Mass tourism threatens Croatia’s ‘Game of Thrones’ town

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This Sept. 4, 2018 photo shows the old town of Dubrovnik from a hill above the city. Crowds of tourist are clogging the entrances into the ancient walled city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as huge cruise ships unload thousands more daily. (AP)
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People observe the walled Old Town of Dubrovnik in Croatia, on September 1, 2018. (AFP)
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In this Sept. 7, 2018 photo, tourists walk through Dubrovnik old town. Crowds of tourist are clogging the entrances into the ancient walled city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as huge cruise ships unload thousands more daily. (AP)
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In this Sept. 7, 2018 photo, a cruise ship sails off as another one is moored in Dubrovnik. Crowds of tourist are clogging the entrances into the ancient walled city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as huge cruise ships unload thousands more daily. (AP)
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Tourists stroll in a street as they visit the center of Dubrovnik on August 6, 2018. (AFP)
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In this Sept. 7, 2018 photo, tourists walk through Dubrovnik old town. Crowds of tourist are clogging the entrances into the ancient walled city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as huge cruise ships unload thousands more daily. (AP)
Updated 21 September 2018
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Mass tourism threatens Croatia’s ‘Game of Thrones’ town

DUBROVNIK, Croatia: Marc van Bloemen has lived in the old town of Dubrovnik, a Croatian citadel widely praised as the jewel of the Adriatic, for decades, since he was a child. He says it used to be a privilege. Now it’s a nightmare.
Crowds of tourists clog the entrances to the ancient walled city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as huge cruise ships unload thousands more daily. People bump into each other on the famous limestone-paved Stradun, the pedestrian street lined with medieval churches and palaces, as fans of the popular TV series “Game of Thrones” search for the locations where it was filmed.
Dubrovnik is a prime example of the effects of mass tourism, a global phenomenon in which the increase in people traveling means standout sites — particularly small ones — get overwhelmed by crowds. As the numbers of visitors keeps rising, local authorities are looking for ways to keep the throngs from killing off the town’s charm.
“It’s beyond belief, it’s like living in the middle of Disneyland,” says van Bloemen from his house overlooking the bustling Old Harbor in the shadows of the stone city walls.
On a typical day there are about eight cruise ships visiting this town of 2,500 people, each dumping some 2,000 tourists into the streets. He recalls one day when 13 ships anchored here.
“We feel sorry for ourselves, but also for them (the tourists) because they can’t feel the town anymore because they are knocking into other tourists,” he said. “It’s chaos, the whole thing is chaos.”
The problem is hurting Dubrovnik’s reputation. UNESCO warned last year that the city’s world heritage title was at risk because of the surge in tourist numbers.
The popular Discoverer travel blog recently wrote that a visit to the historic town “is a highlight of any Croatian vacation, but the crowds that pack its narrow streets and passageways don’t make for a quality visitor experience.”
It said that the extra attention the city gets from being a filming location for “Game of Thrones” combines with the cruise ship arrivals to create “a problem of epic proportions.”
It advises travelers to visit other quaint old towns nearby: “Instead of trying to be one of the lucky ones who gets a ticket to Dubrovnik’s sites, try the delightful town of Ohrid in nearby Macedonia.”
In 2017, local authorities announced a “Respect the City” plan that limits the number of tourists from cruise ships to a maximum of 4,000 at any one time during the day. The plan still has to be implemented, however.
“We are aware of the crowds,” said Romana Vlasic, the head of the town’s tourist board.
But while on the one hand she pledged to curb the number of visitors, Vlasic noted with some satisfaction that this season in Dubrovnik “is really good with a slight increase in numbers.” The success of the Croatian national soccer team at this summer’s World Cup, where it reached the final, helped bring new tourists new tourists.
Vlasic said that over 800,000 tourists visited Dubrovnik since the start of the year, a 6 percent increase from the same period last year. Overnight stays were up 4 percent to 3 million.
The cruise ships pay the city harbor docking fees, but the local businesses get very little money from the visitors, who have all-inclusive packages on board the ship and spend very little on local restaurants or shops.
Krunoslav Djuricic, who plays his electric guitar at Pile, one of the two main entrances of Dubrovnik’s walled city, sees the crowds pass by him all day and believes that “mass tourism might not be what we really need.”
The tourists disembarking from the cruise ships have only a few hours to visit the city, meaning they often rush around to see the sites and take selfies to post to social media.
“We have crowds of people who are simply running,” Djuricic says. “Where are these people running to?“


‘Colors of Saudi Arabia’ forum kicks off in Riyadh

The forum includes seminars on the latest technology in the fields of photography and filmmaking. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 12 December 2018
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‘Colors of Saudi Arabia’ forum kicks off in Riyadh

  • Increased number of categories and awards will motivate local filmmakers
  • The efforts made by the SCTH to enhance the contest will help strengthen national tourism and inspire youth to take part in introducing the Kingdom’s many fascinating sites

JEDDAH: A forum highlighting the Kingdom’s cultural and natural heritage will be held between Dec. 12 and 16 at Riyadh’s International Convention and Exhibition Center.
The ‘Colors of Saudi Arabia’ forum, now in its 5th edition, will be held under the patronage of Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH).
The forum spans 15,000 square meters and is expected to attract over 30,000 visitors, including celebrities and innovators.
Awards will be handed to the winners of the forum’s photography and short film competitions, as well as the Prince Sultan bin Salman Award for Photography, during the opening ceremony by Prince Sultan himself.
“The forum has been given a makeover with the aim of increasing visitor numbers and interaction,” said Abdullah Al-Murshid, SCTH vice president, adding that the commission recently increased the number of categories and awards given during the contest in an attempt to motivate local filmmakers to shed light on the Kingdom.
“The move only inspired more people, even from neighboring Gulf countries, to enter into the photography contest, which will garner three finalists in each category (with the exception of the tourism film contest, in which only one winner will be selected per category). There will also be an additional voting contest held exclusively for Saudi photographers.”
Forum committee and jury members had received hundreds of photographs and video clips from both amateurs and professionals hoping to enter into the competition.
“The efforts made by the SCTH to enhance the contest will help strengthen national tourism and inspire youth to take part in introducing the Kingdom’s many fascinating sites, monuments and scenery,” added Al-Murshid. “This may, in turn, inspire regional heritage cultivation and documentation efforts.”
This year, the Saudi Film Council (SFC) partnered with the SCTH to offer a group of intensive photography and filmmaking training courses held by American and Australian trainers.
The forum, which will be held every day between 4 and 10 p.m., includes seminars on the latest technology in the fields of photography and filmmaking, specialized programs, a daily short film theater, and an educational program of workshops and daily lectures.
The forum’s educational agenda also includes discussion sessions focused on filmmaking and film production, which are conducted by 30 local and international experts.
Al-Murshid explained that the SCTH would hold mobile exhibitions throughout the year in various cities across Saudi Arabia.
Photographers and visitors can register online and find more information at www.colors.sa