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article imageThe Yacht Week: Sodom and Gomorrah returns to Hvar in Croatia

By Paul Bradbury     Jun 13, 2014 in World
Hvar - Home to the origins of organised tourism in Europe and the only island with four UNESCO heritages, Hvar welcomes back The Yacht Week.
With the tourism season on Croatia's premier island of Hvar in full swing on June 12, 2014, there was an additional influx of young tourists in the early evening, as controversial party business The Yacht Week sailed into town for the first of what promises to be many drunken parties in the centre of the island's exclusive waterfront.
The Yacht Week is an extremely successful business, built around a simple concept of youth, alcohol, sailing and parties, and the company has enjoyed exceptional growth in recent years. As a way to spend a week in the sun for young people, the concept is ideal, but there are questions about the benefits of host destinations, with the debate raging particularly fiercely on the island of Hvar.
Known as the sunniest island in Europe, with four UNESCO heritages, the world's top naturist beach, and a quality wine tradition dating back some 2,400 years, Hvar also boasts the oldest public theatre in Europe and claims the origins of organised tourism in Europe with the founding of the Hvar Health Society in 1868. Its exclusive waterfront is often called the new St. Tropez, and celebrity visitors who sail in with mega-yachts include Roman Abramovich, Bernie Ecclestone and Bill Gates.
A successful tourism island, then, with more than enough to attract quality guests, but an island which has recently become branded as one of the world's top party destinations, despite having only two nightclubs.
The incessant promotion of Hvar as a party destination, coupled with its outstanding natural beauty, has made it a 'must-see' destination, and as Croatia revels in its new image as a cool party and festival destination, businesses are cashing in on the Hvar brand.
The first Hvarday of The Yacht Week 2014  which is already causing local friction.
The first Hvarday of The Yacht Week 2014, which is already causing local friction.
Two of the most high profile of these are The Yacht Week and Ultra Europe, a massive electronic music festival which will be returning to Hvar for its beach party next month, once again disrupting the peak season in this supposedly exclusive resort, as up to 5,000 party-goers will be taking part in the final day of Ultra Europe Beach Party in the swimming pool of the island's top family hotel, Amfora.
The most controversial business in recent years, however, has been The Yacht Week, which has held after beach parties in the centre of town from 17:00 to 20:00 at leading bar Carpe Diem, before its drunken guests are left to roam the town until 1 am, when the night partying action starts on neighbouring Carpe Diem Beach.
The view from Gariful  Hvar s most exclusive fish restaurant  and a view which could be perhaps enjo...
The view from Gariful, Hvar's most exclusive fish restaurant, and a view which could be perhaps enjoyed by Giorgio Armani, who named the restaurant in his top seven in the world.
The situation was so bad last summer, that Hvar was famously compared to Sodom and Gomorrah in the national press, and newly-elected Deputy Mayor Fabijan Bronzovic declared that The Yacht Week would not be back in 2014.
Not only is The Yacht Week, which made its first appearance yesterday, back, but it would appear with greater frequency, and with an additional party in the afternoon before the after beach party. According to the official The Yacht Week website:
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
"This year the excitement of both crews and skippers has been heightened by the introduction of the party on the Crew Boat which ferries both crews and skippers from Palmižana Marina to Carpe Diem Bar in Hvar. There is a serious debate among skippers whether this party is in fact better than the after beach party in Carpe Diem."
The timetable for 'Hvarday' is advertised thus:
0900 – Wake up followed by ham and eggs, double espresso and an orange juice
1000 – First beer and toast to fellow crews and skippers “Have a happy Hvarday”
1000 to 1330 – Mingling between crews on TYW dock, sharing drinks and amusing stories of the week
1330 – A queue starts forming on the dock outside the Crew Boat for the infamous party
1430 – No one is left on the TYW dock, everyone is in the queue waiting with slightly nervous anticipation
1500 – Doors to the Crew Boat Party open
1530 – Crew Boat leaves – people who’ve made it onto the Crew Boat observe (with a slight sense of schadenfreude) the people who were too late walk back to the boat
1730 – Crew Boat Party finishes – everyone pours onto Hvar’s palm-lined riva and into Carpe Diem Bar
1730 – 2000 – TYW becomes the tourist attraction of the afternoon on the riva
2000 – Everyone grabs a bite and recuperates for what is to come…
0100 – Suitably revived and refreshed, guests hop on taxi boats leaving for Carpe Diem Beach Club
0800 – TYW survivors eventually make it back to the boat for a well deserved sleep
The island of Hvar and the Pakleni Islands are among Croatia s most popular tourist destinations.
The island of Hvar and the Pakleni Islands are among Croatia's most popular tourist destinations.
Romulic & Stojcic
While it is easy to see the attraction of such a party schedule for young people, the benefits for an exclusive destination such as Hvar Town are questionable at best. A source within Carpe Diem told Digital Journal that such parties can bring in up to 200,000 kuna a night (US$35,000), although the amount coming to the town from that sum is minimal.
Residents want change, including Katia Zaninovic Dawnay, a member of the Hvar Town Council, who had this to say when interviewed by Digital Journal:
The oldest public theatre in Europe  dating back to 1612.
The oldest public theatre in Europe, dating back to 1612.
"We had the town Council session on Monday, 9th and there was a fierce debate on Yacht Week, as the Councillors unanimously voted against the Yacht Week in the town centre back in January, and the Mayor was supposed to execute that decision. However, as you can see he has not... he told us further on the meeting on Monday that he has allowed it, but all must be according to the law. That would mean no speakers in the open air, and no loud music that can be heard outside the premises. Today there were at least four camouflaged speakers (covered in grey material in the picture above), and the noise level outside was in excess of what is permitted. So the Mayor now has an easy choice to make, send them out of town as they have no intention of obeying the law."
(The Yacht Week discussed at the Hvar Town council meeting - in Croatian - on June 9, 2014).
Ivan Gospodnetic, owner of the island's most exclusive restaurant Gariful, which was named by Giorgio Armani as among his top seven eateries in the world, is a next-door neighbour to Carpe Diem. A popular and enthusiastic promoter of Hvar and global publicity of the island, he had this to say in a recent interview with Digital Journal:
The historic Arsenal building hosting an all-too-rare banquet. On the first floor of the building is...
The historic Arsenal building hosting an all-too-rare banquet. On the first floor of the building is the Hvar theatre, the oldest public theatre in Europe, dating back to 1612.
"The Yacht Week is another brand, and on one hand I am happy that Hvar is one of their key destinations, as it is good promotion for the island. But on the other hand, it is not something we should be having in the centre of town. I have heard that there will be four After Beach parties a week in the centre this year, which is not good. Other guests are starting to avoid coming to the marina at Palmizana when The Yacht Week is in town.
"We had a change of local government, who were elected on the promise of reducing this, but it seems that this will not happen this summer. They are new to the job and we should give them another year to see how things are, but we need to monitor the party aspect very carefully."
Digital Journal spoke to Deputy Mayor Fabijan Bronzovic by telephone to find out why The Yacht Week was back after he had so publicly announced last summer that it would not be. Bronzovic stated that although that had been the decision last year, subsequent meetings had taken place in which it was agreed to allow The Yacht Week back, as long as they stayed within the law, including sound pollution.
The observations of Councillor Zaninovic Dawnay of yesterday's events, coupled with the inability to implement the council's unanimous decision to ban The Yacht Week, which does little for the premier tourist destination apart from tarnish its luxury image, raises the question which is often whispered, but never spoken out loud:
Who is actually running the island of Hvar?
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