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.
As the sun rise over Dubrovnik on the first day of summer, the 21st of June, the melodic tunes of the renowned Croatian cellist Ana Rucner will drift over the Srd mountain. For the fifth year in a row Ana has organised her Welcome to Summer concert at 5am in the morning of the 21st of June, and the date ties in nicely with the World Music Day. This year she will also be joined by the British piano player Oliver Poole for what should be a morning to remember. The Dubrovnik Times caught up with Ana before the big day to discover why Dubrovnik, and the first day of summer, are so special to her.
What can we expect from this year’s Ana in the City Festival?
This year’s festival has only one focus: My traditional concert on Srđ, on the 21st of June, the summer solstice and World Music Day. Oliver Poole, the great British pianist will be my guest, but I have also prepared some surprises for my dear public. I am looking forward to the concert, I am also so happy that there will be also organized public transport to Srđ and back to town - let me thank the City of Dubrovnik for all the support. This concert in beautiful Dubrovnik is always special to me and it is a privilege to play in such a place, surrounded by people who enjoy the music and came to experience something new and special. I promise a great concert and lots of fun.
The festival always has a humanitarian character, who will be the beneficiary of your kindness this year?
This year my concert is a gift to all the people from Dubrovnik and tourists and I will be offering a free entrance on the 21st of June.
How difficult was it to convince Oliver Poole to come back to Dubrovnik?
Oliver had a concert in Dubrovnik last year and he was very enthusiastic about the City, it’s beauty and he was very happy when I invited him to join me again this year. We are preparing something special and practicing a lot which is a real challenge as he is in London so we have made a lot of our rehearsals via Skype. These days we will also record a new song and video and I believe our public will love it.
What are the symbolic reasons for you connected to the Welcome to Summer performance?
Welcome to Summer is my idea, and while thinking of concert on summer solstice Dubrovnik was the first one that came to mind, as a special place with beautiful sun rises. Each sunrise is in a way a new cycle, new life, new beginning of the new day. It symbolizes for me happiness of greeting summer, as the most cheerful and relaxed season, but also new challenges and opportunities. The sun is also symbol of life and power and a great reason for celebration.
Classical music is having a renaissance period, mainly connected to the fusion of modern and classic music, do you believe this is a positive step and how do you see yourself in this modern movement?
Thanks to many enthusiasts playing classical music, like my parents in their quartet Rucner, there are more and more people listening to it. But it is very interesting to show many “faces” of classical music and one of them is also crossover or fusion which specially attracts younger people and it is a great way to showcase classical music in a less “serious” way. Each step, promoting classical music and its beauty is a positive step.
Do you have a message for the audience before the festival begins?
I warmly invite everybody to join us on Srđ on the 21st of June at 5 am, we will prepare a real show, you'll enjoy it and experience a really special and unique morning and the beauty of the sun rising.
Tickets for almost seventy drama, music, ballet and other programs in the 67th Dubrovnik Summer Festival have gone on sale at the box office on the ground floor at the Festival Palace at Sigurate 1. The ticket office will be open every day from 10am to 6pm, and then from the 1st of July, from 9am to 9:30pm.
The 67th Dubrovnik Summer Festival is the highlight of the cultural calendar in Dubrovnik and always offers a world class and international program. From the 10th of July to the 25th of August Dubrovnik enjoys 47 days of more than eighty performances.
Croatia played their second group game yesterday against the Czech Republic in the Euro 2016 and despite having a two goal lead the game finished in a draw 2 – 2. The atmosphere in Dubrovnik was electric and the fans go behind their team.
Check out our photo gallery by Niksa Duper for a taste of the action in Dubrovnik.
Regardless of the European Football Championship in France this year, Croatian is having a great June in terms of tourist arrivals with some estimates predicting that 1.7 million foreign tourists will visit.
Only those who haven’t planned well or have made some bad business decisions regarding pricing and quality can use the football as an excuse for their lack of guests, agreed travel professionals. Moreover, in the world of tourism Croatia has become famous for its open-air screens used to watch football matches. Foreign tourists who love football see that as an advantage if they happen to be on their holiday in Croatia during big matches.
‘’The European Football Championship does not affect tourist sales or reservations for the Adriatic at all. Football is the main topic now but it certainly does not affect the tourism industry in any serious way. Those who have already planned their holiday in Croatia in June will certainly come regardless of the Euro in France. Very few football fans will miss their vacation in other countries due to their trip to France. The month of June is always attractive for its significantly lower prices and our hoteliers, restaurant and café bar owners have already made sure that each guest will be able to watch all the football matches on the big screens in the open. The world has already recognised us as ‘’a football nation’’ so every football fan knows that he will not be deprived of enjoyment in watching all football matches broadcasted live’’, says Boris Zgomba the president of the Association of Croatian Travel Agencies (UHPA).
According to the data of the tourist reservations for June the most numerous guests in Croatia are from Germany (around 250,000) followed by Slovenians, Austrians, Italians and Czechs.
On the other hand, there might be ‘’a lack’’ of domestic guests in the Adriatic in June. Usually most of them would combine two public holidays in June into a small vacation and spend their long weekends somewhere along the coastline but this year they have opted for France to support their national football team. According to some travel agencies almost all travel arrangements that have been put on sale are completely sold out but there still might be a few seats left on some of the charter flights from Zagreb to France.
Dubrovnik is red and white when Croatia plays / Photo Niksa Duper
''In the first five months of this year Zagreb has achieved an increase of tourist arrivals by 6 per cent and 12 per cent more overnight stays than last year. Considering many events and the growing popularity of Zagreb on the foreign markets this year we expect achieving, or at least reaching, the number of 2 million overnight stays'', commented Martina Bienenfeld the director of the Zagreb Tourist Board.
According to the words of Bienenfled the tourist situation in Zagreb is going well, the trend of a significant increase in tourist arrivals and overnight stays has continued from year to year but this positive trend cannot be expected to happen continuously in the future due to somewhat limited accommodation. ''Our activities on the foreign markets promote Zagreb as a ''city break'' destination i.e. a destination for short urban holidays with a new offer every month and interesting events attractive for locals and tourists'', commented Bienenfeld in her interview for Hina.
''The “InMusic” festival in June and Advent in December are the two most important events for tourism in Zagreb and this year they will be even better and more diversified than ever before. However, there are also hundreds of smaller events, street festivals, fairs and events throughout the year that with their variety and quality also attract large number of tourists and locals'', said Martina Bienenfeld.
The Zagreb Tourist Board has supported financially, and in many other ways, almost all events that have been organised in the city and is proud to participate in numerous projects that encompass creative industries, culture and tourism. An active participation of Zagreb citizens in the making of the tourist product has been very important for the Tourist Board because it is one of the foundations of destination management in tourism.
''If citizens accept our projects then we are already half way to a success and then we can promote these projects on the targeted foreign markets. This is real destination management'', concluded Bienenfeld.
Korčula hosts numerous cultural events in the summer: exhibitions, concerts, theatre performances, promotions and the Korčula Sword Dance Festival; also the Korkyra Baroque Festival which attracts musicians of world repute. The ancient sword dance of Moreška, an officially protected intangible cultural heritage of the Republic of Croatia, has been performed in Korčula for more than 400 years. Two kings and their armies fight for a beautiful girl (Bula) in a dramatic seven-figure dance accompanied by a wind orchestra.
The Moreška sword dance summer performances are performed through June every Thursday at 9pm and then through July and August twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays at 9pm. In September the Moreška sword dance is again held once a week, on Thursdays at 9 pm, for more information on the events in Korčula visit http://www.visitkorcula.eu/events.html
One of the biggest events in the Korčula calendar is the Sword Dance Festival, which traditionally holds its opening ceremony on the 17th of June at 8:00 pm in the town of Korčula. All of the Korčula island sword dance groups will perform at this interesting festival, including Moštra, Kumpanija and the Moreška sword dance. It is truly a magical night. The Festival of Sword Dances was started in 1997 by the Korčula Tourist Board with the goal of promoting all of the different sword dances that are cherished throughout the island. Over the years since that first festival the event has gone and is now one of the most important dates on the Korčula event calendar. This year there will also be a guest performance by a sword dancing group from the island of Lastovo “Lastovski poklad.”
A swarm of bees collected on the front balcony of The Pucic Palace Hotel this morning and soon proved a tourist attraction as passersby snapped the odd scene. The bees, for some unknown reason, swarmed together and hung off the stone facade of this five-star hotel in the heart of the Old City.
It was left to the professionals to solve the problem as beekeepers were called to catch the swarm and take them to a new home. The beekeeper didn’t bat an eyelid as he scooped up the bees and the moment was caught by our photographer Zeljko Tutnjevic.
''Around 18 per cent of the total number of unemployed citizens registered in Croatia or 50,000 people have gained qualifications to work in the tourism industry but the hoteliers are still short of around 30,000 employees for this summer season'', it was said yesterday at a round table ''Human capital in the hotel industry'' which was organised in the Hotel Westin by the Association of Employers in Croatian Hospitality (UPUHH).
The biggest demand is for support staff such as chefs, waiters, maids and even animators. However, unemployed prefer their status quo i.e. to be registered with the employment Bureau because they do not want to lose their permanent compensation over a few months of season job.
''We have indicated this problem already in April and gathered together on time to ensure the labour force for this tourist season but it hasn't been solved yet, it's only in the beginning. It is important to remark that Croatia has unemployed personnel in the tourist profession and we have to find the best way to mobilize and involve them in the work process'', said Bozica Lapic the assistant of Antun Kliman the Croatian Minister of Tourism.
According to the words of Mario Bebic the assistant of the Croatian Minister of Labour the Employment Bureau has already been involved in this situation with a pilot project of finding seasonal workers and designated a professional as a contact person for key employers in the Croatian hospitality. Also the funds for retraining and fast training especially for chefs and waiters have already been ensured in order to make Croatia fully prepared for the next summer season.