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.
As part of the European Water Polo Championship, the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Franković, participated in the closing ceremony this Monday at the French Pavilion in Zagreb, organized by the Croatian Water Polo Federation and European Aquatics.
During this event, Mayor Franković received recognition for his contribution and excellent hospitality on behalf of the City of Dubrovnik, one of the hosts of the international competition.
"Dubrovnik is very proud to have been a co-host for the first time in such a recognizable and valuable sports event. We have sent a beautiful message to the world about Dubrovnik as a city of sports. I thank everyone, especially the Croatian Water Polo Federation and the European Water Polo Federation, who granted us the opportunity to host athletes, water polo players, and organize an event that will be remembered by our fellow citizens and visitors," emphasized the mayor in his address.
The European Men's Water Polo Championship took place in both Zagreb and Dubrovnik as a co-host city, where the competition was ceremoniously opened. This marked the largest sports event in the history of Dubrovnik, characterized by an excellent cheering atmosphere, high public interest, packed stands at the Gruž pool, and outstanding sports results.
The final showdown between Croatia and Spain at the Mladost pool in Zagreb will take place today, starting at 8:15 PM.
In Croatia, in November 2023, 1,102 building permits were issued, which is 23 percent more compared to November 2022, according to data from the State Bureau of Statistics (DZS).
By types of buildings, 86.8 percent or 956 permits issued in November last year were for buildings, and 13.2 percent or 146 permits were for other structures such as roads, railways, pipelines, bridges, sports fields, etc.
On an annual basis, the number of building permits for buildings increased by 23.4 percent, and for other structures by 20.7 percent.
The permits issued in November foresee a construction value of 781.2 million euros, with 577.2 million allocated to buildings and 203.9 million euros to other structures.
According to the types of work, in November last year, 80.9 percent or 891 permits were issued for new construction, and 19.1 percent or 211 for reconstructions.
According to the issued building permits in November 2023, the construction of 1,751 apartments is planned, which is 29.5 percent more than in November 2022.
During the past week in the area of the Dubrovnik-Neretva Police Administration, one traffic accident with injured persons was recorded, where one person was seriously injured. Three traffic accidents resulting in material damage were also recorded.
While enforcing traffic control measures, police officers took 466 repressive measures against traffic violators, including measures taken against individuals who are the most common culprits of serious traffic accidents, the so-called "four killers in traffic."
Accordingly, 255 individuals were sanctioned for exceeding the permissible speed limit, 24 measures were taken against individuals not using seat belts, and 8 individuals were penalized for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Additionally, 13 individuals were sanctioned for the improper use of mobile phones while driving.
In a historic moment on January 15, 1992, all 12 then-member states of the European Union, alongside Austria, Canada, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Malta, Norway, and Switzerland, formally extended recognition to Croatia, solidifying its status as a sovereign nation.
Germany took swift action, establishing diplomatic relations with Croatia on the same day, marking a pivotal step in the international acknowledgment of Croatia's independence. This significant development unfolded gradually following the proclamation of the Republic of Croatia's independence on June 25, 1991. On this historic day, Slovenia also declared its separation, and by the following day, the newly independent states reciprocally acknowledged each other's sovereignty.
Yet, even with this widespread recognition, there are still four countries that, as of today, have not formally recognized Croatia. Bhutan, Liberia, Niger, and Tonga continue to withhold official acknowledgment, according to Večernji list.
Adding to the dynamics of international relations, Somalia recognized Croatia in February 2022, while the Central African Republic and Togo simultaneously granted recognition on September 18, 2023. It is noteworthy that around fifty countries, though not formally recognizing Croatia, have established diplomatic ties, a gesture that is commonly treated as a form of acknowledgment. The journey of recognition for Croatia, marked by historical landmarks and contemporary diplomatic nuances, continues to shape its international standing.
After the Tourism Act came into effect on the first day of 2024, cities and municipalities gained the ability to independently create destination management plans, including the authority to limit the number of apartments.
Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Franković announced to Dnevnik Nove TV that permits for apartments within the city walls will cease to be issued after the completion of the entire process in the next two months, with a decision to be made during a City Council session.
"The goal is a vibrant city, and we have a clear strategy and plan for what, how, and in what way to proceed," said Franković, explaining that in two months, the city will no longer issue any permits for apartments.
"We have achieved a significant figure in terms of accommodation capacity within the old town. The City of Dubrovnik has a strategy for the population of the historic core, buying properties in the historic core and allocating them to young families for up to ten years, and that is our goal and vision," he stated for Nova TV, emphasizing, "We are not talking about prohibitions, but regulations, managing tourism. We are acting in accordance with the law."
Franković clarified that solutions for existing apartment owners will not be revoked, but he expects the number of apartments to decrease over time.
"Through amendments to the General Urban Plan (GUP) of the City of Dubrovnik, we have already prohibited the construction of apartments in residential zones. However, by the end of this year, the City of Dubrovnik will regulate the possibility of engaging in rental activities in residential buildings," explained Franković regarding the plan to control the number of apartments in the rest of Dubrovnik. He reiterated that acquired rights cannot be revoked, applying to those who already have permits for renting properties.
In a collaborative effort, members of HPD "Sniježnica," HPD "Brotnjo," and the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service (HGSS) from Čapljina and Čitluk have embarked on a mission to clean and mark the expansive 147-kilometre-long Camino Dubrovnik-Međugorje trail. This initiative, led by the City of Dubrovnik, is in partnership with the municipalities of Dubrovačko primorje, Neum, Ravno, Čitluk, and the city of Čapljina.
Photo - Grad Dubrovnik
Over the weekend, HPD "Sniježnica" took the lead, initiating the cleaning and marking process along the trail's first leg. Stretching from the city to the Benedictine monastery in St. Jakov, and further to Gromača, the team meticulously cleared and marked the route. This included significant landmarks such as the Imperial Fortress on Srđ, the picturesque Strinjčera and Nuncijata, and the historical Onofrio's Aqueduct. The marked section from Srđ to Čajkovići covered a distance of over eight kilometers on Saturday, with an additional stretch from Mokošica to Petrovo Selo and Pobrežje towards Zaton on Sunday.
Photo - Grad Dubrovnik
On the challenging Kolojanj-Sjekose section, a crucial part of the fifth leg of the Camino Dubrovnik, members of the HGSS teams from Čapljina and Čitluk, alongside avid hikers from HPD "Brotnjo," orchestrated a commendable cleaning effort on Saturday. This segment, covering two kilometers of an ancient path from Kolojanj to the Svitavsko Lake and Hutovo Blato Nature Park, posed a demanding yet rewarding task.
The Camino Dubrovnik-Međugorje trail, comprising six legs, is poised to be completed and officially open by May 1 of this year. The trail's significance resonated beyond local borders, as it was presented in the prestigious European Parliament in Brussels last October. Notably, the City of Dubrovnik's involvement in this transformative project secured its membership in the esteemed European Federation of St. James Ways.
Photo - Grad Dubrovnik
These collective endeavors not only highlight a commitment to preserving natural landscapes but also underscore the spirit of collaboration among local communities and enthusiasts in enhancing the region's cultural and recreational offerings. The Camino Dubrovnik-Međugorje trail stands as a testament to the power of shared initiatives in fostering regional pride and connectivity.
In a recent development, the Croatian government convened for a telephonic session, where a crucial decision was made regarding the retail prices of oil derivatives. The outcome of this session is the adoption of the "Regulation on Determining the Maximum Retail Prices of Oil Derivatives."
Effective from the first day of publication, this regulation is slated to be in force for the next 14 days. The revised prices are as follows:
- Gasoline: 1.38 EUR/l (a reduction of 0.02 EUR/l)
- Diesel Fuel: 1.38 EUR/l (a reduction of 0.02 EUR/l)
- Blue Diesel: 0.85 EUR/l (a reduction of 0.02 EUR/l)
The government highlighted that without its intervention and with retail prices entirely subject to the free formation at the level of energy entities' premiums before the first regulation, the prices would have been significantly higher.
This move by the government is expected to have a significant impact on consumer expenses and comes as part of ongoing efforts to manage the economic landscape. The new regulations aim to strike a balance between economic stability and fair pricing for consumers.
German media report that someone who just a few years ago could vacation for only 500 euros per person will likely find it difficult to find something at that price in 2024.
German RTL conducted research and found alternatives for popular destinations, including Croatia. They believe it is more cost-effective to go on vacation to Malta than to Mallorca, as reported by Fenix magazine.
"The Balearic Islands constantly hold the first place among the most popular travel destinations. It is not surprising that Mallorca has much to offer: beautiful beaches, a pleasant Mediterranean climate, and cities with exciting culture. But a vacation in Mallorca in 2024 will not be cheap. Tourists should prepare for an increase of around ten percent," reports RTL.
Riviera di Ponente is part of the coast in the western part of Liguria, stretching from the port city of Genoa to the French border. Picturesque fishing villages, lively resorts, and medieval towns line the coast characterized by long sandy beaches.
Alternative to Croatia
German RTL writes that Croatia has been too expensive for Germans for the past 10 years and offers Albania as an alternative. "About ten years ago, Croatia was more of an insider tip and, above all, a really cheap tourist destination. But that has fundamentally changed. Northern Istria has been extremely popular among German day-trippers for several years now. In line with demand, but also due to the change in currency, prices have risen sharply in recent times," they state.
In the summer of 2023, holidaymakers sometimes had to pay 50 percent more for the same accommodation than the previous year. Will prices fall again this summer? Unlikely, says German RTL, suggesting the Albanian city of Vlore instead of the Croatian Istria.
"However, you can find a cheaper alternative in Albania. It is inexpensive everywhere, especially compared to other Mediterranean countries – the Vlora region is particularly beautiful. Its northern part faces the Adriatic Sea, and the southern part is known as the Albanian Riviera. Tourism thrives, especially along the coast and near major cities like Saranda. And one thing you can be sure of: a vacation here, just like other options, is at least equally beautiful – but your wallet will be grateful," concluded RTL.de journalists.