Saturday, 29 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.

Email: mark.thomas@dubrovnik-times.com

Dubrovnik might well be gripped in the hands of winter, however mild, but that hasn’t stopped the number of photos on Instagram.

Check out our top five Dubrovnik Instagram photos from this week and keep sending us your own photos and videos of the region.

 

5G networks will be built in the eastern Croatian city of Osijek by December 31, 2020, announced Minister of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure Oleg Butkovic on January 23, according to a government statement.

Osijek will become the first major city in Croatia to build a 5G network, and the investment is expected to have economic benefits for the eastern part of the country.

The city was selected by an expert working group composed of representatives of the Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, the Croatian Network Regulatory Agency (HAKOM) and all three mobile communications operators in Croatia. Other interested cities were Bjelovar, Karlovac and Rijeka.

"Designating Osijek as Croatia's first 5G city … will significantly contribute to the development of the eastern part of Croatia," Butkovic said, adding that all three domestic mobile operators were ready to jointly build and introduce 5G infrastructure and services in the city of Osijek.

The minister said he expected the rollout in Osijek would become a good model for the introduction of the technology throughout Croatia.

In 2018, Ericsson Nikola Tesla opened a new research and development centre in Osijek.

 

Zagreb Airport have a swanky new facility, a VIP lounge. According to information from the Croatian capital’s airport the new VIP lounge will be used by guests that arrive on regular flights as well as passengers on private flights.

“These new lounges will be especially important in the next six months, during the Republic of Croatia's presidency of the Council of the European Union. This pleasant ambient, spreading over two locations with a total area of 900 square meters, will provide a place for relaxation, meetings and media conferences for many officials,” commented the airport on their social media channels.

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In 2019, the number of nights spent in tourist accommodation in the European Union (EU) is expected to have reached more than 3.2 billion, up by 2.4% compared with 2018, and Croatia is once again one of the leaders in the EU. This time regarding the number of domestic tourists who decided to spend their vacation at home, in fact Croatia saw the third largest growth in local tourism across the whole of the European Union.

Almost every EU Member State recorded an increase in the number of tourism nights spent by residents, with the highest increases recorded in Slovakia (+15.1%), Cyprus (+13.0%), Croatia (+10.0%), Lithuania (+9.9%) and Malta (+9.2%).

In the EU, the number of nights spent in tourist accommodation by residents grew at the same pace (+2.4%) between 2018 and 2019 as those spent by non-residents (+2.4%).

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Croatia is among the most sought-after tourist destinations at the New York Times Travel Show in New York, according to the Croatian National Tourist Board, confirmed by the results of market research and the announcement of bookings by major tourism associations.

“The presentation of the Croatian tourist offer at the New York fair is of strategic importance especially if we know that the US market for Croatia represents one of the most important distant markets from which we get the largest tourist traffic. The continuation of American Airlines flights between Philadelphia and Dubrovnik will further stimulate US tourist traffic this year, and the ultimate goal we are intensively working on is stronger US-Croatia air connectivity," said the director of the Croatian Tourist Board, Kristijan Stanicic.

He noted that 655,000 Americans visited Croatia in 2019 and achieved more than 1.8 million overnight stays, which represents an annual increase of 12 percent.

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Croatian delegation in New York - Photo HTZ 

Otherwise, major trends in Americans' travel last year are multi-generational travel, discovering new destinations and authentic experiences, or "Live Like A Local" experience, "transformational" travel, responsible tourism, active tourism, and cruises. Americans in Croatia especially love visits to natural and cultural attractions with a focus on UNESCO sites, nautical tourism, active holidays, and especially visits to locations where the famous HBO series Game of Thrones was filmed, as well as one-of-a-kind gastronomic experiences. The most visited cities in Croatia by American tourists are Dubrovnik, Split and Zagreb.

The New York Times Travel Show is visited by more than 35,000 visitors who view the offer of more than 700 exhibitors from 175 countries around the world, making this fair the largest tourism fair in North America. And with more flights from America expected this year in Dubrovnik, with American Airlines announcing a daily service to the city, even more US tourists will be welcomed this year. American tourists in 2019 were the second most numerous in terms of nationality.

 

Over tourism certainly isn’t an all year round problem in Dubrovnik. The weather is perfect, the Old City glorious and Adriatic Sea is glinting in the background, and the city is almost empty. This January has seen exceptionally mild and sunny weather with temperatures touching the high teens, and the historic city core was an absolute picture yesterday with the sun bouncing off the stone façades.

And yet, mainly due to the terrible flight connections, the UNESCO Heritage Site is all but empty. If you really want to have the gems of this walled city to yourself then come in January and February, you can walk the cobbled streets and soak up the culture without the hustle and bustle of the summer months.

Check out our gallery of the empty streets of Dubrovnik yesterday

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come to dubrovnik in january and have the place to yourself

jnauary blue skies in dubrovnik 2020

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My knowledge of handball is probably comparable to an elephant’s knowledge of skiing. “It’s like water polo but on the land,” explained a close friend. As neither water polo nor handball are popular, in fact not even played, in the UK, I never got a chance to see these team sports whilst I was growing up. Yes, there probably was a three-minute piece on handball at the Olympics as an “exotic sport” but that was it. Handball is as popular in England as cricket is popular in Croatia, yes that’s a good comparison.

Now this column is either a brilliant idea or the kiss of death, as I am writing way before Croatia plays their semi-final clash. So either you’ll all be on a wave of euphoria or reaching for another normabel! I have never really understood the rules of handball, it would seem on paper that its easy, I mean how difficult can it be to throw a ball in a big net. Well it turns out that it is actually quite difficult.

The only game I have really paid any attention to was when Croatia narrowly beat Germany. Exciting, nail-biting and most satisfying of all the Germans lost.

Quite strange how the Germans, Austrians and Danish all play handball but the English don’t. Well not that strange, we were busy teaching our Empire our sports, like cricket and rugby. And clearly this island/Empire mentality rubbed off on the Americans, who made their own sports, baseball, basketball and American football. Did I enjoy the match against the Germans, yes!

Will I watch the semi-final, probably not. Will I watch the final, maybe. Sport is now pretty much unique, as a television content in today’s world. When I was a teenager (yes, all those centuries ago) TV programs were much more central to society. I can remember at college having to write a project about “The role of Only Fools and Horses on society.” Why were they different? Were they better, not really. They were different because they had everyone’s attention. There were no smart phones (or even dumb phones), no YouTube, no Netflix, no streaming services, none of these even existed. Which meant you had two choices – either watch the big, black box in the corner of the room or not. It was a 100 percent captive audience. And this lead to, so-called, “water cooler moments.” Friends, family, work colleagues would chat about what they watched on TV the night before, it was a chance for social interaction. And the reason it was called “water cooler” was that people at work would chat about last night’s TV hit whilst filling up their glass from a water cooler. Those moments have gone and they will never return.

Now we are all watching different programs on different devices, many of the time actually dual screening and watching two different programs at the same time. Another chance for social interaction is flushed down the toilet. And once again proves that social media should be renamed as anti-social media!

But sport is unique. Sport has all the drama of a Agatha Christie novel, all the excitement of a Star Wars flick, all the tension of a Stephen King horror and all this is happening live or uncut in our living rooms. Why do you think that sporting events capture so much marketing money, why sporting heroes are so well paid, because it is a product that is unmatched on TV.

The match between Croatia and Germany was watched, at its peak, by 1.2 million people in Croatia. That is pretty much a third of the population watching one channel, one program, one match on TV. No other TV broadcast will ever come close to that, and it wasn’t even the final match of the tournament. Sport creates emotion, either love, hate, excitement, anger, joy or ecstasy. It can make us cry with happiness and cry with sadness. And it is the only, I repeat the only, television product that has proved resistant to today’s world. Not only resistant but has thrived.

We live in a world where we have learnt to do things and watch things when we want. We thought that we were taking back control. How wrong we were. How stupid we have all been. But sport, at least for now, is still in control. And we should praise that.

The first of three ships departed from China's Nantong to Peljesac, onto which the first 30 segments of the span structure of the future Peljesac bridge were loaded. These are the parts of the main load-bearing beam, that is, the road section on the bridge. According to the available information, the first ship with parts of the span structure of the Pelješac bridge should arrive within a month, writes Jutarnji List.

Installation of the span structure begins after the construction of the bridge pillar. Specifically, parts of the span structure will be initially mounted on each side of the pillar. When the installation begins, it is estimated that 48 meters of span structure will be assembled per week.

The Chinese company CRBC started work on the construction site of the Peljesac Bridge on July 31, 2018 and one third of the planned works have already been completed.

 

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