Sunday, 26 January 2020
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 real estate market in Croatia is returning to pre-crisis levels and the volume of trading and the number of transactions are accelerating, according to a report in the newspaper Vecernji List.

The Institute of Economics, Zagreb, published the second edition of the Croatian Real Estate Market Review for 2018, which shows that in 2018, there were 104,000 real estate purchases in Croatia and the value of real estate sold was 32 billion Kuna, or 8.4 percent of Croatia's GDP for that year.

Of the 104,000 real estate transactions in 2018 just under 40 percent, or 40,000 transactions, were carried out with agricultural land. Whereas in 2018 24,000 apartments changed hands in Croatia, an increase of around 1,500 on the previous year.

Over the past few years one of the boom cities in Croatia for real estate has been the capital, Zagreb. Although the highest prices are still in the southernmost city, Dubrovnik. Property prices in Zagreb rose by around 5 percent in 2018 when compared to 2017, according to data in the market review. And of the 24,000 apartments sold throughout the country 8,000 were sold in the capital.


Croatia is at the polls today as second round of the Presidential elections are underway. By 11:30am 18.87 percent of the population had already cast their vote, but voters in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County were slower to react than the rest of the country with 17.64 percent already visiting the voting booths.

The Varažadin County saw the most voters by 11:30am with almost 22 percent already casting their vote, with the least amount of voters in the Požega-Slavonia County at only 13.82 percent.

In the Dubrovnik region the most votes were cast in Opuzen with 20.45 percent, followed by Korcula with 18.8 percent, Metkovic with 18.64 percent, Ploce with 17.53 percent and Dubrovnik with only 16.63 percent.

Across the Dubrovnik-Neretva County there are 212 polling stations for the total of 107,699 eligible voters.

Croatia is today for its fifth president and the early indicators show a strong turnout of voters at all voting booths throughout the country. According to official information 18.87 percent of voters had visited polling booths by 11:30am. The polling booths opened at 7:00am this morning and will remain open until 7:00pm.

The highest turnout so far today has been recorded in the Varaždin County - 21.97 percent, while the lowest in Požega-Slavonia County - 13.82 percent, while the City of Zagreb recorded a solid turnout of 19.77 percent.

The voting booths across the country opened this morning 7:00am for the Croatian Presidential elections. Current president, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, and SDP candidate and former Prime Minister, Zoran Milanovic, go head to head today in what is expected to be a very close run affair.

Milanovic won the first round of voting on the 22nd of December last year when 11 candidates contested the position of Croatian President. And now today the second round sees the top two candidates from the first round go head to head.

At 7.00am a grand total of 6,409 polling stations opened their doors across the country, and will remain open until 7:00pm.

But in addition to the polling stations in Croatia a further 47 countries will open for Croatia citizens to vote. For example, in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina there will be a total of 44 polling stations open all day today and early reports indicate that at the polling station in Mostar voters were waiting from well before 7.00am.


Welcome to a new decade! Forget New Year’s resolutions, it’s time to make decade resolutions.

The last Christmas of the twenty-tens is behind us, the turkey has been digested and the presents probably already forgotten or on sale on e-bay. We now move forward into the “twenties,” presumably a decade that won’t be as crazy as one hundred years ago when the 1920’s where known as the “Roaring Twenties” or the “Années folles.”

A lot has happened in this last decade; ten years is a long time. On a global scale we have seen not one but two Royal weddings, global warming causing havoc – from the Icelandic eruption of Eyjafjallajokull that shut down the world’s airlines in 2010 to the Fukushima earthquake just a year later that killed over 15,000 people in Japan. We saw the launch of the very first iPad, the explosion of one-hit wonders thanks mainly to YouTube, starting with Gangnam Style in 2012, we also were bombarded with various online challenges that went viral for a few weeks and then died, remember the ice bucket challenge or the bottle cap challenge.

In 2014 a Malaysian flight went missing never to be seen again, in 2015 the US made same sex marriage legal, we had children (and adults) searching for Pokémon Go and the rise of populism politics with a former reality star becoming President of the most powerful country in the world. What a difference ten years makes, in January 2010 at the very start of the decade, Barack Obama was only one year into his US presidency, Instagram hadn't yet been invented and the word Brexit had never been uttered. A decade is a long time, and not just in politics.

It has been a decade that has seen over twenty wars around the world, from civil wars to invasions. So more than two wars every years during a decade of unrest as man’s stupidity continues to wreak havoc. One day we might learn, but I sadly doubt it.

On a more local level Croatia started the decade outside of the European Union, had only been a full member of NATO for one year and Mesić was still the President. But one thing that doesn’t move quite as fast is the legal system, Sanader was arrested for corruption in Austria in 2010 but it took almost until the end of the decade before he was finally sentenced. It was a decade that saw a tiny country with a population of around 4 million compete in a football championship in a country with 144 million and come second to a country with 67 million.

As far as sport is concerned 2018 was a difficult year to beat. Although the country’s women were just as successful, with Blanka Vlašić named the European athlete of the year in 2010 and then Sandra Perković out-throwing the whole world. And on an even more local level we have seen the start of the Chinese building our largest infrastructure project ever, the Peljesac Bridge, a project that was first thought of in 1997, yes bridges are just as slow as the law courts in Croatia. We all rode the Game of Thrones wave, that started back in 2012, and then jumped revelled in the limelight of all the other film and serials using Dubrovnik as a background. Just how many times have we seen Dubrovnik on the screen this decade? It certainly changed the direction of our tourism industry that’s for sure. We have also seen bucket loads of media attention for cruise ship overcrowding, snow caused roads to close on two occasions and the reopening of the iconic cable car (yes, it was only reopened this last decade.)

So what will this new ten-year period bring us? Who can say. Nostradamus believes that we will see political and environmental turmoil. I believe he is probably correct this time. From Brexit to the US election in 2020, and Croatia will start the decade with a new, or maybe new/old President. The climate will continue to dominate all our thoughts and the planet will continue to fight back.

So start making those New Year and New Decade resolutions and always remember let go of yesterday, let today be a new beginning and be the best that you can, and you'll get to where you want to be.

Last year was certainly a year to remember for the Dubrovnik-Neretva County with almost 2.3 million tourists holidaying in Croatia’s southernmost county. According to figures just released by the Dubrovnik-Neretva County Tourist Board there were 2.285 million tourist arrivals in 2019, which represents a healthy 11 percent increase over 2018.

The hotel industry in the county are looking back on a successful 2019 as tourist arrivals were up a whopping 15 percent on 2018 with 1.15 million tourists choosing to stay in a hotel. In fact, the hotels throughout the county saw 8.9 million overnight stays last year.

And the importance of private villas, camps and apartments shouldn’t be overlooked as last year 818,198 tourists stayed in private accommodation in the county. This form of accommodation is certainly one area that has shown significant growth over the past five years and is still growing.

Most tourists came from the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, France, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Croatia goes to the polling stations on Sunday to vote for the future President and skiing could well have an effect on the final outcome. According to reports in the media up to 70,000 eligible voters will be out of the country this weekend and unable to vote as they will be on their winter skiing holidays. Reports show that of the 70,000 skiers only just over 5,000 have actually registered to vote out of the country, meaning the voting booths will be 65,000 short.

In fact, over 110,000 Croatians will be on the skiing slopes this weekend, although from that number there are children who are not eligible to actually vote. This information comes from travel agencies on the number of winter travel breaks they have sold, although the number could be higher as it obviously doesn’t include holidaymakers who have made their own arrangements.

The Presidential election looks like being a very close fought affair with both candidates, the incumbent president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, and the SDP candidate, Zoran Milanovic, neck and neck in the polls. Milanovic won the first round of voting back on the 22nd of December and is hoping to make that slim lead decisive in Sunday’s second round.

70,000 missing votes could well prove important to the final result as in the last Presidential elections in Croatia five years ago the difference between Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Ivo Josipovic was only 32,509 votes.


One of the most popular low cost airlines in the world has announced that they will increase their seat capacity to Dubrovnik this summer. easyJet will operate the Airbus A321neo aircraft on their flights from London Gatwick to Dubrovnik, and this new aircraft has a maximum capacity of 235 seats.

The Airbus will be deployed once a week on the London to Dubrovnik route and will significantly raise the number of passengers the budget airline will bring to the city. Flights with the larger planes will begin on the 5th of May this year. The airline has also announced a number of new routes to Croatia this summer.


The Voice of Dubrovnik


Find us on Facebook