10 suppliers applied for the tender with their souvenir proposals with a mermaid motif. An expert commission of 4 members met, reviewed all submitted works, formed criteria (aesthetics, product availability and interpretation of the given motive) and evaluated each submitted work. Great story, but why sirens? I was immediately alarmed that something in this story was not logical. I asked myself: What has the mermaid got to do with Karlovac? Souvenirs are complex cultural objects, an inseparable part of material culture, but also of identity and development strategies of localities. Rooted in the local cultural heritage and nature, they not only reflect the tourist attractiveness of the site, but also materialize and promote its identity, cultural heritage and tradition and promote certain values. As tourism connects various industries vertically and horizontally, the impact of tourism multiplies on various sectors. On the one hand you have a great demand and consumption through tourism, and on the other an economy (agriculture, production…) that places products in tourism. And that’s it, a rounded story. Based on the received works, the expert commission selected the three souvenirs that won the most points and that will find their place under the sun in the souvenir shop. The first place was won by Craft Biblo with the souvenir “Necklace of Nymphs”, the second place went to the handicraft of Ankica Hitrec, and the souvenir of the glass figure “Let’s keep our rivers”, and the Craft Šporčić with the souvenir “Tornica sirena” in third place. All these works also received a certain financial award. On the occasion of the 440th birthday of the City of Karlovac, the Public Institution Aquatika, with the aim of having as many original domestic souvenirs in its souvenir shop, invited souvenir producers, craftsmen, artists and designers to propose and produce a souvenir of Karlovac and Aquatika. which will be sold in the souvenir shop of the institution of the same name. To repeat myself again. Authenticity and sustainable development. And that the story makes sense again shows the market. “In the past three years, a dozen new local handicrafts and crafts have been opened, so that our local people can do business with us and place their souvenirs in the Aquatika souvenir shop. Some of them really live off of it. And that is our greatest success”Emphasizes Kaleb Vuletić. Balm for my ears. That’s it, it’s that simple. Well done to Aqautika. This is how tourism is developed, strategically and sustainably. But the real story is just beginning, and it concerns the souvenir shop in Aquatica. And that is why souvenirs cannot be produced in China, and especially they should not have an offer of plastic “souvenirs” at stalls and bars on the waterfront, which is unfortunately a common case and a totally missed story. At least they shouldn’t be. The souvenir must be authentic, original, unique, tell the story of a destination and have added value because it is reminiscent of an experience that a guest has experienced in a tourist destination. That moment and the experience that, thanks to the souvenir, will be remembered forever. How many times have you told a story about a souvenir or picture from a trip, which is in your living room and attracts the attention of your guests. If it is still a souvenir and handmade and unique, it is even better because there is no copy or mass production on the tape. Photo: Public institution Aquatika FRESHWATER AQUARIUM KARLOVAC / Author: Denis Stošić A story that should be an example of sustainable development and most of all a school example of a souvenir shop as it should be. Of course, everything revolves around an authentic and unique offer, which encourages the development of the local economy and sustainable tourism development of Karlovac. But when you don’t know something, then you research and ask. So I asked and found out how the mermaid actually has a significant connection with the city of Karlovac. This is how the story goes about souvenirs, both in our tourist destinations, waterfronts, stands, and in museums. We have to offer our guests local and authentic souvenirs that are related to the story of the tourist destination. The motive of the trip is to get to know a new way and culture of living, and that is exactly our biggest advantage. Our incredible authenticity and diversity. On the other hand, the meaning of tourism is not to live on rent, and to encourage imports through tourism, which is unfortunately the case of our tourism, but to encourage local and national economy by increasing tourist consumption. Which means making the most of all local resources for tourism. So, let’s say eggs, salad, meat… are used from domestic production, not from imports. Otherwise, what is the meaning of tourism and for whom, if not for our economy? Namely, the connection with mermaids comes from river mermaids that are on the coat of arms of the city of Karlovac and are considered a symbol of the city on four rivers.Legend has it that Karlovac mermaids have been watching over Karlovac since its foundation. It is said that the founders of the City asked the permission of the mermaids from the Kupa and the Korana to build it right in their arms, so that they could keep it. In return, they promised to build a star-shaped city and inhabit it with good people, and to immortalize mermaids on the coat of arms of the city as a sign of gratitude. Now, some things are clearer to me, as well as the overall story of Karlovac. Aquatika souvenir shops offer exclusively local unique products from local suppliers, crafts, local crafts and family farms. At the beginning, there were only a dozen suppliers at the opening in Aquatica, and today they work with even more than 60 suppliers, which are mostly from the area of the town of Karlovac and its surroundings. “In this way, we encourage the involvement of the local community in the work of our institution and give the opportunity to young talented artists to exhibit their souvenirs in our area. We have a wide range of souvenirs, from magnets and decorations, through jewelry and handbags to art paintings. They are all unique, which the suppliers themselves process by hand from different materials (wood, stone, ceramics, leather, etc.), which proved to be extremely appreciated by visitors. We offer over 500 items in our souvenir shop, from cheaper to more exclusive ones. So there is something for everyone, from schoolchildren to business people. And often companies call us and take our souvenirs as business gifts. ” Kaleb Vuletic points out. And since Aquatika is a public institution under the jurisdiction of the city of Karlovac and in these three years of existence has become a recognizable tourist attraction of the city, which certainly returned the city of Karlovac to the tourist map of Croatia, it is a logical move to make an official souvenir. “With the arrival of an increasing number of visitors to our city, we want to enable them to carry a beautiful memory of visiting our city. And since Karlovac is the only city on four rivers, the solution in itself is to design a souvenir that will be truly Karlovac, with a mermaid motif. This is the background that led us to the decision to announce this public tender for the selection of a Karlovac souvenir with a mermaid motif.”Points out Ivana Kaleb Vuletić from the Public Institution Aquatika – Freshwater Aquarium Karlovac. Let’s go back to a great example of a souvenir shop in our largest freshwater aquarium. Interesting story, isn’t it? A story that has a direct connection with the city of Karlovac, including Aquatika.