Destination Re-Assessment of Dubrovnik, Croatia

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) conducted a Destination Re-Assessment of Dubrovnik, Croatia from February to April 2023. The Destination Re-Assessment was led by Dr. Ioannis Pappas, GSTC Director Mediterranean Region and commissioned by the Dubrovnik Municipality, with the support of its Tourism Board. 

GSTC conducted Dubrovnik’s first Destination Assessment four years ago in 2019. See here for the key findings and video presentation.

Destination Re-Assessment of Dubrovnik, CroatiaDubrovnik, located on the Adriatic Sea in southern Croatia, is renowned for its distinctive Old Town, encircled with massive stone walls completed in the 16th century. Its well-preserved buildings range from baroque St. Blaise Church to Renaissance Sponza Palace and Gothic Rector’s Palace, now a history museum. Paved with limestone, the pedestrian-only Stradun (or Placa) is lined with shops and restaurants. Dubrovnik is also known for its beaches and vibrant cultural scene, hosting numerous festivals and events throughout the year. 

This historic city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, offers a unique blend of architectural styles and a rich history, making it a popular destination for tourists from around the world.

GSTC Destination Re-Assessment of Dubrovnik, Croatia

As the City of Dubrovnik has already undergone a thorough GSTC Destination Assessment in 2019, the Re-Assessment focused on selected criteria, particularly the risk areas that Dubrovnik had not previously performed and scored well. The city has since made plans to improve the low-scoring areas. The selected criteria are A3 – Monitoring & Reporting, A4 – Enterprise Engagement & Standards, A11 – Risk & Crisis Management, D1 – Protection of Sensitive Environments, D4 – Species Exploitation & Animal Welfare, and D9 – Solid Waste. In addition, the Re-Assessment includes a re-evaluation of the most critical criterion for Destination Management, criterion A1.

Destination Re-Assessment of Dubrovnik, CroatiaGSTC destination assessor, Dr. Pappas completed this re-assessment in compliance with the GSTC Destinations Criteria (GSTC-D), the global standard for sustainable destinations. The re-assessment serves as a vital instrument in gauging progress, substantiated by empirical evidence. The results and recommendations of this assessment provide insights and tangible benchmarks that contribute to the broader objectives of sustainable development within Dubrovnik as it relates to the recommended priorities among the four pillars of the GSTC-D: Sustainable Management, Socio-Economic Sustainability, Cultural Sustainability, and Environmental Sustainability.

The re-assessment consisted of an extensive desktop analysis of current tourism activities and management approaches, as well as a 4-day on-site visit involving interviews with local authorities and stakeholders to objectively verify evidence of compliance with the GSTC-D V2 Criteria.

“Conducting a Re-Assessment in a destination is a pleasure for a GSTC Assessor, evaluating the outcomes of efforts for better sustainability using GSTC Destination Criteria. Analysis shows increased scoring performance in specific criteria due to post-2019 projects. The 2023 Re-Assessment of Dubrovnik highlights the significance of the 2019 Assessment, fostering performance and project efficiency. In addition, governance addressed extant or pending matters, leading to new strategies and projects for sustainable development. It should be emphasized that a Destination Re-Assessment is crucial for gauging progress, substantiated by empirical evidence, given that a methodical approach ensures seamless and productive operation, providing indispensable insights for broader sustainable development in tourism,” said Dr. Ioannis Pappas, GSTC Director Mediterranean Region.

Key Takeaways

Based on the results of the analysis, the Re-Assessment of the City of Dubrovnik shows great importance in analyzing the risk areas that were low-performing. Overall, the criteria under consideration (A1, A3, A4, A11, D1, D4, D9) all made improvements with higher scores in 2023 compared to the 2019 assessment. 

[Comparison of 2019 and 2023 performance score of selected criteria.]

The Municipality of Dubrovnik and DURA (Dubrovnik Urban and Rural Planning Agency) have utilized the findings from the 2019 Assessment to pinpoint and implement necessary changes aimed at eliminating the risk areas. This effort has yielded significant progress. To expedite this process, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, a series of projects were promptly devised to secure funding upon resumption of regular activities. 

It’s important to recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted most consultations to digital platforms. This digital transformation has been a positive development overall and led to increased local participation in the consultation process for numerous projects.

“This document is an indicator that Dubrovnik is on the right path towards complete and permanent sustainability, which is the goal we strive for. At the same time, it is proof of the successful implementation of measures and activities defined by our strategic project Respect the City, but also by the first Croatian Management Plan for protected historical entities and recommendations from the previous GSTC report.

The first assessment was extremely important to us as a « zero point » and an indicator of where we need to step up our activities. The comparison with the new assessment and the increase from 70 to 86 percent is a result we are very proud of.

Focusing on innovation and digital solutions, identifying best practices and agreeing on priorities for future action have proven to be a successful model. An important role in this process was played by the cooperation with the CLIA organization in suppressing excessive tourism, as the City of Dubrovnik managed to reduce the crowds in the historic center in a short time.

Tourism is our main economic branch and we must continue to work on it and develop it, but always with the thought that Dubrovnik should primarily be a pleasant place for its citizens to live.” Said the Mayor of the City of Dubrovnik, Mato Franković.

The full report of the 2023 Re-Assessment of Croatia is available here

More information about the GSTC Destination Assessment is available here.

Statements expressed in this announcement are presented for informational purposes only and should not be taken as an endorsement or recommendation by GSTC, unless clearly stated.