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.
Over a quarter of all deaths every year in Croatia are caused by cancer, making cancer the second leading cause of death in the country. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, 164 persons out of 100,000 die of cancer in the United States and 262 in the European Union.
In 2016, 27 persons out of 100,000 died of breast cancer in the EU and 47 in Croatia, said Croatian MEP Dubravka Suica, also a member of the informal group of MEPs "Members Against Cancer".
"It's evident that in the US they invest more and do more than in the EU. This shows that it's necessary to invest more in research, development and innovation, which is a priority for the European Parliament. Croatia has to become more involved," said Suica.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, as the Croatian government are planning to respond to the shortfall of workers throughout the country by increasing the annual quota for foreign worker seven fold for 2019. The number of foreign work permits will be increased to a massive 63,600 and, as the Croatian newspaper Vecernji List have reported, nurse will be imported for the first time in the country’s history.
This new drastic increase in foreign work permits applies to non-EU workers and the permits will be spread across all industries. Areas such as construction and in particular tourism can expect a huge shortfall of workers next year so these two fields will probably receive the most new permits. The Croatian Minister of Tourism, Gari Cappelli, had already announced earlier that work permits for non-EU workers would be increased to 15,000 for next year.
Croatia is facing this lack of workers mainly due to the fact that hundreds of thousands of young, professional workers have already left the country in search of a brighter financial future in other European Union member states, such as Sweden, Ireland and Germany. It is estimated that so far around 300,000 Croatians have already migrated to other EU countries and worryingly these tend to be the most educated and skilled workers.
As indicator as the shortfall of workers expected for 2019 can be seen if the number of work permits for foreigners from previous years is studied. In 2017 there were only 9,000 work permits issued, whilst already last year that figure had risen from an initial 31,000 at the beginning of the year to 38,000 when the situation became worse.
In addition, not only has the government increased the maximum quotas sevenfold since 2017, but the number of sectors needing extra workers also keeps expanding, with Vecernji List reporting that for the first time in its history Croatia will seek to import some 200 nurses - including 50 for jobs in the health care system, and another 150 at retirement homes.
However simply increasing the number of non-EU workers isn’t the solution to this long-term problem. The structure of the salary system needs serious attention, in particular the amount of taxes employers have to pay for workers. Employers have complained that these high taxes make it financially restrictive to raise salaries. For example a net salary of 10,000 Kuna per month would mean that an employer would pay around 20,000 gross, or basically double due to the punishingly high taxes.
Vecernji List reports that around 1,800 nurse have already left the country with the vast majority going to Germany. And with a basic salary between €1,800 and €2,000 net a month compared to around €690 in Croatia the root of the problem is obvious.
Whilst most the north of Croatia is already under a blanket of show with temperatures down to -15 degrees in some parts Dubrovnik is still a snow-free zone. So what are the chances of a few drops of snow in Dubrovnik this winter, could with have a white Christmas?
Even though Dubrovnik has a reputation as a sunshine filled destination with balmy summer temperatures and warm summer evenings the winter cold can bite especially when the north wind, or bura, blows.
Winter temperatures can drop down to below zero and with the wind chill factor knocking another 5 degrees off the real feel temperature can be extremely chilly. However, snow is particularly rare in Dubrovnik, whereas the southern region of Konavle and it higher peaks receive a dusting almost every year Dubrovnik has seen snow only a handful of times over the past two decades.
Although there was a sprinkling of snow in February this year the last time that real snow fell was back in January 2017.
So what are the chances of a white Christmas in Dubrovnik?
Extremely low! The forecast for Christmas day in Dubrovnik shows temperatures expected to be around 14 degrees, hardly the right temperature for snow. And in fact rain is predicted on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Meaning that we can dream of a white Christmas but our dreams won’t come true this year.
Biker Santas brought presents and fun to the children’s home “Maslina” in Dubrovnik over the weekend. In the traditional festive visit to the children’s home the bikers arrived carry armloads of presents and Santa costumes.
It was truly an unforgettable Sunday for the children as after they opened the presents many of them went on a short ride of the back of a motorbike.
Well done Biker Santas for showing the true Christmas spirit!
This must be the good news story of the weekend of sports in Croatia. Heavy snow had been falling for days in western Croatia and the first division match between NK Osijek and Inter Zaprešić, the last game before the winter break, looked like being called off due to piles of snow on the pitch.
However, the fans of Osijek had different plans. Determined to rescue the match the fans turned up at the stadium at 7.00am and started to clear the pitch. There was no doubt that the game would have been called off if the fans and volunteers hadn’t spun into action.
And the club jumped on the action and offered fans 25 Kunas an hour to clear the snow off the pitch as well as free tickets for the game. From the early morning hours until 1.00pm tons and tons of snow were taken off the pitch. In fact, the fans of Osijek, the so called Kohorta, decided to show some Christmas spirit and instead of accepting the club’s offer of payment they asked for the money to be donated to charity.
With the pitch cleaned the game went ahead and the players of Osijek repaid their fans hard work by beating Inter Zaprešić 6 – 0 and moved up to second in the league table.
One of the Christmas traditions in Croatia is the growing of wheat on the run-up to the big day. Known as Božićna pšenica, or Christmas Wheat, the wheat is normally planted on the 4th of December, St, Barbara’s Day, and is left to grow up until the holiday period.
The wheat seeds are placed in a round bowl and sometimes decorated with red, white and blue ribbons. It's believed that the taller the wheat grows, the more prosperous the coming year will be. This tradition dates back to times when agriculture was the main economic activity and is connected with fertility cult.
Homes around the country will already be full of Christmas Wheat as the festive season draws ever closer.
Cork Airport is celebrating the Christmas period with a giveaway of flights and today Dubrovnik is on the menu. Win a pair of return tickets from Cork to Dubrovnik with Aer Lingus but you’ll have to get your skates on as the competition ends today.
It’s easy to enter just follow this link to the Instagram account of Cork Airport and follow the rules.
To win simply: Like the post, tag two friends in the comments section and screenshot the post or our story and share in your story.
As Cork Airport announced “Good luck everyone! Winner announced tomorrow morning.”
Winter is coming! Snow has fallen in the wider Dubrovnik region for the first time this winter with the highest peaks of Konavle looking like a Christmas scene.
The Konavle Fire Brigade confirmed that last night at around 6.00pm snow fell in the Konavle region and even settled on the higher ground.
The summit of the Sniježnice Mountain, the highest mountain in the south of Croatia, standing at 1,234 metres in height now has a dusting of snow on its peak and brings an Alpine feel to Konavle.