Monday, 04 December 2023
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.


The highest skyscraper in the world, Burj Khalifa, was illuminated last night in the colours of the Croatian flag during the visit of the Croatian Prime Minister to Dubai, and the scenes were shared on the X platform by Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenković.

"Meeting with the largest investor in Dubai, Mohamed Alabbar, with whom we continue a quality dialogue and collaboration. This year, once again, Burj Khalifa is lit up in the colours of the Croatian flag," wrote Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on the X platform.

Plenković is in Dubai, where he is participating in the COP28 climate summit. Yesterday, he was on a panel discussing adaptation to climate change and green transition, highlighting the Croatian tourism sector and stating that Croatia is relatively well-positioned in terms of using renewable energy sources. He emphasized that no one can or will escape the topic of climate change.


The tenth jubilee Dubrovnik Winter Festival will be bigger, more diverse, and widespread than ever before, with the official program starting this Saturday, December 2, 2023. The festivities commence at 7:00 PM with the lighting of the first Advent candle in front of the cathedral. Following this, a ceremonial procession takes place at 7:30 PM on Stradun, and at 8:00 PM, one of Croatia's longest-standing rock bands, Prljavo Kazalište, will take the stage on the main platform!

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Photo - Dubrovnik Wunter Festival 

Special emphasis is placed on activities for the youngest participants, and the Children's Winter Festival offers something for everyone! Advent programs start early in the morning, and the weekend and the entire first week will be marked by a series of workshops, concerts, performances, and tourist-themed tours. A highlight is the ice rink in Lapad Bay, accessible to visitors every day from 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM (except on December 24th and 31st when it operates from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, and closed on December 25th and January 1, 2024). One of the main attractions is the Christmas fairy tale with Santa Claus, who, along with his cheerful helpers, arrives on snow sleds from Finland directly to the Rector's Palace at 3:00 PM, organized by the Dubrovnik Tourist Board!

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On Saturday morning, thematic tourist guides "Dubrovnik Carols" in Croatian and English will commence, organized by the Dubrovnik Tourist Board. Free tours will start at 9:30 AM (English) and at 12:30 PM (Croatian) in front of the Tourist Information Center (TIC) at Pile Gate. The Natural History Museum in Dubrovnik will host the Natural Christmas Workshop at 10:00 AM, followed by the Christmas sales exhibition of HDLU Dubrovnik at 11:00 AM in Luža. To make Saturday morning in the city unforgettable, at 11:30 AM, FA Linđo will perform in front of the Church of St. Blaise.

"The Dragons and Balloons above Lapad" is the first thematic program in the Colorful Winter in Lapad Bay, featuring a workshop of model airplanes by Aero Club Nimbus (Esperanza Café) at 11:00 AM, followed by a performance by the Cultural and Artistic Society Osojnik (stage near the fountain) and a puppet show "Aster Dubrovnik: The Imaginary Mouse" (stage near the fountain). The rich program concludes at 2:00 PM with a kite-flying event for children and youth by Aero Club Nimbus (beach in Lapad Bay), and the Advent train will run from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM!

The employees of the Department of Education, Sports, Social Welfare, and Civil Society have organized numerous events for children and youth in the Bay as part of the Colorful Winter. From 3:00 PM, Christmas decorations will be made of plaster under the guidance of the parish Caritas, at 5:00 PM, there will be a painting workshop "Christmas Fairy Tale" led by Art Studio Kantunić, and at 6:00 PM, the first Advent candle will be lit, followed by a performance by the choir of the Parish of the Most Holy Savior with Mokoška Carols and the Cultural and Artistic Society Osojnik.

The play "Queens," directed by Livija Pandur, who is also the author of the text along with Tibor Hrs Pandur based on Shakespeare, will be performed at the Marin Držić Theater at 6:00 PM, right before the official opening ceremony of the 10th Winter Festival!

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Ice Rink in Lapad - Photo - Dubrovnik Winter Festival 

Sunday, December 3, will start with a festive stroll around the city at 11:00 AM with the vocal group "Pučki pjevači." At the same time, the play "The Devil with Golden Hair" based on the Brothers Grimm will be performed on the Main Stage at the Marin Držić Theater in the production of Aster Dubrovnik. The North Pole Station is an unavoidable place in Luža, and Kinematografi Dubrovnik have prepared a magical program, as always. From 2:30 PM, enjoy a creative afternoon called "Boot Full of Wishes" and the animated synchronized adventure "Wish," which will be projected at 4:30 PM. Santa Claus's Christmas fairy tale from Lapland will be at 3:00 PM in the Rector's Palace, and Dubrovnik Heritage ceremonially opens the children's Advent "Heritage at Its Best" in Lazareti at 4:30 PM with the arrival of Santa Claus. The play "The Imaginary Mouse" performed by Aster Dubrovnik will continue in the same spirit, and the program will be rounded off with a dance party featuring Mickey and Minnie at 8:00 PM.

The Museum of Modern Art will present the beautiful Nativity Scene at 6:00 PM, and at the same time, on Bunićeva Poljana, entertaining activities and gastronomic offerings will begin, organized by catering establishments. The Merđan Trio will be the first to perform, and the caterers from Bunićeva Poljana have prepared a series of performers day by day until the end of the festival.

Monday, December 4th continues in the festive spirit, and at 3 PM, the Christmas fairy tale of Santa Claus from Lapland will be repeated in the Rector's Palace, followed by a festive gathering with Vicko Dragojević organized by the Dubrovnik Libraries at 5 PM in the branch of the National Library City. Vicko will talk about the tradition of caroling in the Dubrovnik region and, of course, sing with the youngest.

On Tuesday, December 5th, the Society "Our Children" organizes the welcoming of St. Nicholas in front of the Church of St. Blaise at 12 PM, and everyone is invited to be part of the gathering on Stradun! Dubrovnik Libraries in the Lapad branch organize a storytelling and art workshop for children called "Towards Christmas" at 6 PM, while in the monastery of the Minor Friars at 8:30 PM, the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra will perform on the occasion of the holiday of St. Nicholas and the Day of Dubrovnik Defenders. Conducted by Slobodan Begić, the orchestra will be accompanied by mezzo-soprano Laura Hladilo Kocković, the choir "St. George" of the Croatian Navy, and the mixed choir Libertas. Admission is free for all interested.

On Wednesday, December 6th, educational tourist-themed tours "Dubrovnik Carols" will be available to all Dubrovnik citizens and guests, organized by the Dubrovnik Tourist Board. Free tours will start at 9:30 AM (English) and 12:30 PM (Croatian) in front of the Tourist Information Center at Pile. The convertible bus and the cheerful 69ers will spread joy and song throughout the city from 10 AM to 1 PM on the same day, and St. Nicholas will visit joyful children in the Rector's Palace, bringing sweet oranges provided by the Dubrovnik-Neretva County! At 5 PM, the Dubrovnik Children's Choir will perform Christmas songs and traditional carols, with the participation of actors Hrvoje Sebastijan and Izmira Brautović in the roles of St. Nicholas and Krampus. The evening performance on Stradun at 8 PM features the popular Tomislav Bralić and klapa Intrade, who will delight the audience with their well-known hits!

Thursday, December 7th, will bring together all interested parties in the Rector's Palace at 12 PM, and the Dubrovnik Museums will organize an exhibition from the collection "Ships in Photos and Postcards from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century." Thursday will be marked by the opening of another ice rink, specifically in Mokošica at 6 PM, and working hours are every day from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM (on Christmas Eve from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, closed on Christmas, on New Year's Eve from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, and on New Year's Day from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM). Advent on Bunićeva Poljana offers excellent entertainment from 6 PM with DJ Speed.

Friday, December 8th, begins with workshops by the Dubrovnik Children's Choir led by Paola Dražić Zekić and Sanja Dražić. About sixty children aged 5 to 12 will be able to attend at 4 PM in the Bunić - Kaboga summer residence, organized by the Dubrovnik Heritage with the theme "Great Heritage in Little Hearts." Shortly after that event, at 5 PM, the nativity scene workshop begins in the gallery, organized by the Museum of Modern Art under the guidance of Ivona Šimunović and Dubravka Tullio.

Thematic guidance "The Golden Age of Dubrovnik," organized by the Marin Držić Home, begins at Pile (next to Amerling's Fountain) exactly at 5:30 PM. The presentation of the picture book "The Story of the Hedgehog Jugash" at 6 PM in Lazareti is by DuList and is intended for children in Croatian and English, marking the hundredth anniversary of the founding of the water polo club Jug and in anticipation of the centennial of the first match on Porporela. On the same day, starting at 6 PM on Bunićeva Poljana, the music and gastronomic program continues, featuring Trio Laus.

The program of the first week of the jubilee 10th Dubrovnik Winter Festival will be rounded off with the opening of the exhibition by artist Lena Kramarić, titled "Open Space," starting at 7 PM in Zlatarska 1. The Natural History Museum Dubrovnik at 7:30 PM also opens a significant exhibition that was created in partnership with the Marin Držić Home, titled "Držić's Animal World." At 8 PM, Matija Ferlin will take to the stage of the Marin Držić Theater with the play "Now I'm Lucky," and also at 8 PM on the stage in front of the Student Center Dubrovnik, the beloved Vojko V will be on stage as part of Advent on Vojnović.

To ensure that as many people as possible come to all the programs of the Dubrovnik Winter Festival in the easiest way, the city administration has provided free transportation by Libertas buses on city lines in the afternoon and evening hours for all citizens and guests. Also, the price of the DU Pass, a joint ticket to the most important attractions in Dubrovnik, has been reduced from 35 to only 15 euros, and it is accompanied by the reduced price of the ticket for the city walls.

More information about all events will be available on the Dubrovnik Winter Festival website, official Android and IOS applications, and on the Calendar of Events of the City of Dubrovnik.

In the course of the business year 2023, IKEA Croatia achieved noteworthy success, with the Zagreb store's turnover reaching nearly 91 million euros. The combined turnover of all IKEA units, including stores, online retail, Planning Studios, and delivery centers, totaled 149.9 million euros. Demonstrating an overall 30% increase in turnover compared to the previous year, the growth was even more substantial at 36% when focusing solely on online sales. This outstanding performance catapulted IKEA Croatia to the pinnacle of revenue rankings, securing the highest revenue growth among all IKEA units globally, as announced by IKEA yesterday.

A total of 12,884,213 IKEA products were sold during the year, with furniture constituting two-thirds of the sales and home accessories making up the remaining third. Top-selling furniture items included products from the popular Malm, Pax, and Hemnes product families. Throughout the business year, the IKEA Zagreb store welcomed over 1.7 million customers, while the online store garnered over 20 million visits, resulting in 263,467 online purchases. The significance of the AutoStore system at the IKEA Zagreb store, an automated system for order collection and packaging, was underscored, marking a pioneering initiative within the IKEA global network.


The Croatian Tourist Board and the Representation of the Croatian Tourist Board for the Benelux countries organized a special promotional event in Amsterdam, featuring a meeting with 200 key partners, travel agents, tour operators, and media representatives in the Dutch market. The "Croatian Day in Amsterdam" showcased the overall Croatian tourism offer with a special emphasis on nautical and camping experiences, held on a boat sailing through the charming canals of Amsterdam. The main partner in organizing the event was the Tourist Board of Istria County, representing itself as the leading Croatian tourism region and one of the favorite destinations for the Dutch.


Croatian tourism highlighted in Amsterdam - Photo HTZ

Kristjan Staničić, the director of the Croatian Tourist Board, affirmed the significance of the Dutch market for the development of Croatian tourism and the entire travel industry. He highlighted the Netherlands as consistently being among the top 10 markets generating the highest tourism traffic for Croatia. The Netherlands is not only a market with the highest number of airlines to Croatian destinations but also ranks among the top 5 markets for Croatian camping. Staničić emphasized the need for strengthening business relationships with key Dutch partners and decision-makers in tourism on this crucial market.

The event welcomed Frank Oostdam, director of the umbrella association of Dutch tour operators and travel agents (ANVR) and president of ECTAA, the European Association of Travel Agencies and Tour Operators. Oostdam stressed the importance of sustainability in terms of strategic planning and the functionality of spaces and facilities after their initial use. He highlighted the necessity for travel agencies to recognize demand and changing consumer habits, and the increasing desirability of highlighting CO2 emissions alongside the cost of travel arrangements.

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Kristjan Staničić, the director of the Croatian Tourist Board - Photo HTZ

The Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to the Netherlands, Dubravka Plejić Marković, and Monika Udovičić from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports also attended the event.

Denis Ivošević, the director of the Tourist Board of Istria County, emphasized the exceptional importance of the Dutch market for Istria, particularly in the dominant camping segment. He pointed out the consistent investment in premium camping offerings, earning prestigious international awards each year. According to the latest TOMAS research, Dutch tourists have the longest stays in Croatia, indicating their sustained preference for the destination.

Notably, Dutch visitors, according to the eVisitor system, achieved approximately 550,000 arrivals and 3.1 million overnight stays in Croatia during the first 11 months of this year, representing a 1% increase in arrivals compared to the same period last year.

Croatia stands out among EU nations with the highest proportion of citizens residing in their own homes, aligning with Romania, Slovakia, and Hungary, well above the European average, according to 2022 data from the Statistical Office.

Across the EU, 68% of the population lived in their own homes last year, with 32% opting for rented housing, as reported by Eurostat.

Romania leads with an impressive 93% of citizens living in their own real estate, followed closely by Slovakia at 92%.

Securing the third spot is Croatia, with 91% of citizens residing in their own properties last year, while Hungary takes the fourth position with 90%.

Property ownership prevailed in the majority of EU countries, including Austria, which saw an almost equal split between tenants and landlords.

Contrastingly, Germany stood out as the only country where tenants formed the majority, making up 53.3% of the population.


From the midweek until the weekend in Dubrovnik, there are slightly more than a thousand guests, which is ten percent above their number at this time last year.

According to data from the tourist registration system eVisitor, among domestic visitors, the most numerous are from France, the United States, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and Albania.

In a world flooded with image manipulations and disinformation, the English word "authentic" was the most searched term in 2023 in the United States, according to the renowned Merriam-Webster dictionary publisher.

The word, indicating that Americans are anxiously grappling with discussions on artificial intelligence, identity, or social media, was the most frequently sought-after term on the online dictionary, as stated by Merriam-Webster in their press release.

This publishing house, whose editions are considered authoritative, primarily dictionaries, notes that media celebrities like singer Taylor Swift insisted this year on the importance of being authentic.

Influential mogul Elon Musk urged leaders and decision-makers to express themselves "authentically" on social media.

The word "authentic" thus surpassed "deepfake" in the number of online searches, with the latter term denoting sophisticated technology for manipulating audio-visual content.

Among the finalists was also the word "coronation," which was most frequently sought in the dictionary in May when the British heir was crowned, becoming King Charles III.


The data on average salaries (total average of all personal incomes, not median salary) for the third quarter of 2023 has been released. On a national level, compared to the same period last year, salaries increased by 13.9 percent, making the average net salary amount to 1,153 euros. The average net salaries of employees in different counties ranged from a low of 1,006 euros in Virovitica-Podravina County to 1,343 euros in the City of Zagreb.

According to the Croatian Bureau of Statistics, the average Croatian net salary in the third quarter increased by 13.9 percent, reaching 1,153 euros. Unsurprisingly, Zagreb citizens had the highest average salary, significantly exceeding the national average at 1,343 euros. This marks a 12.9 percent increase compared to the same period last year, which is among the lower growth rates, as reported by tportal.

Most counties had an average salary lower than 1,100 euros, with six of them below 1,050 euros. Slightly higher averages were observed in the Zagreb metropolitan area and coastal Croatia, while lower averages were noted in northern and eastern Croatia.

Interestingly, some less-developed counties had higher average salaries than more developed ones. For instance, in Istria County, immediately behind the City of Zagreb in terms of development, the average salary is 1,098 euros, while in the less developed Karlovac County, it is 1,131 euros.


The Voice of Dubrovnik


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