Questions by Brian Gallagher
The Dubrovnik Winter Festival began on the 27th November. We asked Arna Hrnić about and Dubrovnik tourism in general.
Ana has been Director of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board since February 2020. Prior to this she worked for over ten years ast Gulliver Travel, in a number of senior roles. She holds a degree in Management Economics from the American College of Management and Technology.
How has Dubrovnik tourism fared over the last year in light of Covid-19?
Dubrovnik is a destination highly dependent on international air traffic, which in this situation of a global pandemic makes us much more vulnerable than car destinations. Although the fact that last year, and to some extent this year, we struggled with the lack of tourist traffic and an insufficient number of guests, we remain consistent and oriented towards the development of Dubrovnik as a destination of sustainable tourism.
Your website has a page with tips for digital nomads. How successful has Dubrovnik been in attracting them?
Dubrovnik was one of the first cities to start with this initiative in Croatia. ‘Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads’ is the name of the event within the European Freelance Week 2020, which was held in the Lazareti complex from October 16 to 25, and after we hosted digital nomads in Dubrovnik from all around the world. In every respect, the City of Dubrovnik has the potential to become a prestigious and desirable location for this revolution. To attract digital nomads, it is necessary, in addition to an attractive destination, to offer better long-term rental opportunities, greater involvement of the local community and global promotion, on which the city administration work strategically together with its partners. Very soon we will also start a special website for digital nomads, where we will provide all the information necessary for their stay in Dubrovnik, we will run some campaigns to attract them.
What can you tell us about this year’s Dubrovnik Winter festival? What are the highlights?
This year’s Dubrovnik Winter Festival opens this weekend on the 27th of November with the traditional lighting of the first advent candle in front of the cathedral and then the big switch on of the Christmas lights in the historic Old City. The program of events is out and it might be a little modest compared to pre-pandemic years but we still think it is very rich and there is something for everyone, from festive workshops for children to free guided tours of the Old City and plenty of concerts. The Christmas atmosphere will be complemented by holiday lighting. The City is decorated with more than 1,200 lighting streams, 30 larger and smaller Christmas trees and more than a thousand meters of decorative laurels.
February sees the St. Blaise Feast. Can you tell us about that, and what plans there are for this celebration?
St.Blaise Feast is a very special day for everyone in Dubrovnik, Saint Blaise is at the same time the patron of the city and 3 February is also the Day of the City of Dubrovnik. Every year we have traditional events such as Kandelora and doves that are set free, an inspirational anthem to St Blaise, a procession of flags and folk costumes, prelates, the secular city leaders, diplomats and politicians as well as throat blessing, in the Church of St. Blaise.
It would seem to me that Dubrovnik in winter is an excellent time to visit. Is it as easy to get to by air as during the summer?
Dubrovnik was very well connected in years before the Covid-19 pandemic, but at the moment we have direct flights with Barcelona, Istanbul and Zagreb, so yes, it is much easier to visit us during the summer season. But Dubrovnik is beautiful to visit during the winter months, the climate is mild, most days it is sunny and temperatures are not so low. All the major attractions are open and it is possible to experience the city. Especially during the Winter Festival.
Is New Year’s Eve a good time to be in Dubrovnik? What can visitors expect?
Dubrovnik Winter Festival started on November 27th and it will last until January 6th, and it is a truly magical time of the year to visit Dubrovnik. There is a rich programme for everyone, guided walking tours, concerts, plays, rich gastronomy offer etc so it is really great time to visit Dubrovnik.
What are the Covid-19 restrictions visitors must be aware of whilst visiting Dubrovnik and attending events?
For most of the events, it is necessary to have a covid passport and wear a mask indoors.
Dubrovnik will have had millions of visitors over the years, but there are always those for whom it will be a magnificent new experience. What do you recommend they must see on their first visit?
The City Walls are the symbol of Dubrovnik and “a must”, and for tourists who stay longer in Dubrovnik, we would suggest visiting the Elaphiti Islands.