The phrase ‘too much of a good thing’ springs to mind with Dubrovnik. The popular Croatian city and filming location for HBO’s Game of Thrones has become a victim of its own success in recent years, and its newly elected mayor is about to make it much harder to visit this Adriatic gem.
TV has a huge ability to influence where we holiday that should not be underestimated. When ITV’s Love Island went viral earlier this year, thousands pulled out their passports and booked flights to Mallorca, hoping for their own holiday romance.
The Netflix hit Narcos, based on Colombian drug-lord Pablo Escobar, has helped put Medellin on the map, while Channel 4’s Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls is responsible for a flurry of bookings to the same island off the coast of Panama, where 10 people were left stranded for two weeks.
Since Game of Thrones launched in 2011, fans of the series have flocked to the medieval town of Dubrovnik, or King’s Landing as it’s known on the show. Last August saw record numbers – as many as 10-and-a-half thousand visitors per day – according to The Telegraph.
It seems Dubrovnik’s local government has finally had enough. Mayor Mato Franković wants to limit the number of tourists to just 4,000 people per day, even though UNESCO, which made Dubrovnik’s old town a World Heritage Site in 1979, recommends 8,000 as a sustainable figure.
His two-year plan, included in a letter to Blaz Pezo, the Head of the Port Authority of Dubrovnik, includes cancelling cruise-ship stops to the city. In it Franković wrote: ‘the situation is, in the truest sense of the word, unsustainable, and pressures on the historic core at peak traffic times, especially at the end of the week, when over just a few morning hours in the city, more than 7,000 people arrive, does nothing good in terms of preserving Dubrovnik’s monumental heritage, not in terms of security, nor in terms of visitor experience.’
The newly elected mayor has decided to tackle the endemic problem of mass tourism head on, and doesn’t care who he offends. ‘I am not here to make people happy, but to make the quality of life better,’ he said. ‘Some of the cruise lines will disagree with what I’m saying, but my main goal is to ensure quality for tourists and I cannot do it by the keeping the situation as it is.’
‘We will lose money in the next two years — a million Euros maybe, by cutting the number of tourists — but in the future we will gain much more,’ Franković told The Telegraph. ‘We deserve to be a top-quality destination.’ So if you’re thinking of visiting the scene of Cersei Lannister’s ‘walk of shame’ or the House of the Undying, you’d better get their quick!