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Popular tourist destination wants total suitcase ban as travel surges post-pandemic

A popular Croatian city plans to introduce new rules that will ban tourists from dragging suitcases in the Old Town as residents complain about the racket it causes during peak tourism season. 

“They will leave their bags at the designated point, and we will, of course, for a fee, bring their things to the address where they will stay,” Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Frankovic told Croatian newspaper Jutarnji List. 

“This is just the beginning, the ultimate goal is to create a logistics center within the airport, after which all the luggage will be to driven Dubrovnik visitors from [the airport] directly to the guests’ addresses,” he added. 

Dubrovnik, a seaside city with Renaissance architecture, draws millions of visitors every year, with a peak of 1.5 million in 2019 and just over one million tourists across 2022 as tourism rebounded with the end of significant pandemic restrictions, according to The Dubrovnik Times.

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Suit case ban

Tourists walk through the old town in Dubrovnik, Croatia.  (Robert Michael/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The city has seen a 32% increase this year over the same period in 2022. The city saw a significant bump in visitors after it served as the setting for King’s Landing in the Game of Thrones TV show. 

The surge of tourism also brought with it several new problems that locals had either forgotten about or had previously overlooked: The racket of wheelie suitcases on the cobblestones of the Old Town. 

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Suitcase ban Dubrovnik

A traveler pulls her suitcase at the central bus station in Zagreb, Croatia, on August 4, 2022.  (Denis Lovrovic/AFP via Getty Images))

Frankovic has introduced a fine of $288 (264 Euros) for anyone who drags their suitcase in the area – a step toward a wider ban on suitcases across the city that will start in November.  

The local government has started developing a system that would require tourists to deposit their suitcases outside the city for transport directly to a hotel or other local address by courier, after which they would not be allowed to carry their suitcases around the city center. 

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tourism surge pandemic

A view of the Old City of Dubrovnik, called The ‘Pearl of the Adriatic.’ (Karol Serewis/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“Our city needs order, and after all, since I became mayor, I am constantly at war with someone,” he added, explaining his efforts to introduce new rules for tourism as part of the “Respect the City” program. “A little with souvenirs, a little with builders, a little with restaurateurs.” 

A wider “Respect the City” program introduced by the Dubrovnik Tourist Board asks tourists to keep their pets on a leash, to stay off monuments and to wear shirts when walking around. 

Tourists will see a roughly two-minute-long video about the “Respect the City” measures on their flight or cruise ship before arriving in Croatia. Only Croatia Airlines currently shows the video, but the Dubrovnik Tourist Board is also in talks with other airlines to show it. 

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