CHECK-OUT INTERVIEW - MIRJAM JUKIĆ
“Outdoor activities on the island of Pag are top product with a bright future.”
At the beginning of April, in our family hotel Terra in Novalja, we had the honor of hosting Mrs. Mirjam Jukić and Mr. Goran Rihelj, well-known Croatian journalists and editors of the tourist websites Turistickeprice.hr and HrTurizam.hr. We took this opportunity to briefly talk to Mrs. Jukić just before checking out of the hotel and find out their vision of our destination, hotel, and potential for the upcoming and future seasons.
Foto: Dubravka Petric/PIXSELL (Vecernji list)
1. What attracted you to our island and does the public perception of the island differ from your personal experience?
I fell in love with the island of Pag at first sight while crossing the bridge to the island. I have to admit I had a completely different perception of the island until I came and saw it. I had a great team led by Mrs. Marina Šćiran Rizner from the Novalja Tourist Board, and thanks to them I got to know all the charming secrets of the island as they directed me to interesting content, which I probably wouldn't have discovered by myself. We have told numerous tourist stories about Pag on our website and I must admit that the content is extremely popular, which is proof that Pag is an interesting destination. These posts are also read on the German, Italian, and Eastern European markets, so Pag is obviously as interesting to tourists as it is to me. I did not expect so many experiences to find on Pag, so it pleasantly surprised me. I will never forget the kayaking adventure from Ručica Bay. It’s a great route that I recommend to everyone. After hiking through the Life on Mars trail and touring the Pag Triangle, I have to admit that these trails are some of the most interesting I’ve been on, and I’ve walked the Camino and join hiking activities on a regular basis. Life on Mars is a special experience because you’ll find so many different landscapes in so few miles. A superb experience. In general, I consider outdoor activities on Pag a top product that has a bright future.
2. What potentials of the island would you list as under-emphasized?
I would say that the island of Pag has arranged its potentials perfectly. Through an excellent outdoor project, the local authority used all their potentials which are the basis for extending the season and positioning Pag as a destination for active tourism throughout the year. The new 4-star hotels elevate the entire destination in terms of accommodation quality, and the gastronomic story is growing and perfectly complementing all of the above. It is important to take advantage of this indigenous and traditional story that this island has and to communicate this richness of diversity to the outside public as a symbol of Pag.
Foto: Alan Crljenko/Turistickeprice.hr
3. Do you think that the island of Pag and the town of Novalja can achieve a compromise between family and party tourism?
Well, during the pandemic period they already proved that they have a basis for that. Party tourism is a great story that should not be avoided, it should just be controlled and subtly shaped. Novalja is not represented just as a party beach destination, and that has been proven right now. The return of family tourism, and especially active vacation through outdoor activities, is proof that Novalja is not dependent exclusively on festivals. It is now a primary goal to make all content work together and not to be mutually exclusive. I think that this is being worked on intensively and that the solutions are good according to what I read from the media and the plans of the City of Novalja. Young people will be able to enjoy entertainment during the night and join the active content during the day. It is important that the content is well-shaped and directed, and this can be a good combination and a win-win situation for everyone.
4. In the summer season of 2020, Novalja, given the global epidemiological situation, once again became a predominantly family destination. What does this tell us about tourism flexibility?
The pandemic has changed tourism and the habits of all of us. We’ll just see what “new normal” actually means. Last year Novalja got great tourism results which, I would dare say, only a few expected. And I believe that the return of local guests and families is something that will not disappear with the return of the festival seasons to Zrće Beach. Outdoor tourism has literally experienced a boom right here on Pag at this time of the pandemic, so these are changes that are positive and they should not disappear if they are being developed and worked on intensively. That is the beauty of tourism, you can always shape it up in your own way if you know what you are doing and if you offer quality choices and plan for the long term. I am convinced that the island of Pag is a destination that can offer quality content to families, young people looking for fun, and fans of active tourism. This is the biggest advantage of your destination because it does not depend on only one type of tourism, which was proven last year.
Foto: TZ Novalja
5. What would you list as the biggest advantage of Hotel Terra as a family hotel in our destination?
It’s small family hotels that have the greatest advantage at this time of pandemics. They have limited capacity and tourists are more inclined to book them because they feel safer. Unfortunately, small family hotels are unfairly neglected and I think that some legal solutions do not work for them. It is necessary to discuss these problems and solutions work with the local authority and government. Hotel Terra is a hotel where you feel like you are part of the family, at least that's how I experienced it. In small family hotels, the staff knows each guest by their name and very quickly adopts their need and habits. This is the real beauty of these hotels. When you get your coffee the first day, and the next day the hotel staff already knows your choices, what kind of coffee you drink, and what you like to consume. This creates that feeling of closeness that is remembered by the guests who will gladly return to you. I'm coming back to hotel Terra for sure next time I’ll be visiting Novalja.
6. Finally, probably the most common question during last year. What are your predictions for the upcoming tourist season and which factor should be the most emphasized?
It is a question of all questions that no one knows the answer to, because it depends on many factors that no one can influence. If last season was partially successful, then this one can and should be even better. You have the trust of guests who, during the worst times of insecurity, were not disappointed by you. They entrusted their families to you, which is the most valuable thing they have, and if you proved to be a safe destination then they will come back. Sure, the recovery of tourism will take several years and now it is clear to everyone that the turnover that everyone wants will not return overnight, but I believe that this year will be better than last. I think this year will have an interesting post-season period during September and October when the vaccination rate will be higher. The summer season will be extremely challenging for everyone, and the last-minute business model will be crucial due to the free cancellation of reservations. Whoever does best using the tools of quick promotion through the last-minute activities will benefit the most. Security will be a key factor for tourism in the next few years, that’s for sure. We have the strategic advantage of being a small country and now is the opportunity to raise the quality of products and services, but also the quality of destinations in general.