Thursday, 05 December 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

The popular low-cost airline easyJet has made another step to strengthen their place on the Croatian market. A five-year agreement between Pula Airport in Istria and easyJet was signed at the recent World Travel Market in London and is sure to bring ever more flights and passengers.

It is believed that with this new deal easyJet will open even more UK cities to Croatia with more flights and a longer flight schedule in the pipeline. Pula is seemingly an important destination for the budget airline as every year flight numbers have grown, with a total of ten European destinations now connected to Pula via easyJet.

 

The national flag carrier Croatia Airlines on Tuesday recorded its forty millionth passenger, Ivanka Candrlic, who arrived at Zagreb Airport aboard a Croatia Airlines flight from Frankfurt.

"We are very pleased to welcome our forty millionth passenger in the year when we celebrate the company's 30th anniversary. Additionally symbolic is the fact that the forty millionth passenger was recorded on a flight which was our first international flight in 1992," said Croatia Airlines Management Board chair Jasmin Bajic.

Asked to comment on the future of Croatia Airlines, considering that three scenarios have been mentioned in the media, Bajic said that he believed in the company's future.

"In the third quarter we earned a profit of HRK 41 million. That is the reality of Croatia Airlines - we lose in the wintertime and earn in the summer, when there is competition. We have to find a solution for the wintertime, when we are practically the only airline connecting Croatia with the rest of the world. In the wintertime we have 15 rivals, and in the summertime more than one hundred on this highly competitive aviation market," Bajic said.

 

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Asked if he expected help from the state, Bajic recalled that Croatia Airlines was owned by the state and that currently a process was underway that would result in a change of the ownership structure. But that's up to the owner and not the company itself, he said.

The Vecernji List daily reported on Tuesday that the consultants that have been hired to find a strategic partner and define a recapitalisation model for Croatia Airlines are expected to propose a plan to salvage the national airline by the end of the year.

The consultants are currently working on three models which include airports, pension funds and the ACI marina operator.

Sources close to the consultants have said that according to one of the models, a holding company consisting of Croatian airports and Croatia Airlines would be established. Another solution would be for pension insurance funds to take over Croatia Airlines and airports, and the third solution would be for pension insurance funds to take over Croatia Airlines as well as ACI.

After sunshine and blue skies yesterday the weather certainly took a turn for the worse today as gale force winds and pouring rain battered the whole city. Incredibly powerful winds whipped up the sea and uprooted trees and torrential rain made driving conditions very treacherous.

One of our readers caught this video of a yacht in the Bay of Lapad as extreme winds threatened to completely overturn the boat. The yacht had apparently dropped anchor in the sheltered bay a few days ago presumably looking for a good spot to avoid the heavy seas. However, the bay acted as a funnel for the winds and tossed the yacht around like a toy duck in a bath.

Just yesterday in this same bay we filmed a swimmer as he bathed in the Adriatic, today was a completely different story.

The weather has eased off in the meantime but more extreme weather is forecast for the rest of the week in Dubrovnik.

The inevitable path of Croatia adopting the Euro as the official currency is gathering pace as the Prime Minister announced that it is a strategic goal of the government.

“The economic benefits of the Euro are many, the currency risk in the economy will be eliminated, the cost of borrowing will drop for all domestic sectors, and citizens and businesses will have lower financing costs than they would if Croatia stayed outside the euro area,” stated Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.

And it seems that the public won’t be asked their opinion as to whether the country should ditch the Kuna and adopt the Euro in the form of a referendum as the Prime Minister reiterated that the people have already decided when they voted to join the EU. As part of Croatia’s accession into the EU family there was the obligation to adopt the Euro as the official currency.

“The euro is the second largest and strongest global currency used by more than 340 million people in the euro area,” added Plenkovic.

And he backed up his belief that Croatia should start using the currency of Europe with some hard facts. Plenkovic emphasized that around 76 percent of Croatians already save in Euros rather than in Kunas, meaning that Croatia has the highest deposits of Euros of all EU member states outside the euro area. He added that almost fifty percent of loans and mortgages are in Euros and that businesses export almost 60 percent of their goods into the Eurozone.

So when will Croatians start paying in Euros rather than Kunas?

In the second half of 2020 Croatia is expected to enter the European Exchange Rate Mechanism II upon confirmation of compliance with all conditions. Then the country would spend about 2 to 3 years in this mechanism, meaning that the full introduction of the Euro as the official currency would be somewhere between January 2023 and January 2024.

And although there is still some fear amongst citizens that prices will rise overnight the fact that most major transactions in Croatia are already carried out in Euros should help to ease those fears. Houses, cars, boats, land, in fact most things of larger value are quoted in Euros already.

And one major benefit of introducing the Euro would be the increased spending by tourists. Exchanging their home currency into Kunas tends to mean that tourists don’t exchange more than they really need. And there is also the positive effect it would have on interest rates, it is believed by financial experts that the introduction of the Euro would bring interest rates in line with the Eurozone, basically meaning lower interest rates for both private loans and business loans.

As the sun poured down on Dubrovnik today after a spell of grey and overcast weather some people were tempted to dive in the Adriatic Sea and determined to make the most of a sunny start to the week.

 

 

With sea temperatures around 20 degrees in fact the sea isn’t that chilly, indeed the sea in Dubrovnik today was twice as warm as the air temperature in the capital. This brave swimmer in the Bay of Lapad today certainly had the sea to himself. No worries about finding a spare spot on the beach to roll out his towel or whether a jet-ski would whizz past his ear, he crawled, a front crawl that is, to his heart’s content.

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Sunset Beach Dubrovnik in the November sunshine - Photo Mark Thomas 

However, the forecast for the rest of the week doesn’t look so promising for our swimmer, he might want to pack away the speedos, as rain and storms are predicted. But on the 11th day of the 11th month at exactly 11:00 am he splashed away even though Christmas is just around the corner. 

The Croatian Electric Company (HEP) has launched its one hundredth vehicle charging station in Croatia.

“With the commissioning of the 100th electric vehicle charging station, the Croatian Electricity Company has confirmed itself as a key entity in the electrification of traffic in Croatia, which we carry out in accordance with the guidelines of the Government of the Republic of Croatia and the policies of the European Union. At the moment, more than a hundred electric charging stations have been installed in Croatia and of which 26 are in Zagreb,” said the CEO of HEP, Frano Barbaric, adding that HEP is only halfway through the planned construction of infrastructure for electric vehicles.

At the moment, HEP's filling network covers all motorways and other important road routes in Croatia, city centres and tourist destinations, including several islands, and extends over the City of Zagreb and 18 counties.

At the beginning of 2015, HEP began the cycle of building charging stations in Croatian cities by following the provisions of Directive 2014/94 / EU on the establishment of alternative fuel infrastructure, which by 2020 provides for the availability of filling stations for every 50 kilometres of motorways, in all cities with more than 20,000 inhabitants, in all maritime, airports and inland ports, as well as at railway and bus stations.

 

Yes, we’ve all heard those embarrassing mistakes whilst ordering our morning coffee at the café bar, but keep out tongues in our heads to remain polite, but in general the millions of tourists that visit Croatia every year are greeted with a very high level of English.

English is taught from the first year of primary school across Croatia, so this good base combined with the opportunity to practise on a daily basis with tourists means that Croatians generally have a very good level of English. If you are applying for a job in tourism in many of the tourist destinations along the coast you won’t be asked if you speak English, it is simply assumed that you do.

And now Croatians have received some official confirmation of their English level with a new list produced by the World Economic Forum. Croatia has been placed in the list as “very high proficiency” and is the 14th most proficient country in the world.

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English language skills, according to WEF, are declining in some of Europe's leading economies. Of the four largest European economies (France, Germany, Spain and Italy), only the Germans speak English very well and are part of the group with Croatia.

At the top of this list are the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Singapore, and Croatia is last in the group of the highest ranking.

The grey clouds finally broke over Dubrovnik this Sunday afternoon and instead of the dull rain the city was bathed in sunshine.

Winter is certainly on the way and even though a few brave swimmers were spotted in the Adriatic this afternoon temperatures are cooling down almost on a daily basis, but with only 45 days left until Christmas it is to be expected. Highs today hit 18 degrees but in the sunshine it felt like the mid-twenties. And the Adriatic Sea is a tad over 20 degrees.

A handful of tourists almost had the stone streets of the ancient Old City to themselves and the city walls were the exact opposite of the crowds in the summer season.

Check out our photo gallery of Sunday afternoon in Dubrovnik

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