The Golf Park Dubrovnik is a one billion-plus euro real-estate international project, which was revealed in 2006.
To date, it represents the Croatia’s largest greenfield investment. The project is in line with the Croatian government’s plan to boost the national economy through large investments in tourism and it is one among about 90 proposed golf course developments in Croatia. The company Razvoj Golf owned by Israeli businessman Aaron Frenkel was granted by City of Dubrovnik with concession for the period of 30 years. The project was supported by Australian golfing legend Greg Norman. The project plan includes building of a massive luxury golfing complex on the plateau of Srđ, up on the hillside – above the UNESCO World Heritage Site – The historic city of Dubrovnik. The project has been held up by legal wrangling since the beginning.
The citizens' initiative “Srđ is ours”and the NGOs Friends of the Earth Croatia and Zelena Akcija (Green Action) strongly opposed the project because they think that building of the golf field, luxury villas, apartments and hotels would ruin the historical landscape and identity of the city and would negatively impact the local environmental. The Croatian Architects Association (UHA) also supported the cause. The local authority representatives, however, argue that the project will bring new employment to locals and prolong the tourist season, denying accusations of corruption.
The referendum of the project was held in April 2013 on the demand of the opponents. Even though, 85 % of Dubrovnik citizens were against of the project, the referendum failed because turnout was only 30 %, well below the 50 % required for it to be valid.
In October 2011 a 3 year campaign was launched by the environmental organisation Friends of the Earth Croatia and Zelena Akcija in which they argued that the proposed legislation in relation to development of golf course across Croatia was unconstitutional.
In March 2014 Zelena Akcija held a demonstration outside the Croatian parliament. Given that Dubrovnik is a World Heritage site, the project opponents consulted UNESCO. Despite strong opposition by the NGO sector, the forest law was changed in July 2014 to define golf parks and camping sites as ‘a forests with special purpose’, allow for converting degraded forests to the land for other purposes, and shorten the administrative procedures to dispose of state-owned land to attract new investors. A small victory for the opponents represented the fact that in December 2014 the High Administrative Court cancelled amendments to the Dubrovnik-Neretva county Spatial Plan from 2006. However, the supporters of the project consider that the effect of such judgment is limited to the changes made in 2006 and does not impact on changes that took place afterwards, including the one to triple the size of golf park. Besides, in April 2016 UNESCO in its official finding suggested that project will not harm the protected historical heritage of Dubrovnik. The company Razvoj Golf secured first of many necessary permits for the development of the Golf Park Dubrovnik project in October 2015. The construction work is expected to start in September 2016.