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.
Croatia is ranked in 46th position in a list of the best countries to do business in. The Forbes annual worldwide ranking of the best countries to run a business in last year and out of the 144 countries Croatia was positioned in 46th place.
Every year Forbes magazine produces their list “The Best Countries For Business” and last year European countries dominated. Denmark was ranked, once again, as the most competitive country and of the top 25 two-thirds were European countries. The list is complied by measuring many factors including property rights, innovation, taxes, technology, corruption, freedom (personal, trade and monetary), red tape, investor protection and stock market performance.
Croatia ranked very well in the investor protection section, at 29th in the world, whilst in the innovation section came in at a disastrous 91st place. “Zagreb has cut spending since 2012, and the government also raised additional revenues through more stringent tax collection and by raising the Value Added Tax. The government has also sought to accelerate privatization of non-strategic assets, with mixed success,” writes Forbes on the situation in Croatia.
Looking to save time and money whilst visiting Dubrovnik, the answer is simple; get your hands on a Dubrovnik City Card. Following the example of other tourist destinations around the world the city of Dubrovnik has its own “City Card”. Other major tourist destinations on the Mediterranean such as Venice and Barcelona have had a city card for a few years and with the card Dubrovnik has added another interesting offer for guests to the city. With this card tourists are able to receive various discounts throughout the city.
The Dubrovnik City Card offers tourists to the city a host of options including discounts and free entry to sights in the city. The card is available for sale at all the Dubrovnik Tourist Board offices as well as most of the hotels, travel agencies and attractions. In total the card is available at 47 different outlets throughout Dubrovnik. There is a choice of one day, three day and a weekly card. The one-day card costs 170 Kunas, the three-day card is 250 Kuna and the seven day card 350 Kuna. Holders of the card will receive free entrance to eight cultural institutions including the Dubrovnik City Walls, the Marine and Natural History Museum, the Home of Marin Držić, the Rector's Palace and the Museum Rupe. But that’s not all!
The daily card, one-day card, also offers guests 24 hour use of the public transport system in Dubrovnik whilst holders of the three-day card can use the buses ten times and the seven-day card are allowed to use the buses twenty times for free. For tourists to the city it is extremely practical because it saves both time and money when visiting the city sights and travelling around the city.
Just do the maths – entrance onto the Dubrovnik City Walls is 100 Kunas (this may soon rise to 120), entrance into a museum is around 80 Kunas, a bus ticket is 15 Kunas. This means that if you catch the bus into the Old City, visit the walls and two museums and catch the bus back to your accommodation you be spending 290 Kunas. Buy a one-day Dubrovnik City Card and you’ll spend 170 Kunas...almost half the price...makes sense.
The card has already received praise from tourists visiting the city with one Austrian tourist commenting “great, this is a positive step and a perfect idea.” And another tourist from the UK commented “the card, especially the seven day card, seems to make good monetary sense, just twenty bus tickets totals 300 Kunas.” Also restaurants, cafés and souvenir shops offer special discounts for card holders.
If you want to save even more money, and who doesn’t, you can purchase the Dubrovnik City Card online at their website where each card is even cheaper, 10 percent cheaper.
It has already turned heads...what’s that up there...is it a bird, is it a plane, no it’s a hot-air balloon. Artist Miron Milic has created a huge painting on the facade of the building of the Port of Dubrovnik, and no it isn’t illegal graffiti, as part of the promotion of Dubrovnik as a candidate city for the European Capital of Culture for 2020.
Milic is famous for his street art and his latest creation on the side of the Port of Dubrovnik building is sure to catch the attention of passersby. With a little help from the Dubrovnik fire-brigade Milic spent most of the day painting the hot-air balloon.
Get yourselves down to the port and see the giant balloon and at first hand.
Photos - Zeljko Tutnjevic
I will never complain again, not that I complained much in the first place to be honest. I once read somewhere; I can’t remember where, that Croatia has a 98 percent of mobile phone coverage. It actually proudly read that not only the land area but also the mobile phone signal covered the territorial sea area as well. That must be for all those fishermen who need to update their Facebook status.
England, well at least the south-west of England, on the other hand has 98 percent of black holes, with only 2 percent coverage. I am back in the UK again, straight after my Christmas break, due to a family problem and this time I really, really need to be connected at all times. I am pulling my hair out with frustration.
“How the hell do people get anything done here?” I screamed at my sister. “I am sure there is a better signal in the middle of Timbuktu than in the south of England,” I angrily concluded. My parent’s house has almost no signal, some people might like that but I am so used to being connected 24 hours a day that it is frustrating.
This is how I managed to be hanging my arm out of an upstairs window, “pointing towards the hill to the south,” waiting, no hoping, to get one bar on the signal indicator. At first I thought it was because I was bringing a Croatian mobile and that it wasn’t compatible with the UK signal. Maybe my mobile was driving on the right side of the road and the signal was on the left hand side of the road. Or maybe my mobile is in metric and the signal is imperial, or kilometres against miles. But no, my continental European phone was not the problem; I was not the exception to the rule, far from it.
“Have you got a signal yet,” my mother shouted up the stairs. All I had was “no service.” In what is supposed to be one of the most developed countries in the world the level of communications is shocking, terribly shocking. “I think I’ve got one bar...is EE a provider?” I replied. It turned out that yes EE was a mobile provider and I was back connected to the world, at least for the duration of my two-minute phone call.
And, I guess they go hand in hand, the internet service is virtually dead. No not virtually, it is stone, cold dead and buried and rotting in a grave. 3G is a dream of the future. If it ever sprung to your mind to moan about mobile and internet coverage in Croatia then stop yourself, it would be a mistake. We even have really high-speed public internet Wi-Fi compared to the rest of Europe. A recent survey puts Croatia in second place with the speed of public Wi-Fi, second only to Lithuania. The UK would be well down on this list, somewhere below Albania, at least in my experience.
So in these times that I need to be in touch with the rest of my family I am left on the edge of my nerves. You literally drive along the road and the signal comes and goes like waves on a beach. “Can you call your sister,” asked my mother. This might sound hard to believe but I drove down the road like a snail, waving other cars past me, with the mobile phone that was in my outreached hand as I searched for a signal.
Mobile phone signals in the south-west of England is the Holy Grail. Of course the reason that people are left in the dark is because of a lack of phone masts. It is a chicken and an egg situation. Everyone complains at the communication black hole but nobody wants a mast in their back garden. Companies have tried everything to appease the general public, even disguise the masts as trees, but pretty soon an eco-action group will be pulling down the mast, sometimes literally pulling them down. Fear of radiation making them glow in the dark had meant that most of the south-west of England is desperately sucking onto three masts, well maybe more but it seems like three.
In London you are lucky if you can find one of those old red telephone boxes anywhere. Whilst down south they are all over the place, and I can see why. “I guess your bills are cheap here?” I asked my sister, “for the amount of time I am online they should be paying me.” I can’t wait until the signal on the top left of my iPhone reads Welcome to Croatia! What I am also saying, if you have failed to read between the lines, is that sorry if you have been trying to phone me over the last week. I am lost in the land of no service.
The Imperial Russian Ballet will perform Swan Lake in Dubrovnik on the 9th of February. After the massive success of the Nutcracker ballet which was also performed by this leading Russian troupe it is expected that tickets for this event will be at a premium.
The performance of Swan Lake will be held in the Dubrovnik Sports Centre at 7.30pm on the 9th of February. Tickets are already available online here.
Dubrovnik could have a new tourist attraction soon, an aquarium. The City of Dubrovnik has been holding a series of working meetings this week around the preparation of a new aquarium in the Port of Dubrovnik, in the suburb of Gruz. To assist with the realisation of the aquarium the city held a meeting with the vice president of the consulting company ConsultEcon from Massachusetts, Mr. Robert E. Brais. The meeting was also attended by the mayor of the Californian city of Monterey, Fred Meurer.
Monterey, a sister city of Dubrovnik, boasts one of the world's best aquariums. Monterey Bay Aquarium was built in 1984 and records around two million visitors annually. "The first years of operation of the aquarium, we were expecting 500,000 visitors, and we actually had 2.4 million visits," said Meurer. He added that over the years the aquarium, which has both an entertainment and scientific component, has become a major contributor to the economy of the city and its surroundings. “The aquarium is certainly the best thing that has happened to the citizens of Monterey. And Dubrovnik's history is closely tied to the sea. Why would you not tell that story?” concluded Meurer.
Robert E. Brais has worked on the development of many of the world's top aquariums, among which he highlighted the one in Lisbon built in 1998. “Aquariums offer excellent opportunities for the community, give a strong impetus to the economy, but also to education and the preservation of the sea and the coast,” said Brais. The potential for the development of the new aquarium, which will present all the diversity and beauty of this part of the Mediterranean, is certainly high. “Now we are at the beginning of this project and to realize it requires the cooperation of all parties on the local but also on a national level,” concluded Brais.
The mayor of Dubrovnik, Andro Vlahusic, commented that it is difficult to compare anything in Dubrovnik with the Old City, the historic walls and the cultural and historical heritage of the whole, but he reiterated his position that the proposed aquarium would act as a new tourist attraction. “By 2020 Dubrovnik can expect 5 million overnight stays and over two million visitors from cruise ships so new attractions are required,” concluded Vlahusic.
They also discussed the idea of dividing the aquarium into two separate tanks, one dedicated to Croatian waters and the other to the Adriatic and the Mediterranean. It is estimated that an investment of around 250 million Kunas for the construction of the new aquarium and therefore European Union funds will be necessary.
Croatia has a new government with 83 votes for, 61 against and 5 abstentions. Croatia's prime minister-designate is Tihomir Oreskovic and he will lead a government made up of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and the Bridge party.
Oreskovic has already named his cabinet, including twenty ministers, and the two vice prime ministers are the leaders of HDZ and Bridge, Tomislav Karamarko and Bozo Petrov. Of the twenty ministers in the new cabinet six are from the Bridge party and the remaining fourteen from HDZ. Oreskovic nicknamed the new ministers “Tim’s Team,” in reference to his middle name.
At 10 past midnight last night the now former prime minister Zoran Milanovic handed over the government to Oreskovic. “Any advice?,” Oreskovic asked. “None whatsoever,” answered Milanovic.
The Dubrovnik public bus company, Libertas, has upgraded its fleet with the addition of six brand new buses. The six new buses arrived in Dubrovnik today and will immediately be put into service. Two of the new Isuzu buses will operate in the city, whilst the remaining four will be used for suburban transport and as school buses.
These six new Libertas buses are part of a purchase order for 18 new buses, which will cost the city 3.6 million Euros and will be repaid in seven years through a leasing agreement. The rest of the order, 12 buses produced by the German company MAN, will arrive soon according to a statement from the City of Dubrovnik. Libertas sought the approval for the purchase of the new buses at a City Council meeting on the 27th of July 2015.