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.
Housing prices in Croatia in 2020 were 7.7 percent higher than in 2019, with new construction rising by 1.2 percent and existing buildings by 8.5 percent, according to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), which are based on the value of housing transactions.
Thus, in 2020, the growth of residential real estate prices continued, which has been present since 2016. But growth slowed compared to 2019, when real estate prices rose nine percent from 2018.
During the last year, the prices of residential buildings in Zagreb were on average 8.5 percent higher than in 2019, in the Adriatic 6.3 percent, and in other areas 10 percent higher.
Housing prices, measured by the housing price index, in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared to the fourth quarter of 2019 were on average 6.4 percent higher.
In the fourth quarter of last year, the price of new construction was higher than in the fourth quarter of 2019 by 0.2 percent, and existing housing by 7.3 percent.
The CBS housing price index measures the movement of market prices of housing purchased by households regardless of the previous owner or purpose of use. The value of the land is included in the market price.
During the spring holidays, the students of Dubrovnik School of Tourism and Catering (TUŠ DU), under the guidance of their teachers prepared to participate in two prestigious school competitions. The International Culinary festival "Pearl of the Sea" was cancelled due to the epidemiological situation, however all preparations for the competition World Skills Croatia 2021 are continuing intensively.
From the 13th to the 21st of April Dubrovnik will host regional the inter-county qualifications for the World Skills Croatia. And these qualifications are held in five disciplines - Hotel reception business, Business of a travel agency, Catering, Cooking and Confectionery.
Competitors who win first or second place in the qualifiers will participate in the national competition World Skills Croatia 2021 which will be held in Zagreb from the 11th to the 13th of May 2021.
The teachers have been educating their students, and preparing them for all professional challenges, and these competitions are opportunities for students to be evaluated of all acquired knowledge and skills in the profession. The competition gives them experience in functioning in real conditions and develops critical thinking, teaches them to analyse and solve set tasks.
The members of the evaluation committee are representatives of the economy from the area of the City of Dubrovnik, and this will be a special motivation and challenge for the competitors because they will be judged by representatives of the real sector.
This year’s qualifiers and competition are a major organizational challenge for the school and for the teachers, because the competition at this level is conducted for the first time online.
According to the results of the research of the world's largest search engine for renting holiday homes HomeToGo, Croatia took first place on the German market in the list of top 100 most popular tourist destinations in 2021, said the head of the Croatian Tourist Board in Munich, Nera Milicic.
"This year, more than ever, I am looking forward to seeing Croatia at the top of the list of the most popular destinations in Germany. Research from the HomeToGo platform shows how we are recognized as a destination with a top offer of holiday homes, especially those in seclusion and in nature, which are currently in high demand. Turning to nature is certainly a trend that will remain after the pandemic," said Milicic.
The research is based on 16 million search terms in the HomeToGo search engine, and interestingly, the application of flexible travel date filters has increased by 600 percent compared to last year. Also, the survey results show that 63 percent of respondents prefer staying in a vacation home, and 71 percent of respondents want to travel by car. As a motive for travel, 63 percent of respondents single out the beach, and 60 percent of them national parks and nature.
"The results of the research are optimistic when we talk about trends from the German market, otherwise the most important tourist market for Croatian tourism. However, compliance with all prescribed measures and a good epidemiological situation in the country will be a basic prerequisite for the realization of tourist traffic, both from the German market and from other markets, "concluded the director of the Croatian Tourist Board, Kristjan Stanicic.
Ten out of ten for the romantic thought – but a big fat zero for the location! “Ich liebe Dich” or “I Love You” was written in black pen on the middle of one of the most iconic sights in Dubrovnik, in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Stradun.
Yes, we know Dubrovnik is a romantic city and it’s easy to get carried away in such amazing surroundings, but there is a time and place for everything, and this certainly isn’t the place for such love messages.
The photo appeared in the Facebook group “Gradski kotar Grad” and was taken by Ana Čerjan.
Clearly Ralph, who clearly comes from a German speaking country, has lost his head for Beatrix – he just might want to find a more appropriate place to show his love – maybe the Love Wall near Villa Čingrija would be a better bet.
The crunch of limestone rocks underfoot, the emerald green of spring framed against the twinkling Adriatic and real (not virtual) people greeting me with a wave. Yes, I’m out of self-isolation and as a mini-celebration headed to the hills of Župa for some much needed exercise and lung filling fresh air. The world felt big again.
Thank you for all your well-wishes, Mrs. T basically recovered from Covid-19 in two days, and we then spent the next eight days locked up obeying the law.
Touch wood no strain of the virus invaded me, not even the British strain which you would have thought would have sought me out like a hoovering eagle looking for prey.
The day before our home prison ended we were flicking through the channels and came across the film “Put” starring Martin Sheen. Briefly, the film revolves around Sheen who walks the “El camino de Santiago” after his son died walking the route, so he decided to take the pilgrimage himself. This was the starter or appetiser for the following day – freedom.
If there is one plus that has come out of this global pandemic then that must be that we have, or at least should have, taken the opportunity to explore our own backyards. Leave the road, take the trails.
I for one am a little sick of being bombarded by so-called “influencers” on social media parading their backsides and boobs in a desperate plea for attention. I can only assume that these social trolls were starved of attention as children and now have the “look at me, look at me” syndrome.
Unfortunately, I have met quite a few of these influencers and have yet to meet one who was even vaguely interesting. They are basically digital prostitutes. Throw a few bucks in their direction and they will write, say and photo anything, just as long as the photo includes them in the foreground. If you are influenced by an influencer, then you are as shallow as a puddle!
So, back to real life and the crunch of limestone under my feet, sorry slightly sore feet. Croatia in general is an incredibly beautiful country, that can’t be denied. But what fascinates me is the diversity. So as we clambered up the mountains over my home I was struck by the panorama. Sea, green nature, soaring rock faces, olive groves, islands, colourful wild flowers and a multitude of wildlife, this was nature is HD with surround sound. And this is just one tiny piece of the country, literally tiny as I can see from one side of the Croatia border to the other.
And credit where credit is due the local tourist board seem to have spent time, effort and money to clear the mountain paths.
“Keep your eyes open for asparagus,” said my wife as we climbed above sea level. I think there was a hint of sarcasm in her voice, for in all the time I have lived in Zupa I have yet to find a wild asparagus. Whilst my wife can go in the field next to us and come back with a handful in a few minutes I am either the blindest asparagus hunter or incredibly unlucky.
“There will be plenty, it’s the season, and after the rain they grow like crazy,” she added. Again an asparagus could grow the size of an oak and I wouldn’t find it. Although, I did once come back with what I hoped and guessed was asparagus once, only to find out that I had actually just picked grass.
Whilst scanning the path for the elusive head of an asparagus I did however notice something that has is another side-effect of the Covid-19 lockdown – coffee-to-go paper cups and plastic lids. Why on earth someone would just throw their used coffee cup on the floor staggers me. You’ve got to be dumber than an influencer to do that! Please do enjoy your coffee-to go but we don’t want your plastic-to-stay!
We are spoilt with such untouched nature so please leave it just as you saw it – untouched. We crunched back down the mountain, our legs feeling a little like jelly after ten days of being couch potatoes. My wife had the green heads of asparagus waving from the back pocket of her rucksack, whereas mine was empty.
“Just living is not enough... one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower,” Hans Christian Andersen.
Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to
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.