Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.
The year has certainly started on the right foot for Dubrovnik’s tourism industry with both January and February showing an increase in tourists. The county traditionally struggles to attract tourists throughout the winter months, mostly due to poor flight connections, however there has been a slight increase in the first two months of 2018.
According to figures just released by the Dubrovnik – Neretva County Tourist Board the number of tourists who visited the county in February was up on 2017. A total of 18,913 tourists arrived in the county in February 2018 which is a one percent increase over the same month for 2017, and just over 54,000 overnight stays were recorded.
In the first two months of 2018, 33,710 tourists arrived in the county, which is 4 percent up on the same period from last year.
Spring was in the air in Dubrovnik on Sunday with plenty of sunshine and blue skies over the region. Whilst the rest of Croatia is still stuck in overcoats, umbrellas and in some cases skis, Dubrovnik has managed to avoid most of the arctic weather and yesterday was perfect chance to enjoy some sun and fill up on vitamin D.
At exactly midday every day in the Gundulic Square in the historic Old City of Dubrovnik the city’s pigeons have feeding time, and the flock also brought interest from the cats of the city.
From walking the dog on the Stradun to stroking a cat, or feeding the pigeons, check out our Dubrovnik pet gallery by Zeljko Tutnjevic.
easyJet will introduce flights between Venice and Split this summer, meaning that the low-cost airline has now added eight new destinations to Croatia for this summer showing their long-term commitment to the country. easyJet will connect Venice and Split three times a week in the height of the summer season, from the 14th of June until the 1st of September.
With their considerable increase in flights and passenger capacity to Croatia this year the low-coast airline will have over one million tickets for sale for flights this year. After Croatia Airlines, the national airline, easyJet handles the second most passenger numbers to Dubrovnik. And for this summer season two more European destinations will be added to Dubrovnik’s already comprehensive offer, with flights to London Southend and Venice.
"With more than 46 services operating in Croatia, easyJet is committed to providing Croatian clients with affordable trips, offering them a broad network of connections with major European cities", commented the airline.
It might only be the beginning of march, and just a few days ago Dubrovnik was under a blanket of snow but some people were just determined to make the most of the warmer weather this Sunday.
On the iconic Banje Beach these two tourists had quite clearly decided to catch as many rays as possible, and even if they had left their bikinis and swimsuits at home they stripped down to their underwear before paddling in the Adriatic Sea.
It is just a reminder that in a couple of months this beach will be packed to the rafters with holiday makers splashing around in the sea.
Croatian banks are tightening their belts and making it harder for companies and people to get loans.
The number of outstanding debts from loans at the end of 2017 was 245.9 billion Kuna, whilst in 2016 this figure was over 15 billion Kunas more at 261 billion Kunas. Banks in Croatia, of which 90 percent are owned by other European Union countries, mostly Italy, Austria and Hungary, have recently made it more difficult for citizens to raise finance for buying properties.
On the positive side for Croatian banks the level of non-performing loans, or loans on which the borrower is not making interest payments or repaying any principal, has fallen. The number of non-performing loans in Croatia fell to 11.37 percent in 2017, whilst in 2016 it was 13.8 percent.
The number of inhabitants inside the ancient city walls of Dubrovnik has been dropping alarming for the past few decades and has now reached record lows. In 1961 the vibrant Old City of Dubrovnik had a population of 5,872, but today that number has plummeted to only 1,557.
According to figures just released 55 percent of the households in the historic city have only one or two family members, which offers the assumption that these households are older people. In fact, the population is dominated by the elderly, of the 1,557 inhabitants a massive 856 are aged over 65. “The historic core of Dubrovnik is a space of unwelcome demographic collapse. The depopulation and high rate of elderly citizens means that we can almost guarantee the continue of this process,” commented Dr. Sanja Klempić Bogadi, from the Institute of Migration and Civilisation.
Walking the ancient cobbled streets of the Old City in the winter highlights the depopulation problem. Although the city has a buzz in the summer when tourists from all over the world arrive, the winter months are a different story, with one of the biggest shocks the lack of local children.
Empty winter streets of Dubrovnik - Photo Mark Thomas
In the Marin Getaldić school inside the city walls a total of 156 children started the first class this year. That figure doesn’t sound too disappointing, however when you take into account that the school has been actively attracting children from outside the city walls just to fill the classrooms, it is a little disappointing.
For example, in one first grade class this year, of the twenty pupils in the class only four actually live in the Old City. The latest findings report that there are only 160 children, under the age of 14, who call the Old City home today, or there are three times more pensioners than children in the city.
In 1961 there were 5,872 inhabitants in the city, in 1991 this number had fallen to 3,525 and in 2011 to 2,116.
Two beaches in the Dubrovnik county have been featured in a list of the 25 best beaches in Europe by the popular UK newspaper The Guardian. The St. Jakob beach, which offers splendid views of the historic Old City of Dubrovnik, and the slightly more hidden Pupnatska Luka, on the island of Korcula, have found themselves recommended by The Guardian.
- Dubrovnik is usually intolerably crowded, and in July and August this little beach to the south makes a good escape from Croatia’s most popular tourist destination. Sveti Jakob is at least a 30-minute walk from the old town and down 160 rocky steps, so deters the casual beachgoer – write The Guardian about St. Jakob. Adding that the beach offers gorgeous views of the city walls.
And the stunning Pupnatska Luka beach on Korcula also features - The rugged southern coast of Korčula harbours numerous beaches – one of the most heavenly is Pupnatska Luka. At the top of a deep bay surrounded by thickly forested bluffs, this chilled-out beach of white pebbles and sparkling water gives a sense of being cocooned in aquamarine loveliness – says the article.
Pupnatska Luka on Korcula - Photo by marinas.com
In total The Guardian placed only four Croatian beaches on the list of the 25 best beaches in Europe, and two are in the Dubrovnik county, with Posedarje, near Zadar, and Livačina on the island of Rab, making the list.
Croatia is among the European Union countries with the largest decrease in unemployment. Compared with a year ago, the unemployment rate fell in all member states. The largest decreases were registered in Cyprus (from 12.6% to 9.8%), Greece (from 23.3% to 20.9% between November 2016 and November 2017), Croatia (from 12.2% to 9.8%), Portugal (from 10.1% to 7.9%) and Spain (from 18.4% to 16.3%).
Even though these latest figures are encouraging Croatia still has one of the highest unemployment rates out of the 28 EU members.
Figures from January 2018 reveal that Croatia has a 9.8 percent rate of unemployment which puts the country in 24th position in terms of unemployment. Greece has by far the highest unemployment rate in the EU, at 20.9 percent, whilst the Czech Republic has the lowest rate at only 2.4 percent.