Organized by UHPA (Croatian Association of Travel Agencies) as part of the European-wide SUSTOUR project, the training session brought together key organizations and stakeholders in Dubrovnik's tourism industry to identify issues and possible steps to improve tourism operations' impact on local communities.
Supported by leading regional destination management company and participant in the SUSTOUR project, Adriatic DMC, the training was delivered by tourism sustainability expert, Naut Kusters, general manager of Travelife and one of the founders of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
Kusters commented, “The turnout for today's European Union-supported workshop from private businesses as well as local government demonstrates how seriously the tourism sector in Dubrovnik is taking sustainability. As a top cruise destination, Dubrovnik stands to make the largest gains in Croatia in terms of impact reduction. I'm hopeful that the outcome from this workshop will be a meaningful and coordinated action from both sectors making Dubrovnik an example in Europe.“
Licensed tour guides, hospitality providers, OPGs, wineries, transport providers, and activity providers were familiarised with the Travelife criteria relating to their field, and in the second part of the workshop, groups were tasked with identifying critical areas within their operations where improvements could be made.
In 2018, nearly 40% of cruise passengers in Dubrovnik went on an organized shore excursion, which amounts to around 312,000 people.[i]
SUSTOUR project lead at Adriatic DMC, Kim Butigan, commented on the importance of the workshop, "All shore excursions utilize local businesses represented at today's training session, so the impact that we can have together on enhancing the viability of Dubrovnik as a travel destination is significant. We're seeing increasing demand from our international partners to demonstrate our green credentials and this will very quickly become a standard across the board that we are expected to meet as service providers.
"As a responsible tour operator, we recognize the importance of adapting our operations to ensure the sustainability of a destination long term, both for travelers who wish to experience the region at its best, but most importantly for locals who should be able to live and benefit from tourism without negative impact.
"I hope we'll be able to move forward and make significant improvements to our operations in partnership with private and public sector stakeholders."
Representatives of the City of Dubrovnik, the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, and the Dubrovnik-Neretva Tourist Board also attended.
Neda Lušić, sustainability coordinator at the Association of Croatian Travel Agencies (UHPA), remarked, “A key part of UHPA's mission is to contribute to the sustainable development of tourism and improve the competitiveness of its members through the values of socially responsible business. As a project partner for SUSTOUR, we're able to support destination management companies like Adriatic DMC to deliver on their green goals and improve Croatia's visibility on an international platform in this area.“