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.
With temperatures still in the high twenties and the Adriatic an ideal 23 degrees Dubrovnik is enjoying an Indian Summer. The historic Old City of Dubrovnik was a magnet for tourists yesterday as the sun poured down on to the Stradun.
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At the beginning of 2016 the vice president of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) for the construction, transport and communications Mirjana Cagalj announced a recovery of construction activities in Croatia after seven years of the continuous decline in the construction business sector.
''The construction activity in the last seven years have been reduced by 46 percent, but this year we expect a recovery. Since 2009 the number of building permits was halved and 56,000 people lost their jobs. Seven year ago the construction sector accounted for 8.5 percent in GDP, and now only 5 percent, whilst this average in other EU member countries is 6 percent'', said Cagalj in January this year.
As expected, good news is on the horizon. According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (DZS) in the first six months of this year 4,179 building permits were issued or 21,9 percent more over the same period in 2015. The total value of construction works covered by the permits issued in this period was 10.1 billion Kunas.
The data from DZS also show that this July in Croatia more than 500 building permits were issued, which was an increase of 16.6 percent in comparison to July 2015.
By type of construction around 87 percent or 483 permits were issued for buildings, whilst 13 percent or 72 permits were issued for other structures.
On the other hand, by type of work around 66 percent or 367 permits were issued for new buildings and 34 percent or 188 permits were issued for reconstruction, conversion and renovation.
By building permits issued in July almost 700 new building apartments of 100 sqm average size are expected to be built in the near future.
The total value of construction works covered by the permits issued in July is 1.39 billion Kunas.
If you were planning on having a romantic stroll, hand in hand, around the cobbled streets of the Old City of Dubrovnik you might want to think again. Tomorrow, Thursday the 15th of September, a grand total of 9,470 cruise ship passengers will disembark on five mega cruise ships; it will be a busy day.
Costa Mediterranea, MSC Sinfonia and AIDAbella, all carrying over 2,000 passengers each will be joined by three other cruise ships in what will be one of the busiest days of the summer and by far the busiest day for cruise ship passengers in all of September.
In fact this will be the last day of this season with passenger numbers so high, but be prepared for traffic jams, and human traffic jams, all day tomorrow.
For the fourth year in a row “Agrotourism” Konavle will organize a traditional manifestation called "Picking" - which symbolically marks the beginning of the grape harvest in Konavle. The event will be held on Thursday, 15th September at the Monastery of St. Blaise in Pridvorje starting at 2.00pm. And the organisation have announced that white communion wine will be made at the event.
The program will begin by harvesting the monastery vineyards, followed by gathering the grapes of the Konavle winemakers and processing it in the traditional and contemporary way. Traditional Konavle sweet 'mantala' will also be made. The event will end with a snack, good company and live music.
Agrotourism Konavle invites all that are interested to join and spend a pleasant day in Konavle and help harvest the grapes of course.
TUI Hotels & Resorts will include one more hotel in their portfolio from the summer 2017 – the TUI Blue Adriatic in Croatia. The TUI Group thus continues its strategic transformation into a group of hotels and cruise whilst expanding its portfolio of products exclusive to the group.
Apart from new TUI Blue hotels which are to be opened this year in Tenerife and Austria in November, in Germany in December and in Italy in spring 2017, the first two hotels of this type were opened in Turkey in May this year.
The specificity of TUI Blue hotels is the possibility of reservation/booking and purchasing services exclusively through the TUI's sales channels. Announcing the opening of the hotel in Croatia, Thomas Pietzka, the manager of TUI Hotels & Resorts, said: ''The hotel industry is a key element of the TUI's development strategy. By opening this additional new hotel we want to demonstrate that we consistently implement our goals and continue to expand the unique offer for our guests.''
The new hotel has been fully renovated and adapted to the TUI Blue concept. It is located in a bay on the Makarska Riviera in Tucepi, and it is a property of the Bluesun Hotels & Resorts Group owned by Jako Andabak. ''Croatia is developing into increasingly popular trend destination which is why we are particularly pleased that we are here developing our hotel brand TUI Blue'', said Artur Gerber, the manager of TUI Blue.
This four star hotel is located close to the beach and it will have 161 rooms with 11 exclusive suites with a swimming pool. The resort will also have four bars and three restaurants. Like all other TUI Blue hotels, the TUI Blue Adriatic hotel will offer a comprehensive Bluefit program – a combination of fitness, nutrition and wellness. TUI Blue guides will offer private services for guests and will be at guests' disposal as personal experts on holidays in the region.
The new hotel in Croatia will also provide other TUI Blue elements such as modern architecture, authentic local cuisine for balanced diet as well as a design with innovative technology. Reservations start from the 29th of September 2016.
Greyp Bikes, a sister company of the Croatian electric car manufacturer Rimac Automobili, recently introduced three unique bikes manufactured for three of the best football players - Lionel Messi, Cesc Fàbregas and Gerard Piqué.
The Greyp G12S is a high-performance electric bicycle designed and manufactured by the Greyp Bikes company for famous football players who were more than impressed with their new means of transportation. The special bikes were also adorned with the signatures of the FC Barcelona's trio, whilst during the delivery the Greyp's team helped them in trying out their new ''city vehicles''.
''This is a success and a great compliment for our company'', said Kresimir Hlede, the CEO of the Greyp Bikes company adding that they were very proud that such amazing world athletes recognized their product.
Kristijan Knezevic, the sales and customer care manager, shares his impressions about the delivery: ''Riding the bikes for the first time has put a big smile on their faces. What more can we ask for? I’m sure that they will now have lots of fun commuting to their trainings every day. Their signatures made these special bikes even more special''.
As most of the Greyp G12S bike is manufactured in-house, the Greyp Bikes company is more than flexible to make custom and special editions for different clients such as the Police, the Armed Forces, football players etc.
2016 will certainly be remembered with fond memories by Dubrovnik’s tourism industry and now news just released from the Dubrovnik Tourist Board shows just how good it has been. The landmark 3 millionth overnight stay was reached yesterday, the 12th of September, a full twenty days earlier than 2015.
From the beginning of this year until the 12th of September a grand total of 819,585 tourists arrived in Dubrovnik, which is a 10 percent increase on the same period from last year. This figure also highlights the shortened length of stay that tourists how stay in the city, a world trend since the explosion of online bookings and low-cost airlines.
According to statistics from the eVisitor tourist registration system all forms of accommodation in the city received record breaking results. The overall overnight stay figure is a 12 percent increase over 2015.
The breakdown of tourism figures in terms of nationalities shows that Dubrovnik was most popular with guests from the United Kingdom, France, USA, Germany, Spain, Croatia, Sweden, Italy and Australia.
According to the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) Croatian airports recorded the highest number of passengers in history. In July 2016 almost 1.5 million passengers passed through the Croatian airports of Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar, Pula, Zagreb, Osijek, Rijeka, Brac and Mali Losinj. On the other hand, in the first seven months of 2016 the airports in Croatia recorded around 4.4 million or 12.4 percent more passengers in comparison to 2015.
''The most important factor in increasing the air travel demand is growth of the economy and GDP in most EU countries and growing tourist demand for Croatian holiday destinations due to decreased departures to some of the European and North African traditional destinations such as Turkey, Greece, Tunis etc.'', said Tonci Peovic, the president of the Association of Air Traffic in the HGK.
He also added that air carriers partly reduced the average ticket prices in air transport as a result of the oil price reduction on the world market. The air traffic increase in Croatia was also affected by the shortened stay of tourists in various destinations, approximately 2-3 days on average, mainly thanks to internet reservation systems which enabled more frequent exchange of tourists in the same capacity.
Ljubica Herceg, the director of Transport and Communications in the HGK, emphasized that most European countries as well as Croatia were trying to respond to the challenges of providing adequate accommodation capacity for the current upward trend in air traffic taking into account the development of tourism.
“Works on the upgrading of the airports in Zagreb and Dubrovnik are almost completed, whilst works on the modernisation of Split Airport are to start soon'', said Ljubica Herceg, noting that apart from the increase in capacity and modernization, all major international airports also paid special attention to the improvement of business processes of the acceptance of passengers and luggage.
The data from the HGK show that in the first six months of 2016 Croatian airports recorded an increase in passenger numbers in comparison to the same period last year; Brac Airport recorded an increase of almost 90 percent, Pula 34.15 %, Split 25.41 %, Dubrovnik 16.46 %, Zadar 15.3 %, Zagreb 10.4 %, whilst Osijek recorded an increase of 7.85 percent and Rijeka 7.46 %.