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.
In the last two years Advent in Zagreb has been picked as the best one in Europe on the website European best destinations, the first website dedicated to the promotion of tourism in Europe. This year our capital competes again!
- Christmas in Europe is one of the most beautiful times of the year for young and old alike. The streets of the most beautiful cities in Europe are dressed in sublime Christmas lights. Magic is in the air – it's written on the website that organizes the competition.
And it really is that way! Every year it seems that Zagreb shines even brighter. It attracts many tourists, but also visitors from all over Croatia. Christmas time in Zagreb is perfect time to visit Croatia's capital and many have recognized it. That's why it was picked as the best one in the last two years. Last year it collected 33,607 votes, while Strasbourg, that came second had 19,242.
There are 22 cities in the competition and everybody are invited to vote until December 11th. Will Zagreb win again? It's up to you! Vote here.
Christmas is just around the corner and many artists are feeling inspired. One of them is Pave Baletic, creative housewife from Gruda, Konavle, who surprised everybody with her wonderful collection of Christmas decorations combined with Konavle motifs.
The artist has painted Christmas ball ornaments, that were already presented to the world by Konavle Tourist Board at the London Tourism Fair.
Pave Baletic is well known for applicating Konavle motifs (from folk costumes and jewelery) on Easter eggs. Her work is really unique and beautiful – as you can see.
A very special cafe opened its doors just a few days ago in Zagreb! It's a ''Silent cafe'', a cafe for deaf people and people with bad hearing, where drinking coffee, socializing and communicating doesn't cause them any problem or anxiety.
Employed waiters also do not hear, and this praiseworthy project was financed by the City of Zagreb. In order to overcome the communication barriers and prevent misunderstandings with the waiter, guests can simply order drinks by using a tablet. If you want to pay, one click is enough and the waiter will arrive.
However, owners also invite people without hearing problems to get acquainted with the obstacles of those who do not hear by visiting their cafe. Guests can flick through newspapers and also watch the TV with shows in sign language.
EasyJet is planning to increase its flight operations to Croatia for 2018. The low cost airline was the second largest carrier, in terms of passenger numbers, this year and the largest to Dubrovnik and plans an expansion for next year. Speaking to the website EX-YU Aviation the airline’s UK director, Sophie Dekker said that “A lot of airlines have shifted away from Egypt and Turkey in favour of routes like Spain and Portugal. Everyone is competing to get passengers. We are looking at alternative routes to places like Croatia next year”.
One of the possible new routes could well be the London Gatwick to Zagreb line which, due to the collapse of Monarch Airlines last year, has room for more flights. Also as Croatia Airlines sold their London Heathrow to Zagreb last year EasyJet is apparently considering introducing a new line between these two hubs.
EasyJet holds the top position in Dubrovnik with a massive 22 percent of the total passenger share, as well as being the leading airline to Split Airport. The low cost airline offered flights to and from Croatia to 39 European destinations in 2017 and this number could well increase this year. Ali Gayward, EasyJet’s UK Commercial Manager, commented that "We see a growing demand for short and long breaks to Croatia and we’re continuing to make it convenient for our customers to visit Croatia’s fantastic destinations contributing to the local economy".
The 2017 Dubrovnik Winter Festival officially opened last night with the lighting of the first Advent Candle in the heart of the Old City. The celebrations and prayers were attended by huge crowds and in spite of the terrible weather the Stradun looked very festive as the Christmas decorations were turned on for the first time.
The festive stands, selling a variety of traditional cuisines, also opened their doors for the first time this winter. The evening was completed with a concert by the popular singer Gibonni. During the Dubrovnik Winter Festival all buses from 5.00pm until the last departure will run free of charge.
The leading tourist group in Croatia has announced investments of 705 million Kunas in tourism in 2018.
After more than 4 billion Kunas of realized investments over the past period, Valamar Riviera, as the largest investor in the Croatian tourism industry, continues with completing of a three-year investment cycle worth between 1.5 and 2 billion Kunas by 2020.
In 2017, by investing 906 million Kunas, Valamar realized the largest annual investment cycle in Croatian tourism and opened up to 1,000 new jobs.
For 2018, Valamar has envisaged to complete the luxury resort Valamar Girandella Resort in Rabac, within which the first five-star Kinderhotel will be opened thus the repositioning of Rabac, as a leading holiday destination on the Adriatic will be completed.
Investments in camps in Istria and on the island of Krk will continue the strategy of intensive investment in the premium camping segment.
Valamar Dubrovnik President Hotel
Furthermore, the repositioning of the Valamar Argosy Hotel in Dubrovnik is focused on guests of the higher purchasing power, whilst investments of 72 million Kunas on the island of Rab and the renovation of the Imperial Hotel will initiate a new development cycle.
Valamar Riviera is the leading tourist company in Croatia which can accommodate around 56,000 guests per day at its 30 hotels and resorts as well as at 15 camping resorts along the Adriatic coast – in Istria, on the islands of Krk and Rab, and in Dubrovnik.
The company employs 6,000 people and is among the top five employers in Croatia.
By the number of destinations and capacity, revenue and operating profit, as well as by the number of guests and employees, Valamar is the leading tourist company in Croatia, which accounts for 12 percent of the total categorized accommodation in the country.
One of the most significant tourist manifestations of the continental part of Croatia begins on the 1st of December.
More than 2,5 million Christmas lights will be lit on the Grabovnica farm near Čazma in the Bjelovar-Bilogora County and mark the beginning of the ‘Christmas story’ of the Salaj family.
After presenting this year’s attractions such as an ice-skating rink, a great bonfire, everyday fireworks, a widened promenade and the Advent village with various homemade products, the radio hosts Doris Pinčić Rogoznica and Nives Čanović will officially open the event.
The Salaj family began to decorate their yard with Christmas lights 16 years ago. Thanks to the great effort and enthusiasm of the family, over the time it has become the most significant event of the continental part of Croatia.
Several state institutions, the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Crafts, the Croatian National Tourist Board, the Tourist Board of the Bjelovar-Bilogora County and the local self-government have also recognized the importance and the role of this project and in accordance with development plans, they have supported the organization of every Salaj family ‘Christmas story’.
This year the organizers expect more than 120,000 visitors, whilst the ‘Christmas story’ will remain open until the 14th of January 2018.
The official start of the Dubrovnik Winter Festival tomorrow also see the opening of the children's festive program.
On Saturday at 3.00pm the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Frankovic, will open the Dubrovnik ice-rink in the tennis courts in Lapad. The mayor will start at the funfair on the Sunset Beach in the Bay of Lapad and then catch the special Advent train to arrive at the nearby tennis courts at 3.00pm.
Tomorrow sees the official opening of the 2017 Dubrovnik Winter Festival with the lighting of the first advent candle in the heart of the Old City of Dubrovnik at 7.30pm which will be followed by a concert by popular Croatian pop star Gibonni.