By Nadine Godwin
GLASGOW, Scotland -- The Rebuild Dubrovnik Fund, which has
raised $350,000 to pay for repairs to the war-damaged medieval
walled city in Croatia, might be close to completing its job,
according to Earlene Causey, president of the fund.
She said the project, launched five years ago by ASTA and
Dubrovnik-based Atlas Travel, has funded repairs mostly to
churches, palaces and schools. The efforts initially were aimed at
restoring roofs, she said, in order to save the building interiors.
One later project focused on repairing the inside of the 15th
century Synagogue of Dubrovnik. It is slated to reopen on Oct. 2,
in time for Rosh Hashana, according to Causey, a former president
The group is now turning to a final project, the restoration of
the Library of the Franciscan Monastery, a major project that will
require $160,000. The monastery along with the Ducal Palace in
Zadar, is one of two Croatian buildings on the World Monument Watch
list of most endangered cultural sites. This listing will make it
easier to raise funds, Causey said.
Meanwhile, she reported, the fund's board may decide before
year-end that the library project will be the group's last. She
said the board expects the group's work will have been completed by
sometime next year. Already, she said, "tourism is back, the cruise
lines are calling there" and more than a dozen U.S. tour operators
included Croatia in their brochures this year.
Pave Zupan-Ruskovic, president of Atlas Travel and president of
the ASTA Croatia chapter, said 3.6 million foreign visitors went to
Croatia in the first eight months of this year, up 45% compared
with the same period last year. Of those, 35,000 were Americans.
She said the 3.6 million figure still is only 70% of peak numbers
reported in 1990, before Croatia's fight for independence from
She said that in the next year, all hotel renovation projects
are expected to be completed, and "they will look better than
before the war." With the entire hotel plant in condition to
receive visitors, she said, the 1998 numbers are expected to match
those of 1990.
She also reported that the World Bank recently made $65 million
available to protect the Adriatic Sea from pollution.
Causey, who revisited Croatia en route to ASTA's congress here,
said, "Conditions are just super. You can hardly tell any damage
was done." She urged ASTA agents to spread the word that Croatia is
up and running as a tourist destination and that it is a safe
destination, as well.
Meanwhile, Zupan-Ruskovic reported that Croatia Airlines will
open an office in Parsippany, N.J., at the end of this month.