Cruise

“Croatia can take more cruise passengers”: cruise boss

Hannah Edensor

The overtourism issue is creeping further and further into the spotlight of the industry, with most recently, Dubrovnik’s mayor putting his foot down on mass tourist numbers.

Now, Cruise Croatia’s General Manager of Business Growth, Peter Smith, says he “doesn’t see a problem” with the number of tourists in Croatia.

Travel Weekly asked Smith if he thinks overtourism is as dire as it’s being made out to be, especially given the stringent measures enforced by the mayor.

“As a long-standing operator, no I don’t believe it is in relation to the small ship cruising customers that visit Dubrovnik,” he said.

“Our clients tend to be in the city from 9 or 10am until 3-4pm when they board the ships.

“During this time land staying guests are often on day excursions or enjoying the hotel facilities and then venture out in the evenings to have dinner or entertainment in the evening, so the tourists are spread out.”

And while the mayor, Mato Franković, said he wants to drastically cutting the number of visitors allowed into its historical town centre, as well as looking at stripping back cruise allowances, Smith disagreed.

“At this stage I believe Croatia can continue to take more cruise passengers; we are local operators and do not see a problem with it,” he told TW.

“As a whole, we would probably need to adjust times and dates of small and large ship itineraries to adjust arrival dates and times to avoid ships overlapping at ports.

“But once this is arranged we are more than equipped to handle the demand on the ground.”

Striking a happy medium between being a successful tourist destination and keeping locals and the town in their best condition is still a difficult task. But Smith was adamant the locals don’t seem to mind.

“We believe we have this balance right and as a company on the ground we can see that locals are not complaining,” Smith said.

“We live for tourism in this city and the country as a whole. It impacts in a positive way many, many local families. Most of the small ships operating are family owned and run.

“Operators could increase the fee for incoming cruisers but by my estimation only if those numbers increase by 30-40 per cent than now.

“We do not want to over-price the destination and have people looking for better value places to holiday, again we need tourism it is a huge focus for the country!”

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