Tuesday, 28 March 2017

With the sea temperature in Dubrovnik only around 16 degrees you have to be fairly brave to dive in. But the slightly chilly temperatures didn't stop this group of tourists from South Korea enjoying a swim in the Adriatic. And not only did they swim but they also took the chance to try out backflips and dives.

Well, at least they had the beach to themselves, the Banje Beach is the closest to the Old City of Dubrovnik and throughout the summer months is a magnet for tourists and locals. This group of tourists had it all to themselves!

Check out the backflip into the Adriatic video

A new exhibition entitled “Game of Films” opened last night in the Lazaretti Complex in Dubrovnik. Over the past few years the city has attracted leading international film productions and this new photo exhibition presents images from the first Game of Thrones to be filmed in Dubrovnik in 2011 to the latest Robin Hood blockbuster.

Dubrovnik has a long and rich history as a location for international movies and serials. The stone walls, stunning landscapes and ancient streets have been seen by millions all over the world and famous stars of the silver screen have flocked to Dubrovnik, both for business and pleasure.

Dubrovnik has always been an international city and blockbuster movies have brought a new dimension and a new audience. In recent years the city has experienced massive interest from film makers, starting with the HBO series Game of Thrones in 2011 and including Star Wars, Bollywood and Robin Hood. Historical dramas, sci-fi spectacles and musicals have all found their place and their dream location in Dubrovnik.

This exhibition presents the films and serials that have been filmed on location since Game of Thrones transformed the city into King’s Landing. Dubrovnik is truly - Hollywood on the Adriatic.

The Game of Films exhibition is open until the 15th of April.

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After opening successful pilot stores at a busy train station in Moscow, Russia, Surf'n'Fries has recently opened two more stores at one of Europe's busiest airports - Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport.

The most successful franchise in Croatia launched in 2009 has already expanded its business by opening 55 franchises in eleven European countries such as Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Romania, Hungary, Germany, Austria, Ireland, Russia, and Norway as well as in Vietnam and Iran.

It is interesting to note that Andrija Colak and Denis Polic, a successful Surf’n’Fries duo from Rijeka won an award in America for the most promising young franchise business, beating more than 300 franchises from 38 countries in 2015.

In the same year they presented their new oil free technology, which they claim solves the problem of unhealthy fast food items by only using air to make fries, chicken nuggets, mozzarella sticks and other Surf’n’Fries specialty products.

The successful duo has also announced the opening of further 300 Surf’n’Fries outlets across Russia and Kazakhstan in the next five years. Furthermore, negotiations for signing a deal in South Africa are in the final phase, whilst Surf’n’Fries outlet in Dubai is to be opened this May. There are also plans for business expansion to the largest world markets of the US and China.

I know quite a few foreigners living in Dubrovnik, some of which I consider my dear friends. Every once in a while I will joke about them being “immigrants stealing our jobs”. They don't like that. It's not because of the job stealing comment, that part is clearly a joke. The problem is in the word “immigrant”.

To many of our English speaking friends this word has inherently negative connotations even though it is defined as neutrally as: “A person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country” (en.oxforddictionaries.com). They are much more likely to choose the word “expat” to describe themselves. Of course, it all has to do with history and it is tied to roles individual countries played on the global scene during the past few hundred years.

In Croatia we have no pre-assigned notions about the word “immigrant” which we also use in our language. This is because many of our countrymen have found themselves over time travelling to foreign lands trying to create a better life, fleeing poverty or famine, political prosecution, or even mediocrity in their professional fields. Historically, we are the immigrants. While I am sometimes quick to criticise my British or American friends for their reservations about this term, the fact is, having such a light view of immigration might be one of the things dooming our country.

No, I’m not talking about preventing people from coming here in search of a better life (right-wingers can stop clapping). I am talking about the current problem of our people going abroad to live in greater numbers. You see, Croatians have an interesting position within the context of European Union. Generally speaking, we are educated and skilled at our jobs, most of us speak English or some other foreign language, but at the same time our average salaries are much lower than those in countries of Western Europe. Meaning, most of us can do our jobs just as well as our western counterparts, but are getting paid less for the same work. Our living costs on the other hand are not as low as they should be to counteract this disparity. So, the incentive to go abroad to work and live definitely exists, especially when you take into account how frustrating it can be trying to work or especially running your own business in Croatia.

Our economy is struggling and there have been plenty of news headlines recently about people leaving the country because each new government promises change only to end up achieving nothing except an increase in national debt. It’s sad. People shouldn’t be considering leaving their homes unless there is no other option.

We have fought hard to gain independence and now we are facing a threat of giving up and admitting defeat, not to a foreign army, but to domestic white collar criminals and corrupt politicians.

The decision on leaving Croatia shouldn’t be an easy one, because it makes us less likely to fight for change. Change we so desperately need. Imagine leaving a country with over a thousand islands, with an abundance of clean drinking water, a country of healthy people and untouched nature, beautiful and diverse…one you can call your own. To do so, one should have a very good reason. Much better than an inept government and slow economy.

These are things we can still turn around if we only believe we can do so. I’d like us to never change our stance on the word “immigrant”, I just hope we stop queuing up to become them, while there is so much to fight for at home.


Bozidar Jukic, AKA The Restless Native, is a Dubrovnik local with too many interests to name them all, with writing being at the very top of the list. He is a lover of good food, music and film, and a firm believer in the healing power of laughter. His professional orientation is towards tourism and travel so it comes as no surprise he spends most of his time alongside Mrs. Jukic running their own local tour company. Their goal is helping travellers from all over the world get a more intimate experience of Dubrovnik and what it has to offer. To find out more about their work, visit their website or Facebook page.


When the executive producers of Game of Thrones decided to come to Dubrovnik for the second season and transform the city into King’s Landing not too many people in the city raised an eyebrow. The series, at that time, wasn’t on the radar of most people in Croatia, it wasn’t even on television and fans had to search the internet to follow it. If that was the case in 2011 the story today, as the city braces for the eighth and final season, is incredibly different.

Souvenir shops, thrones and guided tours have sprung up all over the historic Old City – Game of Thrones is now big business and an important branch for the tourism industry. Just last year the second most numerous tourists in the city were Americans, and when you bear in mind that there are no direct flights from the US to Croatia that fact is even more surprising – the number one reason they came in huge numbers was to see the locations from the HBO serial at first hand.

“Croatia got a great opportunity through film tourism also known as screen tourism. We are also ahead all of countries which participated in Game of Thrones,” explained Ivan Vukovic to the Dubrovnik Times.

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Vukovic is one of the leading guides for Game of Thrones in Dubrovnik – basically he is the “go to” guide and a wealth of information. But he has cast his Game of Thrones net much wider than just Dubrovnik, he has travelled to every country where the serial is filmed and has visited most of the actual locations. And during these trips he has built up a foundation of knowledge, seeing the business side of the serial, opportunities or in many case missed opportunities.

“When I visited Spain, Morocco, Northern Ireland, Malta and Iceland nobody offered any me kind of tours. Even in the tourist info centres they couldn’t give me any information on who ran themed tours,” commented Vukovic who has just come back from a fact finding trip to Iceland. And not only couldn’t he find tours but he also didn’t have any luck finding souvenir shops for the serial. The only souvenir shop he found was in Girona, Spain. Dubrovnik on the other hand has a wide spectrum of souvenir shops; there is even one with an actual full-scale throne in one of them.

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Fact finding in Iceland 

There can be no doubting the massive global marketing that the serial has brought to Dubrovnik – a golden goose laying multiple eggs on an annual basis. “When you come to Croatia you find all the brochures everywhere around Split and Dubrovnik. We have become a hotspot and have received a lot of free marketing regarding all the movies shot here. This phenomenon started a few years ago as shooting of Game of Thrones started in 2011. In Croatia so it took couple of years to become a big deal,” added Vukovic.

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Getting caught on camera in Girona, Spain 

Game of Thrones acted as the first domino. Since King’s Landing appeared on millions of screens all over the world other major productions, dazzled by the stunning locations, have followed suit. After playing host to the most popular TV serial of all time what next? The answer came with the most popular movie franchise of all time – Star Wars. The eighth episode, The Last Jedi, transformed the ancient cobbled streets into a galaxy, far, far away. And this year saw the latest Leonardo DiCaprio blockbuster entering the city – Robin Hood: Origins. More fans, more publicity and more tours are sure to come in their wake.

Contact Ivan Vukovic at www.dubrovnik-tourist-guides.com and book your Game of Thrones tour


A leading coffee, tea and snacks company in Croatia successfully continues to conquer world markets.

The Franck company, one of the most successful food production and export companies in present-day Croatia, recently entered the market of the United States i.e. Franck's iconic jubilee ground coffee is now available in 150 stores of the largest American retail chain Walmart.

A business analysis shows that Franck's market share has been growing in the Adria region. The company has already expanded to Central Europe through companies in Vienna and Bratislava. On the other hand, Franck has invested more than 20 million Kunas in modernization and introduced 30 new products; therefore, the further expansion to other demanding markets is reasonably expected.

''We've shaken our distributors thus this year we are expanding exports to Scandinavian markets, whilst with a special offer of our jubilee ground coffee we recently entered Walmart stores in the US. Our products have already been available in more than 350 stores in Vienna, and after 25 years we have returned to the markets of Serbia and Montenegro with our popular ''brick'' (vacuum-packed jubilee coffee of 250 grams) as well as with our other assortment of ground coffee, instant cappuccino and teas'', explained Zoran Mabic, the sales director at Franck.

It is interesting to note that this year the Franck company is celebrating its 125th anniversary. The story began when a young and ambitious German entrepreneur named Johann H. Franck managed to produce a coffee substitute using chicory root. The company was first registered as Heinrich Franck Sohne G.m.b.H in 1828.

After opening branches in Austria, Italy, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, another one was opened in the Vodovodna Street in Zagreb in 1892, where the company’s headquarters are still today.

Dense fog brought an eerie feel to Dubrovnik this afternoon as freaky weather conditions meant the city was almost blacked out. The Adriatic Sea and the island of Lokrum were almost invisible as the “pea souper” covered the city.

In fact this strange weather phenomenon isn’t classic fog it is known as advection fog and occurs when moist air passes over a cool surface by wind and is cooled. It is common at sea when moist air encounters cooler waters. It certainly brought an odd feel to Dubrovnik today.

Check out our video of the Dubrovnik fog

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The island of Lokrum disappeared in a blanket of fog this afternoon.

These rather strange weather conditions brought thick fog down over the Adriatic Sea and completely covered the island of Lokrum from the Old City of Dubrovnik. As warm sunshine blazed down this micro-climate around the island was wierd to see. 

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Photo Barbara Gate 

Croatia Air Traffic Control (HKZP) has received the Single European Sky 2017 award at the World Air Traffic Management Congress which was held in Madrid, Spain from the 7th to the 9th of March.

On this occasion, the European Commission awarded five projects that help modernise EU Air Traffic Management (ATM), whilst the winners were chosen among 36 applications from 35 world countries.

Croatia Air Traffic Control (HKZP) received the EU Commission’s award for the multinational project called the South-East Axis Free Route Airspace (SEAFRA).

SEAFRA is the first cross-border application of 24-hour free route airspace in Europe. The project brings together four countries: Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which are part of the Functional Airspace Block (FAB), with Serbia and Montenegro, which are not part of any FAB initiative. By doing so SEAFRA provides a concrete example of how this type of cooperation is possible and can benefit all stakeholders. The idea of such large-scale free route airspace was initiated to improve safety and efficiency, as well as environmental protection by reducing fuel consumption.

‘’This award is a great recognition of our project which we have implemented with our partners SMATSA and BHANSA from neighbouring countries. This project was the first to introduce free route airspace in Europe in the area of four countries – Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro. Apart from exceptional reduction of fuel consumption for air carriers, we have also significantly reduced CO2 and NOx emissions’’, emphasized Dragan Bilac, the director of HKZP.

Furthermore, EUROCONTROL’s Network Manager and high-level representatives from five air navigation service providers will present the Free Route Airspace (FRA) concept and provide real examples of implementation over Central and South East Europe.

Apart from four SEFRA countries, the FRA project would also encompass air spaces of Austria and Slovenia (SAXFRA). This project will significantly improve services for air carriers considering the fact that large part of European air traffic passes just over these six countries on the way from north-western Europe to the Middle East.

In terms of tourism, Croatia is best known for its coastal destinations; however, the continental ones do not lag behind them anymore. The popular Art&Spa centre in the Hrvatsko Zagorje region is one of them.

In the first two months of 2017, the Croatian spa centre Terme Tuhelj recorded around 20,000 overnight stays and placed on the TOP 10 most visited destinations in Croatia in that period. This positive trend is expected to continue in the rest of the year with encouraging indicators from both foreign and domestic tourists.

Noting that the tourist season at Terme Tuhelj lasts throughout the whole year, from the spa centre point out that they are very satisfied with the achieved results in the first two months of 2017 which put them side by side with popular Croatia's destinations such as Dubrovnik, Opatija, Rovinj, Umag, Split, Porec, Zadar, and Zagreb, which placed as the first on the list in terms of tourist traffic.

''Out of the total number of 20,400 overnight stays, most were realized by domestic guests (12,100), mainly in hotels and other accommodation spa centre facilities. Thus, we are among the TOP 10 destinations in Croatia in terms of hotel tourist traffic in the first two months of 2017'', Terme Tuhelj presented data from the eVisitor system.

Thanks to the increased activities on foreign markets for this year, apart from an increase in arrivals and overnight stays of domestic tourists, Terme Tuhelj expects growth from foreign markets as well. Furthermore, apart from the investment in the development of spa services and in education of employees, Terme Tuhelj has been working on the improvement of their congress offer, which has resulted in the continuous increase in the number of congresses and business guests.

''Bearing in mind that experiences and emotions are among the most important topics in tourism, this year we are also planning investments with emphasis on pools with thermal water in order to popularize natural wellness'', said Terme Tuhelj.




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The Voice of Dubrovnik


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