Category Archives: tourism

ROI and Working with Social Media Influencers

amirandes-crete-minI have just read Skift’s latest which includes the use by tourism boards of social media influencers and my head is about to explode. In the piece the Tempe, Arizona tourism board is referenced as viewing the 2m social media impressions generated as a successful return on their investment for inviting 4 bloggers to be their guests. Let me express that I have more than a little experience, and many documented analytics to prove, that Tempe set the bar way too low.

As a first let’s understand that in 2016 tourism accounted for 10.2% of GDP and one of every eleven jobs globally, and despite our geo-political circumstances these figures are growing, not shrinking. In some markets, by example Croatia, tourism represents approximately 20% of their GDP. What’s more, because of globalization, machine learning and artificial intelligence employment for the average person will increasingly be found in the travel vertical; which makes customer care and attention-to-detail skills so important in your hiring decisions. A less than perfect cup of coffee in our social media connected world becomes an immediate, and widespread, negative review (Yvonne also shared her post on LinkedIn). So, before inviting anyone who is an influencer to visit, get your house in order (“Is your destination Instagram-worthy?”).

Next, there is an enormous disconnect between the possibilities which could be realised and the results generated largely because the right questions aren’t asked, nor have parameters been established around a visit from a journalist, blogger or social media influencer in advance. If you are the person responsible for coordinating ‘press visits’ allow me to suggest you embrace at least the following points before you decide to host anyone:

  1. The average global rate of engagement (on Twitter) is 1.6%. As influencers anyone you invite should be able to generate at least triple that (4.8%) and since they are in the very top tier of people on social media globally 6% is a very realistic objective. While previous performance does not guarantee future results you are engaging them, and their portfolio, on your behalf. It is entirely reasonable to ask to see examples of their previous work and the supporting 3rd party analytics (get as granular as you feel is necessary).
  2. Ask for references. No one has time for prima donnas (of either gender) no matter how large their following might be. It’s in your very best interest (mitigate stress levels for your organisation and those venues you will visit) to know how easy, or difficult, an influencer might be to work with as well as the satisfaction your peers had with their delivery of top quality content in real time and the subsequent results (again documented by analytics).
  3. The total number of impressions generated is a fragment of what should be part of your evaluation cycle. Unlike any other vertical, hospitality realises close to an 11% conversion rate on social media engagement (see point #1 above) making the quality of their content extremely important to your future revenues. Establish specific requirements about the content for the posts, what they need to post and how many times per day before, during and after their stay in exchange for your hospitality.
  4. Once you decide upon contracting a social media influencer to help you with your marketing efforts, it is entirely reasonable to me as I have done this for clients, to ask that they pre-market their trip to visit you. This can vary depending upon the scope of the package you have put together for the guest but a single Instagram and Twitter post each day for two weeks leading up to their visit is about right.

Transportation, accommodations, feeding (and providing beverages), spa treatments, and activities for a week can run into the tens of thousands per person and providing that hospitality needs to come with business objectives and metrics as part of your invitation. When I worked doing public relations in tech we used to use a CPI (columns per inch) metric to calculate the value of earned media against monies spent, anything above a 4:1 ROI was deemed a success. If you are spending 100,000 of whatever your local currency is (I think) at minimum you should realise a demonstrable 5:1 ROI (and yes, there are ways to measure this).

Finally, an entire portfolio of dreamy backlit views of your influencers pool or ocean-side are not going to fill your restaurants to eat your glorious gourmet food and drink the world-class wines in your cellar.  Whatever your budget might be for hosting please remember this point – their visit is not positioning them to expand their personal brands at your expense, it is about driving your incremental revenues by heightening the awareness of everything about your destination.

Post script. While the trade laws in every country will vary please be hyper-diligent about compliance issues related to in-kind and monetary payments to social media influencers. In the United States the “Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has rules in place requiring that “influencers” who share promotional materials “clearly and conspicuously disclose their relationships to brands”.”

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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#IstraKT – Commarglo – Social Media Marketing – Čarobno!

Bill Ellis, Abundance (horse chomping at its bit).

While we still deployed our pre-marketing content in concert with the previous 10 weeks’ teams, I have been like a horse chomping at its bit for the last two months waiting for “our week” of the #ShareIstria contest to begin.

The #IstraKT team (of myself and my business partner Ken Herron), set our feet onto Istrian soil 24 July. Officially commencing at 00:00:01 25 July and ending 23:59:59 31 July we planned our week (when our social media efforts would actually count toward the competition) to be as though we were actually running a marketing campaign for the Istrian Tourist Board, and not simply capturing images of our experiences as scheduled by @VisitIstra.  We also recognised that our differentiation would be in providing vastly different content on various social media platforms from those efforts we had witnessed with more about Istra herself (and no selfies!) which would hopefully be more evocative and offer greater depth realising epic amplification. To say we are pleased with the results would be an understatement. No one will know who actually won the #ShareIstria contest until the Istrian Tourist Board (ITB) announces the results on 1 September.  That expressed, we know that regardless of the outcome, we ran a fabulous social media marketing effort for the ITB and are rightfully proud of our contribution to their campaign.

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 11.52.08 amFor the time being let me share our analytics from Twitter. I feel that we should level set for anyone reading this along the lines of investment prospectus fine print, ‘previous performance is not indicative of future earnings’.

We planned for every eventuality (save for a serious lack of sleep and dropping my laptop shattering the screen on Wednesday night) and we executed nearly flawlessly. At the end of our week we had delivered a combined 3577 tweets resulting in 27,137, 344 impressions. 1321 (36.95%) of our tweets included hyperlinks, but interestingly enough the tweets with the most engagement were those which provided a convergence of old school marketing and social media. Our pic#wishyouwerehere postcard effort for the person who created the most amplification for #IstraKT team each day was a huge success – clearly there is something rather charming and nostalgic about getting a physical postcard from a faraway place which beats an Instagram hands down.

pic (1)A six-second Vine video of our liaison Goran earned over 800 views before the contest ended (and resulted in two proposals of marriage for him, he’s already happily married but was flattered) and it currently has realised more than 1620 loops.  (“Comments included “Is he single?,” “I like!!!.” and “Yummers!”)

The video from our visit to the Gustolato “Dream Lab” most clicked through for their website. We created a #loveletter video which served to wrap up our efforts in a very pretty package (even if you have never visited Istra you should cry it’s so beautiful!).

In the end, the estimated value we created for ITB is something north of $500,000.00.  Yes, we did it for the experience, for the bragging rights, to showcase what (agency) Commarglo and (tool) Outbox Pro can do, for a chance to win the €10,000, but mostly, now, we recognise that we really did all of this because we have fallen under the spell of Istra. We would like, very much, for you to take our experience and visit soon. 

If you enjoy my blog please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Pennies from Heaven, when intention and gratitude collide

I pick up pennies. I even pick up tarnished, nasty dirty pennies. “Find a penny pick it up, all the day you’ll have good luck”, my grandparents used to say this to me all the time in my childhood – for them (coming of age just before The Great Depression) a penny had value. At some point in our collective global society the penny has lost value, some of my friends think it an eccentric tick of mine, why bother, it’s a penny kind of thing.  Yesterday morning, as I headed out pennyof my place to ‘walk my errands’ and reflect upon my various blessings of the last 48 hours, I spied a salt encrusted penny on the asphalt, I picked it up, said the refrain of my youth, dropped it into my rucksack and went on my way with a knowing smile in my heart.

Regular readers of mine know that I find great joy in small things, and these will often bring me to tears. So for those of you who are new ‘to me’ allow me to express that some 10 weeks ago I unwillingly returned to the United States after spending 88 days in Croatia.  I promptly experienced epic level culture shock as well as a profound ache so deep that it feels as if nothing will ease this – save for returning. Soon.

On the morning of 7 April I was handling the Twitter accounts for a couple of my social media clients and saw that @CroatiaWeek had just Tweeted out a story about @VisitIstra having a contest to win a trip for two to explore the quietly understated, yet exquisite Croatian version of Italy’s famed (and heavily touristed) Tuscany – oh, #ShareIstria! My heart leapt in both recognition and hope.  When faced with winning such istriaa thing it’s best to have a plan and keep one’s expectations in check. My friend, my best and most consistent cheerleader, Ken Herron was who I called – immediately.  I understood that to make a success of this (on all the levels I needed to for my heart to be satisfied) that my partner must be a supremely capable marketing professional with an industrial strength social media tool kit, be a true bon vivant and someone with the flexibility of character and schedule to make this happen.  The Visit Istria ‘application’ was limited to 250 CHARACTERS.  Anyone active on Twitter will tell you that initially the platform is a challenging and painful limitation but eventually it becomes an art form to hold your communications to 120 characters including hyperlinks and photos. Even as Ken and I both Tweet with Haiku precision we were a bit flummoxed on what would get us ‘in’ as candidates with a mere 250 characters including spaces.  And so, we strategised. I took the ‘what we brought as a combined team’ and Ken picked my brain about what I knew about Istria because he was going to be certain that while playing by the rules we also wanted to demonstrate what we were bringing to the table; a sample of our value proposition as it were.  So he created a meme based on my five minute brain dump, then tweeted and added said Tweet to his 250 character application. I am sharing this in the midst of the campaign because we view our role as being active partners with Visit Istria and its sponsors.  Because I know after 88 days in Croatia three very critical points – that elements of the Croatian government support Big Oil in drilling in the Adriatic and if they are successful it will destroy the tourism sector across Croatia, and threaten Slovenia, Italy, and Montenegro in the process, that the unemployment rate hovers around 23% nationally (considerably higher amongst those under 30) and that the growth of sustainable tourism in combination with the development of a green economy is the only way forward for Croatia; where there are challenges, there are opportunities.  That this effort is the equivalent of a social media Amazing Race meets DWTS (Dancing with the Stars) and not picone of the other candidates is leveraging their candidacy to expand the brand of Istria which (in our opinion) means that the other candidates have completely missed the point of the campaign in the first place. This is SO NOT ABOUT our winning a lovely trip or the promised prize money at the end, though both are motivating factors, our role in this is about creating value for our hosts (just as we would for a client).  Our efforts began with this Tweet.

These are the metrics taken 22 days afterwards – the Tweet is still pulling RTs and impressions which benefit Visit Istria on the whole, not something specific to this contest, but against their objective (perceived, not stated, for the record we haven’t spoken to anyone on their team as yet).  These are pennies, bright shiny pennies in my view. pic2

You know what else are bright shiny pennies in the often anonymous world of social media?, votes from complete and utter strangers. Peeps and Tweeps alike with whom we have no other relationship, who often actually do lovely supportive things that even our best friends (in real life), work colleagues and our family members won’t.  People who reach out to their friends because they respect who we are, that our work provides value to them so they are most happy to ‘help with the heavy lifting’. Yesterday morning as I received message after message of “what can I do to help?” “have shared with my friends” “the website is not letting me vote” and then with the abundance of ReTweet and Favorite Tweet love received I sat humbled at my computer. In watching Ken’s and my profiles on the ShareIstria website, side-by-side for most of the morning swapping positions as most of each of our social media circles voted not just for twoone or the other of us but both of us I cried tears of gratitude. It’s largely the reason I left the house, to be bathed in cerulean skies and huge puffy white clouds, to be at one with being ‘of service’ and connected to all of the universe, to be grateful for following my messages and leaping into the void where magic happens and having a special friend to drag along with me, to find myself having made the short list of candidates to help a region of the country that I desperately wish to make my permanent home, to see my Croatian friends again, all of them, to drink thick hot chocolate with insanely gorgeous desserts, or revel in the oh-my-god most amazing gelato on the planet (BELIEVE ME – far better than the Italians can muster and without the attitude), to think about eating grilled octopus salad while quaffing the breathtaking scope of Istrian wines… oh yes so easy to pick up a nasty, wintered over penny and whisper to myself, “…all the day you’ll have good luck!”

Here are our links:

http://www.shareistria.com/candidate/teresa-fritschi

http://www.shareistria.com/candidate/ken-herron

And so I now get to introduce @kenherron to my beloved Croatia and we are the #ShareIstria team #IstraKT and you can, and should, follow us on Twitter, here on my blog, on Instagram and Facebook, Periscope et al.  We’d love your social media love, and we have plans to give away cool swag because even though we “Wish You Were Here” it’s the least we can do to include you. Join Us?

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Bio-diversity, conservation, stewardship and Croatia’s future

I love a good cry; a cry that comes from being inspired, a cry that comes from witnessing selflessness. I especially love a cry that comes from doing the right thing for our planet and taking only as much as we truly ‘need’.  At present I am sitting in a sunbeam – literally, not figuratively – high up in a valley nestled within the Velebit Mountains and 1/2 million UNSECO protected acres of pristine wilderness at The Linden Tree Retreat & Ranch. I am sitting at big square table in a snug wooden chalet that has sheep’s wool for insulation and tongue and grove knotty pine paneling on half of the flat surfaces surrounding me. Incredibly, I am ‘conventionally’ using geo-stationary satellite WiFi despite being an easy 35 kilometers from the nearest good sized town.

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Medo in ‘fields of gold’

Capercailllie

Tetrao urogallus, Western Capercaillie, Wood Grouse

It’s mid-morning but I have been awake since 3:30AM because Medo (honey bear in Croatian) was warning off something he felt threatened his property – and by extension me. Ordinary, hyper-busy, overly caffeinated people might have taken exception to have their sleep disturbed with such empathic bellowing but I got up, threw a couple logs into the woodstove, turned the lights on the front stoop and the side porch and asked Medo what was wrong instead. The lights seemed to be enough to send whatever nature was stalking its rightful land away and Medo calmed down immediately.  Harmony for the two of us even at the expense of the nocturnal wanderings of the local fauna – bobcat, two kinds of deer, privacy seeking wolves and bear, higher up Big Horn sheep, Golden eagles, owls, and hundreds of kinds of birds including Capercaillie.  So you see my day started in harmony with nature – sort of.

Linden snow

View from the side door of Dancing Moon Chalet, Linden Tree Retreat & Ranch

The mountaintops got a confectioners’ sugar dusting of snow last night because it was just cold enough – and I gather an asteroid was passing very close to the Earth, and thus, a contributing factor to the cold. The eaves are melting of their tiny icicles in the sunlight, sending sparkling droplets onto the gravel surrounding the chalet. The moment is as far away from stress and damaging our planet as can be imagined and yet, what ‘message’ I got this morning was about reinforcing the efforts of conservation and supporting a dynamic and thriving eco-system. As every effort is local – let me start here at Linden Tree. I think Bozidar Bruce Yerkovich (PhD) had a vision of containment – not his word – of creating something sublime, sustainable and self-sufficient (to the extent possible).  He took three years to find this 50 acre parcel of undulating meadows, crystal clear spring fed streams, mountains covered with hard and soft woods and over the next two years he reclaimed or rebuilt on hundred year old foundations – the Buffalo Lodge (the main building) evidently had a good sized walnut tree growing up through the space that once was a bedroom and its roof in what is now the dining room (yes re-roofed). There is more bio-diversity here (three separate micro-climates) than what can be found across all of the geo-political boundaries of Belgium. While Linden Tree has horses to ride I am content to feed them treats on occasion and have picked up their combs and brushes and lent a hand to their grooming, subsequently being rewarded with soft nuzzles and horse breath on my shoulders. I write here more than anything else but I am cooking and baking too. I am, again as I concluded my first book, in the place which William Henry Channing wrote of:

“To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion, to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly, to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart, to bear all cheerfully, to all bravely await occasions, hurry never. In a word, to let the spiritual unbidden and unconscious grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony.”

It is with great respect that I am here, nestled in this sanctuary of natural beauty in the wilds of Croatia while avarice and willful destruction tears asunder our planet.

Croatia has always had extraordinary minds (perhaps even dis-proportionately so against its teslatotal population) influencing the world at large, the most readily identifiable is the original “open source” proponent Nikola Tesla (born 20 kilometers from where I sit).  Like everywhere else in the world right now (and perhaps it has always been so) there are those who tend and those who destroy. But I prefer to resonate at a higher frequency of possibilities – based upon mutual benefit and respect, and those ideas of such lofty aspirations generated by individuals who, like Tesla, continue to believe in the value of sharing, and of altruism.

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Gyps fulvus, Griffon vulture, in flight.

Incredibly there are those threatened by bio-diversity, by conservation, by those, who in giving so freely of themselves set an example to emulate.  The extraordinary breadth of nature to be found here should serve as a model for the rest of the world but those others wish to destroy – short sighted financial gains at the peril of this beautiful country.  I recently was introduced to the nearly singular, internationally acclaimed efforts of Dr. Goran Sušić to protect the last known population of Griffon vultures in Croatia (on the Adriatic sea-side of the Velebits). And I would like to I invite you to read (and share) this fabulous piece written by Marija Tegovska for Green Fudge on the native wolf population.  Both could use financial support, and volunteers so I am providing links to both should be so inclined.

We are perilously close to the point of no return. According to the Center for Biological Diversity 99 percent of all species threatened in this sixth cycle of mass extinctions will be as a result of human activities.  In this tiny corner of the world for the span of time against all of history equal being equal to a single grain of sand in an hourglass falling I am awed by the commitment offered by Bruce, his wife Megi and all the volunteers and staff who give so much of themselves to help the rest of us appreciate what is truly important.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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The only oil that goes with a Croatian bikini is olive!

German translation of the following here, and the Croatian translation found here, and now in Japanese here.

*** VICTORY! 22 January 2016 The new Croatian government announced a cessation of any further plans to drill for hydrocarbons in the Adriatic.

On the morning of 29 July it was announced that Marathon Oil had returned 7 of the 10 concessions for drilling for hydrocarbons in the Adriatic had been returned to the Croatian government.

In the interest of full disclosure, since writing this post in December 2014, and it subsequently going viral (nearly 125K reads in the original English version alone), I have been invited to join, and now serve the Clean Adriatic Sea Alliance as their Chief Strategy Officer.

Every link in the following post is VERY PURPOSEFULLY chosen toward education and action, I AM ASKING YOU MOST SINCERELY TO ACT on all three efforts embedded within this post (read on, don’t get caught up with the girl she’ll still be here when you finish)!

17 March 2015 UPDATE: http://www.croatia-split.com/blog/what-s-happening/adriatic-drilling-casa-replies-to-oil-agency-boss-barbara-doric.html

17 February 2015 UPDATE – the Croatian government is being sued for its illegal activities around drilling in the Adriatic. (I don’t agree with all that the HCSP stands for but…)

“This decision reacted by the Croatian Pure Party of Rights (HCSP).
Press Release signed by the President of HCSP, Josip Miljak in its entirety:
“A criminal decision of the Croatian government to announce an international tender for a fictitious oil and gas exploration in the Croatian economic zone is a crime which, if not prevented, Croatia could cost you dearly. If you sign contracts with foreign companies, a group of experts has already prepared two lawsuits, one Court for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg, ie. The UN Security Council and other State Attorney’s Office.”

If you care about the seas and oceans and clean water for all, renewable energy, the environment, cultural heritage, vacationing at the beach, water sports, sailing, boating, eating seafood, Croatia’s (or Italy’s) Adriatic and a quality of life based upon harmony with our planet in the face of greed and violation then this end-of-the-year post (originally written on 30 December 2014) is for you! No apologies, it’s a long one. I ask you to share it widely on all social media platforms. (Efforts are underway to translate it into multiple languages – hyperlinks will be offered in this paragraph as completed.)  Many thanks for an amazing year to all my readers. Sretana Nova godina, Happy New Year.

——————–

I think about consequences – all the time (including how many people I might piss off as a result of writing this, and how).  I am not (though perfectly capable to be) a corporate consultant of scenario planning. I see inter-dependencies in ways that most people rushing through their lives never consider. What stimulates me must be for a greater good, and my heart and head must find a perfect balance for me to say – YES!  A lot of things ignite my passions and expertise but for me to engage it always comes down to integrity and authenticity.  This post is about the Venn Diagram offered by the convergence of the Croatian economy, its environment and how the manipulation of European Union regulations could have a devastating and far reaching effect. This is about shortsightedness, immediate gratification for individuals and how their greed, if one thing goes horribly wrong, will destroy one of the greatest treasure troves of untouched historic, ecological and economic value in the world and the livelihoods of a people who have depended upon the Adriatic for tens of thousands of years.  This blog post is about finding a way, with all of your help (please, PLEASE SIGN THIS Change.org PETITION as well as THIS Avaaz petition and then SHARE BOTH with friends), to turn back and make things as the Croatian tourist board says, “The Mediterranean as it once was”, and keep it that way for all of us but make it better economically for Croatians.

The Travel Channel references Croatian Bikinis (a Croatian bikini, btw, way is nude) and cliff diving, and if only once everyone wants to enjoy the freedom of laying on perfect golden sand and swimming in the sea waters ranging in colour from cobalt to aquamarine naked – and Anthony Bourdain is talking about the food and how beautiful it is here, well, expect those numbers to grow. It would be an understatement to say that the impact of tourism is huge and should be amongst the greatest market segments to be cultivated in Croatia.  And yet, the right hand doesn’t seem to know what the left hand is doing here (not unique to Croatia) or they would have blocked this effort. Don’t Croatian ministers actually strategise in their cabinet meetings?

I am in Croatia because I am trying to determine if I can make this my permanent home. (Now back in the United States unhappily let me say I actually found a home in Croatia.) Save for the fact that I am here in the dead of winter, I was drawn here largely because of the Adriatic – just as some 11.5 million people who came in the summer of 2012. Put that into perspective, a narrow band of Dalmatia hosting nearly 4 times the population of the entire country within a three month (between June and August).

(Emphasis in the following is my own.)

The first page of Lonely Planet’s guide to Croatian music festivals reads:

Sonus Music Festival

http://www.sonus-festival.com/ Pag Island Croatia August 2015

“Croatia’s music festival scene is flourishing, with exciting new events popping up each summer. A lovely natural setting is pretty much guaranteed, with idyllic beaches, lakes, meadows and forest clearings hosting crowds of delighted festival-goers.”

Rough Guides best of the Croatian coast landing page reads:

When it comes to beaches in Croatia, the best advice is to head south: it’s on the Dalmatian coast where the most seductive sandy shores, pebbly coves and sun-fried rocks are to be found. Indeed all of the beaches that made our list are in Dalmatia, except for one (the bewitchingly sandy island of Susak in the Kvarner Gulf). A sizeable collection of swoon-inducing destinations has been left off this list, largely for simple reasons of accessibility: islands like Korčula, Vis and Šolta boast any number of heavenly bays […].”

Croatia has been named the #1 world travel destination on the rise according to Fodor’s. The value of tourism to Croatia’s economy (like so many things here) is subject to wide ranges of statistics – the EU says 15%, while locals estimate that it makes up as much as 40% of the entire Croatian annual budget.  Croatia’s Minister of Tourism,  Darko Lorencin, said that the first six months of 2014 totaled € 2.12 billion, which was 2.2% more than the same period last year.  Estimates put 69% of the Croatian economy coming from the services industries – things like renting sailboats, bar and restaurant trade (offering seafood from the beautifully clean waters) and yes, those taking care of all those sheets and towels. If you take words of The World Bank’s front page on Croatia’s economy as sacred, then:

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Drvenik Channel, the Croatian Adriatic, view from my balcony 30 December 2014 to where I have been swimming for the last two months.

Croatia remains an ecological treasure in Europe, with 47% of its land and 39% of its sea designated as specially protected areas and areas of conservation. Croatia boasts 19 National and Nature Parks, with some- such as the Plitvice Lakes National Park – designated as United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage sites. Croatia’s natural beauty draws in millions of tourists each year, with tourism revenues representing around 15% of the country’s GDP. Preservation of the environment is high on the development agenda and has been a requirement for European Union membership.”

BP over Adriatic

This map, provided by Richard West, shows the scope of the BP Gulf Oil Spill, aka Deepwater Horizon spill, as overlaid against the Adriatic; it wouldn’t ‘just be’ Croatia impacted but also Italy, Slovenia, Montenegro and Albania.

So, after two months of swimming in these pristine waters the fight for keeping the Adriatic clean is now VERY PERSONAL to me! WTF!? Why, oh WHY!?, would anyone think that drilling for gas and oil in these waters is a good idea? Even if there isn’t an environmental catastrophe on the scale of the (British Petroleum) Gulf Oil Spill (I wish someone would overlay the map at left against a similar one showing the whole of the Adriatic to see what might happen) from one of the ten platforms currently licensed to operate in Croatian waters, the impact on the developing film industry (Game of Thrones et al), tourism, fishing – Eurostat figures for 2013 put the export value € 115.2 million, archaeology (at the bottom of the sea) and culture, and yes, the preservation of these rare dolphins, let alone the livelihood of more than 50% of the Croatian population from even the smallest accident could be catastrophic. To which point I was just (8 Feb) introduced to the technical expertise and wisdom of Croatia’s internationally, and highly, educated Nenad Duplančić.  If you are Croat read this from Dignitea Hvar in your language, if you are from any place else I BEG YOU to use a translation tool to grasp the importance of his commentary on the proposed drilling in the Adriatic.  For the rest of you new drilling platforms have been banned in the United States since 1969 so you start to understand why (to maintain corporate earnings and salaries) multinational oil companies are looking at impoverished countries to exploit and destroy (unemployment here in Croatia is above 23%).

Barbara Doric

Barbara Dorić – perhaps someone should be checking her bank accounts?

As I see it the Ministers of the Croatian government who should be fighting this with every fiber of their collective being include: Ministry of Culture, Ministarstvo culture, Mrs. Andrea Zlatar, Ministry of Economy, Ministarstvo gospodarstva, Mr. Ivan Vrdoljak, (who SHOULD BE looking at wave, wind and solar technologies and ditching petrochemical energy altogether because as Duplančić points out this industry is near it’s logical end), Ministry of Environmental and Nature Protection, Ministarstvo zaštite okoliša i prirode, Mr. Mihael Zmajlović, Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Ministarstvo pomorstva, prometa i infrastrukture , MPPI RH, Mr. Siniša Hajdaš Dončić, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministarstvo poljoprivrede, Mr. Tihomir Jakovina and, of course, the Ministry of Tourism, Ministarstvo turizma or MINT, Mr. Darko Lorencin. So ask yourselves why a company blocked from exploration on the Italian side of the Adriatic should be given reign to do so by the head of the Croatian Hydrocarbon Agency, Barbara Doric? (Who, quite frankly, should be stripped of her citizenship and exiled to a very dirty beach for her role in promoting this debacle.)  Croatians are hardly indifferent to the beauty and life provided by their location – when so often you hear them express “who could buy this?” with a broad sweep of their arms across the vista offered by their Rivas and the Adriatic. Could it be that the Italians actually understand all that is at stake better than the Croatians?  

Saudi Arabia is manipulating the oil markets to keep the price of crude artificially low to discourage the further development and expansion of renewable energy, and with croatia nudethe established dangers of hydraulic fracturing to obtain natural gas it should be clear to everyone that petrochemicals are the very last thing that should be anywhere near a Croatian bikini.

This isn’t my country, yet I am supremely indignant about this and I hope all of you reading this are too.  Haven’t we seen enough destruction and war over the greed and insatiable consumption that comes with oil and gas? Climate change scientists indicate that a rise of sea levels will wipe out coastal communities around the world, hello? has anyone looked to see how much of Croatia’s population lives at very nearly sea level? In Europe climate change is expected to magnify regional differences in natural resources and assets. Negative impacts will include increased risk of inland flash floods and more frequent coastal flooding and increased erosion (due to storminess and sea level rise) and is projected to worsen conditions (high temperatures and drought) in a region already vulnerable to climate variability, and to reduce water availability, hydro-power potential, summer tourism and, in general, crop productivity.

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Photo source: Croatia Week online magazine

It needs to stop – now. 16 February is the deadline for open comments to the Croatian government, the form required for submission is found here.  It has painstakingly been translated into English to the right of the original Croatian so, REGARDLESS OF WHERE YOU LIVE, non Croatians who care about our seas can also submit comment. Please do! As you can imagine this fight is going to get expensive from a legal perspective, please “help with the heavy lifting” by making a contribution to the Clean Adriatic Sea Alliance.

Croatians have a real chance to set a world standard for clean energy working in tandem with the rest of their economy but it takes all kinds of people, everywhere, to put their ‘big boy and big girl pants on’ and say NOT HERE, NOT NOW, NOT EVER, and cap those wells and dismantle those ten platforms.  Join me?

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