Q: Have you always wanted to work in the meeting industry?
Ever since I chose my high school graduation paper topic, I knew the meeting industry is the one for me. Researching and writing about the organisation of a congress in Grand Hotel Adriatic was so great an experience for me that already then I felt that this is what I want to do. Later I’ve built up my experience working in hospitality in different positions in hotels’ operations and sales. Finally, spending most of my life in Opatija and knowing what it can offer I saw a great opportunity to start working for the Opatija Tourist Board and I used it.

Q: Why is your destination/country the best in the world?
Speaking about Opatija, it is a destination that offers all the advantages of a major convention destination combined with the enticing charm of a more intimate holiday resort. As a compact city with over 50 meeting rooms in hotels and special venues, Opatija is more like an open air congress centre where participants can enjoy the calmness of Opatija parks, breathe relaxing air on the Lungomare promenade and enjoy excellent cuisine in numerous restaurants. The Opatija Riviera further offers many possibilities for incentives and teambuilding events, with Učka Nature park within a 30-minute ride.

The Kvarner region, where Opatija is situated, offers diverse activities, as it includes islands, coastline and mountains in a relatively small area. So within just one hour’s ride from Opatija, one can reach a ski resort with a sea view, walk by a refreshing mountain lake, visit a medieval city on the island or just sail out to the bay and enjoy a great views of Opatija and the Učka Mountain above it. Rijeka, as a centre of the region, offers more urban culture and great possibilities for exploring its rich industrial heritage.

Q: What would be the first thing you would show every visitor to your country?
There are many natural and cultural sights in Croatia that shouldn’t be missed. There is also lot of heritage, so it is hard to say what to show first. Is it the carnival tradition on Kvarner, the Plitvice National park, or maybe Dubrovnik? I’m sure each visitor, no matter from where he comes or which places he ahs already visited, will find a stunning part of Croatia that will surprise him and win his heart.

Q: What has been your star moment so far and your favourite project with which you would praise yourself?
For the past three years I was working with the Croatian Nursing Association in Neurology in achieving their goal to bring their international congress to Croatia. They’ve been inviting representatives of the European association and world federation to their national conferences in Opatija and my part was to showcase Opatija as a potential host. Our work paid off and we won the bid to host the Congress of World Federation of Neuroscience Nurses in 2017, in competition with major European congress cities.  

Q: What motivates you the most at work?
My greatest motivation is the satisfaction after work well done. The opportunity to work with a great team of people is another one.

Q: In what way do you deal with stress?
Stress is a part of today’s modern life and everyone has their ways to deal with it. I used to train in athletics, so even today I try to keep fit and running is a great stress release for me. A good sweat after running 5-6 km takes all my stress away. Also, sunrise wind surfing on Preluk bay by Opatija takes my worries away and gives me a great start to a day.

Q: When were you last angry / disappointed and why?
I don’t get angry or disappointed very often, as it doesn’t help, so even when it happens it doesn’t last for long. The last time it was several weeks ago when I found out that some people don’t realise that special projects demand extra work and they thought that they shouldn’t do anything more than their regular work.

Q: What will be new in your business in 2014?
Opatija is preparing for the celebration of its 170th anniversary of the beginning of organised tourism in 2014, so there are several new projects. Already in 2013 a new sports hall was opened, which is multifunctional, so it can be also used for conferences and other events for up to 1,500 participants. The Hotel Bevanda (5*) also opened in 2013, offering 10 very luxurious rooms, which in 2014 will be complemented with a restoration of the nearby beach in the same style. For 2014 the new opening of Hotel Royal (4*) is expected, with a banquet hall of 800 m2, and complete refurbishment of famous Hotel Kvarner and Villa Amalia to become 4* properties. Finally in autumn 2014 the construction of the Culture and tourist centre will start, a 500-seat modern event hall project with exhibition space around it.

Q: What have you learned last week?
Within the preparations for our Chocolate Festival, which will be held from December 6th-8th in Opatija, I had opportunity to visit a chocolate laboratory where a chocolate ambassador of the biggest chocolate producer in the World was showing how to work with chocolate. I learned how to temper a chocolate and how pralines are made.

Q: Where will you spend this year’s holiday and why?
I always spend holidays with my wife and our three daughters, usually in our summer house on the island of Pag, where we spend days on lonely beaches away from crowds, swimming and snorkelling in a crystal clear sea.

Q: If there were no time and financial constraints, where would you go?
There are so many great places in the world that I would like to visit, so a trip around the world is a logical choice. However, I must admit that New Zealand is most appealing, so it would be my first choice.

Q: What would be the title of your life autobiography?
Always look on the bright side of life.

GORAN PAVLOVIĆ, Head of the Opatija Convention & Incentive Bureau


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