Saturday, 23 September 2023
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.


In an annual tradition that has travel enthusiasts and wanderlust aficionados on the edge of their seats, the highly anticipated list of "The 50 Best Islands in the World for 2023" from Big 7 Travel has been revealed. This compilation of the world's most captivating and alluring island destinations offers a tantalizing peek into where globetrotters should set their sights for the year ahead.

The list, put together by experts and enthusiasts alike, encompasses a wide range of island experiences. From sun-soaked Caribbean cays to serene Nordic bays and virtually everything in between, these destinations promise unique adventures and natural beauty. And a Croatian island features, not onlz in the top 50, but in the top 10! The island of Hvar came in at tenth position and was described as "Hvar might be one of Croatia’s best-known and trendiest islands but that doesn’t make it any less special. Between its cobbled alleys, cocktail bars and yacht-lined promenade it’s easy to see why travellers hotfoot to Hvar Town, but beyond the capital, there are ancient hamlets, acres of vineyards and secluded beaches for those looking for something a little more low-key. Star-spotters should get extra excited: Jelsa was recently named the first International Dark Sky Community in Southern Europe." 

Untitled design 2023 09 13T073021.757

To curate this prestigious list, a meticulous selection process was employed. Scores were meticulously aggregated, taking into account valuable contributions from an engaged social media audience and travel experts who have explored these destinations firsthand. Notably, this year's assessment also considered significant events scheduled for 2023, new hotel and restaurant openings, and special initiatives designed to enhance the visitor experience.

For those eager to embark on an island escape like no other, stay tuned for detailed insights into each of the 50 featured destinations. Whether it's a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a solo expedition, this list has something for every type of traveler. It's time to start dreaming, planning, and exploring the world's best islands in 2023.


In August, Zagreb Airport achieved a remarkable milestone by handling 383,618 passengers, making it the busiest month in its history.

This figure represents a significant 10.1 percent increase compared to the same period last year and a notable 2 percent rise when compared to the pre-pandemic levels of 2019.

It's worth noting that the airport's monthly growth rate has decelerated since May.

Similar positive results are anticipated for Zagreb Airport in September, based on available seat capacity, while the return to double-digit growth percentages is expected to resume in November.

For the January to August period, Zagreb Airport welcomed a total of 2,446,623 travellers, reflecting a 7.5 percent increase compared to 2019 and a remarkable 23.8 percent surge compared to 2022.



From September 9th to 17th, 2023, the camping fair 'Il Salone del Camper' takes place in Parma, where the Dubrovnik-Neretva County Tourist Board is also participating.

The Il Salone del Camper fair is being held for the 14th time at the Fiere di Parma exhibition space and gathers numerous tourism professionals, making it one of the most visited camping fairs in Europe.

Untitled design 2023 09 12T073127.491

With approximately 80,000 m2 of exhibition space, the fair hosts 350 exhibitors and expects over 130,000 visitors.

From the beginning of the year until August 31st, the Dubrovnik-Neretva County recorded 39,440 arrivals and 137,372 overnight stays of Italian tourists, representing a 5 percent increase in arrivals and a 1.5 tourist decrease in overnight stays compared to the previous year.


According to the received registrations and departures of tourists through the eVisitor system, there were 18 and a half thousand tourists in Dubrovnik last weekend - three percent less than at this time last year.

In addition to the British, the most numerous guests came from the USA, Germany, France, Australia, Ireland, Spain, and Canada.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been slightly more than 954 thousand tourist arrivals in Dubrovnik and three million 63 thousand overnight stays, which is nine percent more than in the same period last year.

After the construction of the public lighting system on the slope of Srđ, from the Bosanka settlement to the state road D8, the previously unlit section from the pedestrian crossing near the Srđ Transformer Station to the base of Bruna Bušić Street in Ploče has been illuminated as the second phase of this investment.

In the first phase, lighting was previously installed along a stretch of approximately 650 metres on the old road to Bosanka, leading from the pedestrian crossing on the main road all the way to the settlement. A total of 21 lamp posts were installed, using the most modern technology with solar power supply, meeting all ecological and energy-efficient standards.

With the completion of the second phase, a total of 900 metres of the route are now illuminated, providing safe pedestrian communication for the residents of Bosanka and this part of Ploče, as well as for everyone else who uses this path.


The week ahead will be another warm and sunny one with temperatures in the mid to high twenties as the summer in Dubrovnik doesn’t look like ending any time soon.

The week will start with blue skies and sunshine with highs around 30 degrees and the wind will be mostly a light south-westerly.

Tuesday and Wednesday look similar with the chance of one or two clouds to spoil and otherwise blue sky. Highs on both days are expected to be between 28 and 30 degrees.

Thursday and Friday will be warm and settled with clear blue skies and temperatures around the 29 degrees’ mark.

And the upcoming weekend will see some cloud cover and even the possibility of some light showers on Sunday. Temperatures over the weekend will be between 27 and 29 degrees.

The current sea temperature in Dubrovnik is a very pleasant 23 degrees.

And the sunny and hot weather will persist until at least the middle of next week. Could we be in for an Indian Summer? It certainly looks like it.


“When is the best time of the year to visit Dubrovnik?” a friend asked. “Not, August and July!” came my answer.

Thank God that the height of the season is over. I am no longer suffocating in heat. I can breathe again. It may sound strange when an Englishman complains that the weather is too hot and sunny, but summers seem to be getting ever more brutally hot!

And as soon as the main summer chaos has finished almost half a million children go back to school across the country.

Maybe it is OK to start school in continental Croatia at the beginning of September but in the south of Croatia it really feels like some kind of heat torture. The beaches are packed with tourists topping up their tans, warnings of heatwaves are flying around and yet thousands of children are walking to school. Couldn’t the winter holidays just be shortened in the south to make room for starting later?

Do you remember your first day at school? Were you filled with excitement, curiosity and joy? Or like me filled with dread! I think I spent the first day crying, all day. I think I was a late developer.

Heavy rucksacks and curious minds 

There is nothing cuter than first graders on their first day at school, with their shining new rucksacks. Although why children that young are expected to carry a bag that looks like they are about to climb Everest and not sit at a school desk is beyond me. Can’t schools just buy lockers! There is only one thing bigger than a first graders curiosity, and that's their backpack.

And this year around 35,000 first graders lugged those oversized rucksacks to school for the first time. Evidence, if evidence was needed, of Croatia’s ever decreasing population. Just two years ago 37,000 pupils started school. The pattern follows in secondary school, with fewer and fewer students.

“Do you like wearing a school uniform?” I asked my niece when she was on holiday with us. “Yeah, I don’t mind, I guess it makes sense,” she smiled.

It does make a lot of sense. But for some reason unknown to me we still haven’t introduced it.

School uniforms keep students focused on their education, not their clothes. Their mind-set is that they are going to “work” and not play. A UK school body conducted a series of focus groups with pupils to get the inside views on uniforms. They found that many pupils chose to remain in their uniform outside of school to complete homework. Most children explained that it helped them stay focussed while they worked, keeping them in the ‘school mindset’. Psychologically is just makes sense.

Win/Win - Made in Croatia 

School uniforms create a level playing field among students, reducing peer pressure and bullying. Wearing uniforms enhances school pride, unity, and community spirit. It also means that both children, and more importantly parents, don’t have to think about what to wear each day.

They should be able to buy a subsided uniform that is not only considerably cheaper but also could, or rather should, be made in Croatia. Not only would this save parents money but also create jobs for factories making the clothes. It is a win/win situation.

I had no problem at all, in fact I liked it, wearing a uniform for all my school life.

Of course introducing them would mean a lot of backlash, and it would probably take a few years before they are accepted, but the long-term positives far outweigh the short-term challenges. Parents face more than enough expense with all the books, stationary and other things they need to buy for their children without lumping new clothes on top of that. They’ve got to buy a massive rucksack to start with!

There has been some talk in recent years about the possible introduction of uniforms, but so far it seems to be at the bottom of the “to do” list for the authorities.

So I wish all those first graders all the best in their school life, the start of a whole new chapter that they will never forget.

And also to the teachers, the far too often undervalued heroes of the classroom, who shape our future generations minds.

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


About the author
Mark Thomas (aka Englez u Dubrovniku) is the editor of The Dubrovnik Times. He was born and educated in the UK and moved to live in Dubrovnik in 1998. He works across a whole range of media, from a daily radio show to TV and in print. Thomas is fluent in Croatian and this column is available in Croatia on the website – Dubrovnik Vjesnik

According to data from the municipal tourist boards in Orebić, Ston, Trpanj, and Janjina, from the beginning of the year until the end of August, there were 169,125 guests who stayed on the Pelješac Peninsula, with a total of 1,158,115 overnight stays. This represents an increase of 12 percent and 4 percent, respectively, compared to the previous year. When compared to 2019, there was a 7 percent increase in both the number of visitors and overnight stays.

The largest increase, at 8 percent, was recorded in the municipality of Ston, while the smallest increase, at 2 percent, was in the municipality of Janjina.

In this year, the trend of shorter guest stays on vacation continued, although the average stay is still 6 to 9 days.


The Voice of Dubrovnik


Find us on Facebook