What to say about Brela that hasn't already been said? This beautiful little town at the western edge of the Makarska Riviera is well known to everybody who wants to enjoy a relaxing vacation. About the last "corona summer" season and how she sees the success of the destination, we spoke with the director of the Brela Tourist Board, Valentina Medic Vitkovic.
"The shortest but most demanding tourist season is behind us."
The tourist season is behind us, how did you and your office deal with the new situation? Do you think that Makarska Riviera has responded well to new challenges and problems?
At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, this year's tourist season expectations were minimal, almost non-existent. However, at the beginning of July, when the Croatian borders opened for tourists, the situation changed significantly and fast. In the end, we can be satisfied. A total of 54% of tourists were registered in Brela compared to last year, hotel accommodation reached about 30% of overnight stays, while household facilities were 70% full compared to last year.
"Investing in the quality of accommodation and the overall offer and its diversity is the key to success."
We believe that the coronavirus is the only reason for the drastic drop in overnight stays and visits to all destinations. Do you think that, under normal circumstances, this would be a record season for Brela as well?
I'm not inclined to the term "record season." The season would certainly be as successful as any other in normal conditions. It's not just the numbers that measure the success of a season unless you want to go for a steady and continuous increase in accommodation capacity. And an uncontrolled increase in capacity "destroys" the price and quality of living. What should be important to every destination is that the guest feels satisfied and feels that he has received the expected value for his money. Investing in the quality of accommodation and the overall offer and its diversity is the key to success.
"Communication with guests is more frequent via social media than via e-mail."
How important is online promotion? Brela seems to be, along with Makarska, the most active on social media. Does activity on digital media contribute to the popularization of the destination?
It means a lot these days. Brela is present on the social networks Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, through the pages "Brela" and "Brela Events". There is also a YouTube channel that works somewhat differently from social networks. Direct, fast communication with guests is important. Guests appreciate it. Suffice it to say that we received a lot more diverse inquiries from guests via Facebook and Instagram than via e-mail. People trust social networks because they have a direct insight into the destination
Brela will continue to be present on social media. There is also joint advertising with hotels that we have been conducting for years, as well as with the Central Dalmatia Tourist Board. Also, cooperation with the CNTB, which is in the phase of establishing the tourist information portal Croatia.hr for the project Croatian Digital Tourism, but also with other marketing agencies.
Considering that we still record significant numbers of visitors at the Biokovo Skywalk, what's your comment on this new tourist attraction, and did the guests in Brela show additional interest in the Biokovo Nature Park?
Biokovo Nature Park has always been attractive. With the opening of the Skywalk, Biokovo got another attraction, and of course, the interest in mountain excursions increased!
We guess that the tourist office have been further burdened by guest inquiries about the coronavirus, how did you provide information to those interested?
This year has been the most demanding so far as renters and guests are concerned. There were a lot of rules, often quite incomprehensible to most, changes on a daily basis that we tried to follow and pass on information to everyone who asked us to. I don’t think anyone who contacted us was left deprived of information no matter what the issue was about. We are aware that people have a lot of questionnaires in this chaotic situation and we have tried to make it as easy as possible for them. We regularly contact our renters and guests via e-mail, in person, in the office of TZO Brela, but also on social media.
The fact is that some years will pass by before tourism returns to normal, especially when it comes to organized travel. The focus should be shifted to nearby "car destinations" for some time.
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See you in Makarska Riviera! #HomelandOfSummer