How can Croatia succeed economically without losing its culture and charm?
Croatia's islands are stunning. But as the country shares its natural wonders with the world, it faces a challenge: how to take advantage of the tourism boom without losing its charm.
With a long coastline and more than a thousand islands, Croatia has long played a vital role in the history of Mediterranean trade. After the breakup of Yugoslavia and a shift from socialism, new opportunities for the country appeared at the micro and macro levels. Today, the country has traded its mercantile past for its growing reputation as Europe’s favorite summer destination. As Croatia becomes one of the world’s most-coveted travel destinations, it must confront changing economic realities. Our this trip we explore how the country can plan a strong future and how local businesses can succeed.
We have traveled all across Croatia and to explore this topic we either start in Zagreb, the inland capital, or Split the second largest city and the coastal hub of the country. We island hop between Split and Dubrovnik to learn about regional economic opportunities, small businesses, and local lifestyles. In Korcula, the home of famed-explorer Marco Polo, we settle in and work with small business owners and local town representatives to develop our own ideas or even a pitch for the future of the island.
We love Croatia, and our deep connections in the country, and the island of Korcula in particular, make this a spectacular opportunity to see a changing country from an insider perspective.
We arrive in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital, to meet with organizations thinking about development in Croatia at a national level. Zagreb anchored the trip with a high profile introduction to the country and its history. In Zagreb we met with experts in economic development and visited local startup hubs.We also tried some amazing foods from local bakeries and a delicious Bosnian restaurant.
In Zagreb we took some time to unravel the recent history and the break-up of Yugoslavia while exploring the historical sights of this “mini-Vienna.” We encountered a different sort of innovation with a visit to the Museum of Broken Relationships.
We departed from Zagreb and drove to the coast with a stop at the stunning Plitvice National Park.
Split is the second largest city in Croatia and the economic center of Dalmatia, the southern coastal region of the country. The city is home to the famous Diocletian palace, an active part of the city and a living Roman city. In Split our group was immersed in ancient roman and post-war history while we tackled specific design and development challenges in the old palace part of the city.
Korcula town is a small island town just off the coast midway between Split and Dubrovnik. The island of Korcula is one of Croatia’s most diverse with many small towns and farms, and a very local energy. The old town is believed to be Marco Polo’s home and is a stunning walled village on the water’s edge. We spent nearly a week on the island and some highlights included:
- Researching and working with local small business owners on the island
- Becoming part of the Korcula community through local friends and projects
- Kayaking to nearby Badija island for lunch, and visiting the monastery
- A pizza dinner at sunset in nearby Lumbarda towns
- Walks and dinners with local farmers to understand the agricultural opportunity and diversity in Korcula
- An incredible Croatian Peka dinner -- meat cooked under a bell -- prepared by one of Croatia's Masterchef winners.
Dubrovnik is the pearl of the Adriatic: a spectacular walled city with narrow stone streets set on the sea. Our trip ended in Dubrovnik for one last stop to understand the changes in the country. This city is the can’t miss destination for Croatia and makes a perfect end to a trip and celebration of a successful project.
On our last night, we sat along the harbor edge reflecting on our new ideas, project ideas, and learnings about micro and macro economics apply in Croatia and around the world.
Trip Variations and Ideas
We have spent lots of time in Croatia and traveled extensively throughout the former Yugoslavia. Depending on the group we can look at this trip from a lot of different perspectives. While this trip (and past itinerary above) are great for students with an interest in economics or business we can explore Croatia and neighboring countries to deal more clearly with the identity and historical context in the region as well.
We also think digging into specific sectors, from a deep dive in growth and challenges for the Tourism sector, food and wine, start-ups or even political and structural challenges in modern Croatia we can adapt this trip for groups of all ages. From a university level course with a specific focus or credit objective to a business with key topical questions let’s brainstorm how we can help you travel to Croatia with a unique perspective.