Dubrovnik could have a new tourist attraction soon, an aquarium. The City of Dubrovnik has been holding a series of working meetings this week around the preparation of a new aquarium in the Port of Dubrovnik, in the suburb of Gruz. To assist with the realisation of the aquarium the city held a meeting with the vice president of the consulting company ConsultEcon from Massachusetts, Mr. Robert E. Brais. The meeting was also attended by the mayor of the Californian city of Monterey, Fred Meurer.
Monterey, a sister city of Dubrovnik, boasts one of the world's best aquariums. Monterey Bay Aquarium was built in 1984 and records around two million visitors annually. "The first years of operation of the aquarium, we were expecting 500,000 visitors, and we actually had 2.4 million visits," said Meurer. He added that over the years the aquarium, which has both an entertainment and scientific component, has become a major contributor to the economy of the city and its surroundings. “The aquarium is certainly the best thing that has happened to the citizens of Monterey. And Dubrovnik's history is closely tied to the sea. Why would you not tell that story?” concluded Meurer.
Robert E. Brais has worked on the development of many of the world's top aquariums, among which he highlighted the one in Lisbon built in 1998. “Aquariums offer excellent opportunities for the community, give a strong impetus to the economy, but also to education and the preservation of the sea and the coast,” said Brais. The potential for the development of the new aquarium, which will present all the diversity and beauty of this part of the Mediterranean, is certainly high. “Now we are at the beginning of this project and to realize it requires the cooperation of all parties on the local but also on a national level,” concluded Brais.
The mayor of Dubrovnik, Andro Vlahusic, commented that it is difficult to compare anything in Dubrovnik with the Old City, the historic walls and the cultural and historical heritage of the whole, but he reiterated his position that the proposed aquarium would act as a new tourist attraction. “By 2020 Dubrovnik can expect 5 million overnight stays and over two million visitors from cruise ships so new attractions are required,” concluded Vlahusic.
They also discussed the idea of dividing the aquarium into two separate tanks, one dedicated to Croatian waters and the other to the Adriatic and the Mediterranean. It is estimated that an investment of around 250 million Kunas for the construction of the new aquarium and therefore European Union funds will be necessary.