Friday, 18 September 2020
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

In the last 24 hours, 204 new cases of Covid-19 have been detected in Croatia. The number of active cases in Croatia is now 2,529, with the Split-Dalmatia County (702) and the City of Zagreb (464) having the most active cases, National Civil Protection Headquarters announced on Tuesday.

There are currently 303 people in hospital of which 23 people are on a ventilator. Unfortunately, in the past 24-hour period 2 people have passed away due to the virus, meaning that the Covid-19 death toll in Croatia has reached 203.

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New cases of Covid-19 in Croatia since pandemic began - Image Koronavirus.hr 

Since February 25, 2020, when the first case of Covid-19 was detected in Croatia a total of 12,285 people have caught the virus, and 203 have died and 9,553 have made a full recovery.

There are currently 8,608 people in self-isolation.

To date, a total of 196,966 people have been tested, of which 3,813 were tested in the last 24 hours.

 

Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, appeared on the popular CNN show “Quest Means Business” on Monday to explain the tourism situation in the country during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We had a lockdown, once the outbreak began, and I think we did extremely well, we protected the health of our citizens. The gradually we opened our borders, this was the end of April beginning of May, so we were able to welcome tourists to Croatia,” said Plenkovic after being asked by the host, Richard Quest, as to whether Croatia was paying the price, in terms of the spike in new Covid-19 cases, for opening to tourists.

Plenkovic explained that there were around 7 million tourists in Croatia this summer and that “tourism was much better than we expected.” And went onto say that overnight stays this summer were around 50 percent of last year’s record breaking numbers.

Did tourism bring more Covid-19 cases to Croatia

“Naturally it was a bit of a calculated risk,” said the Prime Minister. Adding that “Numbers have risen over the last couple of weeks, but what is good is that we still have a very low mortality rate. It is only 5 compared to 100,000, which is much, much lower than any other country in Europe. So we have managed to combine the health of our citizens and the income coming from one of the most important branches of our economy.”

When Quest asked “the risk is growing (as we come into the autumn) and I’m wondering what your next strategy is? The Croatian Prime Minister explained that “We are now focused on the opening of school season.” And added that all measures have been introduced to make sure that pupils are as safe as possible. As far as new cases of Covid-19 are concerned he said that “We are observing the hotspots and then we are adopting tailor-made measures in parts of Croatia.”

 

Croatia’s inevitable path towards adopting the Euro and ditching the Kuna is gaining steam. “Will we introduce the Euro on the 1st of January 2023, that’s the question, however all the preconditions exist and serious work is being done to make this happen,” stated the Deputy Governor of the Croatian National Bank, Sandra Švaljek.

She added that “We have another two and a half years until January 1, 2023, which is a long enough period to implement everything that needs to be done before the introduction of the Euro, but there is already a very clear plan of action to implement all preparations for the introduction of the Euro, the plan has no room for respite, but it is achievable.”

When asked whether citizens should fear rising prices when the Kuna is phased out and the Euro adopted she replied, “I can really reassure the public because when we look at the experience of countries that introduced the Euro before us, such as the Baltic countries, Slovakia, Slovenia, the increase in prices with the introduction of the Euro was marginal, meaning an average of 0.23 percent increase.”

Most larger financial transactions, buying a house or land, is carried out in Croatia in Euros anyway, and many citizens have their loans and mortgages directly tied to the Euro. In fact, even many people actually save in Euros rather than the Kuna.

In the past some EU countries have struggled with the introduction of the Euro, as salaries haven’t increased in line with the price of goods in the shops. Švaljek commented that “There will be no selling and buying exchange rate but a single conversion rate. There is a very high probability that the conversion rate will be identical to the now determined central parity. This central parity is set at 7.53450. For all conversions, this one single exchange rate will be valid, meaning only salaries that are now in Kuna at that exchange rate will be converted into Euros. Due to the introduction of the euro, there is absolutely no reason to reduce salaries.”

However, not everyone sees the advantages of accepting the Euro. Recently the US macroeconomist, Joseph Stiglitz, who is a winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics, stated that “Should Croatia introduce the euro? Absolutely not! The euro takes away two important instruments necessary to adjust the economy to shocks. It deprives (the country) of the possibility of changing the exchange rate and deprives it of monetary policy, and thus of changing interest rates," he added.

In these uncertain times and great economic uncertainty, inspiring entrepreneurial stories are worth more attention than ever. The Crvik winery from Konavle, which is proud of its centuries-old tradition of wine production, is one of the few Croatian wineries whose wines have recently been successfully sold in the United States.

And the wine, an internationally awarded wine Tezoro (silver at Decanter, silver at the International Wine Challenge, gold at Vinistra and Sabatina), obtained from the indigenous variety Dubrovnik Malvasia, the first grape variety mentioned in the Dubrovnik archives in the 14th century.

Great credit for this goes to Mirena Bagur, born in Metkovic with an American address and business experience, a kind of Croatian wine ambassador to the United States, who together with her husband Win A. Burke, an entrepreneur in the IT industry, runs the Croatian Premium Wine Imports company for wine import and distribution in the United States. They started with the wineries of the K7 association from Komarna, and recently agreed to cooperate with the Testament wineries near Šibenik, Marlais from Pelješac and the Crvik winery, as the first Konavle winery to be offered for sale in the US.

Mirena Bagur

Mirena Bagur and Win A. Burke  

Thus, in stores in Massachusetts and an online shop, which sends wines to most American countries, you can buy famous varieties from the south of Croatia, such as Plavac Mali, Dingač, Tribidrag, Pošip, Babić, and Dubrovnik Malvasia.

In the USA, quality Croatian wines are very well accepted, says Mirena. “Connoisseurs and wine lovers in America give priority to quality, and all the reviews of quality experts that come to us are excellent! Younger generations want to hear new wine stories from around the world, so there is a whole new category - the so-called “Adventure wines,” and here our wines fit perfectly. We are in constant contact with wine lovers and we listen to comments, so this year we are expanding our wine inventory from other Croatian wine regions as well.”

crvik wines usa

Petar Crvik, a winemaker, says this is a great time to step forward, “Every year, tourists from all over the world come to our winery. It is often the Americans who ask us if they can get our wines in the United States. I am glad that our efforts and authenticity have been recognized, and I sincerely hope that more Croatian winemakers will start exporting, because this is a huge opportunity for our winemaking industry.”

Although Croatia still imports much more wine than it exports, the trends are still hopeful, a few years ago, imports decreased and production and exports increased. Initiatives like this can definitely help the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, but also the whole of Croatia, find its place on the wine map of the world.

 

In the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, ten new cases of Covid-19 infection have been reported in the last 24 hours. These new Covid-19 cases include five men and three women from Dubrovnik (an epidemiological link is known for four men and three women), one woman from Ston (contact) and one man from Konavle.

On a positive note six people have made full recovery - three from Dubrovnik, two from the borough of Župa, one from Metković.

Unfortunately, one person has passed away in the past 24 hours, a person from Orebić.

24 people tested positive for Covid-19 are hospitalized in the Dubrovnik General Hospital, of which three people are on a ventilator.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 10,725 samples have been sent for analysis.

There are 595 people in self-isolation, and in the last 24 hours, three cases of violation of the self-isolation measure have been identified.

When the tourism season this summer finally started in Croatia there were hopes that the country could maybe reach 20 or even 30 percent of last year’s figures and in some way fill the gaping hole left in the country’s GDP by the Covid-19 pandemic. And when at least 20 percent of the coffers comes directly from tourism this was a big hole to fill. Croatia wasn’t the only country looking to earn some tourist dollars, the whole of the Mediterranean found themselves in the same boat.

And now figures have been released by the Croatian National Tourist Board stating that Croatia in July achieved better tourist results in comparison to competing countries in the Mediterranean. In July, the height of the season, Croatia reached 50 percent of last year’s arrivals of foreign tourists, which given the extraordinary circumstances was impressive. Of course some destinations, or cities, fared better than others. With Istria for example reaching almost 70 percent of last year’s numbers.

Compared to official tourist data from Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Turkey for July, Croatia had much better results, said the Croatian National Tourist Board.

In July, about 2.5 million foreign tourists came to Croatia, which is 50 percent of the number in July 2019, while in the seven months since the beginning of the year, a total of 3.3 million tourists have arrived, or 32 percent of arrivals in the same period from last year.

The countries analyzed - Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Turkey - for which official data from their national statistical offices on foreign tourist arrivals are available for July, had significantly lower percentages of last year’s achievements.

Spain recorded 25 percent of last year's arrivals from the same month in July with 2.5 million foreign tourist arrivals, while 13.3 million or 28 percent of the number arrived in the same period last year in the first seven months of this year.

Portugal, according to the first estimates of their "Instituto Nacional de Estatistica", was visited by approximately 306 thousand foreign tourists in July, which is 17 percent of last year's arrivals in the same month.

 

For the first time in a long time the number of new cases of Covid-19 in Croatia has dropped dramatically, over the last 24 hours 117 new cases of Covid-19 were detected across Croatia. But whilst today’s figures are positive it must also be taken into account that the number of Covid-19 tests over the past 24-hour period was down on previous days, with 1,793 carries out.

Today’s figures mean that there are 2,614 active cases of Covid-19 in Croatia, with 307 people in hospital and 19 on a ventilator. Unfortunately, over the past 24 hours three people have passed away due to the virus, bringing the death toll in Croatia over 200, at 201.

Since February 25, 2020, when the first case of Covid-19 was recorded in Croatia a total of 12,081 have been infected, of which 201 have passed away and 9,266 have made a full recovery.

There are currently 8,819 people in self-isolation.

To date, a total of 193,153 people have been tested, of which 1,793 in the last 24 hours, the National Civil Protection Headquarters announced.

 

In the last 24 hours, 225 new cases of Covid-19 have been detected across Croatia with the Split-Dalmatia County and the City of Zagreb once again leading the number of new cases.

There are now 2,758 active cases in Croatia and among this number there are 296 people in hospital with 21 people on a ventilator. Unfortunately, one person has passed away in the past 24 hours due to the virus, the National Civil Protection Headquarters announced on Sunday.

Since February 25, 2020, when the first case of infection was recorded in Croatia, a total of 11,964 people have been infected of which 198 have died and 9,008 have recovered.

There are currently 8,964 people in self-isolation.

To date, a total of 191,360 people have been tested, of which 3,509 were tested in the last 24 hours.

Once again the two leading regions for new Covid-19 cases were the Split-Dalmatia County, which saw 58 new cases, and the City of Zagreb saw 53 new cases in the past 24 hours.

 

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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