Once upon a time in 1889…
The island of Rab is celebrating its 120th anniversary of tourism throughout 2009. However, there is one very particular date to remember: the 16th of May, for this is the date when 120 years ago the Municipality Council made the decision to start developing tourism on the island. Rab is celebrating this date, which has changed the life of people living on this island, in a particularly festive way.
After professor Schrotter, balneologist from Vienna, and professor Frischhauf from Graz visited the island of Rab in April 1889, they sent a written proposal to the president of the local municipality, which read:
“The verdant green with wonderful forests of Mediterranean vegetation, countless protected areas, many drinking water sources, which is quite rare for this area, and finally beautiful coves stretching behind evergreen hills, make this island perfectly suitable not only for relaxation but also for healing purposes. One can spend a holiday here in spring and autumn, swim in summer, but also have a pleasant stay in winter.
To make full use of this, however, the following should be done: build a hotel that would meet the needs of contemporary guests, which means that it should be comfortable, clean and have reasonable prices. It would be best if it could be located at the edge of the town. Furthermore, good roads should be constructed for carriages to Sv. Eufemija, Lopar and Barbat. Narrower roads should be constructed to the Dundo forest, Cifrata cove and Sv. Mara. Trees should be planted along the streets, other areas should be afforested, and parks should be equipped with benches where visitors can sit and relax on.
Particularly important are traffic connections with Rijeka, Zadar, Lošinj and Pula. The municipality should take care of all of this, but having in mind all that has already been done, there is no doubt that the municipality and the inhabitants will continue making every effort to accommodate the visitors with hospitality and moderate prices”.
The mayor of Rab Petar Galzign answered these two eminent experts and friends of Rab already on the next day: “I can assure you that your proposal will be fulfilled to the extent that our available finances shall admit, with the aim of making Rab an island for relaxation and rehabilitation. You can rest assured that local people will do all they can to make it work.”
To commemorate that date and everything that many generations of the inhabitants of Rab have done for the development of tourism on their island, on the 16th of May there will be a ceremonial meeting and unveiling of plaque in memory of the British King Edward VIII who stayed on Rab in August 1936 with the American Wallis Simpson, because of whom he soon renounced the British crown soon after. On the occasion of the 120th anniversary of tourism on Rab, a plaque in memory of the prince Alois von Liechtenstein shall also be unveiled, who donated a significant amount of money for the construction of the promenade in the Eufemija cove.
This important anniversary will also be marked by numerous cultural and entertainment programmes and a scientific conference entitled “Tourism on the island of Rab”.