Last week it was widely reported that Dubrovnik was banning wheelie suitcases from its medieval Old Town due to noise disturbances. Stories also claimed that a €265 fine would be imposed on those found rolling (rather than carrying) their wheelie suitcases.
But is this actually the case?
The City of Dubrovnik released a promotional animated video in June, as part of its Respect the City campaign, encouraging people to carry wheeled suitcases rather than drag them along the cobblestones.
The video shows a prohibited sign over a wheeled suitcase and advises on the behavioral best practices for anyone visiting: don’t walk around without a top on, don’t ride a bike or electric scooter in the historic center and don’t climb on protected monuments.
However, while those behaviors are discouraged, the tourism board has since released a statement to clarify that a ban on wheelie cases will not be introduced. And no fine will be levied to those who choose to roll their suitcases in Old Town.
So what is the city of Dubrovnik enforcing instead of suggesting? Here is what we know so far:
New rules for tourists
Dubrovnik has a population of 41,000 – and in 2019 (before the pandemic) welcomed 1.5 million tourists. Back in 2017, the city made efforts to make the city more sustainable, including limiting the number of tour buses and cruise ships docking in the port.
Now new measures have been introduced for visitors to offset some of the negative behaviors associated with overtourism. Some behaviors are subject to on-the-spot fines, such as walking through towns shirtless or in swimwear, sleeping in public areas, climbing on top of monuments and drinking alcohol near protected public places. Some of these behaviors are illustrated in the Respect the City video and a full list can be found on the UK Foreign Office's advice page for Croatia's laws and customs.
Unesco has in the past warned that Dubrovnik’s world-heritage status was at risk from the disrespectful hordes. Yet given the post-pandemic travel boom, Dubrovnik has seen a surge in visitors. Mayor Franković has cautioned: “The most important thing is that Dubrovnik has stopped being a city of excessive tourism, although we still have a lot of work left.”