Diaspora Tourism & War Documentary

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Diaspora Tourism Conference to be held in Zadar

Tanja Trošelj and Marin Sopta (Zrinka Lušić/VOC)

The Organisers of the Croatian Emigrants Congress have a new project to announce – the International Conference Diaspora Tourism – global and national perspectives, which will be held in Zadar between June 29th and July 2nd. Experts and scientists from around the world will convene to share their know-how and experiences, and develop new understandings and approaches regarding diaspora tourism.

There is no doubt that Croatians living abroad significantly contribute to the Croatian economy. The UN and the World Bank have published figures showing that Croatia has a cash influx of over 1 billion euros coming from its emigrants each year. However, the conference committee chair Marin Sopta says that those financial funds don’t represent the only potential the diaspora has to offer and there are more reasons why Croatia needs its emigrants.

“Therefore, we decided it was time to discuss the perpetual question of diaspora tourism. Although a trending topic around the globe, this topic in Croatia is yet seen yet as something of great potential for Croatian tourism, while organizations such as the UN’s WTO share figures that show diaspora tourism to be a trending niche. WTO estimates that this segment of tourism will grow by 8-15% by 2020″, said Sopta.

Countries that work hard to maintain close relationships with their emigrant communities, such as Israel, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain offer fantastic examples Croatia needs to follow.

“I am very optimistic about the conference. We are quite confident, based on the preliminary reaction naturally, that more than 100 participants will take part at the conference. We are determined to have the best scientists and experts participate. The aim is to learn from these countries. We need to hear about their experiences and policy toward their emigrants.”

Diaspora tourism focuses on the study of art, culture, folklore, sport, and pilgrimages among other things. Sopta noted that such panel discussions had never been held before in Croatia, and that the conference will provide the perfect opportunity to hear about new experiences in diaspora tourism, not only in terms of its promotion, but also in terms of cultural tourism, music, folklore, theatre and other events.

“We will cover Sports and Health tourism also, and naturally investments in this trending niche”, said Sopta.

Marin Sopta, who calls himself an enthusiast, returned to Croatia from Canada in the early 1990′s and believes Croatia has slowly but surely begun to recognise the importance and true potential that it’s Croatian communities abroad have to offer. The international conference – Diaspora Tourism: global and national perspectives is jointly organised with the Centre for Croatian diaspora studies, the Institute for Social Sciences Ivo Pilar and the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies. It is sponsored by the State Office for Croats abroad and the City of Zadar.

How Croatia Was Defended

Just this past week, the DVD edition of a documentary series aired on Croatian Television last autumn, from October to December, was presented in Zagreb. Called Kako je obranjena Hrvatska  or in English “How Croatia Defended Itself” – the 12-part series documents the initial phase of Croatia’s war to defend itself and its newly-declared independence in the latter half of 1991.

One of the series editors, Vlado Brnardić, the chief of documentary production at Croatian Television, and its writer, Tomislav Šulj from the Croatian Homeland War Memorial Documentation Center, spoke to our reporter Edo Bosnar about why the series was done. They both also stressed the relatively short time in which the series, consisting of 12 hour-long episodes, was made, and the positive feedback they received from viewers, including many war veterans.

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