Sunday, 16 January 2022
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

Around 700 tourists stayed in Dubrovnik last week, which is twice as many as the same week from last year. With only two international flights landing at the city’s airport and only a few hotels open it’s hardly surprising that the number of guests isn’t higher. Whilst Zagreb has managed to attract Ryanair and be connected to half of Europe throughout the winter, Dubrovnik on the other hand has reverted to type and is in a winter hibernation.

The most numerous tourists in the city were domestic tourists, followed by guests from the Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the United States, Germany and Russia.

With 700 tourists in Dubrovnik last week this represents only 41 percent of the number of guests from pre-pandemic 2019.

Since the beginning of the year the most numerous tourists in Dubrovnik, in terms of nationality, were from the UK, followed by tourists from the US, Germany, France and Croatians.

 

In the last 24 hours, 3,262 new cases of Covid-19 virus infection were recorded, and the number of active cases in Croatia today is a total of 25,107, the National Civil Protection Headquarters announced.

Among them, 2,436 people are in hospital, of which 319 are on respirators. 60 people died in the past 24 hours.

The number of people in self-isolation is 20,937. A total of 598,591 people have recovered, of which 3,662 recovered in the last 24 hours. To date, a total of 3,522,521 people have been tested, of which 10,244 were tested in the last 24 hours.

As of December 6, 2021 4,266,743 doses of vaccine had been used, and 54.47 percent of the total population and 64.97 percent of the adult population had been vaccinated. On 6.12.2021 17,493 doses of vaccine were used, of which 3,157 people were vaccinated with the first dose.

 

The Women's Bank Walk in Dubrovnik took place on September 5, and the entire campaign lasted three months.

Certainly, it is never too late for good news, especially when it comes to money intended for education and training of women in underdeveloped countries. At the Dubrovnik event, more than 7,800 euros was raised through donations from participants, online donations and contributions from Finnish sponsors, giving 260 women in Asia, Africa and the Middle East a better life. This year a total of 58 cities across Finland, Germany, Belgium, Greece and Croatia (Dubrovnik) participated.

Given that this was the second year in a row that Dubrovnik recorded significant results, Anni Vepsalainen, President of the Management Board of Women's Bank, expressed her gratitude, "Once again congratulations to the organizers of Women's Bank Walk in Dubrovnik, you had a very successful year! It is wonderful to see how your will and effort are appreciated and how the participants of the event recognized it. Thank you all!”

Over 35,000 euros were raised in the entire Women's Bank Walk campaign, which means that thousands of professional educations have been made available to women in underdeveloped countries, which will enable them to ensure a quality life for themselves and their families.

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Let us remind you, for the seventh year in a row, the Women's Bank Walk was held on September 5 with a symbolic walk along Stradun. In front of the Church of St. Blaise, the program was opened by the Finnish Ambassador to Croatia Kalle Kankaanpää, emphasizing that this symbolic march is a small step for all participants, but great for the lives of women in underdeveloped countries.

The charity that launched a symbolic march for women, Women's Bank (Naisten Pankki), was founded in 2007, following the return of a group of Finnish businesswomen from Liberia who were caught in poverty there and decided to help. Since its inception, more than 19.1m euros have been raised to fight poverty. They were based on women and their opportunities for independent work and earning. The idea is to educate them and thus help them earn a living for themselves, because it raises the quality of life of both women and children, and ultimately the entire local community. The support provided by the association reached directly to 80,000 women, and when their families are involved, that means 400,000 beneficiaries in 17 countries, on three continents. All Women's Bank projects are implemented by Finland's largest humanitarian organization, Finn Church Aid.

 

The Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ) has published an interactive vaccination map of the whole of Croatia.

Orange represents a vaccination rate of 30 to 39 percent. A slightly lighter shade of orange represents a split to 40 to 49 percent. The yellow colour is 50 to 59 percent vaccination. And according to the data on the new map the Dubrovnik-Neretva County has 50.02 percent of the population with the first dose and 39.87 with the second dose.

As for the four largest cities, Rijeka and Osijek are the best. Zagreb is at 44.59 percent. Split at 35.5 percent. Rijeka has 47.85 vaccinated inhabitants. Osijek is a little behind, it is at 47.65 percent, and Dubrovnik has 39.94 percent.

The full map can be seen on this link

 

Is it too soon to be thinking about Christmas? Well, not for me, I’ve been thinking about this Christmas for well over a year, in fact it’s been planned for just as long. We are into December and the Dubrovnik Winter festival has started so as far as I’m concerned its already Christmas!

“Why don’t we all get together at Christmas and make it a big family event,” suggested my family back in September of last year. To which my wife answered “That sounds great but who knows what the situation will be at Christmas.” Of course she was thinking about the wrong year. But how time has flown.

There are two main calendar events in the year that the English like to plan months, if not years, in advance. One is the summer holiday, with most bookings in December and January, and the other is Christmas. And yes, my family was talking about planning a huge holiday get-together for Christmas 2021 not 2020.

And planning has been the key word for me. So this is when the dog-lovers will understand me and the rest will be left scratching their heads. We’re driving to England! And the only reason, well the main reason, is that we want to take our dog with us.

We’ll pass over 2,500 kilometres, cross five borders (well seven if you count Neum), drive through six countries, climb over the Alps, stay in three hotels and be sitting behind the wheel for 24 hours, all because we want to take our dog with us.

We could have flown first-class and rented a Ferrari for the ten days for the same price as this road trip will cost. But as dog-lovers will tell you the money is not important. I told you I’d be dividing the dog-lovers from the rest.

Although I do have to say that finding pet-friendly hotels across Europe was considerably easier than locating one in Croatia.

It’s going to be a European Christmas road trip, and yes we’re avoiding both Austria and Germany.

I’ve worked out that I could play Chris Rhea’s “Driving Home for Christmas” a total of 411,000 times on the journey! This would be a monumental trip in normal circumstances, but throw a pandemic into the mix and you have a “real” adventure. To say that the travel situation is chaotic would be an understatement. To PCR or not to PCR, that is the question!

And passing so many borders and so many countries means not only following the situation in the UK but half of Europe. We are all vaccinated, and when I say all I mean our dog, Toto, as well. But out of the blue comes another variant and for the umpteenth time our plans change. Now I can see why so many people didn’t want to travel this summer. However, no pain, no gain. And I’m sure all this hassle will be worth it.

There are many, many things I love about living in Dubrovnik, but Christmas wouldn’t be at the top of my list. There just isn’t the same feel, the same joy and the same spirit that there is in England.

Yes, it’s extremely commercial, and maybe has lost some of the real meaning, but there this that overwhelming “goodwill to all” feeling. And it starts early. Already in September there were festive gifts in the shops and the first Christmas adverts on TV, of course this is just one of the commercial side-effects. Although in recent years I’ve also seen Croatian businesses starting to arrange their festive gifts in November. So am I looking forward to it, oh yeah baby!

We’re going to on the road for a month, from the shores of Lake Como, the snow covered mountains of Switzerland, a chateau in France, the frost-covered English countryside, and that’s just the first week.

Travel is for me the most valuable thing you can do in your life. Travel is about stories, memories and experiences. “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page,” wrote Saint Augustine. I’m looking forward to reading a book full of Christmas cheer.

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

According to the eVisitor tourist check-in and check-out system, there were 9,247 tourist arrivals and 29,057 overnight stays in Dubrovnik in November 2021. This represents 158 percent more arrivals and 101 percent more overnight stays than in November last year.

Foreign tourists realized 6,335 arrivals and 22,822 overnight stays, while domestic tourists realized 2,912 arrivals and 6,235 overnight stays. Compared to the record year of 2019, 35 percent of tourist traffic in overnight stays was realized in November.

Most guests who stayed in Dubrovnik during November were from Croatia, the USA, France, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Germany. According to the type of accommodation, in November there were 6,368 tourist arrivals and 14,899 overnight stays in hotels and 1,776 arrivals and 9,567 overnight stays in private accommodation.

During the first weekend of the Dubrovnik Winter Festival, 1,232 tourists stayed in the city.

Eleven hotels are currently open, and during the winter season Dubrovnik will be connected to Barcelona once a week and Istanbul twice a week, as well as regular domestic flights to Zagreb.

 

This is a Dubrovnik Christmas tradition certainly worth feeling proud of. Every year a certain number of shops along the main street through the historic Old City, Stradun, have their windows decorated with a festive feel by school pupils. Each school takes it in turn to decorate the shop windows and all under the banner of “Advent Calendar on Stradun.”

The decorations began yesterday with the shop window of Bisto a Petit Perić made festive by the kindergarten “izviđač.” The whole event is organised the Marin Držić Home.

The project "Advent Calendar on Stradun", is part of the program of the 8th Dubrovnik Winter Festival, and was designed by the City of Dubrovnik with the idea that the youngest citizens and primary school students complete their creative work by decorating the Stradun and historical core.

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The decoration and decorating of the shop window will continue until December 17, 2021, and the decorating program will take place according to the following schedule - 

Tuesday, December 7, 2021 at 10 am - shop window at Cele / Kindergarten Pile

Tuesday, December 7, 2021 at 5 pm - Algebra window (large bookstore) / Pčelica Kindergarten

Wednesday, December 8, 2021 at 4.30 pm - window of the Dubrovnik Pharmacy (near the bell tower) / Marin Getaldić Elementary School

Thursday, December 9, 2021 at 2 pm - shop window Pharmacy Domus Christi / Elementary school Mokošica

Thursday, December 9, 2021 at 2 pm - window of the Aqua / Montovjerna Elementary School

Monday, December 13, 2021 at 9:30 am - window of OTP bank / Marin Držić Elementary School

Monday, December 13, 2021 at 1:30 pm - Algebra window (small bookstore) / Lapad Elementary School

Friday, December 17, 2021 at 10 am - shop window Pharmacy Dubrovnik (near the bell tower) / Ivan Gundulić Elementary School.

 

A pre-holiday event dedicated to the promotion of Dubrovnik and Croatia brought together the most important media and tourism representatives in the UK.

Organized by the Croatian Tourist Board in London and the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, a promotion of Croatia and the City of Dubrovnik was held at the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in London on Thursday, December 2. On the occasion of presenting Croatian potentials and innovations in the UK, an important tourist market for Croatia and the city of Dubrovnik, the presence of fifty established editors and journalists and agents is proof of the continued interest of the British tourist public and the basis for above average expectations next year.

Following the introductory speeches by the Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to the United Kingdom, HE Igor Pokaz, the Director of the Croatian Tourist Board in London, Darija Reić and the Head of the Communication Tactics Department of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Sandra Milovčević, this specialized event was an additional confirmation of establishment and the recognisability of the diverse tourist offer of the city of Dubrovnik and the large tourist capacities of Croatia on the British market.

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Darija Reić further emphasized the importance of growing diversification and specialization of the Croatian tourist offer in the British media public and expressed satisfaction with the excellent response of the most prominent journalists and editors from the BBC, The Sunday Mail, Guardian, Telegraph and the Independent. "The success of this event and interest all media is proof that Croatia is keeping pace with trends in the UK market, and a wide range of promotional activities will continue to stimulate British interest in the new year and confirm a well-deserved place among the most desirable destinations in the sunny Mediterranean," stated Reić.

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Sandra Milovčević, Head of the Communication Tactics Department of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, confirmed the value of the event in an even stronger positioning of the pearl of the Adriatic, a traditional favourite among British tourists. “The reason is that Dubrovnik is the most visited Croatian destination on the UK market. The reason for this gathering is to thank the British media and tour operators for their commitment, interest and love for the city of Dubrovnik that has lasted for decades, which gives us hope and encouragement for further growth of the destination's visibility in the future,” commented Milovčević.

After the introductory part of the ceremony, a prize draw was held in which Sebastian O'Kelly won, a journalist from the Sunday editions of the Daily Mail, one of the most widely read British media outlets.

In addition to introducing guests to the Croatian tourist offer, the event further convinced the guests of the quality and authenticity of the gastronomic offer with Croatian specialties and Croatian wines with the sounds of Croatian compositions.

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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