Wednesday, 28 October 2020

In spite of the Covid-19 pandemic and the travel challenges a major US travel conference will be held in Dubrovnik and 150 US travel agents are expected to attend.

ASTA Destination EXPO 2020 will be held from the 3rd to the 6th of December in the Valamar Lacroma Hotel and will be a great opportunity for the local tourism industry to network with one of the biggest travel markets for the city ahead of 2021.

At a meeting held between the City of Dubrovnik, the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, ASTA, Amcro Travel, Hotel Valamar Lacroma, Elite Travel and HIT Dalmatia all the participants agreed that the ASTA conference is an important step for tourism, especially due to the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. They all reiterated that holding this major conference is an optimistic and strong message to the entire travel industry. The conference will be held on a slightly smaller scale, in order to comply with all safety measures of the national headquarters and maintain the safety of visitors and hosts. About 150 American agents and advisers are expected to attend.

 

 

The conference "ASTA DESTINATION EXPO 2020", which will be held in Dubrovnik with the support of the Croatian Tourist Board and the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, is a unique opportunity to promote Dubrovnik and Croatia. The hosting of about 150 American tourism experts in Dubrovnik, who will negotiate deals directly with Croatian tourism service providers at B2B meetings, will surely make this conference the most important tourist event for Croatian tourism in 2020. Croatian travel agencies, hotels and other tourism service providers have expressed great interest in exhibiting at Trade shows and B2B meetings as part of the ASTA conference, and US agents will stay in Croatia for an average of 7-10 days, traveling through other parts of the country before and after the conference.

The American market is the second most important travel market for Dubrovnik after the British market, and in 2019 an impressive 159,146 American tourists stayed in Dubrovnik (16 percent more than in 2018), and 442,256 overnight stays were realized (15 percent more than in 2018).

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What has happened to Mexican soap operas? I mean where are they, they have disappeared from our TV screens. There was a time when every grandmother in Dubrovnik was glued to their screens all early evening watching Esmeralda or La usurpadora.

Every soap opera seemed to have the same actors, Gabriela Spanic who spent half the time crying and the other half with a face like she had lost her car keys, and Fernando Colunga, who reminded me of Joey from Friends.

They have all vanished from our screens. Not that I’m sad but now I know why children aren’t speaking Spanish anymore. Walk through a side street of the Old City as the sun was setting and all you could hear drifting from open windows was “Mi Amor” and “Te quiero.” As grannies got their daily fix of love and passion Mexican style. I didn’t even know they had been cut until my mother-in-law visited for a week.

I really can’t remember the last time I watched one of the main TV stations, it’s all Netflix and streaming for me nowadays, I’d even forgotten what the HRT logo looked like. “Oh, it’s 8 o’clock quick turn on the TV,” said my mother-in-law, “We’ll see what they’ll cook tonight.” It appeared that Spanic and Colunga had been replaced by Večera za 5 na selu (Dinner for 5 in the country) quickly followed by Superpar.

“Why don’t you watch those Mexican Telenovela soaps anymore,” I asked. “Uff, when did I even watch them,” she answered.

“Oh, The Biggest Loser is coming back soon,” she cheered as an advert appeared in the middle of her favourite cooking show. And then all of a sudden the volume on the TV went to mute, silence in the house. Had she turned the TV off? No. “Why did you turn the volume right down?” I asked. “I can’t listen to their voices, Uff, almost as bad as German,” she slid her chair closer to the screen so she could read the subtitles.

Looked like a scene from Istanbul. What was she watching now? Ok, now I understand Mexican soap operas have been replaced by Turkish ones. Same format, probably similar story line just different looking actors. Colunga and Spanic had been replaced by Yeşilçay and Burak Dakak.

Again actors spending unusually long periods of time looking at each other or off into the distance and every two minutes someone was crying. “What’s it called,” I asked. “Gulperi…sshhh I am reading,” she answered.

Quite by chance a few days later I tuned into the BBC and was surprised to see a soap opera that was a hit when I left the island. It’s set in London and called EastEnders. To my even bigger surprise was the fact that I even recognised a few of the actors. Now, the last time I watched this was over 22 years ago and the same bloody actors were in it then. There was even one actor who had been in the soap opera since it first started, and to give you some context the first ever episode was aired in 1985!

My first thought was thank God they don’t show EastEnders on Nova TV as my mother-in-law would be glued to that as well. It is basically a London version of Esmeralda, but instead of tequila and coffee they drink warm beer and tea.

The week long mother-in-law visit passed and the TV went silent again, or should I say Večera za 5 na selu was replaced by Netflix dramas and football matches. But then my mobile rang, “Oh, turn on the TV a new week of Večera za 5 na selu has started and all the contestants are fat…looks like The Biggest Loser has started early,” she laughed down the phone line.

 

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A weaker earthquake of magnitude 2.1 on the Richter scale was recorded in Zagreb at 8.38am this morning.

This morning at 8:38 seismologists from the Seismological Service recorded a weak earthquake with its epicentre in Zagreb near Gračani. The magnitude of the earthquake was 2.1 according to Richter.

The EMSC also reported that at 08:38 an earthquake of magnitude 2.1 on the Richter scale hit Zagreb with its epicentre in the vicinity of the city.

They first reported a magnitude 1.9 earthquake, and then gave a new estimate of 2.1 on the Richter scale.

 

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A reader of The Dubrovnik Times sent us this rather beautiful video of Dubrovnik entitled “People from Dubrovnik.”

Piotr Tymosiak, a filmmaker from Poland, and his friend Kuba, visited the pearl of the Adriatic back in July of this year and has created a video based around the people that they met.

“We met some wonderful people and we made this film about people who live in Dubrovnik,” commented Piotr and added that the video was a small thank you for the great time that they had in the city.

Check out the video below

 

In the last 24 hours, 819 new cases of Covid-19 virus infection were recorded, and the number of active cases in Croatia today is 5,164.

There are 548 patients are in hospital, of which 32 are on a respirator.

Unfortunately, a further 8 people have passed away due to Covid-19.

Since February 25, 2020, when the first case of infection was recorded in Croatia, a total of 25,580 people have been infected with Covid-19, of which 363 have died. A total of 20,053 people have recovered, of which 491 in the last 24 hours.

There are currently 21,148 people in self-isolation.

To date, a total of 397,000 people have been tested, of which 4,948 in the last 24 hours.

 

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Due to the pandemic and the consequences of the earthquake, Zagreb tourism suffered as every other tourist destination in Croatia this year and tourist arrivals and overnight stays are about 30 percent of last year’s figures and the holding of "Advent in Zagreb" is uncertain, according to the Zagreb Tourist Board (TZGZ).

"The conditions and possibilities of holding certain events have changed significantly this year, even for those outdoors in autumn and winter. We are currently completing preparations for several autumn projects through which Zagreb will once again be confirmed as the most important cultural and tourist destination in Croatia. We are also developing possible scenarios for Advent," Martina Bienenfeld, the director of the Zagreb Tourist Board, told Hina.

She emphasized that the health and safety aspect is always the primary consideration when organising events.

"We are in contact with the competent authorities of the City of Zagreb, the national and city civil protection headquarters. We are working on measures and organization, and if it takes place, we will respect and insist on all the guidelines that will be recommended," added Bienenfeld.

Presenting data on the decline in tourist traffic for the nine months of this year, she noted that this was expected, but also pointed out the average length of stay of tourists in Zagreb, increased from 1.83 nights to 2.21 nights.

By the end of September this year, almost 283 thousand tourists came to Zagreb, with most tourists coming from Croatia, followed by Germany, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Poland.

Due to the damage caused by the earthquake, 15 museums and seven galleries and art collections are currently closed, which all reduces the tourist offer, and Bienenfeld also pointed out that changes in the behaviour of those who travel are noticeable in the pandemic.

"Individual and smaller family and business trips have completely prevailed in Zagreb. Tourists go more to individual rather than group city tours, visit Zagreb attractions on their own, and spend more time outdoors and visit the Zagreb area, which is also contributed by our first destination campaign in cooperation with the Zagreb County Tourist Board "Near the city, close to the heart", says the director of the Zagreb Tourist Board.

Due to the whole situation, the Zagreb Tourist Board changed the work program for this year and reduced expenditures by 35 percent, primarily costs for promotional activities, appearances at fairs and international workshops, support for events, materials and souvenirs and offline advertising, as well as reducing the number of employees.

 

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At this time of year, I’m usually still grieving the end of Summer, and dreading the arrival of Winter, begrudgingly pulling out my warm clothes and preparing for hibernation.

Today, however, after a scenic bus ride into the Old Town, I’m wandering down the Stradun with a paper cone of roasted chestnuts, with a huge grin on my face. I’m wearing shorts, much to the amusement of the locals, who are already in their thermals, but I don’t care. The sun is shining, it’s still in the 20s and life is good.

What’s also unusual is that I am looking forward to a conference. They usually fill me with dread – stuffy rooms in soulless hotels, only coffee and pastries on offer, too much sitting down and not enough fresh air. But this isn’t an ordinary conference, and this certainly isn’t an ordinary venue.

I’m heading to the Lazereti, the first ever building in the world officially constructed to hold people in quarantine, which seems both fitting and ironic for this moment in time. These adjoining buildings are steeped in history, and offer the most incredible views of the Adriatic, so there is a real sense of occasion about it.

What’s more is that it is a Conference for Digital Nomads with the Dutch entrepreneur Jan De Jong, and a Guest Speaker from California, Dr Wallace J Nicholls, a marine biologist who specialises in the study of the “blue mind” and how being in, on and around the sea positively impacts our physical, mental and emotional health, as well as our productivity at work. I was sold at “blue mind”.

Croatia will be only the 2nd country in Europe to offer a Digital Nomad visa, and the 5th country worldwide. The Prime Minister has said he believes this is the future, with people working remotely, not tied to offices, and there’s no doubt it will bring it a most-welcome additional revenue stream for the country, as well as some fresh entrepreneurial spirit.

It’s a fantastic initiative showing a positive approach to the City’s recovery; as one of the speakers said -

“Every crisis is a new opportunity”.

As I hear these words, I can’t help but think of Boris Johnson using “being an opportunist” as a criticism of Keir Starmer. Being here today feels like another world to the one the UK Prime Minister inhabits, and not for the first time, I’m relieved to be in this one!

Looking at opportunity rather than admitting defeat is surely admirable, but when you look at Croatia’s history, it’s not surprising. If a country had a “word”, Croatia’s would be “resilience”. People here are hard-wired for not giving up, for overcoming adversity, and for exceeding expectations. We just need to look at the National Football Team for evidence of that!

The vibe at the conference is surprisingly upbeat, considering the fact we are all masked-up and socially distanced. With a new high-speed internet on the way and an influx of talented and forward-thinking entrepreneurs, I see a different type of “brave new world” developing here.

While the world around us may be in chaos, it feels like Croatia 2.0 is like a sea-blue bubble of hope and excitement.

Soaking up the October sunshine, with the sight and the smell of the sea air, surrounded by all this positive energy, I feel so grateful to be here in this magical City. If I have to quarantine, I can’t think of a better place. 

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Gillie Sutherland grew up in the north of England, before settling in Devon, but has now swapped her UK address for one on the Adriatic in the very south of Croatia, in Molunat. A professional yoga trainer she now runs retreats and online courses from her Konavle base. She also writes a weekly column for the Devon newspaper, The Express and Echo.

Keep in touch with Gillie via her yoga website - www.yogamolunat.life

For more information on healing holidays in Croatia visit www.lovemolunat.com

 

 

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In the last 24 hours, 20 new cases of Covid-19 infection have been recorded in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County.

These are 13 people from Dubrovnik (7 males and 6 females, of which 4 males and 3 females have an established epidemiological link). Furthermore, 3 males from Vela Luka (all with an established epidemiological link), 1 male from Mljet (established epidemiological link), 1 male from Metković, 1 female from the borough of Župa (with an established epidemiological link) and 1 a male person from Ston.

13 people have made a full recovery - 6 from Dubrovnik, 3 from Kula Norinska, 2 from Metković, 1 person from Župa and 1 person who does not have a residence in our county.

12 people tested positive for coronavirus are currently hospitalized in the Dubrovnik General Hospital.

In the last 24 hours, 174 samples were processed, and since the beginning of the pandemic, a total of 16,999 samples have been analysed.

There are 500 people in self-isolation, and in the last 24 hours, 1 violation of the self-isolation measure was established.

 

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After two consecutive days of over a 1,000 new Covid-19 cases across Croatia the Prime Minister, Andrej Plenković, stated today that “we have no plans for a new lockdown.”

Speaking to N1 Plenković said that everyone is aware of what the closure of the economy means.

"We will do everything we can to appeal to reason. So far we have no plans for a new lockdown, but we also need to raise the level of responsibility. I understand that people are having a hard time, frustrated, nervous. This situation is happening to everyone. Some countries are taking restrictive measures. But if we are not disciplined we will not win this. It is the same throughout the EU," the prime minister said.

He appealed to the youth again. "This is not a disease we can joke about. This is a disease we can overcome together if we respect others. No matter how strong, healthy and you think you won't feel Covid-19, some others will. Some will go to the hospital, some to ventilators, and some will and die," Plenković concluded.

Over the past 24 hours a further 1,096 new cases of Covid-19 have been detected across Croatia and this comes after a record breaking day for new cases on Thursday when 1,131 new cases were recorded. This is the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began that Croatia has seen more than 1,000 new cases over a 24-hour period.

 

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Time is running out for drivers to change their UK driving licence for a EU one as Brexit looms. If you are living in Croatia and driving a car with a UK driving licence, you’ll have to change your UK licence for a Croatian one. Whilst driving licence rules will stay the same until 31 December 2020 you’re going to need to exchange your UK licence to be ready for Brexit in 2021.

According to official information from the UK government website “If you are resident in Croatia, you should exchange your UK licence for a Croatian one. You can still use your Croatian licence in the UK for short visits or exchange it for a UK licence without taking a test if you return to live in the UK. You should exchange your driving licence at the nearest police station. You can do this if you have either an approved temporary or permanent residence in Croatia.”

Obtaining a Croatian driving licence isn’t that difficult but don’t leave it to the last minute. You’ll need a few things to be able to exchange your UK driving licence, yes exchange because you won’t be able to have both a UK and an EU driving licence. UK driving licences are replaced with Croatian driving licences without the obligation to pass a driving exam, regardless of the category of the vehicle listed on the UK driving licence.

To exchange your licence, you will need the following -

- your original UK driving licence and translation

- payment slip

- administrative fee

- a 35 x 45 mm photograph

And the UK government website adds that other documentation may be required. Don't wait to the last minute and exchange your UK driving license as soon as possible.

We’ll keep you informed on other developments as Brexit comes ever closer.

You can find more information on driving in Croatia on these following links –

what you need to drive abroad

road travel in Croatia

driving licence renewal and exchange

 

 

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