Paul Bradbury, TCN: If Croatian tourism were handed over to the private sector, the results would be extraordinary

Paul Bradbury, TCN: If Croatian tourism were handed over to the private sector, the results would be extraordinary

November 18, 2020 qljljlgbjcad 0

first_imgYou spent thirteen years on Hvar, and then you moved to a village near Varaždin. It was certainly quite a change and a totally different way and culture of living. What is the comparison between Hvar and Varaždin?  The concept of the new Total Croatia portal is very simple – Croatia on 100 pages. It is a fast and accessible portal that answers all the questions that tourists search on Google – how to get from the airport to the city, what currency is used, how much tip should be given – such things. We have extensive pages related to individual destinations – for example, Hvar on one page – and our goal is to provide readers with all the information in one place. With over 30.000 articles published on TCN over the years, we have just enough links to provide them with the best information. Croatia has incredible potential as a tourist destination, but when officials focus on protecting their own interests and enjoying life instead of doing what they are paid to do, there is little chance that Croatia will realize that potential. Here is one simple example. Medical tourism is finally getting the proper attention of the authorities. All international experts agree that Croatia can be among the ten best countries in the world within ten years – and this is an industry worth billions of dollars. “I am a fat Briton who moved from Somaliland to Hvar in 2002, after I saw an advertisement on the Croatian National Tourist Board on CNN”Is how Paul Bradbury, one of our great ambassadors of tourism and the owner of the Total Croatia News web platform, described himself in one sentence. In the description, I would definitely add the hashtag #kratkirukavi or #uvijekkratki because Paul wears short sleeves throughout the year, which have become his trademark. The other day I interviewed Nenad Bakić at the Varteks factory. What he and his team are doing with this magnificent, 100-year-old Croatian company is truly sensational. Small budget, big vision, very focused digital strategy. I thought a lot about it after the interview, and about how exactly Bakić’s approach is what Croatian tourism needs. It is common knowledge that tourism in Croatia is happening. Imagine that there is neither the Ministry of Tourism nor the tourist board, and that we appoint Nikola Tesla as the Minister of Tourism – he is at least a brand. Do you think the number of tourists would decrease? How do you view the branding of Croatia? Do you think that tourism in Croatia is moving in the right direction? Life in Croatia is very fun, to say the least, says Paul Bradbury, adding that he also met a dream girl on Hvar, and that in the end, after many years, he moved to his wife’s hometown, Varaždin. After moving to Croatia, more precisely Hvar, Paul Bradbury launched the Total Hvar blog in 2011, which over time developed and grew into the largest English-language medium in Croatia, Total Croatia News. What is it like for a foreigner to edit a portal with news about Croatia? How Paul, as a foreigner who has been living in Croatia for many years, sees our potentials, challenges and our tourist story, he revealed to us in a short conversation.  As for Varaždin County, what can I tell you? I am delighted, and I honestly think when I say that it is the best place in Croatia to live. One hour to Zagreb, one and a half hours to Graz, less than three to Budapest. It’s easier to deal with the local mentality too, there are four seasons, there’s so much room to explore. And Hvar is always there when we need it. We will spend the Easter holidays and summers on the island. The perfect combination. The portal is primarily intended for tourists, but also for local renters and travel companies. We are constantly updating the portal and therefore we are a very reliable source of information. Many apartment renters have their own sites and have to worry about updating them. By connecting to the Total Croatia portal, not only will they no longer have to be upset, but they will offer their guests even better information. And now think about the budget of the Croatian National Tourist Board and the salaries of all the people who work there and do not contribute anything. Give that money to a team of people with a vision like the one Bakić has for Varteks. The results would be far better. And how much money would be saved. We started last week, and some articles have already received more than 2000 shares on Facebook, without any promotion with the exceptional postings on Facebook themselves. We are ready to cooperate with everyone who wants to advertise. Our goal is to increase the number of readers on the portal, add new languages ​​and, hopefully, become the number one source when it comes to tourist information about Croatia in English, as we already are when it comes to news. If we succeed, we may appoint Nikola Tesla as our Minister of Tourism, so we will see what happens… In October last year, all important people in tourism gathered on Hvar for the Days of Croatian Tourism, three days of pleasant fun and relaxation. A week later, a really important professional seminar on health tourism was held in Zagreb, with an expensive (and excellent) consultant who arrived from the USA. How many official stakeholders appeared at that seminar? I won’t mention their names, but their absence said it all. The same happened with the Fifth Annual Medical Tourism Conference held last week in Zagreb – allegedly about fifty representatives of the Croatian Tourist Board went to the ITB fair in Berlin, but no one could cross the street, come to the Westin Hotel in Zagreb and learn something global. health tourism experts, including representatives of the Cleveland Clinic. The best in medical tourism in Croatia competes on a global level. The challenge is how to tell that story. More and more international experts agree that Croatia has a very bright future ahead of it. It is “only” necessary for stakeholders to unite their efforts and devise the right strategy and finance its implementation. The results could make a major contribution to economic development. But the idea that officials could join forces for the common good…center_img www.total-croatia.com When I criticize, I do so not just to criticize, but in the hope that things can improve and that we can be better in the future. I naively assumed that official tourism institutions would be primarily interested in promoting tourism. It took me a long time to figure out how Croatia actually works, and nothing is as it seems to foreign tourists on the beach! For starters, you shouldn’t be too sensitive. It’s amazing how many people are insulted! I really didn’t know what I was getting into in July 2015. When I started Total Croatia News, I had never heard of the word “uhljeb”, I was so naive. There was an opportunity to launch a portal and fill that gap, but I knew nothing about Croatian politics. It was a baptism of fire! You are actively involved in the promotion of medical tourism in Croatia. What is happening in that sector? Always talked about great potentials, including health tourism, but… is always that great but in our case?  There are so many examples of untapped potential. Croatia has wonderful wines, original zinfandel, 130 indigenous varieties. Anthony Bourdain was not the only one who was delighted with “world-class food, world-class wines and world-class cheeses”. And that was seven years ago. The Holy Grail is tourism through all 12 months. Gastronomic tourism is one of the greatest potentials we have (along with health tourism). So, with all that extraordinary food and wines, how does Croatian gastro-tourism stand when we compare it, say, with France, Italy, Germany or Spain? We are almost at zero, and they are earning tens of millions. Why? However, due to the way of life on the island, the distance from business centers and the lack of opportunities for entertainment and travel, year-round life on Hvar is not as pleasant as a long summer vacation. The children also grew up, so we wanted to introduce them to other aspects of life. Many were surprised when we moved. After all, if you find paradise, why would you want to leave? Hvar is a wonderful island and will always be in my heart. It is also, for a number of reasons, the absolute best place in the world to raise children. I was stunned when I found out what was going on in the field of medical tourism. I have to thank Ognjen Bagatin from the Bagatin Polyclinic for introducing me to that world 18 months ago. For example, did you know that there are three of the best dermatology clinics in Europe in Zagreb (including Bagatin’s, which is number one)? Or that the Special Hospital of St. Katarina the only hospital in Europe to partner with OneOme, a revolutionary pharmacogenetic test? You have recently launched a new portal with tourist information about Croatia, Croatia on 100 pages, at www.total-croatia.com. What story and vision is behind the new project?  Unfortunately, the “kings of accidental tourism” still manage Croatian tourism, and tourism happens not because of them, but in spite of them. If Croatian tourism were handed over to the private sector, the results would be extraordinary. You are often very critical of Croatian tourism. What problems as a foreigner particularly bother you? How do you see our tourism story and its development?  I absolutely love what I do, and Croatia is a fascinating topic to write about when you are a foreigner. I have an exceptional team of lyricists, both foreigners and locals, who help me find the right balance and direction. We are slowly becoming a de facto bridge between Croatia and the international community, and this brings new responsibilities. But I am proud of what we have achieved as a team and the level of international reputation we have gained. We brought the New York Times and Sunday Times to Hvar, and recently my first article was published in the Daily Telegraph. Our mission is to promote Croatia, but we do not do it uncritically. There are a lot of problems here, and we give constructive criticism, which rarely encounters positive reactions. RELATED NEWS:last_img

 

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