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article imageBooming Split, where tradition and modern tourism meet in Croatia Special

By Paul Bradbury     Jul 17, 2014 in Travel
Split - Split is the fastest growing tourist destination in Croatia. Digital Journal talks to Marin Boban, owner of one of its most traditional restaurants about the exciting changes in his city.
These are good times for the city of Split which has become the fastest growing tourist destination in Croatia; Digital Journal met with restaurateur Marin Boban on July 16, 2014, to find out how the changes were affecting his business.
Boban, who runs one of Split's most traditional and best loved restaurants, is ideally placed to comment on traditional Split meeting the needs of the surge of modern tourism. His family-owned restaurant has been a Split institution for more than 40 years, and his Boban Luxury Suites, now open above the restaurant, are a sign of his embracing the needs of the modern, luxury tourist.
Restaurant Boban is one of Split s most traditional eateries.
Restaurant Boban is one of Split's most traditional eateries.
Boban Luxury Suites
Once known as the Gateway to the Islands, Split was known as a transit centre for fashionable escapes such as the islands of Hvar and Brac, but there has been a transformation in the city's tourist fortunes in recent years, as guests are discovering the treasures of the Dalmatian capital, whose tourism jewel is the 1,700-year-old Diocletian's Palace.
1. Split is having a record season - how is tourism in Split changing?
Everyone who works in the tourism industry must have felt the dramatic changes that have taken place in Split in the last few years.
Split has become recognised as a must-see destination in the eastern Mediterranean and we should be proud of how our City is developing as a destination. Split has always had the special charm of an ancient city which feeds off the vibrant energy of its citizens.
Tourists love discovering our small alleys and getting familiar with our impressive historic background. Also, anyone who visits Split speaks of its beautiful beach promenade and magnificent gastronomy. Our geographic location is just perfect.
Marin Boban  who is combining traditional Split dining with modern luxury accommodation.
Marin Boban, who is combining traditional Split dining with modern luxury accommodation.
Boban Luxury Suites
If you are staying in Split for a week, there is plenty to see and do, and tourists are recognising this. Where once people simply passed through the city to the islands, now people are staying longer.
People like to be active during the day and that is where Split comes into its own. And that is the main key to our success , we are absolutely not a regular destination which just sells sun and beaches, and people are starting to recognise that.
Another big factor in our success is the sharp increase in cheap flights coming into Split, and this summer we are connected to more than 90 European cities, meaning that there are some 150 million people within three hours of Split. Important markets such as Scandinavia are now much more accessible, and Split is an ideal destination for Scandinavians looking for sun and culture. We are all very excited about the future of tourism in the city.
(Split's version of Pharrell Williams' hit Happy is a symbol of the city's success, clocking up 1 million views on YouTube in under four months)
2. Boban is one of Split's gastronomic institutions, with 40 years of heritage. How do you assess the current gastro scene in Split?
Yes ! I am very proud of my heritage, and I take that experience as a base for developing everything that I do.
I personally believe that the Split gastronomy scene was not developing as fast as in some other destinations. There has been a very marked improvement in terms of quality and diversity in the last two years, which is both exciting and challenging. We are working hard here at Boban to be among the leading lights in the revival of the gastro scene in Split.
The latest luxury addition at Boban  a heated outdoor pool.
The latest luxury addition at Boban, a heated outdoor pool.
Boban Luxury Suites
3. For many, Boban is a haven of tranquility and tradition in Firule, away from the busy Riva and Diocletian's Palace. How hard is it to attract diners to the restaurant when it is a little walk from the main tourist hot spots?
You said it yourself, a haven of tranquility and tradition, and that is basically what is the core of our restaurant business and main benefit for our clients who want to escape the madness of the city centre during the summer months.
The Split waterfront is one of the city s most picturesque sights.
The Split waterfront is one of the city's most picturesque sights.
We have a beautiful peaceful terrace which has shade from 60 year-old palm trees and our food is innovative and of the highest quality. We rarely get walk-in clients who just stumble upon us, mainly we receive clients on a recommendation from a lot of different sources. We are in every serious tourist guidebook all around the world and people trust us.
4. The luxury accommodation market is one which is enjoying huge growth in Split, and one which you have embraced. Can you explain a little more.
In 2011, we started developing a new product, Boban Luxury Suites, as boutique luxurious accommodation. We have 9 units at the moment and each one is unique, from the luxurious penthouse with a 150 m2 terrace to avant garde superior double rooms with four-star luxury. Located above the restaurant, guests are appreciating the combination, even more so with the addition of a heated swimming pool.
Boban Luxury Suites are an example of the rise in quality boutique accommodation which is becoming f...
Boban Luxury Suites are an example of the rise in quality boutique accommodation which is becoming fashionable in Split.
Boban Luxury Suites
With Split becoming a boutique destination to visit, it is natural that people will start developing their properties into luxurious accommodation units.
The choice of 4-star accommodation in Split at the moment is truly impressive and we are all working together without feeling threatened by one another.
I am very happy about the fact that Split is developing as a boutique destination without huge hotels with questionable service, where clients have the chance spend their holiday in small, cosy places which are family-run, and where they can receive unquestionable personal service.
4-star is becoming a standard in Split and that is very exciting for us, since it places us on a very high market level.
(Another million views for The Heart of Adriatic, the promotional video from the Central Dalmatia Tourist Board featuring Split, which recently won gold at the Baku Film Festival).
5. Split is booming as a destination, with many people staying longer in the city before heading off to the islands. How do you think it should develop its tourism strategy?
Split is booming indeed, and the 2014 is even better than last year. About 40 % of our clients this year are staying with us for more than 5 nights, and that is the main reference point of how Split has developed as a destination. It is very important to be realistic and to be satisfied with our current results.
There is always room for improvement, and the government needs to see that capital projects such as the eastern coast of Split is the gateway to Split becoming a leading destination in this part of Europe.
Onat Ozyurt receives the certificate of Croatia s first certified halal object from the  chief imam ...
Onat Ozyurt receives the certificate of Croatia's first certified halal object from the chief imam in Split, Vahid Hadzic. The first Turkish restaurant in the city is an example of its expanding gastronomic offer.
Ivica Profaca
Our local tourist board needs to more efficiently promote excellence in service as a prime strategy of our development, and one critical thing that needs to be addressed is that Split needs to receive more parking spots. This is extremely important for our continuing success as a tourist destination.
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