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article imageParty chaos in Croatia: Time to stop The Yacht Week on Hvar? Special

By Paul Bradbury     Jul 10, 2014 in World
Hvar - Petitions from Komiza and Palmizana, unanimous council decisions against The Yacht Week, and a guest helicoptered to Split hospital: is party tourism in Croatia threatening to destroy its cultural and natural jewels?
The return of the hugely successful party business The Yacht Week to some of Croatia's top natural and heritage sites is once again causing local friction, with residents of the idyllic natural paradise of Sveti Klement near Hvar the latest locals to complain about the drunken excesses being imposed on them, in a petition sent to the Mayor of Hvar Town on July 7, 2014, a petition which is available online in English.
Sveti Klement, also known as Palmizana, is one of the jewels of Croatian tourism, a natural paradise which has attracted the rich and famous for decades, taking advantage of its unique offer of nature, tranquility, stunning bay and great gastronomy away from the prying eyes of the media.
Continuing the tradition of relaxed tourism on Palmizana  which was started by the Meneghello family...
Continuing the tradition of relaxed tourism on Palmizana, which was started by the Meneghello family in 1906.
Meneghello Archives
Palmizana is also home to the main ACI marina which services one of the country's elite destinations, Hvar Town, whose recent visitors have included Beyonce, Ellen de Generes and Tom Cruise. The marina is used as a sailing base for the increasing party tourism for which Hvar is gaining an international reputation, particularly by The Yacht Week, and the collision between the two is having devastating effects on Palmizana, and threatens to destroy its elite tourism entirely.
The two types of tourism could not be more different. Dating back to 1906 when the Meneghello family started tourism on Palmizana — an island which then had no electricity or water — the destination has become known as one of Croatia's great escapes and is often promoted as such in the international media. Dagmar Meneghello, the current owner, is an established cultural icon, and her lifetime's work to develop Palmizana as a place of culture, tranquility and natural paradise was recently acknowledged with her being awarded the Maison de Quality 2014 award.
Actress Elke Sommer on holiday at Palmizana in the 1960s.
Actress Elke Sommer on holiday at Palmizana in the 1960s.
Meneghello Archives
After 49 years on the island, her life's work on the idyllic island is now under threat, with the huge increase in party tourists mooring on the island already driving away the luxury famous guests who were once attracted to Palmizana for its peace and nature. Digital Journal spoke to her daughter, Tarin, who said:
"Different celebrities from Italy are our personal friends, like Armani and Missoni, Flavio Briatore with family and Bernie Ecclestone, and they are not coming to the ACI marina Palmizana anymore because of the situation they experienced in the marina last year."
Michael Schumacher was one of the celebrity guests in 2012  who are drawn by the privacy and tranqui...
Michael Schumacher was one of the celebrity guests in 2012, who are drawn by the privacy and tranquillity of Meneghello, where the paparazzi are banned.
Meneghello Archives
By contrast, The Yacht Week is a young and highly successful business, which has become the symbol for many of Croatia's party tourism. It is an extremely professional operation, which offers its young guests a week of sailing, sun and partying with like-minded tourists along top destinations on the Croatian coast and islands.
Part of the successful business of European Travel Ventures, which has also done much to improve heritage tourism on the island of Vis with its renovation and running of the historic Fort George, The Yacht Week is an excellent concept, but one which an increasing number of locals are insisting is in the wrong location and is threatening other types of tourism.
The exclusive Hvar waterfront  as seen from Restaurant Gariful  which is next door to the after beac...
The exclusive Hvar waterfront, as seen from Restaurant Gariful, which is next door to the after beach parties of The Yacht Week
Ivan Gospodnetic
Ivan Gospodnetic is the owner of Restaurant Gariful in Hvar Town, an eatery placed by Giorgio Armani in the world's top seven restaurants. Located directly next to the The Yacht Week after beach party at Carpe Diem in the centre of the waterfront of the historic town (which is also home to the oldest public theatre in Europe, the birthplace of organised tourism in Europe in 1868, and on the only island in the world with four UNESCO heritages), he had this to say:
"I am not against fun or partying in general, partly because I am young and I like to have fun myself, but the biggest problem is that the party is taking place in the middle of the town's waterfront from 17:00 to 20:00 with about 500 loud people who arrive already drunk."
The spectacular view of the Pakleni Islands from the Spanish Fortress.
The spectacular view of the Pakleni Islands from the Spanish Fortress.
Restaurant Gariful
"This is at the same time as our non-partying guests — young families, elderly people and so on — are also trying to relax and enjoy the same space, but they cannot. The problem is not just confined to the time of the party, and the even bigger issue is what happens after the party, as these intoxicated young people walk around town totally disorientated and with very anti-social behaviour, before some of them fall asleep in the street, only waking when they need to vomit or urinate.
"Just imagine how that looks to people on the luxury yachts, moored up on the waterfront which people are calling the new St. Tropez.
The Hvar public theatre was built in 1612. and is the oldest public theatre in Europe  less than 100...
The Hvar public theatre was built in 1612. and is the oldest public theatre in Europe, less than 100 metres from the after beach parties.
"There is definitely a place for party tourism in Hvar Town, but events such as these should not be held in the centre of town, and they should be a lot more controlled, so that our non-party guests can enjoy this fantastic island without being exposed to this behaviour. Hvar is becoming — wrongly — known as a party destination, and if it continues like this, older guests will stop coming."
To get a better understanding of The Yacht Week in action on Hvar, watch the video below, which starts on the boat, then continues at Carpe Diem next to Gospodnetic's restaurant.
One of the most prominent figures on the Hvar nightlife scene is German businessman Wolfgang Schulze-Boysen, who in his twelve years on Hvar created the original Apres Beach parties at Carpe Diem and whose concept and implementation of a beach bar project catapulted Hula Hula into lists of top ten beach bars in the world. Schulze-Boysen, now working on a new project in Austria having met investors on Hvar, said:
Hvar is famous for its natural beauty  including its lavender fields  and it hosts a lavender festiv...
Hvar is famous for its natural beauty, including its lavender fields, and it hosts a lavender festival each June.
Romulic & Stojcic
"Apart from the fact that I would never give my place exclusively to a group — the day a regular guest could not come would be a killer — Hvar does not need The Yacht Week. If the bosses of The Yacht Week were running the island of Hvar, they would kick themselves out. This is not emotion, but a rational conclusion.
"The Yacht Week is great for some islands and places in Croatia, but is it DEFINITELY counter-productive for Hvar. Apart from reducing the quality of tourist coming to Hvar, the quality of the guests on The Yacht Week is also going down. There is no question that The Yacht Week is getting bigger, but bigger does not always mean better.
"The Yacht Week is an extremely good concept, superbly run. It doesn't need Hvar, and Hvar certainly does not need The Yacht Week."
These views are shared by all members of Hvar Town council, which voted unanimously to move The Yacht Week party out of the town centre. Despite the unanimous vote, their decision has not yet been implemented by the mayor, Rino Budrovic, and efforts to find out why at a recent council meeting (listen to the YouTube clip below, in Croatian), came to nothing.
The council met again yesterday (a meeting attended by Digital Journal), but as the Palmizana petition arrived after the agenda had been set, protocol dictated that the petition could not be debated, and councillors were allowed one question on the subject, to which Mayor Budrovic promised to contact the Minister of Tourism and ACI Marina.
Dagmar Meneghello  right  one of Croatia s leading cultural icons  receiving the Maison de Qualite a...
Dagmar Meneghello, right, one of Croatia's leading cultural icons, receiving the Maison de Qualite award.
Meneghello Archives
Local friction is not confined to Hvar and Palmizana. After reporting the first party on Hvar recently, Digital Journal was contacted by Dubravka Bogdanovic, a resident of Komiza on the neighbouring island of Vis, who explained by email of their problems with The Yacht Week and attempts to stop it:
"The petition by the people of Komiza, where they point out regular disturbance of the public order, pollution of public beaches and enduring damage to the environment was delivered on August 22, 2013 to the responsible ministries, the city government as well as parts of the local administration of Komiza.
Meneghello is a unique natural paradise on the island of St. Clement.
Meneghello is a unique natural paradise on the island of St. Clement.
Meneghello Archives
"The petition immediately received a response from the Ministry of Tourism as well as the Ministry of the Interior and due to their combined initiative the representatives of the regional police in conjunction with the local police station of Vis announced informal talks with the mayor of Komiza and asked her at same time to initiate an urgent meeting of the assembly for communal prevention. The meeting took place at the September 20, 2013 where also representatives were invited.
"The verdict of the assembly was that anchoring of party boats organised by The Yacht Week has to be moved to a place where they will no longer be able to have a negative effect on the people of Komiza, its guests and the other, unrelated boats that are anchoring for the night.
"The City assembly also unanimously decided on October 10, 2013 that the boats of the above-mentioned guests have to be moved to another place.
"The Ministry of Environment and Maritime Transport committed their services to prepare an appropriate response for the anchoring problems mentioned in the petition.
Hvar is famous for its quiet  idyllic beaches. The stunning bay of Dubovica is regarded as one of Cr...
Hvar is famous for its quiet, idyllic beaches. The stunning bay of Dubovica is regarded as one of Croatia's top beaches.
"July 2014: Neither the city government, the mayor, the public company "Nautical Center," the port authority or the tourism association have done anything to enforce the unanimous decision of the city assembly so that we don't have to go through Season 2014 with the same or even worse problems like the fights and other conflicts that took place in the middle of the riva in front of all our guests during the season of 2013."
Despite the local protests, the partying continues, and several local sources reported a young female guest of The Yacht Week was sent to Split in an emergency helicopter from Hvar two days ago after she stopped breathing due to alleged substance abuse.
The conflict is perhaps best illustrated in the destination description by The Yacht Week itself, which describes the peaceful and picturesque resort of Komiza on its official website:
"Untouched and charming Komiza is a small fishing village located on the western bay of Vis sland. Its picturesque houses and beautiful front are filled with restaurants." The Yacht Week's contribution to this tranquil idyll? "Around the corner from the village you will find the beach club where we arrange an open air party right by the water. The DJ stops when the last person leaves the dance floor…"
While it is clear what The Yacht Week gains by offering such a location, it is a little more difficult to ascertain the benefits of party visitors to a destination which sells itself on peace and tranquility.
Digital Journal contacted The Yacht Week for comments, and subsequently spoke to CEO William Wenkel, who agreed to a full interview which has just been published.
More about the yacht week, hvar, Croatia, party croatia, komiza
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