The British daily newspaper The Guardian became intrigued by life in Dubrovnik, now without the constant daily crowds and murmurs of foreign visitors. Streets once filled with the clatter of suitcase wheels now resonate with children’s’ voices, while less crowded tourist attractions now provide an intimate experience and give the impression of being in your own backyard, they add.
But vacationing in your own city, that is now a bit more empty than usual, has a very high price, because the absence of foreign tourists is felt in the local economy. “It’s bittersweet,” said Vesna Čelebić, a local tour guide in Dubrovnik who had just finished her fifth tour this season, when normally she would have done over a hundred up to this point.
Living in a city through which thousands of visitors pass daily while enduring the relentless arrivals of cruise ships and the clatter of helicopter tours overhead, can be pretty exhausting for the local people. But the pandemic brought these everyday scenes to a sharp and full stop.
“At the moment it’s wonderful,” Čelebić said. “The Old Town is definitely the place that the locals reclaimed once again. Now you see a lot of kids riding bikes and playing football in some of the public squares, you hear the locals again. You actually hear the local language.”
This situation has shown how hard it is to maintain a healthy balance between attracting tourists and catering for local residents. “Tourism should be a pleasure, not only for those coming in but also for those staying in and residing in the city,” she concluded.