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.
According to information gathered by the Croatian Tourist Board from Croatian airports, Croatia will be directly connected to 28 countries during the winter flight schedule. The largest number of direct airline routes will connect Croatia with Germany, Poland, Austria, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. In addition to European countries, Croatia will also have direct connections to destinations on other continents, such as the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
"I am extremely pleased that we expect more than 150 unique airlines this winter season, compared to 118 last year during the same period. The importance of air traffic for Croatian tourism is undeniable, especially when it comes to connecting Croatia with key source markets outside the summer season. By introducing new airlines and a greater number of direct flights covering major European capitals, we make our destinations closer and more attractive to numerous guests," said Kristjan Staničić, the director of the Croatian Tourist Board, adding that quality air connectivity is one of the fundamental prerequisites for the further development and positioning of Croatia as an attractive year-round destination.
The foreign cities with the strongest planned connectivity are Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, Amsterdam, and London, with direct connections expected from 69 foreign cities throughout the entire winter flight season. Taking into account available data and announcements, Zagreb Airport is expected to have the most air operations (65 percent), followed by Split Airport and Zadar Airport with an equal share of 12 percent.
Looking at airlines, it is planned that 27 different carriers will fly on routes to Croatia, with Croatia Airlines, Ryanair, Trade Air, and Lufthansa planning the most operations during the winter flight schedule.
The last Friday in November or as it is globally known, Black Friday, or the day of big discounts when stores prepare special offers for customers is upon us and Croatians are expected to spend 72 million euros in the sales.
Retailers across the county have been bombarding consumers with advertisements for discounts for some time, and many online retailers introduced a "pre-Black Friday." And also a whole host of retailers decided to go one step further and offer a week of discounts in “Black Week.”
According to estimates from the Croatian Chamber of Economy (HGK), Croatians will spend 10 percent more money on Black Friday this year than last year. Data from the Tax Administration provided shows that last year's Black Friday 3.96 million invoices were issued in retail, 11 percent more than on the same day in 2021, and their value was 493 million, which is 16 percent more than the previous year.
Considering macroeconomic indicators, Croatians could spend 10 percent more this year, according to HGK, or around 72 million euros.
Last year the highest demand was for clothing and footwear, technology, and cosmetic products.
In the first nine months of 2023, the Dubrovnik Bus Station, as reported by Libertas Dubrovnik, recorded 63,402 arrivals and departures of buses. Comparing this with the first nine months of 2022, when there were 40,319 bus arrivals and departures, a noticeable strong growth trend is evident in this segment of operations.
In public urban and suburban transport during the same period, there was an increase of 12.04% in transported passengers.
Croatia Airlines has prepared a special Black Friday offer, allowing passengers to enjoy a 30% discount on airfare for all flights.
The exclusive offer is available from November 24 to 30, 2023, and is valid for travel between January 9 and March 31, 2024.
To take advantage of the 30% discount, customers can use the promo code 'FLYDAY' when purchasing tickets through the Croatia Airlines website or app. The discount applies to the ticket price, while airport fees and other charges are payable in full.
There may be only just over a month until Christmas but the temperatures in Dubrovnik today felt more like August than November.
After a few days of unsettled weather the clouds cleared today and the sunshine poured down with temperatures reaching a pleasant 23 degrees. And this photo from a car in the sunhsine indicated just how warm it was in Dubrovnik today.
The jumpers were swapped for T-shirts and sunbathing was the order of the day. However, this looks like just being a break in the rain and clouds as the rest of the week looks like more unsettled weather with highs in the mid-teens.
Last night, based on a report from a local fisherman, the Lastovo Archipelago Nature Park discovered an invasive visitor – the blue crab (Latin: Callinectes sapidus).
The detection of four blue crabs in a floating net raises an alarm about the possibility of the presence of this invasive species within the Lastovo Archipelago Nature Park. Of the three surviving specimens, two are females and one is a male. Until now, recorded specimens have not been part of the Lastovo archipelago ecosystem, indicating the possibility that these crabs, entangled in a net not owned by local fishermen, drifted from other areas.
The presence of blue crabs in the Adriatic Sea, which normally inhabit the Atlantic Ocean, raises concerns among fishermen, shellfish farmers, and ecologists. Blue crabs are most commonly found at the mouth of the Neretva River in Croatia, preferring brackish water and muddy bottoms. They have a tendency to reproduce rapidly and consume local shellfish, especially mussels, which can disrupt the natural balance.
Although this is an isolated case, the staff of the Lastovo Archipelago Nature Park appeals to all visitors and the local population to immediately report any sightings to the Public Institution 'Lastovo Archipelago Nature Park,' as stated in their post on their Facebook page.
HarperCollins UK’s One More Chapter has signed a new two-book deal with Eva Glyn, the author of The Olive Grove and The Island of Secrets. Publisher Charlotte Ledger acquired World All Language rights from Eva Glyn, with the first book, The Dubrovnik Book Club, scheduled to publish in March 2024. Glyn’s second book under contract, The Island Hopping Library, will follow in summer 2024.
An escapist and emotional novel with a cosy mystery element, The Dubrovnik Book Club is perfect for fans of Victoria Hislop and The Durrells. Newly arrived on the sun-drenched shores of Croatia, Claire Thomson’s life is about to change forever when she starts working at a local bookshop. With her cousin Vedran, employee Luna and Karmela, a professor, they form an unlikely book club. But when their first book club pick – an engrossing cosy crime – inspires them to embark upon an investigation that is close to the group’s heart, they quickly learn the value of keeping their new-found friends close as lives and stories begin to entwine…
Although she considers herself Welsh, Eva Glyn is happily settled in Cornwall with her husband of more than twenty-five years. Glyn’s writing is inspired by beautiful places and the stories they hide. While her passion is to travel, she finds inspiration can strike just as well at home or abroad. Glyn has written several books creating a realistic portrayal of Croatian life and The Dubrovnik Book Club is her fifth novel with One More Chapter.
Glyn said: ‘I am delighted to be setting two completely new books in Croatia, especially as it is the only European destination to be included in Lonely Planet's top ten countries to travel to in 2024. I can't wait to work with the team at One More Chapter to take more readers there.’
Ledger added: ‘It’s such a joy to continue publishing Eva’s heartwarming books set in beautiful Croatia. Every time she comes to me with an idea I immediately want to grab my passport and head to the airport! We are so excited to bring her books to new readers at home and around the world.’
So that’s that. The airplanes have stopped flying and we are now a ghost town. Not that I’m complaining, far from it, it makes a nice change to finally get to see the stone façades without Chuck from Texas blocking it with his ice-cream.
If you want to visit Dubrovnik in the winter you really, really need to be prepared for some hard work.
“I can’t believe everyone is wearing jackets and jumpers,” smiled a man with a strong Cornish accent. I had bumped into him in Kupari. He was travelling with his campervan and was making the most of the November sunshine in his shorts and T-shirt. “Just been swimming, it’s lovely,” he smiled.
They build them strong in Cornwall. It is the rugged part of the UK that sticks out into the far South-West and is almost cut-off from the rest of the country. I know it quite well as my feet passed around the whole of the county’s coastline last year.
Could we see a new form of winter tourism in Dubrovnik - Photo - Mark Thomas
Swimming in 20 degrees in November in Dubrovnik probably felt like Hawaii for this friendly chap. “Is there anyone I can pay for camping here,” he asked.
So I want to rewind a little. Campervans in the south of Croatia get a bad name, mainly due to the fact that they seem to park everywhere and anywhere in the summer. This could easily be solved in a win/win/win situation. I saw the solution with my own eyes.
So on our recent road trip to Slovenia we were slightly worried that we wouldn’t find anywhere to stay overnight. That was until we stumbled over a website offering so called “autostops.”
The principle is that dotted around Slovenia there are camper stops that offer all a camper need. Basically they are smallish carparks only for campervans and have electricity hook-ups, water and waste disposal. I soon realised that these were being run by the local councils. You buy a ticket to park and enter your number plate. An overnight stay costs between 10 and 15 euro.
Like I said a winning solution in many ways.
Firstly, you help solve the problem of wild camping. Next the local authority is earning, and earning all year round. After the initial capital investment, the sites basically run themselves, there is no need to employ anyone and the actual costs are minimal.
Plus (and it is a big plus) it helps attract tourists out of the main summer season.
Camping in style - Photo - Mark Thomas
One camp we stayed at near Lake Bled had six other campers, and all had different countries number plates. So clearly there is a need.
Almost every day in Kupari I see a new campervan. And this man from Cornwall was clear evidence that campers are willing to pay. “I seem to see more campervan signs not allowed than open sites,” he said to me.
All it would take is 10 to 12 camper stops dotted over the county and we have a new form of tourism.
And these sites don’t need to be close to the Old City, quite the opposite, place them in a disused piece of land in a small village and overnight you have regenerated the tourism in that place. It isn’t really thinking outside of the box; it just seems like common sense.
Dubrovnik has just been awarded as the Champion of Croatian Tourism for 2023 so maybe now it is time to get more creative and extend our offer away from cruise ships and day-trippers. It is a solution that quite clearly already works, so there is no reason why it wouldn’t work in the south of Croatia. Again, minimum investment, maximum return.
“I’m off for another dip in the sea,” smiled the Cornish man. Adding that he was heading to a new destination. I have no doubt that he’ll be swimming there as well.
It would seem that we have a year-round tourism idea staring us right in the face. The airlines might stop when the north wind blows but the campers don’t.
Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to
About the author
Mark Thomas (aka Englez u Dubrovniku) is the editor of The Dubrovnik Times. He was born and educated in the UK and moved to live in Dubrovnik in 1998. He works across a whole range of media, from a daily radio show to TV and in print. Thomas is fluent in Croatian and this column is available in Croatia on the website – Dubrovnik Vjesnik