Something very nice is happening on the island of Hvar these days. Most of the key stakeholders in the island's tourism story are working together for the common good and, with the rich resources and experience combined, the results are looking very encouraging indeed.
December is usually one of the quietest months on Hvar, but the roads will be busy next month with the high profile Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling team who have chosen Hvar as their winter training destination, an event which will attract the attention of the global cycling media and lead to some great international promotion to the global cycling community.
Anyone who has spent time on Hvar in the shoulder seasons will have noticed the huge rise in cycling tourism, a key sector to target for Croatia, as it looks to extend its season before the summer months on the beach. The island is fortunate to have Massimo and Riccardo from Hvar Life, who have done much in recent years to raise the profile of cycling tourism on Hvar, as well as to offer an array of attractive products. But how did we get from a beautiful island offering cycling tourism to the confirmed arrival of such a high profile team which includes one of the top 5 cyclists in the world, Vincenzo Nibali?
The story starts with Massimo and Riccardo from Hvar Life, whose friendship with Bahrain Merida's head coach Paolo Slongo got the conversation started. Paolo was looking for a new, attractive destination to take his team too, and the recent progress Hvar has made presenting itself as a cycling destination in recent years helped to come up with a plan. Such a big event could not be organised without the support of other stakeholders, and the project moved forward with the unqualified support promised by Hvar Mayor Riki Novak, Georges Buj from the Hvar Town Tourist Board and Renata Lichtberger from Suncani Hvar Hotels. Suncani Hvar have been doing their own campaign to promote cycling on Hvar, include the island's first bike hotel, Pharos bayhill pharos.
The project was presented by Vladimir Miholjevic, Bahrain Merida's sporting director, and also one of the two dynamic individuals behind the fantastic Tour of Croatia race, which beamed the beauty of Croatia as a cycling destination into 130 million homes via Eurosport.
The training camp, which will be based in Pharos bayhill hvar hotel, will take place from December 7 to 17, and there will be plenty of additional activities in what is set to be the most important promotion of Hvar as a sporting destination. One of the aims of the training camp will be to bring locals closer to cycling and professional sport, and Bahrain Media will make their cyclists available to the media and local people, as well as allowing people to check out their equipment and team bus. It is hoped that such an initiative will inspire some of Hvar's younger population to take a more active interest in cycling.
Hvar Life will also organise a group ride to the peak of Hvar at Sveti Nikola.
From December 13-15, an international press trip and press conference has been organised, where the international cycling media will have acess to the Bahrain Merida Pro-Cycling team, and also be taken around the island for a familiarisation trip to learn more about the magic and potential of cycling tourism on Hvar.
TCN of course will be there and reporting back. To learn more about the Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling team, click here.