Something "strange" is happening in Central Dalmatia: can tourist flows be redirected inland? 

Author  Goran Rihelj

February 16, 2024.

Something "strange" is happening in the Split-Dalmatia County. Can tourist flows be redirected inland? 

"Dugopolje becomes a reception point for guests who go on excursions around the Dalmatian Zagora", announced Ivana Vladović, director of TZ Split-Dalmatia County at the end of last year conversation for hrturism

Great news, but most importantly, it's not about PR or just a one-off campaign, but about a smart strategic concept with the aim of redirecting tourist flows from the sea to Dalmatian Zagora.

Of course, the simplest and most profitable is to sell the coast or sea and classic "must see" tours. But to reverse the tourist flows towards the less known and "attractive" Dalmatian Zagora is a completely different story. And no - there is no single solution, but a holistic approach is needed, a lot of education and communication (first on the local field, then on the global level), testing, investment, synergy of the public and private sectors and time. 

But let's start in order, the Split-Dalmatia County presented new business platforms in tourism to travel agencies in Dugopolje. 

The Hidden Dalmatia visitor center in Dugopolje, he hosted the presentation of new business platforms in tourism for the Split-Dalmatia County area. The meeting was held in the co-organization of the Administrative Department for Tourism, Maritime Affairs and Transport of the Split-Dalmatia County with the Croatian Chamber of Commerce Split and the Visitor Center Skrivena Dalmacija with the aim of presenting new business platforms, Dalmatia storytelling destination i Hidden Dalmatia.

The Split-Dalmatia County is through projects Dalmatia storytelling destination, Skriveni habitati and Skrivena Dalmacija created digital platforms, new tourist products and tourist infrastructure that opens up space for strengthening tourism in the interior of the Split-Dalmatia County. The aim of the meeting is to network tourism stakeholders, create new tourism products and strengthen the competitiveness of existing ones.

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Photo: Archive Skrivena Dalmacija coffee wine & more

The mentioned tourism resources represent an excellent tool for creating sustainable tourism products, and at the same time they are intended for the promotion of the existing offer of travel agencies, according to the Administrative Department for Tourism, Maritime Affairs and Transport of the Split-Dalmatia County, and interestingly everything revolves around one central point - namely is a tourist and educational center for visitors in Dugopolje that was opened last year. 

The presentation was attended About 30 travel agencies from the area of ​​SDŽ and representatives of tourist boards from the scope of the Skrivena Dalmacija destination brand. We have a clear tourism product, tools and digital platforms, infrastructure, and now it's the turn of the travel agencies, who will create ready-made and diverse tourism products on the basis of these foundations.

A great story and an example for others. A story that is alive, not in some future plans for x years. Especially through the positioning and added value of the Visitor Center, which thus has a much larger and broader role. Just as a starting point for the reception of guests who go on excursions in the Dalmatian Zagora.

Everything is built on these foundations, from the Green Line, which departs every day at 12 noon (from April 01 to October 31) from the Split waterfront towards Dalmatinska Zagora in a circular tour, to the info point about all outdoor, gastronomic and other activities in Dalmatinska It burns. 

/ / / Ivana Vladović: Dugopolje is becoming a reception point for guests who go on excursions around Dalmatinska Zagora

/ / / Let's tell stories, our authentic stories: Split-Dalmatia County launched Dalmatia storytelling destination

Concept development of the destination brand is based on the idea of ​​a central dispersive point in the space where the visitor has the opportunity to get to know the natural and cultural offer of the county, but also to enjoy the local eno gastronomic offer.

Therefore, the Visitor Center introduced tourist agencies to the space intended for agency business, that is, the future  tourist office. In addition to the existing promotional kiosk of the tourist boards, in this way the Center increases the availability of the local tourist offer to the end visitor. 

The center will soon be richer for catering offer with a story about the eno-gastro heritage of the Split-Dalmatia County.

Visitors will not remain indifferent to the authentic local gastronomic offer, but also to the unique multimedia gastronomic experience where the guest has the opportunity to enjoy a 3D representation of the story.From field to table' on your plate, and then get your chosen dish. This multimedia gastronomic attraction is the only one of its kind in Croatia.

''It is our pleasure to host  presentation of business platforms in the area of ​​Split-Dalmatia County. Center  presented novelties in his business, future business plans and opportunities for cooperation with travel agencies. We have a lot to offer for different age and interest groups of visitors, and I believe that agencies have recognized our offer," he said Marko Antonije Bitanga, manager of the Skrivena Dalmacija Visitor Center. 

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/ / / "Hidden Dalmatia" enables greater tourist visibility of the offer of the Dalmatian Zagora

/ / / The project Dalmatia storytelling destination goes further: presented tourist digital platform

Matea Dorčić, head of the Board of Directors for Tourism, Maritime Affairs and Transport, pointed out that "Dalmatia Storytelling and Skrivena Dalmacija" are platforms that bring together experiences from the Split-Dalmatia County area.

"We base our entire approach to destination development on creating new experiences and networking, promoting and raising the quality of existing ones. With this approach, we move away from the concept of ``sea and sun'' and provide insight into the offer of experiences that are commercially available ``365'' days a year Travel agencies are an important stakeholder in the development of sustainable and green tourism, and we are extremely satisfied with the reactions of the agencies from today's presentation,'' emphasized Dorčić.

Digital platform of themed heritage experiences 

The digital platform of the Dalmacija project storytelling destination,, has brought together thematic experiences and heritage stories from the area of ​​the county. 

The concept of the site encourages the end user to explore Dalmatian stories through a commercially available offer through a search engine.Find your story" i "Find your excursion". Also, visitors have the opportunity to publish their short travelogue about a heritage story they discovered and thus join the project initiative Become a Story Hunter. 

Travel agencies  they can use the platform as a tool in designing new heritage trips in the area of ​​Split-Dalmatia County and promote the existing offer.

Through the category Events and Local News  tourist boards and other stakeholders in tourism and culture can share the news about the holding of manifestations and other events related to the preservation of traditions, folk customs and heritage stories. In this way, a digital catalog of events that are closely related to heritage storytelling is created.

An excellent platform, educated guides and interpreters, the only thing missing is the last step - online direct sales and reservations. But I hope that will be resolved soon. 

Hidden Dalmatia full of experiences

The Split-Dalmatia County presented the promotional video Skrivena Dalmacija for the first time at the presentation.

The promotional video Skrivena Dalmacija shows the natural and cultural heritage values ​​of the County and the commercially available ones  tourist offer through the concept  ''more than sea and sun''. The video includes attractive shots from the air and outdoor the offer of Kaštela, Solin, Klis, Dugopolje, Vrlica, Sinj, Trilj, Omiš, Imotski and Vrgorac.

The aim of the video is to draw the attention of visitors and key stakeholders in tourism to the rich offer and tourist potential of the interior of the Split-Dalmatia County and to position the Hidden Dalmatia Visitor Center as the starting location for discovering Hidden Dalmatia.  

The destination brand Skrivena Dalmacija will soon get a platform that will be an excellent tool for visitors and travel agencies in finding an experience offering in the interior of the Split-Dalmatia County with a focus on outdoor and eno-gastro offer. 

New tourist facilities in the Visitor Center 

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Photo: Archive Skrivena Dalmacija coffee wine & more

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"I am glad that there was an excellent response from the travel agencies and that the desire of all those present to create a richer excursion offer in the interior of SDŽ, especially those related to heritage, was evident. I believe that the time is right to strengthen the destination offer with joint efforts and build an alternative to the concept 'sea and sun' in the Split-Dalmatia County", expires Renata Tešija, manager of the "Dalmatia storytelling" project from the Board of Tourism, Maritime Affairs and Transport of the Split-Dalmatia County. 

The brand "Skrivena Dalmacija" consists of five different themes

The destination brand "Skrivena Dalmacija" includes five different themes: from the Visitor Center, Dalmatia storytelling, Skrivena outdoor and hiking and Eno Gastro offer - and everything is united through one story. 

Everything gets its visibility through the infrastructure itself, a point in space - which is a visitor center that is much more than an educational, multimedia and interpretive center. As Vladović pointed out, it is a center or gate for the reception of guests who go on excursions in the Dalmatian Zagora. I have to admit, an excellent and cleverly arranged concept and certainly a positive example of strategic and planned development. 

As part of the Visitor Center complex, there is a kiosk - info point where already this summer the tourist boards presented the offer of the interior of SDŽ. In addition to this activity, the aspiration is to establish a kiosk-info punk for the tourist agency's offer this year.

"This year, there will be a tender for the assignment of a kiosk intended for a tourist agency that will create and offer an offer for the entire area of ​​the interior. We are positioning the Center as a starting point for getting to know the interior of Dalmatia. The center has the potential to become a source of discovery cycling and themed trails, outdoor and gastronomic offers and other excursions inland", adds Tešija. 

From the beginning of March, the catering facility inside the Visitor Center will also start working, which is extremely important, not only through the catering offer of food and drinks, but also to announce that Dalmatian Zagora is open for tourism outside the summer season. 

"We are here, we are open. Come and explore the interior of the Split-Dalmatia County", the message is towards the market. Otherwise, how can we extend the season if the destination is "closed", i.e. if from the beginning of October onwards 90% of the facilities in the destination are closed. Let's not forget that the reason for coming is the destination, not the bed.

"The catering facility will be open throughout the year. The offer is based on local foods and products and the story from the field to the table. It is interesting to single out the offer of the wine shop, which has about fifty bottles of Dalmatian wines, and where tastings, wine evenings and educational events will be held for the purpose of promoting the Dalmatian hinterland and autochthonous products.All visitors will have the opportunity not only to consume but also to buy labels that are specific to the area of ​​Dalmatia and take them with them to any part of the world. The facility has a special multimedia space with a 3D animation of the story of the 'fairy cook' who cooks for restaurant visitors and talks about local heritage, which is an unforgettable experience for the youngest visitors of the Skrivena Dalmacija Visitor Center, who will enjoy 3D animations with their meal. concluded Tešija and added that there is still a long way to go towards the goal, but that they are building the story step by step and are available to agencies through education, consultations and connections, all with the aim of jointly strengthening the competitiveness of the destination.  

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To conclude with the title: Something "strange" is happening in Split-Dalmatin County.

If someone had told me a few years ago that there would be so many meaningful and strategic projects from Central Dalmatia (referring to the branding of a region or sub-region of the Dalmatian brand that does not exist on the market, but the entire area is defined by itself under one name - Dalmatia) , and which are not one-off, but are interconnected and build upon each other, I would be very skeptical.

Some new "kids" began to seriously compose a different story of the Split-Dalmatia County. This is not only about the Hidden Dalmatia and Dalmatia storytelling projects, but also the Dalmatian brunch project, 3D tourist maps, Dalmatia AI, Tourism Ambassadors, a new modern web platform (not a website), the Green Line project and many others are just proof of how up to the people and ourselves if we want to move forward.

Of course, there is still much to come homotourists in the Split-Dalmatia County. But as I stated above: the story is alive and functioning on the market. The best example is the Green Line, which already proved to be viable on the market after the first summer season. Although it is realistic in such projects to count on a period of at least three years for them to be "received" on the market.

"The whole project of the Green Line has proven to be financially viable already this year, the partner who owns the buses, the agency, the Visitor Center, Klis Fortress and Stella Croatia is satisfied. Everyone in the entire chain, especially us. Also, at the end of July, we added a new line - Klis Sunset - an unrepeatable sunset, and the results were fantastic. So we decided to introduce two lines permanently, from April to November, every day." says Vladović.

Maybe it's slow or we're running late, it can be faster and better... but one thing is certain - this is not accidental, but cleverly and purposefully arranged, and definitely the right direction and a positive example of tourism development. 

They could draw a lot of parallels related to these examples, but they would certainly emphasize the importance of a strong public system, i.e. synergy with the private sector. Tourism is complex and someone has to deal with development, and that is the primary task of the public system (in any form). To set clear goals, directions and pace. To build infrastructure and foundations, encourage the creation of new tourist products, educate and communicate, promote tourist products, bring in foreign agents or simply create all the prerequisites for development and then arrange all the pieces of a new tourist mosaic with the private sector. Only through synergy, open dialogue and cooperation between the public and private sectors can we achieve long-term success. 

"Connect the dots" is only valid if we have enough "dots" to assemble tourist products, and through the wider project of redirecting tourist flows towards Dalmatinska Zagora, we now have everything. 

Author  Goran Rihelj

February 16, 2024.