Thursday, 16 September 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.


A forest fire on the island Olipa is still not under control. It has proved very difficult for fire-fighters to tackle the fires on Olipa, which is an uninhabited island and part of the Elaphite Islands archipelago, due to the steep terrain.

Three fire-fighting planes have been circling over the island and fire-fighters have managed to get onto the island to attempt to extinguish the blaze at close quarters.

The cause of the fire on this uninhabited island is still unknown but the smell of burning pine trees can be detected in Dubrovnik. It is believed that around 15 hectares of forest have already been burnt.

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The latest survey from the Credit Card Monitoring (CCM) service once again confirmed the reputation of American Express as the leading card on the Croatian credit card market.

This year's results from CCM have confirmed the position of the American Express card as the most known card in Croatia. Almost 94 per cent of the Croatian citizens have heard for or are users of this credit card. At the incentive level American Express holds firmly the highest position noting a continuous slight increase. Also at the spontaneous level it records an increase whilst the best results the American Express card achieved in the category ''Top of the Mind'' card i.e. as the first spontaneously mentioned answer which represents the most important ''brand awareness indicator''. Advertising related to the American Express brand has also significantly contributed to the high recognition of the card in comparison to other credit card brands.

A continuous improvement of the service quality and favourable terms have confirmed a very high and stable contentment of the American Express cards users who have evaluated these cards with a high average grade of 4,5 (on a scale of 1 to 5). The American Express card is a modern card with numerous benefits and it is accepted at a number of retail outlets.

The CCM results of the survey show that 6 per cent of respondents are planning to start using a new card within a year and among many credit card brands they have expressed the largest interest in the American Express cards.

Credit Card Monitoring (CCM) is a syndicated survey of the credit card market by GfK experts. This survey was carried out in March 2016 on a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Croatian citizens older than 15 years of age by a method of a personal interviewing in the households of respondents.

On the eve of a concert by the talented Dubrovnik born jazz singer Ines Trickovic we caught up with her for a blitz interview. “All of my life I am on Lokrum, my family actually lived on Lokrum and it is just a place that relaxes and inspires me. I can’t imagine a more perfect place in which to hold a concert,” commented Trickovic.

The concert will be held on the island of Lokrum on Saturday the 23rd of July at 9pm and Trickovic thanked the Lokrum Reserve for all their help. Tickets are priced at 160 Kuna and are on sale at the offices of the Lokrum Reserve (Od Bosanke 4) and in the Old City harbour at the ticket desk for the Lokrum ferry. A special ferry for the concert will leave at 8.30pm.

Trickovic, who spends her time between three bases Dubrovnik, New York and Macau caused a sensation in the musical world in April this year when she performed in the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York where she promoted her second album “Tales of Quiet Lands and Other Stories.” And now audiences in her home town will have the chance to get that special Carnegie Hall feeling as Ines will perform an identical concert to the one she wooed the New Yorkers with. Along with her friends, Julian Shore (USA), Joe Pandur (Croatia), Shin Sakaino (Japan) and Alan Polzer (Croatia), the concert is certain to be a magical evening.

The concert on Lokrum will be identical to the one you performed in Carnegie Hall in April this year. Can you describe the feeling of walking out onto the stage of one of the most prestigious concert halls in the world?

That was one the craziest moments so far in my career. It was surreal being on stage with my amazing band and also to be a part of such a legacy. Fortunately I was so busy with all the preparation for the show that I didn't have too much time to think about it, I just did my thing I always do, which is to sing. Then a few weeks after the show i realized what it actually meant and what I did achieve.

Why is performing on the island of Lokum so special for you?

Lokrum has been a place for me where I first learned to walk, talk, swim, my first love.

Who or what are your musical inspirations?

Chet Baker, Bjork, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, John Coltrane... Nature, sound of wind, sea... Smell of earth after the rain.. Birds... Everything...

Performing on “your island” will certainly be an emotional experience, has this made you more anxious or more relaxed?

I feel actually very relaxed and calm and know it's a perfect spot to bring my music to Dubrovnik audience.

What can the audience expect from the big night on Lokrum?

The program is set up to fit good for the audience that already follows my shows but also audience that will hear me for the first time. Just like I did in Carnegie.

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With temperatures soaring in the mid thirties and blue skies the order of the day the Adriatic Sea is doing a roaring trade.

The iconic Banje Beach just a stone’s throw from the historic city walls is always a magnet for people looking to cool off, although as the sea temperature is currently 25 degrees there isn’t much cooling off to be found.

Check out our summer on the Banje Beach gallery by Niksa Duper.

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The world famous IT giant, the American multinational technology and consulting corporation IBM has decided to open a Client Innovation Centre in Croatia in 2017.

At the beginning of May this year it was known that IBM intended to open a technical centre in one of the following countries – Slovenia, Slovakia and Croatia but it was quite uncertain whether IBM would choose Croatia or not.

The Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic confirmed IBM's final decision and said that this was a big and proud day for Croatia and a very important way to show other investors that IBM decided to invest here.

IBM will open its technical centre in Zagreb in the spring of 2017 creating around 500 new jobs. The company is currently seeking a location for the new centre in the Croatian capital. According to the words of the Croatian Prime Minister the centre will operate 24 hours 365 days a year and will have the most advanced technologies and tools. It will provide support for users from all over the world. The centre will also cooperate with Croatian universities through the mentoring programs. ‘’Creating high quality IT jobs is a priority for our economy, this investment is very important for us and sends a positive message to other investors’’, concluded the Prime Minister Oreskovic.

Damir Zec, the IBM director in Croatia, says that IBM has been present in Croatia for more than 20 years and that the company made this decision due to the location, business environment and the Croatian labour market. ''This is one of the best days of my career. Croatia left a very good impression and I think it is one of the important factors that influenced the selection of a location for the new centre''. He also thanked the President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic and the Prime Minister Oreskovic.

The USA representatives also supported this project through the American Chamber of Commerce.

The Dubrovnik City Walls are having one of the best, if not the best, years on record. And on Saturday the 16th of July the Dubrovnik City Walls broke yet another record, in one day they sold 9,078 entrance tickets. The City Walls are well on target for achieving a million visitors this year, making them the most visited attraction in Dubrovnik by far and one of the most in the whole of Croatia.

And the good news for the walls doesn’t stop there. The most prestigious restoration and heritage enhancement award in Croatia, the “Vicko Andric” award has been won by the walls, the first time that this award has been received by a Dubrovnik institution. The Friends of Dubrovnik Antiquities, the association that cares for and operates the walls, have been honoured with this special award. At a meeting held on the 4th of July in the Ministry of Culture it was decided that this Dubrovnik association deserved the “Vicko Andric” award for their contribution to the local community. The gala ceremony will be held on the 27th of September in the Mimara Museum in Zagreb.

Recognise the problem, have a debate, win the debate. How would you describe quality of life? Think about it for a few minutes. It isn’t as easy as you first might think. This very question was raised and debated last week at a congress I attended. I was asked to be a moderator at a conference on “Growth in Transition” and it started my brain juices flowing. It was only a day event, but a day of being bombarded with information, an information overload. The theme was also connected to local communities and how they can and perhaps should be the key to success.

One quote stuck in my mind, “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Of course the story of local boroughs and administrations in Croatia was brought up, I remembered the fact the island of Korčula, with a population of only 12,000, had five boroughs. It was then mentioned that Croatia had a grand total of 555 boroughs, a very large total, I think you’ll agree. I have to admit that I had my mind changed through the congress, I was convinced that the lower the number of boroughs the better. Think of all the cost of running these boroughs, or rather don’t think about it if you want to remain sane. However, with a bit of help from measures arguments, my mind was changed.

“Every community desires to be a location where people want to live, engage in meaningful work and pursue their passions. In short, every community wants to be a vibrant, safe and livable place,” read the opening line of the congress papers. How true!
A full day of debate and then the panel discussion at the end of the day and the question of quality of life was raised. It turns out that a very similar question had been asked at a previous conference in Vienna. Out of all the answers they received only one was a material object, financial stability, all of the others were nonmaterial.

It was interesting to see the different answers in Dubrovnik. One of the panelists asked me why I lived in Dubrovnik; the answer I gave was because of the quality of life. “Are you honestly saying that your quality of life is better in Dubrovnik than in London?” she pressed. “Absolutely, in order to see the trees you have to move away from the forest,” I replied. “If you are saying that your quality of life was worse in London why didn’t you stay in London and try to improve the situation?” she followed up. “Just because I choose quality in the first position that doesn’t mean that I took the easy option, quite the contrary, I think I took the harder option in search of a quality life,” I answered. “It would have been much easier for me to stay in a familiar community rather than uproot myself and move to a new one…don’t you think?” I answered.

At the same time of debating with this lady I was answering the question about quality of life, at least from my perspective. As one delegate had said in the day, less income is not equal to less quality of life. “I have time for my family and friends and time for me,” I started to explain to the lady delegate. “In the life balance of standard and quality, I chose quality, but of course that comes at a price,” I continued. “Most people choose standard of life, and that’s fine, life is all about choices and everyone makes their own,” I concluded.

The Oxford dictionary describes quality of life as “Daily living enhanced by wholesome food and clean air and water, enjoyment of unfettered open spaces and bodies of water, conservation of wildlife and natural resources, security from crime, and protection from harm. Quality of life may also be used as a measure of the energy and power a person is endowed with that enable him or her to enjoy life and prevail over life's challenges.”

I think that they have just described how I feel living here in Dubrovnik! Every point on their list is covered living here; I have ticked all the boxes. So did you think about your definition of quality of life? Did I cover any of them? Are yours the same as mine? Think about it for a few minutes…it is worth it.

As the carrier's privatisation process enters its third year and despite many recent speculations it seems that Croatia Airlines will not find a buyer after all. Kresimir Kucko, the CEO of Croatia Airlines, says that foreign carriers haven't shown any real intention of purchasing stakes in the company, despite initial interest from Turkish Airlines.

Last May the Croatian government selected the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to look for potential investors by October 2015. Mr Kucko says that the company should be recapitalised in order to develop and expand at respectable pace using its own resources.

Mr Cay, the Turkish carrier's Chief Human Resources Officer, confirmed interest in Croatia Airlines in May this year by saying that his company saw an equity investment in the Croatian counterpart as a good business opportunity adding that a potential deal would benefit both sides. However, Mr Sirac, the Croatia Airlines' Chief Operating Officer, says that the Turkish offer is far from a serious and firm offer adding that at this point, there is no interest from other foreign companies in purchasing the company's shares.

Mr Kucko emphasizes that the company has developed a strategy for the next five years without strategic partners and using their own resources. If a potential buyer appears than the state will have to decide about a possible sale. However, as new parliamentary elections are scheduled for September 2016 it will be up to the next government to deal with Croatia Airlines' future.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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