO’s recommendation of allowing 8,000 tourists to enter the city daily. The Vice-President and Secretary General welcomed the Mayor’s new plan for promoting sustainable and responsible tourism in Dubrovnik and highlighted that Europa Nostra stands ready to cooperate with the local authorities to promote and implement such a plan. During the meeting, the Mayor reaffirmed the City’s support to The Best in Heritage Conference and showed keen interest in raising the profile of the event during the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018.

Europa Nostra Meeting with Mayor of Dubrovnik

“The current situation is unsustainable and the pressures on the Old City are burdensome. We need to cut drastically the number of visitors allowed inside Dubrovnik’s Medieval Walls in order to protect its unique cultural heritage, improve the tourist’ experience, raise the quality of life of the local citizens and provide greater security for all”, stated the Mayor of Dubrovnik, who was elected to the position in June.

“I am convinced that the limit of 4,000 daily cruise visitors can be achieved by better planning of the arrival time of cruise ships. To achieve this, it is necessary to work together, not only at the local and state levels of government but also with the cruise companies,” he added.

Mato Franković informed the representatives from Europa Nostra that at the beginning of his mandate, he had written a letter to the Cruise Lines International Association and met in Hamburg high-level delegates from some of the world’s leading cruise lines, urging them to help protect Dubrovnik. On this occasion, the Mayor showed a most effective video film entitled “Respect the City”. This short video perfectly illustrates the alarming contrast between an “empty” and overcrowded Dubrovnik. “The representatives from the cruise lines expressed willingness to cooperate with the local and national authorities to ensure the best possible allocation of ships’ arrivals in 2018 and 2019,” said the Mayor of Dubrovnik.

Europa Nostra Meeting with Mayor of Dubrovnik

Mato Franković has also established contact with Mayors from other European sites struggling with overcrowding brought by cruise tourism, such as Kotor (Montenegro), Crete (Greece), Valletta (Malta) and Venice (Italy), and is trying to arrange a joint meeting to develop a common approach towards the cruiser companies.

Introducing CCTV cameras to monitor – and, if necessary, stop – crowds passing through the Old City’s three historic gates; developing an APP with useful information for tourists, residents and workers and updates on the best periods to visit Dubrovnik; moving out souvenir shops from open spaces; reducing by 20% the number of restaurants in open spaces; and investing more in cultural, heritage and educational initiatives are some of the measures included in the City’s new sustainable development plan which will be implemented in the coming months.

“We are delighted to hear that the City of Dubrovnik and its new Mayor have taken such encouraging steps in the right direction and are today leading the way towards more sustainable cultural tourism. Europa Nostra is ready to assist the local and national authorities in making Dubrovnik a sustainable, top quality tourist destination, while ensuring the quality of life and environment for the city’s inhabitants,” stated the Executive Vice-President John Sell.

The Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović thanked the Mayor for the City’s support to The Best in Heritage Conference and put forward the idea of organising next year, in conjunction with the 2018 edition of this conference, a debate on sustainable cultural heritage tourism with local and national representatives as well as with EU officials concerned. The Mayor welcomed the proposal and showed interest in discussing ways to further enhance The Best in Heritage Conference and contribute to the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018. The 16th edition of the conference took place in Dubrovnik from 28-30 September. It was organised by the European Heritage Association, based in Zagreb, in partnership with Europa Nostra and with the support of the EU Creative Europe programme and the ICOM Endowment Fund.

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