Eco Luminaries™: Jelka Tepšić, Deputy Mayor of Dubrovnik, Croatia

“When we talk about green ports, we mean sustainable ports, the ones that properly distribute traffic, have clear rules and expect them to be respected. Shore power electricity, air quality measurements, environmentally friendly terminals, electrified shuttle transport by road and the use of the sea transport option is my image of sustainable port and sustainable destination.”

Jelka Tepšić, Deputy Mayor of DubrovnikJelka Tepšić, Deputy Mayor of DubrovnikJelka Tepšić is the Deputy Mayor of the City of Dubrovnik, as well as honorary consul to the Kingdom of Spain since 2014. She is a professor of the Spanish language, literature and Comparative literature and has over 30 years of experience in tourism, communication, media and marketing. In the City of Dubrovnik, Mrs Tepšić is responsible for tourism, sustainability and culture. During her work in past years, the city has been developing strategic, long-term project called “Respect the City”. She has participated in many congresses worldwide where she presented this project, which deals with innovative integrated development and focuses on the sustainable development of tourism in the city. She showed how the City administration faced with the problem of overcrowding, ensuring a better distribution of visitors and suppressing the negative effects of over-tourism. This Project was recognized as an example of good practice in destination management at the World Congress of the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) in Krakow. Mrs Tepšić was a speaker at the GSTC2023 Sustainable Tourism Conference in Antalya, Türkiye (9-12 May, 2023), an event had the great pleasure of supporting as Media Partners. You may watch a recording of her presentation here

Antonis Petropoulos - For the past two decades, you have held important policy-making positions in an iconic tourism destination. Was that your original career plan, and what still motivates you in your work?

Jelka Tepšić: Achieved results are the best motivation. The path towards sustainable tourism is demanding, it is a process that requires daily work and coordination of stakeholders, with special emphasis on listening to the needs and wishes of the residents. Very often, the motive is the residents' dissatisfaction with a situation and their desire to change that situation, and in positions where we are standing, it is our duty to constantly work on new solutions.

In the old port city of DubrovnikIn the old port city of Dubrovnik

Antonis Petropoulos - Overtourism in Dubrovnik nearly lost the city its UNESCO status in the mid 2010s. How successful has your 'Respect the City' programme been in tackling overtourism before the pandemic and what key measures did it involve? Who decided and still decides on the content of this degrowth programme? Do local citizens directly take part in the formulation of tourism policies, or is this role mainly reserved for tourism businesses?