The Dark Side of Croatia’s Tourism Boom

Hotel Ambasador

During the 1960s, a number of tourist facilities were built in the village of Plat, located just six kilometers from Dubrovnik Airport, which had just opened in 1962. Spread out over three sandy beaches and surrounded by pine and cyprus trees, the facilities were part of a state-owned company and resort called “Hoteli Plat”. Besides the hotels, the property had two outdoor swimming pools, two tennis courts, and two pavilions.

Hotel Plat (now Hotel Orphee) opened in 1968 and immediately became a magnet for tourists. So the decision was made to build a larger Hotel Plat in 1972. It was referred to as “Hotel Plat II” until its name was changed to Hotel Ambasador a decade later. The new hotel had nine floors with 302 rooms, each with its own view of the Adriatic. Guests remember that it was extremely popular during the 1980s, when it always seemed to be fully booked through the summer.

Shortly after Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, the two pavilions, swimming pools, tennis courts, and Hotel Ambasador were all badly damaged in an offensive by the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA). They’ve sat empty ever since. In 1999, Hoteli Plat Plc. renovated Hotel Orphee, which had been spared any major damage, and still receives guests today – half of whom are French.

The Croatian government is seeking investors for the state-run Hoteli Plat, Plc. Last year, the company’s total liabilities were 26,694,382 euros, and in the early stages of bankruptcy. However, as Zeljka Krhac, senior advisor at the Agency for Investments and Competitiveness told Balkanist, the bankruptcy settlement procedure “allows their [properties’] takeover through a proposal of a restructuring plan.” Though it seems like it will be a tough sell, some consider the beaches in Plat the best hidden beaches in Croatia.

Next Page: Motel Plitvice 

Lily Lynch

Lily is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Balkanist Magazine. She lives in Belgrade, Serbia.

  1. this is an old stuff but I believe a things haven’t changed or improved one bit. Nor it will. In a way I am glad that Croatia “independent” state will never regain its old glory, in tourism.
    You probably do not know but majority of tourists from Yugoslavia’s era were the Yugoslavians themselves. Looking back and comparing with the wealthiest western country we had high standard of living and…and we were self-sufficient. Until…until a fascists have emerged and created puppet states in the Balkan.
    So, fascist Croatian Gov. is involved in speculative scheme rather than in development, no different a case from Greece, or any other country were American foot contaminate pristine soil.

    By the way your story about Haludovo is probably the CIA story just as was promised ICI’s petro-cemichal complex on the same island.

  2. What’s happening in Croatia has happened all over the Former Yugoslavia. The old state run hotels, now privatized by the old elite, continued a form of faceless mass tourism, oblivious to the changing needs and expectations of the modern traveler. There demise was bound to happen. Luckily for Croatia the internet has given the traveler access to homestays and bed and breakfast run by some of the most friendly and warm people in the region.

    It’s doom and gloom for the old and bloom and boom for those who offer accommodation locally. In communities where they have lived and continue to live. In the long run, I believe these small to medium sizes tourism business will turn out to be a much more sustainable and responsible than their big state and corporate run counter parts.

    So while there are many derelict former hotel structures scattered around the Adriatic coast, local communities and the traveler have come together and creatively addressed this issue of demand and lack of accommodation. This to me is positive and worthy of further analysis. Let the Dinosaurs disappear, and let’s stop using tax payer’s money to make a few rich.

    What we should be doing is helping local communities throughout Croatia create better places where people want to live and to visit.

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