Croatia is one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations with an estimated 11.8 million tourists having visited the country in 2015. When discussing the tourism situation in Croatia, the cities of Dubrovnik and Split tend to be focal points. Dubrovnik has particularly gained great interest after being selected as one of the locations where the hit TV series “Game of Thrones” was filmed.
Where is Bakar?
The small town of Bakar has never featured in tourism-related discussions. A quick check in the town’s history can explain why Bakar has never been a point of interest for tourists. Despite having major roads passing through the town, extremely few tourists were interested in visiting Bakar. During the Second World War, the town was converted into an Italian concentration camp, and soon after the war, a large coke factory was set up in Bakar which heavily polluted the town. However, it was after the factory was shut down in the late 20th century that the true beauty of the town was revealed.
Lack of Accommodations a Hurtle
In 2013, the town had no private accommodation facility and visitors had to share the 18 beds present in the town. However, the town has experienced a tourism renaissance in the past two years. In 2017, Bakar achieved what global cities can only wish for, a 95% increase in tourist arrivals while overnight stays increased by an unprecedented 80% compared to the same period in 2016. Accommodation facilities have come up with about 70-holiday houses and apartments being built which has led to the increase in the number of beds from 18 in 2013 to over 300 in 2017. Figures posted in Total Croatia News, a Croatia-based website show that in the first eight months of 2017 the town of Bakar received 2,169 tourists and recorded 13,446 overnight stays. 879 visitors arrived in August alone which was an increase from the 829 reported in the previous month.
What Has Caused the Spike?
The spike in tourist numbers is attributed to the tireless efforts of the Tourist Board of Bakar which has effectively used the internet to market the town to international visitors. Tourists visiting the town for the very first time are amazed by the picturesque beauty of the town which is a photographer’s dream. The old part of Bakar is home to one of its most distinct structure, the Frankopanian Castle. The castle is so well preserved that it is hard to believe that it was built in the 16th century. Other points of interest are the 12th century Parish Church of Saint Andrew the Apostle and an ancient Turkish house built in the 14th century.
Benjamin Elisha Sawe is a writer based in Kenya. He holds an MBA from the University of Nairobi.