If we care about quality development, then the example from Hvar must be our guide

We must care about the narrative that is told about the destination to the guests. It is just one piece in the mosaic of strategic, planning and quality development

Author  Goran Rihelj

18. May 2023.

With the name "Get to know Hvar" last weekend, the Tourist Board of the City of Hvar (TZG Hvar) organized a free tour of the town, i.e. a tourist tour with licensed guides for seasonal workers who work during the tourist season on Hvar, i.e. who have found their "temporary home" on Hvar. 

Although until now some tourist boards have organized tourist tours for local residents and renters, this is (at least not known to me) the first time that a tourist board has organized a tourist tour aimed at seasonal workers.

Hosts, local residents as well as seasonal workers are in direct contact with guests and must know key information about the destination. They must know where they are, history and cultural heritage, especially on Hvar where cultural tourism is one of the main identities, and what to recommend to guests in the destination. 

Let's not forget how they are in direct contact with guests

As local residents and hosts, we are the best ambassadors of our destination, we are the narrators of the story. If we don't respect ourselves, how will others respect us?

We must be proud of our history, identity, way of life and culture. And as the definition itself says: tourists are temporary guests in our home. 

Everything starts from the local community. Ourselves. As we communicate and behave, our guests will also fit into our way of life and culture. As in the example of the family. If the father throws trash on the floor while walking, the child will do the same. Just turn the story around and think about your travels to another country. What did you research before the trip? What were your motives for traveling? How did you behave in the destination? What did they ask the guides, hosts and local residents?

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Culture is and must be sustainable, because culture is our identity. But only if we ourselves respect and live it. That's why people travel, to get to know a new way and culture of living. Let's be who we are - Istrians, Dalmatians, Slavonians, Međimurje, Zagorje, Ličani... Croats.

This is the story we have to tell and it should be our main tourist product. At the end of it all, we have to pack it all up nicely and start telling our autochthonous and authentic stories. Imagine if now you and I, or as a group of 20 people, travel to France where the host welcomes us on one table with French wines, and on the other table with Croatian wines. Which wine will you taste? France or ours? 

Of course, you will taste wine from the French wine region. That's why you travel. And why are we figuratively constantly selling French wines to the French? 

And that is why this move by TZG Hvar is extremely important and shows the direction that all destinations in Croatia should follow.

In fact, it should be compulsory course / tour for all foreign workers (including local ones who are not from Hvar). Bound. Not in the form of an online course, but exactly in the form it was on Har. Live tourist tour with a tourist guide. If we are really concerned about the quality of the tour, we can also take a test on basic and general information about the destination afterwards, to ensure that the tour is actively listened to. 

I only work for seven days or I'm not from here, so I don't know. 

This is a frequent response of hotel staff over the years. God forbid you ask about tasting local wine - that the wine is not only black and white, but from the local area. It is not the fault of the worker, but the employer - the hotel or the owner of the agency and restaurant. 

Unfortunately, in the domain of the strategic problem with the workforce in the tourism sector, it has long been no longer about the challenge, only the number or the fulfillment of the quota is being looked at. It is imperative, and quality and criteria are not important. As long as the worker has teeth - it becomes the main criterion or the mere fulfillment of the quota. And quality is less important as value for money. The market still does not punish us, and this is the biggest obstacle to quality and sustainable development. 

If, of course, we care about the sustainable and strategic development of tourism, which we "swear" to, then we must always be committed to quality performance. And so that our first line of defense, i.e. workers who are in direct contact with guests, know where they are, basic context about the destination and know how to recommend basic content and information to guests.

Also, it is important to mention that in the invitation of TZG Hvar in the form of a poster, the communication about the tourist tour for seasonal workers was made in Croatian and in English. 

I sincerely hope that tourist tours "Get to know destination X" for foreign workers will be standard in every destination before the start of the tourist season and that every worker will receive basic education about the destination. Let's not forget that they are in direct contact with guests every day. It is extremely important that they have the right and useful information about the destination.

If we want sustainable and quality tourism, everyone must follow the positive example from Hvar. Thanks to Hvar for caring. 

Photo: HrTurizam.hr

Author  Goran Rihelj

18. May 2023.