Press Trip Part 6
Travel Writers from Hong Kong and Singapore find themselves in the middle of a media frenzy during a tour of Zagreb, Croatia, when some local footballers invite them aboard their bus.
Journalists are supposed to cover the news rather than make the news. But that time honoured journalistic convention is turned on its head during a familiarization trip for reporters and travel writers from Hong Kong and Singapore to Croatia.
The Asian based journalists had been flown to Croatia on the first flight linking Doha, Qatar, with Zagreb, the nation’s capital, on Qatar Airways.
As the journalists were being led by tour guide Doris Kunkera on a sightseeing excursion from their hotel toward the centre of town, they heard a commotion.
Karen Wong, a Reporter from Sing Tao Daily, a Chinese language newspaper in Hong Kong, and Jessica Hung, an Editor at EastWeek, a Chinese language magazine in Hong Kong, went to investigate. Moments later they motioned for us to follow.
“They’re giving away T-shirts,” one of them screamed. Walking in the same direction as the two young ladies, we encountered an enthusiastic crowd, which was swarming around a blue and white bus.
As it turned out, the local football team, which is known as Dinamo Zagreb, had won a key match against their arch rivals the night before. They were touring the city in a blue and white bus, throwing blue and white T-shirts out through the windows to their adoring fans, which are known locally as the Bad Blue Boys .
When I looked up, I saw our group leader, Jolie Yap, Regional Marketing Manager, East Asia and South West Pacific, Qatar Airways, surrounded by football players, waving enthusiastically to the crowd on the sidewalk, which roared its approval.
Next I saw Lunita Mendoza, Senior Editor of Asian Geographic, doing the same.
The next thing I knew, the two young ladies had emerged from the bus. Jolie was accosted by an enthusiastic television crew, which conducted a short interview with her.
We learned the next morning that Jolie had not only made the evening news, pictures of her and the three other female members of our group had also been spashed all over the sports page of at least two local newspapers.
Next Stop: Split
When we arrived in Split, the next stop on our whirlwind tour of Croatia, we learned that Jolie’s reputation had preceded her.
Her picture had also been published in the local newspaper, but – since Split and Zagreb are arch rivals – the coverage had taken on a different angle.
“Only foreign tourists would support a team like Zagreb,” the Split newspaper’s humourous caption read.