The Split-Dalmatian County (SDC) is one of 21 Croatian counties (of which six belong to the Adriatic region, situated in the middle part of the Adriatic coast).
SDC has a land surface of 4,540 km2 and 454,798 inhabitants (11% of Croatian population), who live in 16 towns and 39 municipalities. The population density in the SDC is 101 inhabitants per km2. Its biggest city and administrative centre is Split (with approximately 190,000 inhabitants living in the city itself, and more than 300,000 in its metropolitan area). In 2017 Split realized ca. 2.1 million tourist overnights (almost 13% of the Croatian total). The SDC consists of three micro regions: Islands, the Coastal Strip and the Hinterland. The coastal strip is a relatively narrow but very long strip between the sea and the mountains and, together with the islands, is subject to intense, seasonally oriented tourism development. The Hinterland is the largest micro-region in terms of surface (60% of total) but also the least populated (23%). It is located between the coastal strip and the border with Bosnia and Hercegovina. In terms of tourist arrivals and overnights it is less well developed (in 2017, 2.7% of the County’s overall arrivals and 1.3% of overnights).
Cultural tourism products, motivations and existing gap
Over the centuries SDC was under the influence of different religions and cultures, which became manifested in various languages, traditions and architecture. These elements represent not only tangible and intangible heritage, but also significant tourist resources. The SDC is well-known for its cultural properties inscribed on the World Heritage List: The Historical Complex of Split with the Diocletian’s Palace, Historic City of Trogir, and Stari Grad Plain on the island of Hvar (2008). The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity includes: Procession ‘Za Krizen’ (‘Following the cross’) on the island of Hvar; Sinjska Alka, a knight’s tournament in Sinj and Nijemo kolo, silent circle dance, both in the Dalmatian Hinterland; Klapa multipart singing of Dalmatia and Mediterranean diet. The analysis of the cultural tourism resources, undertaken in the Development Plan of SDC (2009), has led to the identification of approximately 40 archaeological sites, 35 urban and urban-rural entities, 160 rural entities, 80 sacral buildings, 60 fortresses and forts, around 40 castles, palaces and mansions, approximately 50 museums, galleries and collections and 50 cultural events. In addition, there is also modern cultural production, concentrated in the County’s larger cities, especially Split.
Cultural tourism strategies
The future development of the County’s cultural tourism is based on:
- Globally important cultural heritage along the coast, that has been recognised through inscription on the World Heritage List and has already become an internationally known tourist attraction;
- The huge concentration of cultural-historical heritage in urban cores;
- An enormous wealth of material and immaterial heritage in the Hinterland that still waits for its recognition and tourism valorisation.
Taking into the account the huge gaps between the Coastal Strip and the Hinterland in terms of overall economic activity, tourism and population density, through the Lab different stakeholders will be brought together to create a common vision on cultural tourism development. Cultural assets from both the Coastal Strip and Hinterland will be turned into integrated cultural tourism products.
Another goal is to develop (more) cultural tourism products in the Hinterland to diminish seasonal and spatial pressures on the Coastal Strip (especially Split and Trogir), thus contributing to the sustainability of the Coastal Strip.
For those purposes the goals of the Lab will be aimed at, among other things, reducing knowledge gaps of important stakeholders in the area of:
- Tourism and specifically sustainable tourism development;
- Strategic planning;
- Monitoring of the impacts of tourism development;
- Marketing issues (above all, how to recognize importance and how to use cultural assets in developing tourism products);
- Partnership and cooperation;
- Risk management.
Suggested activities and innovations being developed
- Bring together various stakeholders in order to create a shared vision for the development of place-related sustainable cultural tourism;
- Identify existing thresholds for successful development, specifically in terms of marketing, cultural heritage supply, ICT tools, etc.;
- Detect various risks potentially endangering cultural tourism destination’s resilience;
- Identify possible solutions for different problems occurring in the destination.
The desired innovation is a more sustainable year-round cultural tourism, connecting coastal and rural areas and thus reducing high seasonality and spatial pressures in the urban communities of the coastal strip. Another innovation is to manage cultural assets and protect them from over-tourism. Innovativeness also lies in development of a common vision of cultural tourism, based on a participatory approach.
- The SDC Tourism Board is the County/regional DMO responsible for the development and marketing of tourism in the County;
- City of Split Tourism Board;
- Imota Tourism Board is a recently founded regional tourism board covering the city of Imotski in the Hinterland and eight smaller municipalities and settlements under its jurisdiction
- LAG Zagora covers a vast area consisting of 41 hinterland settlements and on its outskirts borders with the coastal cities of Split, Trogir, Kaštela and Solin;
- LAG Cetinska Krajina consists of three cities and two municipalities with several smaller settlements in the hinterland area.