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.
The first weekend in December was marked with bright sunshine, not really a Christmas feel, but at least the Old City has its festive face on.
The Dubrovnik Winter Festival has certainly helped attract more citizens to the historic core this winter, every day the festive stands throughout the city are busy.
Check out our photo gallery from this weekend
Father Christmas visited Dubrovnik early this year and handed out “sweet presents” to the awaiting children. And he arrived in the Old City in style not in a sleigh being pulled by Rudolph and the rest of the reindeers but in a shining red old-timer.
With a bellowing “Ho-Ho-Ho,” children quickly gathered around the festive visitor and were soon treated to handfuls of sweets and chocolates. Presumably Santa won’t forget Dubrovnik when he delivers more presents on the 25th of December.
Check out our Father Christmas in Dubrovnik photo gallery
As you drive along the coastline of the Dubrovnik – Nertva County you are greeted with a sign post from the local tourist board and a photo attracting you to spend time in the area. Now from village of Orasac, to the north of Dubrovnik, are hoping that the aerial photo on their sign will attract even more attention.
“We had realised that the old sign was in need of changing and were looking around for alternatives,” commented a representative of the district of Orasac. “We knew that Craig Derrick from the photo studio Adriatic Images had once lived in the village and we asked me for help. He kindly agreed to help and provided a few images of which we selected one fantastic aerial photo of the whole village,” he added. Concluding that Derrick had donated the aerial image free of charge and that he believed the photo would catch the imagination of passing tourists.
“I was only too happy to help the village and only hope that my image will help attract even more tourists to this special destination,” commented Derrick to The Dubrovnik Times. Maybe more tourist boards and destinations will now follow suit and upgrade their photos to aerial views.
New aerial view for Orasac
The largest ferry company in Croatia has had a record breaking year. For the first time ever “Jadrolinija” has transported over 11 million passengers on its various routes. The landmark was reached on the 2nd of December when Elizabeta Skunca arrived in Rijeka on a Jadrolinija ferry from the island of Pag.
According to information from the ferry company, which is still a public company, 11 million passengers and 2.7 million vehicles have been transported this year.
The vast majority, unsurprisingly, of passengers were transported through the summer months in the main tourist season in Croatia. In fact around half of the 11 million boarded a ferry in the months of July and August.
“This is a prelude to 2017, which will be a big year for Jadrolinija as it celebrates its 70th anniversary, and it also marks 145 years of continued passenger travel on the Adriatic Sea,” commented the CEO of Jadrolinija Alan Klanac.
Photo Zvonimir Barisin / CROPIX
Whether winter or summer Dubrovnik is attracting more and more celebrities, especially in the world of Bollywood. The latest celeb to use the city as a backdrop for a social media post is the Indian actress and model Asmita Sood.
However from the comments on her Instagram account the beautiful star obviously visited in the warmer summer months. “Time to look back at the beautiful memories 2016 gave me...,” wrote the Indian actress to her 134,000 followers on Instagram.
The 26-year-old started her career in modelling and was a finalist at the Miss India beauty pageant before concentrating on acting. Could her appearance in Dubrovnik mean another Bollywood blockbuster is in the pipeline? The city has already been the backdrop for two Bollywood films, Fan and the recent “Khaidi No. 150.”
There’s a phrase that goes something like – the deeper you dig the more you find – can’t remember it exactly but we get the drift. I wasn’t really digging, more like scrapping the surface but I soon uncovered a hidden treasure.
Is it me or are there more foreign voices on the Stradun than in previous winters. What do you think? I have been spending more time in the Old City recently and I seem to be bumping into much more foreign tourists than I had expected. Maybe it is the Winter Festival effect or just the general mild weather we have been having, I don’t know but for sure there is an improvement.
But it also seems that there is more room for improvement. I received an email from a lady in Manchester the other day which troubled me. She is a regular guest to Dubrovnik and after seeing all the images of Dubrovnik at Christmas thought it would be a nice idea to see a different side of the city, away from the sunshine and summer crowds. However she very quickly ran into a problem. Lack of flight connections. So I wrote back to find out what the problem was, after all the UK is our most important tourist partner.
“We would love to see the city in winter when there are (probably) less crowds but mainly to see the city decorated for Christmas,” opened her reply to me. It turned out that she had visited Dubrovnik over half a dozen times before but only in the summer. “I have had difficulty finding flights in December, NONE at all from Manchester and I have not found any from London where we can return home before Christmas Day. We have been in May and October this year, yes we would visit more out of the summer season,” she concluded. So a loyal guest to the city who try as she might couldn’t find a connection to bring her in the winter.
It soon turned out that she was not alone. As soon as I published her story a whole host of other people started contacting me. The idea of me actually organizing a special charter flight for all these people flashed through my mind.
“We have been coming to stay in Cavtat twice a year for the last 10 years and would love to come in the winter to see the Dubrovnik winter festival but we just can't get flights from Manchester. It is such a shame,” read the next comment. Quickly followed by “I would love to visit outside of the May to October period. Direct flights UK to Dubrovnik year round please.” I wasn’t even digging and the comments were flowing in. Ok, I know that we have more flights than ever before, I think around 14 international flights, through the winter but it would seem that there is a demand for more. And if we really want to get to the level of the Advent in Zagreb then making it possible, no easy, for foreigners to get here must be the key.
“Now that there are so many more events going on out of the main summer season I'm sure it would be beneficial for an airline to start running regular flights from the UK to Dubrovnik. After all, I'd imagine there are a lot of people who want to come but are put off from visiting in the summer due to the sheer number of people and the heat,” was a section of the next comment. One can only assume that the more events that this reader was talking about is the winter festival.
And to compound the bad luck the one international destination that we do have regular flights to, three times a week, is Istanbul. A country and a city that is so politically unstable that it makes marketing to Turkish tourists a challenge, to say the least. “It’s such a shame the winter service is so scarce as I think many more people would visit if they could especially from the north of the UK,” was the next in the line of comments. I can understand, the weather in the UK at the moment, well every winter, is terrible.
The sight of bright sunshine, even though an image can’t show the bora, must be very tempting for UK tourists. Add in a Christmas market and decorations and it would seem like we have a recipe for success. With the completion of Terminal C at the airport expected to be finished by next spring it would also seem a perfect opportunity to add to our winter repertoire. To rewrite the great William Shakespeare “Now doesn’t have to be the winter of our discontent.”
Cheap and Croatia are not two word that you necessarily expect to see next to each other, but it seems that we aren’t such an expensive destination after all, if we are to believe the popular British newspaper The Daily Mail. In an article published today Croatia was described as “Cheap and Cheery.” It concentrates on the region of Istria in north-west Croatia and makes a point of comparing the area with Italy.
- Mention Istria and it’s amazing how many people are under the impression it’s simply part of Italy. The Italian influences are everywhere — from the food to the architecture – writes the author. Making a point of the prices compared to the UK, especially after the fall in the value of the pound after Brexit. - But stop for a coffee or beer, at about £1.50 a time, or sit down for lunch with the family at £5 a pizza, and you soon realise that a wad of Croatian Kuna will go a great deal further in Istria than a bundle of Euros in Chiantishire – writes The Daily Mail.
As the UK is an important market for Croatian tourism a double-page spread in this British newspaper will only help with the promotion of Croatia as a holiday destination.
Facebook is the number one social media platform for Croatians. According to a recent survey almost 50 percent of the Croatian population is active on Facebook, or around 2 million users. This number is significantly higher than the number of Croatians on Twitter, it is estimated that around 60,000 Croatians actively Tweet.
Data from the survey by the marketing agency Arbona shows that most Croatian Facebook fans fall into the age group of 13 to 34, this age group makes up around 570,00 of the Croatian users. Only around 8 percent of users are over 55 years of age.
Whereas Instagram is making waves in Croatia other media platforms, such as Snapchat and Twitter, are still lagging a long way behind Facebook.
Unsurprisingly the most popular Facebook accounts in Croatia are dominated by sportspeople and singers. At the very of the list is the Real Madrid midfield ace, Luka Modric, with an impressive 7.6 million Likes. He is followed by another footballer, Ivan Rakitic, who plays for Barcelona with 3.2 million Likes. And in third place is the Facebook account of the Croatian National Tourist Board with 1.5 million Likes.