A small Croatian island is working hard to become the new Ibiza at the expense of the locals.
It’s 5 o’clock on a July afternoon and the after party at the Hideout Festival, a popular destination for electronic music lovers, is in full swing on Zrće, (pronounced zer-che), the world-famous party beach on the island of Pag in Croatia. Nearly naked girls and boys indulge in a variety of recreational drugs and alcoholic concoctions. The 24-hour party people mostly congregate at Papaya, Zrće’s largest club, which hosts numerous festivals during the summer months.
Local residents of Novalja, Pag Island, the seaside town where Zrće beach is located, are growing increasingly concerned about the type of tourist Zrće currently attracts. “The parties here are amazing.” says Lea Cooper of Destination Clubbing. “People come from all over the world to experience this.”
While locals may dislike these binge drinking tourists, no one is complaining about this huge revenue generator for the island. According to the former mayor, Ivan Dabo Đono, Novalja attracts three hundred times more tourists today than it did a mere seven years earlier.
The new mayor-elect, Ante Dabo, has his work cut out for him. Dabo needs to pull off the tricky balancing act of maintaining and containing the Zrće party tourism while also promoting Pag’s cultural and gastronomic offerings.
“In the next ten years, we would like to see three types of tourist development,” mayor Ante Dabo suggested “rural, five-star and Zrće,”