Don’t get me wrong, I really like the island of Hvar and it is a pretty place, but it has been way, way over-hyped. As you can see in my lavender article, people have been sold this idyllic Mediterranean dream of an island, when in reality, it’s like a great number of islands off the Croatian coast as well as the Italian, French, and Spanish coasts. “The Mediterranean as it once was” slogan from the National Tourist Board of Croatia is something of a joke, since it’s really the Mediterranean as it should never be; full of drunken tourists, expensive prices, and an economy that is based on functioning for four months, as opposed to maintaining a stabilized flow of tourism so that people could really have normal lives there, instead of being the equivalent of fruit pickers.
I suppose that’s what really annoys me about Hvar. There is the mentality that it is okay to milk the tourist because that’s what they are there for and well, you have to do it because the season is so short and you have to make money while you can. The irony in all of this is that if I went to an apartment in Hvar Grad in say, November, I would bet money that a great many pension owners would still try to get the high rate of 60 Euros a night and refuse to bargain on it. They would rather remain empty and get that prime rate two nights a month, than have a constant flow of people which would allow them to have a reliable income.
The Croatian writer Slavenka Drakulić talks about this a great deal in her book, Cafe Europa which is an excellent read. She is not popular in Croatia and it is obvious why, because she speaks the truth about the mentality of the people in her country after the fall of Communism. What is sad is that this book is from 1996 and 11 years later, the vast majority of it is still holds water. This is why I respect the tourism industries of Slovenia or Bosnia Herzegovina a great deal more. They don’t have a massive coastline to export for immediate touristic consumption and so they have to work harder to develop their tourism industries. This is having them create a more sustainable type tourism in their countries.
Anyways, this has come a long way from talking about Hvar, but it is a small example that is indicative of a broader problem in Croatia that I may or may not go in to more in a later article. Suffice to say, don’t go to Hvar looking to develop property, awaken your soul, lay on the “sandy beaches” (the panacea of British and Irish travelers), or find a dream vacation at bargain prices. It now costs the same as the rest of Europe and while nice, is not something to kill yourself to get to.