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.
The stone streets of the Old City of Dubrovnik not only carry the weight of tourists through the summer months but also the slightly more delicate scamper of cats.
With plenty of restaurants, fish markets and generous locals around the cats normally resemble Garfield. And during the hot September sunshine they look for shady spots to sleep off the last fish supper. Normally they tuck themselves away in gardens or behind walls, but this cat has quite clearly taken a more unique approach to finding a tranquil bed.
With just its head hanging out of the mouth of a gargoyle passers-by thought at first that the stone relief had a tongue, until on closer inspection they saw a ginger head.
Stunning Argentinian super model, Luli Fernández, is enjoying a family vacation in Dubrovnik and has been soaking up the Adriatic sunshine and attracting incredible attention on her social media.
Fernández (33) is a model, actress and was once an ice-skater and she even launched the new Argentinian football shirt before the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. She was reportedly romantically linked with several top name football stars before settling down with Cristian Cúneo Libarona who she married in 2014.
“I always smile when leaving the sea and today was special,” commented the model after swimming on Lokrum and clearly this Dubrovnik island will remain close to her heart as her young son also enjoyed a dip. “Today we put him in the water. There are moments that I keep in my heart, my son's smile today will undoubtedly be one of those that I will treasure forever,” commented the Buenos Aires born model on her Instagram.
And she finished he comment with some great advice “Travel!! All you can, wherever they can (no matter if the destination is near or far) and as many times as you can, because life is short and the world is huge!”
According to data from the eVisitor system which shows the generated traffic in commercial and non-commercial facilities and nautical charter service (eCrew system), from January through the end of August 16.5 million arrivals were recorded (+ 5 percent) and 90.1 million overnight stays (+ 2 percent) in Croatia. Foreign Tourists made up 14.7 million of arrivals (+ 5 percent) and 79.1 million of overnight stays (+ 1 percent), and there was also a 10 percent increase in arrivals and a 7 percent increase in overnight stays among domestic tourists.
During the first eight months of 2019 the highest number of overnight stays was recorded in Istria (24.3 million), in Split-Dalmatia County there were 16.9 million overnight stays, while the Kvarner region recorded 16.2 million overnight stays. They are followed by the Zadar County with 12.9 million overnight stays and the Dubrovnik-Neretva County with 7.2 million overnight stays. The Šibenik-Knin County recorded 6.2 million overnight stays, while the Lika-Senj County had 3 million overnight stays and the city of Zagreb 1.7 million overnight stays. In continental Croatia, not including Zagreb, 840,000 arrivals (+ 8 percent) and 1.7 million overnight stays (+ 8 percent) were recorded, while among counties the highest numbers of overnight stays were recorded in the Karlovac (511,000), Krapina-Zagorje, Zagreb (157,000), Osijek-Baranja (145,000) and Međimurje Counties (144,000).
At the national level, during the first eight months the most overnight stays were recorded from the markets of Germany (17 million), Slovenia (9.5 million), Austria (6.3 million), Poland (5.4 million), Italy (4.9 million), the Czech Republic (4.7 million) and the United Kingdom (3.5 million), and according to the type of accommodation, the highest number of overnight stays was recorded in household facilities (34.5 million), hotels (19.4 million) and camping sites (16.2 million). Going by the number of overnight stays, the top destinations in the first eight months were Dubrovnik, Rovinj, Poreč, Split and Medulin.
International tourist arrivals grew 4% from January to June 2019, compared to the same period last year, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer published ahead of the 23rd World Tourism Organization General Assembly. Growth was led by the Middle East (+8%) and Asia and the Pacific (+6%). International arrivals in Europe grew 4%, while Africa (+3%) and the Americas (+2%) enjoyed more moderate growth.
Destinations worldwide received 671 million international tourist arrivals between January and June 2019, almost 30 million more than in the same period of 2018 and a continuation of the growth recorded last year.
Growth in arrivals is returning to its historic trend and is in line with UNWTO’s forecast of 3% to 4% growth in international tourist arrivals for the full year 2019, as reported in the January Barometer.
So far, the drivers of these results have been a strong economy, affordable air travel, increased air connectivity and enhanced visa facilitation. However, weaker economic indicators, prolonged uncertainty about Brexit, trade and technological tensions and rising geopolitical challenges, have started to take a toll on business and consumer confidence, as reflected in a more cautious UNWTO Confidence Index.
Croatian property prices continue to steadily climb, according to new data prices are 9.5 percent higher than a year ago.
The Croatian Bureau of Statistics have published new statistics on the state of the real estate market in Croatia and in the first half-year of 2019 the average price per 1 m² of new properties sold by trade companies and other legal entities was 12,375 Kuna, or around 1,600 Euro per metre square. Making prices 9.5 percent higher than in the first half-year of 2018.
Interest if new properties is extremely high in the capital Zagreb where prices have risen the most over the past three years. Many properties in the Croatian capital, in the more sought after areas, are almost the same price as along the Croatian Adriatic. Prices in Zagreb rose from 11,656 Kuna per metre squared at the beginning of 2018 to 12,749 at the end of 2018.
Every week through the height of summer we are hitting the streets of Dubrovnik to discover what you, our visitors, think about the city as a tourist destination. This week we caught up with a couple from Madrid, Pedro and Gracia, who were visiting Dubrovnik for the first time after a friend recommend the city to them.
Pedro and Gracia – Madrid, Spain
What are your impressions of Dubrovnik so far? What have you seen and what have you liked?
We just love it, we only arrived a day ago and what we have seen so far has been truly breath-taking. This is one of the most impressive cities in the world. My brother cam last year and he recommended that we see the city. We are only here for three days but we intend to fill our days.
How satisfied are you with the prices in Dubrovnik? Are we an expensive destination?
So far we are more than satisfied. I think the prices are quite similar with Spain, where we are from, the prices are average for a European destination of this quality.
How could you compare prices with Madrid?
Madrid is probably one of the most expensive cities in Spain, the average price of living is pretty high. If you want to eat in a restaurant or go to a night club, then it’s probably the same price as Barcelona. Dubrovnik, at least so far, seems slightly cheaper than both Madrid and Barcelona.
So you are fans of the Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric?
Yes, absolutely. One of the best central midfield players in the long history of Real Madrid.
How satisfied are you with the level of service you have received in Dubrovnik?
Yes, the level of service has been fairly high, certainly nothing we can complain about. People are friendly and more than willing to help. We ate in a restaurant last night and the service was good, and the prices weren’t expensive.
The jubilee 70th Dubrovnik Summer Festival has recently ended and we caught up with the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Frankovic, to find his impressions after what appears to be another successful season. The Dubrovnik Summer festival might well be the jewel in the crown of Dubrovnik’s cultural calendar but there are also other cultural questions that need addressing.
Upon the completion of the 70th Dubrovnik Summer Festival one can hear from the artists that the City's attitude towards the festival is much better than before?
It's nice to hear from the artists that the relationship of the city, or rather this city administration, is much better than before. Culture is an extremely important part of our city's life, and the Summer Festival, as a music and stage festival with seven decades of tradition, is one of our powerful symbols, so we continue to support our festival with equal fervour. And not only them, but also other cultural institutions in the City of Dubrovnik.
In your speech during the opening of the festival you mentioned that the festival was facing a financial dilemma, how can we protect the festival from the syndrome of cashing the cash?
My thoughts on “chasing after the money” in my opening speech of the Jubilee Festival were not primarily about culture or the festival. The speed of life, the desire to accumulate material wealth and the alienation from real values, unfortunately, are the determinants of the modern way of life, and this is especially evident in our city because of the great influence of tourism and the opportunity for relatively fast profit. Real values are being lost and focus is shifting from the essentials. That was my criticism. It has been largely criticized and addressed to the culture, but more so in terms of the trend of relying on instant fame and provocation as a way of expression. This was a general observation, not a criticism addressed to today's leadership of the festival. My words were a call for thought, an appeal for sobriety. I think it's time to open our eyes. And the biggest critics have to admit to us that some things have moved for the better. Not everything is perfect, but let's keep going. We will return the measure to every segment of public life and action. Many think this is possible overnight, but it is not. After a decade of carelessness, nothing will happen overnight.
Why did the City decide to increase the financial allocation for the festival for next year?
The City, as the owner of its public cultural institution, must provide the foundation for its activities and its development, of course with other patrons and sponsors. Finance is an important segment of every festival, including the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. These are financially profitable and logistically demanding projects. Very often we like to compare ourselves with others, especially with the world's leading cultural festivals. If we take, for example, the Salzburg Summer Festival, which are one of the strongest cultural festivals, not only in Europe but in the world, then it must be clear to everyone that their budget is 60 million Euros, while Dubrovnik only spent 3.5 million Kuna until a year ago. Therefore, the comparison is clear, and therefore the need for a stronger budget.
The city government is taking concrete steps to build a concert hall. At least the location is known?
In cooperation with the University of Zagreb, we have defined the location. Therefore, the hall would be located next to the Inter University Centre (IUC), in an area partly owned by the IUC and partly owned by the City of Dubrovnik. We expect that in September we will have talks with Rector Damir Boras, and after that we will start drafting the conceptual project.
Are you satisfied with how much the tourism industry is involved in the logistics of the festival?
The Dubrovnik Summer Festival is our brand and I think that the potential is underutilized. I come from tourism and I think we have a lot of room for progress. I reiterate my thesis on corporate social responsibility and ask the question - is the tourism industry participating enough in terms of financing the Summer Festival. Someone will say it's just a "waste of money", however, I don't think it is. Culture is an important part of the identity of the people and it is something that we must nurture and promote.
Without doubt one of the best ways in this digital world to promote a project is to take to social media with a video, and that’s just what the Croatian Ministry of regional Development have done.
The new promotional video is for the worthy “Croatian Island Product” label initiated in the beginning of 2007 to encourage island producers to produce original and quality products.
These products result from island tradition, research and development, innovation and invention with a quantifiable level of quality. They come from restricted island localities and are produced in small batches.
In 2017 the “Croatian Island Product” quality label was awarded to 73 island producers for 141 product and production line, whereas to date the label has been awarded to 279 island producers in total (including 24 eco-produ-cers, 26 producers with the geographical indication mark and 6 producers with protected designation of origin) for 880 products and production lines from 24 islands.
Check out this new video