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

  • Anne-Marie Trevelyan dismisses those who believe in global heating as ‘fanatics’ in resurfaced posts

    The new international trade secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, has been accused of rejecting the science behind the climate emergency after a series of tweets came to light showing her dismissing those who believe in global heating as “fanatics”.

    Labour has condemned the appointment of Trevelyan, who was elevated from junior business minister, which took in the brief of promoting clean growth, to replace Liz Truss, the new foreign secretary, as part of Boris Johnson’s reshuffle on Wednesday.

    Continue reading...

  • The Cop26 climate summit will be an opportunity to put fossil fuel companies on trial through the court of public opinion

    Fossil fuel companies bear as much responsibility as governments do for humanity’s climate predicament – and for finding a way out. Our planetary house is on fire, and these companies have literally supplied the fuel. Worse, they lied about it for decades to blunt public awareness and policy reform.

    There’s no better time for ExxonMobil and other petroleum giants to be held accountable than at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow in November. The Glasgow summit is more than just another international meeting. It is the last chance for world leaders to limit future temperature rise to an amount that civilization can survive. Doing so, scientists say, will require a rapid, global decline in oil, gas and coal burning.

    Continue reading...

  • Minister reveals plans to change laws inherited from EU, with rules on medical devices also in crosshairs

    Rules on genetically modified farming, medical devices and vehicle standards will be top of a bonfire of laws inherited from the EU as the government seeks to change legislation automatically transferred to the UK after Brexit.

    Thousands of laws and regulations are to be reviewed, modified or repealed under a new programme aimed at cementing the UK’s independence and “Brexit opportunities”, David Frost has announced.

    Continue reading...

  • Despite protests from locals and Green councillors, wildlife haven will become hard courts at cost of £266,000

    A wildflower meadow containing 130 different flowering plants, dragonflies and rare bats that sprung up on Norwich’s last public grass tennis courts has been bulldozed.

    Despite protests from local people and Green councillors, all-weather hard courts with floodlights and fencing are being installed in Heigham Park, where species including whiskered and brown long-eared bats, pygmy shrews, hedgehogs and 18 species of dragonfly have been recorded.

    Continue reading...

  • Scientists say ozone hole is unusually large for this stage in season and growing quickly

    The hole in the ozone layer that develops annually is “rather larger than usual” and is currently bigger than Antartica, say the scientists responsible for monitoring it.

    Researchers from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service say that this year’s hole is growing quickly and is larger than 75% of ozone holes at this stage in the season since 1979.

    Continue reading...

  • Doctors say Mathew Richards’ life expectancy has been shortened due to exposure to hydrogen sulphide fumes

    The high court has ruled the Environment Agency must do more to protect a five-year-old boy from landfill fumes that doctors say are shortening his life expectancy.

    In a landmark judgment on Thursday, a high court judge said he was not satisfied that the EA was complying with its legal duty to protect the life of Mathew Richards, whose respiratory health problems are being worsened by fumes from a landfill site near his home in Silverdale, near Newcastle-under-Lyme.

    Continue reading...

  • Since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, more than 1m tonnes of radioactive water has been building up at the power plant in central Japan. Soon the plant will run out of space to store the water, which is a big problem. The plan at the moment is to dump it all in the sea. So how do you go about making 1m tonnes of radioactive water, safe to drink?

    Continue reading...

  • EPA data reveals that one of America’s biggest PFAS-making plants is second largest polluter of highly damaging HCFC-22 gas

    A new analysis of Environmental Protection Agency data has revealed that PFAS chemicals – often known as “forever chemicals” due to their longevity in the environment – are contributing to the climate crisis as their production involves the emission of potent greenhouse gases.

    In recent years, an ever-expanding body of scientific research has shown that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are among the most toxic substances widely used in consumer products.

    Continue reading...

  • They are essential for trapping carbon, and world leaders must commit to protecting them, write a group of conservationists

    News that the perilous plight of endangered grasslands is not fully recognised in a EU draft anti-deforestation law (Leaked EU anti-deforestation law omits fragile grasslands and wetlands, 14 September) brings into sharp focus the dangerous underappreciation of a global habitat that has a crucial role in the fight against climate change. Grasslands aren’t just crucibles of biodiversity, playing home to a wealth of wild plants, fungi, butterflies and bees, they also possess an as-yet underreported ability to lock down carbon. Given that up to 30% of the Earth’s land carbon is stored in grassland, these sites are every bit as important as other ecosystems in the fight against greenhouse gases.

    The Grasslands+ campaign, supported by some of Britain’s leading conservation charities including Plantlife, Butterfly Conservation and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, is calling for international protections for our planet’s grasslands, savannas, plains, heaths, steppes and meadows to help mitigate the impact of climate change and increase biodiversity. The UK government, the EU and other world leaders must commit to restoring, enhancing and protecting these habitats at Cop26 in Glasgow.
    Ian DunnCEO, Plantlife;Gill PerkinsCEO, Bumblebee Conservation Trust; Julie WilliamsCEO, Butterfly Conservation

    Continue reading...

  • When residents in Union Hill, Virginia, decried the pipeline as a form of environmental racism, the energy company insisted it wasn’t

    As fracked gas fields in West Virginia boomed over the past decade, energy companies jumped at the chance to build massive new pipelines to move the fuel to neighboring east coast markets. The 600-mile Atlantic Coast pipeline would have been the crown jewel.

    But Union Hill, Virginia – a community settled by formerly enslaved people after the civil war on farm land they had once tilled – stood in the way. Residents fought against a planned compressor station meant to help the gas move through the pipeline, arguing that because Union Hill is a historic Black community, the resulting air pollution would be an environmental injustice.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds