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.
Dubrovnik has always been an international city. Apart from the millions of foreign tourists who visit Dubrovnik every year, the region is also a magnet for people looking for a lifestyle change. In 2009 the Dubrovnik Foreign Circle (DFC), a non-governmental organisation, was registered and, whilst it started as a place for foreigners living in Dubrovnik to meet, it quickly became an important contributor to the city. The circle is an international group of people who live in the Dubrovnik area full or part time. The organisation represents all foreigners residing in Dubrovnik, irrespective of their country of origin, religion, or ethnicity.
“The organisation tries to assist the community by providing services that contribute to the health and vitality of the greater Dubrovnik Region. We provide friendship and understanding between our members and the local community by organising cultural and social events,” commented the President of the Dubrovnik Foreign Circle, Christiane Mandukich. She added that DFC aims to create a meaningful dialog regarding the integration of foreigners into the Croatian society. And that they enjoy many Croatian/local friends as well as many local sponsors.
The Dubrovnik Foreign Circle offers its members many social events: an annual all day visit to one of the DFC members’ home on Kolocep; monthly DFC luncheons in town; special interest groups such as Croatian language lessons; a very successful International Christmas Party and an International Lending Library in the Grand Hotel Park. However the social side of the circle is only one strand of their overall work inside the Dubrovnik society. “DFC is very proud of its successful fundraising activities for the benefit of its community projects over the past five years. We have raised a net amount of 191,000 Kuna to benefit local children in need and the Dubrovnik Hospital’s Children Ward among other beneficiaries,” concluded Mandukich.
With members from dozens of countries and a busy calendar of social events and humanitarian work, the Dubrovnik Foreign Circle can look forward to a bright future and a growing membership.
If you are interested in joining the Dubrovnik Foreign Circle you can contact them via their website - dubrovnikforeigncircle.com
AD Plastik, the largest Croatian manufacturer of plastic components for the automotive industry, has landed a contract to produce parts for Maserati. At the beginning of February won the contract to produce parts for the new Ford EcoSport SUV and now they have added to this success with the Maserati deal.
AD Plastik, which was established in 1992, will produce components for the new Maserati Levante SUV which is being built in Turin at the Maserati head office. This is the first contract that AD Plastik has signed with a luxury car brand.
"Last year we made a significant turnaround in the business of AD Plastik. The achieved results are a confirmation of the direction we are taking. Our main goal for 2016 is a further increase in sales revenue and continued reduction of our credit obligations,” commented Marinko Dosen, the CEO of AD Plastik.
In 2015 AD Plastik Group recorded an increase in total operating income of 15 percent and a sales growth of 16 percent compared to the previous year. The net profit of the group in 2015 came in at 44.3 million Kuna which was an increase of 800 percent compared to 2014.
AD Plastik in Split
The organisers of the Dubrovnik Half Marathon have decided to donate all of the entrance fees from this year’s 5 kilometre run to a brave young lady and her family from Dubrovnik. In September last year Karla Sentic was diagnosed with a rare form of tumour in her right sinus, however the final diagnoses has not yet been fully confirmed. Seventeen year old Karla, born in Dubrovnik, is now spending most of her time in Zagreb where she is being treated.
“We always want to give back to the community and Karla is a very courageous young lady who deserves all our support,” commented the director of the Dubrovnik Half Marathon, Alen Boskovic. The 5 kilometre run is held on the same day as the Half Marathon, on the 1st of May, and runners of all levels are welcome. “People can run or even walk the 5 kilometre, it traditionally has a humanitarian nature and this year we want more people than ever to get involved,” concluded Boskovic. All of the proceeds from the entrance fees, which is 50 Kunas or 7 Euros, will be donated to Karla.
“As all young people her age, she’s full of hope, optimism and life plans. Now, you can support her in one of those plans!” – read a statement from the race organisers.
If you want to get involved follow this link
Dubrovnik has certainly found its place on the radar of international film production companies. Largely thanks to the globally popular HBO series Game of Thrones, Dubrovnik is reaping the rewards of worldwide exposure. The knock-on effect of these blockbusters is a constant stream of fans flooding to the city to see the locations up close and personal. With the eighth episode of the Star Wars franchise planned to be filmed in the city in March the influx of “film tourists” will certainly be even greater in coming years.
However one film could do more than Game of Thrones and Star Wars combined, and it has gone almost unnoticed in this continent. The most well-known Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan recorded part of his latest film “Fan” in Dubrovnik and it is due to hit the screens on the 15th of April this year. Back in May 2015 Shah Rukh Khan filmed some action scenes in the centre of the Old City of Dubrovnik, as well as other parts of Croatia, and even though these scenes form a short section of the movie the interest in Dubrovnik from Bollywood lovers in visiting the city is intensifying.
“Forget Game of Thrones I am being bombarded with emails and requests for Fan tours in Dubrovnik,” explained one tourist guide in Dubrovnik. “It doesn’t seem to matter that only a short section was filmed here the interest is huge, we are talking about a gigantic potential market,” he added. A recently released teaser clip for the film has already melted YouTube with almost 9 million hits in a few months.
The film which has been shot in Mumbai, Croatia and Delhi is about Aryan Khanna (Shah Rukh Khan character in the movie) and his biggest fan, a kid called Gaurav who is obsessed with him. Shah Rukh Khan has over 30 million social media followers, 15 million on Facebook and over 18 million on Twitter, and these numbers are growing daily. The publicity for Dubrovnik will undoubtedly open up new, previously untapped markets.
At the Holiday World exhibition in Prague the Tourist Board of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County are presenting the tourist attractions of the county to potential partners and guests. The county tourist board have teamed up with the Croatian National Tourist Board and have a joint stand over the period of the fair, from the 18th to the 21st of February.
This exhibition is one of the most important tourist fairs in the Czech Republic and has a long 25 year tradition. It attracts travel agents and guests from all over central Europe and fifty different countries are present at this year’s fair. Over 30,000 visitors are expected to attend daily and thousands of journalists and tourism professionals will also be present.
In 2015 more than 36,000 Czech tourists visited the Dubrovnik County and achieved 280,000 overnight stays. In fact tourists from the Czech Republic were the seventh most numerous in the county last year. By attending this fair the Dubrovnik-Neretva Tourist Board hope to attract even more guests in 2016.
Finding a UK based company that has invested into Croatia is relatively rare, coming across one that has invested and been successful in a non-tourism based venture is almost impossible. Whereas German, French and Austrian companies have entered the Croatian market, especially since the country became a full member of the EU in July 2013, UK businesses have been slow on the uptake. From electronics to banking and in particular the tourism industry, in total around 15,000 foreign companies have chosen Croatia as the right place to expand their market.
In Dubrovnik, where tourism dominates almost all forms of business, hotels and travel agencies have been snapped up by foreign buyers. There is however one UK company that has almost completely flown under the radar in Dubrovnik. A company not directly involved in tourism, nor particularly interested in the real estate business and it is a company that is growing and employing more staff, a UK success story in Dubrovnik.
“Consilio 3D UK decided to expand their operations in England and as Croatia was a new member of the European Union we recognised the largely untapped talent pool and countless possibilities here, this was the beginning of Consilio 3D Croatia,” explained Craig Derrick the managing director of Consilio 3D Croatia.
Consilio 3D opened a Dubrovnik sister company in April 2015, the first year anniversary is on the horizon, and are progressing in making leaps and bounds. Consilio 3D Croatia is a CAD bureau service that provides 2D, and as the name would suggest, 3D services to a wide range of clients. Having strong links to the automotive, healthcare and defence sectors the Croatian company acts as a support office for the UK whilst also generating local business. From relatively humble beginnings Consilio 3D Croatia now employs twelve staff, both CAD programmers and managers, and is looking to expand to Zagreb with the opening of a second office in Croatia.
“Finding staff was a little challenge, you have to bear in mind that the universities in Croatia that deal with the computer skills we need are in the capital Zagreb. However we are extremely pleased with the staff we found, with their level of knowledge, professional approach and dedication to the work,” said Derrick. Adding that, although the company is in a niche market, business opportunities have already been targeted in Zagreb. Plans to expand into animation technology and augmented reality are just some of the future steps.
The UK and Croatia office work in close co-operation, regular training courses are organised and there is a constant flow of staff to and from the two countries. In a city, and it could be argued country, that is dominated by tourism the success of a UK tech company in Croatia is a ray of sunlight.
Staff numbers growing all the time
Nautical tourism in Croatia was one of the most competitive segments of tourism last year reported the Croatian Chamber of Commerce. There was a 4.5 percent increase in the number of vessels rented and a 4 percent increase in the number of overnight stays on boats in Croatia last year according to recently released figures.
"The past year has once again proved that nautical tourism in Croatia is developing and growing, because the number of yachts and boats leased for charter rose by 4.5 percent to almost 64,000 leases,” commented the director of tourism for the chamber of commerce, Leila Kresic-Juric.
She added that Croatia is recognized as a unique nautical destination because of the large number of islands as well as the exceptional beauty of the national parks and nature reserves.
According to the information given by yacht companies that are members of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce 362,600 nautical tourists arrived in the country in 2015, an increase of 4.5 percent over 2014, and almost 2.5 million overnight stays were achieved.
The Chamber added that in 2015 just over 54,600 foreign boats and yachts entered Croatian waters.
The cast for the eighth episode of Star Wars has been announced, but the question on everybody lips in Dubrovnik is who will be filming here.
Dubrovnik will be used as a location for the eighth episode of Star Wars with filming beginning on the 9th of March and continuing until the 16th of March. The locations are already known with five locations around the historic Old City of Dubrovnik as well as the Banje Beach just outside the city walls.
So we know the dates and the locations, the missing piece in the Dubrovnik Star Wars jigsaw is which actors will come to Dubrovnik. Shooting began in London on Monday of this week and Mark Hamill, or Luke Skywalker, has already been spotted at Heathrow Airport. According to official information the cast for the eighth episode will be very similar to the seventh episode, The Force Awakens, with a few minor additions.
Episode VIII is written and directed by Rian Johnson, and his cast features Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Lupita Nyong’o, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Mark Hamill, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson and Andy Serkis and a new member Oscar-winner Benicio Del Toro.
The eighth episode of Star Wars will hit cinemas on the 15th of December 2017.