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News 12 Jul 17

Access to Beaches Remains Hot Topic in Croatia

Reports about a teen who was allegedly turfed off a private beach have rekindled the controversy over whether private concessioners to Croatia’s public beaches are unjustifiably limiting people's access.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Zagreb
A beach in the southern town of Makarska. Photo: BETAPHOTO/HINA/Jure DIVIC/DS

Amid a controversy about whether holders of private concessions to public beaches in Croatia have a legal right to limit people's access to them, some private concessioners have told BIRN that they are only trying to prevent tourists from holding barbeques and moving the rented easy chairs.

“We allow people to come to the beach and bring food and drinks they carry in their cooler boxes ... but we don’t allow them to make a barbeques and bring cases of beer and drink them next to other guests,” a representative of the Hemingway beach bar in Medveja, near the northern coastal town of Opatija, told BIRN.

“It is too much if someone brings cases of beer and turns up the music loud and so bothers the other guests,” he said.

He explained that at the beach in Medveja, where the bar has a concession, people can enter without paying for tickets.

The row over public-versus-private rights to beaches went up a notch after the daily Novi list last Friday reported that waiters at a bar at the Lido beach in Opatija had told a 16-year-old to leave because he had neither rented an easy chair nor bought any drinks from the bar.

The manager of the Lido, Igor Jadric, however, questioned the report and told BIRN that the teen was only asked to leave “because he was on part of the beach that is still under construction.

“The waiters ... asked him to leave for his own sake, so he didn’t get hurt. He climbed over the construction fence and he was asked to leave because otherwise we would be held responsible,” he added.

Jandric insisted that they allow people to enter the beach without paying and do not ban them from bringing their own food and drinks, either.

“I neither could nor would ban people from freely entering the beach and bringing their own food and drinks. They don’t have to buy these in the bar. The only thing they can’t do is move our easy chairs,” he concluded.

With 1,777 kilometres of coastline, Croatia also has over 1,200 island and isles, as well as around 2,000 beaches.

Around 200 of them have been awarded to private concessioners, reports say. Media reports also say cases of people not being allowed to use these beaches are frequent.

Some hotels, resorts and private villas across the coast put up fences and charge entrance fees to beaches.

Private concessions to public beaches are given out according to the terms of the Law on Maritime Property and Sea Ports.

This notes that all beaches are public property and limits the conditions by which private concessioners may run them.

The law forbids the concessioners from limiting access or charging entrance fees to beaches, which is only allowed if they are directly using infrastructure that the concessioner built.

Additionally, they cannot force people to buy and consume food and drinks and people are allowed to bring their own supplies.

While concessioners may rent out their own easy chairs on parts of the beach, some legal experts claim that people have the right to move these chairs, and put their towels there, if they so wish.

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