The Tourist Board of Sinj in the heart of Central Dalmatia is one of the most progressive tourist boards in the region. Director Jelena Bilic has been in the job about 2 years and has embraced social media and other forms of modern communication to entice tourists away from the beach, just half an hour north of Split. An interview with Jelena.
1. Central Dalmatia. Sun, beach and the pristine Adriatic. Why should tourists head inland to visit Sinj?
Tourists should visit Sinj because of its rich cultural heritage: it possesses real historical jewels – the clock tower Kamičak, Old Town Fortress, the magnificent Church of the Miraculous Madonna of Sinj, the greatest Marian shrine in southern Croatia; a tombstone Gaius Laberius built into the front wall of a house, the Sinj boy holding a ball, proof that the Cetinska Krajina Region is the cradle of the second most important thing in the world and the place where football was first played; The Archaeological Collection of the Franciscan Monastery; the Museum of the Cetinska Krajina Region, the central place of research and exhibition of its rich cultural and historical heritage; the Alka Knights Court, the former barracks (Kvartiri), today a splendid complex and the home of the Sinjska Alka, in which the Alka Museum is waiting to be opened to the public in 2015; untouched nature clear and cold waters and mysterious mountains, gastronomy, there are countless opportunities for active holidays – from hiking, horse riding, cycling, canoe safari on the river Cetina, hunting, fishing, parachuting and paragliding.
(photo by Filip Ratkovic)
2. The region north of Split is virtually unknown. What does it possess for the curious tourist?
All info about Town of Sinj curious tourists can find on www.visitsinj.com and social network: Facebook Sinj Tourist Board, Twitter Visit Sinj, Pinterest Visit Sinj and Youtube channel Visit Sinj. Mobile app Sinj Guide will be also finished before summer 2014. All info about the region north of Split tourists can also find on the brand new portal Total Inland Dalmatia with interesting blogs about events and interesting places for visiting in Knin, Drniš, Vrlika, Trilj, Imotski, Vrgorac and Sinj.
3. How do you see the profile of tourism changing in Dalmatia in recent years?
In the last 2-3 years in Dalmatia there have been many individual tourists who are booking accommodation by themselves and finding info about destinations online, mainly through Tripadvisor. The sea, sun and sand is not enough for them, they want to experience something traditional, want to be active. They are visiting islands or national parks and they do not have enough info about Inland Dalmatia which is still undiscovered. But, Inland Dalmatia also has its pioneers in tourism operating like Mustang Ranch (Horse Trails), Adventure Zagora (kayaking, paragliding, paintball); Dalmatia Explorer (Photo Jeep Safari and Cycling Tours through Dinaridic springs ) and Tourist Agency Potissimus is organizing ATV-Quad Adventure in Vrdovo.
4. Next year sees the 300th anniversary of one of Croatia’s most important events – the Alka in Sinj. Tell us more, and what plans are there to mark this specialevent and what is new for 2014?
Next year Town of Sinj is celebrating 300 years of Alka Tournament of Sinj which is under the protection of UNESCO as world intangible heritage. We are expecting the promotion of EU funded project Medpaths, cycling paths whose primary objective is the protection and revitalization of local heritage (cultural and natural) along the Adriatic coast. Another EU funded project is in progress „Our Lady of Sinj Route“ which has been approved according Programme IPA Croatia-BiH and its implementation started in 2013. The project will last for 24 months. The aim of the project is to enhance joint tourist offers based on common cultural identity in the Croatian-BiH space in order to improve competitiveness of the local tourism economy.
The pilgrimage trail The Our Lady of Sinj Route will connect Rama (BiH) to Sinj and Solin. The Town of Sinj has the support of the Ministry of Tourism for the renovation of the – clock tower Kamičak and Sinj Tourist Board is finalizing the project of installation info plates and tourist signalization supported by Croatian National Board. We will organize lots of events throughout the year, and the biggest tourist attraction will be opening of the Alka Museum.
5. It must be frustrating to be director of such a fascinating tourist region that few tourists visit? What efforts are you making to attract more people to the region?
I am are aware that the growth of the tourist arrivals should increase slowly because tourist infrastructure should also follow up, last year overnights increased 30%. We are producing promo videos, organizing events like the Rural Products Fair, The 1715 Siege of Sinj – history revival, hosting foreign journalist and bloggers, promoting the destination through social networks, distributing promotional materials through info points in Split and Trogir,developing new projects like free climbing.
(photo by Ilija Veselica)