Monday, 19 August 2019
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

Dubrovnik Airport was the 134th busiest airport in Europe in the first six months of 2019. Airports Council International (ACI) have released figures for the top 200 busiest airports across Europe from the beginning of the year until the end of June and four Croatian airports feature.

Zagreb Airport is unsurprisingly the busiest airport in Croatia and finished in 116th position on the ACI rankings list. The capital’s airport handled 1.5 million passengers in the first six months of this year on 19,206 airplanes.

Split Airport was the second busiest airport in Croatia, and finished in 131st place on the rankings list, just a few spots ahead of Dubrovnik. And then Zadar Airport made up the Croatian contingent on the ACI list placing in 184th position.

The EU market maintained steady growth during the first six months of this year, with passenger traffic performance holding steady between 4.5 percent to 5 percent on a month-by-month basis over the period. Although Croatia was one of the shining stars in Europe, along with Austria, as Croatia saw the second biggest growth at 10.5 percent, second only to Austria with a massive 20 percent growth.

Conversely, Bulgaria (-2.5%) and Sweden (-4.1%) reported passenger traffic declining while growth was flat in neighbouring Denmark (+0.3%). Belgium, the Netherlands, Slovenia and the UK significantly underperformed the EU average – with the latter further slowing down in June (+0.9%).

Peter Andre (46) is enjoying a working holiday in Croatia as he films on the island of Brac for the British TV morning show “Lorraine.”

This popular TV celebrity is learning all about Croatian cuisine as he films a cooking show featuring Croatian specialities such as lamb under the bell, grilled fish and some traditional cakes from the Croatian islands.

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Andre, who sprung to fame in 1995 with the hit pop song Mysterious Girl, was joined on this Croatian break by his two children, Junior and Princess and they have all been enjoying the Adriatic Sea as a family.

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The Lorraine show, is broadcast on ITV and has an estimated viewership of 2 to 3 million a day, making it the most popular morning show in the UK.

Andre's family vacation is being followed heavily by the UK press, which will only help add to the promotion of Croatia in this important tourist market.

From the tenth year in a row the cycling ultramarathon from Vukovar to Knin and then onto Dubrovnik came to an end at the end of the week when 35 cyclists arrived in Dubrovnik after seven days of cycling in the intense August heat.

The cycling ultramarathon is organised by the Slavonski Brod Bicyclist Association and takes place every year in honour of causalities and fatalities of the Homeland War. From the 3rd of August of the 9th of August, in seven stages these mainly recreational cyclists ride on average 150 kilometres and pass through cities that were badly affected in the Homeland War.

The aim of the project is to promote cycling as a healthy way of life, to promote Slavonia, Slavonski Brod, Brod-Posavina County, but also Croatia as a cycle-tourism destination.

The oldest rider in this year’s ultramarathon was 74 years-old, whilst the youngest was only 14.

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Total deposits with Croatian commercial banks reached HRK 290 billion at the end of June 2019, thus continuing their growth month-on-month and year-on-year, according to data provided by the Croatian National Bank (HNB) on Wednesday.

Total deposits rose by 2.2 billion kuna or 0.8% in June compared to May and their growth was by 14.3 billion or 5.2% as against the end of June 2018.

This growth is on the back of the rise in bank demand deposits, which include funds in current and giro accounts and banks' obligations arising from kuna payment instruments issued and which reached a record high level of HRK 96.4 billion in the nominal terms, accounting for a third (33%) of total deposits. On the other hand, total savings and time deposits mildly declined, -0.33% on the month and -0.2% on the year.

 

American Airlines have announced that from next year flights to Dubrovnik will be upgraded to daily flights.

After a 28-year break American Airlines connected Croatia and the US this year with direct flights from Philadelphia to Dubrovnik originally with three flights a week. Due to demand from passengers the largest American airline later decided to add an additional weekly flight in September, bringing the number of non-stop flights to four a week. However, it would seem that the airline sees further potential and will from 2020 make these operations weekly.

On Thursday the Vice President of Network and Schedule Planning for American Airlines, Vasu Raja, stated in an interview for the popular American travel website thepointsguy.com that “the carrier will return to Dubrovnik on a daily basis from Philadelphia in 2020, expanding service from just several weekly flights.”

Although the 2020 American flight schedule has yet to be officially released it would appear from this statement that Dubrovnik can expect daily flights from Philadelphia next season. There is no indication as to when the flights would start operating, although it can be assumed that it will similar as this year, the beginning of June.

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Scenes as first American Airlines flight lands at Dubrovnik Airport this year - Photo Bozo Radic

 

 

When the flights were announced last year the vice president of Philadelphia operations for American Airlines, Jim Moses, stated that “Dubrovnik has been a place of interest for several years. It has grown in popularity among U.S. travellers, but remained unserved by U.S. airlines. American Airlines saw an opportunity to fill that gap.”

American tourists are the second most numerous in Dubrovnik this season. According to information from the Dubrovnik Tourist Board there has been a boom in the number of US travellers visiting Dubrovnik. Since the beginning of the year to the end of July just over 90,000 Americans visited the city which is a massive 17 percent increase over the same period form last year. And they have achieved a whopping 252,517 overnight stays, again an increase of 17 percent when compared with the same period from 2018.

The Pelješac Bridge is slowly but surely surfacing on these hot summer days, with the Chinese builders constructing the bridge faster than expected.

Already above the sea surface, one can see the constructions that will carry the future pillars of the bridge. The new Pelješac Bridge is the largest investment in recent Croatian history, worth 2.08 billion Kuna, and it is on course to be completed in the next two years. In the first year, the Chinese company China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) were able to complete 25 percent of the bridge work.

Nearly 400 Chinese workers are involved in the project and according to some local reports they are even working at night in order to finish the bridge ahead of schedule. Already 148 pilots for the bridge have been completed.

It’s the middle of August already and I still haven’t been for a swim. I am already hearing the traditional, and annual comments, of “another month and the season is over.” More wishful thinking than reality as the season seems to get longer and longer every year, and my favourite month, September, is one of the best in terms of tourism.

And as August and the summer heat move on I am moving into my fourth month of not watching television. Yes, I haven’t watched a second of TV over the past four months, and do I miss it, absolutely not. How many times have you lounged on the couch flicking through the hundreds of stations and muttering to yourself “there’s nothing goof on here,” and then you accidentally fall into a program that is not as boring as the rest and spend an hour glued to watching a documentary on World War II.

It is more of a habit than a necessity. A habit that consumes valuable time. Just to make things a little clearer, I haven’t watched TV for almost four months because I literally don’t have a TV set in my “summer residence.” Like half of the city I move out to make way for tourists and although we brought a TV set to the new summer domain we haven’t even bothered to plug it in. It is still on top of a wardrobe somewhere. Does this mean that I will have to pay HRT for my license? Probably and unfortunately yes.

 

 

And it appears from a recent survey that I am not alone, soon we will be all watching streaming programs and shows online. When people in the UK were asked how much news they watch on TV every week the results gave us a glimpse into the future, and probably answered the question why Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world. People aged over 60 watched at least 3 and a half hours of news a week, whilst at the other end of the scale, viewers under 20 watched less than 3 minutes a week! A sign of things to come.

I can see this switch with the younger people around me. My young nephew doesn’t even own a TV! And all of the others are glued to their mobiles watching YouTube. And when quizzed why they only watched 3 minutes of news on TV the vast majority gave the same answer “we watch online.” We are living in an on-demand society. Where viewers are basically demanding when and where they will consume news, and pretty much all other broadcasts. I myself am the same. I can’t remember the last time I followed serial on TV. Download or stream the whole season of the serial and then watch when I want.

And who is Jeff Bezos and why is he rubbing his hands in glee, because he is the owner of Amazon and worth an estimated $114 billion. He is even richer than Bill Gates, who pretty much invented the platform that Bezos uses.

Interestingly one “old school” media form seems still to be resilient to modern times, the radio. Roughly the same amount of teenagers and pensioners in the survey said that they listened to the radio every day. Whereas online media is slowly but surely hammering the last nails into the coffin on the print media the radio listeners are remaining constant, in fact slightly growing. Again this is another form of media that I love, just as long as I don’t have to listen to music. Yes, playing music on the radio for me is a waste of the airwaves. Engaging debate, comedies, drama and even sport somehow comes to life on the radio.

It might seem odd, but having to paint a picture in my head of the events gives me a bigger and much more colourful image. It is rather like reading a book compared to watching a film of that same book. Whilst millions were spent on bringing Tolkien or even George R.R Martin to the big screen their printed words have much more power and depth.

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded,” this is a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson that Bezos has on his fridge door to motivate him. I would say it’s doing a pretty damn good job.     

Can I pay in Euros in Croatia? Well, the short and official answer is – no. But the slightly longer and slightly less unofficial answer is probably yes, but with a few difficulties.

The official currency of the Republic of Croatia is the Kuna, even though Croatia joined the European Union back in July 2013 it has yet to adopt the Euro as the official currency. This looks like changing in the future, but as of this present time the Kuna is still the official currency.

This can be a little confusing for cruise ship passengers who arrive in Dubrovnik and expect to continue using their Euros, as they have done in Italy, Greece and Spain, and of course can lead to embarrassing situations when they try to buy an ice-cream only to be told “Sorry No Euros.” In fact, to combat this you’ll see quite a number of shops, restaurants and cafes, and indeed the petrol stations with a sign reading “No Euros!”

Really, I can't pay in Euros! 

Now here comes the unofficial part. In the main tourist destinations up and down the Adriatic coast you’ll probably find that your Euros will actually be accepted. But there is a catch. Even though you might be able to pay in Euros it is unlikely that you’ll get your change in Euros. So you might sit down for a nice seafood lunch, reach for the bill, and end up with a handful of Kunas in your pocket as change. That’s the first but!

The second one is that the rate of exchange you’re going to get at a restaurant, café and shop is probably going to be considerably less than if you change your Euros in a bank or exchange office. In the same way you wouldn’t go to a bank to sip a cocktail, you wouldn’t go to a nightclub to exchange cash.

And the third but! There is a good chance that the restaurant won’t accept Euros at all. By law they aren’t obliged to so don’t go starting an argument. So it’s probably best if you change whatever currency you have into Kunas first, before waiting to be seated. If you aren’t sure that you’ll be able to spend all the Kunas then simply change as much as you have budgeted for on a daily basis.

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This is the first in our series of “Most Asked Croatia/Dubrovnik Questions.”

If you have a question, or indeed query, you’d like answered then email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

No matter how weird, wacky or niche they may be we will add them to our already long list

 

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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