CLIA partners with Dubrovnik

Article by Maria Deligianni, National Director, Eastern Mediterranean

Featuring UNESCO-designated natural and historic sites, the city of Dubrovnik is world-renowned for the richness of its historical, architectural, and cultural experiences. As tourism to Dubrovnik continued to grow in recent years, the city found itself at a crossroads, and needing to decide which path to choose. By working with the Mayor and city leaders, we have helped find a solution.

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City leaders wanted to capture the social and economic benefits of tourism for residents while safeguarding the long-term sustainability of the city for the good of future generations. Dubrovnik’s response to this modern-day dilemma offers a model for cities on how to introduce responsible tourism principles into their planning processes.

Working with the city’s leadership team

Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Franković and the municipality leadership team began by posing two questions

To help find the answers, the city commissioned the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) to assess Dubrovnik’s sustainability status, using the global criteria for sustainable destinations. We funded the GSTC assessment as part of our work with the City of Dubrovnik.

The findings were revealed in June 2020 in Dubrovnik, and the results were telling. Particularly noteworthy was the city’s “impressive” score for “destination management organisation” which the report concludes, indicates “a well-functioning model of public-private sector collaboration.” The report also concludes that “collaboration and innovation are natural strengths of the city.” This comes as no surprise to those of us in the cruise industry who have enjoyed a constructive dialogue with the Dubrovnik municipality for some years. We have invested time to listen to each other, to learn, and ultimately to work together to find solutions to the issues raised by residents and businesses. While most visitors travel to Dubrovnik by air, the city is a popular cruise destination. 

Memorandum of understanding

To help the city manage its visitor flow, the cruise industry wanted to play a leadership role and set an example. As a result, last July, CLIA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Dubrovnik. During the 2018 and 2019 season CLIA cruise lines staggered arrival and departure schedules to manage visitor flow and help relieve congestion at the Old Town’s Pile Gate. Cruise lines have also been working with the local community to develop new tours to include sites outside the Old Town, as well as supporting the Mayor’s ‘Respect the City’ programme educating tourists on respectful behaviour. All those involved in brokering the agreement believed that it was possible to maximise the economic and cultural benefits of tourism in Dubrovnik through successful tourism management and were willing to work together towards that vision.

As we reflect on the future for responsible travel, the example of Dubrovnik demonstrates the power of collaboration between public and private sector and local communities. Collaboration is the key, and it is a powerful tool that is often untapped. As the world learns more about our current global health crisis, society is recognising the importance of collaboration to address issues that impact us all. We need to work together to identify common solutions. The result offers an example for how popular destinations can preserve the unique culture and heritage that draw thousands of visitors each year.  When we share a common vision and develop an open, frank dialogue with our partners, together, we can find the right path.