Friday, 16 November 2018
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.

Email: mark.thomas@dubrovnik-times.com

2018 will be a year to forget for Croatia’s national airline, Croatia Airlines. Disputes with the staff, two planned strikes that were called off at the last minute and a failure to find a strategic partner and now comes news that the national airline has made a loss in the first three quarters of this year.

In the first three quarters of this year Croatia Airlines posted a net loss of 34.4 million Kuna (€4.6 million). Even though the airline made a profit in the second quarter of 4.9 million Kuna, and in the third quarter of 45.2 million Kuna, it wasn’t enough to cover the heavy losses incurred in the first quarter of 84.5 million Kuna.

The two announced strikes evidently led to a drop in earnings as passengers moved their flights to other airlines and this combined with an increase in fuel prices have meant that 2018 is on course to be a negative year for the flag ship airline.

In order to encourage tourist visits during the winter, for the fourth year in a row the Dubrovnik Tourist Board is organising ˝Winter Saturday Mornings in the City˝ for tourists who are staying in Dubrovnik.

Every Saturday, beginning today until 30 March 2019, a free tour of the Old City with an English speaking guide will be organised for the guests of the city beginning at 10 am in front of the Tourist Information Centre (TIC) Pile, located at Brsalje 5.

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The offer is meant for individual visitors and does not apply to groups. Following the tour of the city with a professional guide, the Dubrovnik Tourist Board is also sponsoring a free performance for all visitors by the folklore ensemble FA Linđo beginning at 11:30 am in front of the Church of St. Blaise (in case of rain the performance will not be held). This free program will be a great addition to the various entertainment programs offered during the winter months.

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Croatian football fans might not have far to travel to see their national team in action in the 2030 World Cup. A joint bid to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup has been put forward by Serbia, Romania, Greece and Bulgaria.

The Serbian President, Aleksandar Vucic, told the media on Friday that these four countries had come together to propose to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup.

Speaking to the media after a quadrilateral meeting in the Bulgarian city of Varna on Friday, Vucic said that the idea came from Greek Prime Mister Alexis Tsipras, and was agreed with the Prime Ministers of Bulgaria and Romania, Boyko Borisov and Viorica Dancila. The four countries also plan to bid for the 2028 European Championship, Vucic added.

Officially filed bids to host the 2030 World Cup so far include a joint Uruguay-Argentina-Paraguay bid, and another one by Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia.

Croatia had their best ever World Cup showing this year in Russia where they reached the finals in Moscow and finished second to the winners France.

The swimming season in the wider Dubrovnik region is still open as these happy swimmers in Cavtat proved this morning as this photo sent by a reader of the Dubrovnik Times shows.

The predicted warmer weather for the south of Croatia this weekend didn’t really come true but with air temperatures around 25 degrees and sea temperatures measured at 20.5 this morning it was a good opportunity to hit the beaches.

Even though we have moved into the first weekend of November and there are only 52 days left until Christmas the Adriatic is still warm enough to enjoy. It looks like this year Dubrovnik will move straight from summer to winter and bypass autumn.

Drama this early morning in the sea near Korčula when the tourist boat “Etna” caught fire. The County Emergency Centre received an urgent call at 4:27am regarding a fire on the Etna tourist boat, which was located near Račišće on the island of Korčula.

The members of fire brigade from Korčula, the Harbour Master's Office in Korčula and the Maritime Police were immediately sent to the intervention.

The boat was completely engulfed by the fire at 5.20 am burned and sank. There is no danger of sea pollution because the oil tank was taken off the ship and taken to the coast. There were no injured persons in the accident.

For the fourth time in twenty minutes my mobile rang with some unknown number from Mozambique. The only reason I know this is that my mobile is smarter than me (not that hard really) and when someone calls it actually reads out their name before starting to ring. This normally has me in fits of laughter on a daily basis as Siri tries her best to read Croatia names, especially surnames. So when Siri for the fourth time said “Unknown Caller Mozambique I was intrigued.

With all of my heart and soul I knew it was a bogus call. Just like those spam emails that arrive telling you that your great-uncle in India has died and left you 2 million dollars in his will and where should the money be sent. I knew this call was spam but curiosity got the better of me, so I answered. Before I could say anything a voice started speaking, and the voice was speaking in Croatian. Wow a Mozambican who knows Croatian can’t be many of them, I laughed to myself. The measures that this con-artists will go to is unreal.

“Are you there? Can you hear me? Please help me my grandmother is sick and she needs money for treatment….” That is as far as I got before hanging up.

Now when I say Croatian it was more like a robot speaking and the language was like you’d taught a parrot to speak. Yes, I realise it was stupid to answer the phone and yes I’ll probably end up with a huge bill after the Mozambique mafia use a virus to connect my mobile to a porn website and bleed me dry but I am like a cat, and curiosity just got the better of me.

That then got my thinking. Presumably someone, somewhere in the world actually falls for these spam emails and spam phone calls. I mean if nobody ever paid these con-artists then they wouldn’t do it. It turns out millions of people pay to get the money from their great-uncle in India. Spam, or to give it the full title Self Propelled Automatic Mail, generates huge volumes of cash. The New York Times ran an article in 2015 entitled “Spammers are profiting by at least $65 million per year.” Seems that yes there are quite a few gullible people out there.

My favourite Spam email of all time was “My name is Winnie Mandela. The wife of South African President, Nelson Mandela, and I need to transfer $20 million out of the country because of my husband’s poor health condition.” I laughed so much I even kept the email. I received this in my inbox around six months ago and Nelson Mandela died in 2013. I felt like answering “Now that is a pretty bad health condition…death.” But held myself back. This was probably the laziest spammer of all time.

A few days passed and my mobile rang with Siri again bleating “Unknown caller.” This time it wasn’t my friend in Mozambique but the number did look a little strange. “Another spam caller” I muttered to myself, I ignored it. Three minutes later the same number rang back. Again curiosity got the better of me. I answered abruptly “hallo!” to be greeted by an unknown lady’s voice. “Good afternoon is this Mark Thomas?” I was in two minds whether to reply or just hang up. The number was hidden and this could well be a cousin of my Mozambique buddy. I kept it short “Yes.” She came back “I am calling you from the Split Police Force the technical crimes division.” Now I was listening. She continued “Have you received any calls from unknown numbers outside of Croatia recently?”

Quite clearly this police officer knew about the Mozambique mafia. And I thought she was another con-artist. “Can you tell me if you sent the man any money?” she added. I didn’t even listen to the end of the robot voice but reading between the lines it seems that somebody had sent him money for his sick grandmother. Maybe his grandmother was related to Nelson Mandela.

“Like almost everyone who uses e-mail, I receive a ton of spam every day. Much of it offers to help me get out of debt or get rich quick. It would be funny if it weren't so exciting.” Guess who famously once wrote this. Bill Gates.

Croatia has once again found itself on a “top ten” list and this time it comes from one of the most important American tour operators. Virtuoso has ranked Croatia among the top ten most popular countries to visit, in its overall rankings, as well as in the subcategories of emerging destinations and favourite places for millennial travellers.

According to its Virtuoso Luxe Report for 2019 which polled thousands of travel agencies dealing in luxury travel, Croatia ranked 2nd among most popular emerging destinations (behind Japan), 6th most popular destination for Millenial travellers, and 8th in its overall ranking of most popular places to visit in 2019.

"The US market represents one of the leading overseas markets for Croatia's tourist industry, and this year the country recorded 570,000 arrivals and 1.6 million bed nights by American visitors so far, which is a 23 percent increase year-on-year, so we are happy to see Croatia ranked so highly in the US market," the director of the national tourist board, Kristjan Stanicic, said in a press release.

The price of a one-day Dubrovnik City Card will increase by 50 Kuna, from the current 200 Kuna to 250 Kuna, for next year. The Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Frankovic, will propose this new price increase to the councillors at the session of the City Council announced for next Friday, 9 November.

It is also proposed that the price of the three-day Dubrovnik Card from the current 250 will increase to 300 Kuna, while the price of the seven-day Dubrovnik Card will remain unchanged at 350 Kuna.

The Dubrovnik Card allows users to entrance onto the City Walls, use of the public transport, entrance into the cities museums and galleries plus discounts in many outlets.

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15°C

Dubrovnik

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Humidity: 33%
Wind: NE at 43.45 km/h
Saturday
SP_WEATHER_BREEZY
10°C / 16°C
Sunday
Partly cloudy
9°C / 15°C
Monday
Scattered showers
8°C / 13°C
Tuesday
Thunderstorms
12°C / 17°C

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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