Croatia will move forward with building a bridge linking the two parts of its Adriatic coastline, which should cut travel times for tourists, after the EU on Wednesday (7 June) approved €357 million euros in financing.
A small sliver of Bosnian territory that juts to the Adriatic means Croatian territory is split in two, creating a lengthy detour for tourists travelling along the coast.
The 2.4-kilometre bridge will take advantage of the fact that the Bosnian coast is at the end of a narrow channel made by a Croatian peninsula.
When completed in 2022 the bridge should shave hours off the travel time to the southern resort of Dubrovnik, known as the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic,’ as travellers will no longer need to make a border crossing.
Tourism is a major industry for Croatia, with the nearly 16 million visitors that the former Yugoslav nation welcomed last year far outstripping its population of 4.2 million.
Most tourists visited the stunning Adriatic coast, with more than 1,000 islands and islets which served as a location for numerous scenes in the award-winning HBO series Game of Thrones.
The European Union, which Croatia joined in 2013, is financing 85% of the bridge project.
Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Gabrijela Zalac, who signed the deal in Brussels, hailed it as a “historic moment for both Croatia and the EU”.
“We are finally on the path… to completely link Croatia’s territory which will also secure the continuity of EU’s territory,” Zalac said, according to her ministry statement.
Croatia started building the bridge in 2007, but the project was halted due to budgetary constraints.