Croatia bans tourists from arriving with their own food; Czechs are outraged

We’ve all heard of movie theaters banning food not bought on premises, and certainly it’s a no-brainer that you just can’t buy take-away food somewhere and go sit in a restaurant and eat it.

But this is the first time I’ve heard of a country banning food not purchased in its own borders.

Croatia has taken the unusual step, in Europe at least, of forbidding tourists from bringing their own food when they come to holiday on the coast this summer. The ban seems focused on meat and dairy products, and is response primarily to Czech tourists who, in droves every summer, pack up their family cars with yogurt, margarine, fried meat, beer, you name it and head down to places like Hvar and Dubrovnik. They hardly spend a dime on food during a week or two of holidays.

Naturally, Czechs are up in arms about this.

“800,000 Czech citizens visit Croatia every year. Two-thirds of them – around 500,000 Czechs – spend their vacation in Croatia in apartments with kitchens where they cook. So this new rule very drastically affects most Czech citizens this year. Croatia is the number one destination for Czech people, and about 25 percent of all Czech vacations are spent in Croatia,” Tomio Okamura, spokesman of the Czech Association of Tour Operators and Travel Agents, tells Radio Prague.

Why wouldn’t Czechs just suck it up and maybe go out for a meal or two, or, if they want to cook, buy the food locally? Okamura has his theories: “It’s not only a problem of price, it’s also a problem of taste. Because Czechs like the taste of Czech sausages, Czech yogurt and so on – a lot of them prefer their lovely taste. And of course they want also to save money.”

Maybe Gadling’s resident Czech, Iva, should chime in on this: Will her countrymen cancel their Croatian holiday plans because of this, or will they, in the words of Radio Prague’s great headline, play hide the salami?