Sunday, 20 September 2020

The recently introduced flights between Zagreb and Seoul have proved an overnight success with Korean Air reporting that the flights are 99 percent full.

These new flight connections were introduced only weeks ago but seem to be an immediate hit with travellers. Korean Air flies three times a week from the Croatian capital to the South Korean capital with scheduled flights.

And with a 99 percent cabin occupancy rate the new route has proved to be the most popular for the airline. According to a statement from the company Zagreb is the most popular, ahead of Barcelona with 98 percent and Zurich with 92 percent. And on a global scale the Zagreb route is the fourth most popular for Korean Air with only Okinawa, Phuket and Sydney more popular.

New rules to the Croatian pension scheme could see the retirement age extended a further two years to 67. The government have put forward a range of proposals and changes to the current pension scheme and one could see the age limit pushed forward a further two years.

And even when you reach 67 pensioners will still have the right to work under the new laws. Pensioners could work up to four hours a day and still receive a full pension, if the proposals are accepted.

There are also fundamental changes to the size of state pension. Under the proposal those with an average salary would receive a pension of some 2,980 kuna (€401), if they receive it from both pillars. Should they switch only to the first pillar, their pension would increase by 603 kuna (€81), reaching 3,583 kuna (€482).

It is estimated that there are some 1.2 million pensioners in Croatia, opposed to some 1.4 million full-time employees whose contributions finance the pension system. Some 19.2 percent of the entire population is estimated to be older than 65, and the average pension is around 3,400 kuna (€461).


Speaking as the first speaker of the "high level" panel at the World Summit on Urban Tourism in Seoul, Mayor of the City of Dubrovnik Mato Frankovic presented solutions that Dubrovnik implemented in tourism management and are still in progress- from the project "Respect the City" to co-operation with the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

At a conference that takes place in Seoul from 16th to 19th of September, organized by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), it was possible to hear that virtually all major tourist cities such as Paris or Nice, whose representatives also participated in the panel, face the problem of overcrowding and, therefore, the dissatisfaction of citizens.

-Just a year ago, in the world media, Dubrovnik has been shown as an example of negative management of the destination, and today the representatives of the City are invited to numerous conferences and we are shown as an example of good practice. Everyone wants sustainable tourism and everyone is looking for solutions, and Dubrovnik is currently one of the cities that is working on that intensely and in just a year has achieved great success in the field of sustainable and responsible management. However, we are aware that much work needs to be done to establish a model of governance we want – said the Mayor of Dubrovnik.

As the main figure of sustainable tourism, the mayor does not see visitors, but citizens. -Citizens are number one. As long as our citizens are happy and satisfied, our tourists will be happier and have the best experience of Dubrovnik - Mayor Frankovic said in a concluding statement.

The UNWTO summit in Seoul has gathered over 300 participants from 50 countries around the world. The first panel, attended by ministers and mayors, was led by Rajan Datar, a renowned journalist and host of The Travel Show at BBC.

The mayor met in Seoul with the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization Zurab Pololikashvili. The UNWTO Secretary was invited to the 4th Tourism and Strategy Festival, which will be organized in Dubrovnik at the beginning of November.

Croatia joined the volunteers of the 150 countries and marked the World CleanUp Day and the International Day of the Protection of the Ozone Layer by removing the waste from the environment and educating the public on the importance of waste removal. That’s why the Department of Urban Planning, Spatial planning and Environmental protection organized Green and Blue CleanUp in cooperation with the Lokrum Reserve.

The action started at 9 am, with members of the Diving Club Dubrovnik, the Institute of Oceanography and Fishery Split and the Association Sunce, who cleaned the underwater of the Portoc bay and collected about 80 bags of seaweed weighing over 100 kg. The waste collected was about this composition: plastic waste about 20%, cans50%, glass 15% and metal 15%.

A large number of associations from Dubrovnik were a part of this action on the land, as well as many locals. Around 110kg of waste, mainly plastic, glass and a smaller amount of metal, were collected on the island by the edge of the rocks and in the bays.

It’s one of the city’s newest traditions: for the last eight years, Dubrovnik residents and visitors have looked forward to the annual Second Hand Sale organized by the Dubrovnik Foreign Circle, where a wide variety of gently used household items are available at bargain prices and proceeds are donated to a local charity.

Plans for the annual sale are now underway, so mark your calendars for early April 2019. It’s never too early to start looking through your closets for clothes, toys, kitchen equipment and household items that you no longer need, but could be useful to someone else.

More information about exact dates and arrangements for drop off and collection of donated items will follow in the months ahead. For more information, visit www.dubrovnikforeigncircle.com.

National Geographic has recently published an article titled 17 of the World's Most Wild and Beautiful Places, taking their readers all over the world. They also included Croatia or more precisely, Plitvice Lakes. 

-Deep in central Croatia’s dark, primordial Dinaric Alps, water and rock create the shimmering “land of the falling lakes,” as Plitvice National Park is known. A network of trails and wooden boardwalks entices more than a million visitors a year to explore waterfalls, streams, caves, and interconnected lakes – it's written next to the beautiful photo.

This is not the first and certainly not the last time that Plitvice Lakes have been placed on that sort of list! The oldest and largest national park in the Republic of Croatia is loved by the tourists and locals. The park is situated in the mountainous region of Croatia, between the Mala Kapela mountain range in the west and northwest, and the Lička Plješivica mountain range to the southeast. 

With its exceptional natural beauty, this area has always attracted nature lovers, and already on 8 April 1949, it was proclaimed Croatia’s first national park. The park is primarily covered in forest vegetation, with smaller areas under grasslands. The most attractive part of the park – the lakes – cover just under 1% of the total park area.

The Plitvice Lakes National Park offers visitors seven different routes to tour the lake system, and four hiking trails. The park is open to visitors year round.

Croatia have reached the finals of the Davis Cup after a dramatic victory over the United States in Zadar. Borna Coric fought a marathon match against Frances Tiafoe, which lasted over four hours, to secure the game and a 3 – 2 victory for Croatia and a place in the finals.

The day began with Croatia leading 2 -1 but after the strong favourite Marin Cilic lost to Sam Querrey in five sets the tie was balanced 2 -2 before the final match.

In front of a boisterous crowd in Zadar Coric held his nerve and took Croatia into the finals where they will face France.

Dubrovnik has found itself on another international list for the best filming locations to visit in the world, this time for Star Wars.

“Dubrovnik, Croatia is not just a popular filming location for Star Wars, but also an important one for Game of Thrones. The location apparently lends itself to particularly otherworldly settings in both franchises,” writes the Canadian website thetalko.com.

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Dubrovnik was used as a location for the Casino City of Canto Bight in “The Last Jedi” and has already attracted many fans of the franchise. There are specialised tour companies offering tours of the city and many of the souvenir shops also sell merchandise from the film.

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“Dubrovnik's iconic stone-wall defences regularly invoke platitudes of otherworldly-ness, according to Time Out. Built in the 12th century to ward off invasions from seafaring foes, the walls of Dubrovnik slot nicely into Star Wars multiverse,” concludes thee website which also lists the Yuma Desert in Arizona, Guilin in China and the Mayan Ruins in Tikal, Guatemala as must visits for fans of Star Wars.

We just love catching up with the most important cog in The Dubrovnik Times watch, you the readers. And this week we had the opportunity to meet two couples who have been following us and Dubrovnik for years, they are truly Dubrovnik lovers. We meet the two couples, Caroline and Phil Walter, from England, and Jenny and David Pirie from Scotland, in their favourite restaurant in Dubrovnik, Konoba Veranda in Štikovica. They aren’t even really guests of the restaurant any more, far from it, they are friends. Without doubt one of the key factors of tourism in people, friendly welcoming people, and Maja and Mirko Andrić from Konoba Veranda are just the perfect hosts.

When did your love affair with Dubrovnik start? Why did you decide to come to Dubrovnik for the first time four years ago?

Jenny Pirie – It was our 25th wedding anniversary and I was looking around for destinations and after I read the reviews and did my background we decided to come to this villa and we really haven’t looked back since. We wandered down to the beach and were amazed how clear it was and how many fish we could see. David found an octopus and was running along the beach like a little boy telling everyone about it…just fantastic.

David Pirie – The first morning when we were standing on the balcony looking out at the sunshine and the twinkling Adriatic Sea we knew we had made the right decision.

When did you first discover Dubrovnik?

Phil Walter – We first came in 2015 and have never looked back. And every year since then we’ve been coming back.

What were your expectations before you actually came to Dubrovnik? Did you have some preconceived opinions?

DP – I personally thought that Dubrovnik would be much bigger than it actually is. We’d friends who had been before and they told us it was lovely but very hilly. Going up the cable car and looking down on the city, all those terracotta roofs, just magical.

JP – (laughing) Yes, I nearly did the first time I walked up the stairs to the Old City Walls. But when we saw the historic city for the first time…well it just takes your breath away. The pavement of the Stradun is just beautiful and we admire it every time we walk along.

Is Dubrovnik a victim of its own success and is now facing overcrowding problems. Can you feel a difference in the four years that you have been coming here?

DP – Yes, it can get crowded but we have one good tip and that is to look at the Port of Dubrovnik website in the morning to see how many cruise ships are coming in on a particular day and then just plan your visit around that information.

JP – We really don’t mind if its busy, I know a lot of people do mind if it gets too busy, but we come from Edinburgh and when our festival is on you really can’t move for people. We really don’t mid the crowds although we know that for people who live here, especially in the Old City, that it must be a huge problem. I actually feel sorry for the people who come on cruise ships as they can’t get to experience what the heart and soul of the city is all about. It is such a shame for them.

What advice would you give to people thinking of coming to Dubrovnik on holiday?

PW – Come with an open mind.

Caroline Walter – There is nothing that we don’t like about Dubrovnik, we just love it all.

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Are there any other tips that you picked up during your time here that you could pass on?

JP – Do your research for restaurants on TripAdvisor. In fact, do your background and research on the whole destination. Get your snorkel and get in the sea. And don’t be go…go…go all the time. Take your time enjoy it. Have a coffee and people watch on the Stradun. Just enjoy it and relax.

DP – Most of the beaches are pebble so don’t forget your sea shoes and don’t worry about stepping on a sea urchin although it might hurt they aren’t poisonous.

But you don’t just spend two weeks lying on the beach?

JP – No, we do like to spread our wings a little. We’ve been to the local Elaphite Islands, to Mostar, to Cavtat and many of the local sights. Although we combine this we taking things easy as well.

What keeps bringing your back? Can you put your finger on what is special about Dubrovnik compared to other holiday destinations?

PW – The people, they are just so friendly and welcoming. We can also honesty say that we have never had a bad meal in Dubrovnik, we just love the food.

CW – Yes, the people have made our holiday.

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Konoba Veranda 

You’ve been here for two weeks and eaten in Konoba, or Restaurant Veranda every night? Does that mean you’ve eaten the whole menu? And has Croatian cuisine changed your eating habits?

DP – (laughing) Yes, pretty much every night and yes we’ve probably tried the whole menu.

JP – Yes, Croatian cooking certainly has changed my eating habits. I didn’t really eat fish or seafood before I came here. But now I’ve had not only fish but octopus, black risotto made from the ink of octopus, in fact I very rarely eat meat when I come here. The octopus salad here is absolutely wonderful. And I also love the anchovies here.

It seems like Dubrovnik has been almost a life changing experience for you?

JP – It is difficult to explain. I am not a very brave person, but Dubrovnik has made me realise I can be brave. To do things in the past that I’ve been scared of, I feel like Dubrovnik has given us a different outlook on life. It has broadened our life and our way of thinking. It is really hard to put into words just how special this place is. Dubrovnik is part of us now. This will sound strange but the thought of not coming back here is physically painful.

DP – A big part of why we come back here is the people, the friends that we have made. They have helped us and made our stay so unforgettable.

Will you come back? Has Dubrovnik become part of your annual holiday plans?

CW – Oh yes, we will always come back at least once a year. Not only that but we will continue to recommend Dubrovnik, Cavtat and all these lovely places to all our friends and family.

PW – The Old City of Dubrovnik is just so special that we can’t think of not coming back. I am also a huge Game of Thrones fan so Dubrovnik has even greater appeal for me. Fantastic city, great ambience and really great food.

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Konoba Veranda 

Croatia is hoping to attract more investment from China and ties in the tourism industry are growing year-on-year commented the Croatian Minister of Tourism Gari Cappelli.

Dubrovnik will host the 4th High-Level Meeting of Tourism Cooperation between China and 16 Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs) from the 18th to the 20th of September.

Around 200,000 Chinese tourists are expected to visit Croatia this year and next year the number will grow even further.

"This is primarily about simplifying and accelerating visa procedures, opening and introducing new direct airlines with China, and adapting Croatian destinations to online payment services through Chinese mobile applications," commented the Minister for the Chinese publication Xinhua.

Adding that "Croatia is also represented in China through the participation of famous Croatians who are well-known persons in China through programs broadcast on Chinese TV shows, such as football coach Miroslav Ciro Blazevic, singer Jelena Rozga, musicians Maksim Mrvica and Ana Rucner," the minister said.

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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