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Each student group summarizes their design thinking projects that they worked on related to development and tourism in the Balkans.

Canvas for Korcula

Isa and Rohan S

The small island of Korcula deserves a more well represented artistic community and identity. A few small shops sell paintings, prints, and other artwork; however, nothing has been done to properly demonstrate the level to which art influences Korculan life. Many artists leave Korcula for Zagreb and other European cities, lacking a support system on their home island. Additionally, tourists do not get the full picture of Korculan art. A public commission designed to promote Korculan art would create a homegrown artistic community and a proper representation of Korculan life for tourists. We propose an island wide display of artwork in tapestry, mural, or sculpture form that portrays Korculan life and is not intrusive and does not detract from Korcula’s historical heritage. Some challenges of the proposal would be ensuring a fair overseeing body for the artwork, supporting the program financially, and maintaining the integrity of the program long term. Despite these challenges, we believe that a public art program for Korcula would create a strong artistic identity for both locals and tourists to enjoy.


Fees to Enter the City

Aron and Jack

Our project was from the topic of “Fees to Enter the City.” From there we decided that we wanted to reduce over-tourism that plagued cities like Dubrovnik and islands like Korcula. We decided that a tax on the ferry into Korcula and a tax on staying at a hotel could be used to rebuild destroyed historical sites and help with infrastructure and up-keep of the cities. We decided that during the season of May through October taxes on the island would be 5 Euros to stay at a hotel and 3 Euros to use the ferry into the island. In the off-season it would go down to 2 Euros for the Hotel and 1 for the ferry. Students who need to commute to the Island and locals would be exempt from this tax. In Dubrovnik the tax would be 10 Euros to stay in the hotels and 7 Euros to enter the walled-city. We also would impose a limit on people coming off boats into the walled city. Polls from locals and tourists showed overall support for this idea. Future challenges would be making sure a government labeled “corrupt” by locals would use the money properly. Future steps would be to contact local government officials and set up a case study in Korcula.


Biking Out of Overtourism

Kayla, Cassie, and Jay

Our goal in this project was to build 20 trails ranging from beginner to expert levels in the mountains surrounding the Pelijesac peninsula. These trails would be built by leading trailmakers in the world. Another main goal of ours was to build a hotel/restaurant in the mountains in coordination to the trails built. The costs of this project would be around 1395 kuna (225 USD) per night for the hotel, and around 60-100$ for bike rentals depending on the quality and style of the equipment. Both the hotel and bike costs are around $50 less than the average room and bike on the island, which could give enough buffer for a starting period of _____. Additionally, we would get food for the restaurant from local establishments with locally hired labor forces to help build up the Korculan culture to a greater extent. The success of this project also is based mainly on the marketing of this idea and the ability to bring interest to the island through this idea to draw in a different type of people to games such as the x-games. We hypothesized that creating hiking and biking trails would bring tourists to these areas but not into the crowded cities, generating revenue yet maintaining culture through the prevention of overcrowding. We talked to various people to help support our idea; a hotel manager, restaurant manager, and a bike rental shop. The hotel owner mentioned things like keeping the cost of rooms low and consistent and having locals working there. He also mentioned that it would be smart to make the prices lower than in the town to prevent competition. The restaurant manager said she used entirely local foods which also helped keep prices down. The only imported goods were drinks other than local wine. Finally, she mentioned that it is typically easy to find a chef because the government is allowing work visas for that reason. The last person we talked to, the bike rental shop owner, said that there were not really any mountain bikers and that it was mainly backroad groups coming. He also said that the one trail they do have was paved which made it not full mountain biking. Some challenges we found when researching were the costs, permits needed, and if we had the ability to build on the desirable land. These challenges sparked some ideas of what to further research if we were to continue the project. We said that we would need to see the environmental consequences of building in this area, as well as, find out the rules to building in this area. Lastly, we would need to find a way to market the biking and hiking trails by endorsements and other publicizing tactics. 


Klean Korcula 

Justin and Nathalie 

During our short time in Korcula, a huge problem has come to light. Among the beauty and seemingly clear water a problem persists, plastic pollution. During our swims we saw the incredible and disgusting amounts of plastic. To address this problem, we plan to take a multifaceted approach. Our focus is to implement an environmental tax. This tax would be placed on tourists and not locals or their families. We propose a 15 kuna tax on tourists traveling by ferry. The tax would be included in the ferry price but it would transparent that the tax exists and what that money is being used for. We propose a tax on yachts and cruise ships depending on how large they are and how many people are aboard in order to pay for each individual ship’s impact in the environment. We also propose three smaller initiatives to tackle this problem. The first is a plastic bag ban on the island. We also propose more large trash bins to be placed around the island. And finally, we propose 2000 kuna fines for littering on the island with poster signs throughout. Some challenges that could arise are push back from locals and tourists, corruption in the government, costs, and the potential to drive away visitors. However, through our research we have hopefully addressed these problems. The money generated from fines and the environmental tax could go towards financing bins and clean-up efforts. If the project stays with local government and the whole process stays transparent, then corruption can be avoided. Although some tourist and locals may be annoyed by the taxes and plastic bag bans, everyone we surveyed agreed that they would be happy to help so long as their efforts yielded results.


Korcula: The Cycling City 

Resham, Holden, and Katie

Our group’s original idea was to create biking and hiking trails in the scenic mountains of Korcula. Since biking was already a common activity on the island, we thought that our plan would be successful. But after interviewing tourists and locals of the area, we learned that many people bike more for leisure and enjoy biking in the towns. Our idea transformed into bike lanes on the main road around the perimeter of the island. Having bike lanes would be better for the environment, small businesses, and tourism. Bike lanes would also be safer. Every biker we interviewed said that they would want bike lanes, because it was a challenge to share a lane with cars, buses, and motorcycles. Challenges we faced were specific to government funding. From the knowledge we have gathered, the government is unwilling make changes unless they are directly benefiting from it. Our first step would be to have a petition to show to government officials to persuade them to create bike lanes. We hope that by adding bike lanes we can brand Korcula as a place to cycle.


Wine and Dine

Rohit and Meghan

For our project, we chose to focus on Korčulan food and drink. We thought creating a distinct culinary identity in Korčula would help revitalize the local economy by creating a more specific reason for visiting.

Croatia sits at an odd region geographically, which created some issues for us. Croatia is both in Western and Eastern Europe, while also being part of both the Mediterranean and the Balkans. Because Croatia is at the intersection of all these various groups, Croatia’s culinary identity becomes rather muddled. Croatia boasts dishes such as Ćevapčići, a sausage of sorts, and various pastas such as carbonara, bolognese, and makaruni, however these dishes are all too easily conflated with Bosnia and Herzegovinian or Italian cuisine. Because of these similarities with other cuisines, Croatia didn’t have the necessary characteristics for us to further develop a foodie culture, so we had to look elsewhere. We soon came to realize that Croatian wine has the potential to develop a Croatian wine culture. The wines have distinct qualities and characteristics, with some varieties even tasting better with ice in them. Additionally, only 6 kilometers from Old Town Korčula, one can find different vineyards every 100 meters. For these reasons, Meghan and I decided to focus on developing a wine culture, especially in Korčula. To do this, we planned the creation of a wine tour of Korčula Island’s wineries and how to increase international exposure to Korčulan wine. When all of this has been accomplished, we think Korčula will be able to attract a steady number of more mature tourists who, due to the nature of their longer stays and more refined activities, would spend more money, helping the local economy in a fashion that would also preserve the dignity of Korčula.


Just Passing Through: the Solution to Overtourism

Nihaar, Rohan M, Regan

Our Idea

In the cities of Dubrovnik and Mostar, there is overtourism and overcrowding in concentrated areas. As a couple from Quebec that we interviewed said, “We would not go back to Dubrovnik unless there were half as many tourists as there are now.” As we observed, the loss of culture, high prices, and expulsion of locals are common trends in the overcrowded areas. Our idea to potentially solve these issues entails creating a pass that tourists must buy to enter the overcrowded areas such as the old cities in Dubrovnik and Mostar. This pass will grant access to the areas through checkpoints at the entrances which will quickly scan a barcode on the pass. The tourists will pay a one-time fee of the equivalent of 25 USD for access to all tourist locations in that cities. The passes will cost the same amount regardless of one’s duration of stay. All locals who want to enter the city will simply have to show their ID; this should not be an inconvenience as all three locals we interviewed said that they always carry their ID on them. Foreigners entering the city for business purposes can receive special passes from their own company to give them access to the regulated areas. 

The Hypothesis and Impact

A major issue that we noticed after interviewing store owners and tourist in Dubrovnik was that cruise ships dump hundreds of people into the city for just a few hours, which causes overcrowding. The fee for the pass will discourage some people from the cruise ships to enter the city for such a short period of time. They will not want to pay a large fee for just an hour or two, and the price will encourage them to stay longer as it is only a one-time fee. We think that this will reduce the number of tourists as well as increase the amount of time the remaining tourists spend in the city. As a result, these tourists will have the time to spend more money and contribute to the economy. This tourist fee will also hypothetically reduce taxes for the locals by increasing government revenue. 


There are several challenges that one faces in the implementation of this system. Firstly, an inefficient system can cause problematic traffic for tourists and locals. Second, the government might not spend the revenue properly to help development in the city as there is corruption. Furthermore, in larger cities like Zagreb, the checkpoints are harder to implement because the tourists are spread out throughout the city and there are many entrances into the city. Finally, if the fee is too high, it will greatly decrease tourism. If the fee is too low, it will have a minimal impact on reducing overcrowding. 

Next Steps

We would create a website to allow people to easily buy the passes. We would also create booths near the entrances where the passes can be bought, which will allow tourists to make unexpected stops and buy a pass quickly. To do this, we will need to gain local support and write a letter to the government pitching our idea.

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