March 12, 2018 - How to answer a question from Serbia - why is Hvar happy to tell the world about their 150-year celebration in Berlin, but hide their guilty Belgrade secret?
The Hvar 150 roadshow went on to Berlin last week, to the biggest travel show of them all, ITB Berlin, and it was very successful by all accounts.
And, unlike their last international promotion in Belgrade, both the town and the tourist board were very happy to tell the world about it, posting news of Berlin on both the official town website and tourist board Facebook page.
As it should be. Bravo, and good job.
What to tell my Serb correspondent who sent me this, and is wondering why there was absolutely no mention of the recentHvar 150 promotion in Belgrade at Klub Knjizevnika, a party which the Hvar Tourist Board has officially confirmed that they paid the travel and accommodation expenses to attend? Not a single mention of the excellent night (by all accounts, and seeing various Hvar officials dancing to Serb traditional music on the video I have seen, it seemed to be a very successful cross-cultural promotion) on any official channels.
At least not until nine days afterwards and some media questions from TCN and it became clear that we would write a story, a few pictures appeared on the Hvar Tourist Board Facebook page.
And while the Hvar Mayor was happy to give interviews on Serbian television about Belgrade guests and Hvar, not a single mention of the event in the Croatian media at all, despite the fact that Croatian tourism journalists were at the event. Similarly, although all Croatian tourist boards failed to show at the Belgrade Tourism Fair, which took place at the same time as the Hvar party, some local tourist boards managed to organise a lovely media event for 30 Serbian journalists unannounced to anyone else, so secret in fact that the Croatian National Tourist Board has officially denied all knowledge of it.
If Hvar wants to welcome guests from Belgrade, should it not make them feel welcome and treat them with the same respect as other guests?
And if Hvar does not want to welcome guests from Belgrade, why then travel at official cost and party with them, dancing their traditional songs?
If the official policy is to enjoy the fabulous Belgrade hospitality and take Belgrade tourist money, but hide any attempts to promote tourism efforts in Serbia, could we not at least be transparent about this?
I have had heard from a number of regular Serb guests of Hvar who are incredibly insulted by this approach.
Suggestions on how to respond to my Belgrade correspondent, above, more than welcome.