Saturday, March 03, 2007

Croatia Online - Nautical Tourism

Croatia's crystal clear waters and 1185 islands and islets help to ensure Croatia's status as one of the best cruising grounds in Europe. We've published a number of postings on the subject and recently assisted in some detailed research on nautical tourism in Croatia. In the process of carrying out this research and through some very enlightening comment from our readers, we've learnt that not much has changed in some cases, and much has changed in others.

We understand that, in certain areas, Croatia is still seen as a somewhat greedy host by yachtsmen, compared to other areas such as Turkey and Greece. Examples are the need for a one year cruising permit for visits, no matter how short, the preponderance of private concessions in small ports and anchorages, who will charge a fee for anchoring or the use of mooring buoys, and the relatively new draconian rules designed to curb the black charter market, which have had a big impact on multiple boat ownership and the Superyacht Charter Industry.

Croatia clearly needs to regulate the use of its waters, and has a way to go to become more ecologically effective. Pump-out facilities are still much talked about but very hard to find, and uncontrolled anchoring obviously has an impact on the spread of algae. However Croatia would do well to look at the image it is projecting amongst nautical tourists of all kinds. Charter visitors come and go and may just see their two weeks in Croatia as a more adventurous alternative to a beach holiday. Cruising in July and August is no longer the relaxing experience it was with the need to try and find a space in a port, anchorage or marina ever earlier in the day to beat the crowds. Yes the charter companies are a significant source of income to the industry but private boat owners also have their place and are arguably much more important to the long term sustainable future of the industry. Many private boat owners have been driven away by the complex rules, rising costs, and the side effects of the booming charter business.

Of Croatia's overall marina capacity of over 14,000 berths in 50 marinas, only 2,500 are filled with charter yachts. It's surely the normally considerate private owners that should therefore be encouraged to spend their hard earned cash in Croatia, just as much as the fleeting charter visitors who arguably cause more ecological damage and more disruption. Financially however, the charter companies pay 10% over the odds for their berths and leave them mostly free during the busy summer months so that the marina owners can charge again for overnight visitors using the same space. With the current stock of marinas at full capacity, it's hard to blame the operators for trying to maximise the cash they receive from the facilities they have. It's surely time however for the government to implement a well thought out policy on sustainable nautical tourism rather than just talking about it, and also to revise its regulations so it can truly be seen to be welcoming sustainable nautical tourism

Follow the links below for earlier postings on this subject and many thanks to Brian for his insightful comments as an experienced and very well travelled yachtsman.

Croatia Online - Nautical Tourism Report
Croatia Online - Boat Shows in Croatia
Croatia Online - Regulations for Charter Yachts in Croatia
Croatia Online - New Charter Regulations: Impact on Private Owners
Croatia Online - Find a Marina Berth In Croatia
Croatia Online - Match Racing in Croatia

And finally, below is a link to a posting that gives you an idea of how little has changed in Croatia since 1981. It's a land based travel article published by the New York Times but you'll get the picture!

Croatia Online - Yugoslavian Coast in 1981


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