5 Cultural Policy Resources in South East Europe
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21.11.2001 | author: Daniela Angelina Jelincic
Croatian Cultural Tourism Strategy - a 2001 draft version
the dossier of the Advocating Culture international workshop, Zagreb, November 2001, as background document.
Daniela Angelina Jelincic
is research fellow at Institute for International Relations, Zagreb.
In Spring 2000, the Croatian Government expressed the need for a Croatian Development Strategy in the 21st Century and therefore assigned independent teams of experts with the task of writing the drafts for this Project, divided into various sectors. Thus, the Institute for International Relations was assigned the task of creating the Croatian Development Strategy for the cultural sector. The independent experts' team developed the draft to be discussed with the professionals in the related fields of theatre, museums, film, visual arts, etc. sectors.

This Project relied on the former project 'Cultural Policy in Croatia: National Report' also executed by the team of independent experts in 1999 within the Council of Europe's 'National Cultural Policy Review' programme. Cultural Policy did not include 'cultural tourism' as an independent part of the policy, it only mentioned it, while the report of a European group of experts, lead by Charles Landry, recognized culture as the key selling point for tourism development. Usually, culture is the primary reason a visitor comes to an area, especially if culture is broadly defined. This was the starting point for the creation of the Croatian Cultural Tourism Development Strategy, the text being written by myself and used as a draft for discussion and creation of a greater and more detailed cultural tourism development strategy.

The presentation of the whole project was conducted in March this year, where a great interest for the subject of cultural tourism has been shown. It was concluded that cultural tourism has been presented too shyly in a way and that it should be taken more aggressively. It has been a European cultural-tourist subject number one for the last decade and a half, and has just entered Croatia to be recognized as an excellent tourism niche market. Although many tourist programmes included culture as a part of the tourist offer, it has not been enough, especially because most of these cultural programmes have been imported, not using Croatian cultural distinctiveness as a tourist resource.

Therefore, the proposed cultural tourism development strategy seeks to use the cultural resources of Croatia as its key selling point. Going beyond merely visiting heritage sites, churches and museums, although these are important, it seeks to celebrate every aspect of Croatian culture – food, wine, the landscape, activities and even the language. It seeks to involve the tourist with locals and make every tourist a cultural explorer and discoverer (Landry 1999: 37).
The very local community should be competent for the decision of the possibility for the development of tourism in its surroundings. Also, it should be left to the community to decide if it wants to develop tourism at all, although in Croatia, this kind of decision is not likely to be made, because Croatia already has a tradition of tourism. A community cannot live if its population cannot be identified with it. Local community should be proud of its village/town/city, because successful tourism cannot be developed against the local community’s will. This principle should be the basis for every tourism planning.

Main Aims of the Cultural Tourism Development Strategy

As mentioned before, the principles underlying the development policy should be to use local resources wherever possible and to be distinctively Croatian. The objectives aside from increasing visitors is to:
• Extend the season;
• Extend the geographical base beyond the beach and into the hinterlands;
• Guarantee sustainability;
• Encourage micro-business development and economic prosperity (Landry 1998 : 37).

Extending the Season and Extending the Geographical Base

So far, Croatia has been selling only sea and sun, basing tourism on one sphere such as coastal tourism. It is the very cultural offer that may stimulate the development of tourism in other seasons but summer. This is where we would like to stimulate the other forms of tourism development, especially urban tourism aimed at continental cities or cities in hinterlands. Cities located along the coast have normally developed greater tourism but due to the fact that they use their coastal position as the primary benefit in tourism and secondly use culture and other facilities as a tourist resource. Of course, also in this case, culture may be the means of extending the season, but we would also like continental cities to develop their own cultural tourism programmes.

To this purpose, one of the propositions may be the creation of the cultural routes that are so popular today, considering that Croatia historically belongs to the Austro-Hungarian cultural background which may be used as a common resource.

Also, other tourist resources may be used such as sports, religion or natural beauties to form coordinated tourist programmes. Therefore, mountains and hiking, speleology, flora and fauna may be used as a resource, all in coordination with the local lifestyle including architecture, gastronomy, and entertainment.

The out-of-the-summer offer may be related to various religious events extremely rich in the Catholic calendar. What is interesting and partly wrong in Croatia is the inversion of calendar events: carnival, instead of being offered in tourism in winter to which it normally belongs, is rather moved to summer as part of the mass tourism offer.
Croatian ethnography and ethno-destinations may also be used in any part of the year, especially if relating to the educational tourism. It can also be applied to castles extremely numerous in continental Croatia as well as to archaeological sites, churches, monuments, museums and galleries for which season is not necessarily specified.

Guaranty of Sustainability and Encouraging Micro-Business Development

Guaranty of sustainable tourism development is closely connected to the stimulation of micro-business development. If a local community is able to integrate their everyday businesses and professions into the tourist activity and thus present their local lifestyle, it is likely that the quality of tourist visit, as well as the quality of local population life will be assured. Today, the fisheries and agriculture for example have already been in service for tourism sector, which is partly the guaranty for sustainability for the local community. Additionally, the development of traditional crafts, art galleries, restaurants offering local food and beverage should be stimulated. It is very important that the owners of such businesses should be come from the local population.

Within such an approach, a number of criteria for development become apparent: smaller scale initiatives rather than grand scale gestures and mega-projects; the establishment of comprehensive programmes such as a bed and breakfast strategy, where the role of agencies is to create thing like marketing consortia; joint signage or other branding devices or the training of locals in local distinctiveness issues (Landry 1999: 38).

Decentralization and Coordination of Cultural and Tourist Sectors

Another important issue in the Croatian Cultural Tourism Development Strategy is the issue of decentralization of Croatian culture and tourism. The European cultural decentralization tendency should be present in Croatian culture, too. If so, cultural tourism would enable local government as well as to the local cultural institutions and organizations their self-management, because of income increased by the cultural tourism. If the Croatian development strategy includes the development of cultural tourism, we may expect the cultural demand increase within the culturally directed tourist visit. In this way, local government would be given greater power and a chance to create local strategies since they are familiar with the locality itself. As a consequence, the result would be a richer, more inventive and more diverse cultural production and supply (Dragojević 1999: 79).

The issue of sectoral coordination seems obvious and a conditione sine qua non but so far has not been present in Croatia almost at all. The successful strategy cannot be created within the framework of one sector, for example tourism or culture, separately. Even, it is very difficult to plan taking into account these two sectors only. The key word here is multidisciplinary. Tourist planning should be executed within the framework of coordinated sectors such as economy, finances, education, health, science, technology, micro business, sports, religion, ecology, urban planning, industry, transportation, agriculture, fisheries, and culture.

Also an inter-sectoral approach within the framework of culture itself should be considered. If tourist programmes are coordinated among various cultural institutions and events in the destination, such as between museums, galleries, libraries, theatres, cinemas, etc. it will not be difficult to create common offer to be supplied for tourists in getting to know the cultural life of a community.

Cultural and tourist workers should be more aware of the need for coordination and be stimulated to create common projects. This development strategy draft could be a starting point for the discussion and an introduction to the debate with the aim of making the practitioners' work easier and clearer.

Dragojević, Sanjin (1999). Cultural Policy in Croatia. National Report. Zagreb, Council for Cultural Co-operation, Council of Europe/Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia/Institute for International Relations, 275 pp.
Landry, Charles (1999). From Barriers to Bridges: Re-imagining Croatian Cultural Policy. Report of a European Group of Experts. Zagreb, Council for Cultural Co-operation, Council of Europe/Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia/Institute for International Relations, 60 pp.

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