Monday, 19 April 2021
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

Around 600 tourists spent the weekend in Dubrovnik, mostly from Germany and Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to the received registrations of tourists through the eVisitor system, last weekend there were about 600 tourists in Dubrovnik, which is almost two and a half times more than in the same period from last year.

In addition to locals, the most numerous guests were from Germany, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, the United States, France, Italy, Spain, Albania and Austria.

Since the beginning of the year, around a thousand arrivals and slightly more than 26,500 overnight stays have been registered, which is a quarter of the tourist turnover realized in the same period from last year.

 

The summer flight schedule began on the 28th of March and already the first international lines to Dubrovnik will start in earnest this week.

The Spanish airline, Iberia, will connect Dubrovnik with Madrid twice a week, on Sundays and Fridays, and the first plane of the season from Iberia will land this Friday at 18:50. Depending on the demand Iberia has planned to operate this flight connection every day during the summer months, however this will clearly depend on the Covid-19 situation.

And the German airline, Lufthansa, will kick-off flights to Dubrovnik this week from Munich. Again the airline will fly twice a week to begin with, on Thursdays and Saturdays, and the inaugural connection of 2021 will land at 16:15 this Thursday. Again in the height of the summer season the German flagship airline has announced daily flights from Munich and indeed Frankfurt to Dubrovnik, but again depending on the Covid-19 situation.

 

Croatia Airlines have, from today the 30th of March, changed their Covid-19 safety regulations for passengers. From today all passengers must wear a protective medical mask, the ordinary cotton masks are no longer acceptable.

Passengers must from today wear “acceptable face covers are medical (surgical) face masks and filtering half masks (FFP2, N95 or KN95 without valves),” posted Croatia Airlines on their official Facebook account.

Additional rules for passengers have been published on the Croatia Airlines website - 

- On all Croatia Airlines flights, wearing a mask over the nose and mouth is mandatory.

- Visors and scarves are not allowed as a replacement for face covers on our flights.

- Children under 6 are not required to wear face masks.

- If for health reasons you cannot wear a face mask, you must have a medical certificate as well as a negative test for Covid-19.

 

Two earthquakes were recorded in the Adriatic, off the Croatian coastline, early this morning.

The first earthquake, with a magnitude of 3.1 on the Richter Scale, occurred at 5:00 a.m. The epicentre of this first earthquake off the Dalmatian coast was 65 kilometres northwest of Vieste, Italy.

The second earthquake, with a magnitude of 3.2, was closer to Croatia with the epicentre 48 kilometres southeast of the island of Vis and 100 kilometres south of Split, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre reported.

The missing piece in the A1 highway from Zagreb to Dubrovnik will cost an estimated 9.1 billion Kuna. The future highway, from the Metković junction to the Dubrovnik junction, 47 kilometres in length plus another 14.7 kilometres of connecting roads will cost a grand total of 1.2 billion Euros, or 9.1 billion Kuna, writes Večernji list.

This makes this section the most expensive highway in Croatia - a kilometre will cost about 26 million euros, or about 193 million Kuna.

Croatian Roads explained that after obtaining the location permit, the contracting of the development of the main and detailed projects and obtaining the construction permits will follow. The planned start of construction is at the end of 2024, and the works should be completed by 2029.

The highway project from Metković to Dubrovnik is divided into two sections. One section is the Metković junction - Pelješac junction - Duboka junction, about 22 km long, which includes the construction of 17.5 kilometres of motorway from Metković to the Pelješac junction and 4.45 km of highway from the Pelješac junction to the Duboka junction. The second section goes from the Rudine junction to the Osojnik junction.

And the construction of the highway from Metković to Dubrovnik will be the most expensive so far due to the numerous facilities on it, but also on access roads and junctions.

 

In the last 24 hours, 300 new cases of Covid-19 virus infection were recorded, and the number of active cases in Croatia today is a total of 9,290.

Among them, 1,247 people are in hospital, of which 126 are on ventilators.

Unfortunately, over the past 24 hours a further 18 people passed away in Croatia due to the virus.

There are currently 29,191 people in self-isolation.

To date, a total of 1,530,168 people have been tested, of which 2,848 in the last 24 hours.

A total of 348,648 people have been vaccinated to date, of which 266,900 have been vaccinated with a single dose, while 81,748 people have been vaccinated with two doses.

More and more digital nomads have been discovering Croatia in recent months and certainly one of the first in Dubrovnik is our guest this week, Rebecca Sylvester. She changed her UK address for a Croatian one at the end of last year and hasn’t looked back. And whereas many digital nomads are involved in the tech industry in some form or another Rebecca is in a quintessentially English market, tea! Of course, she quickly found out that the Brazilian bean and their morning cup of expresso is more appealing than a cup of tea. However, she has managed to navigate this bump in the road and in spite of the pandemic and all the challenges is loving life in Dubrovnik. “Dubrovnik was my very first stop and it instantly felt like home,” commented Rebecca as we caught up with her.

How long have you spent in Dubrovnik so far and what are your first impressions?

A random chain of events led me to Dubrovnik in September 2020. Although I was previously a flight attendant for 12 years, Croatia was not on my radar, until I met a lovely couple in Italy who shared stunning pictures from their travels throughout Istria and the Dalmatian coast. Instead of returning home I was inspired to start a new adventure in Dubrovnik. The moment I stepped off the ferry, I was met by such friendly, warm people – Ivan, the kind taxi driver who helped with my cases, Maria, the lady who welcomed me into her rental home and a travel agent who invited me along with friends to the local beach bar. On the second day I began wandering around the cobbled streets of the old town, feeling the buzz of people lunching in the sunshine, watching the boats pulling into the old port and walking around the magical city walls - I fell absolutely in love and knew there and then that I was going to stay.

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You are one of the first digital Nomads in Dubrovnik, how are you finding your work experience here?

Travel is in my blood and it’s always been my dream to escape the grey cold, wet weather of the UK. Live in a hot, sunny country, work on the beach, meet new people and explore during my free time. I’m so grateful Croatia has provide the perfect backdrop and given me the motivation and inspiration to realise my dream. Before lockdown I was embracing the sunshine with my laptop in a beach bar, restaurant or café and immersing myself in a different culture.

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Everyone in Dubrovnik has been so welcoming and speaks English so settling in and arranging meetings for work has been surprisingly effortless. I’ve made the best friends, discovered great locations with a view to work in during the day and my favourite hangouts to wind down in the evening – I’ve been able to integrate networking with my passion for travel and not once have I had a problem with WIFI which is every digital nomad’s dream.

Why did you decide to come and work in Dubrovnik and what are you doing here?

My move to Croatia was unexpected but the opportunity fell into place so I grabbed it. Dubrovnik was my very first stop and it instantly felt like home. I stayed for two weeks then travelled to a number of islands (Hvar & Korcula being a few of my favourites) and made my way north, passed Split then onto Zagreb. Every place I’ve explored has been fascinating and unique but my heart is in Dubrovnik. I made friends fast and loved the vibe and it inspired me to start my own company - A lifestyle community platform to help others discover, explore, experience and build a life here in Croatia – VIBE CROATIA https://www.vibecroatia.com

It’s a little lonely sometimes being a digital nomad, adjusting your life, integrating into a new culture, balancing work with travel and essentials, like opening a bank account, can be stressful and complicated. My mission is connecting people, sharing knowledge and collaborating with local businesses to enhance their adventure.

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I’m also the regional manager for The Tea Group bringing luxury, great quality, fair trade and sustainable tea into Croatia and working with amazing venues to create world class tea experiences. In my short time here, I’ve learned now much Croatians love their coffee but I’m excited and determined to change that or at least get everyone to try a cuppa or two!

What challenges have you found due to the covid-19 pandemic and do you feel safe here? Are you satisfied with the information on the pandemic that is available here?

I’ve felt very safe here throughout the pandemic. I believe a lot of care, time and dedication has gone into ensuring public spaces are sanitized and safe to enter and there are many channels to find information regarding covid-19. Face masks are always being worn indoors and outdoor seating is adequately spaced to avoid any risk to others. The ministry of tourism and sport has created a national label of safety and a ‘Stay Safe in Croatia sticker’ can be found on all facilities where epidemiological measures and health & safety recommendations have taken place, there is also the 113 call centre which is there to answer any covid-19 questions.

Until December life was pretty normal so it’s only been a little challenging working from home since lockdown was implemented - especially since the weather is cooler so sitting on the beach with a laptop at present isn’t an option! We’re so lucky to have no curfews or ‘bubbles’ however I miss trying out new restaurants with friends, finding hidden local bars, meeting new contacts and building connections in person – I’ve never had so many zoom calls – but it’s been a learning experience and I’ll appreciate all the little things much more once everything is open. Life has been crazy for everyone this past year so I count myself very lucky to have made it here and still able to explore the stunning Balkan coast once my work is done.

What recommendations would you offer to potential digital nomads thinking of coming here?

Don’t even think about it, just do it! Its seriously been one of the best decisions of my life!

Croatia is consistently growing and key organisations are using this time to innovate, expand and develop, so I’d recommend joining Facebook groups, adding potential connections on Linkedin and looking out for ways to grow, collaborate and integrate your business with your new surroundings.

One of the key things I learnt quickly was to plan my workspaces ahead. The main hot spots get extremely busy during the tourist season and there’s nothing worse than arriving at your favourite hangout with nowhere to sit.

Get involved with local groups, find out what’s going on and meet people. You’ve moved to a fabulous country, why experience it alone? There are some things I would have found 10 times more difficult to deal with without help from my local friends so put yourself out there and make an effort.

Slow down and enjoy the ride. Steer away from the usual tourist traps and attractions, find the best local spots off the beaten track and take the time to really learn about Croatian culture and all it has to offer.

Learn the language, even just the basics, most people speak great English but a little goes a long way and your efforts will be warmly welcomed and appreciated. Join our community at VIBE CROATIA for all of this and more - Website: https://www.vibecroatia.com - Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Outside of your work here how are you spending your time?

Exploring and loving life! I’m working six days a week at the moment as VIBE will be launching soon but I have most evenings free. I live close to Mount Srd so when the weather is nice, I hike to the top, take in the sights, treat myself to a picnic and read a book.

Running, hanging out at the beach and cooking with friends at least once a week has become a thing. I’m so lucky to have met such good people during this time so I love chilling out with them. We motivate, support and help each other and I’m learning quite a few Croatian words – although most I can’t repeat on here!

Road trips are my favourite way to explore. There are so many amazing vineyards scattered throughout the country, I didn’t realise Croatian wine was so good! So I’ve been combining island hopping with overnight stays while tickling my taste buds with a glass of wine or two - I’m becoming quite the sommelier!

Have you managed to learn any Croatian?

I’m currently taking lessons online twice a week. It’s a pretty tough language but I’m determined to stick at it. I know the basics to be polite and everyone here appreciates that I’m trying, the challenge is most people just reply in English! I’ve never been the best at languages so it may take some time but I’m determined to integrate as a permanent resident and fulfil my new found destiny.

 

 

"It is not realistic to expect significant tourist traffic for these Easter holidays, given the state of the pandemic in Croatia, but also in our main emitting markets," said Kristjan Staničić, the director of the Croatian National Tourist Board.

"I believe that by adhering to certain measures prescribed by our Headquarters, we can all work together to ensure that the situation normalizes and that we start the main part of the tourist season, the summer months, with better numbers," Staničić added for HRT.

He commented that around 23,000 tourists are currently vacationing in Croatia, mostly domestic, but there are also some foreign guests from Germany and Austria.

In terms of accommodation capacity, about 300 hotels and about 40 camps have been opened, but this is far from the numbers we are used to.

"Istria is one of the two regions that have been treated in Germany as a" green region "where you can travel without problems, but it is not to be expected for these Easter holidays that we will have a significant influx of guests from Germany," says Staničić. Adding that “That is why it is important that we prepare all those activities that are important in order to enter the main tourist season as ready as possible.”

Staničić added that he had talked to a number of German partners this week, with almost all Croatian representatives abroad, and that there was interest in Croatia for this summer, although it all depends on the Covid-19 situation. “It is difficult to say whether the situation is more difficult or easier than last year. No one can predict what the season will actually be like,” concluded the director of the Croatian National Tourist Board.

 

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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