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.
After the record season and a growth of traffic of almost 30 percent, which represents the highest percentage increase in traffic from all airports in Croatia, Rijeka Airport has confirmed the arrival of three new airlines for this summer season. Lufthansa, Volotea and TUI, which will fly to three new destinations, London Gatwick, Manchester and Marseille.
And now the arrival of Air Serbia at Rijeka Airport has now been confirmed, and from June a direct operation between Rijeka and Belgrade will open. It has also been confirmed that this new line will continue to operate in the winter, meaning that there will be a direct air link between Rijeka and Belgrade throughout the whole year.
Air Serbia is the Serbian national airline and flies to a total of 49 destinations in Europe and the Mediterranean, and it is particularly significant that it has direct lines to the Middle East and North America and offers direct flights to international destinations in Asia, Australia and Africa via Etihad Airways.
Ticket sales for the Rijeka to Belgrade line have already begun and flights will operate every Tuesday and Friday from the 4th of June 4 to the 25th of October.
The UK’s exit from the European Union is only a couple of months away and an enterprising businessman has come up with a Brexit survival box to prepare for the worst. The box includes a mixture of dehydrated food, some British favourites, and is retailing at £295 and business is booming.
James Blake, a businessman from Leeds, is the brains behind this survival kit for Brexit and apart from dehydrated food the kit also contains a water purifying kit and gel for starting fires.
And according to a report on Reuters Blake has “already sold hundreds of them.” With only nine weeks left and the black clouds of a “no deal” situation hanging over the UK many citizens are worried as to what the future might bring. One possibility is that a no deal scenario will see supermarket shelves start to empty before future trade deals are in place.
The special Brexit Box includes 60 portions of dehydrated food, such as Chicken Tikka, Chilli Con Carne, Macaroni Cheese and Chicken Fajitas, 48 portions of dried mince and chicken. Many of the dishes have a shelf life of 25 years.
Speaking to Reuters Blake commented that “Right now we are in a Brexit process that nobody has control over, we have no idea what is happening. Our government has no idea what is happening, but you can control what happens to you by taking control yourself.”
Starting from June 2019, Air Serbia, the national airline of the Republic of Serbia, will commence direct year-round flights to seven new destinations – Kiev, Madrid, Barcelona, Rijeka, Krasnodar, Helsinki and Cairo as well as two seasonal flights to Nice and Zadar. In addition to the new destinations, Air Serbia will add more depth to its network with additional frequencies on Air Serbia's busiest existing routes, including Zurich, Paris and Dubrovnik.
"We are very proud to be able to connect the Serbian capital to new cities, adding breadth and depth to our network by providing our passengers the choice to choose from 49 direct destinations, which the national carrier will serve from June 2019," Air Serbia's CEO Duncan Naysmith stated at the occasion.
“The expansion of Air Serbia's international network represents a step forward in the Serbian national carrier's expansion plans,” commented Serbia’s national airline.
Tourism in Croatia is an exceptionally important industry which accounts for around 20 percent of the country’s GDP and is also one of the biggest employers. Last year was another record breaking year for the tourism industry with 19.7 million tourist arrivals and 106 million overnight stays. But whilst these figures may sound impressive the growth compared to 2017 was less impressive, a 6.5 percent increase in tourist numbers and 4 percent increase in overnight stays.
One of the main reasons for this slight slowdown in growth is undoubtedly the rise of competition in other markets. Turkey, Greece and North Africa have all had serious problems over the past few years which, in one way or another, have led to a massive drop in travellers. However, these countries have been working hard to once again attract guests, mainly through price discounts, and are once again drawing larger numbers and consequently adding competition to the Croatia coastline.
The effect of tourism in Croatia cannot be underestimated. Not only does every fifth Kuna earned come from tourism but is also generates tax revenues and at the same time is an excellent sales channel for home-grown products such as wine, olive oil and souvenirs. And at the same time the tourism sector attracts large foreign investments. Around 317,000 people are employed in the tourism industry.
The Ministry of Tourism has announced that in 2019 direct investments in the tourism sector will amount to 1.5 billion Euros, an increase from 2018 when investments totalled 940 million Euros. In 2019 private investors will stump up around 625 million Euros in tourism whilst local government bodies will invest around 425 million.
The vast majority of the new investment this year will go towards new accommodation units, from camp sites to five-star hotels. At the beginning of the year Croatia had 1,168 hotels with a total of 172,000 beds. There are 496 campsites, 350 hostels and 117,000 private apartments.
By far the biggest challenge facing is the chronic lack of workers. In 2018 the cracks in the labour market were papered over with foreign workers. And with the government still struggling to hold back the tide of young Croatians leaving for better prospects in Germany, Ireland and Sweden they will once again look to attract foreigners to fill the gaps. In fact, in 2019 the government has increased the number of visas available to foreigners seven-fold to around 60,000.
Croatian tourism is expected to see a slight rise, of between 4 and 6 percent in 2019 according to experts. However, there could also be a falloff in British tourists as the chaos around Brexit continues to effect confidence in the value of the pound as well as possible new travel requirements.
Google Maps has introduced a new feature that shows drivers speed limitations on the road as well as police radar positions.
Google is introducing the speed and police radar support within its navigation app, Google Maps. If you turn on the application, the driving speed feature will show you the speed limit for the road you are traveling, and it will be printed at the bottom left of the screen. The radar will be shown with a small camera icon that can be seen on the map itself.
However, Croatians will still have to wait before this new system is available in the country as Google have announced that it will be launched on a test period in major cities in the United States, England, Denmark, Australia, Brazil, Canada and Russia.
At the end of November 2018, household lending in Croatia totalled 124.4 billion kuna (€16.7 billion), going up 5.1 billion kuna (€687.2 million) or 4.3 percent on the year and increasing for 15 months in a row, Raiffeisenbank Austria (RBA) analysts said on Friday.
Banks' lending to households rose by 0.7 percent or 914 million kuna (€123 million) from October to November 2018.
The RBA analysis of the statistical data provided by Croatia’s central bank showed that local currency household loans continue to increase.
A double-digit increase in kuna household loans issued has been going on for three years. At the end of November, they increased by 13 percent or 64.6 billion kuna (€8.7 billion) on the year.
The portion of the kuna-denominated mortgages came to 29 percent in the volume of mortgages.
Opening a company in Croatia has not only become relatively straightforward in recent years but also surprisingly cheap. With an initial investment of just 10 Kuna you can open a limited company but if you plan on closing that company it will hit you in the pocket considerably harder. From the beginning of this year a new law has come into force which means that closing a limited company will cost you at least 35,000 Kuna!
Since the beginning of 2019 the liquidation of a company in Croatia is considerably more expensive and the reason is the amendments to the Pension Insurance Act. This new law stipulates that liquidators of companies - which are, as a rule, the owners or directors - have to pay contributions.
Even if we do not take into account the usual costs of closing down a company, which are not small, experts' calculations show that these new costs from the Pension Insurance Act mean an extra 30,000 Kuna. One of the reasons for this extra cost if that actually closing a company in Croatia can take a long time, and for all that time the owner will be liable to pay contributions.
The normal costs of closing down a limited company range from 1,500 Kuna to 3,500 Kuna, depending on the size of the company. This would cover the cost of notaries, court fees for opening the liquidation process and the process of entering the court registry. But with this added new cost the whole process could cost in excess of 35,000 Kuna. Of course the longer the process of closing lasts the more it would cost.
Croatia is one of the more expensive European destinations to holiday in this summer according to a survey by the UK Post Office. The Post Office barometer monitors the price of eight tourist items – comprising dinner for two with a bottle of wine, a range of soft and alcoholic drinks, sun cream and insect repellent, and the Croatian destination of Porec was listed as eighth most expensive on the list.
The Post Office carries out this research every year and over recent years Croatia, or rather prices in Croatia, have grown considerably. According to the survey the cheapest destination in Europe is Bulgaria where the eight tourist items will cost around £36, followed by Turkey at £45 and Portugal at £50. The price of the eight items in Porec, Croatia comes in at twice the price of the cheapest European countries at £80. With the most expensive European destination on the Post Office survey being Sorrento, Italy at £119.
In general, the Post Office survey revealed that prices for popular resorts and cities have fallen this year. With 19 of the 42 destinations surveyed cheaper than in 2018. Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money commented that “It is good news that prices are down in many destinations this year, but it is still very important to be aware of the huge variation in costs we found across the 42 countries surveyed. For example, barometer costs in the six cheapest resorts and cities are less than half those in the 15 priciest destinations. That’s why we advise holidaymakers to draw up a destination shortlist and do their homework by comparing the prices for meals, drinks and other tourist items before booking. Forearmed is forewarned!”