DUNEA Presentation

1 - Can you identify the role and missions of your organization?

Regional Development Agency Dubrovnik-Neretva County DUNEA mission is to achieve sustainable development of the Region as well as to improve and coordinate existing development activities in accordance with the strategic development goals of the Region, Republic of Croatia and the European Union.


 

 

2 - Why are you participating in the WINTER MED project?

Unique historical and natural heritage of the Dubrovnik-Neretva Region requires special attention of our team in strategic planning and development.  Therefore, future strategic development plan of the Region 2021. – 2027. is focused on improvement of the islands economy, and living conditions of the islands resident by setting a long-term goals
which do not cause any kind of devastation of this exceptional space but respect the economic, social, environmental and cultural values ​​of the destination.
In a last few years, a large number of EU projects related to sustainable tourist have been implemented throughout the Region. This is an activity we want to enhance even more in our future work.  The island tourism season is currently extremely short, challenged with a high pressure of visitors during the the peak time of the season, from mid June to mid September. It requires skillful management to avoid negative consequences of this impact, and to preserve islands cultural and natural heritage. By participating to WINTER MED project we want to respond to the major challenges we are facing, develop year-round sustainable tourism, and reduce seasonality effects. 

3 - What is the economic weight of tourism for your region?

The tourism sector is the most important economic sector of our Region with the largest value-added share in the regional economy and employment. Tourism also has a strong
multiplier effect on the related business activity such as transportation, construction, real estate, agriculture and other.
Tourism activity in our Region shows a continuous growth, measured by the number of arrivals and overnight stays.  From 2009 to 2019, the number of tourist arrivals increased by 128%, and the number of overnight stays by 83.6%. The average annual growth rate was 9.6% in arrivals, and 7.0% in overnight stays. The annual number of tourists in Dubrovnik-Neretva Region, prior to COVID – 19 crisis, in 2019 was 2.285.774 arrivals, and 8.974.206 overnight stays. These are exceptional indicators of destination growth dynamics. According to statistics 95% of all overnight stays refer to foreign tourists, which is slightly higher than the national average (92%).

We also welcome each year about 800.000 visitors from cruise ships, this is an extremely important input for our economy, but at the same time causes a large traffic congestion, and crowd management problems at the historical sites.

4 - What are the high periods of tourist attendance?

The distinct seasonality of tourism is one of the well-known features of Dubrovnik-Neretva Region. Some locations such as the city of Dubrovnik, municipality of Župa dubrovačka, and municipality of Konavle have managed to significantly extend the duration of the tourism season, from April to the end of October (7 to 8 months).
On the other hand, for a number of locations (remoted islands, rural areas), the tourist season is very short. It begins in mid June, and ends by mid September (about 3 months).

5 - What projects or actions have you implemented to make tourism more sustainable?

In our Region there is a constant need to preserve the characteristics of the surroundings in order to improve the authenticity of tourist experiences. 

Therefore, we plan the development of the Region in accordance with the Tourism development strategy 2012-2022.  By relying on the sustainable destination management models we have defined strategic development framework and growth models, the product development plan, market segments and guidelines, competitiveness projects etc. 

We are continuously working on Regional spatial planning taking into consideration the specific natural and cultural features of our destination. We develop programs such as protection of traditional architecture, procedural frameworks, construction control programs and heritage restoration standards, also we develop programs for monitoring and protecting natural heritage etc..

We participate and lead numerous national and international projects related to sustainable tourism theme, such as:

 

« Well-O-live » - Wellness and wellbeing experience across the European Routes of the Olive Tree 

Project builds a transnational network linking together private and public actors from seven European countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, France, Greece, Italy and Spain), all committed to develop an innovative model for designing, managing and promoting market-driven thematic products of rural tourism focused on wellness and wellbeing activities across the Routes of Olive Tree. Location of the project activities is set on Island Korcula.

 

« Hiking Europe » -  Discovering rural Europe through hiking trails

Main objective is to promote a transnational network of rural touristic routes structured in several hiking itineraries across Europe. The partnership gathers 8 members from 6 different EU countries : Spain (Catalonia), Italy (Emilia-Romagna), Croatia (Dubrovnik-Neretva), Ireland (Donegal), Austria and Germany.

In total, this represents 1.170 km of hiking routes in 4 different EU countries. Participant regions gather with a common interest of developing an alternative approach to mass tourism, based on either the “Sun and sand” model of large concentration of visitors in specific locations (Cities, etc.). Location of the project activities in Croatia was set on peninsula Peljesac and island Mljet.

 

« Rural educational, cultural-ethnographic tourist attraction » - It is the integrated development program based on the restoration of cultural heritage, which aims to create an integrated cultural tourism destination that includes certain rural and remote areas in the Region related to a unique tourist product. The project includes the activities of restoration of cultural property to the digital access to cultural heritage.  Locations of some construction and restoration activities implemented are on the islands Mljet and Korcula.

 

There are several different actions of Dubrovnik Neretva Region taken to promote parts of our Region thrue Thematic roads – « Peljesac – The Empire of  wine » and « Neretva – The Valley of life .»

6 – Have you set up tourism sustainability monitoring tools?

Tourism in Dubrovnik-Neretva Region is unevenly developed. The most dominant and highly developed tourist destination is the City of Dubrovnik, and bordering municipalities (62% of tourist activity). On the other hand, in some parts of the Region, mainly on the remoted islands and inland (rural areas), despite significant potentials tourism is still poorly developed.

Therefore, in less developed areas due to financial constraints we still do not have a tourism sustainability monitoring tool. On the other hand, the city of Dubrovnik has developed various programs/actions mainly to reduce the negative impact of a large number of tourists in summer time, and to preserve the Dubrovnik historic city center.

7 – Do you have ways to reduce the negative impacts on the environment, culture, society?

Main negative impacts on the environment in Dubrovnik-Neretva Region related to tourism activity are ;  polution from intensive maritime traffic, waste disposal,
excessive construction, wastewater and sea waste.  Although the quality of the sea is assessed as extremely good, in recent years the problem of floating sea waste has 
increased. The area of southern islands of Dubrovnik-Neretva Region (Mljet, Korčula, Lastovo) and the Pelješac peninsula are particularly affected by the plastic waste. 

Currently, the Dubrovnik-Neretva Region Waste Management Center is under construction. This important project, financed by the EU funds, will significantly improve separation, recycling and reuse of waste in our Region.  In cooperation with Dubrovnik University, and international environmental organizations we participate in many projects related to this topic. Recent projects are related to innovative sea waste treatment technology development.  We also manage and protect 40 protected parts of nature in order to preserve authenticity of the Dubrovnik-Neretva Region environment.


Consumption related to the cultural sector in our Region is focused primarily on the commercial exploitation of cultural heritage, primarily in terms of tourism. On the other hand, the sustainability of local cultural resources is questionable, such as artistic creation, cultural production, international cultural cooperation etc.

To ensure responsible and sustainable growth we developed activities that will connect culture with contemporary art, and cultural - creative industries in terms of presentation and interpretation, also to increased promotion of winter cultural events to reduce the seasonality effect, encouraging cultural entrepreneurship, and enhance further research and valorization of cultural heritage especially in rural areas of the Region.

8 - What measures do you recommend to ensure responsible and sustainable growth?

To ensure responsible and sustainable growth in our Region we recommend the following measures :

 

  • upgrade the quality standards of accommodation facilities (primarily hotels) in less developed tourist areas
  • to provide stronger support for less developed areas; additional investments in transport and basic infrastructure
  • to promote the importance of sustainable tourism development
  • to strengthen the environmental awareness of all stakeholders in tourism
  • further development of regional destination management
  • to improve the quality of education in the field of tourism
  • continue to encourage the development of specific types of tourism (rural, gastro, cultural, health, nautical etc).
  • to enhance the availability of tourist services throughout the year (winter flights etc.). 

9 - What governance mechanisms do you propose?

To ensure responsible & sustainable growth we recommend the inclusive model of governance. Sustainable tourism in our Region requires the participation of all relevant stakeholders from different sectors, but also strong political leadership. 

In order to achieve long-term sustainability in tourism, we must establish a balance between several dimensions:

 

  • to achieve optimal use of environmental resources, preserving essential ecological processes and protecting natural heritage and biodiversity.
  • to respect the socio-cultural authenticity of the destination, cultural heritage and traditional values of the community, and contribute to intercultural understanding and tolerance.
  • to ensure that economic activities are sustainable and long-term, and to bring social and economic benefits to all stakeholders.