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.
Tickets for most music, drama and dance programs in the 71st Dubrovnik Summer Festival, from July 10 to August 25 this year, are on sale online today at up to 50 percent reduced prices than previous festivals.
This year, there is no active 30 percent discount for residents of Dubrovnik-Neretva County or for students, but ticket prices have been significantly reduced, adapting to the current situation, so for example the cheapest ticket is only 50 Kuna, and the most expensive 300 Kuna, while other prices depend on the performance and the chosen seat in the venue. By purchasing tickets for three music performances, you also get a free ticket for one more musical performance of your choice.
Local ticket sales start on Wednesday, July 1, when the box office at the Festival Palace, Od Sigurate 1, will open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tickets will also be available at program locations, two hours before the start of the performance.
The National Civil Protection Headquarters announced that there have been 22 new cases of Covid-19 in Croatia over the past 24 hours, meaning a total of 2,388 people have been infected since the pandemic began.
“So far, 73,738 people have been tested. There are 18 people in hospital and no one is on a ventilator. A total of 107 people have passed away due to Covid-19. Three patients were discharged from the hospital. 139 people are actively ill,” commented Maja Grba Bujević, the Director of the Croatian Institute of Emergency Medicine.
"We are actively monitoring the situation, not only in Croatia but also in the neighbouring countries and in Europe in order to adopt the best possible measures to protect the health of citizens. Today a decision will be made on a temporary ban on crossing the border, by establishing a special entry regime for people from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and North Macedonia,” said Interior Minister, Davor Božinović.
This new border regulation effectively means that any citizen entering Croatia from the four countries mentioned will have to serve a mandatory two-week quarantine in Croatia.
"A special regime of entry into Croatia for persons coming from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia and Northern Macedonia is being established. These persons will be obliged to stay in self-isolation for 14 days upon entering Croatia. The isolation obligation does not apply to passengers transiting through Croatia," empathized Božinović, at today’s press conference.
And another new regulation regards passengers on public transport. And passenger who does not have a mask will not be able to enter the vehicle, basically the driver will not be allowed to drive unless everyone has a mask. The decision takes effect at midnight tonight.
Božinović added that "We will continue to monitor what is happening. At this stage, we will be ready to make decisions faster, and we can change them if the need arises."
There are no new cases of coronavirus infection in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, and of the samples sent for analysis on Tuesday, 38 are negative, the remaining are in processing. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 3,534 samples have been sent for analysis.
In the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, there are 33 people in self-isolation.
The headquarters of the Civil Protection for the County continues to appeal to citizens to adhere to all prescribed measures by the Croatian Institute of Public Health and the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia.
British guests could well be holidaying on the Croatian Adriatic this summer as the UK government plans talks on air bridges. According to a report in The Guardian British tourists could soon be sunning themselves on a Croatia beach, as British ministers are negotiating with Spain, Italy, Greece, France and Turkey, as well as Croatia.
Croatia has already fully opened its borders to ten European destinations but as the UK still has a relatively high Covid-19 infection rate it wasn’t included on this list.
British ministers are in talks with the leaders of six European countries in order to establish 'air bridges' for British tourists who want to spend their holidays. The idea is to allow Britons to go on holiday to countries with low prevalence of the infection and return home without going into quarantine.
Apparently Singapore, Australia and Bermuda were considered, but in the end Mediterranean countries were chosen as low distance destinations require transfers in countries where the epidemiological situation is much more serious.
Although the UK have expressed an interest in opening “air bridges” to Croatia there are no signs yet from the Croatian side. British tourists are extremely important to Croatia’s tourism industry, especially in Dubrovnik where they are the most numerous visitors, and if this “air bridge” project were to be allowed it would no doubt give a much needed shot in the arm to the country’s tourism industry.
The current 14-day quarantine regulation for people arriving in the UK is set to be reviewed on the 29th of June, although there is a possibility that an announcement could be made a few days before that date. The quarantine was proved extremely unpopular with the UK travel industry, airlines and with politicians from all parties. Indeed, it isn’t clear why the regulation was introduced, unless to motivate UK tourists to stay at home on holiday and therefore bolster the flagging economy.
One of the largest hotels in the Dubrovnik region, indeed in the whole of Croatia, is set to reopen its doors to guests on the 1st of July. Hotel Croatia in Cavtat will once again be welcoming guests as it opens in the middle of next week. This five-star hotel has been closed since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
Hotel Croatia will be the fourth hotel in the Adriatic Luxury Hotels (ALH) group to reopen, after Hotel Dubrovnik Palace, Hotel Excelsior and Hotel Odisej on Mljet. This Cavtat hotel is extremely popular with guests from the UK and ALH have already stated that they are monitoring the situation in the UK carefully.
“The operational procedures in the hotels have been fully adjusted to comply with all prescribed measures and recommendations for the operation of hotels during the Covid-19 epidemic submitted by the Croatian Institute of Public Health with maximum effort to maintain the expected level of a luxury hotel service,” states Hotel Croatia.
The Interior Minister and Head of the Civil Protection Directorate, Davor Bozinovic, announced that a new regime would be introduced on the borders with Bosnia and Hercegovina and Serbia, which could include 14-day mandatory self-isolation.
"We are monitoring the epidemiological situation in neighbouring countries and what we have been recording in recent days are infections that come, that is, are brought by people who mostly come from the countries of our eastern borders,” stated Bozinovic.
Adding that today there will be a meeting of the Directorate today and that they will probably make a decision on changing the regime that currently exists at the border crossings with Serbia, BiH and Montenegro, but also when it comes to travel for citizens of Kosovo and northern Macedonia.
"We will make a decision on Wednesday, you know that they will come into force at 00.00 the next day, but I would not prejudge now, but probably the regime that existed - self-isolation for those coming from those countries, it will be discussed on Wednesday and probably we will make a decision on that track, but let's wait,” concluded Bozinovic yesterday.
Croatia remains an epidemiologically safe destination for Slovenians, the Slovenian government spokesman, Jelko Kacin, and one of the leading infectologists confirmed on Tuesday, explaining that the situation in both countries is similar.
Speaking at an extraordinary press conference on Tuesday about 13 new cases of coronavirus in Slovenia, including 6 cases of transmission from abroad, Kacin said that the statement of Health Minister, Tomaz Gantar, about Croatia as a potentially epidemiologically dangerous destination for Slovenians was " insufficiently thought out” since the epidemiological situation in both states is similar.
Due to that statement and Gantar's warning that Croatia could be on the "red list" of countries from which a 14-day quarantine is required for entry into Slovenia, the Slovenian government has been overwhelmed with inquiries, which has resulted in problems with telephone lines.
This means that despite the increase in the number of new cases in recent days in Croatia, but also in Slovenia, the border crossing regime remains the same as before.
Of the 13 new infections confirmed in Slovenia in the last 24 hours, six of them are "imported", of which three from BiH, and one case each from Serbia, Kosovo and Croatia.
The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly threatened world tourism, reducing the number of international arrivals from the beginning of the year to the end of April by 44 percent over the same period last year, with revenue losses of $195 billion, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has reported.
Although April was expected to be one of the busiest times of the year due to the Easter holidays the almost universal introduction of travel restrictions led to a 97 percent drop in international tourist arrivals that month.
In March, the decline was 55 percent worldwide, while for the period from April onwards, especially for the summer part of the tourist year, the UNWTO notes that "some hope is seen", but that everything is still uncertain and ungrateful for forecasts.
"The sharp decline in the number of tourists threatens millions of jobs and the economy, and it is vital that restarting tourism becomes a priority and managed responsibly, protecting the most vulnerable and taking care of health and safety. Until tourism is restarted, we call for strong support and we welcome the steps taken by both the EU and individual countries, including France and Spain, to economically support tourism and build the foundations for recovery," said the UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili.
UNWTO data shows that by the end of April, tourism in Asia and the Pacific had been hit hardest by the pandemic, with 51 percent fewer foreign tourists than last year, while Europe was in second place with a 44 percent drop. They are followed by the Middle East with a drop of 40 percent, America with 36 percent, while in Africa there were 35 percent fewer international tourist arrivals than last year.
The UNWTO points out that they projected in early May that tourism in 2020 could face a potential drop in the total number of international tourists of 60 to 80 percent, depending on the lifting of travel restrictions.
But they add that since mid-May, they have found an increase in the number of destinations gradually opening with measures to restart tourism, including the introduction of improved safety and hygiene measures and policies aimed at promoting domestic tourism.