Thursday, 26 April 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.


At the invitation of the City of Almeria, which is located in the Spanish region of Andalusia, Jelka Tepsic, Head of Communications at the Dubrovnik Tourist Board participated in a roundtable discussion on film tourism "Mesa del Cine", the fourth in a row, which subject was the connection between filming and tourism. As the only foreign speaker, Tepšić presented the activities of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board on the formation of the film tourist offer and the effects of filming Game of Thrones in Dubrovnik.

Almeria, in fact, as well as several other Spanish cities, hosted shooting the sixth season of Game of Thrones. A prime location was the fortress from the Arab times Alcazaba, which hosted a number of other famous film and television titles besides the mega-famous series of HBO. Almeria has a number of products associated with film tourism - map with locations of shooting all the 14 large productions (Patton, Conan the Barbarian, spaghetti - westerns of Sergio Leone, Lawrence of Arabia and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusaders), totems on locations where the information about movies and scenes, and House of the film - small museum dedicated to the history of film shooting, in which the famous John Lennon  lived for several years and his monument is located in the city center. Almeria City Administration will continue to develop the project of the film tourism, highlighting the filming of the Game of Thrones, which will be filmed this year too. Note that the part of the Alcazaba fortress in the sixth season is "playing" the city of Dorne.

Through her presentations Jelka Tepsic presented activities of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board such as themed tours at shooting locations, promotional materials of the Tourist Board, as well as promotional activities of Dubrovnik related to shooting the Game of Thrones in foreign markets. Tepsic presented the new products of the film tourism, such as festival "Quiet, please! The city and the film are in love’’, "Escape Room’’ with a theme of Game of Thrones, recent film shooting – of the Bollywood movie FAN and the recent production of Star Wars. The participants were very interested in the experience of Dubrovnik due to the filming of the globally popular series and other big productions in our city.
Tepsic also met with the mayor of the city of Almeria Fernanedez Ramon Pacheco and head of the Tourism Dolores de Haro, who was also the moderator of the round table and who have expressed her intention to visit Dubrovnik.




Although no one mentioned it until two years ago, Noa Beach Club on the island of Pag is on the 20th place of the best clubs in the world according to the prestige club magazine Top DJ Mag this year.

The competition on this list is very fierce featuring clubs from Ibiza, Las Vegas, Miami and London. Noa Beach Club is a part of a very popular destination Zrće, it has around 160 employees and almost 300,000 people visit this club every year. In the past four years this club has invested 35 million Kuna in development programs and local infrastructure. More investment is planned for the future and this year the club opens already on the 28th of May.

''Entry to the top 20 world best clubs is a big honour and recognition of our work. But it is also a big responsibility for us to be ever better in the future. Even now we can announce music performances of Steve Aoki, Skrillex and a few more names from the world DJ scene'', said the club in a statement.

The on, off saga as to whether one of the legends of football will be seen of the Croatian coastline this summer has come to an end. The best football player of the world Lionel Messi is not coming to Hvar this summer after all! It was confirmed yesterday by Marko Bralić, a godfather of Lionel's teammate from Barcelona Ivan Rakitić. He also added that the arrival of the football virtuoso was never a sure thing but only a possibility for the future.

Everything went wrong when Slavko Gotovac an entrepreneur from Kaštela whose villa 'Sancta Domenica' was mentioned as a possible Messi's location acted imprudently and told the media that Messi was definitely coming to Croatia. ''That was only self-advertising'', said Bralić, ''he also ruined every future possibility for the football wizard from Argentina to visit our coastline''.
''Messi said that he would think about the arrival. But now when the news from our media spread like a fire across Spain and the Spanish media announced the information about Messi's 'definite' arrival, every possibility of the arrival was actually ruined because he didn't want anyone to know where and when he was going on his vacation'', said Bralić.

We can only guess what Croatia has just lost with this reckless move of the owner of the villa. One cannot escape the fact that Lionel Messi has almost 43.2 million fans on Instagram. If he came to Hvar and released only one photo of him and his family bathing in the Adriatic, just imagine what publicity that would have been for Croatia.

Laura Hyatt couldn't dream that blogging as a hobby would turn into her real job. This 24 year owner of ''Heroine in heels'' usually writes about her London adventures, but nowadays she has a new adventure to write about – her solo trip to Dubrovnik! We caught up with her during her stay, just before she went for a cruise along the Croatian coast. We really enjoyed talking to this inspirative, young woman.
Why ''Heroine in heels''?
I called it that because it started as a blog for the modern women. I was thinking about women who have careers, go out and are into fashion, that I see as heroines. I started it when I was moving to London, when I had a full time job as a journalist. I was writing about the places where I went to in London, bars, restaurants. Now my blog is a full time job!
When did you start your blog?
November 2013. Two and a half years ago, but I've been only doing it full time for the last six weeks. I actually lost my job and I thought ''You know what? I'm going to make this full time!''. I've been making money of it before, but now I get a lot more time to do it. I get to travel more, before I was limited by annual leaves and now I can travel whenever I want to.
You had a blog post about travelling alone, what are the benefits of it?
That's what I'm doing now! I absolutely love it because you have to look after yourself. I have a boyfriend who is at home, we are living together, but he doesn't want to travel. That's his thing and that's fine. We are enjoying time together, but we also have differences. It's important to be an individual. I think there are so many people that go in the relationship and become emerged ''blob''. (laughs) At the end of the day, you never know what is going to happen. It's your life and you should do things you want to do. I went on holidays with friends, but you don't get to do so much of what you want to do. When you solo traveling, you can do whatever you want. When I went on my first solo trip I've went to the airport 4 hours early, I was like ''I don't know where I'm going, I don't know what I'm doing''. You need to have confidence to navigate around the city you don't know. It elevated my self esteem, just to know that I can go places and to things on my own and I'm ok. It makes me feel good.
And where have you been travelling?
This year I went to the Arctic, I was doing the charity trekk for five days. It was minus 25 degrees and I had to sleep in an igloo. It was absolutely amazing but one day it got so cold that I started to cry. Then to Paris, Iceland, Lanzarote, now here and next week I'm going to Switzerland, then Morocco. That's what I've got planned so far!

IMG 3972
Why did you chose Dubrovnik for one of your destinations?
It was a place that I've always wanted to visit. I don't know how, but for years I've read about it in travel guides and then, obviously, Game of Thrones did its thing too. I think Dubrovnik is one of the places that jumps out with orange tiles and roofs. I'm always into the historical aspect and Game of Thrones got my attention so I decided to come.
And how do you like it?
I've been around the Old Town and it's beautiful. When I went to Lanzarote a couple of weeks ago – it's wasn't very pretty. But when I came here it was like every side that I turned was beautiful. I love taking photos and it's so great to me. You don't have to do a lot, you just can just enjoy it and walk around.
Dubrovnik is popular destination from where you come from?
Yes, a friend of mine just came last week! I think a Game of Thrones helped to that too. I see a lot of people going all the time.
Did you take a lot of photos?
Yes I've taken a lot! I'm going to write about Dubrovnik when I come back home.
Do you think you will come back?
Yes, I definitely want to come back! I like to come back in the different points of the year because you can see how the town is changes. I'm quite winter person so I would like to come then. It's nice to see it the what it is, not only the tourist aspect.
So, you could say that this is job that's fulfilling you?
Oh my God, yes! I remember when I was at my previous job, I enjoyed it, but I didn't get up in the morning and think ''I can't wait to go to work'', it was never like that. Now, I absolutely love what I do, it's a very good job. I get to travel, go to nice places. I'm working very hard, even weekends, I don't have a day of because it's a constant job, but I won't lie – it's good.
Do you have an advice for our readers if they want to start blogging?
Blogging is so different nowadays because it can be a job. I started it as a hobby and I think that's the best way to do it. Choose something you're passionate about, there's no point about writing about something you're not interested in. I think a lot of people now want to make a job out of blogging and they force it. It's a great job, but it's quite demanding and you have to live what you do. Write about something that you love – if it's travel, write about travel, if it's fashion, write about fashion, just start writing. Social media are such a big thing these days and I think that's the way I got so ''popular''. I promote a lot trough my Twitter, that's a good platform for engaging with people. For anyone who wants to start a blog: don't go in it because of the wrong reasons, write about what you're passionate about and that's when people will enjoy reading it.

''Roadtriping through Croatia and beyond'' is the name of the article that was published few days ago on The Boston Globe website that includes Dubrovnik. The author is describing a trip that starts in Zagreb, continues along the Dalmatian coast to Split and Dubrovnik, turns north to the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, through Mostar, Sarajevo, Banja Luka, and back to Zagreb.

While coming to Dubrovnik, they've stopped at Mali Ston on the Peljesac peninsula to try the local specialities. In the afternoon, they came to Dubrovnik and these were their impressions:
- Crowded Old Town has just hosted a “Star Wars” film crew (“Game of Thrones” also shot here). As we walk over an ancient bridge, following the porter into the main square, we too feel like we’re in a film. Magnificent Dubrovnik, restored by UNESCO after the war, has views of a startling blue sea that take your breath away, churches, palaces, narrow walkways, and steep stone staircases – writes the author of the article and adds that they've walked the City Walls for hours for a small fee, which is interesting because many people complain about the price.

After Dubrovnik they've continued their trip and were really satisfied. The powerful sentences end the text: ''We have seen cities and countryside a full two decades after bombs and violence were part of daily life. And quite close to one another, we’ve been surrounded by majestic beauty and sadness and hope.''

Ferris wheel might be another attraction that comes to Dubrovnik! Last week, representative of the company SkyView Attractions Perry Oerlemans visited the mayor Andro Vlahusic for the meeting with the director of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board Romana Vlasic.

Oerlemans showed them the concept of the ferris wheels, like those in London Paris and Rotterdam, after what they discussed the possibility of making the similar project in Dubrovnik. -Ferris wheel is additional touristic attraction, but so much more than that – said Oerlemans and added that there are many benefits, as ferris wheel can be unique place for restaurants and business meetings, and suitable for job openings as well.

Mayor was interested in this project and said that it was very attractive, but for that sort of project requires a lot of documentation and approvals. The key is adequate location, and at the meeting they've mentioned Batala Park and Gruž Harbour as possibilities.


New cigarette packages with photos showing negative effects of smoking should be on the Croatian market by the end of this year. This is in line with the application of a new directive from the European Union regarding tobacco products which was enforced by the law at midnight on the 20th of May, 2016. The directive determines that illustrations warning about negative effects of smoking have to cover 65% of the total package surface of all tobacco products. Old tobacco packages have to be withdrawn from the market until 20th of May, 2017.

The directive is a legislative act of the European Union but is not applied to EU members directly. The EU member countries may themselves decide about their law for implementing the decision of the EU directive. The member countries can introduce even stricter regulations than those of the European Union. The regulations also include the ban of the tobacco products with aromas such as fruit or vanilla. Menthol cigarettes will be banned in the next four years, until 2020 because some governments asked for a longer transitional period.

The big tobacco manufacturers filed charges at the EU Court against this directive but the Court rejected the charges last week. The European commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis said, ''The decision of the Court confirms that public health in the European Union is more important than economic profit''. He also added that the directive brought instruments that could provide longer life and health of the European citizens and reduce the death rate. Tobacco is the largest cause of premature death that can be avoided. ''Every year more than 700,000 people die from smoking. That is more than the population of Malta'', said the EU commissioner.

Croatia found its place among other countries at the famous Youtube channel Geography now about ten days ago and the video has already collected over half a million views. Paul Barbato is the host of the channel. This American YouTuber tries to keep an educational channel with countries from all over the world, talking about politics, demographics and geography, all in a fun way.

Of course that Dubrovnik is mentioned, as well as Game of Thrones and if you want to know (or recap) some interesting facts about Croatia you should watch this 10 minute video.

It's funny that when he posted this on YouTube Barbato wrote ''Well, we're back to the Balkans. You know what that means. Comment section popcorn time!'' in the caption. Well, there is over seven thousand comments now, but most of them are not popcorn material.




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