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 Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich clearly loves Dubrovnik and the Adriatic Sea as his mega yacht Eclipse is back! The $500 million luxury yacht was in Dubrovnik for almost a week just a couple of weeks ago and today it returned to anchor at the exact same spot in front of Cavtat.
There is still no news as to whether the Chelsea FC owner is on the second largest private yacht in the world. He has yet to be spotted either in Cavtat or Dubrovnik. However, it is well-known that he is a lover of the Adriatic and has been visiting Dubrovnik for the past decade.
Eclipse, which measures an incredible 162.5 metres in length, was purchased by Abramovich back in 2010. At the time he dug deep into his pockets and paid a whopping $400 million but then invested a further $100 million into extras, including a submarine and missile detection system.
The elegant yacht is completely dominating the bay of Zupa and the skyline of Cavtat where is at anchor.
“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty,” Winston Churchill. There can be no doubts that this country’s transition has been a painful and at times seriously frustrating process. Monumental mistakes have been made. Senseless decisions have been brought. Logic was too often thrown out of the window. And personal gains have all too often been hiding behind a smokescreen of public good.
Many people watching from the side-lines become increasing annoyed at the lack of positive change. I am constantly being contacted by Croatian diaspora seeking answers to questions I have no answers for. I am in a privileged position, and somewhat unique position, that I have pretty much been here since the very beginning of this transition. This gives me the long-term view, the historical, however short, perspective.
And I can honestly say that the transition I have seen over the past two decades has been at a severely rapid speed. The same types of changes I have witnessed here would happen over two centuries in the UK.
Many observers don’t have a starting point for Croatia, they simply don’t know what the exact situation was like twenty years ago, and so they use experience from other countries as a starting point. That is a common mistake. For all this positivity there is however a rather worrying trend. The younger generations, on which we depend on for so much, are becoming discouraged.
Croatia is facing a demographic crisis. It is a situation could have been predicted. Easy to predict but difficult to solve. And the younger generations are running out of patience. I was chatting a few weeks ago to two young ladies who are both studying. One is studying to be a doctor. “I’m not saying that I wouldn’t like to work in Croatia after I finish my studies but I just need more hope that I will have a brighter future,” I could see the dilemma written across her face. And what was more fascinating was that throughout our lengthy conversation she didn’t mention financial security once, she did however mention hope on more than one occasion. And quite frankly it is more concerning that she used hope rather than money.
“It is a big world, but it has become increasingly smaller,” she added. Without doubt when she is a fully trained young doctor who is fluent in a handful of languages finishes her studies she will be in high demand from hospitals and institutions all over the world. The world will be her oyster, as the English say. On the flip side she, and her peers, are exactly the future that Croatia needs, no, desperately needs. If we take away the light at the end of the tunnel, then the tunnel gets awfully dark, and awfully long very quickly.
As I mentioned the demographic crisis is a tough problem to solve, naïve onlookers will just shout “pay higher salaries” or “decrease your bureaucracy.” These are by-products of a failure of the system. And the only way to improve the system is with the bright young generations. Which leaves us in somewhat of a catch 22 situation. The problems can’t be solved by any outside forces; change has to come from within. But without the real and correct means of change, i:e the youth of today, then change will come either badly or never at all.
Croatia isn’t the only country facing these problems, far from it. But when you start your transition from a negative position then it just takes much longer to catch up with every else. And time, or rather the lack of time, isn’t our friend. How much longer will young, highly trained and skilled professionals have the patience to wait, or more importantly the wiliness to fight for a future filled with hope. Time is not on our side. We need future generations to remember us more with gratitude and not with sorrow, once said Lyndon B. Johnson.
Just how well do you know Croatia? Here are 13 different destinations from all over the country, how many do you know?
From the dramatic Adriatic coastline, to the wide open plains of Slavonia and the rolling hills of Istria. Croatia is a country of diversity.
You reserve the venue for your international event, spend time, money and effort on advertising it and print up all the posters. But mistakes will always happen.
Clearly the organisers of this international congress in Dubrovnik needed to turn on their spellchecker as they managed to print signs with the name of the city their conference was being held incorrectly.
Instead of Dubrovnik they renamed the pearl of the Adriatic as “Dubronik.” Whoops!
A total of 6.3 million passengers travelled through Croatian airports in the first seven months of this year, an impressive 8.8 percent increase over the same period from last year. According to the latest statistics from the Central Bureau of Statistics 73.4 aircraft operations were record from the beginning of the year until the end of July.
Among the nine Croatian airports, the largest number of passengers this year, 719.8 thousand, passed through Split Airport, which is an increase of four percent compared to the same month last year.
Split is followed by Dubrovnik Airport, which grew by 8.6 percent with 510.9 thousand passengers, while Zagreb Airport “Franjo Tudjman” finished third with 363.9 thousand passengers, or 3.8 percent less than in July last year.
The largest increase in the number of passengers, of 28.4 percent, was in July at Zadar airport, through which 142.7 thousand passengers passed.
The majority of foreign passengers came from Germany, followed by the UK and France.
Mayor of Dubrovnik Mato Frankovic held a working meeting yesterday in Hamburg with leaders of the world's cruise lines sailing to the Port of Dubrovnik, members of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
Various topics were discussed in the meeting including the management of the destination and the successes and challenges facing the City of Dubrovnik in implementing the Respect the City project, primarily in the form of reducing the number of passengers on cruise ships. Regarding the further development of sustainable tourism, the rules for the 2020 season have also been harmonized, which will cover further improvements in the number of guests who visit the City at the same time.
The introduction of a cruise tax was also announced, beginning in 2021, in accordance with the applicable Law on Tourist Fees of the Republic of Croatia. The funds that the City of Dubrovnik will derive from the residence tax for cruise ship guests will be earmarked for the improvement of the city's communal infrastructure.
The Croatian premiere of the documentary film by director Jonathan Berman, Calling All Earthlings, will be screened this Friday in Dubrovnik.
Calling All Earthlings explores a 1950's UFO cult, led by a Howard Hughes confidante who claims to combine alien guidance with the work of Nikola Tesla to create a time/ energy machine: “The Integratron.” Can it really break through the boundaries of space, time, and energy? Government agents conspire against the community that gathers around his work in the deep California desert. Can he finish The Integratron before the government finishes him?
The film will be shown in the Cinema Slavica this Friday starting at 8.00pm and after the screening their will actually be a chance to meet the director and take part in a Q and A session.
The unemployment rate across the whole of Croatia is continuing to fall with latest figures showing that the number of people out of work is 114,498. This means that the rate of unemployment in Croatia is down 14.6 percent on the year.
And whilst this figures may look promising a few factors have to be taken into account, firstly the large number of people employed in seasonal jobs on the Croatian coastline in tourism, and secondly the hundreds of thousands of people who have left the country in search of a brighter future in other EU member states.
In fact, the rate of unemployment grew slightly in August, and this was the second consecutive month that this trend has occurred. Although overall throughout the entire year the figures are positive.