Croatia Summer Of 2009 – Hit Or Miss?
Judging from our trip around the hotspots in late August and early September, the verdict seems to be that Croatia’s summer of 2009 has been a qualified hit. Most of those we talked to in the tourism industry judge that they have fared far better than expected given the doom and gloom all around. This seems particularly so for a number of historically package destinations that have gone up market such as Makarska and Biograd. Anecdotally, it also seems that small niche hotels and restaurants have done well – not necessarily the five star variety but those that provide value for money and care about their reputation, whatever budget bracket they are in.
By all accounts the shoulder season seemed to start late, perhaps a factor of the unusual amount of rain, with Omiš counting sixteen days in June. However, when we left the coast on 9th September, much of it was buzzing with tourists, the flights were full, and a number of establishments were keeping their doors open longer than they anticipated, to meet continuing demand. Refreshingly, several small operators seem to have embraced entrepreneurship. Where once, only a few years ago, we could have wandered round for hours trying to find an apartment to let for less than three days, and would have paid a premium, now there are deals to be done. We had a great room, complete with balcony and ensuite, in Stari Grad on Hvar Island for €20 for one night, and found an enormous, superbly equipped studio apartment, in Bol on Brač, for €30 a night. The best find was a hotel on Hvar Island – perhaps a little jaded architecturally but clean, spacious and extremely efficient and friendly – for just over €20 a night including breakfast.
We’re sorry to say that the only destination we are aware of that seems to have had a bit of a “miss” is our first “home” town of Trogir, and particularly Čiovo Island. Normally its sign of success is that there’s a regular traffic jam to get on and off the island to get to the beaches and back again. This year there’s hardly been any congestion at all. Perhaps word is spreading about the dubious practices at Big Daddy’s café on the Riva, and rogue parking fee collectors as Trogir is also the only place that we were blatantly ripped off on our short summer tour. We’ll be naming and shaming those involved in these short sighted, and thankfully rare, profiteering practices as we write up our travelogues over the next few weeks
Weather wise, we were lucky enough to arrive the day after the heat wave abated though 32 degrees is not exactly cool. Towards the end of our trip there was a strong Bora (north east wind) which is quite unusual in the summer but resulted in a drop in temperature and humidity, and produced great visibility.
We couldn’t start our travelogue with any other photo – Croatia’s iconic beach, Zlatni rat, in Bol on Brač island. Don’t be fooled by the relative lack of tourists as this photo was taken just after sunset in the first week in September. The water was as crystal clear as ever but we're sure that the small pebbles, which comprise most of the beach, are becoming more like the sand they look like!