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.
Croatia is an “in” destination with Austrians this year. After the largest Austrian travel fair “Vacations 2018” was held from the 11th to the 14th of January in Vienna the feedback from the exhibition is positive.
The "Vacations 2018" Fair (Ferienmesse) is the largest and most visited tourist fair in Austria, and this year included 850 exhibitors from over eighty countries. Croatia was present with the Croatian National Tourist Board, along with twelve other tourist companies and organisations from Croatia, on a large stand.
"Croatia, Italy and Spain are in fashion this year," commented Helga Freund from the Vienna Tourist Office, marking the fair as a tourist barometer for this year. She added that "Initial reservations from the Austrian market to Croatia confirm the continuation of the upward trend and the interest of media, business partners and visitors was very large."
Croatia was visited by more than 1.4 million tourists from Austria last year, who realized more than 7.6 million overnight stays.
On this day, the 15th of January, 26 years ago the independence of the Republic of Croatia was officially recognised by the members of the European Union. This date is marked as the Day of International Recognition.
On the 15th of January 1992, Croatia was recognised by all of the 12 members of the European Union as well as by Austria, Canada, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Malta, Norway and Switzerland. By the end of January that year Croatia was recognised as an independent country by a total of 44 countries.
Russia recognized Croatia in February, Japan in March, the United States in April, and India in May 1992.
The first country to recognise Croatia as an independent country was Iceland, on the 19 December 1991.
A remake of the 1987 film Masters of the Universe, starring Dolph Lundgren, has been in the planning for a few years and now it seems that it is back on track and filming will start this spring. Several sources state that the film will be directed by David S. Goyer, who directed Blade with Wesley Snipes, and that the film will be released in December 2019.
Dubrovnik could well be in the limelight as reports suggest that the city is in the running as a location for this latest Sony blockbuster. According to Movieweb Masters of the Universe will begin filming in April this year and “It isn't clear where the production will film at this time, but the report suggests Europe is a strong contender since Sony has recently filmed some of its recent larger movies there.”
The new movie is based on the popular Mattel toy line that originated in 1982 and spawned several animated series along with the 1987 action film. The film follows Prince Adam, who transforms into a warrior called He-Man and becomes the last hope for a magical land called Eternia, ravaged by technology and the evil Skeletor.
Sony and Goyer are believed to be in talks on making this remake and that a franchise could be built around a strong first movie. There are even rumours that Dolph Lundren could make a return to the movie, but not as He-Man rather his father King Randor.
“With Game of Thrones and The Last Jedi along with other productions have chosen Dubrovnik, Croatia, which could be a good spot to make Eternia come to life on the big screen,” quotes Movieweb.
So far this latest Dubrovnik based production seems to be on the level of speculation, but the Star Wars franchise certainly brought the city into the spotlight for Hollywood.
He-Man and Skeletor from the Masters of the Universe made a brief, and hilarious, return to the screens together for a range of popular commercials for a UK company last year.
The planned golf course on the Srđ mountain overlooking Dubrovnik is back in the spotlight after the Ministry of Construction and Spatial Planning granted a new location licence on the 21st of December. The licence allows for the construction of two golf course, one 18 hole and one 9 hole, as well as the building of an irrigation system and the reconstruction of the road that leads from the main coastal road to the top of the mountain plateau. The new location licence is valid for two years and covers an area of 310 hectares on the Srd plateau.
Whilst the decision was greeted with satisfaction from the investors several eco-action groups have opposed the news. Green Action from Zagreb and the Dubrovnik based “Srđ je naš” being the most forceful in their protests. “In February 2016 Green Action (Zelene akcije) along with Srđ je naš managed to cancel a location licence for this project. In spite of the previously rejected location permit a new license has been issued for the same project. We will not stop with our critics for this project and will again start a court case against this latest decision,” commented Enes Čerimgić from Green Action.
The Dubrovnik golf project on the Srđ Mountain was first added into the spatial plan in 2001, seventeen years later the golf course is still on hold.
A flu epidemic is washing over Croatia filling hospitals and doctors’ offices in the first weeks of 2018. As of the 7th of January there were 3,845 flu cases registered in Croatia, with the largest number of patients coming from the north of the country, especially around the Zagreb area.
This indicates that we are in the ascending phase of a flu epidemic and it is expected that the epidemic will last for several weeks into February, after which the number of patients will fall gradually, reported the Croatian Institute of Public Health.
In the Dubrovnik – Neretva County in the first week of January there were 188 flu cases recorded.
As in previous seasons, the highest incidence of influenza has been seen with children aged 5 to 14 years old.
The Croatian Institute for Public Health has provided 280,000 doses of flu vaccine for this season. The amount of vaccine was estimated based on the response to vaccination in the previous season.
Dubrovnik General Hospital
Croatia’s economic stability took a small step forwards as the rating agency Fitch raised the rating from BB to BB+ on Friday. Thanks to stable economic growth, a strong tourist season and improving public finances, Croatia’s credit rating has improved for the first time since 2004 and now stands a BB + with “stable prospects.”
"This is great news. We are only one step behind the ranking of “investment rating.” The government’s goal is an economic plan that will bring fiscal consolidation,” commented Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenković, on Friday.
In the new report, Fitch points out that economic growth remained at 3% in 2017, as Croatia benefited from increased EU funding, strong tourism as well as tax reforms. Growth should remain around this level over the next period due to solid labour market dynamics and an increase of EU funds. Fitch expects that inflation should remain low in 2018.
The agency pointed out that, despite improvements, the growth of the economy is still slow compared to comparable countries, reflecting structural economic weaknesses, low investment levels and unfavourable demographic trends.
Real estate prices in Dubrovnik are again on the way up. After a period of stagnation, the property prices, which are by the far the most expensive in the whole of Croatia, have again started to rise and December saw an increase.
According to the specialised Croatian property website, crozilla.com, the average advertised apartment price in Dubrovnik in December 2017 was a staggering 3,519 Euros per metre squared. This price is a 14 percent increase over December in 2016, and a 20 percent increase over 2015.
Dubrovnik and the Dalmatian city of Split saw the largest property price rises in 2017, whilst many houses in the interior of the country actually fell in value. The average price of a metre squared of property in Split was around 2,500 Euros per metre squared in 2017.
And the demand for investing in Dubrovnik seems to be growing at the same pace as the real estate prices rise. “We have a long list of foreign buyers lining up to purchase property in Dubrovnik. However, it is difficult to match the supply to the demand. If you have the right property at the right price it can be sold in a week,” commented a Dubrovnik real estate agent.
Croatia Public Holidays for 2018
1 January - New Year's Day
6 January - Epiphany
2 April - Easter Monday
1 May - Labour Day
31 June - 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