Monday, 22 October 2018
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.


The British Days in Dubrovnik continued today with a lecture on the legend of Richard the Lionheart’s connection to Dubrovnik and the island of Lokrum in particular.

A special ferry took the numerous visitors to the island and the lecture from Dr Judith Everard from Cambridge University was held in the courtyard of the monastery on the island, a truly spectacular venue which was completely packed for the event.

According to legend whilst returning from The Crusades Richard the Lionheart’s ship sunk in heavy storms and he vowed to build a monastery on the first place his feet touched solid ground. That place was the island of Lokrum just 600 metres from the Old City of Dubrovnik.



A mixed audience of tourist guides, students, locals and tourists attended the lecture and posed questions afterwards.

“We are extremely satisfied with the attendance, the boat to Lokrum was completely full and it was nice to see a mixture of ages and people from different professions,” commented a representative of the British Embassy in Croatia. Adding that several of the attendants had asked for Dr. Everard to produce a written copy of the lecture.

“To my delight the representatives of the local tourist guides and tourist board gave me a very positive feedback to the talk. I felt very humble talking to them about their own history, but I thought that I could give a British perspective on Richard and his career,” commented Dr Everard for The Dubrovnik Times.

So is it a legend or is there some truth behind it? Was the question that was asked at the end of the Lokrum lecture. “There is certainly some truth behind it. We can say that Richard the Lionheart certainly visited Dubrovnik in 1192. He might have given money to construct the Dubrovnik Cathedral but beyond circumstantial evidence we have no real proof.”


As the director of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Romana Vlašić, is truly in the front line of the city’s tourism industry. And as another successful summer season draws to an end we caught up for a coffee with Vlašić to find her conclusions for this season and suggestions for next year. We discovered what the international press is writing, where our next travel market is opening up and what is happening to winter tourism.

How would you best describe this past season?

This season, if we look at the statistics, was certainly better than last year. The total figures that we have show that the number of tourist arrivals in Dubrovnik was 7 percent more than last year. However, what I really have to emphasize, and what really makes us satisfied, is that we achieved great results in the pre-season. One of our main aims is the extension of the main tourist season from the summer months, which is why I think we can all be proud of the results from the beginning of the year. As far as the tourist market in the city is concerned there isn’t any real great changes, once again guests from the UK are the most numerous. However, it is interesting to note that in second place are tourists from the USA.

Yes, the fact that American tourists are the second most numerous is interesting. We don’t have any direct flights from the US to Croatia, at least not this year. How have we managed to attract so many American tourists?

We have been working intensively on the US market for years and it seems that this work is starting to bear fruit. There have been a whole series of promotional events that we have carried out in the US, from the New York Times Travel show to specialised travel fairs in Las Vegas. Secondly we are connected with a luxury tour operator in the US who have proved to be very professional and have brought many guests to Dubrovnik over the past few years. Then we have used a range of advertising possibilities, from classic to newsletters, and I have participated in a webinar in front of hundreds of American tour operators. Evidently all of this work has paid off. And now after 28 years we will finally have direct flights from the US again, with American Airlines announcing flights from Philadelphia.

I am sure that this “pilot” project from American Airlines will grow over the coming years to include more American cities as well as new airlines.

Is the Dubrovnik Tourist Board already in contact with American Airlines?

Of course, through our representative office in New York we have made contact with the airline and the travel company that represents them. We have already arranged joint marketing opportunities and co-operation. We are only too happy to help fill these flights and make sure that this new link is successful.



Has Dubrovnik as a destination found a solution for the overcrowding problem?

I think we can see from this season that the beginning of a solution and the beginning of our work on this problem has started to work. With the project “Respect the City” which has its long-term and short-term goals, we have started on the right foot and this year has seen a much better flow of tourists. One thing that has certainly helped this year is the changes made to coaches bringing cruise ship passengers to the Old City. By rescheduling their departure from the Port of Dubrovnik we have managed to ease the pressure slightly on the infrastructure. And this rescheduling of cruise ship passengers has helped with the number of people trying to enter the Old City. The City of Dubrovnik is in contact with Cruise Lines International Association, who have been co-operative with the plan to reschedule the arrival and departure times of cruise ships. This measure has also largely worked. The aim of the city isn’t to cram more and more tourists inside the Old City, quite the contrary, our goal is to make sure that the tourists who arrive have a pleasant and memorable stay. When a satisfied cruise passenger later returns to the city on a vacation then we have done our job.

The tourist board is in constant contact with international media outlets and I can say that this year we have seen a shift in their opinions about overcrowding in Dubrovnik. The positive vibration about Dubrovnik is slowly spreading across the globe again.

How will our winter season be? Are we working on further extending our main tourist season in to the winter months?

Dubrovnik has the longest season of any destination on the Adriatic. We are intensively working on extending the season even more, as you can see from the slogan of the tourist board “Dubrovnik – a city for all season.” We have been working closely with Dubrovnik Airport to ensure that we have more flights for this winter. In fact, this year we have never made more flights into Dubrovnik through the winter, we will be directly connected to seven major European cities, from Warsaw to Istanbul. We are also interested in having connections with European hubs that have connections to Asia and the US. One new market that has proved interesting is Australia. The Croatian National Tourist Board will, for the first time, carry out an educational presentation in Sydney next year as this new market continues to grow. Also this post season we can look forward to a number of events that should prove interesting for guests, such as the Good Food Festival and the Dubrovnik Winter Festival. In fact, we have joined with British Airways to market and promote the winter festival and Dubrovnik through the winter months.

What changes to the tourist season can we expect for next year?

Next year we can certainly expect an even better organisation and flow of cruise ship passengers through the city as our project kick in. Of course it takes time for such a project to work, but I’m sure that we will feel even more advantages for next year. We will see American Airlines coming, an increase in tourists from Asia, as well as more tourists deciding to come to the city in the pre and post seasons. And of course our main goal is to concentrate on sustainable tourism for the whole city.

The Croatian captain and Real Madrid midfield star has been nominated for this year’s Ballon d’Or and could make it a clean sweep of all the major football individual awards this year. In fact, Modić could become the first player since Kaka to break the dominance of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

A total of 30 nominees have been selected for this prestigious award and the winner will be revealed on the 3rd of December in Paris. The votes are cast by a group of international journalists, with one vote coming from each country.

Modrić had an amazing season last year, and has already won the Golden Ball at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and well as the FIFA award as best man player in the 2017/2018 season. However, he will face stiff competition from Messi and Ronaldo who have won every Ballon d’Or since 2007.

The British Days in Dubrovnik 2018 opened yesterday in front of the Old City of Dubrovnik on Pile where an iconic London double-decker bus is now dominating attention.

The three-day event was opened by the British Ambassador to Croatia, Andrew Dalgleish, and the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Franković. And a rich and varied program of events was presented which aim at highlighting the connections between Dubrovnik and Great Britain.



The Route Master London bus from 1964 is the centre piece of the British Days in Dubrovnik and tea and biscuits will be served, free of charge, every day. Also gin and whiskey coctails area available.

- For over a decade tourist from Great Britain have been the most numerous in our city. And in addition to the many British guests who visit in the summer, there are many that come in the winter as well. These guests appreciate our cultural heritage, our historical heritage but at the same time appreciate our clean sea and beautiful beaches. Dubrovnik is an excellent combination for them. We thank the British Embassy who has chosen Dubrovnik as the centre of manifestation – commented the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Franković.


The British Ambassador to Croatia, Andrew Dalgleish, stressed that British guest greatly enjoy the history and culture of Dubrovnik as well as the warm welcome and excellent food.

- There is a long relationship between Britain and Dubrovnik. We wanted to thank the people of Dubrovnik in some way and give them something in return from the United Kingdom – commented Dalgleish.

For more information and the full program follow this link


EARTH, SEA & FIRE is the name of the brand new triathlon event in Dubrovnik, scheduled for October 13th 2018.

The first-time ever triathlon to be held in the southernmost Croatian city, offers two distances for both individual athletes and relay teams: Olympic triathlon includes 1,5km two-laps swim, 40km four-laps bike and 10km four-laps run combo, while Sprint Triathlon challenge includes 0,75km one-lap swim, 20km two-laps bike and 5km two-laps run.

Calm sea, super-fast and flat bike and run routes make a perfect arena for experienced triathletes chasing standard-distance PB or aiming to break other records.


First timers will have the chance for an authentic and fiery triathlon initiation, racing side by side with the best triathletes. If you're looking for an event to start your triathlon career, along with a great venue, perfect climate and friendly atmosphere, EARTH, SEA & FIRE is the right choice!

Already well-positioned as an attractive destination for active holidays, Dubrovnik is a city that shares so much with the spirit of triathlon: steadfastness, relentless passion, ability to cope with downfalls and to rise again no matter what, over and over again. Naturally, all the participants will be able to enjoy all the beauties the southernmost Croatian city has to offer, including its ancient Old Town, a famous UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The spectacular historic architecture and atmosphere of Dubrovnik will become a perfect background for the celebration of the inaugural EARTH, SEA & FIRE triathlon.

Whether you're a newbie or Ironman finisher, we invite you to #IGNITE YOUR INNER FIRE this autumn in Dubrovnik!

The race course is set in Gruž, a picturesque, naturally sheltered wind-safe Dubrovnik’s inlet. Located approximately 20 minutes’ walk from the famous Dubrovnik’s city centre, at the entrance of river Ombla, Gruž has been Dubrovnik’s main harbour for centuries. Gruž is popular among both locals and visitors for its food and fish market. Its seaside promenade offers a vista of old Renaissance villas, historic carracks and brigantines docking next to modern luxury yachts.


Course map 


Just how much do tourists spend in Croatia? And where are we in terms of a global scale? The website has produced a rather interesting world map showing the tourist spend in each country.

“We got the data for our visualization through the World Tourism Organization, an agency in the UN. First, we color-coded each country based on the continent. Then we adjusted the size to correspond to the annual amount tourists spend in each destination in 2017 (US$ B). The WTO defines an expenditure as any amount spent by an international inbound tourist, including things like transportation, goods, and services. In other words, our figures exclude domestic tourism, giving you an accurate snapshot of which countries depend the most (and least) on the international tourism market,” commented the website.

According to this data tourist spent $11 billion in Croatia in 2017. On a regional basis Croatia is in a healthy positon, the spend in neighbouring countries was considerably lower – in Montenegro $2 billion, in Slovenia $3 billion and in Serbia $1 billion.

However, Croatia has some way to go to catch the traditional giants of European tourism – Spain $68 billion, Italy $44 billion and France $61 billion.

Top 10 Countries with the Highest International Tourism Receipts in 2017

1. USA: $211B

2. Spain: $68B

3. France: $61B

4. Thailand: $57B

5. United Kingdom: $51B

6. Italy: $44B

7. Australia: $42B

8. Germany: $40B

9. Macao (China): $36B

10. Japan: $34B

The Commander of the Dubrovnik Fire Department, Stijepko Krilanović, and Luciano Beg, the owner of Marservis, have signed a contract to construct a fire-fighting ship brigade worth four million Kunas.

With the signing of the contract the Dubrovnik fire brigade have established a naval service. Part of the money was secured from the city budget, and part was donated by the Lokrum Public Institution.

The new fire brigade ship will be 13.5 meters in length and will be ready for use in seven months.

"This is a unique ship in the area of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, which will have a multifaceted role - fast firefighters' transport to the Elaphite Islands and Lokrum, a quick response to the fire and the need for intervention in the event of rescue of endangered lives, " commented the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Frankovic.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said it expects Croatia's GDP to grow by 2.8 percent in 2018, and to decelerate to 2.6 percent in 2019, according to the latest issue of the IMF's World Economic Outlook released this week.

This means that the projected economic growth for Croatia in 2018 and 2019 remained unchanged from the previous Outlook issued in April.

Croatia's unemployment rate is projected to drop from 12.4 percent in 2017 to 12.0 percent in 2018, and further down to 11.2 percent in 2019.

The report also noted that Croatia's current account balance surplus could slide from 3.9 percent of GDP in 2017 to 2.7 percent of GDP in 2018, and to 2.3 percent of GDP in 2019.

The IMF's forecasts for Croatia's economy are mainly in accordance with the projections of other analysts.




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