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.
Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic said on Wednesday that this year he expected an even greater interest in investing in tourism as the most competitive branch of the Croatian economy.
The prime minister was speaking at the opening of the Adria Hotel Forum conference that brought together about 300 domestic and foreign hoteliers and investors. He said that attracting investment was part of the government's strategy, adding that the most important activities were those that created added value in combination with other compatible activities.
"Last year we earned more than 8 billion euros from foreign tourists alone. I believe that last year's investments of half a billion euros contributed to it and this year investment in tourism will be 40 percent higher," Oreskovic said, noting that it was important to work on innovations.
He said that the government would work on converting former military facilities for tourism purposes and encouraging greenfield investments. He added that an increase in business competitiveness and investments from EU funds would be a driver of change.
"Tourism is very important to us. We have already launched five strategic projects, including the Mali Losinj airport, the Hotel Park in Rovinj, the Costabella resort in Rijeka and others. I believe all these and other projects will increase investors' interest," Oreskovic said.
Tourism Minister Anton Kliman said that the hotel industry was a very important segment of the tourist industry and that the aim was to increase its share in the total accommodation capacity by 2020.
"The plan is to invest 2.2 billion euros in tourism by 2020, or more specifically in 20,000 new rooms, and I believe we are on track to achieve this because this year investment will increase to 670 million euros, mostly in hotels," Kliman said.
He said that the role of the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development (HBOR) should be strengthened, state-owned tourist companies fully privatised and the problem of tourism land resolved.
The chairman of the Croatian Association of Hoteliers, Kristijan Sustar, said that the reduction of the VAT rate in the tourism sector and the strengthening of the investment climate should be among the government's top priorities.
Montenegro's Minister of Sustainable Development and Tourism, Branimir Gvozdenovic, said that the Mediterranean countries had a great chance to further develop tourism.
Source - Croatian Government
Even in spite of the windy and rainy weather in Dubrovnik the historic core of the city flowed with tourists today. With the Mercedes Global Training event currently ongoing a large percentage of the visitors were participants of this event. The forecast for the following seven days is for more rain and changable weather.
Check out our photo gallery by Niksa Duper of a rainy Sunday in Dubrovnik
The festivities for St. Blaise, the patron saint of Dubrovnik, are certainly international. On the 6th of February 2016 in the St. Anthony's Croatian Church in Los Angeles St. Blaise was celebrated for the 25th time. The festivities started with a Holy Mass and traditionally the blessing of throats.
The program began with the St. Blaise anthem and the procession of the St. Blaise flag accompanied by this year’s “festanjuli” (feast hosts) were Mariana Hazdovac and Rato Tomic as well as all of the past “festanjuli.” This year Mayor of Dubrovnik Andro Vlahusic was also a part of the procession.
The St. Anthony children school and a dance group entertained the guests with songs and dances from the Dubrovnik Region. The Croatian Consul general in Los Angeles, Sinisa Grgic was also in attendance along with Mayor Vlahusic who presented the volunteers of the Libertas Foundation with St. Blaise flag as a token of appreciation.
The force is certainly with Dubrovnik, the news that the eighth episode of Star Wars is to be filmed in the city has sparked discussion about the possible construction of a film studio in Dubrovnik. With international productions, such as the Game of Thrones, regularly coming to the city the building of a film studio seems the next logical step.
The Mayor of Dubrovnik, Andro Vlahusic, met with representatives of Lucasfilm last week and the possibility of a film studio in Dubrovnik was brought up. “At a meeting in San Francisco the potential of Dubrovnik as a film centre was discussed, since Star Wars is the greatest, but not the only movie or series that will be filmed in our city. The next step is to find a location near the city to build a film studio,” commented the City of Dubrovnik spokesperson Petar Ipsic for seebiz.com. Adding that Lucasfilm showed interest in this idea and expressed the importance of co-operation with Dubrovnik on a long-term basis.
The marketing opportunities of Star Wars filming in Dubrovnik are huge. The eighth episode of Star Wars will be filmed from the 9th to the 16th of March and will be located at five different areas of Dubrovnik. In San Francisco Vlahusic met with several leaders of the company, such as Lynne Hale, the Vice President of the company in charge of public relations, and Lori Aultman, the Lucasfilm Vice President for Finance and Planning.
The premiere of the eighth episode of the series "Star Wars" is scheduled for the 15th of December 2017. Look forward to seeing Dubrovnik landmarks featured in this sci-fi spectacle.
Looking for a carefree destination without having to worry about the restrictions of actually wearing clothes, well the island of Lokrum near Dubrovnik could be the answer. According to the popular American website “Brosome,” which from 2009 has been one of the top travel websites for men, Lokrum is listed in the top ten places for nudists.
The website raked all the nudist destinations outside of the US and the island of Lokrum finished in fifth position. “Croatia is certainly one of the countries with the most beautiful beaches in general. There certainly know how to party. There are more than 20 places on this island where you can be naked so why would you wear any clothes,” writes Brosome.
The top of the ranking for nudist destinations was Montalivet, France, followed by Bellevue Beach, Denmark and in third place Grande Saline on the island of St. Bart’s.
Zadar is the best European destination in 2016, winning the title among 20 selected destinations, the European Best Destinations website reported last week. Voting was conducted from the 20th of January and of a total of 288,992 votes every fifth vote or 57,616 went to Zadar.
Zadar was elected for this prestigious title of the Best European Destination 2016 ahead of Athens, Plovdiv, Nantes, The Azores Islands, Paris, Novi Sad, Brussels, Kotor, Milan, Prague, Rome, Vienna, Madrid and Nicosia.
Tourism Minister Anton Kliman congratulated Zadar and its citizens on winning the title. “This is a wonderful recognition and congratulations to all tourism workers in Zadar and the surrounding area. We hope that this will motivate them to further develop the destination and that it will stimulate other tourism destinations around Croatia. You are proof that the effort was worth it,” Minister Kliman said.
European Best Destinations is a Brussels-based organisation aimed at promoting culture and tourism in Europe. In partnership with the participating tourism offices and the EDEN Network, it promotes a better understanding of the wealth, diversity and quality of European destinations.
Since 2009, European Best Destinations has been working with major tourism offices in Europe to reward and highlight the most visited destinations via its website and social networks.
“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....” Well this time not that far away. I am still in shock, I can’t believe it, bloody hell, Star Wars is coming to Dubrovnik.
A few years ago I was told by an Austrian tourist that it would be a good idea to install one of those large Hollywood signs on the Srd hillside. It was an idea that was a little off the wall, but if we continue like this then we will soon need one. Game of Thrones has opened so many doors for us, and it can be argued that Star Wars is just another opening. Who would ever have dreamt that Star Wars would be filmed in Dubrovnik?
It was the first ever film that I dragged my mother to the cinema to watch, it was 1977 and I was seven years old. About the only thing that I can remember from that first trip to the cinema, well apart from my first taste of popcorn, was the opening sequence of the film, you know when the words disappear into space. And now 39 years later Star Wars is coming to me.
When the story first broke I thought it must be April Fool’s Day. As I delved more into the story it soon became clear that I was one of the last people to know. Of course everyone at a governmental level denied it. They had no choice; they had all signed a contract of silence that would mean them having a rusty knife pushed through their heart if they gave away any details. But the more I brought up the story the more people crawled out of the woodwork. It soon became clear that it was the worst kept secret in town.
Already there are Star Wars fanatics on the internet guessing what scenes Dubrovnik will act in the movie. If you thought that Game of Thrones fans were dedicated you are in for another shock with the Star Wars geeks. “What planet could Dubrovnik represent? Parts of it make me think of Naboo,” – “I bet that Dubrovnik will be the planet Del Toro's character is from,” - “I think that Dubrovnik will mostly likely be yet another new planet. Perhaps where the KOR are currently based?” These are just a taste on the Star Wars forums...and believe me there are hundreds of these forums.
I would not be surprised if they started to speculate that Orlando will be cast as C-3PO or that St. Blaise will be the new Joda. It is going to be another fun ride. From King's Landing to the Death Star, from historic drama to sci-fi, seems like the force certainly is with Dubrovnik. Maybe they will land the Millennium Falcon on the Stradun.
And just think of the tourism possibilities. The Game of Thrones factor has been colossal. In 2015 the second most numerous tourists in Dubrovnik were from the USA. Now that fact probably wouldn’t be so surprising if we were talking about Rome, Paris or London, but Dubrovnik, or even Croatia, doesn’t have any flights to the US. Without any direct flights to and from the US we still managed to attract a huge number of American tourists, thanks mainly to the Game of Thrones. Now imagine the Star Wars impact on the city. That figure of American tourists from last year will soon double. We will soon be one of the most important film destinations on the planet.
The tourism publicity is quite frankly mammoth and the marketing is priceless. We already have half a dozen Game of Thrones souvenir shops in town; all they need to do is change the logos of the shops windows to Star Wars and the business will continue to roll.
It begs the question – what next? It seems like the sky is the limit. For after Star Wars has filmed here you can bet your last Kuna that the flood gates will open for more production companies to come. “Star Wars is fun, it’s exciting, it’s inspirational, and people respond to that. It's what they want,” once wrote the Star Wars creator George Lucas. It is exactly want we want Mr. Lucas…thanks.
The third regional wine festival “Dubrovnik FestiWine” will be held from the 25th to the 30th of April 2016 in Dubrovnik, organized by the Dubrovnik-Neretva County and the Regional Development Agency Dunea, and produced by the Dubrovnik Partner agency.
As part of this year's Dubrovnik FestiWine, visitors will have the opportunity to taste the wines of renowned winemakers and experience authentic products from the Dubrovnik - Neretva County as well as participate in numerous meetings and workshops with renowned enologists, sommeliers and chefs, and enjoy excellent gourmet evenings.
The central wine exhibition, which is traditionally visited by a large number of guests, will be held this year in the newly renovated historic complex of Lazaretto. This main event will be preceded by a number of interesting events such as the “Dubrovnik FestiWine Trophy” panel evaluating this year’s entries, the “FestiWine Gala” with renowned chefs and winemakers, various wine tastings, workshops and interesting meetings.
If you are a lover of fine wine and good food then Dubrovnik is the place to be from the 25th to the 30th of April this year.