Wednesday, 24 April 2019
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

A recent research on representation of men and women in Zagreb shows that the system of the modern city of Zagreb has grown into a city of men, whilst women, despite their physical presence, are ''symbolically absent.''

Katja Vretenar and Zlatan Krajina, professors at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Zagreb carried out a survey in order to analyze the share of men and women in 3,861 names of public institutions and spaces such as streets and squares in the Croatian capital of Zagreb.

The survey data show that 1,032 streets and squares (27%) are named after men, whilst only 69 streets and squares (1,8%) are named after women. To make this statistics even worse, the survey also indicates that most streets named after women are usually some small side streets located away from the city centre or major roads.

The city of Zagreb has 70 squares and only three of them are dedicated to women, ''Dubravkin Trg'', ''Trg Katarine Zrinske'' and ''Trg svete Marije Cucerske''. On the other hand, around 60 percent of the city squares are named after men and they are located in the very heart of Zagreb.

Furthermore, according to some data, there were 292 sculptures and monuments at public places in Zagreb in 2007; 145 of them represented male characters and 108 were erected in memory of real male historical figures. However, only five monuments were dedicated to women who played important roles in the past.

In addition, the 51-seat Zagreb City Council has 36 male representatives (71%) and 15 female representatives (29%).

The peak and trough pattern of Dubrovnik’s tourism industry seems, if however small, to be raising the low points. The winter period has always been problematic for the region’s tourism business, Dubrovnik’s tourist arrivals basically skyrocket for six months in the summer then drop like a pebble in the Adriatic through the winter.

However slowly but surely more tourists are discovering the beauties of the city outside of the warmer months. According to figures just released by the Dubrovnik – Neretva County Tourist Board there was a healthy 6 percent increase in tourist arrivals in the first two months of this year. In total 31,502 tourists visited the region in January and February this year, which although is still relatively small it is a least a step in the right direction.

One of the main reasons for the on/off tourist season is the lack of international flights. This has to some extent been eased this year with more direct flights, from destinations such as Istanbul, Frankfurt and Rome; however it is still far from ideal. For a city where the most numerous guests are from the UK it would make more sense to have links to London and Manchester. For travellers planning to visit Dubrovnik out of the main season you are almost guaranteed a layover in Zagreb. Fortunately tourists from South Korea have saved these figures.

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A few years ago a popular TV show in Korea featured Dubrovnik and since then tourists have flocked to see it for themselves, a little like the Game of Thrones phenomenon. And these very guests prefer to visit in the winter, they tend to go on a coach tour around the country and Dubrovnik is one stop. This is brought home if the tourist arrivals by nationality for the Dubrovnik region are studied, tourists from South Korea were the third most numerous. In first place are tourists from Croatia, followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina and then in fourth place British.

In the first two months of 2017, around 392,000 tourists visited Croatia; and realized more than 1 million overnight stays or 13 to 15 percent more in comparison to the same period last year, the Croatian Tourist Board has reported.

According to data from eVisitor and eCrew systems, 210,600 tourists visited Croatia in February alone or 8 percent more compared to the same month last year. They realized around 540,000 overnight stays or 11 percent more than in February 2016. The winter period is traditionally a tough time for the tourism industry, however these figures are more than encouraging.

Furthermore, in the first two months, the number of domestic guests increased by 13 percent to 163,000, whilst overnight stays rose by 11 percent to 416,000.

On the other hand, the number of foreign visitors increased by 12,6 percent to 229,000, who realized 625,000 overnight stays, a significant increase of 18,4 percent compared to the first two months in 2016. The most numerous guests were from Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy and Austria.

By type of accommodation, the data also show that the largest number of overnight stays in the first two months of 2017 were realized in hotels (646,000), and household facilities (189,000), whilst among the counties with the most overnight stays were the Istria county (198,000) and the city of Zagreb (191,000).

As far as Croatia’s regions are concerned, the most successful was the Kvarner region with 163,000 overnight stays, followed by the Split-Dalmatia County with 108,000 and the Dubrovnik-Neretva County with 103,000 overnight stays.

Jamie Dornan had a busy first day of filming in Dubrovnik today as he appeared on set of the Robin Hood: Origins for the first time. Taron Egerton or Robin Hood, Oscar award winner Jamie Foxx who plays Little John and Eve Hewson, daughter of U2’s Bono Vox, who plays Maid Marion, have all been in Dubrovnik since the beginning of filming on the 20th of February. But until today Jamie Dornan, or Will Scarlet, was conspicuous by his absence, that all changed today.

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This Leonadro DiCaprio produced version of Robin Hood: Origins is a gritty and darker look at this classic story. Directed by Otto Bathurst, best known for the film Margot and the TV series Urban Gothic, this latest version of Robin Hood is more modern take. “The story of Robin Hood can be transformed to many generations,” commented Bathurst. “It is also relevant in today’s world, with the financial tensions between the 99 percent and the 1 percent,” added Bathurst.

And Dornan certainly had a darker look today on set as Will Scarlet, this certainly will not be the same jaunty and carefree Will Scarlet as portrayed in the 1938 classic starring Errol Flynn. It would appear from the scenes shot today in the main street through the Old City of Dubrovnik, the Stradun, that Dornan’s character is much more sinister. Today's scene featured the Northern Irish heartthrob leading a group of what appeared to be peasant rebels out of the city gates. Whether these rebels, lead, by Scarlet, were fighting against the Sherriff of Nottingham, played by Ben Mendelsohn, or against Little John, who appeared on the same set yesterday, is unknown. “He looks really bad ass,” commented a member of the press as Dornan strode ahead of the roaring hoard with a cowboy-style mask covering half of his face. Bathurst promised some surprises and twists.

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“He is a great guy, really happy to speak to everyone and always fun to be around,” commented one of the production team to The Dubrovnik Times on Dornan. And the buzz around the star of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy was quite apparent. Although Will Scarlet is arguably the fifth most important role in Robin Hood Dornan has stolen the show.

Riding on a crest of a wave of popularity his star power far outshines that of Foxx and Egerton, the supposed leading lights. In fact Egerton seemed almost downcast yesterday as he was mistaken for Jamie Dornan and for a few minutes went viral online. This could be the first time that Hood has been upstaged by Scarlet. Christian Slater certainly didn’t manage it in the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves when he was up against Kevin Costner. And who remembers Scarlet in the 2010 version starring Russell Crowe, probably only film buffs will remember Scott Grimes in the role.

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Just Dornan’s appearance in Dubrovnik today caused social media to explode. Within a few minutes #robinhoodorigins was trending on Twitter and Instagram looked like a Jamie Dornan private gallery. Ivan Vukovic, a guide in Dubrovnik, commented that “I think that Jamie Dornan has made the best marketing for Dubrovnik in past three years.” He added that “Last season when I told my clients and guests that Robin Hood with Jamie Dornan was coming to Dubrovnik all the ladies went wild.”

So D-Day, or Dornan Day, in Dubrovnik finally arrived and now we await to see where else the “sexiest man on the planet” will appear in the city. Filming of Robin Hood: Origins will end on the 6th of March in Dubrovnik and the film is planned to be released on the 23rd of March 2018.

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Photos by Ivana Smilovic 

''US nationals crossing the Atlantic should require additional travel documents as long as citizens from five EU countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania) are kept from entering America without a visa'', the European Parliament said after a mini plenary session held on the 2nd of March.

On this occasion, the European Parliament required from the EU Commission to reintroduce visas for Americans wishing to travel to Europe, after MEPs agreed the EU is now “legally obliged” to suspend the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) with the US for a year because the US administration does not respect the principle of visa reciprocity.

In December last year, the EU Commission reported on progress in the last five months in terms of achieving full visa reciprocity with Canada and the United States. Unlike the US, the agreement was reached with Canada, thus citizens from Romania and Bulgaria will be able to travel to Canada without visas from the 1st of December 2017.

A few months ago, the EU Commission also announced that upon the establishment of the new US government it would make additional efforts to achieve full reciprocity visa waiver in coordination with the five member countries of Croatia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland and Romania.

According to the US law, visas are required for citizens of countries that have more than 3 percent of declined visa applications. The State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs has said that Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania still have not met security requirements for the US VWP.

The percentage of declined visas for Croatian citizens is 5,3 percent, for citizens of Cyprus 3,5 percent, for Polish citizens 6,4 percent, for Romanians 11,3 percent, whilst citizens of Bulgaria have the largest number of declined visa applications, 17,3 percent.

This year’s Fête de la Francophonie en Croatie or the Festival of La Francophonie in Croatia is being organized in 14 towns throughout Croatia from the 1st to the 31st of March.

In order to promote French culture and cultural diversity the festival will feature over 100 events, including film screenings, lectures, exhibitions, workshops and concerts, as well as programs of gastronomy-related events.

The Festival of La Francophonie is a joint initiative by the embassies of the member countries of La Francophonie in Zagreb (Belgium, Canada, France, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia and Switzerland), with the support of the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, five French alliances in Croatia, the French-Croatian Friendship Society, and many other Croatian cultural and educational organizations and institutions.

Apart from the Croatian capital, the festival is taking place in Dubrovnik, Kastela, Koprivnica, Korcula, Lipik, Omis, Pakrac, Rijeka, Samobor, Split, Supetar on the island of Brac, Varazdin and Zadar.

''Croatia is the top candidate of European health tourism'', experts say at the HTI conference currently being held in Rovinj, which has gathered 300 distinguished guests from all around the world.

On this occasion, the president of the American Medical Tourism Association Jonathan Edelheit has said that Croatia is the leading destination in Europe because it has great potential in top medical professionals, nature, location, hospitals and health resorts like the one on the island of Losinj. ‘’With investments this health resort could attract visitors from China who highly appreciate well known sanatoria for the respiratory system issues’’.

These are only some of the highlights at the Health Tourism Industry (HTI) conference, which is taking place at the Hotel Lone in Rovinj from the 28th of February to the 2nd of March. Apart from the conference on medical tourism, the conference also includes two more international events – ILHA’s European Luxury Hospitality Summit and Taste the Mediterranean Festival.

The Croatian Minister Gari Cappelli has addressed to the leaders of European and international institutions from Slovenia, Montenegro, Hungary, Portugal, Serbia, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, France and the US. ‘’Health tourism is one of the key products in the development of Croatia’s tourism till 2020, thus as soon as the country solves the legislative regulations it will be ready to invest already prepared 400 million Kunas’’, explained Cappelli.

In addition, the vice president of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) for tourism, trade and finances Josip Zaher has commented that health tourism is the fastest growing form of tourism in Europe, which is not seasonal, with the average growth rate of 15 to 20 percent annually. ‘’Europe is a world leader in tourism, however, projections show that the current 50 percent market share of all tourist arrivals will decline to almost 40 percent. We need a joint promotion of Europe as a destination for health tourism’’, concluded Zaher.

On the second day of the conference, the main topic of lectures and presentations was luxury tourism, whilst one of the guest speakers was the American actress Eva LaRue, who is also an expert in luxury travel and a promoter of the American internet platform Dot Luxury.

It was an action packed day yesterday on the set of Robin Hood: Origins with horse chases, fireballs and ear deafening explosions that echoed through the narrow side streets of Dubrovnik. The main street through the Old City, Stradun, was once again the centre of attention with Jamie Foxx as Little John speeding along the cobbled street in a cart.

The horse chase began at the Pile end of the Stradun and saw four Knights on horseback chase Foxx through a tunnel and along the main street whilst explosions and fireballs filled the air. A body double was used for many of the scenes as the cart raced at breakneck speed over the stone streets.

foxx rider

Once again there was a buzz of anticipated on the set of Robin Hood as the star of Fifty Shades of Grey, Jamie Dornan, was expected to make his first appearance. However it would seem that the Northern Irish hunk will have only small part in Dubrovnik as he had a free day yesterday. After arriving two days ago Jamie Dornan, who plays Will Scarlet in this Leonardo DiCaprio produced Hood, has been recovering from his long-haul flight across the Atlantic from the Oscar ceremonies.

Taron Egerton also briefly appeared on the Dubrovnik set yesterday and caused a storm on social media as a rumour spread that it was in fact Dornan.

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jamie double

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And Taron Egerton arriving on set

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Video courtesy of Break Time Dubrovnik 

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