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 first flight from the largest low-cost airline in the world landed at Dubrovnik Airport today. On a flight from Dublin Airport the Ryanair plane landed today and made history as the first every aircraft from the Irish budget airline to land at Dubrovnik. Not only will these new flights open Dubrovnik to more Irish tourists but will also allow Dubrovnik citizens to visit the Emerald Isle at reasonable prices.
Ryanair will operate four flights a week between Dublin and Dubrovnik until the 25th of October. “We hope that as well as Dublin that Ryanair will expand their destinations from Dubrovnik in the near future,” commented the director of the Dubrovnik Airport, Frano Luetic.
With prices starting from only 30 Euros return this new connection is sure to prove popular and today’s flight was almost full. Ryanair announced that the flights to Dubrovnik will be operated by Boeing 737-800 with a maximum capacity of 189 seats.
“Dubrovnik Airport will be connected with 70 international destinations with direct flights this summer season. The arrival of Ryanair certainly means a lot for Dubrovnik and we hope that apart from Dublin Ryanair will connect Dubrovnik to other European destinations in the future. And also that they will extend the period that they fly to Dubrovnik,” commented the director of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Romana Vlasic.
The Dubrovnik cable car hangs silent as it has been closed to the public since the 25th of April, and all the indicators show that it will remain closed at least until the 1st of July.
As Dubrovnik and visitors to the city get set for a second month without one of the most popular tourist attractions local travel agencies and tourist businesses are counting the cost of lost earnings. However, the cable cars loss is quite clearly the Dubrovnik City Walls gain. “Whatever the case the City of Dubrovnik in this situation isn’t losing anything. Quite the contrary we are earning as in the meantime the number of visitors on the Dubrovnik City Walls has increased,” commented the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Frankovic.
He pointed out evidence that since the cable car has been closed the number of visitors to the Dubrovnik City walls has increased by 40 percent when compared to the same period from last year. “From this 40 percent increase in ticket sales 60 percent is paid into the City of Dubrovnik’s budget,” added the Mayor. He did however express his desire that the situation with the cable car is solved as soon as possible.
Property prices across Croatia rose on average by 2.8 percent in April, with Dubrovnik still having the most expensive real estate in the country.
According to data published by the online property website Crozilla.com the average price per metre squared of a house in Dubrovnik is 4,050 Euros. And this makes Dubrovnik the only Croatian city where average prices per square metre are more expensive for a house than an apartment.
In fact, house prices in Dubrovnik rose by 3.4 percent when compared with the same month from 2018 and at 4,000 Euros properties in the city are almost double the price many of the other cities.
The most sought after Croatian cities in April were Zagreb, Osijek, Poreč, Zadar and Pula.
Households in Croatia spend on average around 6,800 Kuna per month, which places Croatia near the bottom of the list of the poorest European Union countries, according to an article from Vecernji List.
The average household in Austria spends around 36,000 Euro a year, in Germany around 31,000 Euros and Italy 30,000 Euros. Whilst Croatians are near the bottom of the EU scale spending around 13,000 Euros. In Slovenia and Greece households spend around 20,000 Euros a year.
The new research shows that the poorest Croatian households, around 150,000 households, live with slightly less than 20,000 Kuna annually.
For every 100 Kuna spent in Croatian households the budget breakdown looks like this – 28 Kuna on food, 15 Kuna on travel and transport, 7 Kuna on clothing and footwear, 5 Kuna for telephone and internet, 3 Kuna for cigarettes and alcohol as well as coffee in cafes, almost 3 Kuna on health and just less than 1 Kuna on education.
Like mushrooms after the rain the number of ATM machines inside the historic Old City of Dubrovnik has grown to abnormal levels. Every spare metre squared of shop front is blocked off with multi-coloured flashing machines causing one local to comment “It feels like we are now living in Las Vegas.”
It has been growing steadily in recent years, with more and more shop owners deciding to subsidise their sky-high rents by installing ATM machines. However, it has come to a head in recent weeks with an absolute explosion of automatic bank machines on every corner and filling every shop front.
On the main street through the Old City of Dubrovnik, the Stradun, a street that is the main attraction for tourists, there are now an incredible 26 flashing ATM machines. Given the fact that the Stradun is approximately 300 metres in length that’s one ATM every 11.5 metres. And inside the ancient Old City walls there are 37 bank machines, whilst in the close vicinity of the walls there are another 9, or 46 ATMs inside a radius of around 500 metres.
The speed of these new ATMs are springing up is alarming to say the least. For example, from the 28th to the 29th of May three new ATMs were installed on the Stradun.
Business owners are trying to cash in on the guaranteed rent that banks and money exchange companies pay every month for the privilege of renting a couple of metres squared. Information obtained by The Dubrovnik Times suggests that banks pay between 1,000 and 2,000 Euros a month in rent, depending on the position and the footfall. Whilst money exchange companies pay between 800 Euros and 1,500 Euros a month. With many business having two ATM machines in their shop front it is easy to see the financial benefits, but at what cost to the overall image of the destination.
Speaking to Dubrovacki Vjesnik the owner of the Artur Gallery in the Old City, Tea Batinic, commented that “Stradun isn’t a normal street but the identity of the whole city. Shop windows on the Stradun are the eyes of the city. Every shop window and door before represented one craft, they would display their goods for the public to see. If we need this amount of ATM machines then they should be moved to the side streets. The number of ATMS is counterproductive and we risk that tomorrow all we will have is a gallery of ATM machines.”
And with the vast majority of tourists paying with credit card or some form of electronic payment device is there really a need for so many cash dispensers.
The Dubrovnik City Council also had on their agenda for this week the ATM problem with the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Frankovic, stating that “As for the ATMs, and I would like to use force, but this is not always real or possible. I'm sure we will find a way to solve it. What kind of message are we sending to tourists?”
And the President of the City Council, Marko Potrebica, added that “It's true that a private owner can do what he or she wants, but only as long as we allow it.”
One new ATM machine placed in the doorway of a travel agents in the Old City takes up so much room that the owner has to slide into his shop side-on.
“They said there were 22 ATMs on the Stradun, and ten just off the Stradun. That’s 32 ATMs in the historic core. And every day new ones are appearing. Obviously, the rental fee is significant. And you know well the exchange rate between the Kuna and the Euro, some of these ATMs are giving 640 Kunas for 100 Euros (the rate is around 7.5 meaning 750 Kunas for 100 Euros) and not to mention that these ATMs have a sliding scale of commission, so that between midnight and 5:00 am the commission is 20 percent,” concluded the Mayor.
And one of the opposition political parties had a clear message, if somewhat tongue in cheek, about what the future might look like in Dubrovnik. “Srd je Grad” published a mock-up photo of an ATM machine on the top of a statue in the Rector’s Palace.
Photo - Facebook Srd je Grad
One of the largest Croatian telecommunications operators, Tele2, has been purchased by United Group, which is owned by London based investment company BC Partners. United Group have paid 220 million Euros for Tele2 and the purchase process is currently underway whilst a permit from the regulator is expected to be delivered by the end of the year.
BC Partners became the majority shareholder in United Group early this year and this is there first purchase. United Group is already the largest media and telecommunication company in southeast Europe and with the acquirement of Tele2 they will spread their network into Croatia.
Victorija Boklag, the CEO of United Group, stated that “Croatia is a very attractive and important market to us and we are glad about the acquisition of Tele2 Croatia because it will enable us to further spread the group’s business into the EU countries and improve the telecommunication services we provide."
If you are travelling from Dubrovnik towards the airport this Saturday morning beware of long delays on the only road leading to the airport.
The road authorities are currently painting the roads with white lines are these works are causing major delays to and from the airport. According to information from witnesses the traffic jams are kilometres and kilometres long. And these very delays could cause people to be late for their planes.
Why these works need to be carried out in the middle of the tourist season, and especially in the middle of the day and not at night is unknown.
The unusually bad weather in Dubrovnik has not only caused tourists to run for cover from the rain but has also brought down trees. Early this morning a large pine tree was uprooted and crashed down on a road leading to the Dubrovnik General Hospital.
Firefighters were on the scene very quickly and cut up the tree and removed the debris from the road, but it is more evidence of the unsettled weather in Dubrovnik at the moment.