Saturday, 15 June 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.

Email: mark.thomas@dubrovnik-times.com

Today marks the celebration of International Workers' Day across Croatia, a day dedicated to raising awareness about the challenges faced by workers worldwide. Amidst the festivities, one tradition stands out - the consumption of beans, a symbolic gesture deeply rooted in history and culture.

Beans, a staple food in many cuisines, arrived in Europe in the 16th century, heralded for their nutritional benefits. Historically, beans have played a significant role not only in culinary traditions but also in shaping social narratives.

Legend has it that when Catherine de Medici introduced beans to French cuisine upon her marriage to Henry II, she paved the way for its integration into royal menus. The famed cassoulet, a hearty casserole of beans, duck, and sausages, is attributed to her culinary innovations.

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Photo - Tonci Plazibat 

Beyond the aristocratic tables, beans found their place among the masses, earning the moniker "poor people's" food. In the United States during the Great Depression, beans gained prominence as a nutritious and economical alternative to meat, embodying resilience in times of adversity.

In Croatia, the tradition of consuming beans on May Day carries symbolic significance, representing solidarity with the working class. The energy value in 100 grams of beans is 333 calories, of which 60% are carbohydrates. That's why workers and labourers were ready for long and hard work after eating a portion of beans. This food is generally shared among people as a symbol of a true worker's meal.

Hrvatska poštanska banka (HPB) has announced a robust financial performance for the first quarter of the year, showcasing a remarkable 33% surge in net profit compared to the same period in 2023. According to the bank's latest report released on Monday, HPB recorded a net profit of nearly 24 million euros during the quarter.

The notable growth in profit is primarily attributed to the substantial contribution from net interest income, which soared by an impressive 84% to reach 46.6 million euros. This increase was driven by significantly higher levels of liquid assets, providing ample opportunities for the bank to generate remuneration. Additionally, the rise in the average reference interest rates set by the European Central Bank (ECB) further bolstered the bank's earnings, as highlighted in the report.

HPB's strategic focus on consolidation and fortification of its position in the market has yielded promising results. Despite witnessing record asset growth in 2023 and the subsequent return of excess sources in the business segment with legal entities, the bank reported a slight 4.3% decrease in assets during the first quarter of 2024, amounting to 6.76 billion euros. Noteworthy within the balance sheet structure is the continued surge in household deposits, which grew by 91 million euros, underscoring the bank's stability and trust among customers.

The HPB Group's net profit after taxes stood at 23.82 million euros, with the parent company reporting a net profit of 23.86 million euros. However, subsidiaries such as HPB Invest registered a net loss of 32.32 thousand euros, while HPB-Nekretnine recorded a net loss of 4.26 thousand euros.

In a departure from tradition, the Red History Museum is shaking things up for this year's celebration of International Workers' Day, also known as 'May Day.' Instead of the usual fare, visitors can look forward to a taste of Cuban culture.

With their ongoing exhibition, "Cuban Revolutionary Posters 1968 - 1971," the museum is serving up the Cuban traditional dish 'Ropa vieja' in lieu of the customary beans. What exactly is 'Ropa vieja'? Guests will have to attend to find out. Notably, the museum is catering to both meat-eaters and vegetarians with this offering.

On May 1st, everyone is invited to the Red History Museum, where admission to the exhibition and the food is entirely free. ¡Nos vemos en el Museo de historia roja!

This celebration marks the launch of their program 'Pre-season,' made possible with the generous support of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board and the Croatian Tourist Board. Alongside the culinary experience, the museum will host various film screenings and an additional exhibition throughout May and June.

 

Over the past weekend, Dubrovnik welcomed approximately 14,000 tourists, marking a significant increase of 32% compared to the same period last year, according to data from the eVisitor tourist registration system.

The city's tourism sector experienced a notable boost, with guests from various countries contributing to the surge. Among the most prominent nationalities were visitors from the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Croatia, Germany, Finland, Poland, Ireland, Italy, and the Netherlands.

Since the beginning of the year, Dubrovnik has recorded a total of 173,500 arrivals and nearly 445,000 overnight stays, representing an 18% increase compared to the corresponding period last year.

 

According to a recent survey conducted by the magazine Ja Trgovac and the agency Hendal in March, the consumption of meat, meat products, and cured meats among Croatian citizens has been analyzed, shedding light on some interesting trends.

The survey indicates that 25 percent of Croatian citizens consume meat daily, with chicken being the most popular choice. This marks a five percent increase compared to the findings from 2022. Additionally, the majority of respondents, totaling 64 percent, reported consuming meat several times a week, reflecting a slight decrease from previous years.

On the other hand, six percent of respondents stated that they eat meat several times a month, while two percent admitted to rarely consuming meat. Surprisingly, three percent of citizens mentioned that they do not eat meat at all.

When it comes to preferences, chicken remains the top choice for meat consumption, with 53 percent of citizens favoring it. However, pork follows closely behind with a 36 percent share. Other types of meat, such as veal, turkey, and lamb, were found to be less popular among respondents.

Interestingly, despite chicken and pork being the most commonly consumed meats, veal and lamb are preferred by nearly a third of citizens, indicating a desire for more premium options despite their lower consumption rates.

Moving on to cured meats and meat products, bacon emerged as the most popular choice, with 39 percent of citizens preferring it. Sausages, on the other hand, saw a decline in popularity, with only 19 percent of citizens consuming them regularly.

Overall, the survey provides valuable insights into the meat consumption habits of Croatian citizens, highlighting the popularity of chicken and pork while also revealing preferences for more premium meat options and cured meats.

The survey, conducted on a nationally representative sample of citizens aged 16 and above, offers a comprehensive look at meat consumption trends in Croatia, providing valuable data for policymakers and stakeholders in the food industry.

All roads lead to Rome! The eternal city is certainly the IN destination this year, it seems that everyone is following in the footsteps of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck and going on a Roman holiday. And anyone who doubts the power of the silver screen when it comes to promoting a destination should bear in the mind that this classic was released on 70 years ago!

“See you in five days,” waved my wife and friends as I dropped them off at the airport.

Yes, my wife has joined the long list of Rome visitors this spring. I have no proof, but I think more people from Dubrovnik have visited Rome this March and April, than Romans have been to the south of Croatia.

Just as I was dropping off my wife I saw another two friends on the same flight.

It got me thinking. Why is it so popular? Why is Rome at the top of the list? In other words, what can we as a destination learn from the Italian capital?

I know it’s a little like comparing apples with oranges, but maybe there are a few lessons.

Now, let me first say that I am a self-confessed Rome lover. “Rome is varied, extensive, beautiful to the eye, and more illustrious in history than any other in Europe.” Not my words, but the words of Mark Twain. It is a chaotic city that has a soul and a swagger like a model on a catwalk.

So why is everyone going there?

Well, firstly (and probably most importantly) it is cheap to get to! The sheer number of flights (the ninth busiest airport in Europe) is staggering and for the same price as a good meal (or a few hours of parking on Pile) in Dubrovnik you can book a return ticket.

Accommodation prices are probably somewhere on a par with us, and they have a lot, over 30,000 just on Airbnb!

Food prices are also similar.

Of course attraction wise there is a lot to see, and that is a massive understatement.

Rome The Hotspot Destination of 2024 and What Dubrovnik Can Learn from It 1

Photo - Canva

Related - A Surprise Reunion in Enchanting Rome: A Memorable Moment in the Eternal City

 

But one thing kept coming up when I started to speak to people about why they went to Rome. And that was for a specific reason, and quite often micro reasons.

“I have a list of three restaurants I want to visit and that’s my motivation,” said one family member. “I want to see the opening of an exhibition,” said another. A third was going just to attend a concert, and another to just visit the Vatican.

These were all in the short-stay or long weekend section of travel. One friend went for two days just to watch a Lazio match.

How many tourists come to Dubrovnik with similar goals? I am guessing less than 1 percent. A friend told me that in the 1980’s her aunt would fly down from Zagreb just to catch an event in the Summer Festival. I think these days of laser-focused visits are behind us.

Yes, Game of Thrones somewhat revived the trend, but it is rather shining beacon as opposed to the norm. We need more events and happenings, such as the Du Motion, the Good Food Festival, the triathlon and the Midsummer Scene Festival. Events that would motivate a tourist whilst scrolling through their social media feeds to book a long weekend. Or to steal a line from a Hollywood movie, “If you build it, they will come.”

It would appear that thanks to a certain low-cost Irish airline that we have half-solved our transport issues, we have over fifty hotels and although we may not boast the grandeur of Rome's iconic attractions, we are just as appealing.

The days of mass tourism are well in the past and the new trend is exactly micro-tourism.

A world tourism institution describes it as “a form of sustainable and responsible tourism that focuses on small-scale, community-based tourism experiences.” Now that sounds like exactly what we have been searching for.

It will take time to conquer, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.

 

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

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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

 

In the latter half of 2023, households across the EU and the eurozone experienced a slight decrease in gas and electricity prices compared to the first six months. Notably, Croatia retained its position among nations with notably lower energy costs, significantly below the European average, as per recent data from Eurostat.

According to Eurostat, the average electricity price for households in the EU dropped by 3.7 percent in the second half of 2023, reaching 28.3 euros per 100 kilowatt-hours, compared to the first half of the year. The price remained nearly unchanged from the second half of 2022.

Similarly, households in the eurozone paid an average of 30 euros for 100 kilowatt-hours of electricity in the latter half of 2023, reflecting a 3.8 percent decrease from the preceding six months. However, compared to the same period in 2022, prices rose by 3.1 percent.

Experts noted that while energy costs stabilized in the first half of the year, they witnessed a decline in the latter half, albeit remaining at elevated levels.

On the gas front, the average price for households in the EU dipped by five percent from July to December, amounting to 11.3 euros per 100 kilowatt-hours, as compared to the initial half of the year. This price remained relatively steady compared to the latter half of 2022.

In the eurozone, gas prices for households saw a 7.6 percent reduction in the latter half of 2023, averaging 12.2 euros for 100 kilowatt-hours. However, they were seven percent higher than the same period in 2022.

The decline in household energy bills reflects market price drops, offsetting the discontinuation of state aid mechanisms, according to Eurostat.

Hungary emerged as the country with the lowest gas and electricity prices in the latter half of 2023. Croatia followed closely, with gas prices increasing by 4.4 percent compared to the first half of the year. Despite this rise, Croatia's prices remained significantly lower than those of other European nations.

 

The recently released results of the Household Budget Survey conducted in 2022 shed light on the spending habits and consumption patterns of households across the nation.

In 2022, the average household expenditure for personal consumption totaled 110,446 kuna per year. The largest portion of this budget, constituting 27.0%, was allocated to expenditures on food and non-alcoholic beverages. Following closely behind were expenses for transport, comprising 15.5%, and housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels, which accounted for 14.5% of the household budget.

Clothing and footwear expenses represented 7.2% of the total, while expenditures foriInformation and communication made up 6.3%, and those for furnishings, household equipment, and routine household maintenance amounted to 6.2%. All other expenditure categories combined contributed less than 5.0% to total household spending.

Household Durables and Amenities

Beyond expenditure data, the survey also collected information on essential household durables. It revealed that in 2022, over 99% of households were equipped with a refrigerator, TV set, and washing machine. Additionally, 78.6% of households owned a car, while 65.1% had a microwave oven, 62.8% possessed a dishwasher, and 55.1% enjoyed the luxury of air-conditioning.

The comprehensive insights provided by the Household Budget Survey offer valuable insights into consumer behavior and lifestyle preferences, informing policymakers and businesses alike.

 

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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