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 Dubrovnik Winter Festival is proving to be a real hit this winter, with countless decorations and events happening throughout the whole city. And it isn’t only the Old City of Dubrovnik that has got into the Christmas spirit; the suburbs of Lapad, Babin Kuk and Gruz are also wearing their festive colours. And in the Gruz region of Dubrovnik there is an extra special attraction for Children – the Children’s Winter Festival – Orlandino. In the area of the Port of Dubrovnik the Orlandino festival is well underway and it is a winter wonderland for children.
One of the highlights is the ice rink, always a popular attraction for all ages during the winter time, and this year the ice rink is better than ever before. Firstly it is real ice, yes if you fall over it will be cold, and secondly it is covered from the elements in a port building, and with disco lights and pop music your children will love it. But that isn’t all the whole of the area around the ice rink is a winter wonderland. An ever popular fun park with Christmas decorations has brought a special feel to Orlandino this year – all the fun of the fair.
Advent Bus to the fun
This year you can catch a rather special bus to the fun in Orlandino – an advent bus. The festive bus runs from Pile to the fun park and ice rink in Gruz. The advent bus is free of charge and a great way to do a “two-in-one” enjoy a walk along through the festive stands on the Stradun and have fun with the family in Orlandino.
In August this year the Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ) published data on its activities on social networks, results of these activities as well as the impressions of tourists on Croatia as a tourist destination.
Apart from the promotional activities carried out by the HTZ on its profiles, the significant impact on increase of the number of fans on social networks also have foreign bloggers. In the period from January to July 2016 the Croatian Tourist Board co-organized a total of 21 travels for 37 bloggers from 12 markets such as Canada, the US, the UK, Brazil, Japan, Korea, Lithuania, Norway, Finland, Poland, Germany and the Netherlands.
Some of the famous world bloggers who are spreading the good word about Croatia are Sarah and Kris Moran, Anne Lowrey and Larissa Olenicoft.
Sarah and Kris Moran, the couple who run the JetSettingFools.com blog, visited Croatia in 2011 for the first time. At the time Kris worked in an airline company in the US and listened to impressions of his colleagues who had visited less known tourist destinations. So the couple opted for Croatia. Since their first visit, they came back three more times to Croatia and during their visits they went to Split, Zadar, Zagreb, Rovinj, the National Park Plitvicka Jezera and the National Park Krka.
Sarah and Kris Moran are so impressed by the natural beauty of Croatia and its gastronomic delights - ''To choose a favourite place in Croatia is almost impossible'', concluded the couple.
They opened the blog two years ago which has more than 20,000 views per month and is a valuable source of information and advice for numerous potential travellers.
Anne Lowrey, the author of the Part-time traveller blog had already travelled throughout most of Europe, but once she heard stories about Croatia, she decided to visit the country ''everybody talks about so much''. She enjoyed her visit to Dubrovnik, Hvar, the National Park Plitvicka Jezera and Zagreb and was quite impressed by local people, natural beauties and local cuisine. ''The quality of food and culture in Croatia is one of the best in world for me, especially wine and oysters from Ston'', said Anne Lowrey. In her post about Croatia she especially praised the Croatian brandy, ''There are many flavoured brandies, depending on the region and a family which produces it. For example, the brandy which is flavoured with herbs is called ''travarica''. Later I learned that brandy in Croatia is perceived as a cure for almost everything – from relieving muscle pain to stomach problems. Since then, I drink a little bit of brandy every time I feel bad'', wrote Anne after her travel around Croatia.
Larrisa Oleincoft is the author of the Blond Gipsy blog who visited Croatia in 2007 for the first time. She went to Dubrovnik, Split and Hvar. ''I travelled around Western Europe and I was very interested in discovering Croatia. Nature, history, culture and food – Croatia really has it all. If you want a quiet holiday, you can find it here. If you want a party holiday, you can also find it here. If you want something in between, you can have it here'', explained Larissa. ''So far I have been in Croatia for at least five times and each time I find something new that amazes me. This is a special place with a lot of hidden secrets and cannot wait to visit it again'', concluded Larissa.
At first it looked like a blockade of the port had begun but this unusual scene was in fact a fish hunt. On another glorious December day fishermen had seized the opportunity to catch sea-bream.
Quite clearly the conditions were perfect for fishing and boats of all shapes and sizes lined up at the mouth of the Ombla River waiting for their chance. Many drivers stopped on the Dubrovnik Bridge to see what was going on and to take a photo of the fishing mania.
According to results of the second survey of the Media Clientelism Index (MCI) presented last week, the position of Croatia has worsened as well as the situation regarding the institutional framework that regulates the work of media, especially its exposure to clientelistic practice, pressure, politicization and unjustified influence.
The survey was carried out as part of the ''Civil Response to Clientelism in Media – Media Circle'' project in six Southeast European countries - Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia and Romania.
''Clientelism and politicization of the media is a rule rather than an exception. In each of the surveyed countries there is a lack of freedom in the media which is largely controlled by various political, economic and financial interest groups'', explained Munir Podumljak, the executive director of the Partnership for Social Development non-governmental organization.
None of the countries in the region has established a comprehensive media register in order to provide the public with an insight into the situation in each section of the media market, whether by type of the media or by their ownership structure.
As far as access to business results of privately owned media is concerned, it was unsuccessful in most countries except in Croatia and partly in Macedonia where indicators for television and radio broadcasters were available.
Around 200 media in Croatia and nearly 800 in Serbia used the state support for the media in 2015. The total value of financing in Croatia was 10,9 million Euros.
Additional funds assigned from the state budget for promotion and advertising in Croatia amounted to 31,5 million Euros. The total revenue of advertising agencies in 2015 amounted to 511,2 million Euros, whilst their profit was 21,3 million Euros.
The last weekend before Christmas in Dubrovnik was filled with glorious sunshine and stable temperatures. The historic Old City of Dubrovnik was busy as locals and tourists made the most of the pleasant winter sunshine.
The forecast for this week is for more winter sunshine and temperatures between 12 and 15 degrees. And for Christmas Day the forecast is for a partly cloudy day with highs expected to reach 14 degrees.
easyJet is planning a huge expansion into the Croatia market for 2017 including many new routes added to Dubrovnik. In total easyJet has added seven new routes for next year to Croatia of which four will be operating to Dubrovnik Airport. The low-cost airline is an important partner for Dubrovnik and since 2009 has transported over 1 million passengers to Dubrovnik. This year easyJet was the second busiest airline flying into Dubrovnik, bringing just under 190,000 passengers, after Croatia Airlines. And 2017 will be another bumper year as new flights from Basel, Belfast, Manchester and Naples will be introduced to Dubrovnik.
In a report on the specialised website EX-YU aviation the senior route manager of easyJet, Dimitris Schoinas, commented that "We are pleased to be announcing a significant investment in Croatia making nearly one million seats available to and from the country in 2017. The new flights will offer more choice to European tourists to spend their holidays in the beautiful seaside resorts of Croatia, as well as to Croatian passengers to connect to Europe".
The news that easyJet will increase their operations to Dubrovnik comes after news that the biggest low-cost airline in the world, Ryanair, will not fly to Dubrovnik next year. The director of Dubrovnik Airport, Roko Tolic, commented at the recent Southeast Europe Aviation Summit that Ryanair’s terms were “unacceptable” and that the airport has the same conditions for all airlines. Talks between the airline and the airport, as well as the City of Dubrovnik, had been going on but it would seem that they have now broken down. It can be assumed that Ryanair had demanded significant tax breaks and incentives to fly to Dubrovnik, which they already enjoy at other airports in Croatia such as Zadar. And during the summer months Dubrovnik Airport is already extremely busy, this year almost 2 million passengers passed through in a record year, so the addition of Ryanair is not as necessary as it is in other Croatian airport. However the budget airline had also promised to operate flights through the winter months which would have been much more attractive for the city’s tourism industry.
The traditional concert of the Dubrovnik Brass band will be held tonight at 7.30pm in the Revelin Fortress. The concert will feature Christmas classics and always has a great festive spirit with the conductor and band encouraging the audience to join in the fun.
Entrance to tonight’s Christmas Concert is free of charge.
Decorations hang over the Stradun, the aroma of mulled wine, the sound of carols...yes Christmas has come to Dubrovnik. The festive feel can be felt throughout the whole city, from the historic Old City to Lapad and Gruz, Dubrovnik is a winter wonderland.
Photos – Dubrovnik Winter Festival + Niksa Duper (Hanza Media)