Dubrovnik seeks to sharply curtail cruise tourism

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The Celebrity Reflection in Dubrovnik.

The new mayor of Dubrovnik said he is in favor of halving the number of cruise passengers arriving daily at the Adriatic port city in Croatia.

Mayor Mato Frankovic, elected in June, told London’s Telegraph newspaper that the current soft ceiling of 8,000 passengers a day should be reduced to 4,000.

He also called for limits on tour operators running day trips to the walled medieval city, which has been a Unesco world heritage site since 1979.

A 2015 Uneco mission recommended that a cap on cruise tourism be developed, and that it should not exceed 8,000 passengers per day.

The Dubrovnik Port Authority said on its website that the cap was exceeded 18 times in 2016 out of the 243 days when cruise ships called. It also said it refused 40 cruise call requests for this year.

Dubrovnik has become one of the most popular stops on an itinerary from Venice to the Eastern Mediterranean, or the reverse route. Last year Dubrovnik had 639 ship calls and handled 831,730 passengers, up 0.1% from the year before, according to Med Cruise, an association of Mediterranean cruise ports. Of those, 763,561 were transit passengers, ranking Dubrovnik behind only six other ports of call in the Mediterranean region.

Frankovic said he would like to see a “reset” for tourism, and that ship calls need to be spaced more evenly so the weekend crush is reduced.

The Unesco report said 90% of cruise calls to Dubrovnik come between May and October. And although cruise visitors accounted for only 2.5% of all visitors in 2013, “they have a disproportionate impact on the World Heritage property due to their concentration in time and space,” the report said.

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