Croatia’s external debt seems to be going in the right direction according to the latest data. At the end of September 2017 the gross foreign debt amounted to 39.4 billion Euros, which is 3.1 billion Euros less than of September 2016.
A study carried out by Raiffeisenbank Austria shows that the external debt of Croatia is slowly falling and that the drop is mainly due to deleveraging from the Croatian government.
The debt as a percentage of GDP stood at 81.5 percent at the end of the third quarter of 2017, which is down from 84.7 percent from the previous quarter. The general government debt and other domestic categories led the way in reducing the overall external debt, each achieving a debt reduction of €1.4 billion over the year.
As 2017 came to an end so the final figures for Dubrovnik Airport were revealed. The airport in Cilipi cemented its position as the third busiest airport in Croatia with a record breaking year handling over 2.3 million passengers.
Last year was the first time in history that Dubrovnik Airport had handled over 2 million passengers, mainly thanks to a strong summer season. In fact, in terms of passenger numbers last year only one month, March, was down on 2016. By far the busiest months for the southernmost airport in Croatia were July and August when almost a million passengers passed through.
This is in sharp contrast to the winter months where the airport, and Dubrovnik in general, is still struggling to attract tourists. In January 2017 only just over 19,000 passengers used the airport and in February this number had climbed slightly to almost 23,000. However even the bleaker winter months showed an increase in guests compared to 2016, and the airport finished the year strongly with November (+40.4 percent) and December (+20.5 percent) showing drastic improvements.
This year, if indicators are to be believed, should be even more successful for the airport with many international airlines introducing new flights. This will not doubt be boosted by the fact that Easyjet has announced that they will increase operations to Dubrovnik by a huge 30 percent. The British low-cost carrier is already the second most frequent airline landing at Dubrovnik Airport, after the Croatian national carrier, Croatia Airlines, and this strong increase could see the airport break the 2.5 million mark in 2018.
Thomson Airways and Norwegian Air Shuttle have also announced an increase in operations to the city by 20 percent for 2018.
The fourth Dubrovnik Winter Festival came to an end last night with a concert by the Dubrovnik band The Bourbons in the Gundulic Square.
The Gundulic Square seemed a fitting end to the festival as the festive houses in the square have provided the best atmosphere this year. The organisers of the Dubrovnik Winter Festival commented that “This year's festival brought to life some new locations, bringing them the spirit of Advent and the holidays.” The highlight of the festival was the New Year celebrations on the Stradun when up to 15,000 people welcomed in 2018.
Check out the gallery of last night by Tonci Plazibat
The globally popular Croatia cello duo, 2Cellos, have released their latest video and it is titanic in more ways than one. A cover version of the theme tune to the 1997 Oscar award winning movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, "My Heart Will Go On."
This stunning new 2Cellos video is one of their most complex ever, featuring Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser in underwater scenes.
Already the video, which was released on the 5th of January, has been watched by over 200,000 fans on YouTube.
The echoing Celine Dion classic is the latest result of the 2Cellos co-operation with the London Symphony Orchestra.
Check out the 2Cellos in their Titanic new video below
Dubrovnik will have even more flights from the UK for this summer season with news that British Airways will increase flights for this year.
Operations between London Gatwick and Dubrovnik will be increased with BA adding an extra three flights a week to the 2018 summer schedule. In 2017 the flagship British carrier operated a total of nine flights a week to Dubrovnik from London and this year the airport in Cilipi can expected BA to touchdown 12 times a week.
Apart from Wednesdays and Sundays British Airways will now operate two daily flights from Gatwick to Dubrovnik, which will also help to cover the shortfall left by the collapse of Monarch Airlines.
The summer schedule comes into force from the 25th of May and lasts until the 28th of September, basically the height of the summer season in Dubrovnik. Tickets are already available for purchase online and a single ticket starts at only 79 Euros.
Zagreb is among the most expensive cities in the world when it comes to the cost of living, according to an estimate published by Numbeo.
Numbeo is the world’s largest database of user-contributed data about cities and countries worldwide. It provides current and timely information on world living conditions including cost of living, housing indicators, health care, traffic, crime and pollution.
And their latest data shows that the cost of living for a four-member family in Zagreb amounts to staggering 14,585.10 Kunas a month without rent, whilst for a single person it is 4,292.99 Kunas without rent.
Zagreb’s cost of living index is 56,77 percent and is 43,23 percent lower than in New York, which is the most expensive city in the world.
Among 525 world cities, according to Numbeo, the Croatian capital ranks as the 317th on the list of the most expensive cities on the planet.
One of the largest infrastructure constructions ever in Croatia looks like being carried out by a Chinese company. The future Peljesac bridge, that will connect the Dubrovnik – Neretva County with the rest of the country, has been in the pipeline for decades but now this process is finally coming to a conclusion.
The decision as to which company will construct the bridge will be made by the 15th of January, according to a statement from the Croatian government, and there are currently three candidates in the running. The bids were open and publicly displayed in mid-September last year, which means that the decision-making process will take four months, which is the maximum allowed deadline.
The Chinese consortium, CRBC, seems almost certain to get the decision as, amongst other things made the most favourable offer.
The construction of the Pelješac bridge has resulted in three candidates. A joint offer of Astaldi and a Turkish company worth 3.19 billion Kuna, followed by Strabag with a bid of 3.28 billion Kuna and finally the Chines consortium with the lowest bid of 2.6 billion Kuna. In fact, not one of these offers meets the Croatian government’s estimation of the final cost, which was set at 1.75 billion Kuna, and this could possibly be one reason to cancel the tender. However due to the importance of this project for Croatia it is believed that the tender process will not be cancelled and that one of the three candidates will indeed be chosen.
The border crossings of northern Croatia are extremely busy as thousands of Croatians make their way to the ski slopes of Europe.
Skiing package vacations are almost sold out in all the major travel agencies in Croatia with Austria and Italy the two most popular winter destinations followed by France. Whilst for shorter weekend breaks Slovenia and Herzegovina are also popular.
Estimates suggest that up to 200,000 Croatians will hit the slopes this winter with family holidays the most sought after.
Atlas Travel Agency have reported that demanded is up by 10 percent on last year and that they have sold all their winter ski packages for this year. Whilst the Kompas Agency has reported a huge 20 percent increase in demand over last winter. With the snow in Europe clean and fresh and temperatures just perfect for skiing the ski season could well last into early Spring.
Advent in Zagreb has grown incredibly over the past few years, with more and more guests, more attractions and for the third year in a row an award as the leading Christmas market in Europe. And this year looks like being just as successful as ever.
Busy Christmas market in the Croatian capital - Photo - Zagreb Tourist Board
Figures released by the Zagreb Tourist Board show that from the 1st of December to the 31st of December 2017 a massive 110,707 tourists visited the Croatian capital achieving almost 200,000 overnight stays. The most numerous tourists, in terms of nationality, were from neighbouring Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria, Slovenia and Germany.
The simple fact that Austrians, with their varied and traditional Christmas markets, have chosen Zagreb as a destination for the festive season shows the attraction of the Advent in Zagreb. “We are from Graz and we heard about the large ice-skating rink and the hundreds of festive stands and atmosphere,” explained a group of young Austrian tourists to The Dubrovnik Times in the Croatian capital.
A sea of festibe lights - Photo - Zagreb Tourist Board
But it wasn’t only neighbouring countries that decided to drop into Zagreb for advent, thanks to an opening of flights from more distant destinations there were also tourist from the United States, Canada, Australia and South Korea. Speaking to the Croatian newspaper Vecernji the Director of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Martina Bienenfeld, commented that she expects revenue from the advent season to exceed 500 million Kuna. The festivities in the capital come to an end this weekend with the conclusion on Sunday the 7th of January.
Yes, I know it is a new year and a time for looking forward optimistically into a “brave new dawn” but I need to rewind a little.
It was a few days before Christmas, yes the traditional time to scoop up all those Christmas presents. We had decided not to buy each other presents, but instead to show the festive spirit and donate money to a charity. The only member of the family to be treated to a present was my mother-in-law and this was more out of necessity than pleasure. She had been driving us mad with her technological problems.
She is a relatively recent convert to the world of Facebook and she is addicted. However, she basically adopted an old tablet that used to be my wife’s and is as fast as the Croatian railway system. For months we had been hearing “I like it is frozen again,” and “It has gone to sleep.” The only answer to our family dilemma was to get her a new one. Somehow the “honour” of obtaining this new gadget fell on my doorstep. Of course I completely forgot about this obligation until Christmas Eve.
I dived into a shop in Lapad (that will remain nameless quite possibly for legal reasons) and browsed their offer. “If she only uses Facebook then this tablet is a good choice,” added the shop assistant. I am the only member of the family not to have a tablet, yes why they asked me to buy one is not clear to me either, so I took her advice. It looked ok, with a big enough screen for her to see, rather than pressing the screen three centimetres from the end of her nose.
I even wrapped it up. As I am a man and we just don’t have the thumbs or the skills to wrap any present without it looking like it has regurgitated by a pelican. Christmas lunch started and as nobody was expecting a present it went without delays. The we stopped midway through to unveil the present. Mother-in-law of course burst into tears and thanked everyone from the bottom of her heart. Lunch continued and the tablet was left to the side. “Right let’s try this new machine,” I jumped into action after dessert. Something felt strange. I turned on the machine and downloaded Facebook, Viber and Gmail, the only three apps that she uses. It seemed terribly slow. With the apps downloaded the mystery became more…well mysterious. “How is Auntie Ana?” I asked my mother-in-law. “And how do you know Ivo from Berlin’” I added. I had opened the Viber pp and the address book was full of unfamiliar names and faces. The vast majority seemed to be either in Mostar or Frankfurt. All their names, emails, phone numbers and even photos were there on display.
Thinking I was going mad I opened Gmail. – Welcome Back – was the first message. And then another unfamiliar name and a whole list of contacts, with birthdays and phone numbers, again it was a mix of Herzegovina and “expats” spread around Merkel Land. Some of the contacts matched the contacts in Viber. Scratching my head I tried Facebook. Same story with a whole list of Herzegovina faces, Mato Bulic videos and photos of Mostar Bridge.
Yes, you have guessed it (well you probably did long before me) this tablet was not brand new. It appeared that a certain lady, yes from Mostar, had owned this particular tablet before and had probably taken it back because it was dead slow. She had left all her details in the tablet, which was certainly a mistake, but the biggest horror was that this Lapad shop had tried (and succeeded) to resell it to someone else – me!
There is so much wrong with this I don’t know where to start. Apart from the complete unprofessional approach of reselling a “broken” tablet to someone else they had also given me all her personal details, as well as the details of her “nearest and dearest.” Privacy, especially in these days of stealing identities, should be respected and protected, and not resold to another customer. Needless to say as soon as the festive holidays had finished I returned to the shop. “Oh I am sorry we just got this from another shop and presumed it was new,” came her honest reply. I kind of felt sorry for her. She wasn’t the person I should be fighting. The system that she was working in was the cause of this embarrassing dilemma.
“We can offer you a new one,” she attempted a smile. “Ok, just make sure this time its new and lot a souvenir from Mostar,” I concluded.