Croatia is famous for its 130 indigenous grape varieties, and its rich and healthy regional cuisine, a gourmet paradise. No region is this truer than in Dalmatia, where the Mediterranean diet on Brac and Hvar is inscribed as intangible UNESCO heritage.
Despite all this richness, gourmet tourism in Croatia lags far behind that in Spain, France, Italy and Germany, for example. An excellent new initiative to bridge the gap took place last month. Supported by the Central Dalmatia Tourist Board and organised by the Association of Destination Management Companies of Dalmatia, 18 gourmet tour operators from 11 countries who work in other European countries but have had no previous contact with the Croatian market, were invited to come to a four-day conference in Split.
The event was two-fold. It began with three well-organised fam trips around the region, to introduce the international guests to the attractions, as well as the food and wine. The first trip was to the Cetina region, and included soparnik making and traditional singing in the Poljica Republic, a river trip along the Cetina, and a full banquet of traditional Cetina fare, including eels and frogs. Day two was on the island of Brac and started with olive picking, before a visit to Vidova Gora, the peak of Croatia’s highest mountain, wine tasting at Stina, a peka and lamb lunch, and a visit to the olive oil museum in Skrip. Returning to Split on the ferry, the evening entertainment was held at Split’s famous fish market, where a cooking show further enchanted guests with their impressions of Dalmatian cuisine.
Day three included visits to Klis and Kastela before a return to Split for the business part of the event – B2B workshops with 35 local destination management companies, looking to promote their tours internationally. Judging from the comments after the event and the lively atmosphere at the afterparty at Fabrique, the event was an unqualified success, and the first seeds of growth have been planted. You can read more about the event here.