Sunday, 23 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

On the 26th of this July the Council of the European Union decided that Croatia would hold the rotating presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2020.

As the United Kingdom voted at the referendum in June to leave the EU its government decided to abandon the EU presidency which the UK was to assume in the second half of 2017.

In regard to the UK decision the European Council decided to move forward the order of presidencies by six month starting from the 1st of July 2017.

According to the EU Council decision Estonia, whose presidency was initially scheduled for the first half of 2018, will now be the first on the list to take over the rotating presidency in 2017. Austria and Bulgaria will follow Estonia and assume the rotating presidency in the first and the second half of 2018. The EU presidency of two other EU membership countries Finland and Romania is scheduled for 2019.

Croatia joined the European Union three years ago, on the 1st of July in 2013, and was scheduled for taking over the EU helm in 2026. But regarding the new situation after Brexit, Croatia will become the EU president in 2020, six years earlier than planned and six years after becoming an EU member.

Dubrovnik turned into a party zone last night with the CMA 2016 Corona Sunsets Festival! The centre of the Festival was at the Banje Beach, a world-famous beach and tourist pearl of the city of Dubrovnik. The stars last night were Sigma, who made people dancing with their world famous hits like 'Nobody to love' but also presented some new songs.

The festival was also held at Lazareti and Komarda, were DJ's were in charge for the atmosphere.

The Festival continues tonight and the headliners are Clean Bandit on the Banje Beach from 10.30 to midnight. Of course, the party continues all night long, so don't miss it.

A full ten days ahead of last year Dubrovnik Airport welcomed its millionth passenger today on a flight from Istanbul. A Turkish Airlines flight, TK439, arriving this morning Heather Noelle Rhine, an American living in South Korea became the millionth passenger to travel through the Dubrovnik Airport this year.

To her obvious surprise the millionth passenger was greeted by representatives of the airport, including the director, Roko Tolic, and a whole host of media. She was presented with gifts from the airport and from the Dubrovnik Tourist Board. She commented that she had chosen to visit Dubrovnik after hearing many positive reports from her friends; also she is a fan of the HBO series Game of Thrones which uses the city as a filming location. On her wish list in Dubrovnik were visits to the local islands, a trip to Montenegro and, of course, a tour of the filming locations from the Game of Thrones. She had flown alone but planned to meet some friends from Norway who were already on holiday in Dubrovnik.

Dubrovnik Airport is having an extremely successful year, with an 18 percent increase in the number of passengers recorded already. And the simple fact that the millionth passenger arrived a full ten days before 2015 indicates that this year will be a record breaking one.

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Osijek is the fourth most populated city in Croatia thus it would be reasonable to expect its budget to be the fourth largest in the country after Zagreb, Rijeka and Split. But interestingly, the much less populated city of Dubrovnik has ''fatter budget'' than Osijek.

According to data from the City of Dubrovnik, it is evident that the planned budget for 2016 is 451.2 million Kunas, larger than the budget of Osijek which is 449.70 million Kunas. As the leading tourist destination on the Adriatic, Dubrovnik represents Croatia in the world and regularly fills up the city's treasury with the mega tourism money. But when you also bear in mind that Dubrovnik has a population of around 42,000 and Osijek around 108,000 the difference in budget is even more interesting.

In last few years Osijek has successfully withstood the ''attack'' of two other Croatian cities; Zadar and Slavonski Brod. From one side, the Osijek's position of the fourth largest Croatian city is endangered by Zadar's population size whilst Slavonski Brod is trying to take over Osijek's position as the capital of the Slavonia region.

The current budget of Zadar, which according to the 2011 census has a population of 75,000 inhabitants, is planned at 408.8 million Kunas 2016.

The budget of Slavonski Brod is 224.3 million Kunas and whilst it is much less with comparison to the budget of Osijek there has been an increase of 70 million Kunas over the years. In comparison to 2008 the budget was only 156 million Kunas.

On the other hand, the budget of Velika Gorica is quite interesting. Even though this city has always been living in the shadow of its much bigger neighbour Zagreb, nowadays it has a population of 65,000 inhabitants and a budget of 312 million Kunas. In 2006 its budget was 195 million Kunas.

The amount of the local budget partly depends on the state policy. For example, due to recent amendments to the Income Tax Act, the so-called mini tax reform, Osijek lost 22 million Kunas. In order to neutralise the effects of that decision the City council of Zadar made a decision to increase the surtax rate from 10 per cent to 12 per cent. In the mid of 2013 Slavonski Brod also decided to increase the surtax from 8 per cent to 12 per cent. The city of Osijek still hasn't changed its surtax rate of 13 per cent.

EasyJet is today celebrating carrying 1 million passengers to and from Dubrovnik.

Since 2009, easyJet has made it available for people to travel to and from Dubrovnik at affordable prices. The airline first flew to Dubrovnik from London Gatwick airport, with the same excellent customer service it has now. It now flies to and from 12 destinations from Dubrovnik Airport across 6 countries, including Amsterdam, Berlin, London Gatwick, London Luton, London Stansted and Milan Malpensa.

As a result of their low fares and friendly service, 1 million people have chosen easyJet to fly them to and from Dubrovnik. The UK’s largest airline will continue to expand and grow both in Croatia and the rest of Europe and passengers departing from Dubrovnik are taking more chances to connect to Europe’s primary destinations at affordable fare.

easyJet offers over 820 routes across its entire European network on more than 250aircraft.

Dimitris Schoinas, Senior Route Manager for easyJet commented that “We are extremely happy to be reaching our 1 million passenger milestone at Dubrovnik airport in the beautiful Croatia which is proving very popular among European holidaymakers. We have come a long way since our first flight to Croatia in 2009, and we are looking forward to the future, as we fly our next million passengers to and from Dubrovnik.”

Whilst Frano Luetić, the Deputy Director General at Dubrovnik Airport, said: “We thank EasyJet very much for outstanding cooperation during the entirely period of operation into Dubrovnik. Also we could confirm the huge contribution of EasyJet to increase of our passenger numbers. EasyJet is now ranked as second carrier at our airport according to passenger numbers volume taking into consideration that more than 55 carriers are operating into our station.”

The police department of Split has received a donation from Germany worth 70,000 Euros. This generous donation by the German police to their Croatian colleagues also included four police patrol bikes for police officers patrolling the city centre, whilst another four bikes will be handed over to the police department in Zadar.

Wolfgang Lohmann, the commander of the German Intervention police of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, expressed his satisfaction with the donation and with the good partnership and friendship that the police departments of both countries already established. He also added that this was a very important project in Germany where ''....policemen on bikes are much closer to citizens''.

"I'm pleased that we could donate these valuable bikes to the Croatian police. I hope that our cooperation with the Croatian police will continue. This is not the first donation, there were more and our cooperation will continue to grow," Lohmann commented.

Krunoslav Borovec, the chief of the Croatian police, emphasized that the total value of this donation was more than 70,000 Euros. Apart from four bikes that would be allocated to the police department in Split and another four to Zadar’s police, he said that the Croatian police also received 60 sets of equipment to maintain peace and order as well as protective suits for the police intervention force. He also commented that the Croatian police had already worked with their German counterpart on several projects and that the Germans had donated police equipment worth more than several million Kunas over the years.

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Summer in Dubrovnik, the height of the season is upon us and the stone streets of the historic Old City are alive with tourists. The iconic Dubrovnik City Walls are on course for a record year, the millionth passenger arrived at Dubrovnik Airport, the beaches and restaurants are doing a roaring trade. This is summer, this is Dubrovnik.

Check out our summer photo gallery by Tonci Plazibat

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Summertime is in full swing in Dubrovnik. You can see it in the streets and in all the corners of the city. People are enjoying their holidays, laughing, taking photographs, crowding around all the famous sights. Personally, I'm not too fond of crowds. I prefer a bit of peace and quiet most of the time. Some people like going out to crowded places, but nobody, and I mean nobody, likes crowded roads and traffic jams.

Oh yeah, Dubrovnik traffic during the summer season...books could be written about it. Not a lot of positive ones though. Dubrovnik's infrastructure is barely enough for people living here, but when combined with all the tourists that travel to Dubrovnik by car, it can end up being quite insufficient. Roads are too narrow for everyone, parking is too scarce, and the less said about the main traffic hubs, the better. On the other hand, there are also bad drivers out there, and those deserve a special section in the library, let alone a book or two. Every place on earth has bad drivers, but when you get bad drivers visiting a foreign country for the first time, you are in for a treat. I've witnessed all sorts of traffic escapades on the streets of Dubrovnik and it sometimes makes me wonder how laid back, one could say lackadaisical, are driving tests in some countries in Europe.

My first job in tourism was working for a hire car company and I saw all sorts of drivers during that summer. Most of them good ones, of course, but some were nothing short of scary. We've had crashed cars, stolen cars, loads of punctures, and even more parking tickets never paid by the guests. One time a gentleman called me saying the car he rented from us that day wouldn’t start. When I asked him where he was, he said: "Somewhere between Dubrovnik and Split." He narrowed it down to around 220km of road. It turned out he simply locked his steering wheel and didn't know cars can do that.

One of the funnier moments of that summer happened in late August. My colleague and I needed to deliver a car to one client. It was a young lady who ordered one of the fastest cars we had - VW Golf V5. This 150BHP compact with a wonderful "kick" to it and lowered suspension was a real racer, and one of our bosses' favourite cars. It was a bit expensive to hire as well, so it was usually requested specifically only by petrol-heads. My colleague delivered it and took care of the contract while I was waiting to drive him back to the office. After doing all the paperwork, he spent some time talking with the girl who ordered the car and even took a short ride around the block with her. The whole thing took much longer than usual. When he finally came back and sat in the car with me, he was pale as a ghost. I asked him what was wrong and he said:

"Do you know what she asked me?"

"What?"

"She asked me to show her how to drive. She only got her license and she can barely operate a vehicle. She ordered this car only because it was the only automatic transmission car we have. What will I tell the boss?!"

I didn't know what to tell him. We simply sat there and looked at the car driving away from us, going, then stopping, then twitching, then going, then braking...until it turned a corner.

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Bozidar Jukic, AKA The Restless Native, is a Dubrovnik local with too many interests to name them all, with writing being at the very top of the list. He is a lover of good food, music and film, and a firm believer in the healing power of laughter. His professional orientation is towards tourism and travel so it comes as no surprise he spends most of his time alongside Mrs. Jukic running their own local tour company. Their goal is helping travellers from all over the world get a more intimate experience of Dubrovnik and what it has to offer. To find out more about their work, visit their website or Facebook page.
www.insiderholidays.eu
www.facebook.com/insiderholidays

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