Wednesday, 19 September 2018
Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.

Email: mark.thomas@dubrovnik-times.com

Dubrovnik is without rain for weeks and weeks and then this morning the heavens opened and torrential rain hammered down. Two thunderstorms converged on the city and brought echoes of thunder from around 7.00am. And the forecast for the rest of the day doesn’t look promising although the rain could clear up later in the day.

Highs will reach 23 degrees today, a full ten degrees cooler than yesterday and the first day in August that hasn’t seen temperatures over 30 degrees. The weather website accuweatheer.com has released a yellow warning for the Dubrovnik region “Yellow Warning for Thunderstorms in effect until Monday.” Drivers are being warned that road conditions will be treacherous.

Normal summer weather will continue tomorrow and the forecast for the rest of next week shows sunshine and blue skies.

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Plane from Hamburg in a holding pattern until weather clears up - Photo flightradar

 

 

The recent fires that have brought plumes of smoke over the Dubrovnik region got extremely close to the Croatia border. The forest fires, which burned on and off for four days, were centred around the town of Ivanica in Bosnia and Herzegovina just over the Croatian border from Dubrovnik.

Dubrovnik firefighters assisted with the fires which covered a huge area. And now images from the space highlight just how large and just how close the fires came to reaching Dubrovnik. The European Union’s Earth observation project, or Copernicus, took satellite images from their Sentinel-2 satellite and they show the severity of the land affected.

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Copernicus is the European Union's Earth Observation Programme, looking at our planet and its environment for the ultimate benefit of all European citizens. It offers information services based on satellite Earth Observation and in situ (non-space) data.

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A Chinese company is once again interested in investing in Croatia, and again in infrastructure. After the China Roads and Bridges Company won the contract to build the Peljesac Bridge, the largest infrastructure project in Croatia in recent years, another Chinese company is interested in an airport.

The China State Construction Engineering Corporation have got their eyes on Osijek Airport and have already met with the city’s authorities.

"Considering the airport is important for Osijek and the entire region, we agreed to meet with potential investors. If, after the meeting and once they have inspected the airport they show an interest in further talks, then we will include the government because the state is the majority owner of the airport," commented the deputy mayor of Osijek.

He added that city authorities believe Osijek is interesting for investors because of its geo-strategic position with four capital cities being located just 250 kilometres away from it - Zagreb, Budapest, Belgrade and Sarajevo. Also, the airport has huge potential for cargo transport, he said.

The Royal Navy ship HMS Echo arrived in the Port of Dubrovnik this morning as part of a two-day stay in the city. According to a statement from the ship the reason for the visit to Dubrovnik is to “to complete a crew changeover and replenish provisions.” And whilst they are in the city they have lined up some entertainment, a game of football against the Dubrovnik Police Force.

HMS Echo was launched in Devon in 2002 and is a hydrographic survey ship. Echo is designed to conduct survey operations in support of submarines or amphibious operations. She can provide almost real-time tailored environmental information, and also has a secondary role as a mine countermeasure tasking authority platform, for which she is capable of embarking a dedicated mine counter measures command team.

And quite clearly the crew are fans of the HBO serial Game of Thrones. Their first post on Twitter when they arrived early this morning was filled with refernces to the globally popular serial “@HMS_Echo arrives in Dubrovnik, stunning views on the way in! #GoT #Blackwaterbay #RedKeep @RoyalNavy.”

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Arriving in Dubrovnik - Photo HMS Echo Twitter 

“Has Tourism Killed Dubrovnik?” was the headline that caught not just my attention but the attention of most the city this week. It seems in recent years that we can’t go through a tourist season without reading in some international publication that we are dying, or drowning or suffocating under tourists.

Dubrovnik, along with Barcelona and Venice, is struggling to cope with the interest from foreign tourists. They arrive on massive cruise ships, by plane and on day-trips and every day the Old City is a magnet for thousands upon thousands of visitors. Finding the correct balance, in a city that lives from the tourist dollar, has been challenging for the city’s authorities for years. Many would say that Dubrovnik is a victim of its own success, but the truth would be the it is a victim of terrible planning and short-sightedness. Short term gains have impacted the long term strategy.

And living from tourism of course has its challenges. For far too long we have judged our “success” simply in terms of numbers. Rather like a child collecting Pokemon cards, “I’ve got more than you have.” Can you name a bank in the world that accepts numbers as currency? There seems to have a been a mad rush to beat last year. This year we had 2 million next year we want 3 million. A policy that has never made any sense. 

So this latest unwanted headline featured in a leading UK newspaper, it seems they take turns in sending journalists in the summer, and the reporter asked “Today the tourists have returned by now the city faces a new challenge, how to keep that magic alive under the footsteps of thousands of daily visitors?” I kind of have mixed emotions about this subject.

Let’s face it many of the people in Dubrovnik would be happy if tourists just sent money in an envelope and didn’t actually arrive! Far too many of us, probably me included, are so used being able to park where we want, walk unhindered and find our favourite spot on the beach/café/restaurant without being bothered by anyone. Unless we can park right outside of our local café we are frustrated. Although we live, and yes we all live, from tourism we don’t want the inconvenience of having to deal with the tourist crowds. We are happy to take your money but please don’t disturb us.

Every day I hear people complaining about bad guests in private apartments, low spending visitors to restaurants and demanding guests in hotels. The irony makes me chuckle. This is just the market finding the best solution. This isn’t brain surgery. Offer the right product at the right price and with a high level of service and you’ll have happy guests. Miss any of those steps and you’re in for trouble. I don’t believe in bad guests only bad hosts.

Many, many people have made an absolute fortune selling, well for want of a better word, rubbish to tourists. And now when that rubbish just isn’t selling anymore they are moaning that the guests are bad or cheap. You get want you deserve.

And in this race to earn as much as possible from as little work as possible the whole idea of strategy has been flushed down the toilet. To be honest I can’t even remember reading a strategy, tourism just happened to Dubrovnik, the city was completely passive. Things have changed, or maybe I should say are changing. And this year seems either less crowded or better organised than years gone by. But it will take time. It’s rather like turning around an oil tanker in the middle of the Atlantic. Key words, such as sustainability, social benefits, quality of experience and environmental impact, have to be on everyone’s lips. Mass tourism died in the 1980s.

A modern experience means offering a memory making experience in a few days. Game of Thrones tours have a “best before” date but the history and culture of these ancient walls is timeless. Far from making Dubrovnik into a Disney Land it should be preserved as “Neverland.” A place that captures escapism, immortality and eternal childhood as in the land that Peter Pan live. So is Dubrovnik dying? Has tourism really killed Dubrovnik? No. Has it been badly wounded and in need of treatment and care. Yes.

Last night at around 10.00pm in the sea near the Lovrijenac Fortress on the outskirts of the Dubrovnik City walls a lifeless body was found floating. The Police Department of the Dubrovnik – Neretva County have confirmed that the deceased is a 69-year-old female.

The body was recovered from the sea and taken to the Department of Pathology of the Dubrovnik General Hospital where an autopsy will be performed and the cause of death will be determined. The circumstances of the case are still unknown.

Why pay for camping when you can drive into Kupari and camp for free? These happy campers have found a shady spot with panoramic views of the Adriatic Sea for a very reasonable price, free. We spotted these campers this morning in the former resort of Kupari.

Even though there is security on the gates of the resort it would seem that these campers slipped by. In the future it will be considerably harder to camp here for free as the plans are to develop this location into a luxury Four Seasons resort. But for the time being campers are illegally making hay whilst the Adriatic sun shines.

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Goran Ivaniševic will enter the tennis Hall of Fame! Eight players have been put forward this year to enter the Hall of Fame and Croatia’s Goran is on the list.

“Croatia’s Goran Ivanišević’s serve-and-volley style of play led him to great success on the grass courts of Wimbledon where he was a quarterfinalist once, semi-finalist twice, and finalist three times, before winning the title in 2001,” stated the Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, United States.

The International Tennis Hall of Fame is located in Newport, Rhode Island, United States. It honours players and contributors to the sport of tennis and includes a museum, grass tennis courts, an indoor tennis facility, and a court tennis (or real tennis) facility.

Along with Goran this year the other tennis stars to enter the Hall of Fame are: Jonas Björkman of Sweden, Sergi Bruguera from Spain, the Russian Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Conchita Martínez from Spain, Thomas Muster of Austria, Li Na from China and the French player Mary Pierce.

Partly cloudy

25°C

Dubrovnik

Partly cloudy
Humidity: 71%
Wind: SW at 11.27 km/h
Thursday
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Friday
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Saturday
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Sunday
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The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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