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.
Tourists to the historic Old City of Dubrovnik this morning might well have thought that they had entered a bygone age as traditional costumes and donkeys made the cobbled streets even more colourful.
No, it wasn’t a dress rehearsal for Game of Thrones, instead it was part of the event “Spring in Konavle.” The association “Agroturizam Konavle” organised an attractive presentation of wines and traditions from the southernmost region of Croatia in the heart of the Old City.
They set up a symbolic booth with wines and ice from the caves of Konavle. With this event they revived the tradition of bringing wine and ice from Konavle to Dubrovnik as it used to be many centuries ago.
It felt like the analogue world meeting the digital one as members of the association dressed in traditional folk costumes and accompanied by donkey were greeted with tourists armed with cameras on smart phones and iPads.
Ice from Konavle
According to the documents there was a special service in the 16th century for supplying ice from the nearby mountain in Konavle called Snježnica. (By the way, Snježnica is 1234 meters high and you should visit it because panoramic view over Konavle region is stunning). There were three ice caves in the mountain specially made for the collecting of ice during winter months by the peasants popularly called ”ledari”.
This business was supervised by the soldiers from Dubrovnik and sometimes by the duke of Konavle who was based in Cavtat. The ice caves were closed down by the padlocks and straw and branches were put atop to keep ice in the frozen state as long as possible. Ice from the mountain was delivered on horses and mules to Cavtat and then transferred to Dubrovnik by small ships. According to the researchers during three summer months the Dubrovnik aristocracy used approximately 170 kilos of ice a day!
The Spanish government could sue Netflix after it turns out that their latest feature film release called “Ibiza” was completely shot in Croatia and not on the Mediterranean island. The new film, which hits the screens on the 25th of May, depicts a group of girl’s adventure to Ibiza, however all of the sun swept beach and disco scenes were actually recorded on the Croatian Adriatic.
The Ibiza government has been quoted as filing a lawsuit against the filmmaker and the digital platform, because they believe that they should have used the Ibiza brand when filming a feature film called “Ibiza” rather than depicting the landscape of Croatia.
In a comedy "Ibiza", a 30-year-old girlfriend travels with her two friends to Barcelona and Ibiza where they enter the wild world discos and parties and find love.
Party all summer long on Zrce
The Iberian Government Tourism Office points out that the film presents the "worst stereotypes" of this Spanish island and is contrary to the promotional tourist policy that these and other institutions are implementing. Authorities want to change the image of the island as a place of alcohol and wild parties.
The film was shot in Split and on the beach Zrće on the island of Pag.
Croatia is looking to attract Japanese airlines to operate direct flights to the country. A link between Tokyo and Zagreb is being sought and the Croatian Ministry for Sea, Transport and Infrastructure is to start talks with their Japanese colleagues work on introducing this route.
A Bilateral Air Service Agreement between the two countries has already been drafter and according to information on the specialised website EX-YU Aviation there is a good chance that flights between the two capitals will be in the pipeline for the near future.
Only one airline, ANA, currently flies between Croatian and Japan and these are only summer charter flights to Dubrovnik. But with the huge rise of interest in Japan as a tourist destination the requirement for direct flights is even stronger and the motivation for a new air link comes from the Japanese side. In 2017 a total of 142,000 tourists from Japan visited Croatia, which was an increase of over 17 percent on 2016.
The glamourous wedding of the year yesterday in Windsor had a Croatian touch. After the Royal Wedding Prince Harry and his new wife, Meghan, went to a celebration at Frogmore House in an electric E-Type Jaguar on which a Croatian entrepreneur had worked.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex left Windsor Castle after their wedding to attend an evening reception at Frogmore House, hosted by Prince of Wales Windsor, and they drove in a modern interpretation of the 1969 E-Type Jaguar's cult model, in which the famous Croatian entrepreneur Mate Rimac had participated on. Mate Rimac is a Croatian inventor, entrepreneur, and founder of the Croatian car company Rimac Automobili in 2009. Rimac started mooting an electric supercar at the age of 27.
Rimac even shared a photo of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on his social media and wrote "Made in Sveta Nedelja, now this ...".
About 200 of the closest friends and family joined the gala party in the 17th century mansion located in the vicinity of Windsor Castle, and the Duchess of Sussex wore an aquamarine ring that once belonged to Princess Diana.
The Diving club “Župa dubrovačka” organized an underwater cleaning action yesterday in the Bay of Zupa.
This traditional eco-action involved an impressive number of divers, forty in total, and they managed to find bottles, tyres and even beach loungers in the Adriatic Sea in front of Mlini and Srebreno.
This cleaning action was the 18th time in a row that it has been held and it supported by the Municipality of Zupa and the Zupa Tourist Board. Well done to all involved for a commendable cleaning action.
The extreme heat wave that hit the whole of Croatia last year will not return to the country this year, at least according to the long-range weather forecast from AccuWeather. One of the most popular weather forecasters in the world have just released their Europe 2018 summer forecast and it would seem to be an unsettled summer for Croatia.
Temperatures in Croatia reached record breaking highs last year with most of the Adriatic seeing temperatures in the 40’s for most of the summer. But 2018 in Croatia the summer could be much more unsettled with plenty of rainy and overcast days. Although there will be periods of extended heat the storms will also mean a general cooling effect and the heat wave from last year is unlikely to return this year.
The Dubrovnik Times we caught up with the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Franković, to discover how prepared the city is for 2018 and what we can look forward to in the coming years. Franković has a history of working in the tourism industry and this experience will help him to guide Dubrovnik through the peaks and troughs of the city’s tourism industry. Franković talked cruise ships, movies and fancy French streets.
Dubrovnik is an extremely popular tourist destination and is well known all over the world. In which direction would you like to see the city’s tourism industry go in the future?
The goal of the City of Dubrovnik is to have sustainable tourism. We have to have an eye on the citizens of the city when we talk about tourism in the city. At the same time, we have to improve the tourist offer for the international tourists that visit Dubrovnik. Basically quality is much more important to us than quantity.
Is all round tourism an option? And if so what is being done to attract more flights in the winter months?
365-day tourism was one of the main themes that the city has been discussing over the past few year, however my personal opinion is that all year round tourism is not a good option. Every destination must have a month to two months to relax, to renovate and time to prepare for the next season. Dubrovnik still hasn’t reached the stage where it has the ideal length of tourist season, we still need to extend our season by another month or so. To answer your other question, we have very good announcements for this winter period, with a number of international flights arriving. Frankfurt, Istanbul and London will all have direct connections throughout the winter months. We are most interested in attracting short break holidays and for this winter we can announce direct flights from Brussels.
Frankovic in conversation with Mark Thomas from The Dubrovnik Times - Photo Tonci Plazibat
What steps have been made to control the cruise ship arrivals this year and to bring a better flow of passengers in the city?
Firstly, I need to point out that it was very hard to make any major changes for this year as all of the cruise companies already have contracts. However, with did manage to make a deal with Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) to adjust the arrival and departure times of their members, the cruise companies. Will can see that Dubrovnik will have around nine critical days this season when we will have more than three cruise ships in the city, in fact eight as we have already passed one critical day. By agreeing with cruise companies to move their departure and arrival times we have made helped reduce the large crowds that we have seen in the past. If two cruise ships arrive at the same time then we have a problem, with this new regime this will not happen. For next year we have already agreed many new arrangements with companies, which will again help the flow of cruise ship passengers. In fact, Dubrovnik could receive even more cruise ship passengers, but the organisation must be seriously improved. CLIA wants to be a partner of Dubrovnik and together we can find a better solution.
Is Dubrovnik actively seeking more movie productions after the success of Game of Thrones, Star Wars and Robin Hood?
As a city we are very open to the film industry coming to Dubrovnik in the pre and post season. We are currently working on a new set of regulations, we are making this in partnership with many of the people who have been involved in the previous movie production in the city, which will lay out all the regulations on filming in the city. We want the film industry to come to Dubrovnik, but we would like future films to feature more Dubrovnik. If you take Star Wars and Robin Hood as examples it is difficult to see Dubrovnik in these films. Of course these productions are welcome as well but films that highlight more of Dubrovnik would be ideal. We are currently in discussions with a film producer from Hollywood about the possibility of making one serial in Dubrovnik. And in this serial Dubrovnik would be shown in its full beauty. We hope the new James Bond will also film in Dubrovnik but we have no news on that project yet.
How would you like to see the tourism offer of Dubrovnik improved?
What I believe, and I think 90 percent of citizens would agree with me, is that the Stradun should be like the Champs-Élysées. High quality boutique, a high quality offer, souvenirs yes, but off the Stradun. The City Council will look at all future tenders for properties on the Stradun with the criteria of quality over price. If a high end brand is interested in opening a store on the Stradun then we will look favourably towards them.
The Croatian wine, Traminac 2015, from Iločki Podrumi is reported to have been chosen by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as one of the wine to mark their special day today, the 19th of May. This very same wine was served at Queen Elizabeth II coronation 65 years ago.
According to the company Traminac 2015 is the superior quality dry white wine with a very unique and distinctive taste and smell. The grape produces aromatic and very floral wines, which makes it easily recognizable right from the moment when you pour the wine in a glass: it announces itself with sensual aromas of roses, honey and raisins. This noble wine has a rich, complex, harmonious and sweet taste.
And the British Embassy in Zagreb have produced a rather special video of the wine being sent to the Royal Wedding.
Check out this Croatian Royal Wedding wine video