Saturday, 24 February 2024
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.


Drvene konstrukcije d.o.o. is a small company from Vocin near Slatina in the Slavonia region which will build luxurious wooden apartment buildings for the city of Uppsala, the fourth largest city in Sweden.

The apartment buildings for Uppsala will be made of wood, whilst for the full visual impression they will be cladded by oak facade panels.

''We supply them with laminated structures, laminated oak elements and outer cladding panels for walls, roofs, external staircases, shelves and wine cellar staircases'', said Ivan Durcevic.

Radman Grupa from Zagreb initiated this small company into business with a final buyer in Sweden. Its ''entrance ticket'' for this job was recently completed project of the Pannonian wood competence centre in Virovitica, the building which was a prototype and the first of this kind in Croatia. The centre is a low energy building made of 400 to 500 cubic meters of wood material and one of the first projects which was implemented through the European Union Structural Funding.

''When the Swedish investors saw our centre, they were very impressed. The centre even resembles buildings that have been built in Sweden'', says the company manager Mario Abramovic.

At first only two houses will be built for the Swedish market, but there will be definitely more of them, some say, at least 600!

Last year Drvne konstrukcije d.o.o. exported 10 percent of its products, but the company expects these figures to jump 30 or 40 percent till the end of 2016. At the beginning the company had only eight employees but today it employs 40 people. The average monthly salary for workers is around 3,500 Kunas, whilst the average monthly salary for employees with a high education degree is 6,000 Kunas.

The weather over the past few days has been far from perfect but that hasn't stopped tourists to the city enjoying the spectacular panoramic views from the top of the Srd Mountain. Selfies galore from the observation deck on the upper station of the cable car followed by a bit to eat in the Panorama Restaurant.

Check out our Srd top photo gallery by Tonci Plazibat – Hanza Media

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According to Deloitte, the consulting and auditing company, 13 companies from Croatia found their place among the Top 500 largest companies in Central Europe.

Agrokor Grupa, the biggest retail and food company from Croatia, is the best among Croatia's and the Balkan region's companies, ranked as the 11th on the Deloitte annual list. Last year Agrokor placed as the 22nd, whilst this year it jumped on the list with 6.4 billion Euros of annual sales revenue. Deloitte estimates that the consolidated Agrokor Group will generate revenue of more than 7 billion Euros annually in the following years which will place this company among the top 10 of the best Central European companies.

Agrokor as the highest ranked Croatian company was followed by INA, the oil and gas company which placed 53rd, the retail chain Konzum placed 91st, whilst HEP, the Croatian electricity provider was ranked as the 93rd on the Deloitte's list.

The Croatian companies which were not in the top 100 list are the telecommunications company Hrvatski Telekom (232nd), HEP’s Operator company (244th), the distributor Atlantic Grupa (312th), Adris Grupa (318th), Petrol Croatia (350th), the utilities company Zagrebački holding (451st), the food company Podravka (477th) and the retail chain Lidl Croatia which placed as the 484th on the Top 500 largest Central European companies list.

Polish companies have continued to dominate Deloitte's 500 largest Central European companies and accounted for more than one-third of the total number of companies that found their place on this year's list. For the second year in a row Poland’s PKN Orlen was number one, followed by the oil company MOL from Hungary and the Czech Republic’s car manufacturer Skoda which placed as the 3rd on the list.

As far as the Balkan region is concerned, Slovenia had the most representatives on the Top 500 list (17). It is followed by Croatia with 13 companies and Serbia by 7. Unlike last year, when it had four representatives on the list, this year Bosnia and Herzegovina had two companies, whilst Macedonia had only one representative.

''Of all the “megatrends” affecting how companies compete and perform in the regional and global economies, digitalization is the most powerful enabler with the greatest potential for driving positive change. None of us can ignore the extent to which the continued success of Central Europe’s economy is interlinked with the digital strategies of its leading companies. So it is highly informative to read in this report about the passionate intensity with which our region’s business leaders are helping to shape their companies’ digital futures'', commented Alastair Teare, the CEO of Deloitte Central Europe.

The power of social media has really been felt this year in Croatia. Countless celebrities have vacationed along the Adriatic coast and brought Croatia free promotion around the globe by posting photos on their Facebook and Instagram profiles.

And yet another dose of free advertising for Croatia has arrived, this time from Zedd, a Russian-German Grammy Award winning record producer, DJ and musician. In his new video for the song ''Adrenaline'' he will include 30 seconds of scenes from Porec where he performed at the Club MTV Europe Summerblast festival this August, reports MTV.

This is another excellent and thereby free promotion for Croatia. As more and more festivals of electronic music choose Croatia as their destination, such advertising is very important for the country.

Dubrovnik is one of the cheapest travel destinations in Europe, at least according to the website Hoppa, in fact not one of the cheapest but THE cheapest. The specialised travel website took a number of different criteria into consideration before making their list of the top European cities that are cheap to visit, including the price of accommodation, taxis, coffee, food and similar factors. And when all this data was collected the findings revealed that Dubrovnik was the cheapest city to visit in Europe.

Dubrovnik wasn’t the only Croatian city on the list as the capital Zagreb came in at fifth position.

Cheap isn’t normally the first word on tourist’s lips when they think about Dubrovnik, in fact traditionally one of the biggest complaints are the high prices. The website collected information on prices from tourist website, booking portals and other travel websites. Which would lead us to draw two conclusions, either Dubrovnik is not as expensive as we thought or that the data they used was out of date.

Here is the complete list:

Dubrovnik - Croatia

Jurmala - Latvia

Berlin - Germany

Algarve - Portugal

Zagreb - Croatia

Sunny Beach - Bulgaria

Krakow - Poland

Debrecen - Hungary

Rhodes - Greece

Ostrava - Czech Republic

Sofia - Bulgaria

It has been a bumper year for bloggers, journalists and trend-setters in Croatia. This summer Casey Owen Neistat went on a cruise along the Adriatic coast with his wife and released his video on the YouTube profile. After visiting Italy, the couple came to our shores. First they visited Opatija, and then they went towards Dalmatia. Cruising the Croatian islands they were thrilled with beautiful beaches they had only for themselves. The famous YouTuber thrilled audiences in Croatia when he attempted to pronounce the name of the place where he was based.

His video is full of stunning natural scenery, whilst he was especially delighted with the appearance of Croatian cities. The video has already been watched by more than half a million people. Although they lost their luggage, the Neistats didn't let anything to spoil their holiday. The video wasn't edited but realistically shows everything they encountered with on their cruise along the Adriatic coast.

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After the cruise, they rented a boat and started the adventure of a lifetime. They visited numerous stunning bays, filmed the beautiful coast and dived into the depths of clear blue sea water. The couple also entered into the famous Croatian cave ''Modra Spilja'' (the Blue Grotto or Blue Cave) located on the small island of Bisevo near the island of Vis. Their lifetime adventure ended in Dubrovnik.

Casey's posts on YouTube are regularly watched by over a million people daily. His YouTube channel is one of the most watched which can be seen from the fact that in a few months more than one million people subscribed to his profile. Casey's video certainly contributes to the promotion of the Croatian tourism around the world. Thank you Casey!

Sometimes my guests ask me whether Dubrovnik is a new destination. It's not. The city's tourism is well over a century old. During this time Dubrovnik has seen plenty of highs and lows as a holiday destination, surviving three wars and plenty of political turmoil. It was visited by celebrities, members of the international jet set, royalty. Today, it's becoming more popular than it ever was. In fact, Dubrovnik is so popular it faces the same problems shared by many other top holiday destinations - overcrowding, high prices of hospitality services, inflated property prices, lack of authenticity, to name a few.

Because of all this, people are starting to raise their voices against some of the negative effects tourism has on our daily lives. Sometimes, the sentiments are very much anti-tourism. Many people in Dubrovnik fall into one of two camps – one which looks down on tourism business as inherently bad for the local people and the local way of life, and the other which believes we should allow and promote anything that will make money. Of course, neither of the two extremes is the solution this city needs.

Generations of Dubrovnik people have worked hard to build this destination up, and that should be respected. On the other hand, it is impossible to run a successful destination without some negative effects on the local environment and way of life, especially in a small place like Dubrovnik. We are seeing more and more of the city turned to restaurants, souvenir shops, cafes, and so on. This is not in itself a bad thing, but once these businesses start eating away at the space once held by local stores and workshops which are either needed for the local population to be able to function, or are representatives of local culture worth preserving, then you have a problem.

Many of us choose fast profits over long term benefit. This is not only a result of individual greed, but fear as well. Let’s not forget Croatians have witnessed some pretty erratic changes in their society over the years. Only in my lifetime (I am 35) this country has gone from a communist, socialist society where everything was state owned, through a bloody war where all the institutions and laws broke down, to an independent democratic society with a market economy, to now being a member of the EU with all the new rules and regulations that come with being a part of one huge common market. All these changes brought forth shocks to the national economy and endangered people’s personal finances. In my lifetime, we have gone through three currencies and are waiting to adopt the fourth one – the Euro – if it survives long enough for us to adopt it. All this makes Croatians very determined about earning as much as possible when given a chance, because of the uncertainty they feel about the country’s financial health.

Fear makes people do silly things (Brexit, anyone?), but it is time to face our fears and stop the damage being done to Dubrovnik as a destination. It is time to realise the only local threat to us making money from tourism in the long run is trying to make money from it by all means necessary in the shortest period possible. Without imposing certain restrictions that will prevent harmful business practices, we might… we will do irreparable damage to our main source of income, but also to our community in general.

It is time to make peace with tourism and embrace the concept of sustainability. It is the only way we will be able to ensure this city remains as beautiful and as special as most of us remember it to be. If we have to sacrifice some of our projected profits to accomplish this, so be it.
Bozidar Jukic, AKA The Restless Native, is a Dubrovnik local with too many interests to name them all, with writing being at the very top of the list. He is a lover of good food, music and film, and a firm believer in the healing power of laughter. His professional orientation is towards tourism and travel so it comes as no surprise he spends most of his time alongside Mrs. Jukic running their own local tour company. Their goal is helping travellers from all over the world get a more intimate experience of Dubrovnik and what it has to offer. To find out more about their work, visit their website or Facebook page.

Ana Konjuh’s US Open dream is over in the quarterfinals. The 18-year-old tennis sensation from Dubrovnik has been beaten in the quarterfinals of this year’s US Open by the 24-year-old Czech player Karolina Pliskova. The number ten seed defeated Konjuh 6.2, 6.2 to book her place in the semi-finals.

Reaching the quarterfinals of this Grand Slam tournament is the greatest success of the young Konjuh’s career and the new points earned will mean that on Monday the Dubrovnik star will have risen to the 52nd top ranked player in the world, the highest ranked Croatian female player.

“I wasn’t at my best level today for sure, but she was just too good,” commented Konjuh. “Her serve is just too good. Today on the court, she found her rhythm and took the opportunities that I gave her,” she concluded.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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