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 number of Chinese tourists visiting Croatia is increasing year-on-year and figures just released by the Croatian National Tourist Board there has been a 40 percent increase this year.
The Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) is currently representing Croatia's tourist offer at the ITB China business fair, which is being held in Shanghai from the 16th to the 18th of May.
The Croatian offer is part of the large European Travel Commission booth, where 19 European companies, including the Zagreb City Tourist Board, are presenting their offer. The Croatian Information Desk and ETC stand was visited by Croatian National Tourist Board Director, Kristjan Staničić, who met with representatives of the Chinese tourism sector, including representatives of the Global Tourism Economy Forum (GTEF). GTEF is a leading international platform aimed at promoting the sustainable development of the global tourism industry with an emphasis on China.
"China for Croatian tourism is a strategically important market where our country, because of its extremely rich cultural and historical heritage, gastronomy and preserved nature, is recognized as Europe's top tourist destination. With a view to attracting Chinese visitors more intensively, we have decided to strengthen the promotional presence in this large market through organizing business workshops, performing at fairs, and also through the opening of the HTZ representative office in Shanghai. Partner feedback is extremely positive, we expect further growth, especially in the pre and post season, when Chinese tourists usually make their trips to Dubrovnik, Zagreb and Split, "said Staničić, adding that it is necessary to simplify the visa regime in this market, and to introduce direct flights between Croatian and Chinese destinations.
Obtaining a visa to travel to Croatia can take up to one month for Chinese tourists. Therefore, most are bypassing this prolonged system and taking a Schengen visa from France or the United Kingdom which they can receive in 48 hours. This multi-entry visa means they need to stop in either Paris or London on their way to Croatia. This poor bureaucracy is costing Croatian much needed finance as well as being bad promotion for Croatian tourism. Wang Shuai, a Chinese travel expert told The Dubrovnik Times “It can take at least one month to get a visa for Croatia. This is why most Chinese tourists take Schengen visa from France or the UK as these visas are ready in only 48 hours. Of course this means that the tourist has to travel through Paris or London because of their visa. If Croatia could speed up this visa process it would be very helpful.”
After the success of the filming of Game of Thrones, Star Wars and the upcoming release of Robin Hood, Dubrovnik could soon be the backdrop for a new Hollywood production.
Dubrovnik has been a magnet for the movie industry for the past five years, mainly on the back of the HBO serial Game of Thrones which has filmed seven seasons in the city, and now the “Adriatic Hollywood” looks set to be back on the screen with a new serial.
“Dubrovnik is open for co-operation with the film industry and we have currently creating a new set of regulations for filming in the city,” said the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Franković, to The Dubrovnik Times.
“We are currently in talks with a young and successful film producer from Hollywood who last year won an Emmy Award who is interested in filming a serial in Dubrovnik in which the city would be backdrop,” added Franković.
However, when asked for the name of the future serial and producer the Mayor played his cards close to his chest and kept both a secret, at least for now.
One of the most famous bloggers in the world, Julie Sariñana, known as Sincerely Jules on Instagram, is currently in Dubrovnik and filling her social media with photos of the city. With almost five million followers on Instagram Sincerely Jules is an important online influencer and her photos have already collected tens of thousands of like and comments.
She has used Hotel Excelsior as the backdrop for her photos in Dubrovnik. In fact, Julie is one of the most successful travel and fashion bloggers in the world and has managed to turn her hobby into a business empire. Her promotion of Dubrovnik will also open up the city to a whole new market.
Croatia is looking to Israel for help defending its borders with drones. The Ministry of Agriculture has signed a contract with Aeronautics from Israel worth 4.87 million Euros for the procurement of specialised drones to monitor the Adriatic Sea for illegal fishing.
Six unmanned aerial vehicles or UAV’s will be purchased by Croatia as well as a complete logistics system in a deal that will be jointly financed by the European Union.
Agriculture Minister Tomislav Tolusic said at the signing ceremony that the system would be used to monitor legal and illegal fishing activities in the Adriatic Sea. It will also be used to monitor the entry of foreign fishing boats into Croatian territorial waters.
"About 60 percent of the time the system will be used by the Agriculture Ministry to monitor fishing activities, while the rest of the time it will be used by the Defence Ministry for search and rescue," Tolusic said. The drones will be delivered in November this year.
Croatians just find it too hard to leave their parents’ home, finally leaving the nest in their early thirties. According to new statistics released by the European Union data service, Eurostat, Croatians leave the family home the second latest in Europe, only the Maltese stay at home longer.
In the European Union, over one young adult out of four aged 25 to 34 were still living with their parents in 2016. Across the EU, this share ranged from less than 10% in the Nordic Member States – Denmark (3.8%), Finland (4.3%) and Sweden (6.0%) – to about half in Croatia (58.7%), Slovakia (55.5%), Greece (55.0%), Malta (51.5%) and Italy (48.9%).
Young adults in Sweden leave the family nest the earliest at around 21 years-old, followed by Denmark at 21.4 years-old and Finland at 21.9 years-old.
At the opposite end of the scale, young adults in Malta and Croatia remained the longest in the parental household. They left home at an average age of 32.2 and 31.9 respectively. Young adults in Slovakia (30.8 years), Italy (30.1 years), Greece (29.4 years), Spain (29.3 years), Portugal (29.2 years) and Bulgaria (28.9 years) also left the parental home at a later stage.
Finding a free parking space in Dubrovnik is akin to winning the lottery, so some drivers have got a little creative to “reserve” their own private parking.
For more than a month this driver has fenced off a parking space in front of the swimming pool. The sign on the fence reads “Repairs to manhole cover” and the barrier is clearly moved every morning to make way for the driver.
It reminded us of the famous Only Fools and Horses episode when Del Boy took an “Our of Order” sign from his three-wheeler and pulled it over the parking metre.
So far during the month nobody has come with a shovel and tried to repair the manhole cover…no surprises there then.
Creative parking Only Fools and Horses style
The inaugural Aegean Airlines flight from Athens to Zagreb landed yesterday in the Croatian capital and marked the opening of this new route. Aegean Airlines, the largest Greek airline, will operate this link three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays during the summer.
The first flight from Athens was welcomed in the Zagreb International Airport by its CEO, Jacques Feron, who said that the line to Athens will contribute to the development of tourist and business connections between Greece and Croatia, as well as the continued growth in passengers in the Zagreb Airport.
Aegeain Airlines’ Airport Services Manager, Sergios Diplarakos, said the new line meant the strengthening of the network to Zagreb, a popular vacation and business destination. He added he was looking forward to all the Croats who will choose Greece as the destination of their travels.
“We have been waiting a long time for this line, and there is a lot that the peoples of Croatia and Greece can learn from one another, considering that both countries are recognised historical and gastronomical tourist destinations,” said the Ambassador of the Hellenic Republic, Stavros Tsiepas.
Drones and companies using drones for video and photo footage has been a boom business is Croatia over the past few years. However, due to extremely tight restrictions put in place by the Croatian Civil Aviation Agency (CCAA) more and more calls have been coming from drone users to relax some of these rules. At the first ever drone festival to be held in Croatia, the Osijek Drone Expo, last weekend the CCAA took the opportunity to announce a few rule changes.
"We liberalised the technical requirements for unmanned aircraft systems to fly legally, we allowed night-time flying - which had not been legal until now - and we reduced the minimum safety distance from people or buildings required to fly," commented the CCAA.
There are around 900 companies registered in Croatia for unmanned aerial vehicles, however the actual number of drones in the country is unknown due to the fact theses operators aren’t obliged to report how many drones they actually own.