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.
The low-cost airline, Norwegian Air, plans to operate 14 routes to three Croatian airports this summer.
Norwegian plans to resume traffic to three Croatian airports from June this year; Pula, Split and Dubrovnik, reports Croatian Aviation. Last year the airline operated only a few services to Croatia due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the global travel ban almost sent the airline into bankruptcy.
And of the three Croatian destinations Dubrovnik is on the list, which is much needed news for the city’s tourism industry. Norwegian Airlines will fly from six different cities to the southernmost airport in Croatia – from Bergen, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Oslo, Stavanger and Stockholm.
And the planned flight schedule of Norwegian to Dubrovnik is as follows –
Bergen - Dubrovnik from June 19, once a week, on Saturdays,
Copenhagen - Dubrovnik from June 26, twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays,
Helsinki - Dubrovnik from June 1, twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays,
Oslo - Dubrovnik from June 1, 2 times a week, daily from June 25,
Stavanger - Dubrovnik from June 19, once a week, on Saturdays,
Stockholm - Dubrovnik from June 12, 3 times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
This is the planned flight timetable but with the fluid travel situation across Europe there are likely to be some changes.
On Saturday, March 27, in the early morning hours in the boiler room of the Hotel Excelsior, there was a leak of heating oil on the beach in front of the hotel, which was caused by human error, reported Adriatic Luxury Hotels (ALH).
Adding that “Immediately after the discovery of this event, the hotel staff informed the competent services, who investigated the situation. The same morning, we hired a specialized company CIAN, which approached the remediation by treating the contaminated area with appropriate means and setting up dams. The intervention is still ongoing.”
Citizens reported last Saturday morning seeing a large oily patch on the sea between the island of Lokrum and the Old City of Dubrovnik. And then it soon became clear that the oil was coming from Hotel Excelsior.
ALH stated that “A detailed inspection revealed that the tank was missing 7,732 litres of heating oil, and it is not yet possible to confirm with complete certainty how much of it has leaked into the sea. There is a reasonable suspicion that the sand in the base of the beach plateau has absorbed the oil, which is now gradually, and encouraged by occasional stronger waves and bad weather, being released into the sea and causing pollution on the sea surface. As soon as we came to this knowledge, we hired the company Texo gradnja, which will open the concrete platform of the beach of the Excelsior Hotel tomorrow under the supervision of CIAN in order to remove and safely dispose of the potentially contaminated part of the beach layers.”
Seeing such a patch of oil on the Adriatic so close to Dubrovnik was understandably disturbing, and many citizens called to report the spill.
Adriatic Luxury Hotels concluded that “We will, with the help of specialized companies, repair the damage completely as soon as possible and examine all the details of the incident. As has been the case so far, Adriatic luxury hotels will continue to transparently continue to inform the public with verified and accurate information. Finally, we would like to extend our sincere apologies to all the citizens of Dubrovnik for the inconvenience caused by the incident and thank you in advance for your understanding while all the necessary activities necessary for urgent rehabilitation are underway.”
With vaccinations intensifying, people around the world are eagerly awaiting new trips, and 64 percent of respondents say traveling is more important to them now than before the pandemic, according to a booking.com study released Wednesday that included more than 28,000 passengers.
The digital travel platform booking.com published the results of a survey conducted in January this year among more than 28,000 travellers from 28 countries and territories, including 1,001 respondents from Croatia. Research shows that after months of travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, passengers finally see the “light at the end of the tunnel,” thanks to the use of vaccines and other medical advances in the fight against Covid-19.
Thus, two-thirds of travellers from around the world in 2021 are more likely to travel due to their commitment to the Covid-19 vaccine, and the same number of travellers, 66 percent, said because they were unable to travel in 2020 that it stimulated an even greater desire for travel this year.
More than half of travellers worldwide, 59 percent, said they would not travel abroad until they received the vaccine, and 55 percent of passengers said they would travel only to countries that have introduced vaccination programs.
But 41 percent of respondents still have some level of restraint and scepticism about whether the vaccine will really contribute to safer travel, noted booking.com.
Travellers confirmed that not being able to travel in 2020 as in previous years had a significant impact on their well-being - 48 percent noticed a negative effect on their mental health and 47 percent said they felt confined to their own home due to travel restrictions. And 64 percent of them said travel was more important to them now than it was before the pandemic.
Croatia has restarted the issuance of tourist visas for Russian citizens, and the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in the Russian Federation has already received the first applications. That the demand for Croatia as a tourist destination is expressed on the Russian market is also confirmed by the announcements of Aeroflot Airlines, the Russian national airline which plans to connect Moscow with Pula, Dubrovnik and Split with daily flights from the beginning of June to the end of September this year.
"On the Russian market, there is a demand for a safe summer vacation, and among the sought-after destinations, Croatia stands out. The future trends from this market are certainly supported by the re-issuance of visas for Russian citizens, as well as new border regimes according to which Russians can enter Croatia with a negative PCR or antigen test, and confirmation that they have recovered from Covid-19, or most importantly, confirmation that have received any vaccine," said Rajko Ruzicka, director of the Croatian National Tourist Board in Russia, adding that the announcements of new airlines that will connect key Russian and Croatian destinations are welcome.
Aeroflot currently operates once a week between Moscow and Zagreb, the second weekly flight will be available from May, while in the middle of the summer season this line will operate as many as three times a week. Among the announced flights are the flights of the airline S7 from Moscow to Pula and Dubrovnik and the airline Nordwind to Zagreb. These flights refer to the period from the end of April to the end of October.
Croatia's good position was also confirmed during the recent MITT fair in Moscow. This is the first Russian tourism fair to be held in 2021 in a classic form. On that occasion, the Russian tourism sector, as well as the media and visitors to the fair expressed great interest in Croatia and Croatian destinations.
In the last 24 hours, 1,649 new cases of Covid-19 virus were recorded, and the number of active cases in Croatia today is a total of 11,361. There are currently 1,750 people in hospital across the country, of which 160 are on ventilators.
Unfortunately, over the past 24 hours a further 36 people died.
Since February 25, 2020, when the first case of infection was recorded in Croatia, a total of 282,548 people have been infected with the new coronavirus, of which 6,149 died, a total of 265,038 people have recovered, of which 1,280 recovered in the last 24 hours.
There are currently 27,406 people in self-isolation.
To date, a total of 1,599,453 people have been tested, of which 9,466 in the last 24 hours.
FlyDubai, the low-cost company from the United Arab Emirates, FlyDubai, will not resume flights between Dubrovnik and Dubai this summer, and flights to Zagreb this summer have also been cancelled although they may resume in September.
FlyDubai had originally announced that they would resume traffic between Dubai and Zagreb in the summer flight schedule in 2021, as a replacement for Emirates, which has permanently withdrawn from the same route, reports Croatian Aviation. The company originally planned to resume traffic from the start of the year, and flights were then delayed from month to month.
But this latest announcement states that all flights are cancelled until September 1 this year, and all flights to Dubrovnik Airport have been cancelled. However, if the demand for tickets in September between Dubai and Zagreb is low there is a good chance that FlyDubai won’t fly to Croatia at all this year.
According to the eVisitor system, which contains tourist traffic generated in commercial and non-commercial facilities and nautical charter 36,000 tourists arrived in Croatia over the Easter holidays, from April 2 to April 5. In total around 140,000 overnight stays were realised in the country over the Easter break.
"Given the current circumstances and the epidemiological situation, which is still very unstable in our most important tourist markets, and the limits on travel, we are satisfied with the results achieved during the extended Easter weekend. Although these are not the numbers we are used to under normal circumstances, these results give some optimism for the main summer part of the season,” said the director of the Croatian Tourist Board Kristjan Staničić.
During Easter, most tourist nights were realized in Istria (about 57,000 nights), Kvarner (about 25,000 nights), Zadar (about 14,000 nights) and Split-Dalmatia County (about 12,000 nights), and looking at destinations, most nights were realized in Rovinj , Poreč, Zadar, Funtana, Medulin, Zagreb and Opatija.
In terms of markets, during the Easter holidays the largest number of overnight stays was realized by guests from Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia and Switzerland, and in terms of type of accommodation most overnight stays were in hotels (around 58,000 overnight stays), households (around 33,000 overnight stays) and camps (about 26,000 overnight stays).
In the period from January to the end of March, there were 352,000 tourist arrivals and 1.2 million overnight stays in Croatia (61 percent of the results from the same period last year). Most overnight stays were realized in Istria, Kvarner and Split-Dalmatia County, and looking at the markets, most overnight stays were realized by tourists from Germany, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Italy and the USA.
According to the eVisitor tourist check-in and check-out system, about a thousand guests stayed in Dubrovnik for Easter. The majority of the tourists were from Croatia, Germany, France, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria, the USA, Switzerland, Ukraine, Serbia and Spain.
In total 995 overnight stays were achieved over Easter, with 583 overnight stays realized by domestic guests and 412 by foreign tourists.
Currently, 12 hotels have been opened in the city and international air traffic to Dubrovnik has been re-established with flights twice a week - Iberia from Madrid and Lufthansa from Munich. The start of EasyJet flights from Geneva is also planned soon.
As part of the promotion of Dubrovnik for Easter, the Dubrovnik Tourist Board in cooperation with the popular Croatian influencer Dora Predojević from Dubrovnik held a contest in which the prize was an Easter weekend stay in Dubrovnik. Among the 700 applicants, the lucky winners were selected, two students from Zagreb, Valerija and Marija Tereza Mandir. The Dubrovnik Tourist Board, in cooperation with the Adriatic Luxury Hotels, provided the winners with three nights with breakfast at the Dubrovnik Palace Hotel, two three-day Dubrovnik Cards with which they visited the sights free of charge and used local transport. The director of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Ana Hrnić, congratulated the lucky winners on the award and wished them a warm welcome to Dubrovnik.