Friday, 20 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.


“It is certainly a unique and classic city but I must say it is rather expensive,” commented the elegantly dressed lady next to me in Gradska Kavana. “I had a perception that Croatian was much cheaper,” she added sipping at her expresso. I smiled gently, carefully preparing an answer that I have given many times before.

Working in the media is truly an extremely privileged position, and I sometimes have to pinch myself to make sure I am not dreaming. I often find myself in places and positions that give me the feeling that I have no right to be there. But experience counts and over the years I have learned to make the most of the opportunities presented.

I am often contacted by foreign journalists, almost on a weekly basis, looking for quotes for their latest travel article about the Pearl of the Adriatic. I know how difficult it can be to find a quote so I am always willing to help these foreign colleagues. And one such contact was sitting opposite me in Gradska Kavana.

“I am writing a lengthy article for Swiss Air magazine,” wrote the lady to me a few weeks ago. Basically that’s how we managed to be sipping coffee together in the spring sunshine. “You can’t compare Dubrovnik’s prices to the rest of Croatia, of course the city is the most expensive in the country,” I replied to my Swiss colleague. “I just thought that 20 Kunas for a coffee was a little pricey,” she looked off into the distance. “Really, you are sitting on the Stradun, in the Mediterranean sunshine, in one of the most popular destinations in Europe and you think that 20 Kunas is expensive for a coffee. The last time I was in Switzerland I paid 4 Swiss Francs for a coffee in a petrol station,” I added.

If you think 20 Kunas for a coffee on the Stradun is expensive then please, please don’t come to Dubrovnik this year. Don’t book your flights. Don’t think about reserving a hotel. Don’t pack your suitcase. Please don’t come to Dubrovnik! You’ll only be disappointed and really nobody is interested in seeing your social media photo of your “overpriced” bill from a Dubrovnik café bar.

If you want to see Croatia, then please just go to Makarska. I am not saying that Dubrovnik is cheap, but it is certainly not expensive. If you think Dubrovnik is expensive then you really need to travel more.

Don’t compare this ancient unique city dripping in history to some manmade concrete monstrosity on the Spanish coast. This is a Ferrari destination, not a Fiat destination. And we all know that not everyone can afford a Ferrari. In fact, if less people come it might be better for all of us. The constant year-on-year rise of tourists is unsustainable. Dubrovnik isn’t getting any bigger.

I am often told “At some point the bubble will burst and less tourists will come every year.” My answer is always the same THANK GOD! That is exactly, exactly what we need. Tourism is an industry and not a number collecting game. Who cares if we had 2 million tourists last year and 3 million tourists this year. As one well-placed director in Dubrovnik once told me “Show me the bank that accepts these figures as money.” In a Ferrari destination we need the bubble to burst and less tourists to arrive. And sooner rather than later it will burst. And once again I say THANK GOD!

With all due respect I hope the bubble will burst, and I am even willing to lend someone a needle to pop it. Many people say that Dubrovnik is a victim of its own success. Wrong! Don’t blame this on the beauty of the city. Dubrovnik is a victim of moronic organisation and complete short-sightedness and most importantly greed. All human characteristics. There are way too many tourists through the peak season and any negative media that leads to a drop in these numbers can only be a positive step. You can only squeeze so many sardines into a can. We have brought the can to breaking limit. In recent times we’ve had international articles such as “The Death of Dubrovnik,” but for me these are in fact the kind of promotion we need. We are at saturation point and need to find a way to reorganise the city.

Let’s be honest in August neither the tourists nor the locals are happy, it is the unhappiest month of the year by far. Let’s cut back on the greed. It seems fitting that the late Stephen Hawking have the last word, “We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity. We cannot remain looking inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet.”

After so many overcast and rainy days the sun has started to pour down on Dubrovnik over the past few days.

This weekend opened with rising temperatures and al fresco coffees. With temperatures up to 22 degrees and clear blue skies it is a great day to enjoy a stroll and quite clearly the Bay of Lapad was a magnet for locals and tourists. And the forecast for the coming week looks just as positive with summer seemingly waiting in the wings. 

Check out the photo gallery from Niksa Duper

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It has been an impressive start to the year for the Croatian capital’s airport with an increase in passenger numbers in March.

In fact, the airport registered its best ever March and first quarter months on record. 223,642 passengers travelled through Zagreb Airport in March, meaning an increase of a whopping 16 percent over march from 2017.

In the first three months of 2018 the airport handled 585,576 passengers, again a growth and this time by 13 percent. With many new flights and carriers expected this year at Zagreb Airport, including flight to Dublin, Athens and Toronto the positive start to 2018 will only get better.

Kill your speed as cameras are watching you. Eight speed cameras are due to be installed in the Dubrovnik – Neretva County on speeding hotspots. From Gruda in Konavle to Metkovic in the north of the county eight cameras will be installed, in fact eight camera housings will be installed, to check on driver’s speeds.

In the whole of Croatia there are 59 camera housings, but only 28 cameras. The Ministry of the Interior confirmed that the cameras are being constantly moved around the various housings, meaning that drivers never know if they are being filmed or not. And there are plans to purchase a further 21 cameras and 60 housings.

The eight locations in the Dubrovnik – Nerevta County have been selected by the Dubrovnik Police as areas that are especially notorious for crashes due to excessive speeds. It is not clear whether the same process of moving cameras around from housing to housing will also be carried out in Dubrovnik.

Drivers who exceed the speed limit by up to 10 km/h will face a 300 Kuna fine, whilst drivers who sped past at more than 10 km/h over the limit will have to pay 500 Kuna. It is expected that the cameras will be installed at the beginning of June.

Unemployment in the European Union fell slightly in February and stood at 8.5 percent. This is the lowest rate recorded in the euro area since December 2008. These figures are published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Eurostat estimates that 17.632 million men and women in the EU28, of whom 13.916 million in the euro area, were unemployed in February 2018.

Among the Member States, the lowest unemployment rates in February 2018 were recorded in the Czech Republic (2.4%), Germany and Malta (both 3.5%) as well as Hungary (3.7% in January 2018). The highest unemployment rates were observed in Greece (20.8% in December 2017) and Spain (16.1%).

And Croatia is highlighted in the new figures as the country saw one of the biggest drops in unemployment inside the EU. The largest decreases were registered in Cyprus (from 12.6% to 9.6%), Greece (from 23.4% to 20.8% between December 2016 and December 2017) and Croatia (from 12.0% to 9.6%). Of course one of the reasons for this drop in unemployment is the large number of Croatians who have moved to Germany, Ireland and Sweden looking for employment and a brighter future. It is estimated that around 200,000 Croatians have left in search of work in other European Union members.

March was a time for buying new cars in Croatia as sales increased by a massive 64 percent over February. Out of the total number of vehicles sold in the first three months, 51.2 percent were petrol, 46.9 percent diesel, while the proportion of electric and hybrid vehicles was negligible.

In March, 6,293 new cars were sold in Croatia, which is 64 percent or 2,453 more than in February, and 16 percent or 873 more cars than in March last year, according to data published on Thursday by Promocija Plus.

Sales also grew in the first three months, when 13,893 cars were sold or 27 percent or 2,963 more than in the same period last year.

The most popular brand in the first quarter was Volkswagen with 1,778 cars sold and a market share of 12.9 percent. Followed by Skoda with 1,539 units and 11,12 percent of the market, and Opel, which sold 1,462 cars and achieved 10.56 percent market share.

The best-selling model was the Skoda Octavia (935), followed by Opel Astra (554), Volkswagen Golf (526), Suzuki Vitara (486), Renault Clio (450).

The American fast food chain, McDonalds, is slowly spreading over Croatia. “We are negotiating with one shopping centre, but cannot accurately confirm when it will open,” commented McDonalds to the Croatian media.

The next restaurant to open in Croatia will be in Pula, and become the first McDonalds in the Istria region. The McDonalds McDrive should be opened in Pula, the largest city in Istria, by the end of this year.

“After the opening of another restaurant in Zadar at the end of March, McDonald's now has a total of 30 restaurants in Croatia, with new opening plans, including Pula. We are negotiating with one shopping centre, but we cannot accurately confirm when it will be open,” commented the fast food giant.

Dubrovnik has started the tourism year in fine form with a massive 20 percent increase in the numbers of guests in March. During March there were 47,498 tourist arrivals in the area of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, which is 20 percent more than in March 2017 and 127,517 overnight stays, which is 19 percent more than in March 2017.

During the first three months of 2018 there were 81,296 tourist arrivals in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County with 230,278 overnight stays. Compared to 2017, arrivals increased by 13 percent and overnight stays by 7 percent.




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The Voice of Dubrovnik


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