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.
Ten percent more Spanish tourists could visit Croatia this year given the visible signs of recovery in Spain after the crisis, but this depends on air routes, which are still not satisfactory, Croatian travel agencies attending Fitur, the biggest international tourism fair in Spain, said on Wednesday.
"This year we expect the same growth as last year," said Ivana Rodin Miljas of the Dubrovnik-based Elite Travel agency, one of ten exhibitors at the fair which was opened today.
Last year 214,000 Spaniards visited Croatia, 13% more than in 2014, reaching the numbers from 2011, when the economic crisis gripped Spain. A growth of 8-10% is expected this year if the economic or security situation in Spain and globally does not escalate.
Spaniards prefer southern Croatia and began arriving in Dubrovnik in greater numbers a decade ago. Last year they accounted for 463,000 bed/nights, 16% more than in 2014, according to Croatia's National Tourism Board.
After smart phones, smart cars and smart watches comes a much more stable smart object - smart benches. The first smart benches arrived in Dubrovnik today. Whilst enjoying a seat in the park you can now charge your mobile phones, tablets and laptops for free. The first benches were installed on the new park that has been constructed near the Port of Dubrovnik on a former road intersection.
The smart benches are made in Croatia and cost up to 20,000 Kuna. They are even an eco-friendly design as the recharge system works on solar power. These are the first of the smart benches to be installed in Dubrovnik, with more planned for other public parks around the city.
Last year was an extremely successful one for Croatia’s airports with seven million passengers passing through the countries airports. The top three airports, in terms of passenger numbers, were the capital Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik. According to information from the specialised website EX-YU Aviation Zagreb Airport had it best year on record with 2.58 million passengers travelling through the capitals airport. This figure is a massive increase of 6.5 percent over last year. This growth was largely due to an increase in the growing number of international airlines operating through Zagreb. When the passenger numbers through Zagreb over the past five years are compared a steady growth can be seen. In 2013 a total of 2.3 million passengers used the airport, in 2014 that figure had risen to 2.4 million and last year the figure of 2.58 million was a record.
And it wasn’t only Zagreb that had a record year; Split also had its best year on record with 1.95 million passengers travelling through in 2015. After Zagreb’s 6.5 percent increase Split had a whooping increase of 11.6 percent. The managing director of Split Airport, Luksa Novak, told EX-YU Aviation that he expected 2 million passengers to travel through this year. He announced that with the arrival new flights from such airlines as Niki, Volotea, Air Berlin and Thomson Airways. The airport is also undergoing an investment project with the construction of a new terminal planned to start this spring.
And the last of the “big three” airports in Croatia, Dubrovnik airport, continued the positive news with another record breaking year welcoming 1.69 million passengers in 2015. The increase in passenger numbers at Dubrovnik Airport grew by 6.9 percent last year compared to 2014. The most popular route to Dubrovnik in 2015 was London and Croatia Airlines was the most frequent airline, mainly thanks to their daily operations to Zagreb. The airport expects that passenger figures will grow by between 5 and 6 percent this year.
The Old City of Dubrovnik was awoken early this morning to the sirens of fire-engines responding to a fire in a fast food restaurant. The fire started in Vetranićeva Street in the heart of the ancient Old City early this morning and was first noticed when neighbours smelt smoke, they called the fire-brigade at 7.27am.
The Dubrovnik fire-brigade was on the scene very quickly and at 8.10am the fire was already under control. Three fire-engines arrived carrying ten fire-fighters and tackled the blaze. The fire-fighters broke through the ceiling and checked the wooden beams and the floor structure in order to check if the fire was still smouldering.
The cause of the fire seems to be an electrical fault, however the official fire investigation has yet to release their findings.
The Facebook page of the Croatian government had the third biggest community of visitors compared to Facebook pages of other governments in Europe, and ranked third according to the number of comments it had attracted from citizens in 2015, shows a study conducted by Burson-Marsteller, a leading global strategic communications and public relations firm.
The study called "World Leaders on Facebook" covered over 500 Facebook accounts of executive authorities. It is Burson-Marsteller's latest research into how world leaders, governments and international organizations communicate via social media.
The Croatian government's public relations office on Monday published results for the Zoran Milanovic cabinet. Thus, over 1450,000 Facebook users follow the activities of the cabinet, and this number keeps growing, with 280,000 likes last year.
"Based on data collected in January 2016, the World Leaders on Facebook study – the first installment of the 2016 edition of Burson-Marsteller's annual Twiplomacy study – found that 169 of the 193 UN member states maintain an official Facebook page," Burson-Marsteller stated. BM analyzed 512 official Facebook pages for 169 governments, pages which together have amassed a total of 230.5 million ‘likes’.
The Croatian government's public relations office recalls that its Twitter account was also proclaimed "the third most prolific Twitter account among all governments" according to findings of an international study, "Twiplomacy", conducted by Burson-Marsteller in 2015.
Be careful if you are driving in Dubrovnik. No, not because of the freezing temperatures and the ice on the roads, this time it’s a two-legged animal that is the problem. The peril on the roads of Dubrovnik this afternoon was an escaped chicken. The chicken wandered across a busy intersection in Dubrovnik and following the road safety code even used the zebra crossing.
A reader sent us this photo of the chicken crossing the road (yes we know it sounds like the beginning of a joke) near the water company building in Dubrovnik.
Has the mega yacht season in Dubrovnik already opened this year? This morning the luxury yacht owned by a Saudi prince and former defence minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Khaled bin Sultan, a member of the Saudi royal family dropped anchor near the Port of Dubrovnik. In 1991, the prince retired from the military to focus on business.
Golden Odyssey, measuring 124 metres in length, opened up the mega yacht season in Dubrovnik in January! The yacht is among the twenty most luxurious yachts in the world and was built just last year. Before dropping anchor near the Daksa island off Dubrovnik the Golden Odyssey had been in the marina Porto Montenegro in Tivat in Montenegro.
We have learned that the Saudi prince is not currently onboard, although it is likely that the crew arrived in the city to check out the necessary details for a future visit by the prince this summer.
The popular UK newspaper the Independent has released an article entitled “Six once-dangerous countries that are now safe holiday destinations,” and Dubrovnik finds itself on the list. Certainly one of the inspirations behind the article is the recent events in Paris, Egypt and Mali and the need for tourists to explore “safe” destinations. Although the relevance of Croatia on a list promoting “once-dangerous” countries does seem a little out-of-date as the Homeland War ended twenty years ago. And Croatia is the only European country to be included on the list, the others being Colombia, Nicaragua, Namibia, Vietnam and Cambodia.
The article harks back to the past with mentions of the former Yugoslav tour operator “Yugotours.” - “Sun-sational Yugoslavia,” as the federation was marketed, was all about the Adriatic coast - stretching from the Istrian peninsula in the north to Dubrovnik in the south. Offering a week in the sun for as little as £99, Yugotours was sending nearly one million Brits a year to the country by 1990 – opens the Croatia article. It then goes onto mention that almost half a million British tourists are expected to visit the country in 2016.