How Large Foreign Investments Transformed an Island

The Lošinj airport is being expanded, golf grounds built, sensational Apoksiomen Museum recently opened, but not all share the enthusiasm.

Source: Total Croatia News

Source: Total Croatia News

The walkway in Čikat bay, passing in front of hotels and renovated Austro-Hungarian villas, looks like an art installation in the evening hours. Famed Croatian lighting designer Dean Skira and his team made the finals of the most prestigious Lighting Design Award 2016 for this project, Jutarnji List reports on June 15, 2016.

To enter the beaches under concession, hotel guests enter for free, pressing their finger against a sensor, without needing to carry documents with them. For non-guests, a sunshade and deck chair will cost them around a thousand Kuna, so not many will show.

It all seems quite expensive and the feeling is correct. The artistically lit walkway cost 6.5 million Euro, only small part of the investments realised on Lošinj by the Jadranka Group, the company which has been the motor of local development with about 60% share in tourism turnover.

As Management President of Jadranka Group Sanjin Šolić reveals, the total value of the company’s investments in the last nine years has reached 170 million Euro, covering among other things the first island aquapark costing around 9 million Euro, renovation of five star hotel Bellevue around 55 million Euro, renovation of five star boutique hotel Alhambra around 23 million Euro, renovation of Villa Hortensia as well as a line of smaller investments such as wellness, pool complex… And this is only half of what Jadranka plans to invest. The island is bracing for a new cycle of Jadranka investments of around 250 million Euro, in projects permanently changing the face of Lošinj.

The basis of the new cycle is the expansion and renovation of Lošinj airport and construction of a golf ground. The documentation has been prepared, as well as support from local to state authorities. The airport is part of strategic government projects, with work set to begin by the end of the year, to be completed by the 2018 season. The golfing ground will have two championship courses with 18 holes, able to host world tournaments.

“The airport itself cannot be profitable, but along with the golfing ground they are preconditions for raising the destination to four and five stars,” explains Šolić.

Jadranka was sold several years ago to Zagreb-based Beta Investments company, owned by UK Prosmvyaz, an investment fund management company from the Russian Federation. Jadranka today has close to 700 full time employees, climbing to 1,500 in season.

The investment input is felt strongly in the town budget of Mali Lošinj, enough for infrastructural projects and social programs. It is the largest island town in Croatia, with a long tradition in seamanship and shipbuilding and tourism. The financial boost is being put to use in city services and support for island farms and renovation.

Some residents support the planned investments, while some oppose them strongly. Claiming they are unsustainable in the long term, they also cite broken procedures and illegal construction. The investors aim to create a new Mallorca, when the residents of concrete covered Mallorca have already realised their mistake. Expensive investments such as the one in Čikat Bay are taking away public spaces from the residents, leaving permanent damage.

Source: Total Croatia News

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