Could Zrmanja River cruises bring tourism and life to the Obrovac region?
Aug 17, 2021 – Could river cruises in Zrmanja be the perfect way to attract foreign visitors to this beautiful but deeply neglected part of Dalmatia, and even provide jobs for the native population and encourage them to stay?
As Poslovni Dnevnik / Marta Duic writes, RiverZ could bring this part of Dalmatia to life with cruises on the Zrmanja River. Marko Dobric is a geography teacher at a local school in Obrovac and he has been thinking for years about bringing unspoiled nature closer to tourists, and this year, together with a former student, this idea has been put into practice.
“A few years ago a promenade was built along the Zrmanja, and as we passed it we wondered – why just walk along it and not take a boat? The Zrmanja river is a real one. beauty and although everything we have going on here is still in its infancy, this destination has potential.
My former student, Joso Bogatic, is the owner of RiverZ and with him I realized the idea of boats and excursions on the Zrmanja, including river cruises on the Zrmanja. I have been a teacher at the school here for 18 years, and Obrovac and Zrmanja are insufficiently marketed. It has untapped potential and we saw an opportunity in it. The starting point of our route is Obrovac, it is six kilometers from the waterfall and 11 kilometers from the mouth, ” Dobric pointed out, noting that he thinks projects and ideas like this can revive the region.
Support from local communities
This is supported by the fact that Obrovac is moving slowly with apartments, private camps have been opened, the offer is expanding and the local government is welcoming entrepreneurial projects, especially those aimed at keeping young people in the area and to help develop the destination.
RiverZ has partnered with travel agencies and their guests are mostly European guests – from Brits and Czechs to Poles. Interest in horseback riding along the Zrmanja River is increasing every day, and Dobric revealed that they have announcements of Croatian guests and team-building activities for September and October.
“Gliding is not allowed under the Zrmanja Law, so we opted for another form of sailing along it so that tourists can enjoy the beauty of the river. If you rent a boat for the whole day, you can take it to the sea and to hidden beaches that are not easily accessible from the coast. Our boats are made of bioplastic, we also wanted them to be electrically powered, but we will have to wait another two years for that, ” explained Marko Dobric.
In addition to Bogatic and Dobric, other students, past and present, are included in Zrmanja’s river cruise history, and they have all passed their ship management exams. They currently have four skippers available for hire as needed, and the boats can be chartered for three hours or all day.
Obrovac and Zrmanja started with this tourism history and the development of adventure tourism in June and invested 110,000 kuna there, more precisely 55,000 kuna per boat. Although the original plan called for four ships, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic they have decided to play it safe, but as interest grows they are already releasing their story in time for next season, and they plan to apply for EU funds.
Sustainability as an imperative
“We want to keep young people in this area and that is one of our main goals. If the season continues and the interest is the same, we will be at 70% of our investment. We have two more boats planned for next season., and our end goal is eight boats.
Our goal is not mass tourism, we prefer an individual approach and we want Zrmanja’s story to remain focused and be in harmony with nature and sustainable development, ” said Dobric. Moreover, for years, he has been organizing an action to clean up the Zrmanja river, so in this tourist story, he wants ecology to be the basis.
“When they come, all visitors are positively surprised because it is rare to have a river and a mountain and the sea, and all the major coastal towns are only an hour’s drive away. This is what we need to take advantage of it. and provide employment for young people. It is not only about tourism, but also the development of entrepreneurship, agriculture and the whole of Obrovac, ” Marko Dobric concluded.
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