Međimurje is falling apart again! A new interactive product of the destination is starting - Bus on the move or Međimurje in motion

Author  Goran Rihelj

30. July 2021.

Should important museum exhibits be exhibited in their original locations through museums or interpretive museums or in a museum in Zagreb?

I personally believe and advocate that all archaeological originals should be exhibited in the localities where they were found, at least those of great importance, and that they should be replicas in the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb... Should, for example, the Vučedol Dove and Apoxyomenus be in the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb? or in the original locations? At the level of cultural policy in HR, the principle position of the profession is that the original archaeological objects are located in Zagreb, and not in museums in the localities where they were found.

We don't need a big analysis of the positive impact of, for example, the Museum of Vučedol culture in Vukovar or the Museum of Apoxyomena in Mali Lošinj. And now imagine that the majority of museums are actually located in real localities, i.e. destinations. These are generators of employment, tourist consumption, added value, reasons for coming, etc... Zagreb, as the capital, can and must be at the service of media and promotional tools.

If we look through the prism of the well-known marketing model AIDA ( Attention, Interest, Desire and Action – attention, interest, desire and action ), then Zagreb as an economic, and thus also a tourist center of Lijepa naše, must fulfill AID - attention, interest and desire, while the last step in the consumer's journey - A or action, must be a visit to the actual localities.

In the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb, they can tell the beginning of the story, tickle the imagination and introduce tourists to the story (AIDA) in order to motivate them to visit the original site and see the original and get a full autochthonous and authentic story. Of course, until a museum or space is built according to all standards in the original locations, the exhibits can be "guarded" in the Archaeological Museum. So, from Zagreb, we distribute tourists all over Croatia, and the reason for coming is cultural tourism.

A copy is always a copy and it's crazy to have a museum on site and have a copy. The argument that there is no money to build a museum or to arrange the space so that the museum has the necessary conditions for preservation is ridiculous, it is a national interest and money should be and is there. Especially in the context that such museums are drivers of the economy and provide a totally new perspective.

An important issue that requires a constructive discussion. But what is the link between the museum, exhibits and Međimurje?

Photo: Međimurje County Tourist Board

At the beginning, I would like to emphasize two important, one could even say "game changer" moments that will certainly mark the development of Međimurje for future tourists.

The first is the opening of the most modern multimedia and interactive exhibition in this part of Europe - the Visitor Center.Ecomuseum Međimurje small”, which brings together the most interesting tourist attractions of the most successful destinations of continental tourism. The visitor center is located in the premises of the Tourist Board of Međimurje County and is designed as a "visitor" center that provides visitors with the most important information about Međimurje and encourages them to explore the cultural, historical and traditional heritage in the original locations.

Another significant moment is that at the beginning of this month, Međimurje got another first-class tourist and cultural content - Museum of Intangible Heritage – Treasure of Međimurje. The attractive, multimedia and interactive exhibition of the museum is divided into two main units that offer a combination of historical and cultural heritage with the most modern technology. On the ground floor there is an exhibition called "Century fortifications"Which interprets the turbulent history of the fortification of Čakovec castle, while on the first floor is an exhibition that interprets the intangible heritage of Međimurje called"Miniatures".

Two key moments for the future of the strategic tourism development of Međimurje, as well as two starting points of Međimurje tourism. At these two locations, visitors and tourists can learn about the entire tourist story of Međimurje, from A to Z, so to speak, and then start exploring the actual locations.

And there is a clear link to the initial story as well as the AIDA model. This is precisely the function of the Ecomuseum Međimurje malo and the Museum of Intangible Heritage - Treasure of Međimurje, and with the new innovative tourism product Međimurje will network all the attractions on the ground.

The destination's new innovative product - Bus on the move or Međimurje on the move - is starting

And that's thanks to a well-known product that until now was exclusively linked to city or urban destinations. But not for a wider region or destination. It is about the concept - Hop on, Hop off bus. And this is precisely the innovation introduced by Međimurje - Bus on the move or Međimurje in motion through the Hop-on, Hop-off bus, which is being introduced for the first time for an entire destination.

Already mentioned, the Eco Museum "Međimurje malo" has become a symbol for cultural, historical and natural heritage as well as the wealth offered by the gastronomic scene. As a fragmented museum, it shows the main values ​​of Međimurje and turns them into a real multimedia experience through interpretation.

However, just like the Međimurje Treasury, now precisely those key points of Međimurje tourism will give an introductory narrative, interest visitors, and then visitors, tourists and citizens will be transported by bus to the original locations around Međimurje, where there are interpretation centers that present heritage exactly where it was created, i.e. in the original locations.

"Naturally, the missing link, in order for the destination story to be complete, is the traffic connection of all the tourist attractions of the Eco Museum. A positive attitude, creativity and the desire to raise the quality of the destination offer to a higher level were the shared visions of the three partners of the "Bus on the move" project. says Rudi Grula, director of TZ Međimurje County.

Terme Sveti Martin, as a key tourist entity, provide their guests with an additional experience, and thus provide other tourism stakeholders with the opportunity to show what they offer in their facilities and estates. 

On the other hand, a local travel agency Rudi Express with its rich vehicle fleet and 30-year tradition, it guarantees pleasant, interesting and safe transportation to the destination. With the resources of its travel agency, all tourist attractions, services and products will be marketed as a joint offer and thus will play a key role in the destination development of the region. Every serious destination must have a local DMC agency.

And finally, there is Tourist Board of Međimurje County, as the main initiator of the project itself, which provides support in the promotion itself and will also facilitate the realization of the long-term project with creative ideas, as well as the master plan for the development of tourism in Međimurje County.

"We network our entire cultural tourism offer into one unique experience. Međimurje is lucky that there is not even one boutique destination, and in a relatively short time you can visit a lot, i.e. the entire destination. It is a special mode of transport that is popular in large European cities. This is a great innovation in Croatia and beyond, especially since such transport is for large European cities, and not for an entire destination. That's why Hop-on, Hop-off really makes sense, to connect all these locations.Grula points out.

So, to remind you, the Hop-on, Hop-off concept has not been implemented in any destination so far, but exclusively in urban cities. At least until now.

The route itself will initially run through the upper part of Međimurje, while the tour around the lower Međimurje will be introduced in the fall.

Schedule and driving times

The starting point will be in Terme Sveti Martin, and the tourist stakeholders-partners will be visited as follows - Skelarska hiža with the story of the mill on the Mura and the interpretation center "One day in the life of the miller Franc Žalar", then the Visitor Center Med dvemi vodami in Križovac, Eko "Little Međimurje" museum in the Palace of Međimurje tourism, Hotel Castellum, Treasury of Međimurja, which includes the Bedem coffee bar and the Stari grad restaurant, on the way back to the starting point, you pass the Međimurski dvori picnic area and restaurant, the Cmrečnjak winery, and the center of Štrigova, which generates rich contents in their environment. 

All residents of the region, who want to visit one of the mentioned attractions, will be able to use the same transport, as well as all other tourism stakeholders who have accommodation facilities and want to provide additional content to their guests. The doors of cooperation with future interested partners are open, and it is expected that in the coming period partners will join and thereby enrich the offer on the "Bus on the move" tourist bus route itself.

The plan for the fall is the further development and design of excursions, in cooperation with the Regional Tourist Center, which would disperse tourists to the Lower part of Međimurje, and a few more routes that will be occasional and linked to certain manifestations and events. 

This is confirmation that Međimurje is a destination that definitely gives more with a focus on added value with a long-term plan for the development of tourism and a healthy organizational culture of the destination. 

Interestingly, the Rudi Travel agency has always been focused on various travel programs throughout and outside of Croatia, and now it has seen the potential in Međimurje as well, which means that a market need has appeared, and it is increasingly turning to business as a DMC agency. In fact, they are one of the key partners in this project, who sell packages and use their fleet. Also, there is a kind of mascot of the project, which is a renovated vintage bus from 1964 that will drive around Međimurje and connect tourist attractions. To make things even more attractive, the Rudi Travel agency soon expects a bus without a roof, which will also be part of the "Bus on the move" project.

Well done to Međimurje, who show at every step how tourism is developing. And again synergy on the field of all stakeholders. It is not the individual that matters, but the destination.

Finally, it is important that the project becomes self-sustaining, and this takes time. It would be great if the project was given at least 2 years to prove itself on the market, i.e. when it will be seen if there is a market potential. It is certainly an excellent project, which is crucial for the strategic development of the destination.

The worst thing is to start, not to invest in promotion even before the product has broken into the market - to give up on it. It takes time for a product like this to be promoted, matured, private on the market and communicated to everyone in the destination. That is why it is crucial that the TZ of Međimurje County stands behind it, as well as Međimurje County, which will co-finance the price of the ticket in the beginning and will promote the whole story. If the project succeeds and becomes self-sustaining in a couple of years, it will certainly be a huge success. Not only for our concepts, but also much more widely.

Author  Goran Rihelj

30. July 2021.