Monday, 14 October 2019

The national rail freight carrier HZ Cargo has been facing big problems lately. The company has almost no rail worthy locomotives, thus train compositions with freight often remain at railway stations for days.

Due to this difficult situation, clients are more than disappointed and turn to other rail freight service providers or seek cargo routes in other countries. It greatly affects the national carrier which loses not only international reputation but also low revenue which is quite insufficient for covering operating costs.

However, the situation may seem a bit odd considering the fact that HZ Cargo has ''a fleet'' of 147 various locomotive series, out of which 44 are electric and 46 diesel traction locomotives, whilst the rest are of a manoeuvre type. Nevertheless, it is important to emphasize their average age - electrical are on average 45 years old, whilst those diesel ones are 50 years old.

''Electric and diesel locomotives need investment repair every 10 years, the cost is 3-4 million Kunas per locomotive. However, in the last four and a half years, no locomotives from a single series we resent to the investment repair. In order to maintain a satisfactory situation, at least 10 locomotives should be sent to repair every year. Therefore, due to this situation we plan to send 20 locomotives to investment repair next year so we can respond to increased demand for transportation. We are currently considering an agreement on leasing i.e. purchasing new, more modern and stronger types of locomotives'', said HZ Cargo.

Nenad Mrgan, the president of the Railroad Engineers Trade Union of Croatia (RETUC), confirmed that the situation is more than dramatic and added that the biggest problem of the company is the lack of railway train drivers, in addition to the latest problem – the lack of quality locomotives.

Another morning in Dubrovnik and another story of sleeping on the city’s streets. This summer season seems to have had the most cases of tourists sleeping in unusual situations than ever before.

We’ve had tourists sleeping in their cars, on the beaches, on park benches, on the road between parked cars, in public parks and today brings a cyclist sleeping in a car park.

With more interest in Dubrovnik as a destination it is becoming increasing more difficult to find a spare bed to rest your head. However sleeping all over the public spaces of the city is getting out of control and the authorities need to step in and react.

Over the past ten years Croatia's tourism has seen a whole array of significant changes; from a better quality of private accommodation, new hotels and numerous hostels to a variety of innovative contents instead of the usual ''the sun and the sea'' offer the country has been selling for years.

Along with the better tourist offer, the season has been prolonged, whilst the structure of guests visiting Croatia has been slowly changed.

However, considering the data for the past decade, one thing on the Croatian market is still stabile - German tourists. They are still the Number One tourists in Croatia according to the number of arrivals and overnight stays. Last year 2,27 million German tourists visited Croatia and realized slightly more than 17 million overnight stays (23,7%) accounting for nearly a quarter of the total number of overnight stays achieved in 2016.
On the other hand, the number of Italian tourists fell in the last decade. Until 2012, they were the second most numerous guests by arrivals in Croatia, however, Italians were outnumbered by the neighbouring Slovenians.

The data also show that in the last decade Austrians placed as the fourth by the number of arrivals, and shared the fifth place by overnight stays with the Polish. The Czechs followed the Polish by the number of arrivals, whilst the British were tailing them slowly but surely. It is a nation that has only recently discovered Croatia mostly thanks to the numerous music festivals that attract younger population. By 2012, the British tourists placed as the 10th by the number of arrivals, but in the last few years they ranked much better than the French, Hungarians, Slovaks and Russians.

Boris Zgomba, the president of the Croatian Association of Travel Agencies (UHPA) at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) and the managing director of the Uniline Agency, emphasizes that in the last decade the structure of guests has changed all over the world, not only in Croatia.

''The structure of guests has changed tremendously due to the higher standards and travel opportunities as well as to an increase of flights thus Croatia is now more accessible to guests from countries to whom we were difficult to reach to'', explains Zgomba.

Over the past few years the tourist image of Croatia has changed mostly thanks to tourists coming from distant markets such as the US, Korea, Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Brazil and New Zealand. The number of tourists from these markets tripled in the last decade.

The most impressive change came from the Far East. In 2007, slightly less than 14,000 tourists from South Korea visited Croatia, whilst last year almost 378,000 South Koreans visited the country. As far as Chinese are concerned, almost 210,000 tourists came to Croatia last year in comparison to only 6,500 of them in 2007. The number of American tourists doubled, from 181,000 to almost 337,000, as well as the number of Australians (from 70,489 to 150,000 tourists). The number of Japanese tourists in Croatia rose by 40 percent, whilst Brazilians jumped from 6,000 to more than 47,000 tourists who visited the country in the last decade.

If you believe it's lucky for a bird to poop on your car then the owner of this car must be the next winner of the Lottery!

Parked under a tree at the Dubrovnik Airport these English tourists will certainly have an unpleasant surprise when they return to pick up their car. We would suggest that one trip to the car wash will not be enough! Flock of seagulls, nesting eagles or a massive sparrow party, whoever the culprits are they certainly left their mark (sorry about the pun).

After extreme heat, last couple of days temperatures went down and it almost felt like autumn in Dubrovnik. But it seems like summer is far from over as it’s getting warmer and warmer again. According to the State Hydrometeorological Institute, there is a possibility of heat wave on Sunday, August 27th, as well as on Monday, August 28th.

Here are some tips how to fight the heat wave:
-    Drink regular or mineral water and low calorie beverages without caffeine, alcohol and sugar
-     Avoid staying in the sun for a period of 10am to 5 pm (especially children, pregnant women, elderly people, heart patients and those with chronic illnesses)
-    Shower or bathe in warm water
-     Wear light clothing of natural materials
-    If you have to leave the house,  wear a hat, sunglasses, use sunscreen and always take a bottle of water with you
-    Eat more often small and if possible liquid meals

Year after year more people die in Croatia than they are born. This alarming data is the latest summary about the natural movement of the population published by the Central Bureau of Statistics a few days ago.

In the period from 2011 to 2013 this negative difference was around 10,000 people annually, whilst since 2014 it exceeded the psychological limit, thus in 2015, even 16,702 more people died than they were born. In 2016, this difference was slightly less, however, still alarming for a small nation such as Croatian. The data show that last year 14,005 more people died than they were born. Therefore, only last year, when 37,537 people were born, and 51,542 people died, it is estimated that a town of the size of Slatina disappeared in Croatia.

Furthermore, in the last five years, less than 232,000 people were born, and more than 300,000 died. The negative natural increase is around 71,000 people, which means that in this short period of time, in terms of demographic monitoring, disappeared the city of the size of Zadar.

In the monthly analysis, starting from June 2016, the worst month was January this year when there were almost twice as many deaths (6441) than births (3232).

For the demographer Stjepan Sterc this devastating trend is expected considering the massive emigration and the age of the population.

''This is the reality of Croatia. In the first months of 2017 the natural decline compared to the same period of 2016 is higher by almost 40,2 percent thus it is highly expected that at the end of this year we will face the data of almost 20,000 more deaths than births. If this massive wave of emigration and other negative trends continue, more than 200,000 people could disappear by the natural decline in only ten year period'', warned Sterc.

Since the last census in 2011, more than 200,000 people emigrated from Croatia, out of which 30 percent from Slavonia, or 70,000 people. The black statistics of the country's foreign migrations show that around 57,000 people moved to Germany, whilst 80,000 people immigrated to Ireland.

Even though analyses and comparisons as well as unofficial and official data count 4 million or even 4,2 million people in Croatia, demographers are warning that the Croatian population has already fallen below this number and that today, considering the massive migratory wave, Croatia's population has shrunk to less than 4 million people.

Summer is almost over, but there is still a lot fun and special events to attend. The newest festival in Dubrovnik-Neretva County, ‘Salt Festival’, was presented at the press conference yesterday.

Salt festival will be held in Ston salt works from August 27th to September 1st.  Program includes various contents - concerts and music evenings, workshops for the youngest and a small fair of traditional products and handcrafts in the historic ambience of Ston salt works, all accompanied by gastronomic offer of the Peljesac peninsula and the area of Dubrovnik-Neretva county.

The idea of creating a festival in the Ston area was inspired by the story of salt and the Dubrovnik Republic, which based its progress (among other things) on the production and trade of this important item in human nutrition.Ston salt works, unchanged since the 14th century, was the strategic economic point of the Dubrovnik Republic, while today it is an important economic entity and a unique monument of culture and tourist attraction.

Salt harvest, which takes place in Ston salt works in a traditional way every year, also represents a special tourist attraction and captures the attention of visitors. Because of its geographic position, the small town of Ston has the potential for the development of additional contents that will attract visitors from all over the peninsula as well as beyond.


festival soli flyer eng

The Qatar Royalty certainly know how to travel in style and luxury. The $130 million super yacht “Stargate” owned by Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa Al Thani, a member of the Royal Family of Qatar, dropped anchor in Dubrovnik yesterday.

And out of all the yachts to arrive in Dubrovnik over the past week this impressive 82-metre long floating palace received the most attention. Stargate dropped anchor between the island of Lokrum and the historic Old City of Dubrovnik.

Built in 2001 Stargate even has a sister ship, an identical twin, which was built for Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the former Emir of Qatar. But when the net worth of the Al Thani family is estimated at $2 billion spending $260 million on two identical yachts is, and pardon the pun, a mere drop in the ocean.

stargate 3

stargate 2


According to the latest announcements from Riga International Airport, the Latvian low-cost air carrier airBaltic will launch direct summer flights to Croatia next year.

During the next summer season new flights will be operated twice a week between the Latvian capital of Riga and the Croatian city of Split from the 21st of May 2018.

"Network expansion is a key part of our Horizon 2021 business plan that enables us to further improve connections between the Baltic region and the rest of the world", commented Wolfgang Reuss, the SVP Network Management at Air Baltic.

The Latvian air carrier has a fleet of 30 aircraft and operates flights to 68 destinations around the world. In the first half of this year airBaltic has carried 1,565,462 passengers throughout its network in Europe, Russia, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Middle East, which is the second highest number of passengers in the history of the airline.

Dubrovnik is a city of romance, a city of culture, a city of history and unfortunately over the past few years a city of kayaks! This “colourful” scene of a multitude of kayaks was taken on the Pile bay area of the historic Old City and shows stacks of these plastic boats running the view for tourists and locals. Kayaking has exploded in Dubrovnik in recent years and like mushrooms after the rain companies offering all kinds of tours.

Whilst business is obviously booming, and good luck for that, the organisation of the kayaks has got a little out of control. Imagine going for a romantic stroll and hoping to soak up the proud history of the Dubrovnik walls only to be met with hundreds of kayaks washed up on the beach.

And as the City Council and the Mayor seem determined to bring some order to the city’s tourism business maybe the organisation of these kayaks, basically on the doorstep on the city, is a good place to start.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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