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.
For the first time since August last year the number of unemployed people in Croatia fell. At the end of February there 289,429 people out of work in Croatia, which is 3,807 less than January, and the first month of a fall in unemployment after five months of growth.
Compared to February 2015 the number of people unemployed in Croatia has decreased by a healthy 12.2 percent, or 40,322 people.
The fall in unemployment in February can in some terms be attributed to the beginning of the seasonal employment in tourism, especially considering that this year Easter holidays fall relatively early at the end of March. The pattern of a decrease in unemployment has also continued into the early stages of March.
The Croatian Bureau of Employment has stated that there are 285,416 people out of work, as of the 10th of March, and that there are currently 15,969 job vacancies on their records.
Star Wars VIII started filming in Dubrovnik last night! At around 6 o’clock in the afternoon the main street of the old city was closed to the public, large panels were placed to keep away prowling camera lenses and hundreds of security guards blocked all side streets to the set. Dubrovnik’s position, front and centre, in the latest episode of Star Wars had begun.
Filming for the VIII episode went on long into the early morning hours and crashes, bangs and high speed noises could be heard coming from the set. It is believed that last night and tonight will be a rehearsal for the main filming, the cast are rumoured to be arriving on set on the 12th of March.
Cars towing probable space ships were spotted on the main street earlier in the afternoon, and high performance car was photographed carrying a camera just before filming started.
Check out our gallery by Niksa Duper of the first night of Star Wars filming in Dubrovnik.
“When we see the movie we will feel part of it, we have been there, we have touched that set, we have been in Dubrovnik!” explained Charlene Kavanagh and Heather McCrimmon to The Dubrovnik Times.
Dubrovnik has been in the spotlight, or limelight, of international film productions for the past few years. There can be no doubt that the moment HBO said - that is a great location to film Game of Thrones - five years ago that the ears of the rest of the movie community pricked up. And the moment Dubrovnik was shown in the second series of Game of Thrones the world saw, it somewhat computer enhanced, the beauty of this unique city on the Adriatic.
Charlene Kavanagh on the Star Wars VIII set in Dubrovnik
Game of Thrones not only brought with it the movie caravan it also brought a new type of tourism to the city. Far from the standard sun, sea and sand destination Dubrovnik, almost overnight, became a must see destination for movie fans. Last year the second most numerous tourists in Dubrovnik came from the US, even with the fact that there are no direct flights to the US from Dubrovnik or in fact to Croatia at all.
If the Game of Thrones effect is massive just how big will be the Star Wars effect? Dubrovnik is the eye of a storm at the moment; the historic Old City has been transformed into a galaxy far, far away as filming begins of Star Wars VIII in the city.
“This is my first time in Dubrovnik, I have always wanted to come so when my friend, who lives in Zagreb, said lets come to Dubrovnik and see the Star Wars set, I jumped at the chance,” explained Charlene Kavanagh to The Dubrovnik Times.
Kavanagh and her friend, Heather McCrimmon, are not only Star Wars fans, they are fans who have travelled half way across Europe just to visit Dubrovnik and see the Star Wars set. The two friends, both from Canada, live in different sides of Europe, Kavanagh in Lisbon and McCrimmon in Zagreb, but Dubrovnik brought them together for a few days again.
“I flew from Lisbon to Rome and then to Dubrovnik, it took me almost a day of travelling to get here, but it was more than worth it,” added Kavanagh.
Charlene Kavanagh and Heather McCrimmon get up close and perosnal with Star Wars in Dubrovnik
Even before the eighth episode of Star Wars has hit the big screens the tourism effect has already kicked in. What will the effect be when Star Wars VIII is released and Dubrovnik is splashed across the cinema screens.
“I am not a big fan of Star Wars, but I do like the genre, but I am a huge Game of Thrones fan, so to be able to combine the two in one glorious destination is really attractive,” said Kavangh.
These very sentiments were echoed by McCrimmon, “When we saw the news and blogs we saw that there was a good chance of seeing something up close and personal. We thought that there might be high levels of security and we wouldn’t be able to see the sets, not only have we be able to see them, we have touched them, sat on them and had our photos taken.”
The chance of catching a glimpse of one of the stars in the movie, perhaps Mark Hamill or Benicio Del Toro, wasn’t that important to the pair, they just wanted to experience Star Wars in Dubrovnik. Neither had actually travelled to a movie set before, but the pull of Dubrovnik and Star Wars was too great to resist. “Star Wars was an iconic movie for our generation, we can both remember seeing the first movie as children, we feel connected to the movie,” added McCrimmon.
These two Canadian ladies were part of a small band of tourists, and a larger group of international media, who visited Dubrovnik whilst the scenes for the movie were being set up, however over the coming years a wave of movie fans will sweep over the city. Just over 68,000 American tourists visited Dubrovnik in 2015, a large proportion thanks to the Game of Thrones series, by what factor will this number be increased this year, or in coming years, with Star Wars fans only time, or maybe Yoda, will tell.
“There are so many reasons to come to Dubrovnik, our tour guide told us that Dubrovnik will represent the most beautiful planet in the galaxy in Star Wars, and we agree,” concluded the Canadians.
On the occasion of International Women's Day the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Andro Vlahusic, handed out flowers to ladies in the streets and shops of Dubrovnik yesterday.
Yellow flowers were handed out to locals and tourists, and even the ladies working on the set of the Star Wars VII, all received a flower from the mayor yesterday.
The first day of filming of Star Wars VIII in Dubrovnik has arrived. The Stradun, the main street through the Old City, is getting the final touches as the cast is expected to arrive in the next couple of days.
Even though filming is expected to begin today in Dubrovnik it was originally mentioned by the production company that the first day of filming with the actual cast would be on the 11th of March. Rumours are rife in the city on who the main stars will be, with names such as Mark Hamill and Benicio Del Toro mentioned. Filming in Dubrovnik is expected to continue until the 16th of March.
All residents of the city have received an announcement of the filming from the City of Dubrovnik where they have been informed that due to filming a few of the streets in the city will be closed. From the announcement it is clear that filming for Star Wars VIII will be made in the evening and at night, however it is still unclear as to whether the Stradun will be open in the day. According to information we have obtained cafes and shops be able to remain open until 2pm, however this has yet to be officially confirmed.
As the final alterations to the set in Dubrovnik are being made we bring you a video from the Digital Nomads of the set before filming begins.
With all the focus on the current filming of the eighth episode of Star Wars in Dubrovnik news of another production filmed in Dubrovnik has gone unnoticed. HBO have just released the official trailer for season six of the globally popular Game of Thrones and Dubrovnik features briefly.
Season six of Game of Thrones is set to be broadcast on the 24th of April 2016. Dubrovnik, which has been the location for King’s Landing since season two, features briefly in the trailer teaser. In fact Dubrovnik wasn’t very busy for season six with only a few scenes shot in the city. However The Dubrovnik Times has some exclusive photos from the last years filming which featured Lena Headley.
The Croatian National Tourist Board has just released their new advertising campaign for spring. The slogan “Experience Spring in Croatia,” is being used on a dynamic new advert that will be broadcast on many international TV stations, including ORF2, ATV, Eurosport and Discovery channel.
“The focus of promotional activities for the Croatian Tourist Board is certainly the period pre and post season because in those parts of the year we have the most room for growth and improvement,” commented the director of the Croatian National Tourist Board Ratomir Ivicic.
The tourist board will also run the campaign through their social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in an attempt to raise the profile of Croatia as a year round destination. “Croatia is a destination best known for sun and sea and as a result there are almost no problems with occupancy capacity during the main summer months. However, our strategic goal is to bring Croatia closer as a destination delivering potential tourists quality offerings all year round,” added Ivicic.
Check out the latest promo video from the Croatian National Tourist Board
One of the most popular airlines in the UK has added another destionation to Dubrovnik for 2016. easyJet has announced that along with its flights from Stansted Airport in the UK it will also operate flights to Luton Airport to Dubrovnik for this summer season.
The first easyJet flight from Luton to Dubrovnik will begin on the 24th of May 2016 and will then continue on a twice a week basis until the 29th of October 2016.
“Dubrovnik overlooks the waters of the Adriatic; it’s famed for being a walled city with recent UNESCO world heritage status and offers easyJet customers flying from Luton a great summer holiday destination,” commented Neil Slaven, the commercial manager of easyJet.
Tickets are already available to purchase online and start at around 45 Euros for a single ticket. easyJet has announced that they expect to carry around 21,000 passengers on the new Luton to Dubrovnik route. This new route now means that easyJet operates to twelve European destinations from Dubrovnik Airport, including five in the UK.
easyJet now has 52 destinations on sale from London Luton Airport for next summer and bases 19 aircraft at the airport. “We expect Dubrovnik to be extremely popular for those who wish to get some easy and affordable summer sun and explore all it has to offer,” concluded Slaven.