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.
From mid-April, Croatia will start an action to save this year’s tourist season, because then it will start vaccinating tourist workers, and the state will co-finance all tourists with rapid antigen tests, writes Jutarnji list today.
At the beginning of next week, the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ) will receive lists of people from the tourism sector who want to get vaccinated, and there are about 70,000 not only full-time employees, but also seasonal people who are in direct contact with tourists, such as hotel receptionists, chefs and waiters, workers in travel agencies, etc. The Ministry of Tourism has already received data from associations and institutions and as many as 70 percent of them expressed a desire to be vaccinated.
The mass vaccination process should start on Thursday, and vaccine points in larger cities will be organized in sports halls and other larger halls. The vaccination will be carried out by the county public health institutes, and the intention is for tourism workers, among others, to be vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is given in a single dose, all so that everyone can be vaccinated by the beginning of the season.
After that, the plan is to vaccinate about 90,000 private renters, and Croatia, in addition to being one of the few countries that was among the first to start vaccinating tourism workers as a priority, decided to cover part of the costs for antigen testing.
In Zagreb, for example, there are already 11 private clinics and two public institutions that will do both antigen and PCR testing, depending on what tourists will need, and on Ban Jelačić Square there will be a mobile testing point that will work on weekends from 10 to 18 hours. Tourists will be able to register the day before by email for testing, and on the website Safe Stay in Croatia all locations for testing in Croatia will be listed. Tourists will be able to be tested by a quick antigen test at a subsidized price, with more than 50 percent of the coast covered by the Ministry of Tourism.
Café bar terraces across the wider Dubrovnik region, from Konavle to Janjine, will be allowed to reopen to guests from Monday. Nikola Dobrosalvić, the Prefect of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County announced the news today at a press conference.
Although most of the rest of Croatia reopened café bar and restaurant terraces on April 1 the Dubrovnik-Neretva County decided to keep the terraces closed due to the rising number of new Covid-19 cases. Instead they announced on March 26 that terraces would remain closed until at least April 11, although coffee-to-go was allowed to operate. Today’s announcement means that from Monday April 12 café bars in the vast majority of the county will be allowed to reopen.
Deputy Prefect and Head of the County Headquarters for Civil Protection, Joško Cebalo, said that after the session held this morning, a proposal was sent to the National Headquarters to allow the work of terraces of catering facilities in the wider Dubrovnik area from Janjina to Konavle. For the rest of the county, current measures remain in place. Terraces will be able to work from 7:00am to 7:00pm.
The continued ban on the opening of terraces remains in force for the Neretva Valley, as well as the municipalities of Orebic, Trpanj and local governments on the island of Korcula.
As the original decision stated that terraces were to remain closed due to the rising number of Covid-19 cases, and given the fact that numbers haven’t fallen in recent weeks this decision was unexpected. However, at a session of the Civil Protection Headquarters, it was pointed out that the new measures are being adopted in accordance with the current epidemiological situation, where a 9 percent drop in the 7-day cumulative incidence was recorded in the wider Dubrovnik area.
The measures will take effect on Monday, April 12, and last until Sunday, April 25, when they will be reconsidered depending on the epidemiological situation.
On Wednesday, April 8, the director of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Ana Hrnić, gave an interview to The Jerusalem Post, one of the most read Israeli portals, with around 11 million visits per month.
The interview about Dubrovnik will be broadcast on a tourist podcast within the portal. Answering questions from an Israeli journalist, Ana Hrnić touched on the rich history of Dubrovnik, as well as the long history of the Jewish community in Dubrovnik with one of the oldest active synagogues in Europe.
The journalist was most interested in the well-known cultural and historical heritage of Dubrovnik, and was also interested in the current situation, the tourist offers of Dubrovnik, the possibility of trips to the surroundings, as well as the gastronomic offer.
From Tel Aviv to Dubrovnik, regular flights of the Israeli airline EL AL have been announced, every Tuesday from May 13 to October 26, as well as another Israeli airline, Arkia Airlines, which will connect Tel Aviv and Dubrovnik from April 23, every Monday and Friday. Croatia Airlines charter flights are also announced every Wednesday from June 2 to October 6.
“Since Israel is one of the world leaders in vaccinations, we expect that the announced flights will come true. The Croatian Embassy in Israel had received a lot of inquiries every day for Croatia, and especially for Dubrovnik, and they are very optimistic about the resumption of tourist traffic between the two countries,” stated the Dubrovnik Tourist Board.
The low-cost airline, Norwegian Air, plans to operate 14 routes to three Croatian airports this summer.
Norwegian plans to resume traffic to three Croatian airports from June this year; Pula, Split and Dubrovnik, reports Croatian Aviation. Last year the airline operated only a few services to Croatia due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the global travel ban almost sent the airline into bankruptcy.
And of the three Croatian destinations Dubrovnik is on the list, which is much needed news for the city’s tourism industry. Norwegian Airlines will fly from six different cities to the southernmost airport in Croatia – from Bergen, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Oslo, Stavanger and Stockholm.
And the planned flight schedule of Norwegian to Dubrovnik is as follows –
Bergen - Dubrovnik from June 19, once a week, on Saturdays,
Copenhagen - Dubrovnik from June 26, twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays,
Helsinki - Dubrovnik from June 1, twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays,
Oslo - Dubrovnik from June 1, 2 times a week, daily from June 25,
Stavanger - Dubrovnik from June 19, once a week, on Saturdays,
Stockholm - Dubrovnik from June 12, 3 times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
This is the planned flight timetable but with the fluid travel situation across Europe there are likely to be some changes.
On Saturday, March 27, in the early morning hours in the boiler room of the Hotel Excelsior, there was a leak of heating oil on the beach in front of the hotel, which was caused by human error, reported Adriatic Luxury Hotels (ALH).
Adding that “Immediately after the discovery of this event, the hotel staff informed the competent services, who investigated the situation. The same morning, we hired a specialized company CIAN, which approached the remediation by treating the contaminated area with appropriate means and setting up dams. The intervention is still ongoing.”
Citizens reported last Saturday morning seeing a large oily patch on the sea between the island of Lokrum and the Old City of Dubrovnik. And then it soon became clear that the oil was coming from Hotel Excelsior.
ALH stated that “A detailed inspection revealed that the tank was missing 7,732 litres of heating oil, and it is not yet possible to confirm with complete certainty how much of it has leaked into the sea. There is a reasonable suspicion that the sand in the base of the beach plateau has absorbed the oil, which is now gradually, and encouraged by occasional stronger waves and bad weather, being released into the sea and causing pollution on the sea surface. As soon as we came to this knowledge, we hired the company Texo gradnja, which will open the concrete platform of the beach of the Excelsior Hotel tomorrow under the supervision of CIAN in order to remove and safely dispose of the potentially contaminated part of the beach layers.”
Seeing such a patch of oil on the Adriatic so close to Dubrovnik was understandably disturbing, and many citizens called to report the spill.
Adriatic Luxury Hotels concluded that “We will, with the help of specialized companies, repair the damage completely as soon as possible and examine all the details of the incident. As has been the case so far, Adriatic luxury hotels will continue to transparently continue to inform the public with verified and accurate information. Finally, we would like to extend our sincere apologies to all the citizens of Dubrovnik for the inconvenience caused by the incident and thank you in advance for your understanding while all the necessary activities necessary for urgent rehabilitation are underway.”
With vaccinations intensifying, people around the world are eagerly awaiting new trips, and 64 percent of respondents say traveling is more important to them now than before the pandemic, according to a booking.com study released Wednesday that included more than 28,000 passengers.
The digital travel platform booking.com published the results of a survey conducted in January this year among more than 28,000 travellers from 28 countries and territories, including 1,001 respondents from Croatia. Research shows that after months of travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, passengers finally see the “light at the end of the tunnel,” thanks to the use of vaccines and other medical advances in the fight against Covid-19.
Thus, two-thirds of travellers from around the world in 2021 are more likely to travel due to their commitment to the Covid-19 vaccine, and the same number of travellers, 66 percent, said because they were unable to travel in 2020 that it stimulated an even greater desire for travel this year.
More than half of travellers worldwide, 59 percent, said they would not travel abroad until they received the vaccine, and 55 percent of passengers said they would travel only to countries that have introduced vaccination programs.
But 41 percent of respondents still have some level of restraint and scepticism about whether the vaccine will really contribute to safer travel, noted booking.com.
Travellers confirmed that not being able to travel in 2020 as in previous years had a significant impact on their well-being - 48 percent noticed a negative effect on their mental health and 47 percent said they felt confined to their own home due to travel restrictions. And 64 percent of them said travel was more important to them now than it was before the pandemic.
Croatia has restarted the issuance of tourist visas for Russian citizens, and the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in the Russian Federation has already received the first applications. That the demand for Croatia as a tourist destination is expressed on the Russian market is also confirmed by the announcements of Aeroflot Airlines, the Russian national airline which plans to connect Moscow with Pula, Dubrovnik and Split with daily flights from the beginning of June to the end of September this year.
"On the Russian market, there is a demand for a safe summer vacation, and among the sought-after destinations, Croatia stands out. The future trends from this market are certainly supported by the re-issuance of visas for Russian citizens, as well as new border regimes according to which Russians can enter Croatia with a negative PCR or antigen test, and confirmation that they have recovered from Covid-19, or most importantly, confirmation that have received any vaccine," said Rajko Ruzicka, director of the Croatian National Tourist Board in Russia, adding that the announcements of new airlines that will connect key Russian and Croatian destinations are welcome.
Aeroflot currently operates once a week between Moscow and Zagreb, the second weekly flight will be available from May, while in the middle of the summer season this line will operate as many as three times a week. Among the announced flights are the flights of the airline S7 from Moscow to Pula and Dubrovnik and the airline Nordwind to Zagreb. These flights refer to the period from the end of April to the end of October.
Croatia's good position was also confirmed during the recent MITT fair in Moscow. This is the first Russian tourism fair to be held in 2021 in a classic form. On that occasion, the Russian tourism sector, as well as the media and visitors to the fair expressed great interest in Croatia and Croatian destinations.
In the last 24 hours, 1,649 new cases of Covid-19 virus were recorded, and the number of active cases in Croatia today is a total of 11,361. There are currently 1,750 people in hospital across the country, of which 160 are on ventilators.
Unfortunately, over the past 24 hours a further 36 people died.
Since February 25, 2020, when the first case of infection was recorded in Croatia, a total of 282,548 people have been infected with the new coronavirus, of which 6,149 died, a total of 265,038 people have recovered, of which 1,280 recovered in the last 24 hours.
There are currently 27,406 people in self-isolation.
To date, a total of 1,599,453 people have been tested, of which 9,466 in the last 24 hours.