Formerly sleepy Hvar accepts tourists and the money they bring, but it’s cracking down this summer on rowdy revelers and ‘party tourism.’ (Visitors, keep your shirts on.)
HVAR, Croatia — The bucolic island of Hvar has a new, slightly threatening message to welcome this year’s tourist throng: Behave, or else.
Men, keep your shirts on in town, warn posters on prominent public display around the sun-swept island’s main town — or risk a fine of 500 euros (nearly $600). No drinking, eating or sleeping in public spaces (700 euros, about $825). Similar messages are embedded in the informational video shown on the ferry from the mainland, and featured in leaflets distributed along the pier.
“We are genetically disposed to tourism,” said Riki Novak, mayor of the island’s main town, also called Hvar. “But this party tourism is not something that we asked for. It’s not something we wanted.”
The island, with a permanent population of about 11,000, was for decades a beloved watering hole for the summer yacht crowd and global celebrities. After abandoning the British throne for the woman he loved, King Edward VIII and his paramour stopped by for a swim in 1936. Jacqueline Onassis visited, shortly after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, as did Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Tom Cruise, Orson Welles, Bono and dozens of others over the years.
Most Read Stories
But the mayor and other residents say those glittering guests have recently been nudged aside by party boats, all-night clubs and hostels full of wobbly backpackers, changing the character of the island.
Tourists were responsible for an estimated 700,000 overnight stays on Hvar last year, plus another 200,000 day trips, putting millions into the local economy on a wave of tourism that has been growing from 7 percent to 10 percent each of the last five years. The first seven months of 2017 showed a 20 percent increase in visitor arrivals over the same period last year and a 10 percent increase in overnight stays.
“We have a problem that a lot of our longtime guests, who came with their yachts and rented the big villas, don’t see themselves here anymore,” Novak said. “They are finding other versions of Hvar elsewhere.”
While still fairly serene during the day, the town can become a swarm of public drunkenness, partial nudity and endless din late into the night. Eight years ago, there were no youth…