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.
Croatia’s tourism industry was hoping for a strong finish to the season after above expectation results in July and August, but with new Covid-19 travel restrictions coming into force in many major travel partners September was disappointing.
In September, 536 thousand tourists arrived in Croatia, or a massive 76.5 percent less than in September last year. And the number of overnight stays was down in the month by 62 percent, according to fresh data from eVisitor.
In the first nine months of this year, a total of almost 7.4 million tourists came to Croatia, or 60.7 percent less than in the same months last year, while a total of 52.4 million overnight stays fell by 49.1 percent. Foreign 5.9 million tourists spent almost 42 million overnight stays, which is 64.6 or 53.6 percent less than in the first nine months of 2019.
The largest drop in overnight stays in the first nine months of 67.1 percent was in Dubrovnik-Neretva with 2.7 million overnight stays in the first nine months of this year, while among the Adriatic counties Lika-Senj with the lowest number of overnight stays, 1.8 million, which is a drop of 45 percent.
Among all foreign markets, as in previous years, the Germans kept the first place in Croatian tourism in this pandemic year with 12.5 million overnight stays, which is 38.4 percent less than in the previous nine months.
Current sea temperatures in Dubrovnik are warmer than the air temperatures in most northern European cities! Swimming season is still alive and well in Dubrovnik. And according to a recent survey of the quality of sea water on the county’s beaches the seas are not only warm but also clean.
The Dubrovnik-Neretva County Public Health Institute conducted the tenth regular sea survey on 120 beaches in the period from September 21 to October 1, 2020 and 118 beaches passed the test with flying colours. Only 2 beaches failed to reach the highest, excellent standard, the sea water on the beach Autocamp Monika in Molunat and Prigradica on Korcula were rated as satisfactory. Whilst the remaining 118 beaches up and down the county all passed with excellent rating.
And the current sea temperature is between 22 and 23 degrees. So, jump in and enjoy the Adriatic, swimming season hasn’t ended just yet.
One of the most popular budget airline in Europe, EasyJet, will operate its last flight to Dubrovnik from the UK on the 10th of October and finish operations well ahead of 2019.
The majority of EasyJet flights to Dubrovnik have already come to an end at the beginning of October, reports Croatian Aviation. In the first week of October EasyJet flew its last flights of the year from Bristol, Edinburgh and London to Croatia’s southernmost airport. And on the 10th of October the last flight of the year will operate from Manchester.
EasyJet is one of the most important flight partners for Dubrovnik Airport and in 2019 was the second busiest carrier to the city after the national airline, Croatia Airlines. But clearly 2020 has been a challenging year and the UK airline will stop flights much earlier than they did in 2019.
EasyJet will continue flight operations to Split until the end of October.
The week in Dubrovnik has started with very low clouds blocking out the sky and sun. The weather forecasters might have missed the mark yesterday when predicted storms gave way to boiling sunshine, but today they were spot on.
The clouds are so low that most of the higher regions blocked from view. It isn’t a day to be without your umbrella. Highs are expected to reach 22 degrees and the southerly wind is making it fell even warmer.
In the last 24 hours, 138 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded, and the number of active cases in Croatia today is 1,466. Over the past 24 hours unfortunately 2 more people have passed away due to the virus, meaning that the death toll in Croatia from Covid-19 since the pandemic began has reached 300.
There are currently 326 patients are in hospital, of which 24 are on a ventilator.
Since February 25, 2020, when the first case of infection was recorded in Croatia, a total of 17,797 people have been infected, of which 300 have died, a total of 16,031 have recovered, 182 in the last 24 hours.
There are currently 8,923 people in self-isolation.
To date, a total of 328,392 people have been tested, of which 2,233 in the last 24 hours.
The City of Zagreb again saw the largest number of new Covid-19 cases with 61 new cases, followed by the Vukovar-Srijem County with 24 new Covid-19 cases.
In the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, one new case of Covid-19 was recorded in the last 24 hours. This new case is a male person from Dubrovnik (an epidemiological link has been established).
On a positive note 2 people from Dubrovnik have made a full recovery.
There are currently 12 people tested positive for coronavirus hospitalized in the Dubrovnik General Hospital. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 14,960 samples have been analysed.
There are 279 people in self-isolation, and in the last 24 hours no case of violation of the self-isolation measure has been determined.
Dubrovnik Airport, very much the gateway to Croatia’s southernmost city, has to say the least had a challenging year. Being in the front line of tourism in the city the airport is usually a hive of activity and over the past decade has seen a constant increase in passengers passing through the airport. Last year was a record year with the 3 million passenger mark missed by a whisker, handling 2.89 passengers. In August alone last year the airport saw over 524,000 passengers from all over the world.
2020 is a long way from those heady days. August this Covid-19 effected year saw only 119,000 using Dubrovnik Airport, and to add more context August 2020 was by far the busiest month.
When the UK took Croatia off the so called “safe corridor” list passenger numbers took a nose dive, and only just under 41,000 passengers were handled. From January to the end of September the airport has dealt with only 306,949 travellers. Over the same period from 2019 the airport had already seen 2.5 million passengers. In fact, looking at the official statistics from the airport five individual months from 2019 had more passengers than the whole of 2020 so far.
Passenger numbers decrease drastically in 2020 - Photo Mark Thomas
If the rate of passenger numbers continues at the same level for the rest of the year, and the final outcome reaches around 360,000 to 370,00, then the airport will see fewer passengers than 1969 when 456,000 people landed. Apart from the years that were severely affected due to the Homeland War, Dubrovnik Airport is on course to have its worst year since the end of the 1960’s. The Covid-19 pandemic has sent airport passenger numbers back 60 years.
Of course there is justified hope that 2020 is a one off year, the travel industry all over the world has seen catastrophic results. Dubrovnik is not alone, although in Croatian terms it can be said that the city was the worst hit, being so reliant on tourists arriving by plane.
In the last 24 hours, 258 new cases of Covid-19 virus were recorded, and the number of active cases in Croatia today is 1,512.
Unfortunately, five more people passed away due to Covid-19 in Croatia in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll in the country to 298.
There are currently 296 people in hospital positive for Covid-19 and 25 people on a ventilator.
Since February 25, 2020, when the first case of infection was recorded in Croatia, a total of 17,659 people have been infected, of which 298 have died. A total of 15,849 people have recovered, 188 of them in the last 24 hours.
There are currently 9,081 people in self-isolation.
To date, a total of 326,159 people have been tested, of which 4,608 in the last 24 hours.