Summer in Dubrovnik is in full swing. Hot, sweaty, and exciting. There is something going on at every corner and there are people from all corners of the world on every street. It's the city at its most vibrant. Still, I'm noticing two things this year: it seems to be even hotter than usual (good job pulling out of Paris Climate Agreement, President Trump!), and there seems to be more discontent with the local people about the state of affairs in Dubrovnik.
We locals are quick to whine about all manner of things, but this is different. There are too many negative trends affecting everyday life in Dubrovnik and people are definitely rebelling against it.
I don't want to go into specific problems more than I already did in my previous texts, but I'll tell you what I believe to be one thing that’s slowing down changes significantly. One big problem with Dubrovnik is simply that it's full of people who have no love for it. There are so many of those living, working, or even worse – owning businesses in Dubrovnik, who have absolutely no interest in trying to make this city a better place to live in. Let me be perfectly clear, I am not talking solely about people coming here to live and work from other parts of Croatia or the world. There are plenty of those who have made Dubrovnik their home at one point in their lives, who are today actively trying to better the local community. Unfortunately, there are those who were born in Dubrovnik who act as if the future of this community will not affect them at all, as long as they have enough money.
A big problem in this respect are business owners devoid of any sense of duty when it comes to working for the greater good. It's time we face up to the fact there are plenty of those around. All they want is to suck as much money out of the city for as long as they can. To do this they will use any trick in the book and break any law they can.
Consequences? Who cares? As long as they don't suffer or go to jail, anything is allowed. And they will never go to jail, because nobody goes to jail here for breaking laws pertaining to business, environmental protection, or building codes. It's Croatia that's broken, I know, but that doesn't mean we don't have to fight to make things better on a local level.
I'm a business owner. Obviously I don't believe there is anything inherently wrong with making money or even doing something just because of the promise of financial gain. My company is a work of passion, but that doesn't mean I won't start another venture in the future which will be mostly about having a profitable business. I love entrepreneurship. I believe it to be the only real way of getting this country on track (I can't say “back on track,” unfortunately). The difference between business owners or entrepreneurs I respect and those I don't is very simple to define. In fact, you can do so with only one word – honesty.
People who are dishonest in their work are those that are threatening this city and this country.
For those who fall in this category and think nobody knows about them, they're wrong. When you are an insider it's easy to recognise rotten apples in business. It shows. You can tell from their demeanour or even their office. You can read it in their promotional materials. It is visible on the faces of their employees. Dishonest people create toxic work environments and that's very difficult to hide.
What this city needs (among other things) is people who truly care about it as a living community. We need real people to work on bettering the community outside of elected officials. Nobody believes politicians will change anything for the better anyway, so why rely on them? Some of the business owners in Dubrovnik, regardless of the size of the company, need to stop acting irresponsibly and accept they have a duty that extends beyond just fulfilling the budget goals. Maybe then the public will realise entrepreneurs are not the enemy in a system that doesn’t work, but rather an important ally.
Bozidar Jukic, AKA The Restless Native, is a Dubrovnik local with too many interests to name them all, with writing being at the very top of the list. He is a lover of good food, music and film, and a firm believer in the healing power of laughter. His professional orientation is towards tourism and travel so it comes as no surprise he spends most of his time alongside Mrs. Jukic running their own local tour company. Their goal is helping travellers from all over the world get a more intimate experience of Dubrovnik and what it has to offer. To find out more about their work, visit their website or Facebook page.