Tuesday, 05 December 2023
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.

Email: mark.thomas@dubrovnik-times.com

The Dubrovnik Development Agency DURA, as the main partner in the Remote-IT project from the URBACT IV program, organized the second meeting of the URBACT local group on November 30th. At the meeting, project leader Nataša Mirić presented the project, planned activities, and goals to the stakeholders. The Remote-IT network of cities aims to identify new challenges facing cities related to the future of work and, accordingly, provide cities with tools to address potential issues arising from new and popular forms of work.

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Photo - DURA

These forms of work are adopted as standard practices by large employers across Europe (both private and public) and create a new business culture. In addition, the rise of the phenomenon of so-called digital nomads, experts who can work remotely from any location, has created new challenges and opportunities for cities that digital nomads see as ideal places for living and remote work.

Local Group with Key Stakeholders

One of the main activities of each partner city at the local level is to form the URBACT Local Group (ULG) composed of key stakeholders who will participate collaboratively in the development of the URBACT Action Plan or the so-called IAP – a strategic document that will assess the current situation and offer guidelines.

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Photo - DURA

The head of the ULG group, Luna Polić Barović, presented the methodology that the group will use in all future meetings. In the practical part of the meeting, participants collectively created a problem tree by answering questions such as: What is the current situation and what are the reasons for this situation? What problems need to be solved? What is the vision of stakeholders and potential ways to achieve that vision?

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Photo - DURA

A Top Destination for Digital Nomads

The participation of key stakeholders defined the causes, problems, and consequences, as well as the goal that Dubrovnik wants to achieve – becoming a top destination for digital nomads. The meeting was attended by Jelka Tepšić (Deputy Mayor), Mark Thomas (Dubrovnik Long Stay), Nikolina Farčić (TUP d.d.), Tanja Polegubic (Digital Nomad Association Croatia), Ana Hrnić (Dubrovnik Tourist Board), Vlaho Margaretić (City Office for Tourism, Economy and the Sea), Mara Knežević (Croatian Chamber of Economy), Marija Todorovski (Dubrovnik Heritage Ltd.), Iva Svetac (Dubrovnik Sun Gardens). During the duration of the Remote-IT project, a series of ULG meetings will be held, and the Action Plan will be presented at the final one.

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Photo - DURA

Project duration: June 1, 2023, – December 31, 2025


The Traditional Dubrovnik Christmas Concert will take place on Friday, December 22, at 8 PM in the Valamar Lacroma Dubrovnik Hotel, bringing the holiday spirit closer to Dubrovnik residents and all other guests through its program.

On this occasion, the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Hari Zlodre, will be joined by soprano Lana Kos, Marko Škugor, Lucija Pećar Končić, Mara Burum, Klapa Subrenum, and Teatar band.

The concert program will encompass diverse traditional songs, ranging from well-known Christmas classics to authentic carols, providing the audience with musical diversity and creating a true holiday atmosphere.

Tickets, priced at 13 and 17 euros, can be purchased at the Tisak Media center on Pile, as well as at Luža from Monday to Friday, 3 PM to 9 PM, Saturdays from 10 AM to 5 PM, and Sundays from 10 AM to 9 PM. Online tickets are available at www.ulaznice.hr.

The concert is organized in collaboration with the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra, the City of Dubrovnik, the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, and the Valamar group.

In an exciting development for remote workers and digital nomads, Dubrovnik is gearing up to host its first-ever Digital Nomad Meetup at the Academia Student Centre. Scheduled for this Friday at 11 AM, the event promises a blend of networking, collaboration, and shared experiences against the scenic backdrop of Dubrovnik.

Attendees will have the opportunity to enjoy a delightful brunch while connecting with like-minded professionals. The Academia Student Centre sets the stage for this inaugural gathering, offering an inspiring venue for fostering connections and building a vibrant community.

As the first step towards establishing a thriving hub for digital nomads, this event marks the beginning of a series of meetups. Organizers invite participants to be part of this exciting venture, laying the foundation for future collaborations and networking opportunities.

For more info see the Long Stay Dubrovnik website


My suspicions have been confirmed. If you want to explore the culture, history and gems that the Old City of Dubrovnik offer then forget the summer months – come in the winter.

The north wind was bitingly harsh, overcast skies promised more downpours and yet a handful of foreigners were joyfully having their minds opened to the magnificence of the historic core. I joined them, and I am so glad that I did.

So every Saturday the Dubrovnik Tourist Board organises these free guided tours of the Old City, in both English and Croatian. And last weekend I tagged along.

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Photo - Mark Thomas 

I was sure that it would be cancelled due to the awful weather, or maybe I would be the only one to turn up. I was wrong on both counts. Wrapped in winter attire a whole host of nationalities had braved the unforgiving wind and were looking forward to a tour. “We’re from near Cardiff in Wales,” smiled one couple. I should have asked how and why they decided to visit Dubrovnik at the end of November, but their smiling faces was enough to distract me.

A few years ago I remember a slogan about tourism which was something like “People are the key to tourism.” And I was reminded of this very slogan when our guide for the morning started her tour. Her passion and love for the city was infectious. These front line workers create memories for tourists that they will take home with them. And in spite of the terrible weather the stories that they heard were unforgettable.

“Find a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” once wrote Mark Twain. Our guide was clearly loving every minute of her job.

“Why isn’t there more people here, I feel like I have the whole place to myself,” smiled one Australian man. I stopped myself from saying that I was surprised that there were so many people on this tour.

They had time to soak up the sights, to ask questions and to roam the empty streets and get a real feel for the city. Time and space that are rare in the warmer months.

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Photo - Mark Thomas 

“What a perfect destination for a winter weekend getaway,” said a smiling lady from Ireland. She was right.

I am guessing that all the tourists in my group had had a challenging journey (to say the least) to get to the city in the winter. It is crazy, but sadly true. But for those who make the effort the rewards are great.

To be honest my wife and I generally much prefer to travel in the off-season. We try our best to avoid the tourist traps and “in” destinations that are suffocating under the weight of tourists. Never has it been easier and more affordable to travel and whilst this has brought incredible riches to some destinations it has also brought considerable downsides. The balancing act between financial gain and protecting heritage and locals is evident everywhere. The slogan Respect the City could quite easily be Protect the City.

However, there still are “golden” times to travel and they are in the off-season.

The majority of shops were closed this weekend in Dubrovnik, but that’s fine by me and seemingly the rest of the group. For these are the souvenir shops that generally sell awful Made in China trinkets are exuberant prices. Who buys this crap anyway? Quality not quantity should be the buzzword.

“We just need one good café bar that makes real coffee and one or two places to eat that are used by locals and we are happy,” stated a man from Spain. He is right. And in the winter in Dubrovnik you can find these places. They tend to get drowned out by the tourist traps in the summer, but they are still there and this group had found them.

Maybe the system is working at the moment, maybe these tourists don’t want to see more tourists, maybe our inertness in attracting tourists in the off-season is paying dividends? I repeat, I am so glad that I went on this tour, for so many reasons.

Was it cold, yes. But to appreciate the beauty of a snowflake it is necessary to stand out in the cold. 

Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to


About the author
Mark Thomas (aka Englez u Dubrovniku) is the editor of The Dubrovnik Times. He was born and educated in the UK and moved to live in Dubrovnik in 1998. He works across a whole range of media, from a daily radio show to TV and in print. Thomas is fluent in Croatian and this column is available in Croatia on the website – Dubrovnik Vjesnik

The Dubrovnik Tourist Board is set to host its annual charitable event, the "Cake Party," as part of this year's Dubrovnik Winter Festival. Scheduled for Saturday, December 9, the event will unfold on Stradun, commencing at 11 a.m., with the sale of vouchers and a delectable cake exhibition kicking off at 10:30 a.m.

Adding a star-studded touch to the occasion is the celebrated Croatian singer, Mia Dimšić, who will enchant the audience with her popular hits, promising an enjoyable experience for visitors of all ages. To partake in this sweet affair, individuals can acquire participation vouchers priced at 3 euros each. Notably, every euro collected will be dedicated to supporting the League Against Cancer Dubrovnik.

Indulge your sweet tooth, immerse yourself in the melodies of Mia Dimšić, and, above all, contribute to a noble cause!

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Ministers of Transport of EU Member States adopted a common position on new road safety rules on Monday, including a directive on driving licenses and the exchange of information on traffic offenses.

In March of this year, as part of the legislative package on road safety, the European Commission proposed the introduction of a single digital driving license in the EU and new rules to facilitate the collection of traffic fines committed in another member state, as well as the withdrawal of driving licenses.

The Commission also proposed that young drivers aged 17 can take the test and drive if accompanied by older drivers, introducing a probationary period for young drivers of at least two years after passing the test, and a zero-tolerance rule for alcohol consumption for young drivers. Although young drivers make up only eight percent of all drivers, two out of five fatal crashes involve drivers under 30.

The EU Council accepted most of the provisions from the European Commission's proposal in its position, with certain amendments regarding the probationary period for young drivers, taking into account the powers of member states.

In the common position of member states, on which they will negotiate with the European Parliament on the final text of the law, it is also anticipated that the voluntary reduction of the validity period of driving licenses for older drivers will continue. Clearer provisions regarding the examination of physical and mental fitness for driving are introduced. It is also anticipated that individuals with citizenship in one member state and permanent residence in another member state can take the theoretical part of the driving test in their country of citizenship, but this possibility is not foreseen for the practical part of the driving test.

There is also a proposal to expand the list of traffic offenses that will be punishable at the EU level. The current list includes a total of eight traffic offenses, including speeding, failure to use a seatbelt, running a red light, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, not wearing a protective helmet, moving in a prohibited lane, and improper use of a mobile phone or other communication devices while driving.

The draft law on the exchange of information on traffic offenses will enable the decision to withdraw a driving license in one member state to be applicable in all member states, which is often not the case due to gaps in the law. The same applies to other traffic offenses that will be punishable at the EU level.

Last week, the Committee on Transport and Tourism of the European Parliament adopted draft positions on the road safety law package. The European Parliament will vote on these drafts at the plenary session in December, after which the upcoming Belgian presidency will start negotiations with representatives of the Parliament on the final text of the law.

According to the data from the tourist registration and deregistration system eVisitor, in Dubrovnik from January 1 to November 30, 2023, there were 1,225,265 touirst arrivals and 3,845,512 overnight stays, which is 20 percent more in arrivals and 9 percent more in overnight stays compared to the same period last year.

From January 1 to November 30, foreign tourists accounted for 1,158,596 arrivals and 3,676,689 overnight stays, while domestic tourists accounted for 66,669 arrivals and 168,823 overnight stays.

The most numerous guests came from Great Britain, the USA, France, Germany, Croatia, Ireland, Australia, Spain, Finland, and Canada.

In terms of accommodation type, hotels recorded 665,401 arrivals with 1,970,568 overnight stays, while private accommodation recorded 395,913 arrivals and 1,379,883 overnight stays.

During November, there were 35,633 arrivals and 66,285 overnight stays, which is 34 percent more in arrivals and 8 percent more in overnight stays compared to the same month last year. Domestic guests in October achieved 5,749 arrivals and 11,654 overnight stays, while foreign guests had 29,884 arrivals and 54,631 overnight stays.

The most numerous guests last month came from Croatia, the USA, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Sweden, Belgium, and the Netherlands.


The prestigious British publication, The Sunday Times, in its Travel edition, has published a report on Croatia as an indispensable destination during the winter, i.e., holiday season, both online and on the cover of its print edition.

Citing the main Advent attractions and the beauties of the natural landscape in winter attire, the article's author, Mary Novakovich, invites readers to visit and explore various regions of our beautiful country, both continental cities and places by the sea, precisely during the cold months.

"Frozen waterfalls, medieval castles, carnivals, and new airline routes throughout the year are key reasons to visit Croatia outside the summer season," emphasizes the journalist, who says she is consistently impressed by Croatia's tourism offerings after each trip to our beautiful land.

As destinations that particularly exude winter charm and provide an attractive experience, natural landscapes such as Plitvice Lakes, Krka National Park, Medvednica, and Biokovo are especially highlighted.

Dubrovnik is recommended in winter 

For carnival and festival enthusiasts, a visit to Dubrovnik is recommended, known for its annual winter cultural and musical entertainment and diverse concerts and performances in the city center. The Rijeka Carnival is also a must-visit, being the starting point for a dazzling parade, colorful costumes, and a festive atmosphere, Novakovich emphasizes in the text.

The winter fairy tale in the midst of baroque and rococo architecture in Varaždin, as well as in the historical core of Split, is an essential point of travel during Advent in Croatia, according to the journalist. Advent houses, winter gastronomic specialties, Christmas hits, and illuminated streets are the main assets for achieving excellent mood, both for the youngest and the older generations.

According to everything mentioned in the article, Croatia is recognized as a destination for an ideal winter escape from crowds and enjoying the blessings of the Christmas atmosphere, which is undoubtedly another step towards the development of our year-round tourism.


The Voice of Dubrovnik


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