Does the local population know its tourist offer?

COLUMN: GORAN RIHELJ

The beginning or warming up for the real tourist season that is slowly but surely coming to us, is the time of Easter. According to the first data, in almost all destinations there were about 10% to 15% fewer guests. But this is certainly not an alarm because this year's Easter date was two weeks earlier than last year, and the weather was not in our favor either, which certainly has a big impact.

According to everyone information and announcements from foreign markets, the current state of booking is excellent, as evidenced by data from our main emitting market in Germany. As part of the recent ITB tourism fair in Berlin, where the Croatian tourist offer was presented, the renowned FUR (Forschungsgemeinschaft Urlaub und Reisen eV) instituted Croatia in the top three destinations for German tourists.

I wonder: Have the tourist boards prepared well and well for the new tourist season?

If so, then surely they also introduced their citizens to their local tourism product? Yes, I sincerely hope that the tourist boards have informed their citizens what the destination offers tourists, what are the attractions, facilities, restaurants, where are the local family farms, where they can buy souvenirs, what are the planned activities and all other tourist information. Ultimately which is the tourism product we offer to tourists.

Why is this important?

There is no worse situation than when tourists in the destination ask for help and suggestion, and on the other hand silence. Silence and shrug. Where can I eat and try local products? Where can I exchange money? What can I see in the destination? What do you recommend? What are the interesting things? What is your story? Where is the tourist office located? These are questions that every local must know the answer to, as well as many others.

In order for tourists to get a quality response, it is crucial that the local population knows what their tourist product is. What to recommend? Who to refer them to? What's going on in the destination? What content can I consume? Are there any bike paths in the area?

Quality and long-term sustainable tourism is possible only if we strategically deal with the development of a tourist destination. One of the first prerequisites is for the local population to be aware that everyone lives from the same product, and that is tourism. The local population must be involved in the development of the destination and know the basic tourist information, whether engaged in tourism or not. Everyone has to live tourism every day. Namely, a good part of the cities on our Adriatic coast depend only on tourism. Of course first and foremost, we must respect ourselves, our culture, history and heritage, as well as every tourist who has come to the destination. Because if not we respect ourselves, others won't respect us either, will they? Guests spend their money from which the locals at the tourist location live all year round. Respect and a smile is the least that guests should receive in return.

This is the biggest responsibility of the local tourist board. The preparation of the new season as well as the development of the tourist destination cannot take place only within the office of the tourist board. I don’t know exactly how many tourist boards do tourist tours for their citizens, but I’ve noticed two. The Tourist Board of the City of Vinkovci and the Tourist Board of the City of Split organized tourist tours with guides for their citizens with the aim of getting to know the local tourist offer offered by their destination. This should be the practice of all tourist boards with continuous education, communication and joint interaction with their citizens and tourism workers in the community.

From communication, smiles on the face, greetings, quality of service, interaction and everything from the first to the last contact of the guest with the destination - this is the final tourist product made by people. The greatest value of a destination is precisely the local people because the city is not made up of walls, but people.

Tourism is the people.

Goran Rihelj, editor-in-chief @ HrTurizam.hr

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