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 tourist offer of the Dubrovnik – Neretva County is currently being presented to the United Arab Emirates at one of the largest travel fairs in the Middle East. The Arabian Travel Market business and trade fair open yesterday in Dubai and the Dubrovnik – Neretva County tourist board is present on the main stand of the Croatian National Tourist Board.
The Arabian Travel Market, is the leading global tourism event in the Middle East, and from the 22nd to the 25th over 40,000 tourism professionals are expected to visit the fair in the Dubai World Trade Centre.
This fair might be of particular importance to Dubrovnik as the airline FlyDubai has recently opened a new direct line from Dubai to Dubrovnik. And the tourist board commented that “With regard to the introduction of a direct flight from Dubai to Dubai, we expect a significant increase in traffic from this market this year.”
Could the Croatian national team captain be on his way to join Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the MLS. The midfield ace, Luka Modric, looks certain to leave Real Madrid at the end of this season after joining the Spanish giants in 2012 from Tottenham Hotspur.
Real Madrid are planning a reconstruction of their squad this summer and at 32 years-old Modric is being mentioned as one of the players that will need to look for a new club after six seasons and countless trophies. It had been rumoured that Modric would be coming back to the Premier League with a move to Liverpool possible. However, after a recent interview it Modric is keen to join Ibrahimovic at LA Galaxy.
“You never know what can happen. I still have two more years on my contract with Real Madrid. I'm happy. I always said that I would like to finish my career in Madrid if it’s possible. But if not, maybe I can see myself also," commented Modric.
Adding that “Ibrahimovic was such a big player in Europe the last 10 to 20 years. I would like him to play football a bit longer, to watch him, to see his magic like he did in past years.”
The Hotel Valamar Lacroma Dubrovnik has officially been awarded a halal quality certificate for guests of Islamic religion, guaranteeing hotel accommodation, food and drinks according to strict Halal standards.
The certificate was presented to the Director of the Hotel Valamar Lacroma Dubrovnik, Ivica Sabljić, by Aldin Dugonjić, the head of the Halal Quality Certification Centre in Zagreb, a specialized institution of the Islamic Community, whose primary activity is education of Halal, and the only authorized institution in Croatia to issue Halal Certificates.
"We are very pleased that we are the holders of Halal Quality Certificates and we can provide our customers with a full certified Halal Service. Valamar Riviera offers its guests the ultimate quality of service by continuously following the trends and developing a diverse range of tailor-made offerings. This is why we have recognized this certification as a model of even higher quality, multi-faceted guarantees that will provide added value to our offer, " commented Sabljić.
Valamar Lacroma Dubrovnik has expanded its offer of products to which certified halal foods have been used. All halal dishes are clearly marked and separated so that guests can easily choose them. Rooms, designed for guests who want a halal service, are specially decorated and equipped.
The consolidated gross debt of Croatia at the end of 2017 amounted to 283,313 million Kuna, or 78.0 percent of gross domestic product, while in 2016 it amounted to 281,738 million Kuna, or 80.6 percent of GDP. In 2015, the debt amounted to 284,203 million Kuna, or 83.8 percent of GDP, while in 2014 it was 278,366 million Kuna, or 84.0 percent of GDP.
In 2017, the consolidated general government surplus amounted to 2,754 million Kuna, or 0.8% of GDP.
This was in fact the first time that Croatia has seen a general budget surplus since it started using European Union methodology and the final figure was better than the government’s aim of 0.6 percent.
This forward step in the economic forecast is important to Croatia as the country plans to adopt the Euro as the official currency within the next seven years.
Illustration - Croatian Office of Statistics
The Croatian capital is growing slowly but surely as a tourist destination and last year welcomed 1.3 million tourists, a healthy increase of 17 percent compared to 2016.
The Minister of Tourism, Gari Cappelli, met with the director of the Zagreb Tourist Board, Martina Bienenfeld, this week and discussed the positive results the city achieved. The majority of the tourists to the Croatian capital in 2017 came from South Korea, the United States, Germany, Italy, and China. Thanks to the Advent in Zagreb winter festival the city managed to achieve all year round tourism and the new airport saw a continuous flow of international flights.
"The Ministry supports all the activities by the Zagreb Tourist Board, our cooperation is aimed at common goals and interests, and how much the tourist industry means for the overall economy and gives impetus to all other industries is clearly seen from the data on tourist revenue. Zagreb is a positive example of a destination that lives tourism all year round,” commented Cappelli.
The Society of Multiple Sclerosis of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, held a petition today in the heart of the Old City of Dubrovnik to collect signatures for the legalisation of hemp cultivation for medical purposes.
Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species that is grown specifically for the industrial uses of its derived products. Although cannabis as a drug and industrial hemp both derive from the species Cannabis sativa and contain the psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), they are distinct strains with unique phytochemical compositions and uses.
The Society invited all fellow citizens to join in and help to sign the petition as their voice needs to be heard to make a difference and to make the use of hemp legal for medical purposes. The members of the Moto club “Two Wheels” also joined in today’s petition which saw a large turnout.
The flagship of the United States Sixth Fleet, “USS Mount Whitney,” is currently undergoing repairs in the Croatian shipyard “Viktor Lenac.” The Blue Ridge-class command ship with over 300 crew members arrived in Croatia yesterday and the month long regular maintenance work started almost immediately.
The Rijeka shipyard has already carried out two projects on the USS Mount Whitney and the command ship joins two other US Navy ships in the Viktor Lenac yard, the USNS Trenton and USNS Carson City. In fact, according to reports in the local media, more work is being done on these ships than was originally planned which gives some indication that the US Navy is satisfied with the level of work.
The City of Dubrovnik has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the World Business Angels Investment Forum (WBAF), this week.
The understanding, signed by Dubrovnik Mayor, Mato Frankovic, and WBAF Chairman, Baybars Altuntas, is expected to strengthen the cooperation between Dubrovnik and the business angels from Turkey and the EU through investments, information exchange, and education.
Frankovic said that cooperation with WBAF should boost start-up companies as a different type of economic activity in Dubrovnik.
"Mr. Altuntas is a great innovator who has shown how to develop small start-up companies, which is interesting to us because most of our commercial activities are based on tourism. We will include the Dubrovnik University and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Croatia in this cooperation. I believe that we will become a small centre of new commercial activities that aren't exclusively related to tourism," Frankovic said.
Altuntas welcomed Dubrovnik's desire to become a global centre for tourism innovation.
“Innovation in tourism is as important as innovation in other industries. Every city or country that wants to be a leading ecosystem for innovation makes a great investment for future generations,” Altuntas said.
He added that education for entrepreneurship was much more important than just putting money on the table.
“It’s more important that entrepreneurs have a proper way of thinking and skills to develop business, than financing. Good business ideas will find their way to financing,” said Altuntas, who is currently visiting Croatia and in addition to Dubrovnik, will also visit the Adriatic city of Split, Zagreb and the northern town of Krapina.
The World Business Angels Investment Forum (WBAF) is an international organisation aiming to ease access to financing for businesses from start-up to scale-up, with the ultimate goal of generating more jobs and more social justice worldwide. It is committed to collaborating globally to empower world economic development by creating innovative financial instruments for innovators, start-ups, and small and medium-sized enterprises.