Either now or never - Opatija, Rijeka and Kvarner have a historic destination chance

The cities of Opatija and Rijeka and Kvarner as a whole get a rare historical development destination. A chance they had been waiting for for decades. And now is the time to look at it. As...

The cities of Opatija and Rijeka and Kvarner as a whole get a rare historical development destination. A chance they had been waiting for for decades. And now is the time to look at it.

As is well known, it all started with the arrival of investor Peter Lürssen, who through his Austrian foundation and group of sister companies in Austria and Croatia became the majority owner of a key Opatija hotel house a little over two years ago. Liburnia Riviera Hotels (LRH), the backbone of the Opatija Riviera.

Then he started in cooperation with ACI, the largest nautical system in the Adriatic, in the dynamic development of which I participated in the mid-eighties and nineties, in the establishment of the company ACI - Gitone doo and obtaining a legal tender for a concession for a new marina of 260 berths and accompanying facilities in a part of the port of Rijeka better known as Porto Baroš. 

It is business and market understandable that the new concessionaire will be "first hand" according to the formula "The winner takes it all! ”In taking over the main part of the former cargo, and now a smaller part of the Rijeka passenger port, where yachts of impressive sizes are already stationed. Thus, Rijeka becomes one of the main, if not the main nautical center for mega yachts on the east coast of the Adriatic.

As far as can be read from the articles in "Novi list", I quote "In the newly established company ACI will be in charge of the part of the business related to nautical tourism, ie the reception of vessels and related services, and Lürssen's company for other related jobs, including bringing mega yachts to berth, given that this German company is known as one of the largest manufacturers of large yachts in the world. ''

At the same time, the Lürssen Group launched an engineering office, ie the Lürssen Design Center Kvarner in the Rijeka Port Authority in the port of the former Torpedo factory in Rijeka, where they intend to employ, as far as we know, about a hundred engineers. This center, in addition to the existing ones in Bremen and Rendsburg, should become one of the three main engineering centers for the development, research and design of luxury yachts.

In addition to Peter Lürssen, additional tourist liveliness in this area was also introduced Hilton Costabella Beach Resort & The spa, initiated by the Czech investor Jaroslav Trešnjak, somewhere on the "border" between Rijeka and Opatija - symbolically connecting these two destinations with a favorable micro location and delivery of premium quality products and services.

Great challenge 

Peter Lürssen, as the initiator of the new future of Opatija and part of Rijeka's tourism, and his management team face a great challenge. Investment money for now, as far as we can see, is not a problem, human resources experts will gradually begin to reach more and more quality employees, in a new way: talents, attracted by new promising destination and personal prosperity. It is crucial and will be to bring back the soul, I repeat, the proactive and tourist soul of this area in the true sense of the word, that is, to reincarnate the zones of vibration of enthusiasm and positive thinking among the local population. Willing to start from scratch in some new specialties that these projects will generate, ie to learn thoroughly and patiently acquire new knowledge and skills, in order to open a promising present and future for himself and the generations to come.

The city of Rijeka started a part of its destination redefinition quite a few years ago successfully, we are talking of course about the pre-Covid period, with the Rijeka Carnival. After a certain period of eruption and take-off, one got the impression that there was an organizational saturation and thus stagnation. Some acquaintances used to tell me that it has become more important who performs in a long carnival procession than the concept with which innovations this extremely successful and authentic mega project should be refreshed, improved and constantly raised to a higher level.

The flywheel or momentum, which was to be achieved by the execution of the project European Capital of Culture (ECOC), did not happen because of an already pandemic, which cut it at the root. 

And it was a blow, which would not be amortized even by the strongest boxing heavyweight in the world.

However, my impression has always been that even then, until Covid-19 was known, the project management team looked at the ECOC more through a local rather than an international prism in which cultural but internationally recognized and accepted projects should be created as reason why regular annual return of current and arrivals of new visitors or guests. Or, as recognized experts suggest, apply the principle of positioning culture as a special aesthetic relationship in which the researched behaviors and needs of consumers become part of the creative process, but also the overall management of culture and cultural tourism of the community in all segments and at all levels.

Let's go back. LRH was quite neglected for years until its recent sale. Everything seemed to leave the Opatija bridegroom at the age of living for sale. At that time, the bride herself lived spiritually separate from her natural other half - Opatija as a destination. And it could be seen from the plane.

A step-by-step scenario for a new future

What could LRH do now?

The starting point for this sketch script and initial reflection was the great thought of Aldous Huxley, an English writer and philosopher, in this case: “Experience is not what happens to you. The experience is what you do with what happens to you. ”

Therefore, in the case of Opatija, it is necessary to outline a new destination focus and thus - a navigation course.

Opatija is, to say the least, Monte Carlo of Southeast Europe, a destination of prestige, dignity and ambient elegance. A place for regular holding of reputable top international business and political gatherings and events, but also deliveries especially for this destination and its environment of tailored health modules or tourism of healthy living with the hinterland of Učka or Gorski kotar and concerts of classical and carefully selected music such as jazz. Art Nouveau Opatija is not an environment for punk and hard rock or folk. It just doesn't suit her!  

As far as the gatherings and conferences themselves are concerned, LRH must no longer play only the role of a mere rentier of a square of conventional space but of an active producer and supplier of the events themselves. This opens up concrete space for achieving greater added value for the company’s self-sustaining business model and long-term destinations.

In the field of business and perceptual nautical, it would be optimal for Lürssen's Kvarner nautical eco segment to carry a powerful reputable event platform consisting of a quality nautical fair, strengthened and expanded regatta "Fiumanka" and nautical rally or race of prestigious offshore boats. And in a triangle throughout the entire bay of Rijeka with one side somewhere parallel to the Opatija lunga marom, a natural auditorium 12 to 14 km long, of course in compliance with all safety and environmental regulations. Nota bene, in 1991, just before the outbreak of the war in Slovenia, ACi arranged, in which I was directly involved, to hold one such race in Kvarner, but he had to give up because the country was hit by a war whirlwind.

In order to design and successfully organize five to six wider key mega projects, either on land or at sea, it is recommended that the destination stakeholders of Opatija and Rijeka together establish a special DMMO - destination marketing & management company, which will take care of all project segments. - from conception and creation, finding partners and sponsors of individual projects or events, activating all available revenue channels to of course effective and layered integral on and offline communication to attract target audiences.

A new world of business opportunities

And also crucial and less important! 

Residents of Opatija, Rijeka and Kvarner have suddenly been opened to a new space of business opportunities, to which they need to respond meaningfully and profitably. It is an opportunity to encourage a number of small, medium and large production, trade and IT and other creative industries, which will support and enrich the "new life that is being born" as the legendary Oliver Dragojevic sings in the song "The Key of Life" to lyrics and music. unforgettable Zdenko Runjić. This stops the demographic outflow and creates a new destination "hat".

It is necessary to gather, inform and educate small and medium destination entrepreneurs of all types and categories and, after creative exchanges of ideas and concepts, and adequately, and perhaps in some cases financially, support in adjusting the portfolio of their current individual supply to the new dimension of demand. clear rules of the game. There is symbolically and really no more room for cheap plastic oriental goods.

The key question is is the local population aware of this? I feel not.

Therefore, for his good tomorrow, it would be useful today, as Shakespeare would say, to accept the time that chose him. 

Author: Edvin Jurin / Photo: magpiesfan75, Pixabay / Illustration HrTurizam

Read the author's columns and loud reflections so far HERE, and be sure to listen to the podcast Homo Turisticus where Edvin Jurin spoke on an important topic: Managing a tourist destination as a brand

Related news:

Hrvatski HR English EN