Wednesday, 17 April 2024
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

“Why are you cycling 20,000 KM and passing through 30 countries?” I asked the friendly Italian cyclist as we tucked into breakfast in my dining room. “Why not,” he laughed. It reminded me of the English mountaineer George Mallory who when asked why we wanted to climb the highest mountain in the world simply answered “Because it is there.”

We seem to be a magnet for people travelling on two wheels this year.

I often see cyclists struggling up and indeed down the rolling coastal road and I often wonder where are they going, or indeed where have they come from. Loaded down with luggage and looking more like a snail carrying their world on the bikes, which I guess they are.

And just at the start of the season we found ourselves hosting one such cyclist, giving us a chance to get an insight into what, when and why.

The only real biking adventure my wife and I had was in Ireland, which almost ended as soon as it began as my wife almost falling into a river, probably we should have gone to the flatlands of the Netherlands.

Of course, we’ve done the biking tour around Mljet, thankfully without any accidents, but a real adventure is still awaiting.

So this Italian cyclist was introduced to us via a friend in Zadar. She said that he was looking for accommodation in Dubrovnik and we were only too willing to help. After our 1,200 km hike around southwest England we know how much a warm shower and a soft bed means.

In fact, this was his first bike journey, and he was raising money for families with disabled children, and hoping to raise 20,000 euro, or a euro for every kilometre. “As I walked into the Old City I found myself humming the theme tune to the Game of Thrones,” he recalled.

He was on his way south to Greece, before looping back up through the heart of Europe to Scandinavia. A truly monumental feat. “I have a budget of 15 euro per day, so I hope to find hosts where I can stay for free or I have a tent so I will camp,” he explained.

As it turns out there are quite a few websites and apps that cater for this kind of trip. The two that had the most interesting names for me were “Warm Showers,” and “Welcome to my Garden.” And during his trip down our coastline he had been lucky enough to stay almost everywhere for free.

“One of the things that has got me emotional is the kindness and generosity I have received from everyone I’ve met so far,” he smiled. I couldn’t help but think that he had a very tight budget knowing the supermarket prices.

“And how have the drivers been here,” I asked. He thought. “Let’s just say that truck drivers clearly don’t have knowledge of driving with bikes on the road,” came his answer as he explained a few near misses.

We finished breakfast and he hoped on his bike for the trip to Montenegro. We actually felt quite jealous of him, to think of all the memories he will create, but then laughed about the Ireland mishap and decided that we were safer on two feet rather than two wheels.

As I said we seem to be attracting cyclists at the Thomas household, and just last week another adventurer contacted me. His journey seemed even crazier. From the heart of Ireland to the Sydney Opera House in Australia, covering 23,000 KM. So pretty soon we could well be hosting our second cyclist, and the summer hasn’t even started yet. And to be honest I can’t wait, seeing their passion and determination is truly inspiring.

So the next time you are driving to work and see one of these slightly dishevelled cyclists pumping away at their pedals maybe just give them a thought, and more importantly a little more room on the road.

Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to

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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

Dubrovnik Diving Club continues its tradition of dedicated environmental action by cleaning the seabed, this time the action was carried out in the area of Marina Frapa Dubrovnik.

Together with their friends from the Diving Club Mostar, divers from RK Dubrovnik extracted 200 kilograms of various waste. The action was carried out by around twenty divers and an equal number of their members on land, and they have already announced a continuation of the project.

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They emphasize that they have the support of the City of Dubrovnik, the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, the Technical Culture Community, and the city's waste management company in their environmental actions.

As the tourist season kicks off in Dubrovnik, the picturesque coastal city is experiencing an early surge in visitors, setting the stage for what promises to be a bustling season ahead. Reports from the eVisitor tourist registration and deregistration system reveal that midweek to weekend, Dubrovnik has already welcomed over nine thousand guests, marking a notable increase of ten percent compared to the same period last year.

This early uptick in tourist numbers signals a promising start for the region's hospitality industry.

A significant portion of these visitors hails from key tourism markets, with the majority arriving from countries such as Great Britain, Germany, Croatia, France, the USA, Poland, and Ireland.

Furthermore, the tourism sector in Dubrovnik is poised for further growth as airlines prepare to increase flight frequencies to the city.

An exhibition of beautiful photographs of Croatia is currently taking place inside the famous and bustling Shanghai Oriental Pearl Tower, with a special emphasis on the unique landmarks of our country, UNESCO heritage sites, and enchanting nature. These are parts of Croatia's overall tourist offer that Chinese tourists show the greatest interest in. The exhibition consists of 38 photographs and was organized by the Representation of the Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ) in China, which, on this occasion, also held several special presentations of the Croatian tourist offer for numerous visitors in the same space.

Kina izlozba Franka Gulin

Photo - HTZ

"For this exhibition, we have prepared photographs from 10 Croatian tourist clusters which also include details about the locations, as well as QR codes for additional promotion through social networks. The photographs are displayed on LED screens and exhibited inside the lower dome of the tower, where visitor traffic is very high. According to official data, the average daily number of tower visitors is around 50,000 people, so this exhibition represents an excellent additional promotion of Croatian tourism in the large and significant Chinese market," said Franka Gulin, Director of the Representation of the Croatian Tourist Board in China, emphasizing that Croatia occupies a position of an attractive and highly appealing destination to the Chinese market.

Additionally, during the exhibition, the Shanghai Spring Fair was held in front of the tower, where numerous visitors of this three-day event were given appropriate Croatian souvenirs, and visitors also had the opportunity to taste and purchase Croatian wines and other authentic Croatian products.

Oriental Pearl Tower Shanghai

Photo - HTZ 

Furthermore, Croatia was awarded by readers of the popular Chinese edition of Voyage magazine as one of the destinations with the best cultural tourism offer. Interestingly, the voting for the awards lasted from December 2023, accompanied by a promotional campaign on the social media platforms of the mentioned magazine.

In the upcoming period, special business presentations will be held for the largest agencies in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Chongqing in the Chinese market, and Croatia will also be presented at the large ITB China tourism fair, which will take place in mid-May, also in Shanghai.

In the Neretva Valley, the earliest ever harvest of strawberries has begun. They have been planted across a total of forty hectares, and by the end of June, it is planned to harvest around 800 tons of fruits, reports HRT.

"The harvest this year is 10 to 15 days earlier, and the price of this year's Neretva strawberries is three and a half euros," revealed producer Gradimir Šešelj.

"We have started with the harvest, picking good fruits, and we will offer them to all chains in Croatia, while there is a large production in European countries such as Greece and Spain. If the weather continues to be nice, I think we will surpass them with our product because it is sweet, fresh, and will win over buyers," he said.

He added that finding workers is proving to be a significant problem.

"Strawberry picking is specific and very strenuous work. We have some workers, but considering the production, I think I will have to request additional labour," said Šešelj.

Tourists have been warned their trips will cost more this year, with countries across Europe increasing their visitor taxes. Travel insurance experts have revealed the cost of tourist fees, with some cities charging €15 a night, per person.

Holidaymakers have been warned their trips abroad will cost more this year, as countries across Europe look set to increase tourist taxes. Travel insurance experts at Quotezone have researched the cost of tourist fees for countries across the continent.

Many countries have raised their fees for tourists this year, with visitors to Paris paying up to €14.95 a night, and a 5% charge on room fees in Berlin. Venice has introduced a trial for visitors to pay a €5 entry fee to the city during daytime hours, including additional costs for anyone staying in the city overnight. Manchester has introduced a tourist tax of £1 per night for visitors, which has been successful in funding street maintenance.

Tourists are being encouraged to incorporate additional costs into their holiday budget ahead of their spring and summer trips, to avoid being out of pocket.

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Photo - Canva

Travel insurance expert at Quotezone.co.uk, Tiffany Mealiff said: “The new and increasing tourist fees across Europe allow cities to fund measures to attract more holidaymakers, support the local infrastructure and businesses, as well as preventing the damages from over-tourism. If you’re taking a trip to any city in Europe this year, you must be aware of the potential additional costs to your holiday. Tourism taxes range anywhere between less than €1 to almost €15 and can be per person per night. Many fees are based on the hotel rating or the type of accommodation, and charges vary from city to city depending on whether individuals are charged each night or for the whole trip.”


Tourist tax charges across top tourist spots:

Venice

Tourists visiting Venice for the day will have to pay a €5 entry fee to enter the city between the hours of 8.30am and 4.00pm. The scheme is currently going through a trial period, but it is expected to come fully into force in 2025. Currently anyone staying overnight in Venice on holiday is charged a fee between €1 - €5 within the accommodation price.

Manchester

The UK city introduced a £1 per room, per night tourist tax across 73 hotels in order to fund measures to attract more tourists. The scheme has currently raised over £2 million within a year to pay for street cleaning and marketing campaigns.

Barcelona

A recent increase to the existing tourist fee sees visitors now paying €3.25 for those staying in official accommodation. This has risen from €2.75.

Lisbon

The Portuguese capital enforces a €2 fee for every night tourists stay; this is only applied for a maximum of seven nights, per person.

Athens

Tourist tax in Athens varies depending on the hotel category and the time of year. The Greek government introduced the Climate Crisis Resilience Fee to charge tourists anywhere from €0.50 - €10 per room, per night.

Dubrovnik

Visitors to Dubrovnik must pay €2.65 per person, per night throughout April to September. The Croatian government reduced this fee to €1.85 for the rest of the year.

Paris

The French government charges visitors a tourist tax depending on the type of accommodation. The most expensive charge is €14.95 for a stay in palaces, and €0.65 at one or two star campsites. Those staying in a typical four-star hotel are charged €8.13.

Prague

For visitors to Prague, tourist tax has increased from 21 to 50 CZK each day (€0.82 to €1.97 based on current rates). The tax on visitors has been used as a tool to compensate costs associated with tourism and increase the overall income of the city.

Budapest

Tourists staying in Budapest are charged an additional 4% each night, which is calculated based on the price of the room. Hungary only enforces a tourist fee in the capital city.

Berlin

Berlin increased their city tax recently - tourists must now pay 5% of the room price, excluding VAT and service fees.

In a bid to showcase the rich cultural heritage and scenic beauty of Dubrovnik, the Dubrovnik Tourist Board has launched a special initiative offering complimentary guided tours to foreign workers employed in the city.

These guided tours, designed to provide an immersive experience of Dubrovnik's charm, are available every Wednesday and Saturday at 5:00 pm until May 4th, 2024. The initiative aims to provide an opportunity for foreign workers to explore the iconic landmarks and hidden gems of Dubrovnik, enhancing their understanding and appreciation of the city's cultural significance.

Dubrovnik Tourist Board Offers Free Guided Tours to Foreign Workers 1

Photo - TZ Dubrovnik 

The inaugural tour, held yesterday, received rave reviews from participants, with many expressing delight at the opportunity to delve into Dubrovnik's rich history and breath-taking scenery. And on the tour were ten people from The Philippines, one from Kosovo and one from Albanian.

Foreign workers interested in joining these guided tours are encouraged to register by sending their name via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. With limited spaces available, interested individuals are advised to secure their spot promptly to avoid missing out on this unique opportunity.

 

Dubrovnik has garnered special recognition in the esteemed pages of Smithsonian Magazine, coinciding with the 45th anniversary of its UNESCO World Heritage status, with a partnership with the Dubrovnik Tourist Board

Renowned for its well-preserved medieval architecture, picturesque Old City, and rich cultural heritage, Dubrovnik stands as a shining gem on the Adriatic coast. Its inclusion in Smithsonian Magazine serves as a testament to its enduring appeal and global significance.

Dubrovnik Celebrates Prestigious Recognition in Smithsonian Magazine on 45th UNESCO Anniversary 1

Photo - TZ Dubrovnik

As Dubrovnik marks four and a half decades since its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979, this latest accolade from Smithsonian Magazine adds another chapter to its illustrious history. The city's remarkable architectural ensemble, encompassing landmarks such as the iconic City Walls, the majestic Rector's Palace, and the stunning St. Blaise Church, continues to captivate visitors from around the world.

Smithsonian magazine is a monthly publication issued by the Smithsonian Institution, the world's largest museum and research complex located in Washington, D.C., United States. The magazine covers a wide range of topics, including science, history, art, culture, and travel, drawing upon the expertise and collections of the Smithsonian Institution. It features in-depth articles, stunning photography, and insightful commentary, making it a trusted source of knowledge and inspiration for readers interested in exploring the world's wonders and mysteries. With a rich legacy dating back to its founding in 1970, Smithsonian magazine has established itself as a premier publication renowned for its commitment to excellence in storytelling and education.

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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