Saturday, 25 May 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.


Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Marija Pejcinovic Buric and her Japanese host Taro Kono, confirmed in Tokyo on Monday good and friendly relations between Croatia and Japan and discussed topical global and regional issues as well as cooperation within multilateral organisations, the Croatian foreign ministry said in a press release.

During the second part of his official visit to Japan, Pejcinovic Puric held a number of bilateral meetings with representatives of Japanese institutions.

In the first part of her visit Pejcinovic Buric took part in a conference of the World Assembly for Women, held in Tokyo on March 22-24.

Pejcinovic Buric invited minister Kono to a return visit to Croatia.

The minister also met with representatives of the Japanese-Croatian parliamentary groups of friendship, led by Secretary General Nobu Kishi as well as with the leadership of the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) is a Japanese government-related organisation that promotes mutually beneficial trade and investment.

The meeting also focused on the support to the two countries' business people so as to advance bilateral trade and attract investments.

When it comes to the variety of products and services offered by financial institutions, the options are endless. Choosing a bank in Syracuse that suits your needs is important when you open a bank account. Switching to a different bank is a long and complicated process, and you wouldn’t want to deal with that in the future.

Here are some of the tips that you should consider so you can pick the best bank for you:

1. Type of bank

The right type of bank is very important when you open an account. Make a list of the reasons why you need a bank account and take a look if the bank you’re eyeing to choose offers your needs.

Here are the four types of banks.

● Credit unions
Credit Unions, such as, don’t have branches in every location. It is similar to a community bank, but has a different structure. They’re operated and owned by members, that’s why before opening an account from them, you have to meet their membership requirements. You have to be shopping, residing, or working in the area that they serve.

● International banks
Citigroup and Bank of America are some of the examples of an international or multinational bank. This is convenient because they have ATM machines and physical branches almost anywhere.

● Online banks
If an ATM isn’t needed for your transactions or if you don’t have constant access to them, then you should consider online banking. Online payments, check, and debit cards are also available in this type of bank. They offer higher interest rates for your savings and checking accounts.

● Community banks
These are smaller than other types of banks. They offer savings and checking accounts, and localized customer service. However, they don’t offer mortgage or account types, and if you’re traveling, you might not find any branches.

2. Fees and rates

The bank you’ll be choosing should fit your current financial situation. It is important to examine the account charges and interest rates as you shop.

Low fees are important, when it comes to checking and savings accounts. High annual percentage yields will not break or make you financially, so don’t be lured by those. Savings with high API will create a big hole in your account since monthly penalties and maintenance fees will be higher.

Here’s the 3 major types of a maintaining balance:

● Minimum balance
To guarantee specific benefits and to avoid penalties, the account should remain at a certain level.

● Savings’ minimum amount
To avoid account terminations, several banks, especially credit unions, may require you to keep a specific amount in your savings.

● Average monthly balance
Throughout the month, your balance should be above a definite required amount.

When getting a loan, you don’t have to necessarily borrow from your bank. You can borrow money from online lenders, since they can charge lesser than credit unions or your local banks.


3. Available financial products

Income-generating assets and loans are the 2 major types of available financial products from most of the banks. Large banks can offer more product types, but it doesn’t mean that you’ll already have a better deal.

Here are some examples of available products that you should consider:

● Loans
○ Home equity loan
○ Home mortgage loan
○ Car loan
○ Credit cards

● Income-generating assets
○ Certificate of deposits
○ Brokerage accounts
○ Individual retirement agreement or IRA

Be vigilant of all the bank’s maintenance and annual fees that might be charged to your account, and the restriction or limits that you should follow.

4. Services offered

Aside from financial products, you also have to know what additional services they’re offering. Here are some of the important ones:

● Wire transfers
● Automatic payments
● Online banking
● Electronic bank statements
● ATM refunds
● Direct deposits
● Cashier checks

5. Availability

Look for reviews online or ask your family and friends if they’ve done transactions, like opening an account or getting a loan, with your prospective bank. You have to make sure that the bank you will choose has a good customer service because even if it is offering a great deal, if it isn’t accessible or if their service is horrible, then you should walk away and find another bank that can assist you with all your banking needs.

6. Security

This is a big factor, especially with today’s technological advancements. Information from companies or online are exposed to great risks. Hackers are everywhere, and you have to make sure that your bank has an extra layer of security just in case a breach will take place. Take a look at ask the bank about the preventive measures and actions that they’ll do when their customers’ accounts are compromised.

Determine your needs and take a look at your options carefully. Choosing the right bank is crucial and you have to research and get a lot of information before opening an account. Consider these tips when choosing the right bank for you.


“Stationary guests spend 170 euros a day, more than any other destination in Croatia. Consumption in categories is different, so for example, guests in private accommodation spend 114 euros per day. Whilst cruise passengers on average spend 59 euros per day," commented Zrinka Marusic from the Institute of Tourism at the presentation of the first TOMAS research in the area of Dubrovnik.

As part of the fourth session of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board Assembly at the Hilton Imperial Hotel, along with the report for the tourist year 2018, the results of the research "TOMAS Dubrovnik 2018" were presented.

In 2018, Dubrovnik achieved record results - an increase of 8 percent was recorded, compared to the previous year, or a million and 272 thousand arrivals. There was also a 5 percent increase in the number of overnight stays.

"In 2019, we expect much better capacity in the pre and post seasons. In the first month of this year we had a 30 percent increase in arrivals and overnight stays," said Romana Vlašić, the director of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board.

Most of the guests in 2018 came from the United Kingdom, followed by tourists from the United States. German tourists realized 22 percent of arrivals, but there was a drop in the number of overnight stays.

tourism dubrovnik 2018 tomas results

Guests have concerns about overcrowding - Photo Shutterstock 


According to the research by TOMAS most guests find Dubrovnik via online article, however newspaper articles are also an important the source of information. "The average age of stationary guests is 42, but hotel guests are a little older,” commented Marusic.

The results show that guests are generally extremely pleased with the level of accommodation, service and quality of food, but there are elements that should be changed, such as entertainment, sports and shopping opportunities, crowds and traffic in the city.

The results of the research will be used to direct and improve the promotional activities, to enhance the quality of the offer in certain segments, and to design and market new marketing activities, according to the Dubrovnik Tourist Board.

What has happened to the Adriatic Sea in Dubrovnik? These photos were sent to us by a reader and show the incredibly low tide in the Bay of Pile just outside of the Old City walls.

Although there is a slight tide in the Croatian Adriatic, around 1 metres difference, this photo shows a rather surprising low tide.

The Bay of Pile, which was the background of the Battle of Blackwater Bay in the popular Game of Thrones series, is normally throughout the summer the location of many kayak and water sport attractions. We feel that they would have problems offering a service without a sea.

pile no sea 2019

Those fatal words, that fatal sentence, drifted in the air for a few seconds, until it was repeated again like an echo bouncing around the inside of Minčeta. “I think it’s time we painted the house again.” Were my ears deceiving me? Had the P-word been mentioned? Yes!

We have had a few disasters on the painting front before and this time I wanted, no needed, to avoid another one. We’ve somehow managed in the past to buy pink paint, to buy enough paint to keep Jupol in business for a decade, to buy façade paint and to cover everything, from the sofa to the TV, in white paint.

I remember all those years ago when the only colour you could buy was white. It is a simpler time. Everything was bright white. Now there are shades of this, hues of that and all of them have fancy names.

We plumped on “Curry 50.” For a few reasons. Firstly, it was an easy name to remember. It was also my favourite food. And, probably more importantly, it was a nice colour. It seemed like a strange name for a paint colour, it wasn’t exotic or even that descriptive. And yes of course I asked if they had a Curry 49, but I was met with a blank expression from the shop assistant. Experience is the best teacher. So far more important that the paint was the protection so that, as it had done several times in the past, the paint didn’t fly everywhere and colour my dogs “Curry 50.” Reels of Tape and some kind of huge nylon sheet that looked like a serial killer would roll it out before chopping up his victims.

How nice it is to work with your hands sometimes. Maybe I should have changed my profession and become a stonemason or carpenter, although I would need some serious training. It’s always the hardest to work with people. A big lump of stone of a plank of wood doesn’t complain or have a million excuses. So there I was in front of the first blank wall, if I was an artist a blank canvas, but an artist I am certainly not. I had covered the whole room, in mean the whole room, with plastic sheeting. A serial killer could go wild and CSI wouldn’t have a clue afterwards.

The first dunk of the roller in the paint and I aimed at the ceiling. I say aimed because when the roller hit the ceiling the majority of the paint flew off and landed right over me. The only thing in the room not wrapped up like a salami in a plastic coating was me. I fleetingly considered rolling in the plastic sheeting, like a huge condom around me, but instead went for the natural approach and stripped down to shorts and a T-shirt. “At least the paint will be easier to wash off me than all my clothes,” I said to me already laughing wife. It seems that we spend a lot, or maybe too much, of our decorating time laughing. Dressed for the beach I slopped the paint up on the ceiling again. Yes, I got sprayed but at least this time most of it hit flesh. Paint just has a magnet, or an affection, for me. Every time I looked up a blob of paint would find my head. I wonder if Michelangelo had the same problem when he was painting the Sistine Chapel.

He was just going in to put the final touches to Mary and Christ and a dribble of paint rolled from his brush and into his eye. A few hours later and the first room was painted, and although there was a fair amount of paint of the sheeting, and of course all over me, it didn’t look too bad at all. I’m not likely to get a job painting other people’s houses or even painting the white lines in the middle of the road, but the first room had turned out above my low expectations. And like I said there was a strange relief about painting, about working with my hands for a change. I could switch off and just concentrate with what I was doing.

As one of Michelangelo’s colleagues, Leonardo da Vinci said, “Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.” Strangely enough I went away for some relaxation whilst painting the rooms (and myself.)                       

The Brexit situation is, to say the least, fluid. And many British travellers looking to spend their summer holidays on the beaches of Europe this year have a whole range of concerns regarding their rights in the future, whether in the case of a deal or a no-deal. And of course for the millions of UK nationals who call the European Union home they also have worries on their status in the future.

One of the biggest concerns is undoubtedly their healthcare rights in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

In light of these concerns the UK government has released some fresh advice for UK travellers in the case of a no-deal Brexit. This latest, and updated advice, was published on the official website of the UK government and gives important guidelines for UK nationals looking to travel to Europe after Brexit and the moves they need to make to protect their healthcare.

Here is the advice for the UK government in full:

Healthcare advice for UK travellers in the event of a no-deal EU Exit

Updated advice for UK travellers on the continuity of reciprocal healthcare arrangements in the event of a no-deal EU Exit.
Leaving the EU with a deal remains the government’s top priority and would give all UK nationals the stability and certainty to prepare for our new relationship after EU Exit. However, the government must plan for every possible outcome, including no deal.

All UK nationals who are planning to reside in, travel to, work or study in the EU or European Free Trade Area (EFTA) states (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) are strongly advised to check the country-specific guidance on GOV.UK and NHS.UK about healthcare arrangements if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

The Department of Health and Social Care has been working closely with EU member states and EFTA states to protect existing healthcare arrangements for these and other groups. However, it is not possible for the UK government to guarantee access unilaterally to healthcare abroad.

Actions for UK nationals

Visitors to the EU

The government always advises UK nationals to take out travel insurance when going overseas, both to EU and non-EU destinations. UK nationals, including those with pre-existing conditions, planning to visit a country in the EU/EFTA on exit day should continue to buy travel insurance.

Any questions regarding individual travel insurance policies should be directed to the relevant insurance companies or refer to guidance published on the Association of British Insurers (ABI) website.

Residents in the EU

Substantial numbers of UK nationals will already be eligible for or enrolled in local health services, because of their residency, benefits or employment status. There is no reason to think that a no-deal scenario will affect these arrangements where EU countries offer equal access to healthcare.

UK nationals resident in the EU are advised to register their healthcare entitlement with their local authorities, if they have not already done so. This may mean that they will need to join a social insurance scheme and contribute as other residents do. Others will need to buy private healthcare insurance.

The UK government’s offer

In order to continue to support the healthcare needs of UK nationals, we have made an offer to EU member states and EFTA states to maintain the existing healthcare arrangements, in both a deal or no-deal scenario, until 31 December 2020.

This would mean that we will continue to pay for healthcare costs for current or former UK residents for whom the UK has responsibility who are living or working in or visiting the EU.

We have brought forward legislation to enable us to implement new reciprocal healthcare arrangements.

Although we are hopeful that EU member states will accept our offer, as a responsible government we have developed a multi-layered approach to minimise disruption to healthcare provision for UK nationals currently in or travelling to the EU:

  • some EU member states have prepared their own legislation for a no-deal scenario. Spain has publicly committed to healthcare access for resident and visiting UK nationals
  • the UK and Ireland are committed to continuing healthcare access within the Common Travel Area
  • the UK has already agreed with EFTA states to protect citizens’ rights, including healthcare
  • the UK will fund healthcare for UK nationals who have applied for, or are undergoing, treatment in the EU prior to and on exit day, for up to one year
  • we have published country-specific guidance on GOV.UK and NHS.UK
  • UK nationals may use NHS services if they return to live in the UK
  • those who have their healthcare funded by the UK and are resident in the EU on exit day can use NHS services in England without charge when on a temporary visit
  • the ABI has advised that travel insurance policies will cover emergency medical treatment costs that could have been reclaimed through European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs)

If EU member states do not agree to extend the existing healthcare arrangements before exit day, many of the arrangements for access to healthcare in the EU would change for UK nationals. Healthcare arrangements in many member states would revert to those that apply to the rest of the world.

In a no-deal scenario, UK nationals may no longer be able to use their EHICs when travelling to the EU.

In 2018 a total of 9.9 million Kunas worth of food was donated to Croatian charities, which was down almost a million Kuna when compared with 2017.

The Croatian Tax Office collected data on the amount of food donated to Croatian charities as part of an action which will be launched in Brussels to mark the most generous companies. However, the data collected shows that donations have dropped significantly and even more worrying is that around 380,000 tonnes of food is thrown away every day, the vast majority by households.

The biggest donators of food in Croatia in recent years have been the supermarket chain Konzum and the dairy producer Dukat.

With summer rapidly approaching its high time to plan your Dubrovnik vacation. And what better way to relax than to find a stress-free island in the sun and roll out the beach towel.

We have chosen our “Top Five Dubrovnik Island Getaways” to give you all some handy ideas on where to island-hop this summer. With over 1,000 islands dotted along the Croatian coastline you’ll be spoilt for choice, but here are a few ideas.


The Voice of Dubrovnik


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