Prague, Istanbul, Dubrovnik. This last has won indeed the third place in the MICE destinations category. We have written before about Croatia as a MICE destination and have recognized Rovinj and the so called Green Riviera, Zagorje Hill Region. However, it is the setting of Dubrovnik’s Old City that keep attracting the businessmen from around the Europe. Dubrovnik’s gastronomy and in particular enology offer is second to none. After all what better than to visit Konavle and Peljesac wine region and enjoy the oysters from Mali Ston Bay after a hard day of conferencing. The global climate change has affected Dubrovnik’s tourist season for the better, hard to believe that a negative can turn to positive. Now it is perfectly normal to organize a dinner for conference people in October at sea, hiring the imposing 15th century replika Karaka boat. Twenty years ago this would have been unheard of as the beginning of September really meant the end of the season for that year. These days the cruisers are known to have docked in November. I personally OK this phenomenon despite the fact that I would imagine that these type of package deals in November are cheap and perhaps do not attract the luxury destination clients.I would love to see more small cruisers companies with luxury ships visiting destination in the same way as I see the development of the golf project as an ideal opportunity to attract businesspeople with deep pockets.
I would also like to focus a bit on the domestic clientele. During the off season time would it not be profitable to offer a month stay in the luxury hotels on full board. I guarantee that this would attract Zagreb’s creme de la creme to Dubrovnik who perhaps would become new Biarritz.
This morning I have red an interesting article in Croatian daily newspapers “Jutarnji list” which quite rightly examines the opportunities in congress tourism. Interestingly enough it is Croatia’s most photographed city of Rovinj which comes on the top of the list. Rovinj has a capacity to host some 20 000 business delegates and it is his proximity to five international airports that makes him popular with the businesspeople from around the world. Next on the list is the Croatian business most favorite: Opatija which is close to Rijeka and is also quite well connected via the motorway with the capital Zagreb. However, I have learnt myself a new “hotspot” word which is Green Riviera, in other words Zagorje region hills which not only offer the opportunities in congress but also in wellness tourism. Add to that sporting activities and gastro-enology offer of Zagorje region, proximity of four Middle Ages renovated castles, ideal for banqueting and incentives, this could be a right new hotspot for the business visitors. But others as well, all those tourists who seek quiet, relaxing breakaway weekends in one of Zagorje wellness centers and “termes”. Not being far away from the capital Zagreb is yet another advantage why people would choose this region.
Coming back to the Adriatic coast again, Sibenik is stealing the limelight of the congress tourism industry and its favorite hotspot of Vodice.
Last but not the least, it is Dubrovnik and that picturesque hamlet of Cavtat and it is Adriatic Luxury Hotel’s Croatia who is an absolute leader in the congress tourism branch in the area with the capacity to host some 1200 delegates. Proximity of the new Tuscany; Konavle region which offers a great deal when it comes to sporting and incentive activities such as biking, quadding, four wheel vehicles driving or simply lounging back in one of its traditional cuisine restaurants and sipping your “vino” and enjoying your food, “peka” being my favorite.
The author of this article is Srđ Portolan, a founding member of Intercon Group of Companies, a board director at Spes Real Estate and Dubrovnik Luxury Travel.
In the previous blogs we have written a lot about Srđ Portolan and his viewpoint on the development of the nautical tourism in Croatia. Srdj for his part was fascinated by the so called “French” model who were among the first who have recognized the need for the construction of mega yacht marinas like the example of “Billionaire Dock” in St Tropez which Portolan Srđ in his capacity as a member of Dubrovnik Luxury Travel management board visited
back in March 2013 on the incentive trip Srđ took part in together with Portolan’s colleagues from DLT and its sister company Adriatic Yacht Services. Talking to some of the yachts’ captains Srdj was perplexed by the lack of the knowledge captains had about the Albanian, Montenegrin and Croatian side of the Adriatic and marina facilities that were available to them on their trajectory to Venice.
The importance of branding was another issue Srđ Portolan stressed about when Srdj talked about the development of luxury tourism in Dubrovnik as Croatia’s top destination within the destination itself. As Portolan Srdj junior learned from Portolan Srđ senior the recognition of the moment like in any business cycle curve prove to have been the secret ingredient in the winning formula of success in the story of Dubrovnik and for that matter in the wider context of Croatia’s tourism as well. Portolan Srđ prompted that the saturation of the rent-a-car market simply strengthen his belief that the servicing of luxury clients within the destination, providing that this service is of the highest possible quality, is the future of his brands positioning within the luxury segment of the market.
Even within this particular segment, Srđ sees the future in the close co-operation of the owners of luxury villa accommodation and the providers of the luxury services. For instance as far as Dubrovnik is concerned, the Old City will always attract visitors for its preserved beauty. However, for the luxury guests who are accustomed for the high level of service facilities Dubrovnik is not in the league of the top French Riviera destinations. On the other hand many would argue that it is not cost effective to invest in the so called additional value determinants. Portolan Srđ understands why entrepreneurs are discouraged to invest in the high class luxury villa accommodation
because it is difficult to achieve ROI let alone its reasonable rate. Portolan Srđ believes that this is due to short length of the season. That is why Srdj states many opt out to restoring residence houses and present them on the market as villas. We support Srđ’s theory as generally speaking everyone works in its full capacity in the tourism sector in Dubrovnik for the period of 60 days which is not enough to make it till the end of the year. Srđ is a firm believer that the short duration of the season is off putting the investors in general as for starters the opportunity cost is high. We understand Srdj’s statement as it does not make sense to open a luxury restaurant which is going to remain empty for the rest of the year.
Portolan sees strong MICE sector in Dubrovnik as Croatia’s top destination as something that might save the day. Furthermore, Portolan Srdj sees marketing issues as many travel agencies lack the adequate marketing funds to promote themselves on the exhibitions around the world. Srđ for his part realizes that the support of the airline industry plays a pivotal role in making the MICE story a success.
Watch out this space for Portolan Srđ views on the current developments in Dubrovnik and Croatia luxury travel market news.