A different kind of tourist attraction

Published in Highlights

On Tuesday 16th July, the Ultra festival descended on Hvar, whose long-suffering citizens braced themselves for the event.

Further east on the island there was unfolding a very different kind of attraction for visitors, which could show the way towards safeguarding peaceful tourism on the island. A Catholic Mass celebrated in the Polish language is probably the antithesis of the drug-and-alcohol-fuelled riotous antics of a large number of Hvar's party tourists, known locally as 'partijaneri'. Hvar Town's more moderate citizens have long been battling against the summer influx of uninhibited revellers, citing unacceptable mess and noise and indecent dress and behaviour among their complaints. The Ultra Europe event held in the 'Park Mladeži' in Split over three days and nights from the 14th of July 2019 was, by some accounts, a success with very few adverse incidents, welcomed and praised by politicians and tourist directors. However, another side to the picture also received attention in the Croatian press: public places blighted by drug- or alcohol-fuelled licentious behaviour, urination and defecation even before the Festival had begun (Slobodna Dalmacija, 12.07.2019.); horrendous mess after Ultra's first day in Split (IndexHR, 13.07.2019); and the drugs which were, it seemed, the partygoers' mainstay during the Split leg of the Festival (Slobodna Dalmacija 15.07.2019.). The event certainly draws in large numbers of visitors (Slobodna Dalmacija 13.07.2019.), but how much (if any) benefit it brings to a city whose centre is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List is debatable.

Don Robert conducted Sara Pirč's wedding to Roman Radonić in October 2018. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Dalmatian tourism has traditionally been based on warm hospitality and long-term friendships nurtured between private renters and their guests. The difficulties created by the 1991-95 Homeland War caused a break in these relationships. While some regular visitors came back after the war, many didn't. Many changes have taken place since then, and Dalmatian tourism has of necessity developed in different directions, including offering large-scale music festivals aimed at young adults. Dalmatia has an incredibly wide range of tourist attractions, and depends on tourism for its economic wellbeing. It is perhaps surprising how little is advertised specifically for foreign guests. So a Mass in Polish is a great departure, and very welcome.

Don Robert blessing the Pitve graveyard, All Saints 2018. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

It is the inspired brainchild of Don Robert Bartoszek, who is conducting the Mass every Sunday throughout July and August in the Vrisnik Parish Church, at 12:15. All credit to him, as he and his colleagues are under tremendous pressures of work, due to an acute shortage of priests on the island because of relocation, illness and retirement. Don Robert was brought in to be parish priest for Vrisnik and Pitve last year, and quickly settled in, gaining an admiring appreciation from his parishioners for his ability to fit into local customs. He has also introduced some charming customs from his home country to Hvar, most notably the distribution of small gifts from the 'Easter bunny' to the local children after the Easter Sunday Mass.

Don Robert and Roman Radonić with the Pasqual Candle, April 2019. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Don Robert's duties have recently been expanded, so his dedication is all the more admirable. The Polish residents and visitors on Hvar have responded enthusiastically, with some 54 of them attending their first special Mass, over 100 a couple of weeks later, then some 150, so many they couldn't all fit into the church! It is probably not surprising, as Poland is a very Catholic country, also a very close-knit community, and Don Robert has been unstinting in his pastoral care for those of his compatriots in need of help.

Distributing gifts to the children, Easter Sunday 2019. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

So, quietly and discreetly, a small but invaluable new element has been added to Hvar's tourist attractions, one which shows a special kind of care and consideration towards a group of the island's guests. Don Robert's appointment on Hvar was supposed to be temporary, lasting for just one year. Let's hope his stay is extended, and equally that his initiative in providing spiritual support for his fellow-Poles becomes a lasting tradition - and maybe 'tourist Masses' in other languages might just come into being?

Eye-catching, fully informative posters were distributed by Don Robert personally

© Vivian Grisogono MA(Oxon) July 2019.

Related items

You are here: Home highlights A different kind of tourist attraction

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Government plan to educate owners and encourage fines not enough to effectively tackle air pollution

    Study links air pollution to mental ill-health

    Politicians and campaigners have called for an urgent review of wood-burning stoves, which cause large amounts of pollution in urban areas.

    The calls follow the admission by the environment secretary that the government had set weaker air pollution targets than it would like. The admission came as she announced a new environmental plan for England that held back from banning wood-burning stoves and settled instead for “educating” people on their use.

    Continue reading...

  • Co-author of paper says results have implications for anyone who has to think hard in polluted areas

    Chess experts make more mistakes when air pollution is high, a study has found.

    Experts used computer models to analyse the quality of games played and found that with a modest increase in fine particulate matter, the probability that chess players would make an error increased by 2.1 percentage points, and the magnitude of those errors increased by 10.8%.

    Continue reading...

  • National Trust project shows family home of ‘nature’s engineers’ and how they have improved the environment for other wildlife

    They can be seen chugging around their watery domain like small furry tugboats, gnawing away at saplings or nuzzling up to each other. The sound of babbling water and birdsong provides a pleasing soundtrack.

    A new online tour was launched on Thursday of an enclosure on the Holnicote estate in Somerset that is home to a family of five beavers. In what is billed as the first of its kind, the tour allows viewers to navigate through the 2.7-acre Exmoor enclosure where two adult beavers and their three offspring live and work.

    Continue reading...

  • Retailer and green groups warn of ‘high environmental cost’ of fish aggregating devices to tuna stocks and other endangered marine life

    The EU is under pressure to significantly restrict its huge fleet of fishing vessels from using “fish aggregating devices” that make it easier to catch huge numbers of fish and contribute further to overfishing.

    A letter signed by Marks & Spencer and more than 100 environmental groups, including the International Pole and Line Foundation, warns EU officials that the devices (FADs) are one of the main contributors to overfishing of yellowfin tuna in the Indian Ocean, because they catch high numbers of juveniles.

    Continue reading...

  • The energy industry is turning waste from dairy farms into renewable natural gas – but will it actually reduce emissions?

    On an early August afternoon at Pinnacle Dairy, a farm located near the middle of California’s long Central Valley, 1,300 Jersey cows idle in the shade of open-air barns. Above them whir fans the size of satellites, circulating a breeze as the temperature pushes 100F (38C). Underfoot, a wet layer of feces emits a thick stench that hangs in the air. Just a tad unpleasant, the smell represents a potential goldmine.

    The energy industry is transforming mounds of manure into a lucrative “carbon negative fuel” capable of powering everything from municipal buses to cargo trucks. To do so, it’s turning to dairy farms, which offer a reliable, long-term supply of the material. Pinnacle is just one of hundreds across the state that have recently sold the rights to their manure to energy producers.

    Continue reading...

  • Researchers find long-term exposure to even relatively low levels raises risk of depression and anxiety

    Long-term exposure to even comparatively low levels of air pollution could cause depression and anxiety, according to a study exploring the links between air quality and mental ill-health.

    Tracking the incidence of depression and anxiety in almost 500,000 UK adults over 11 years, researchers found that those living in areas with higher pollution were more likely to suffer episodes, even when air quality was within official limits.

    Continue reading...

  • Government accepts Liberal Democrat amendment to UK infrastructure bank bill

    Taxpayer money may no longer be invested in water companies that fail to produce adequate plans to stop sewage discharges, after the government accepted a Liberal Democrat amendment.

    The change to the UK infrastructure bank bill means that once it becomes law, tax receipts will only be able to fund water companies if they produce a costed and timed plan for ending sewage spills into waterways.

    Continue reading...

  • Council election could have national implications if Greens snatch ward from Lib Dems

    The issues that have been raised on the doorstep during the campaign have tended to be local ones – from concerns over new housing developments to the state of the pavements and plans to increase fees paid by people who live on boats in the harbour.

    But a council byelection taking place at Bristol city council on Thursday may have national implications should the Green party manage to pinch the ward from the Lib Dems.

    Continue reading...

  • Study suggests tool could be used to reduce energy needs for heating and cooling office buildings

    Every year we shift our clocks forward in the spring, and backwards in the autumn. Originally daylight saving was introduced to save energy; reducing the number of hours that the lights had to be on in office buildings. But as climate changes, can daylight saving be used to reduce the energy demand for heating and cooling our office spaces?

    To answer this question researchers simulated the heating and cooling demands of office buildings for 15 different cities across the United States and analysed the impact that daylight saving could have until the year 2050 under different climate scenarios. Under current climate conditions daylight saving reduced cooling demand by up to 5.9%, but increased heating demand by 4.4%. As we head into a warmer future they found that daylight saving could reduce cooling demand by up to 5.4%, while increasing heating demand by 3.2%. In both cases daylight saving results in a net decrease in energy used.

    Continue reading...

  • Bossington, Somerset: Whether by human or nature’s hand, the riparian landscape here is being reshaped

    The January storms that boomed over Exmoor shed so much rain that the River Barle washed away a section of the ancient stone clapper bridge at Tarr Steps. And at Bossington Beach near Porlock, the combined forces of the usually mild Horner Water and River Aller blasted through the pebble bank, carving a deep, curving route roaring red-brown into the sea.

    It will be weeks until the huge rock slabs at Tarr Steps are recovered and replaced, but the breach at Bossington is already rapidly repairing itself as the tides re-sweep the shingle. Breaks such as this often occur because the beach is changing shape – it is being gradually thinned and lengthened by the sea’s swash and drift.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds