WHY Does this MATTER?
All over the world traditions of food and craft are at risk of disappearing due to the pace, demands, and opportunities of modern life. But it's these practices that drive the cultural tourism industry and are foundational to national identity.
Governing bodies that invest in strategies to export their culture and influence the global community may have a better chance of fostering and instilling healthy cultural identity among their citizens and boosting the economic well-being of their nations. Likewise, key stakeholders in the tourism sector depend on strong cultural appeal. This strategy is known as "soft power"; the political approach of positively impacting public perception through sharing stories of lifestyle, history, heritage and values. This contrasts with typical "hard power" strategies that rely on force; employing the usual weapons of military might or economic coercion.
On the first of January 2023 Croatia became the 20th country to join the eurozone. The kuna, the local currency, has been replaced by the euro. There is expectation of an increase in European tourists following this change, and it is an indication of the country's commitment to becoming a part of the broader global community. But this anticipated increase in tourism is not necessarily welcome, as Croatia is a prime example of the damaging effects of a seasonal tourist-based economy. The coast's natural beauty and captivating history attract millions of tourists each year and bring billions of euros into the economy. But outside the tourism industry, there is little economic mobility for native Croatians, and with newfound citizenship to the European Union, billions are leaving in search of better job opportunities. The result is an unhealthy economic gap between coastal locations and rural regions, where 42.5% of the local population resides.
Rural Croatia encompasses...
- 63% of Croatia's land
- 1.7 million people
- 134,000 farms
Without a familiarity of local geography and language, travellers in their limited time default to popular tourist destinations, bypassing the unique specialities of lesser-known regions and ultimately landing them in concentrated pockets of over-tourism where authentic gastronomy gets lost in the noise. Pictured below is a classic example of over-tourism; Cruise ships drop 800,000 passengers a year to wander through Dubrovnik's Old City, where only 1,000 people live.