Thursday, 27 February 2020
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.


"Croatia and Finland have had good political relations for 25 years, but their cooperation needs to be strengthened on the economic front," were the words of Bozo Petrov, the Croatian Parliament speaker after a meeting with his Finnish counterpart Maria Lohele a few days ago.

The Finnish Parliament speaker Lohele who was on her first visit to Croatia said that the two countries had a lot in common, shared many challenges and possibilities especially in the field of economy. She also emphasized that Croatia as the newest member of the EU was a country of many opportunities and she hoped that her visit would help improve relations between these two countries at the parliamentary level and at the business one.

In mid-December 2012 the Finnish parliament ratified with a vast majority of votes the Croatia's EU accession treaty thus Finland was the 20th country to approve Croatia's accession to the European Union, without waiting for the European Commission's final monitoring report in March 2013.

At the meeting with her Croatian counterpart Maria Lohele also added that Croatia was an increasingly popular tourist destination for Finnish tourists and expressed hope that those trends would continue and that more Croatians would opt for Finland as their tourist destination in the future. Last year 68,000 Finnish tourists visited Croatia.

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The Finnish Parliament speaker Maria Lohele


“I didn’t even know that there was a Japanese restaurant in Croatia, let alone in Dubrovnik,” answered the boy with a puzzled look on his face. “What do you think Japanese tourists eat when they come to Dubrovnik then,” I answered, trying not to laugh out loud. “Well, I guess...homemade, local Croatian food,” he answered without too much thought.

So this was going to be the first time that this ten-year-old, the son of my friend, was going to try a new international cuisine...this was going to be fun. “Is there really a Japanese restaurant in Dubrovnik,” he still wasn’t convinced. “Yes, of course there is, in fact there are more than one,” I replied. “So does that mean that we have lots of tourists from China, oh I mean Japan,” another question, and the mixture between China and Japan was going to be another theme of the evening. “What would you eat if you went on holiday to Japan then,” I was enjoying his train of thought. Without pausing to think he answered “Rice,” and then added “And maybe pasta.” He was obviously under the impression that all Japanese live off a fixed diet of rice, well he was half right.

“Do they have soup,” was the next question as we drove to the restaurant. This was a child raised on a strict diet of soup, main course and dessert. “We can ask the Japanese chef when we arrive,” I lied a little bit, for the chef wasn’t Japanese, but it was a white lie and he smiled. “Do you think they have čevapi,” now I was joking with him a little. “No, but maybe they have octopus or fish,” he said in a serious manner.

As we sat down at the table the first impression that hit him were the chops sticks. “How do you use these…I need a lesson before I can eat!” he exclaimed. I guess he had realized that Japanese don’t eat soup with them. If you have never eaten with chop sticks before then they do take a little getting used to. He took one stick in one hand and one in the other as if he was going to play the drums. These little wooden sticks fascinated him and far from just giving up he tried, and tried and tried. He kind of succeeded in the end, but in a way of spearing the food with one of the sticks rather than the traditional pinching motion.

“I don’t recognize anything on this menu, do they have a Croatian menu,” he asked. In fact he did already have a Croatian menu it was just that the pictures were alien to him.

“What’s sushi,” was the next question. This was one that we kind of avoided, better not to freak him out before he tried anything. We ordered some sushi rolls for starters and to his praise he tried to “catch” the rolls with his sticks. It was a messy affair. He was a serial killer and the chop sticks were his weapon of choice. The rolls soon disintegrated.

It is always nice to open a young person’s eyes to a new culture, new tastes, to broaden their horizons. “OK, that was the starter and now the main course, would you like chicken or beef,” I asked. Again he stared at the menu in disbelief. “Can I order,” he answered. The waiter appeared again. We all ordered and then Marin asked the waiter “Can I have chicken, but do you have it in a Croatian way,” he asked. We all stopped ourselves from bursting out in laughter. And in a move to calm him the waiter answered “It is chicken and rice with vegetables, I am sure you will like it.” He seemed to understand. “See I told you. The Chinese only eat rice,” he was pleased with himself now.

He reached for his mobile and opened his Pokémon game, maybe he was expecting to find these Japanese characters in their restaurant, maybe they were all hungry. The main course didn’t require chops sticks, to his obvious relief. “Do the Japanese have desserts,” was the final question. To which the answer was yes but he plumped for a chocolate and banana cake instead. So many new tastes and flavours, and to his credit he tried them all without flinching. “So tell me what are your impressions,” I asked. He rubbed his chin like an old man thinking. “I am glad I wasn’t born in Japan,” he answered.

Although I did find out a few days later from his mum that he was impressed with the food and hadn’t stopped boasting to his friends that he had eaten Japanese food...or maybe he said Chinese food.

Website The Daily Wiz made a map of the world based on alcohol consumption, according to data of World Health Organisation. Croatia made it to the top 5! It's been placed on fourth place out of 186 countries with 12.19 liters/person per year. 

Belarusians are the unlucky winners when it comes to alcohol consumption, followed by Lithuania, Czech Republic, Croatia and Austria.

When it comes to type of the alcoholic beverages, Croatians prefer wine, on the second place is beer and on the last – spirits.


                                                                                                                                                       The Daily Wiz 

There is an increase in tourist traffic in Dubrovnik in October, and according to the program from registration and degistration of tourists eVisitor and marine tourist traffic, Dubrovnik had 90,542 tourist arrivals, 17 percent more than last year, and 306,859 overnight stays, which is 24 percent more than last year. 

In the first ten months Dubrovnik had 972,663 arrivals and that makes a total of 11 percent more arrivals than in the same period last year. There was 3,401,223 overnight stays, an increase of 13 percent compared to 2015. Including marine tourist traffic, there was a total 996,035 arrivals, which is 7 percent more than last year, and 3,631,619 overnight stays, which is a total of 10 percent compared to the same period last year.

Top-list of countries from which Dubrovnik tourists came from 1 January to 31 October 2016, is led by the traditional guests from the United Kingdom, Germany, France, USA, Spain, Croatian, Sweden, Finland, Australia and Italy.

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the institutionalism of Islam the third ‘‘World Halal Day Croatia 2016'' congress organized by the Centre for halal quality certification and the Islamic community in Croatia was held in Opatija, Istria from the 2nd to the 4th of November.

This year's largest congress on the halal market gathered representatives and participants from all over the world who, among other things, had the opportunity to see the possibilities of doing business on the markets of the UAE and Turkey. The congress was also dedicated to trends and potential of the halal market in a variety of industries such as halal tourism, Islamic banking and finance, halal cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

At the opening ceremony the president of the Republic of Croatia Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic addressed the numerous guests and participants of the congress from Turkey, the UAE, Malaysia, Indonesia, Iran, Algeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Australia, the US, Azerbaijan, Russia, Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Singapore, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro etc.

In addition, a fair of halal products and services was also organized on 500 square meters of exhibition space as part of the ''World Halal Day'' in Opatija where companies from eleven world countries presented their products and services.

The sixth Third Ear Festival was opened last night and this year it is the turn of Australia. Every year the Third Ear Festival highlights the cultural qualities of a different country and last night in the public library in the heart of the Old City of Dubrovnik an exhibition entitled “The Canning cattle path,” was opened. The Australian Ambassador to Croatia, Susan Cox, opened the exhibition and the festival. The theme of this year’s festival is “Aboriginal culture in Dubrovnik.”

“It is always nice to present a piece of Australia that is a little different from the Diaspora. A lot of people in Croatia know Australia through their families as there is a huge Croatian Diaspora living in Australia. But this exhibition and this festival give people the chance to see another side of our country. The Aboriginal culture is an important part of Australia’s history,” commented Ambassador Cox.

The festival continues today with an exhibition opening 'Shipwreck of Stefano' at the University of Dubrovnik, Maritime department. At 6 pm, again at the City library, there will be a lecture 'Aboriginal culture in Dubrovnik' by Iva Polak. Night full of fun is ahead of the participants of the festival, with a pub quiz with Australia theme in Lazareti, with a later 'Down under – sound of Australia' party.

Ambassador Cox welcomed guests last night and added “I would also like to thank the City of Dubrovnik for opening the doors to this historical city for a dash of Australia to enter its walls.”

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What a difference a week makes! The streets of the historic Old City of Dubrovnik last night had their winter look. The hustle and bustle of the warmer, summer months is well and truly behind us and the stone streets are now empty.

Whereas just a few short weeks ago thousands upon thousands of tourists were sightseeing and sipping coffee al fresco, not the city has a slightly eerie feel. The tourist season has come to an end, the planes are ever rarer and the last of the swallows has flown to warmer climates.

Check out Dubrovnik by night

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As the leading international organization with a goal of promoting and encouraging the development of tourism in the world, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) stands for responsible and sustainable tourism accessible to everyone. Accordingly, ten years ago the UNWTO initiated the development of the so called INSTO network, i.e. the International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories.

The INSTO is a network of tourism observatories monitoring the economic, environmental and social impact of tourism at a destination level. It includes Greece, China, Mexico and Brazil, whilst Croatia and Indonesia recently became members of this group in which the development of tourism will be monitored. All credits go to a group of scientists from the Zagreb Institute for tourism who launched the CROSTO – Croatian Sustainable Tourism Observatory with a goal of monitoring the development of tourism in Croatia.

The Institute for Tourism with the support of the Ministry of Tourism successfully applied for the INSTO network membership. The first official measurement of sustainability of tourism in Croatia will begin at the end of this year via the so called ETIS (European Tourism Indicators System) i.e. the system of indicators for measurement and monitoring of sustainable development of tourism developed by the EU Commission.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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