Thursday, 21 June 2018
Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas

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 European Union has given Croatia four tough choices to get its economic situation in order. The European Commission released on Wednesday four recommendations which they stated should be carried out over the next 18 months. Last year the EU basically gave Croatia the same four proposals and yet Croatia has yet to introduce them all fully.

Firstly, the stated that property tax should be introduced, based on property values. This was planned by the Croatian government last year but after stiff opposition was put on hold. Secondly the EU recommended that early retirement should be discouraged and that the government should push to raise the statutory retirement age.

Then the third point is in regard to public administration. The salaries of public services and administration should be regulated and a reduction in the number of public bodies throughout the country.

And lastly the European Commission stated that Croatia should improve corporate governance in the state-owned enterprise sector and speed up the divestment rate of state-owned enterprises and inactive state assets. The burden on businesses stemming from regulation costs should be significantly reduced, and the quality and efficiency of the justice system improved, in particular by reducing the duration of civil and commercial cases.

Hotels and campsites in Croatia have seen better bookings for May this year than last year and also an increase in prices, according to a survey by the consultants HD Consulting. Prices per accommodation object have increased between 4 and 5 percent all down the Adriatic coast.

A study of hotel and camping prices in Croatian regions was conducted in early May by interviews with sales managers in a large number of hotel and tourist companies with a portfolio of hotels and camps in the regions of Istria, Kvarner, Dalmatia and Dubrovnik.

Commenting on the rise in prices for 4 to 5 percent compared to last year in better hotels and camps, Senior Partner from HD Consulting Sanja Cizmar said that this is a consequence of last year's increased demand. She added that the leading tourist companies in hotels and camps had a 10 to 15 percent higher revenue in early May this year than in the same period last year.

Whilst bookings for May were extremely promising the early indicators for June and July look less impressive, however hotel managers are still optimistic that these two summer months will be just as busy as last year.

The popular low-cost Spanish airline, Vueling, will launch flights from Vienna to Dubrovnik starting on the 15th of July this year.

The airline already operates flights to Dubrovnik from Barcelona and Rome and with the addition of Vienna the airline will become one of the leading companies into the city. In fact, Vueling plan to launch a total of eleven new flights out of the Austrian capital.

Vueling is owned by International Airlines Group (IAG), headquartered in the UK. So far the flights aren’t available to book on the company’s website.

Japan has consolidated its spot at the top of the Henley Passport Index, now offering its citizens visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to a record total of 189 destinations. Following closely behind Japan are Singapore and Germany in joint 2nd place, with 188 destinations accessible without a prior visa. 3rd place is shared by six countries: one Asian (South Korea) and the rest European (Finland, France, Italy, Spain, and Sweden).

Croatia is located in joint sixteenth position on the Henley Passport Index along with Hong Kong, Bulgaria and Romania, with visa-free travel to 169 different countries.

While Schengen Area countries have traditionally topped the index as a result of their open access to Europe, developed Asian nations have been able to secure equally high scores in recent years thanks to their strong international trade and diplomatic relations. With close to 40 visa-waiver agreements signed by governments since the start of the year, passport-holders around the world go into the summer season with greater collective access than ever before.

The Henley Passport Index, which is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), has recently been updated through extensive research to include eight new travel destinations. According to Dr. Christian H. Kälin, Group Chairman of Henley & Partners, “this addition means that the index now encompasses almost all of the world’s destinations for which travel information is publicly available, making it the most robust index of its kind. The Henley Passport Index surveys a total of 199 different passports against 227 different travel destinations, including countries, territories, and micro-states. The index is innovating the way we map and measure travel freedom, making it easier for individuals to understand where exactly they lie on the spectrum of global mobility.”

The most famous food guide in the world, Michelin, has published a second edition of its guide to the region of Istria. The Istria County Tourist Board commented that it is great recognition for the region and its gastronomic and other tourism-related services.

In total there are three restaurants in Croatia with the privilege of a Michelin star, including the 360° restaurant in Dubrovnik.

The new edition of the Istrian guide also lists wineries and olive oil producers in the region, along with top eateries. It will be printed in both English and German and is sure to be great promotion for the region gastronomic offer.

Croatia is still paying the price of the Homeland War. The Ministry of the Interior have announced that over the past twenty years 5.5 billion Kuna has been spent on clearing landmines throughout the country. Since the end of the war 595 people have been injured due to mines. In fact, 2017 was the first year since the end of the war in 1995 that nobody was injured by landmines.

Some 405 square kilometres of land still remains to be cleared according to the plan, and since it will not be feasible to complete this task by the previously set target date March 1, 2019, the government proposed extending the deadline by seven years, to March 1, 2026.

It is believed that there are still 447 square kilometres of land in Croatia that have unexploded mines.

Liverpool FC defender, Dejan Lovren, has moved into the Croatian hospitality business. The 28 year-old has constructed an elegant and modern four-star hotel on the island of Pag and it is set to open in the next weeks.

Hotel Joel has 17 apartments, and is situated near one of the most popular party beaches in Croatia, the Zrce beach. It is rumoured that Lovren spent around 3 million Euros on the hotel.

Lovren, who joined Liverpool from Southampton in 2014 for £20 million, will play in the Champion’s League Final against Real Madrid the weekend. And after the final we could well see him back in Croatia opening his new business venture.

lovren hotel 1

bedroom lovren hotel

hotel joel croatia

“Remember Italy is Croatia’s neighbour, and my goodness, do you feel that in the food,” wrote Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, on her blog after a visit to Dubrovnik back in 2014. Markle had a popular travel and fashion blog called The Tig and in July 2014 she spent a vacation in the Dubrovnik, the island of Korcula, Vis and Hvar.

“Stroll the marble Stardun, taking in the magnitude of your beautiful setting – fortress walls, local cafes and restaurants line pedestrian old town and the Lindjo dance group performs folk dancing on an open-air stage in the summer,” added Markle on her travel blog.

meghna in a dubrovnik sidestreet 2014ž

Meghan Markle in a Dubrovnik cobbled street - Screenshot The Tig 

The Tig was named after her favourite wine and she described it as “a hub for the discerning palate – those with a hunger for food, travel, fashion and beauty.” But now that she is the Duchess of Sussex and is a member of the Royal Family she has had to close down her blog, as well as all of her social media accounts. When she closed it down she wrote "To all my Tig friends: After close to three beautiful years on this adventure with you, it's time to say goodbye to The Tig. What began as a passion project (my little engine that could) evolved into an amazing community of inspiration, support, fun and frivolity.”

Quite clearly she enjoyed her time on the Dalmatian coastline and all of her blog entries during her travels were filled with praise for the culture, history and food, especially the food.

She also visited the island of Hvar, which is well-known for its jet setting lifestyle and all-night parties. Funnily enough this was the exact same island that Prince Harry visited in 2011, just three years ahead of his future wife, and had a party with his friends in a popular nightclub.

meghan wine 2014 dubrovnik

Enjoying a glass of wine with a view over Dubrovnik - Screenshot The Tig 

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