Dubrovnik’s mayor Mato Frankovic announced on Tuesday that the authorities intend to halt the expansion of tourism in the coastal city by banning the construction of new holiday apartments.
“With the latest amendments to the General Urban Plan, we have resolved the issue of holiday apartments, for which a building permit cannot be obtained,” said Frankovic.
He told a press conference that tourism has become problematic for the city, arguing that “every new building in Dubrovnik was not built so that someone could live there but to rent it out”.
“We have had 4,000 new beds [for tourists] since the coronavirus, which was most difficult for the city and its economy,” he added.
Dubrovnik – a city of city has 41,000 inhabitants – currently has 48,000 beds for rent. Several thousand seasonal workers also move to the city during the summer months, which makes living conditions even harder for locals.
Frankovic’s concerns were further confirmed by a Eurostat report on housing prices in the European Union, published on Tuesday, which said Croatia maintained its position as the EU country with the highest growth in housing prices in the second quarter of this year.
From April to June, the cost of housing in Croatia rose by 13.7 percent compared to the same period last year, according to Eurostat.
Tourism is economically important for Croatia, bringing in one-fifth of the country’s GDP. But popular locations like Dubrovnik are suffering from overtourism.
Croatia’s new Act on Tourism, which will enter into force next year, says that cities and municipalities will have the obligation to adopt a destination management plan, and can choose to limit the number, type and category of tourist and hospitality facilities in their area, manage tourist flows and make visitors pay ecological surcharges.
The legislation will allow local authorities to prohibit the opening of new apartments, restaurants and cafes, and give them the poser to choose how much and what kind of tourism they want in their local area.
The mayor predicted that Dubrovnik will not be the only city in Croatia to impose such measures, although it will be the first in the country.
“Barcelona said ‘no’ to renting in residential areas a few years ago,” he noted.
“We will soon, if we continue like this, have an empty city, and people will live on the outskirts,” he added.
He said that existing tourist apartments will not be shut down but that it is necessary to impose order.
“Today, we have apartments in garages, in sheds, wherever an apartment can be built, and it’s a mess,” he noted.
Frankovic said he wants to protect tourism “because it is the greatest blessing we have”, but at the same time, “watch out for the negative side effects of tourism so that they do not threaten the quality of life and protect the environment and cultural treasures”.
“We want to block the further growth of beds and apartment buildings in the city, especially in residential areas. We already have certain zones where people used to live, and now there are one or two families in them,” he said.
Source : Balkan Insight