Wednesday, 16 January 2019
The popular UK newspaper the Independent has released an article entitled “Six once-dangerous countries that are now safe holiday destinations,” and Dubrovnik finds itself on the list. Certainly one of the inspirations behind the article is the recent events in Paris, Egypt and Mali and the need for tourists to explore “safe” destinations.
 
Although the relevance of Croatia on a list promoting “once-dangerous” countries does seem a little out-of-date as the Homeland War ended twenty years ago. And Croatia is the only European country to be included on the list, the others being Colombia, Nicaragua, Namibia, Vietnam and Cambodia.
 
The article harks back to the past with mentions of the former Yugoslav tour operator “Yugotours.” - “Sun-sational Yugoslavia,” as the federation was marketed, was all about the Adriatic coast - stretching from the Istrian peninsula in the north to Dubrovnik in the south. Offering a week in the sun for as little as £99, Yugotours was sending nearly one million Brits a year to the country by 1990 – opens the Croatia article. It then goes onto mention that almost half a million British tourists are expected to visit the country in 2016.
 
Read the full article here
One of the most well-known British department stores Debenhams will open their first shops in Croatia at the beginning of 2016.
Debenhams, which operates more than 240 stores in 27 countries, will open two new shops in Croatia, one in the West Gate Mall in Zagreb and the second in the Mall of Split in Split.
 
According to unofficial sources the British department store will arrive in Croatia in grand style with over 4,000 square meters of shopping space. Commenting to the media the British headquarters of the department chain stated that “Debenhams will have two department stores in Croatia with a full range as in other countries.” Apart from a wide range of clothing the popular department store also offers cosmetics, household products and furniture.
 
The exact date of the opening of the Debenhams stores in Croatia is still unknown.

Croatia’s economy is one of the fastest growing in the European Union according to figures just released by the Croatian Bureau of Statistics. In the third quarter of 2015 the GDP rose by 2.8 percent making Croatia among the fastest growing economies in the European bloc.


“It gives me great pleasure to tell you that in the third quarter we achieved GDP growth of 2.8 percent. This rate confirms that this government has lifted Croatia out of the economic crisis,” commented the Deputy Prime Minister Branko Grcic.


Croatia’s economy in rose 1.3 percent in the third quarter compared to the second quarter and this was the fifth consecutive quarter with growth quarter on quarter.


The average EU growth in the third quarter was 1.9 percent year on year, and Croatia’s 2.7 percent rise ranks the country as the seventh fastest growing economy in the EU.

This week The Dubrovnik Times caught up with Wolfgang Pagl, the regional director for Expedia. This leading online travel company was formed in 1996 by Microsoft and since those early beginnings has become one of the market leaders in online travel. Expedia is particularly important for the Dubrovnik region and as Pagl commented the city is “one of our biggest destinations in Eastern Europe.”   
Expedia is important for Dubrovnik, in terms of filling accommodation capacities, but how important in Dubrovnik for Expedia?
Obviously for the Eastern European region Dubrovnik is an extremely important destination. It is one of our biggest destinations in Eastern Europe and the demand that we are seeing in Dubrovnik over the past few years is phenomenal. Dubrovnik has a well frequented airport, at least during the summer season, and that enables us not only to sell rooms in Dubrovnik but also our package deals. Around a quarter of all our bookings in Dubrovnik come through package deals. The good point for Dubrovnik is that our package deals tend to mean that guests stay for a longer period of time and we receive hardly any cancellations. All in all Dubrovnik is a very important to Expedia.
How long has Expedia been present in the Dubrovnik region, and over that time how have you seen the market develop?
Market management in Eastern Europe for Expedia started in 2004 and Dubrovnik has been involved since the very start. The growth rates, even eleven years down the line, are outstanding. It is nice to see how the collaboration between our marketing team and the hotels in Dubrovnik has flourished over the years. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the hotels in Dubrovnik for their trust and cooperation, together we are stronger. 
We see Dubrovnik as a top world destination, but how do you believe that the rest of the world sees us?
If you just walk down the Stradun in the middle of the season and listen to the different languages and see the number of people who are here you can see that Dubrovnik is a very well known destination throughout the world. The guests that Expedia brings to Dubrovnik are from all over the world. Dubrovnik is a brand for itself. During the summer months, when Dubrovnik is almost overbooked, I think that the city needs to be aware of the value for money. The relation between the high accommodation prices and the actual tourist offer need to be equal. Due to the relatively small size of the Old City of Dubrovnik there could easily be a problem of overcrowding. Getting the right balance is important. However I would add that demand for Dubrovnik is very high.
What do you believe that private renters in the Dubrovnik region can do to improve their occupancy rates?
The first thing for renters to think about is “where are my customers trying to find my product.” The sales channels for renters have really changed in these modern times. You need to make sure that your apartment is visible to the potential guest; if you have a poor online presence then you are starting for a bad position. Sales channels that were important fifteen years ago might be irrelevant today.
So with online accommodation so vital, how important are the reviews that guests leave?
I would say - very. If you get a few bad reviews from a particular country that will influence the amount of bookings you get from that country. Private renters and hotels need to work with reviews, write answers to question as well as replying to bad reviews. If you take the time to answer reviews, especially bad ones, then not only will that guest be grateful but also all of the potential future guests will see that you care and that you think about your guests. To show how important reviews are to guests we have even introduced a “live review” system in Expedia. This means that guests can comment and leave reviews all the way though their holiday.
How open is the review system to manipulation?
Of course there will be some manipulation but hoteliers and guests are experienced enough to differentiate between genuine reviews and “fake” ones. We also see that the vast majority of reviews are genuine.
"Dubrovnik is a very well known destination throughout the world"
When you travel personally what kind of research do you make before you decide on a destination?
Of course it depends if I am travelling on business or pleasure. If I am travelling on business then the most important factor is location, that the accommodation is close to the office. However if I am travelling on pleasure then I have a different set of demands. I would use information from a few websites. I am a father of two so the most important factor is the room layout. To be honest the industry is not doing enough on this point, we give information on many points but a room layout plan is something we don’t do. But one of the most important things is get info from more than one source.
With the recent terrorist attacks in Paris how do you believe that this will affect people’s travel plans?
Firstly I want to say that our thoughts are with the people of Paris in these difficult times. Unfortunately these types of events have always been a reality in the world, it isn’t nice, but it is something that has affected travellers since tourism existed. You always should take care whilst travelling and follow the advice from government bodies and your travel agent. Of course these recent events in Paris have unsettled travellers throughout the world; however I don’t believe that it will have a negative effect on the amount of tourists travelling next year.
Dubrovnik has experienced an explosion of private renters in recent years. How do you see the competition between hotels and private accommodation influencing the way guests decide?
Croatia has always had a strong private accommodation market. We often get asked his questions from hotel owners. The answer is that some customers will prefer the treatment and services that they receive in a hotel, whilst others want the freedom of private accommodation. The market contains different clients with different needs and demands, so the two aren’t directly in competition. The only thing that has changed is that the sales channels for private accommodation have improved greatly in recent years.  For Dubrovnik I firmly believe that there is enough demand and enough interest for both hotels and private renters. Dubrovnik could certainly do with more accommodation units; however these need to be built away from the historical city core. Dubrovnik needs to preserve its beauty.  
Photos - Tonci Plazibat
Text - Mark Thomas
 

For the second year running a 10 kilometre fun run will be held in Dubrovnik on New Year’s Day. Have an active and healthy start to 2016 by registering to this unique event.


The 10 kilometre run started last year when more than 200 participants from over thirty countries took part. The DunRun10K begins and ends on the main street, the Stradun, and plenty of spectators are sure to line the finish line. DuRun10K Dubrovnik has joined world’s cities which celebrate the new season in a proactive way, by promoting health and serenity through running. But it isn’t only the start and finish line in the heart of the Old City of Dubrovnik that will draw runner’s attention; during the route the athletes will see panoramas over the Adriatic and the countryside.


The run is a joint venture of the City of Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Dubrovnik Athletic Club and Extempora Association.
If you want to take part in the DuRun10K you can register today at www.durun10k.com

Croatia has found itself near the top of the list of countries with “the best public WiFi services” for 2015. Out of the 184 countries that had their public WiFi connections tested for speed and performance Croatia was placed in 17th position.


The survey was carried out by Rotten WiFi, who collected information on all of the countries WiFi networks. This information was based on the experience of “real-time” users who connected to the public WiFi.


Surprisingly Lithuania was placed top of the list, with Estonis in second place and making up the top three was Singapore. Croatia’s average download speed was 9.3 Mbps, whilst Lithuania recorded 16.1 Mps.
Croatia finished higher than Canada, Sweden and Finland.

The famous former tennis player Thomas Muster, winner of the Grand Slam at Roland Garros, is selling his house on the Cavtat waterfront. The Austrian Muster purchased the villa from the former US Ambassador to Croatia, William D. Montgomery.


The price for this imposing house on the waterfront, which stretches over 220 square meters and also has a delightful garden, is one million and 250 thousand Euros.


According to the local law Muster first offered his holiday home to the County, however they refused to take up the offer.

According to figures released by the Russian Tourist Board, Rosturizma, the number of Russians tourists who visited Croatia this year was down by 40 percent on 2014.
 
Croatia isn’t the only country that has been ignored by Russian tourists this year, in fact a third less travelled in 2015 compared to 2014. The falling value of the Ruble, the Ukraine situation, EU sanctions and poor relationships with traditional holiday destinations have all meant that many Russians have stayed at home this year.
 
There was a 40 percent decrease in the number of Russian tourists to Italy, Spain and Croatia. Whilst more far flung destinations, such as India and Thailand have experienced a 50 percent decrease. And Tunisia, which was the centre of the world’s media following terrorist attacks, saw an 80 percent drop in the number of Russian tourists. 

At an official reception last night in Dubrovnik Ivan Gjurasic was appointed as the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Albania in Dubrovnik.


The new consulate in Dubrovnik was opened by the His Excellency the Ambassador of the Republic of Albania in Croatia Ilir Melo. And the event was also attended by other members of the diplomatic corps in Dubrovnik: the Honorary Consul of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Mark Thomas, the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Italy, Frano Bongi, the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Hungary, Katja Bakija, and the Honorary Consul of Denmark, Vlaho Djurkovic.


Speaking on the occasion the Ambassador recalled the deeply interwoven historical connections between Dubrovnik and Albania since the time of the Dubrovnik Republic.


In his inaugural speech, the new honorary consul announced that he would do his best to strengthen cooperation at an economic and cultural level and of course in the field of tourism.

The Ambassador of France in Croatia, Michèle Boccoz, today named Adriana Kremenjaš-Daničić as the Honorary Consul of France in Dubrovnik. The official ceremony, held in the European House, made Kremenjaš-Daničić the twelfth honorary consulate in Dubrovnik.
 
Ambassador Boccoz thanked the people of Dubrovnik and all citizens of the Republic of Croatia for their support after the terrorist attacks in Paris on the 13th of November this year.
 
Kremenjaš-Daničić noted that French consulate in Dubrovnik was the first French consulate to be opened after the terrorist attacks in Paris.

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The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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