Monday, 06 July 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.

Email: mark.thomas@dubrovnik-times.com

British Airways have announced the return of flights to Croatia from this July. Three Croatian destinations will receive flights from British Airways, Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik. According to an article on Croatian Aviation British Airways had planned flights to Croatia at one point even for June, this did not happen, mainly due to restrictions imposed by the UK government.

At the moment, 14 days of self-isolation after arrival in the UK is still mandatory, but companies based in this country are putting pressure on the authorities to lift this restriction, which would greatly facilitate the re-establishment of air traffic. The UK government have already stated that they will review the self-isolation regulation on the 29th of June.

According to current information, British Airways intends to launch three routes to Croatia from July, to Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik, with flights from Heathrow and Gatwick.

This will be a much needed shot in the arm for Croatia’s tourism industry, not least for Dubrovnik where traditionally UK tourists are the most numerous. BA have announced that they will fly to Dubrovnik from the 16th of July, three times a week, on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, from London Gatwick. This is much less than they flew last year, when the airline operated 11 flights a week to Dubrovnik, but nevertheless these flights will still open up Dubrovnik to UK tourists.

 

 

BA have announced a similar flight schedule for the capital, Zagreb, with three flights a week, from the 9th of July, on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. And from London Heathrow to Split, from the 9th of July, on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.

And BA isn’t the only UK airline to restart flights to Europe and Croatian destinations, EasyJet, Jet2.com and others all look set to restart flights in July. Of course a lot will depend on the future decision of the UK government and whether they decided to lift the 14-day self-isolation regulation. This regulation was introduced on the 8th of June and was heavily opposed by the UK travel industry. The regulation means that all those arriving in the UK, including British citizens, have to declare an address where they will self-isolate for two weeks, with those who fail to do so facing a fine.

 

According to the eVisitor tourist check-in and check-out system, there were 4,253 overnight stays in Dubrovnik last weekend, from 12 to 15 June, and as of 13 June, 1,303 tourists stayed in Dubrovnik, mostly from Croatia and Germany.

During the mentioned period, 2,070 overnight stays were realized in hotel accommodation, 1,426 in private accommodation, while a smaller number of overnight stays were realized in other forms of accommodation. Currently, 14 hotels and a little more than fifty restaurants are open in the city, and yesterday, with the landing of the first flight of Air Baltic, with 96 passengers on a flight from Riga, international air traffic to Dubrovnik was re-established.

A special promotional campaign of the City of Dubrovnik and the Tourist Board of the City of Dubrovnik began on June 15, which includes numerous discounts and benefits for all visitors to the city of Dubrovnik, and lasts until the end of June. With a big discounts on ticket prices for the iconic City Walls and the Lokrum Reserve, many hotels, private renters, travel agencies and restaurants offer their services at reduced prices.

Free entrance for all visitors is offered by the Trsteno Arboretum, Lazareti, the Homeland War Museum and the Dubrovnik Museums (Cultural and Historical Museum in the Rector's Palace, Maritime Museum in St. John's Fortress, Ethnographic Museum in the Rupa granary, exhibitions of the Archaeological Museum in the Revelin Fortress), the Home of Marin Drzic and the Dubrovnik Art Gallery. Dubrovnik museums have new opening hours and the institutions will be open from 10:00 to 18:00 from Tuesday to Sunday.

 

The 71st Dubrovnik Summer Festival will be held this year from 10 July to 25 August as previously announced, but in a reduced form due to epidemiological measures against COVID-19 currently in force in Croatia and worldwide as well as to financial consequences of the pandemic. The festival audiences of all generations will be presented with nearly fifty theatre, music, dance, folklore and other performances on more than ten site-specific locations and stages in Dubrovnik.

The 71st Dubrovnik Summer Festival opening ceremony, directed by Marina Pejnović, will take place at the Old City Port on Friday, 10 July. On this occasion, the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra will be conducted by Tomislav Fačini and they will be joined by the Croatian Radio and Television Jazz Orchestra which will be conducted by Miron Hauser and pianist Aljoša Jurinić, mezzo-soprano Dubravka Šeparović Mušović and saxophonist Ivan Bonačić, with participation of the Festival Drama Ensemble and Linđo Folklore Ensemble.

Theatre programme of the 71st Dubrovnik Summer Festival brings the premiere of Marin Držić’s Grižula directed by Saša Božić and Petra Hrašćanec and performed by the Festival Drama Ensemble in collaboration with the Zagreb Academy of Dramatic Art as part of the Future Epics project co-funded by the EU Creative Europe programme. The play will be performed in Gradac Park. Dubrovnik Mirrors is a peripatetic play based on the poetry of Dubrovnik’s past and present poets and its main scenes will be performed on three different locations. It is directed by Dora Ruždjak Podolski in collaboration with Marina Pejnović, while Hrvoje Ivanković is the dramaturge and author of the text, bringing together a number of artists that have shaped the history of the festival throughout the years as well as young independent artists supported and promoted by the festival. Mara and Kata is the title of a project inspired by Radio Dubrovnik’s legendary show At Home With the Gossipmongers. The play is written and directed by Saša Božić and performed by Doris Šarić Kukuljica and Nataša Dangubić. After last year’s success of productions for children, this year the youngest festival audiences can look forward to the musical stage play The Golden Book which will present fairy tales from the Dubrovnik area on the playground of Collegium Ragusinum. Co-produced by the Dubrovnik Summer Festival and Marin Držić Theatre with the support of the Caboga Stiftung Foundation, the play is directed by Helena Petković and Ivan Končić is the author of music, which will be performed under the baton of Franko Klisović.

The Festival also brings two productions of the City Puppet Theatre Split, Home Dwellers by Ana Marija Veselčić, co-produced with the Split Art Academy, and Goga the Millipede based on Adrijana Grgičević’s text, co-produced with the Poco Loco Theatre. Both plays will be performed in the atrium of the Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik. European project Future Epics brings visiting performances of the dance production Embrace choreographed by Meleat Fredriksson and produced by the Vytlicke Centre for Performing Arts from Sweden, in which dancers explore ‘black’ or ‘African view’ as a way of questioning dominant values within the western society, and the play Intimacy, authored by Biljana Srbljanović and Andrej Nosov, produced by the Heartefact Fund from Belgrade. The Festival audiences will also have the opportunity to enjoy another two visiting hit productions in Gradac Park: Bobo Jelčić’s Three Sisters based on Chekhov, performed by the Croatian National Theatre of Zagreb, and  produced by Ulysses Theatre and Belgrade Drama Theatre and directed by Lenka Udovički with Rade Šerbedžija in the leading role. A performance Marta and Seven Fears by the KunstTeatar from Zagreb will be held in cooperation with the Split Summer Festival, as well as the performance Up and Up by Dance Ensemble Company from Zagreb in cooperation with the Croatian Dance Network.

wolf dubrovnik vifginia

Who is Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

The staples of the 71st Dubrovnik Summer Festival’s music programme are distinguished Croatian musicians, winners of prestigious international awards and contests, and the programme opens on 11 July with Aljoša Jurinić’s piano recital in the Rector’s Palace Atrium. Apart from being one of Croatia’s most promising young musicians and the winner of the Vladimir Nazor Award in 2015 and Milka Trnina Award in 2017, Aljoša Jurinić is also the winner of the prestigious Robert Schumann Competition for Pianists, finalist of the 17th International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw and laureate of the Queen Elisabeth Competition in 2016, while last year he won the Orlando Award for his performance with cellist Luka Šulić at the 70th Dubrovnik Summer Festival. Trio Eusebius, the winner of the 16th Ferdo Livadić Competition for Young Musicians, composed of violinist Eva Šulić, cellist Tonka Javorović and pianist David Vuković, will also perform at the Festival, while Dalibor Cikojević and Zrinka Ivančić piano duo will perform Papandopulo’s dance suite Horoscope at the Rector’s Palace accompanied by percussionists Karmen Pervitić and Fran Krsto Šercar with participation of young dancers Viktorija Bubalo and Šimun Stankov. Members of the Papandopulo Quartet, saxophonists Nikola Fabijanić, Goran Tudor, Goran Jurković and Tomislav Žužak, are dedicated to promoting contemporary music, especially young Croatian and international composers and their concert will be held on St John’s Fort this summer. The concert of the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra and pianist Marijan Đuzel in Gradac Park under the baton of young Italian-Turkish conductor Nil Venditti will be a true musical treat as the programme includes Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto and Symphony No. 1.

This year’s music programme also includes an evening of chamber music dedicated to Dubrovnik’s musicians entitled Dubrovnik on a Rock of Music, created in collaboration between the Festival and Caboga Stiftung Foundation. Renowned musicians, mezzo-soprano Janja Vuletić and guitarist Maroje Brčić will premiere a piece by Zoran Juranić in the Rector’s Palace Atrium, while the 71st Dubrovnik Summer Festival will be closed with a spectacular concert of the Croatian Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra, conducted by maestro Ivo Lipanović, and world-renowned opera stars, soprano Lana Kos and baritone Željko Lučić. The closing concert is supported by Mastercard and it will take place in front of the Cathedral on 25 August.

Rich Croatian folk dance and music heritage will be presented by the Linđo Folklore Ensemble in Gradac Park and FA Linđo traditional female vocal group, who will be celebrating their twentieth anniversary with performance in the Rector’s Palace Atrium. Other Festival programmes include screening of the winner of the Pula Film Festival at Jadran Open-Air Cinema and film screenings and lectures entitled A Taste of Cinema at the Bunić-Kaboga Summer Villa, as well as exhibitions of Dubrovnik artists Ivana Selmani and Viktor Daldon in the Sponza Palace Atrium.

- Considering the fact that we created the programme of the 71st Dubrovnik Summer Festival in 2019 and that it was finished and presented to the public before the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to postpone most of the visiting performances and performances of foreign artists planned as part of the music, theatre and dance programme for 2021 and modify the programme to accommodate domestic artists, both musicians and theatre artists, at the same time taking into account employment of socially disadvantaged groups, including young unemployed artists, students of music academies, independent artists – Artistic Director Dora Ruždjak Podolski pointed out presenting this year’s new, modified programme of Croatia’s greatest and most significant festival.

- Budget plan for the 71st Dubrovnik Summer Festival is reduced by almost 70% compared to last year’s budget and amounts to barely over 6 million kuna. As expected, the festival will have to be held this year without the financial support of tourist boards, without programme funds from the budget of the City of Dubrovnik and with considerably reduced funds from sponsors, donors and ticket income, thus we especially thank to the Ministry of Culture, Caboga Stiftung and to Mastercard, because without their support realization of this year’s Festival wouldn’t be possible. Reduced budget affects both the programme and organisational aspects of the festival, but the fact that the festival will take place at all is a big success. In a globally insecure situation due to which numerous festivals were cancelled all over Europe, it is important to be able to send the world a message of perseverance, optimism and confidence in a better future from Dubrovnik this summer – Executive Director Ivana Medo Bogdanović pointed out.

Dubrovnik Summer Festival will comply with all recommendations for preventing the spread of COVID-19 disease during all festival events, and the public will be informed on all details on time. The online ticket sales are expected to start on June 24, and the box office in the Festival Palace (Od Sigurate 1) will open on July 1.

 

Once again the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County have announced that there are no new cases of Covid-19 in the county.

The remaining samples sent to Zagreb on Sunday have all come back negative, and 16 samples were sent for analysis on Monday, of which 3 were negative and the rest are being processed.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 3,304 samples have been sent to Zagreb for analysis.

There is not a single person in self-isolation across the county.

The headquarters of the Civil Protection Headquarters continues to appeal to citizens to adhere to all prescribed measures by the Croatian Institute of Public Health and the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia.

 

And so it begins! The first international airplane to land at Dubrovnik Airport since the Covid-19 pandemic began touched down yesterday. With the internal EU borders easing some restrictions yesterday, the 15th of June, the first regular international flights landed at Dubrovnik Airport, an Air Baltic flight from Riga carrying on board 96 passengers, or in other words 96 potential tourists.

“This is a good signal for the start-up of touristic season in the Dubrovnik region,” commented the director of the Dubrovnik Airport, Frano Luetic, on his social media account along with a video of the landing.

Dubrovnik Airport resumed operations on May 11 after it was closed to civil air traffic since March 19 due to the Covid-19 outbreak. However, since that opening it has only been receiving flights from Zagreb from Croatia Airlines, so yesterday was a historic day.

Air Baltic also announced the Riga - Dubrovnik route, twice a week, every Monday and Thursday.

 

The latest tourist figures make for pretty grim reading for the tourism industry of Dubrovnik as there are currently 90 percent fewer guests in the region compared to last year.

There are currently 3,887 tourists in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, of which 3,338 are registered in commercial accommodation and 549 in non-commercial.

The vast majority of these guests, around 10 percent the number registered the same day from last year, are staying in the private accommodation, just over 2,000. Whilst the hotels of the county have around 900 registered guest and the campsites around 360.

The lack of tourists, and indeed flights from the UK and the US, is one of the largest factors for the drop off in tourists, although as both of these countries are still fighting the Covid-19 pandemic we are unlikely to see many tourists from these countries for a few weeks at least.

The most numerous tourists in the Dubrovnik- Neretva County are in fact Croatians, followed by tourists from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Austria.

 

The weather might not be as warm as it usually is at this time of the year, with the first day of summer just around the corner, and the sun has yet to have warmed the Adriatic Sea as it should but the sea in the Dubrovnik – Neretva County is clean and clear.

During the summer season the Public Health Institute of the Dubrovnik – Neretva County regularly checks the quality of the sea water on the 120 beaches across the county. In this second testing, carried out between the 1st and the 12th of June, 119 beaches of the 120 checked had sea water of passed the test and that complies with the standards set. Only one beach, Prižba on the island of Korčula, failed to pass the rigorous tests, however after further testing the and samples taken on the 11th of June the beach passed.

Of the other 119 beaches, the sea on 118 beaches was rated as a sea of excellent quality, and the sea on the beach of the Hotel Dubrovnik Palace was rated as good quality.

The sea might be crystal, clear in Dubrovnik but it isn’t as warm as it usually is at this time of the year. The current sea temperature is a fresh 21 degrees.

 

Croatia Airlines will ask the state for financial assistance to the tune of 700 million kuna, which should be enough for the company to overcome the drop in turnover due to coronavirus pandemic and for further development of the fleet in order to be competitive on the market, write Jutarnji List on Monday.

Croatia Airlines estimates that the loss at the end of the year could be around HRK 150 million. For comparison, the loss at the end of last year amounted to HRK 79.3 million. The remaining HRK 550 million, according to the recommendation of financial advisors who worked on finding a strategic partner, should be invested in the further development of the fleet.

According to unofficial information, the Government is ready to cover the losses of the national airline with state financial aid, but it will be decided how much it will be after the elections.

Although it is unprofitable, some still believe that the pandemic has shown that the national airline is an important strategic resource in crisis situations. Ownership of CA enabled the Government to mobilize its planes for the needs of emergency transport of humanitarian aid and other cargo, and its planes evacuated some soldiers from Afghanistan. Also, only CA planes flew at the time of the most restrictive measures, making it easier for Croatian citizens to return from abroad. Furthermore, one month after the easing of measures at Croatian airports, only CA planes flying on domestic and foreign routes are still present, and without them the airports would still be closed.

Although CA is announcing the gradual opening of new lines with an emphasis on departures from Split, Zadar and Pula, ticket reservations for the summer months are extremely poor. Based on current bookings, at the end of June CA will perform only 30 scheduled flights, and the drop in bookings for the rest of the summer is more than 50 percent. But CA is hoping the situation could improve somewhat as tickets are now being bought a few days before the flight, not like months ago.

 

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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