Do you know what the most popular profession in Dubrovnik this season is? The answer can be found on every step of your day as you walk around the city. Villas, houses, cellars, shops, flats in high-rise buildings, all with blue signs outside with yellow stars and the inevitable mark of Wi-Fi. The rooms and apartments of private renters from April to October are the most sought after commodity among tourists with both deep and shallow pockets.
Every metre, no centimetre, of usable space is used with renters counting on a quick summer profit with which they will safely enjoy the colder part of the year. Following this philosophy, in 2015 the number of beds in private accommodation in Dubrovnik increased to at least 15 thousand, while analysts have also calculated that the private rental business in Dubrovnik makes up a third of every household.
Some people of Dubrovnik have left their well-paid jobs to jump into the private accommodation business, others are renovated the family estate with swimming pools, others have opened rural ranches with traditional local food...while hotel companies are looking for ways to respond to the unfair competition from the private rental business, tourism experts warn of potential hazards. The economic crisis is still ongoing. A wave of refugees is circulating in the Western Balkans. The threat of global terrorism is omnipresent. And tourism is sensitive to even small shocks. It would be enough that someone threw a firecracker on the Stradun and the resulting panic would see the tourist season perish. Although tourism professionals praise the rise of private accommodation as a positive indicator, it is true that it says a lot about the lack of a strategy which could easily backfire.
I am one of the very few citizens of Dubrovnik who is still resisting the temptation of renting privately. I live in an old mansion overlooking the Old City, and many friends and acquaintances have urged me to renovate it and rent it out to guests. I respond with “maybe one day.” And then, of course, take no action. It seems that I am not "genetically predetermined" to rent. I don’t even like staying in private accommodation when I travel. I always prefer to choose a little more expensive hotel than a cheaper warehouse three days ride away from the historic centre. The unfortunate thing is that I feel like a minority in my own city. Just like Tom Cruise in the sci-fi movie Minority Report. Dubrovnik is running out of balance in the accommodation offer. But that's a problem for another film script.
Text - Gabrijela Bijelic