Thursday, 19 September 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

This could well be the shortest column I have ever written. As the August sun punishingly burns down the sweat is rolling down my forehead like Niagara Falls and dripping in ever larger spots on my keyboard. Can you get electrocuted from a keyboard? I guess I am going to find out as my slippery fingers punch away.

But it’s the middle of August in Dubrovnik, so what would you expect? If it isn’t going to be hot now, then when will it get hot?

So the overtourism monster has once again reared its ugly head. A few too many tourists and everyone is gripped with shock and horror. Journalists from all over the world are contacting me asking about the crowded Old City and the human crush as cruise ship passengers pour off their ships and flow towards the Stradun. Headlines are filled with revulsion and surprise. And Facebook fills with angered citizens as they struggle to get to work due to the traffic jams. I might be a little controversial here – but get a grip! Why are you surprised when there is more traffic on the roads and more people wanting to get in the Old City and see the sights in the middle of the season, its August for God’s sake if we aren’t busy now, then when will we be busy.

If you drive to work or to the café bar takes ten minutes longer than in February, then leave home ten minutes earlier. If you have to wait an extra five minutes to buy your morning bread or croissant, then get out of bed five minutes earlier. And if you have to wait to get your coffee because your waitress is busy serving tourists their cappuccinos then I have absolutely no sympathy for you. It is August in Dubrovnik what the hell do you expect. Did you think that the roads would be empty? That the waitress was waiting all morning just for you to get out of bed for your coffee? Did you really think that the stone streets of the Old City would be empty in the height of summer? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are delusional.

 

 

Dubrovnik is a tourist destination. We all live, one way or another, from the tourist dollar, like it or not. Tourists are our customers. Do you hear Lidl complaining when they have too many customers? Or the Dubrovnik Summer Festival complaining that there are too many people wanting to buy tickets? Or eBay moaning that they have too many clients online and are selling to many products? Of course not, they are all rubbing their hands with glee and watching the cash registers spin. Yes, granted they might have to adjust their policies to allow more customers to shop at the same time, but basically they have a “sweet problem.” And believe me it is better to have a sweet problem than a sour one.

Tourists travel in the summer. And we are in the height of summer. It’s like throwing a lighted match into a bone dry forest and shouting “oh, no there is a fire.” Of course Dubrovnik will be busy in the height of August. And believe me if it wasn’t we would have far greater problems than waiting five minutes for our morning caffeine fix.

What if Dubrovnik had undertourism? Then we would truly suffer. If the shops, bars and hotels were empty, if you’re Airbnb apartment didn’t have any guests, then you would be really crying. So Dubrovnik is overcrowded for a couple of weeks of the year, big deal. You have 52 weeks in the year, surely that’s enough time to find a quiet spot for yourself.

And even during those “red” hotspots all you have to do is drive for 15 minutes and you are away from the crowds. Go to any globally popular tourist destination in the middle of August and it will be busy, it isn’t rocket science. And if that destination is empty then ask the locals which they would prefer. The fact that Dubrovnik is crowded in August isn’t breaking news, it isn’t the end of the world, it is exactly how it should be.

Yet another luxury mega yacht has dropped anchor near Cavtat this summer season with the arrival of the oddly named yacht 11-11.

This 63-metre-long beauty was built in 2015 and can carry 12 guests in 6 elegant cabins, she has a crew of 15 onboard. It is unknown who exactly has charted this eye-catching yacht but at 650,000 Euros a week plus expenses it is obviously someone with extra deep pockets.

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It is widely reported that 11-11 is owned by the British luxury property developer, Nick Candy, who is said to be worth around £1.5 billion. Although there is no confirmation that he is actually on the yacht, which is aid to have cost $70 million.
Candy, who is of Greek Cypriot descent, was involved with many high end property developments in London, including One Hyde Park and Chelsea Barracks. He is married to the Australian actress, singer and model, Holly Valance.

After an extremely hot July and August Croatia could well be in for a wet and stormy autumn. The popular weather website AccuWeather has released their long-range weather forecast for autumn this year and it doesn’t make for pretty reading for the southeast of Europe.

"The combination of post-tropical storms and wind storms will make for a wetter-than-normal autumn," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alan Reppert said.

Whereas temperatures have been in the mid-thirties for most of the summer in Croatia the chances of an Indian Summer look bleak as the autumn is predicted to be rainy and stormy.

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“As the season progresses, the risk of severe thunderstorms will lessen, but rounds of locally heavy rainfall will persist. The overall storm track over Europe will feature storms across southern Europe bringing numerous rounds of rainfall during the months of October and November. The wet pattern that is forecast across the Balkan Peninsula will limit any intense heat from building across the region with temperatures expected to remain near to slightly below normal for the season as a whole,” writes the website.

 

 

According to a report by the Croatian National Bank 555 counterfeit banknotes were discovered in Croatia in the first six months of this year, with the most commonly forged note the 200 Kuna bill.

In total 278 banknotes were Kuna bills, with 200 Kuna banknotes accounting for 124 of that overall number. The next most commonly forged Kuna banknotes are 1000 and then 500 Kuna.

Out of the foreign currencies that most common counterfeit notes are Euros. There were 277 forged foreign banknotes uncovered in the first six months of the year, of which 224 were Kuna notes.

Owning an apartment, villa or holiday home up and down the Croatian Adriatic coastline is certainly a lucrative business. According to recent figures just released by the Croatian Bureau of Statistics a whopping 3 million tourists decided to book private accommodation in Croatia in June this year, a healthy increase of 11 percent compared with the same month from last year.

Experts reports suggest that apartment owners in Dubrovnik can pocket a tidy 10,000 Euros a season, which after paying agency fees and taxes gives them a second income of around 7,000 Euros annually. And there is no sign that reservations with quality apartments is slowly down, in fact the opposite seems to be the case, as 44 percent of all accommodation bookings in Croatia in June were in private apartments and villas.

 


Among foreign tourists, the highest number of overnight stays, 3.5 million, was recorded by Germans in June, which is a 43.7 percent increase over June 2018, followed by Austrians, Slovenes, Poles, Czechs and tourists from the UK and Italy.

There are around 367,000 rooms in private accommodation in Croatia with a grand total of 960,000 beds, which is further evidence of just how important this type of accommodation is for the country.

And many apartment owners in Dubrovnik are reporting that they are full up until the end of September and into the beginning of October.

Bernie Ecclestone is back in the Adriatic on a cruise. The former head of Formula One is certainly no stranger to Dubrovnik and has been coming to the Croatian coastline on cruises for years after being introduced by his former wife Slavica. This time Ecclestone arrived with his mega yacht Petara which set him back a cool $35 million. Although as the F1 Supremo is reported to be worth $3.5 billion it was a drop in the ocean.

Ecclestone has already been spotted on the island of Hvar and now it looks like he is working his way down the Croatian coast as he docked in Korcula yesterday afternoon. Meaning we can probably expect Bernie to appear in Dubrovnik over the next few days. Maybe he will even bump into Slavica who has recently finished building a luxury villa in Zaton, some 15 minutes from Dubrovnik.

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Photo - Korcula Online Instagram 

 

 

Japan's largest air carrier, All Nippon Airways (ANA), will return with charter flights to Ljubljana and Dubrovnik from Tokyo and Osaka organized by Japan's largest tour operator, JTB Travel. The first flight from Osaka to Ljubljana is expected on the 31st of August, and the first flight from Tokyo to Ljubljana on the 14th of September.

The first charter will depart from Dubrovnik on the 7th of September 7, and on the 21st of September for Osaka. Passengers will be carried on a Boeing 787-9, which has a seating capacity for a maximum of 395 passengers.

In relation to the introduction of regular routes to Croatia and the acceptance of the Air Service Agreement between Croatia and Japan, the first round of bilateral negotiations was held in November last year. Japan's foreign minister confirmed that there is a stable demand for air connections between Croatia and Japan in the future, as does JTB Travel, Japan's largest travel company.

 

Yes, we know the historic Old City of Dubrovnik is stunningly gorgeous, and yes we know that the best views are from the city walls, but please don’t go overboard when trying to impress your friends on social media.

Already this summer season an American tourist fell from the walls, and with behaviour like this he could be joined by other candidates soon.

This photo appeared on social media and whilst we understand that collecting as many likes and comments is extremely important to many people, taking undue risks is probably not the right way to go. Dubrovnik is so picturesque anyway and there are so many new angles that you don’t have to dangle from walls to make a point.

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Photo - Instagram 

 

 

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