The official tourist board slogan The Mediterranean as It Once Was
has recently been retired, and the latest sign that Croatia is embracing new types of tourism appeared in a regional news portal
on January 29, 2015, with news of the launch of the first Croatian travel agency for swingers in the Dalmatian capital of Split.
According to the report, Split tourist agency director and occasional swinger Marija Aniballi, decided to launch Open Mind Holidays
offering sailing tours for naturist, gay and swinging clients after years of living in Germany.
"People want the freedom to enjoy themselves on holiday, away from prying eyes," she explained to Digital Journal over coffee in her smart Split office yesterday. "Croatia is famous for its naturist tourism, which started with a British king (Edward and Mrs Simpson in 1936) asking to swim naked on the island of Rab.
"With the beauty of the Adriatic, people should be free to express themselves with like-minded people. According to research, there are more than one million swingers in Central Europe, and we want to offer them a quality holiday in a relaxed environment, where they can enjoy the company of a small group of like-minded couples."
Grouping gay, naturist and swinger cruises into one might seem opportunistic, but Aniballi insists that the tours offered will be very specialised to the relevant groups.
"Swingers will not just sign up for any holiday. There has to be an element of trust, and I have been active in the global swinging community to help build that trust. It is one of the reasons I have no problem publishing my picture on the website, for example. The tailored tours we offer will offer our clients freedom, privacy and discretion.
"The needs of gay tourists are obviously different to those of swingers, and we realise that there are a large number of gay tourists to Croatia each year. Croatia, and particularly Dalmatia, is somewhat conservative in this respect, and we believe there is a market for gay tourists to enjoy quality cruises on the Adriatic which offer them sufficient privacy."
While it is undoubtedly true that the current tourist offer does not sufficiently cater to the needs of swinging and gay tourists, the launch of the agency is bound to raise a few eyebrows in this staunchly Catholic country, which made global headlines with what was seen as a referendum on gay marriage in 2013
, with some parts of Dalmatia voting 98% in favour of the amendment to the constitution.
The Open Mind Holidays swinger cruises, which will take place on a tour of Split and the islands of Solta, Vis, Brac, Hvar and Korcula, are scheduled to begin in May this year.