After the current director of the Zadar Tourist Board, Ante Rados, resigned, in the middle of the season, which is certainly frivolous and unprofessional, the Zadar Tourist Board announced a competition for a new director of the Zadar Tourist Board, which ended yesterday.The competition states that the candidate must have at least three years of work experience in the field of tourism, have completed at least a specialist graduate professional or graduate university study, make a proposal for its work program of the tourist board for the next calendar year and speak at least one foreign language.But in the whole story all this is less important, as well as diplomas and various recognitions, etc.… the only thing that matters is concrete market experience, knowledge and vision of development. What someone has done so far, what projects he has worked on and led, and practical market experience. Of course, in the whole story we should talk about market development and market processes, not political functions, but it’s all up to us. Do we want market and strategic development or status quo and inertia. We are either growing or stagnant, ie we are losing pace with the competition.Iva Bencun: Guests want to feel the Mediterranean way of life, they want to be relaxed, they want to feel welcome. You’re going to have a hard time giving it to them if we personally don’t live it.Iva Bencun from Zadar, the owner of the company Feral Tours and the organizer of the Zadar Outdoor Festival and the president of the Association of Adventure Tourism at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, also applied for the competition. In a conversation with Iva Bencun, we talked about the current development of tourism in Zadar and what is her vision of development if she comes to the helm of the Zadar Tourist Board.Do you think that you are the right person for the position of director of the Zadar Tourist Board and why?I certainly don’t think that I am the only person, but that I certainly have the knowledge, experience and, above all, the will to deal with the problems that this job brings with it. Throughout my working life, I have worked in a variety of jobs in tourism; I was an escort, I worked in a boat rental company, and in my agency I work with hoteliers, private renters, caterers, other agencies, and various tourism service providers. In addition, I am fluent in 4 foreign languages, which means that I get first-hand information from tourists about what they like and what they resent about us. The recent launch of the Zadar Outdoor Festival project is also a great school for me, where I realized how much good can be achieved by proper communication with people; Finances are not always crucial – if you have people you can run, willpower and perseverance is the key to success. I think that all of the above is a prerequisite for a good job as a director of the Tourist Board.What would you change in the tourist offer of the city of Zadar? Would you return the concerts? Everyone is complaining about the offer this year, that there are no real concerts and entertainment, ie enough content that is crucial?The City of Zadar has a very good Tourism Development Strategy for the period 2016-2026. year on which a large part of the tourist program can be based. Namely, we must be aware that we are not a concert destination. Even if you organize the best band in the world (if you can pay for it of course) the question is whether guests would come to your city just for that. And if they did, how long would they stay? We are a tourist destination; all future tourists come primarily for vacation, and then to have the opportunity to have fun and learn something during that vacation. So, if it is primarily a vacation and an escape from everyday stress, then you must first and foremost make sure that the whole city and the whole region functions in a way that does not add to that stress.How are you going to do that?To keep the city beautiful and clean, to solve the parking situation with quality (we know that the stress is the strongest), to kindly welcome your guest and patiently explain everything to him, to provide easy access to information via websites, on site, via info-places; even through students who will walk around the city and provide the information needed by the guest. If you have provided easy arrival and access, not only to the guest, but first of all to the local population, then the kind approach of the local population will make the guest feel welcome, and only after that the guest will enjoy listening to the concert, exhibition or play. Guests want to feel the Mediterranean way of life, they want to be relaxed, they want to feel welcome… You will find it difficult to give it to us if we personally do not live it..And how will we live it if the arrival of tourists makes our lives worse because we can no longer find a parking space ; if most of the city stinks of rancid oil; if you can’t walk down the street from the barns that inevitably widen, motivated by demand and the fact that the “rush hour” lasts 2 months?Zadar, like most tourist destinations in the last couple of years, has recorded a large increase in arrivals and overnight stays, is Zadar for mass tourism or should we control this mass and load on all the city’s disputes and raise the quality? Zadar, as well as Croatia, should develop quality, not mass tourism. It has already been shown that better quality facilities have fewer holes, guests are more satisfied, the service is charged more, and it is provided with less stress. Yes, the city of Zadar can have many more quality programs, concerts, exhibitions, festivals, gastronomic events, but they do not have to be megalomaniacal; they just have to be smaller, more intimate, more “homey” and widespread throughout the year. Zadar has a lot of people with quality ideas, but they do not come to the fore, or do not even respond, believing that it is all already intended for someone else. Unfortunately, this is the attitude in most things and situations where some new solutions could be offered. It seems to me personally that this was the first thing that started to change in tourism. Increasingly, I see capable individuals who have come to positions from which they can change things, and I have to admit that I like the direction in which they are moving.Photo: Pixabay.comSo what would you do first as the director of the Zadar Tourist Board? You certainly would not be in a position to determine parking spaces.Of course not; fortunately the strategy clearly foresees who is in charge of what. However, what I could do is communicate about these issues along with colleagues who are in charge of those things. The first thing I would do was invite all stakeholders in tourism in the city of Zadar for an interview. So, both hoteliers, and representatives of private renters, caterers, agencies, tourist guides… I think it would be fair to first invite them, introduce themselves, and invite them to cooperate. Make a “brainstorming” where everyone could say what problems they face and present their suggestions so that we can all solve the same problems together. You know the old “Two heads are smarter than one”. It seems to me that communication is something we always have problems with; without the synergy of the group one person can hardly achieve any significant results..Tourism is very complex and complementary; if we intend to do it properly we need to live it..And the clerk at the post office or bank or in the city administration must be aware that he is indirectly benefiting from tourism. If we manage to achieve this only then will we have success in tourism.How do you see Zadar in terms of tourism in 5 years, what is your vision of development if you will be the director of the Zadar Tourist Board? Zadar is a city that is extremely pleasant to live in. It is not too big or too small. It is spatially nicely distributed and every part of the city is easily and in a short time accessible. The traffic is also very well connected, the roads are excellent, we have the port of Gaženica and the airport. All this gives the possibility of development in several directions. My opinion is that Zadar should continuously work on quality; everything done so far is going in that direction. We definitely need a tidier city, we need more accommodation, but I’m not for big resorts; small boutique hotels with a couple of larger hotels of world-famous chains would significantly increase the city’s offer. In addition, I still believe that Zadar and the whole region is ideal for an active vacation and should work in that direction. In a very small area, in an environment of only half an hour drive we have an incredible wealth of nature..sea, islands, rivers, mountains .. All this allows frequent outdoor stays which guests are increasingly looking for, and this type of guests comes out of the main months of the season. Zadar is developing more and more in terms of gastronomy, which means that we have a nicely rounded package of offers. Together with the whole region, it has the potential to attract guests for much longer than 3 days, which is currently the average stay of tourists in the city. We need to work on connecting all activities and better informing the guest. At the same time, we need to work on additional programs throughout the year and continuous airlines; promotion should be done in the markets from which people travel throughout the year. In winter we have an ideal climate for guests from the Scandinavian market, and now in the representative office in Stockholm we have a person from Zadar who knows the region best. If we work smartly and manage the development of the city, I think that in 5 years Zadar will be one of the most desirable cities to live in Croatia, and tourists will feel and appreciate it.Whatever the Tourist Board decides, I sincerely hope that this time the profession and experience will prevail, ie common sense, the main question is: Do we want market and strategic development or the status quo and inertia?We are either growing or stagnant, ie we are losing pace with the competition. We need professional people who have practical experience, and we need to deal more with market development than politics. Politics is one thing, and the market and market development are quite another. Ultimately, if we do not deal with tourism strategically and sustainably, then we are where we are – we have a short season, low tourist consumption and we chronically lack quality content and offer. We are not for mass tourism, but we must offer quality and diversity of offer and content. Greece and Turkey are not and should not be our competition, and the biggest competition is ourselves.So it’s all up to us, we have it all, even too much of it, and it’s just a question of whether we’re going to take advantage of it and be who we are. Let’s be who we are, it has to be our main tourism product, not strive for standardization and be bad copies.
Home Tinon Iva Bencun: The first thing I would do if I were the head of the Zadar Tourist Board invited all stakeholders in tourism for an interview, because without the synergy of the group, one person can hardly achieve any significant results