The Dark Side of Croatia’s Tourism Boom

Hotel Pelegrin

Hotel Pelegrin was designed by the young Sarajevo-based architect David Finci in 1963. The hotel’s architecture drew considerable acclaim in the 1960s, netting him several awards, but the design holds some fascination for contemporary critics as well. In the Croatian architectural magazine Oris, contributor Darko Latin noted that Finci’s style demonstrated “a certain detachment from the tradition of modernism.”

“Hotel Pelegrin is especially outstanding,” he added.

The 419-bed hotel was originally part of the Kupari holiday resort for the military elite of the JNA, but began welcoming foreign tourists, mainly from Northern Europe, in the early 1980s. During the Siege of Dubrovnik in 1991, the JNA shelled Hotel Pelegrin repeatedly, and the damage is still very visible today. After the attack, the hotel was used as a temporary shelter for serviceman in the Croatian Army.

Hotel Pelegrin, along with Hotel Kupari, Hotel Grand, and Hotel Gorcina, are all part of the state’s Kupari-Srebreno project, an estimated 200 million euro package investment in “high-end tourism development”. As Zeljka Krhac, senior advisor at the Agency for Investments and Competitiveness told Balkanist, “It’s a real estate project that includes a combination of land sale and right to build”. And while the land is premium, located just seven kilometers from Dubrovnik’s Old Town, there has been little interest over the years.

Next Page: Hotel Kupari

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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