Around 2,000 visitors are expected to arrive in Dubrovnik for the Day of St. Blaise as the city starts the year with a huge increase in winter tourism. In January, according to data from the e-Visitor system, there was a massive 31 percent increase in the number of tourist arrivals and a 34 percent increase in the number of overnight stays, compared to the same period from last year.
The Dubrovnik Tourist Board released figures for the start of 2017 which stated that there were 11,657 tourist arrivals in January and 34,848 overnight stays in the first month of the year. The winter period in Dubrovnik is always a problem for the tourist industry in the city with the majority of the hotels choosing to close their doors until at least the beginning of March. These encouraging figures might convince more to stay open outside of the traditional summer season.
The majority of tourists in January were from neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, followed by guests from Korea, France, USA, UK, Japan, Spain, Albania and Germany. “A variety of winter activities and sights in the city and direct year-round flight connections from Frankfurt and Istanbul, as well as flights from London,” were given as the reasons for this huge jump in tourists at the beginning of the year by the tourist board.
Most of the overnight stays were recorded in hotels, but there was also an increase in the number of guests staying in private accommodation.
“In Dubrovnik we are currently host to the crew from the from the film "Robin Hood Origins" as well as the presentation of the new Nissan Micra model which has helped to greatly increase the tourist numbers in the city during this period,” added the Dubrovnik Tourist Board.
After a Mass held in front of the Dubrovnik Cathedral the 1045th Day of St. Blaise continued with the traditional procession through the streets of the Old City.
The historic city core was packed it worshippers as the relics of St. Blaise were carried through the streets. These are traditions dating back to the 15th century and the Festival of St Blaise is also the City of Dubrovnik Day.
People turned up from all over the Dubrovnik region, and beyond, to respect the Day of St. Blaise in Dubrovnik, the patron saint of the city. Banners, colourful costumes and flags marked the day as Dubrovnik celebrated.
Martin Cruickshank, a Croatian war veteran, is trying to break the Guinness record and become the first Croatian to row an ocean. And if you thought his name doesn’t sound very Slavic you are right, Martin was born in Scotland.
In 2015, Martin and his sister Fenella McAlister undertook an attempt to row the Atlantic from Sagres in Portugal to Barbados on board the boat Fifty-Fifty.
The brother-sister team has already rowed halfway to the other side of the Atlantic or more than 1,500 nautical miles out of 2,602 in a boat with no sails and no outboard motor.
It is interesting to note that Martin Cruickshank was born in Scotland, where he acquired a military education. During the Homeland War in Croatia in 1991, he joined the Croatian Armed Forces and was one of 481 foreign volunteers from 35 countries who defended Croatia in 1991-1995. Today he works as a Security and Investigations Consultant and Contractor; he is a member of the Croatian Forces International Volunteers Association and an adventurer. Martin is a Croatian citizen and lives in Velika Gorica with his family.
The Ocean Rowing Society International has been following and reporting about this adventure. If the team succeeds in this endeavour, Martin and Fenella will become the first brother-sister team, and Martin-the first Croatian to row an ocean. Thus, they will surely enter the Guinness Book of Records.
Today Dubrovnik is celebrating the 1045th Day of St. Blaise and the Day of the City. The procession along the main street the Stradun will be after the ceremonial celebrations held in front of the Dubrovnik Cathedral at 10.00am. The most important day on Dubrovnik’s calendar is here and the patron saint of the city will be celebrated until a mass on Sunday the 5th of February.
It is expected that the Croatian President, Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, and the Parliament Speaker, Bozo Petrov, will both attend the festivities.
The festivities were officially opened yesterday when the Bishop of Dubrovnik, Mate Uzinic, released doves from the front of the St. Blaise Church and the flag of the patron saint was raised over the city.
For the very first time in its history the renowned gastronomic guide Michelin has published a restaurant selection for Croatia and one Croatian restaurant has been awarded a coveted star. In total 34 restaurants throughout the country are now featured on the Michelin restaurant maps, including an online interactive version.
And for the first time in history Croatia has a Michelin star restaurant, Monte in Rovinj.
In fact Michelin’s guide to Croatian restaurants is concentrated on three regions, Istria which has by far the largest number in the guide, the capital Zagreb and Dubrovnik.
Pantarul, Vapor, Nautika, Proto, Stara Loza, 360°, Kopun, Azur, Dubrovnik and Bistro Tavulin make up the ten restaurants from Dubrovnik recommended by Michelin Guides. The restaurant and hotel guide books from Michelin have been published for more than a century.
Even though Robin Hood is setting up camp on the Stradun and the festivities for the St. Blaise Day are well underway there is still room on the main street for games. These children, possibly inspired by the recent handball championships, played an impromptu game of handball on the Stradun yesterday. Instead of jumpers as goals they used the small side streets off the Stradun as goals and played across the Stradun.
A few centuries ago this wouldn’t have caught any ones attention, but as the population of the historic city core has been plummeting it as almost unusual to see children playing in the streets. The estimates suggest that only between 750 and 850 people actually live in the Old City today, a sharp drop from times gone by. In 1961 over 5,500 called the Old City home, today we are left with a handful of children playing handball.
One of the first Croatia's hotel brands Bluesun Hotels & Resorts concluded the last year with a revenue of almost 50 million Euros or 12 percent more in comparison to 2015, whilst a profit increased by 40 percent, according to information from the company.
''All tourist indicators showed that 2016 was one of our best business years so far. The number of overnight stays has had a continuous rise over the past years, whilst last year we achieved a record-breaking 760,000 overnights or one percent more than in 2015'', stated from the Bluesun company.
According to financial data, the number of overnight stays and other indicators, and among all destinations in which Bluesun operates, the best results were achieved in Tucepi on the Makarska Riviera, where four Bluesun hotels are located (Hotel Afrodita, Hotel Alga, Hotel Neptun and Hotel Kastelet).
In the overall structure of tourists, Germans had the largest share in total overnight stays (25 percent), followed by the French (12 percent) and the Swedes (10 percent), whilst the number of Norwegians and tourists from the UK and Slovenia continues to rise.
In terms of bed places, the Bluesun Group has accounted for 3,5 percent of the total accommodation capacity of all hotels and camps in Croatia with nearly 6,000 beds in 15 hotels and one campsite. These figures also include the accommodation capacity of the Group’s new hotels, the Hotel Berulia in Brela and the Hotel TUI Blue Jadran in Tucepi which are to be opened this year.
The set for the upcoming Robin Hood movie on the Stradun is looking more and more impressive by the day. The wooden “Nottingham” in the centre of the historic Old City of Dubrovnik is growing and almost ready for filming which starts on the 20th of February. However Robin Hood and his merry men will have to take a short break, to make way for St. Blaise.
On the 3rd of February the city celebrates the day of its patron saint, St. Blaise. The main procession will go down the Stradun and work on constructing Nottingham will have to wait. Over a thousand extras have already been auditioned to be in the movie which will star Jamie Foxx, Jamie Dornan and Welsh actor Taron Egerton who will play Robin Hood.
The set on the main street through Dubrovnik has already reached to the top of the ancient three-story high facades and after the St. Blaise festivities it is believed that a massive wooden gate will actually be built across the street, the same street that Star Wars used last year for The Last Jedi. Another four possible locations are thought to be required in Dubrovnik and the first set in the old harbour has already been completed.
The national air carrier Croatia Airlines has announced expansion plans for the upcoming summer season and emphasized cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism.
In consideration of good news on bookings for 2017, Kresimir Kucko, the CEO of Croatia Airlines and Garri Cappelli, the Minister of Tourism recently discussed the possibility of improving mutual cooperation and coordination regarding an introduction of potential new routes in this and next year.
In addition, both executives emphasized the importance of partnership between the two institutions because Croatia Airlines operate flights all year round and is a significant factor for extending the summer season. This year the air carrier will continue to operate flights from Zagreb to Lisbon, St Petersburg, Milan and Prague, whilst flights from Croatian destinations to Scandinavia are actively being taken into consideration.
''The tourist season for our company starts around Easter holidays, and this year we are introducing seasonal flights to and from the most important emissive markets until the end of October. Flights in pre-season and off-season represent a strong support to the development of tourist capacities in our country thus we are ready for the cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism'', commented Kresimir Kucko, the CEO of Croatia Airlines.
''These meetings are necessary for the benefit of the whole Croatian tourism industry, especially for the extension of the summer season, which depends not only on destinations’ offer and facilities, but also on regular flights. I would like to keep an open dialogue between the Ministry of Tourism, the Croatian Tourist Board and Croatia Airlines in order to find the best way for quality cooperation'', explained the Minister of Tourism Garri Cappelli.
According to the latest data from the Croatian Bureau of Statistics (HZS) in the first eleven months of 2016, the Croatian airports had almost eight million passengers, which was a significant increase of 13 percent in comparison to the previous year.
The Bollywood movie “Prisoner No.150” which was partially recorded on the streets of Dubrovnik has gone o the top of the charts in India on its release. In its first week the movie grossed an incredible $18 million around the world and in India it was one of the most watched films last month.
Prisoner No. 150 recorded dance scenes, in November last year, on the stone streets of Dubrovnik using historic facades as backgrounds. One of the most popular Indian directors, Konidela Siva Sankara Vara Prasad or Chiranjeevi as he is known, made the film after a ten-year break from the movie business, during which time he entered politics.
And Dubrovnik isn’t the only Croatia beauty to star in the new Bollywood hit. Dance scenes were also shot in Sibenik, Primosten and the stunning Krka waterfalls. In total the crew and cast recorded for six days in Croatia, according to the Croatian Audiovisual Centre. A trailer appeared on social media and it soon went viral, with almost 7 million views on YouTube.