Tuesday, 25 April 2017

The Croatian Minister of Tourism Gari Cappelli is to officially visit London this week for a series of bilateral meetings with high political representatives and British tourist companies.

The aim of this visit is to strengthen cooperation with the UK, which has become one of the most important tourist markets for Croatia in recent years, with an average annual growth of around 20 percent.

During the first day of his visit on the 19th of April, Minister Cappelli will visit the British Parliament and attend Prime Minister Theresa May's Questions. He will also meet with Tracey Crouch, the State Minister for Sports, Tourism and Heritage, Damian Collins, the president of the Committee for Culture, Media and Sports of the House of Commons, John Whittingdale, the member of the Parliament and the former Minister of Culture, as well as with Patricia Yates, the director of strategy and communications at Visit Britain, the British institution which was found with the purpose of promoting the UK and development of the British tourism industry.

On the second day of his visit on the 20th of April, Cappelli is to meet with the directors of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in order to discuss investments in Croatia, as well as with Reli Slonin, the CEO of the Arena Hospitality Group.

According to data from the Croatian Ministry of Tourism, the tourist market of Great Britain is one of the most important emissive markets for the tourism industry in Croatia, whilst British tourists are the seventh most numerous guests in the country. Last year they realized 630,000 arrivals (+22%) and 3,3 million (+25%) overnight stays in comparison to 2015. The most visited destinations were Dubrovnik, the Konavle region, Split, Pula and Porec.

Freak weather is battering Croatia, with thick snow falling in parts of the country and gale force winds howling over Dalmatia.

Just a few days ago Dubrovnik was bathing in warm sunshine with blue skies and temperatures in the mid twenties, what a difference a week makes, since the Easter weekend the city has been gripped in a cold front.

Temperatures today are expected to reach 15 degrees, or ten degrees cooler than a week ago, and torrential rain is expected all day. Parts of northern Croatia are under a thick blanket of white snow as temperatures plummeted, the capital Zagreb can expect temperatures around 6 degrees today.

Weather forecasters predict that by the weekend the weather will become more stable. The weather forecast for Saturday is for sunshine and clear skies with temperatures around 19 degrees. Whilst on Sunday the forecast is similar although slightly cooler, around 17 degrees.

Dubrovnik musical spring, a series of concerts of the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra, which will be held April 18th to 28th, will begin with performances of one of the best young Croatian pianists, Aljosa Jurinic

The first concert will be held tonight, April 18th, in the Franciscan church. Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra will be conducted by Austrian conductor Christoph Campestrini.  Talented young pianist will be presented with Prokofiev Concert for Piano and Orchestra no. 2 in G minor. In the second part of the concert the orchestra will perform Schumann's Symphony no. 4 in D minor. The concert starts at 8:30 pm.

The biggest success of Aljosa Jurinic was in 2012 when he won prestigious piano competition Robert Schumann, in the composer’s home town Zwickau. In 2015 he was a finalist in the 17th International piano competition Fryderyk Chopin in Warsaw. He won numerous competitions, such as three piano competitions in Italy: Third international piano competition Encore! Shura Cherkassy in Milan, fourth international piano competition Luciano Luciani in Cosenza and fifth international piano competition in Massarosa in 2014. Aljosa is also the winner of all the major prizes for young musicians in Croatia.

Dubrovnik audience will also have the opportunity to listen to Aljosa Jurinic in the recital, which will take place tomorrow, on Wendesday April 19th, in the Franciscan church. The pianist will perform works of Beethoven, Chopin, A. Dorman and F. Liszt.

With the increase of tourists in Dubrovnik since the beginning of the year comes news that the sales of the Dubrovnik City Card has also had a huge increase. In the first three months of 2017 sales of the card have increased by an impressive 30 percent compared to the same period from last year.

And hand in hand with this there has also been a healthy increase in the revenue from the sale of the Dubrovnik City Card, this time by 44 percent compared to the same period from last year. “Based on previous indicators a significant increase in revenues can be expected this year compared to 2016,” read a statement from the organisation.

The 1-Day Dubrovnik Card is a unique pass allowing entry into 9 cultural-historical monuments, the top attractions of Dubrovnik. The 3-Day and 7-Day Dubrovnik Card are a unique pass allowing entry into 10 cultural-historical monuments, 9 top attractions of Dubrovnik, and 1 gallery in Cavtat. By purchasing a Dubrovnik Card, you will get a bus card valid throughout the city of Dubrovnik, and also coupons for a suburban ride by purchasing 3 – Day and 7 – Day Dubrovnik Card.

The weather was favorable to all those who gatherd on Easter Monday in Dubrovnik village Klisevo on manifestation Easter in Primorje for the eight year in the row.

At the event, which grew into an international folklore and tourist attraction, local specialties and traditions were presented, with the participation of cultural and artistic groups from our region and neighboring countries.

Some of the things that were shown are an ancient art of egg painting with hot wax and pituresque Wedding in Primorje, which was brought to life by the assocciation Primorski svatovi. That traditional type of wedding has some military elements and festive costumes are really special – costume and jewelery of the bride shows how wealthy her house is.

You’ll feel like you went to Klisevo with beautiful photo gallery by Zeljko Tutnjevic.

For the past eleven years, the World Economic Forum has engaged leaders in travel and tourism business to conduct an in-depth analysis of the Travel and Tourism competitiveness including 136 world economies.

Consequently, the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index measures “the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable development of the travel and tourism sector, which in turn, contributes to the development and competitiveness of a country”.

According to the latest Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report for 2017 related to safety, Croatia has been ranked among one of the safest countries in the world for holidaymakers to visit.

The report evaluated 136 countries on factors and policies that influence travel and tourism business, including exposure of tourists and business to security risks including violence and terrorism.

Among 136 world countries, Finland is the safest country in the world, whilst Croatia placed as the 24th of this list. Finland was followed by the UAE, Iceland, Oman, Hong Kong, Singapore, Norway, Switzerland, Rwanda, and Qatar.

Some of the major world powers weren’t ranked as high as they would have like to be. Russia came in at 109th, the United States in 84th position, the UK in 78th and Germany in 51st place.

On the other hand, the least safe world destinations for tourists are Colombia, Yemen, El Salvador, Pakistan, Nigeria, Venezuela, Egypt, Kenya, Honduras, and Ukraine.

With more tourists than ever before arriving over the Easter period in Dubrovnik it feels like the summer season has already started in the city. The streets of the historic city centre are buzzing and restaurants and cafes bars are overflowing with guests.

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In spite of the bad weather over the Easter weekend guests still had sunny spots in between the showers to enjoy an al fresco meal. Almost all of the tables in the city were full over the weekend and at some restaurants there were queues, it is a summer atmosphere.

And Dubrovnik’s restaurateurs are certainly enjoying this early start - the changeable weather hasn’t helped but we have been busy non-stop – commented one restaurant owner. Prijeko, Stradun and all the squares and streets were full as diners enjoyed an Easter break.

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With almost 12,000 tourists in Dubrovnik and numerous cruise ships over the weekend it has been a busy Easter period in the city.

Although the weather over the past few days has been overcast and slightly chilly for this time of the year it didn’t stop guests to the city from sightseeing and enjoying al fresco coffees.

Amongst the thousands of tourists in the city today was the junior water polo team of Singapore who were clearly having fun.

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The hype around the release of the latest episode of Star Wars was ramped up another notch this week with the release of the official teaser trailer. The Last Jedi was partly filmed in Dubrovnik last year when the main street through the historic Old City was transformed into a galaxy far, far away. The rumours are that Dubrovnik will be the location for a casino planet – Canto Bight.

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During filming in Dubrovnik an explosion in front of a cafe bar was filmed as well as high speed chases. Whilst none of the major stars actually travelled to Dubrovnik their body doubles took their roles in the all action scenes. The former mayor of Dubrovnik, Andro Vlahusic, commented for The Dubrovnik Times that “Dubrovnik will be the first urban location in the Star Wars franchise.” This again would tie in with the rumours of a casino planet or Canto Bight. Whilst Dubrovnik was used as the location for the external shots for the Canto Bight the internal shots were filmed in Pinewood Studios in London.

The Last Jedi will be released on the 15th of December this year.

Check out the official trailer.

The noble canary

Apr 17, 2017

You probably expect this story to be about those wonderfully beautiful and cheerful little birds that have a beautiful singing voice. Well not quite.

Canaries were always well regarded by man. They formed a vital role in early coal mines when they were taken down in cages to help detect the miner’s scourge, leaking gas. Being sensitive little creatures they would fall off the perch dead long before the level of gas became toxic to the miners. They even share their name with a whole archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean discovered by the Spanish - The Canary Islands. But the little bird did not lend its name to the islands but rather it was the name given by the first roman visitors, Insula Canaria, meaning “island of dogs” which were apparently very plentiful. It is a wonderful place to visit with a warm all year round climate and an amazing biodiversity. This divergence within the islands leads to almost subtropical conditions in the north and an abundance of unique palm trees - Canary Palms. Which brings me to the root of the story.

Dubrovnik too has quite a deal of biodiversity. Not so much due to the climate but rather due to the efforts of the locals. Being an industrious little republic Ragusa sent out trading ships to all parts of the known world. The returning sea captains brought back all manner of exotic plants to fill the gardens of their beautiful villas. Among the most popular were the Canary Palms. A walk around the city will reveal a specimen in nearly every garden and they give the whole town an exotic and old world fell. Indeed when one compares the size of the oldest specimens in Dubrovnik to those in their home land it can be seen that many of our trees are as old and big as they get. But just like their namesakes in the mines, too many are dying. It is a scene of destruction which would strike terror into the heart of the bravest miner.

This devastation seemed to start around the Lapad or Gruz area with a great many of the trees dying very quickly at the beginning of last summer. Then, after a few months it spread south towards the old town and I have even noticed trees as far away as Zupa have succumb with the tell tale signs of the new growth flattening out to be quickly followed by all the leaves dying. The city administration has made some attempts to stem the tide, particularly with the magnificent stand of palms which stretches from Pile gate up the long flight of stairs towards Srd. Here they sprayed the plants and inserted a black rubber hose to allow further treatment later. But all to avail as this beautiful and iconic Dubrovnik sight is too slowly disappearing.

In the words of that wonderfully eccentric American physicist and educator, Professor Julius Sumner Miller, “why is it so”. How can these trees have lived happily here for hundreds of years only to meet their demise in a few short weeks? Well I am not a botanist just a wizard but I believe the answer could lie in the city's life blood, tourism. When the city's founding fathers sailed off to make their fortunes they basically only visited European destinations and the plants and soils they brought back did not represent a threat. Whereas all over the rest of the world, take for example Australia, imported plant materials are seen as a bigger threat than almost everything else. There are amazingly strict quarantine procedures in place which are so strict that they even extend to bringing homemade olive oil into the country.

The myriad of cruise ships which visit Dubrovnik during the season have visited destinations all over the world. Their passengers come from all corners of the world. So too, the many local men and women who work on all sorts of boats which travel the world. So I believe the answer lies in with insects who have hitched a ride. These creatures carry phytoplasma which are a form of bacterial disease which attacks mature Canary Palms. In Australia many years ago the vast sugarcane fields were under threat of destruction by a particular beetle brought on trading boats so the authorities imported cane toads from South America which loved to eat them. Sounds like a good plan, well not really as those toads have now reach plague proportion and when eaten by local animals their deadly poison glands are killing vast numbers and causing some species to become endangered. There is no point in trying any exotic solutions here because apparently there is no known cure for this problem. But with any luck the snow Dubrovnik experience over winter may have killed the evil little insect tourists. On the negative side the snow has taken its toll killing the only Norfolk Pine tree I have ever seen growing outside the Pacific Ocean area which was looking tall and majestic in a garden in Saint Jacob. Worst still the beautiful lilac bougainvilleas which give the whole Dalmatian coast a cheerful outlook all look like they have given up on life as well.

The moral of this story is all too familiar to a local, what tourism gives with one hand it takes away with the other.

The Wizard of Oz 

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The Voice of Dubrovnik


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