As you’re coming from the north of Europe in to Istria, you’ll see a big pile of cars turn off towards Umag in Croatia. They head there for beach, sun, and sitting around. They are the type of tourists who have been coming to this area for the last 50 years or so and for some reason, the Croatian government finds themselves in a need to promote for more of these people to come during the summer holidays. So, there will be more of them in years to come no doubt.
The end result is that a place like Umag (Umago in Italian) is a pretty revolting place. It’s a tiny town that is overrun with people who do nothing but tan and come in search of a cheap destination, which actually isn’t there anymore because of an over-development of tourism. It’s a smaller version of how I felt that Rovinj has been abused.
But, this is the case in a great number of the Croatian coastal towns, especially those in Istria because they are so close to the borders of the EU. So, it really comes as no surprise that things are like this. The surprise is that Croatia at large seems to want more of this. I know from personal contact with the people living in these towns that they hate this time of year, yet they all seem to go along with renting rooms and taking part in making tourism happen there. When asked why they do this when they don’t want these people there, they will usually tell me that they have no choice and they have to take the money because it’s all they get. I find this to be lazy, specious reasoning because in reality, yes, the tourists are incredibly trashy and annoying, but at the same time, they are easy cows for the milking, so people go along with it.
The sad truth in this is that the people on the coast are not developing a tourism industry that is sustainable there. It is a boom from June to August and that’s it. As a cousin of mine in Zagreb pointed out, “The sea is nice when it’s not hot also. It’s good air and relaxing.” And he’s right. People come year round to places in Italy and Spain that are along the coast because they have developed and industry of travel. By doing what the coastal Croats are doing, they are sticking themselves in an ugly pool of very brown Germans and British that they have to cater to. They don’t allow for any other kind of industry to build up and they fail to create a travel (as opposed to touristic) industry in the area where the are.
Anyways, Umag is just a small example of a greater problem and one that the Croats will need to deal with soon on a local level, because those at the national level are just seeing all the tax moneys roll in and don’t care what happens there.
I apologize for not having the standard picture to accompany the article, but I was so revolted by Umag that I stayed there all of 20 minutes before I had to leave and the scene was so ugly, I wanted no memory of it.