Tea Vukorepa is a global tourism professional living in her hometown of Split, Croatia. A popular destination for tourists, the coastal city spreads over a peninsula on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea. Split boasts an ideal Mediterranean climate, daily sunsets over the clear, blue water, and a city center more than 1,700 years old. Split is the epitome of the Dalmation word šušur, meaning loud, happy, and good. “I couldn’t imagine living in any other town,” says Tea.
After working in a seasonal hotel job in her late teens, Tea felt inspired to seek out a travel career. “It was an eye-opening experience when I started dreaming about working in tourism and providing potential guests their dream vacations,” she says. Tourism makes around 20 percent of the Croatian GDP. The share of income from tourism in the country is by far the largest in the European Union.
In her work as an account manager for an online travel agency, Tea helps make memorable experiences. She connects travelers with stunning accommodations in apartments, vacation houses, villas, or hotels. She’s constantly meeting new people, connecting with property owners, and learning new trends and technologies in the travel industry.
The property owners she works with often go above and beyond to make their guests’ experience unforgettable. “Sometimes they drive them to the airport for free, bake them cakes, make them meals, surprise them for their birthdays,” says Tea. “A lot of them say that they’ve become friends with their guests. The guests are happy to return to the same accommodation every year because it feels like home.”
“The worst thing,” Tea says with a laugh, “Is seeing those beautiful apartments, hotels, and villas, and knowing you are not going on a vacation during summertime.”
In her spare time, Tea enjoys amateur photography, volleyball (she’s on the executive committee of the recreational volleyball association Rekreacijska odbojka Split) and—of course—seeing the world.
“Traveling fills me with such great energy and positive vibes!” she says. “I love exploring different places and cultures, and getting to know local people’s customs.” Noteworthy trips include Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the Czech Republic. Tea lived in the Czech Republic for three months during her Erasmus studies program.
Split offers so many sights, sounds, and tastes for visitors—be sure to seek out the Dalmatian speciality pašticada s njokima, slow-cooked beef prepared in a rich, red sweet and sour sauce, usually served with gnocchi. (Tea says it goes particularly well with wine.) While visitors should absolutely see Diocletian’s Palace, built in the fourth century for the Roman emperor Diocletian, Tea recommends climbing Telegrin, the highest peak of Marjan Hill. Telegrin offers a perfect view of the whole town, the sea, nearby islands, and prime sunset views.
Or do as the locals do and stroll along the Riva, a seaside promenade, where people sit at the many café terraces, soak up the sun, and chat with their friends and family. “People from Dalmatia are often considered lazy. Laying in the sun, going to swim, saying ‘pomalo’ (take it easy) for everything,” says Tea. “But that is so not true. They work all day, but they have a great balance and try to enjoy life as much as they can.” Words to live by!
To see Croatia through Tea’s eyes, follow her on Instagram, where she posts charming photos that show off her country’s natural wonders, as well as stories about daily life. “I hope people from all over the world will get to know the small country of Croatia and its beauties.”
Be on the lookout for Dreams Abroad’s ongoing Meet the Locals series. Get to know the work and lives of more global professionals who turned a passion for travel into their livelihood.
by Kara Elder