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.
2015 was a bumper year for the Croatian tourism industry. According to the latest figures from the Ministry of Tourism over 14 million tourists visited Croatia last year. In total 14 million and 150 thousand tourists decided to spend their holidays in Croatia in 2015 which is 8.3 percent more than 2014. A massive 78.5 million overnight stays were achieved in 2015, an increase of 6.8 percent over 2014. Of the 14 million tourists in Croatia in 2015 12.7 million were foreign visitors.
“The great results from last year are certainly an outcome of good performance of the private as well as public sector, the synergy in our activities, the increase in investment, and good marketing activities,” commented the Minister of Tourism, Darko Lorencin.
The leading Croatian region in terms of overnight stays was Istria with a total of 23 million and 600 thousand overnight stays, followed by Split with 14.6 million and Kvarner with 13.2 million. The Dubrovnik-Neretva County realised 6.7 million overnight stays in 2015 with 1.5 million tourists visiting the region.
The most numerous guests to Croatia, in terms of nationality, were from Germany, Slovenia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Hungary.
“The excellent results that were achieved in 2015 make us very proud, because they are, amongst other things, a result of our activities,” said the director of the Croatian National Tourist Board, Ratomir Ivicic. “From these results it is clear that the advertising and PR that we carried out was justified,” he concluded.
Get to know more about Dubrovnik quickly with this A to Z guide
Adriatic – Dubrovnik has one of the most spectacular coastlines in the world with the crystal, clear Adriatic Sea sparkling
Banje – the most famous beach in the city is the Banje beach located just outside of the historic old city walls
Cable car – take a ride to the top of the Srđ Mountain and experience breathtaking views over the Old City
Dubrovnik Summer Festival – formed in 1950 the festival fills the streets and squares of the old city from the 10th of July to the 25th of August
Elaphite – Dubrovnik’s islands in the sun, the Elaphite islands are an archipelago of three larger islands and ten smaller ones
Folklore – the Linđo folklore ensemble are one of the most famous in Croatia and perform twice a week in Lazareti through the summer months
Gir – really this should be spelt Đir, but anyway one of the pastimes of the locals is to gir up and down the Stradun. A gir is basically a promenade or stroll taking the times to meet and greet friends.
Hotels – with its long traditional and history of tourism Dubrovnik has a wide array of hotels from two-star to luxury five-star
Ivo Vojnović – born in Dubrovnik in 1857, Vojnović is one of Croatia’s most popular and respected authors
Jug – Dubrovnik’s waterpolo club “Jug” was formed in 1923 and have won the Croatian league ten times and the Croatian cup ten times as well as the European Championship three times
Klapa – is a form of traditional Croatian a capella singing, The word klapa translates as “a group of people” and traces its roots to littoral church singing.
Lokrum – located just 600 metres from the old city walls the island of Lokrum is an oasis of Mediterranean flora and fauna
Marin Držić – the bard of Dubrovnik, Držić is often compared to William Shakespeare and his works are regularly performed in the Dubrovnik Summer Festival
Napoleon – the entry of Napoleon’s army in 1806 signalled the end of the Dubrovnik Republic. The Imperial fortress overlooking the old city on the Srđ Mountain was built in honour of Napoleon
Ombla – the river Ombla, unofficially the shortest river in the world, has been Dubrovnik’s source of fresh water for centuries
Picigin – originally from Split this summer sport is played in the sea shallows and the aim of the game is to keep a small ball in the air
Queen Elizabeth 2 – Dubrovnik is a magnet for cruise ships and the luxurious Cunard ship Queen Elizabeth 2 is a regular guest to the city’s waters (it was tough finding a Q)
Rector – during the time of the Dubrovnik Republic the Rector ruled and run the city with a mandate of only six months. The Rector’s Palace is one of the landmarks of the old city today
Stradun – the main street through the centre of the old city of Dubrovnik, the Stradun is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful streets in the world
Tramway – for sixty years, from 1910 to 1970, Dubrovnik had a public tramway system that operated from the old city to Gruž harbour and Lapad
University – Dubrovnik is a university city with both private and public institutions including courses in tourism, media, diplomacy and nautical studies
Vlaho – St. Vlaho, or St. Blaise, is the patron saint of Dubrovnik and a the St. Vlaho Church dominates the centre of the old city
Walls – the Dubrovnik City Walls encompass the entire city and are a symbol of Dubrovnik. They stretch for 1,941 metres and include various fortresses, bastions and towers.
Yacht – Dubrovnik is a popular destination for the yachting world and the ACI marina is always busy through the summer months
Last year was a record breaking one for Dubrovnik Airport, with more flights than ever before and more passengers passing through the airport, and one of the most important airlines was the UK low cost easyJet. The popular airline has just released figures showing that they handled over 600,000 passengers on their flights to Croatia in 2015, with Dubrovnik one of their most frequent destinations. In fact in 2015 easyJet was the second busiest carrier operating out of Dubrovnik, behind only the national carrier Croatia Airlines.
“More than 600.000 passengers travelled to and from Croatia with easyJet,” commented the airline's spokesperson, Matteo Taddei. Adding that in 2015 the airline launched eight new routes including their first ever flights to Istria. And easyJet is planning an even bigger presence in the Croatian market for 2016. Four new routes have been announced for this year, Pula to Hamburg and Paris and Dubrovnik to Bristol and Toulouse. The introduction of the seasonal Bristol to Dubrovnik flights now means that easyJet operate to four different airports in Great Britain. “At last we can fly to Dubrovnik without having to drive up to London,” commented a regular guest to Dubrovnik from the South-West of England.
As yet easyJet is still only flying to Dubrovnik throughout the summer period. However the airline is seeing positive results from Croatia and might yet introduce winter flights. “easyJet currently offers as many as 32 destinations to and from Croatia confirming the airline’s commitment to the country and to making travel easy and affordable for local passengers to connect to Europe," said Ali Gayward, easyJet’s UK Commercial Manager.
During the peak travel month of August, easyJet offers almost as many seats as Croatia Airlines from the country, with 21.960 seats offered in August 2015, compared to the Croatian carrier's 23.192. In addition, during the year, easyJet was the second busiest carrier operating out of Dubrovnik, behind only Croatia Airlines.
The first mention of the island of Lokrum in writing came in 1023, in connection with founding the Benedictine Abbey and monastery.
The famous Columbus crew in 1492 had at least two Dubrovnik mariners.
In 1296 Dubrovnik had a sewer system.
Dubrovnik's 1395 Insurance Law is the oldest in Europe. This law is three centuries older than Lloyd's insurance, London.
Dubrovnik was visited by Agatha Christie on her second honeymoon.
In the area surrounding Dubrovnik around 300 summer residencies were built. Today, unfortunately, only a small number are in good condition.
In the summer of 1936 King Edward VIII came to Croatia on the yacht Nahlin, with Wallis Simpson, whom he later abdicated to marry.
In the 16th century Dubrovnik had a fleet of 200 larger ships, which grew to 300 in the 18th century. Around 1780 the ships from Dubrovnik sailed to New York, Baltimore etc.
The first hospital (Domus Christi) in Dubrovnik was opened in 1347. The Dubrovnik Senate recognized it as the hospital in 1540.
Dubrovnik had the oldest arboretum in Europe – Trsteno, founded in 1498, with many rare plants.
British theatre director Peter Brook directed Hamlet in Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik had in 1438 its first aqueduct. It was built by the Italian constructor Onofrio della Cava, and brought water to the town from springs 12 km away by a system of canals.
The Dubrovnik Republic had as many as 85 consulates in various seaports throughout the Mediterranean, and diplomatic representatives in Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, Vienna, Paris and London.
The Dubrovnik galleon Argosy is mentioned in two Shakespeare's plays: "Merchant of Venice" and "Taming the Shrew".
In 1377 Dubrovnik had the first quarantine in Europe.
Dubrovnik Summer Festival has been included in the calendar of world festivals since 1956.
English poet Lord Byron named Dubrovnik the "pearl of the Adriatic".
The book 101 Dalmatians was written by British author Dodie Smith and published in 1956.
The 1667 earthquake destroyed parts of Dubrovnik killing many of its inhabitants.
The first operational lift in Dubrovnik was in Hotel Imperial, now Hilton Imperial.
Once again Dubrovnik will be a magnet for cruise ships with 491 expected to arrive this year carrying with them around 803,000 passengers. This figure is an increase of three percent over last year and a one percent decrease in the number of passengers. The main cruise ship season will start in mid-March, which is twenty years earlier than last year, and will continue all the way into the middle of December, meaning that the season will be extended a month on last year.
The Port of Dubrovnik will, for the second year running, be the home port for the Thomson Cruises and passengers for Thomson Celebration will embark and disembark in the city. Being a home port brings in extra financial benefits as well as the opportunity for passengers to spend some time in Dubrovnik hotels, so called cruise and stay.
Three new cruise ships will dock in Dubrovnik in 2016, Viking Sea, Konigsdam and Carnival Vista.
The Dubrovnik City Card has been a popular addition to the tourism scene in the city since its introduction a few years ago. The card offers entrance into museums and attractions, discounts at shops and restaurants, bus rides and much more. Now the analogue technology of the card has been given a new lease of life with a digital version. A team of young Dubrovnik digital wizards have created a new modern extension of the Dubrovnik City Card with an interactive application. Andrej Saric, Dzivo Jelic and Ivan Brcic are the team of masterminds behind the latest Dubrovnik application.
“The idea of the application is to improve the offer of Dubrovnik Card in a way that there is no need for a paper brochure but users have all the necessary information within the application,” commented Saric. Adding that this new application will make the Dubrovnik City Card even more attractive to the younger generation which is more inclined to a “smart phone world.”
The idea behind the project all started at a start-up event held by the Development Agency of Dubrovnik (DURA) in April of last year. The event, entitled Hackathon, was aimed at encouraging the development of IT start-up projects with a view for young entrepreneurs to start their own businesses.
“Our idea and prototype won second place at the Hackathon and we therefore, with the help of DURA started with the development of the application. After about six to seven months we had managed to make the final product,” said Saric.
The beauty behind the new application is its ease of use. In just a few clicks the user can discover all the information needed and it is laid out in a very visible way. The application displays all the information about the offers of the Dubrovnik City Card, the restaurants, night clubs, spa centres with a particular emphasis on the cultural attractions of Dubrovnik. And with the help of Bluetooth and GPS the user is notified of the cultural attractions of the city was walking around.
“We hope that everyone will be satisfied and that we get good feedback. The application has been online for just over three weeks and we have an Android and IOS version,” said Saric. “We plan to release a Windows version in the coming month so that we can cover all of the platforms,” he concluded.
The new Dubrovnik City Card application can be found either via a QR code on the card itself or on promotional leaflets throughout the city.
Croatia Public Holidays for 2016
1 January - New Year's Day
6 January - Epiphany
27 March - Easter Sunday
28 March - Easter Monday
1 May - Labour Day
26 May - Corpus Christi
22 June - Anti-Fascist Resistance Day
25 June - Statehood Day
5 August - Victory & Homeland Thanksgiving Day
15 August - Assumption of the Virgin Mary
8 October - Independence Day
1 November - All Saints' Day
25 December - Christmas Day
26 December - St. Stephen's Day
The renowned UK newspaper The Telegraph has placed Hotel Mlini in Zupa on a list of the best beach hotels in the Mediterranean for 2016. The travel section of The Telegraph states that Hotel Mlini is “overlooking a turquoise cove with a pebble beach, the chic interior design, by London architects Scott Brownrigg, draws inspiration from the blues and greens of Dalmatia, giving the 85 rooms and restaurant a fresh and easy-going seaside atmosphere.”
With hotels in Spain, Greece, Majorca, Turkey and the French Riviera there are also four hotels along the Croatian Adriatic coastline. Hotel Mlini was completely renovated last year and is now one of the most impressive boutique hotels in the Dubrovnik region. And The Telegraph was obviously impressed with the interior of the hotel, “The main feature in each bedroom is a large canvas on the wall above the bed, depicting a hazy seascape in emerald-green and turquoise-blue.”
Hotel Mlini is part of the Dubrovnik Riviera Hotel group which also includes Hotel Astarea and Sheraton Dubrovnik Riviera.