Wednesday, 29 January 2020
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

Rough overnight and early morning seas brought a rude awakening for the staff of the Banje Beach in Dubrovnik today.

Once again man lost another battle against the sea, as the Adriatic picked up dozens of sunbeds and washed them out towards the island of Lokrum. Some sunbeds were left scattered across the beach whilst others were floating in the turquoise sea.

Weather forecasters had predicted a change from the recent baking hot sunshine and overnight the wind direction changed, clouds rolled in and the sea crashed over the beaches. It is rather ironic that this should happen on the Banje Beach as this very beach was the scene of a protest by locals on the number of sunbeds covering the shoreline.

sun beds float

No those aren't kayaks 

banje beach sunbeds sea

Scattered sunbeds 

The warm summer evenings in Dubrovnik are often the nicest time of the day to wander the cobbled streets of the Old City. But last night, in the height of the tourist season, the crowds of tourists trying to enter, and exit, the city centre proved too much.

Police attempted to control the traffic of people on the Pile Gate entrance to the city, however according to eyewitness accounts they were more of a hindrance than a help. “I can’t believe that the police are stopping me from entering my own city, I have never seen this in my life,” explained a resident of the city to The Dubrovnik Times.

These scenes of human traffic jams aren’t uncommon through the day when the cruise ship crush is at its peak. However these photos were taken at 10.00 at night!

crowds dubrovnik

cruise ship crowds dubrovnik

Photos - Zeljko Tutnjevic 

One of the best football players of all time and the most talented Portuguese football player has visited Croatia.

The popular football star Luis Figo arrived with his wife on their sailing boat in the Marina Dalmacija near the city of Zadar ten days ago. He enjoyed his holiday on the Croatian coast so much that he shared his enthusiasm by posting photos almost every day on his Instagram profile.

''Life spoils me. Croatia, it was so nice to meet you'', Figo wrote below the last posted photograph on his summer vacation in Croatia.

During his active career, Figo was one of the best players in the world. He played as a midfielder for Sporting CP, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Internazionale before retiring in May 2009.

Renowned for his creativity and ability to get past defenders as a winger, Figo is regarded as one of the greatest players of his generation.

Figo had a successful career highlighted by several trophy wins, including the Portuguese Cup, four La Liga titles, two Spanish Cups, three Spanish Super Cups, one UEFA Champions League title, one UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, two UEFA Super Cups, one Intercontinental Cup, four Serie A titles, one Italian Cup and three Italian Super Cups.

luis figo croatia

A young psychologist from Argentina Leandro Javier Lorusso volunteered in Dubrovnik Caritas, and with this selfless, human act, he conquered the hearts of many people in Dubrovnik. He arrived to Dubrovnik last week, and during those couple of days he took the time to volunteer. He explained his act to the Dubrovnik Bishop Office.

-I wanted to do what I did not do in my daily life, to give a part of my free time by doing good to my neighbor. And as my mother, Maria del Pilar, volunteered in Caritas at the Cathedral del los Santos Pedro and Cecilia, in the city of Mar del Plato, it was logical for me to look for Caritas in Dubrovnik. And so I found myself here - said Leandro, who worked hard during his visit. He got a task to arrange food packages for the ''Ruke dobrote'' project, which is funded by the European Fund for Needs Assistance Funds.

Also, the young psychologist expressed the desire to see the activities and programs of the Family Counseling  Center of the Dubrovnik Bishop Office. He was introduced to the work by headmaster Kristina Rozic.

Not so long ago, the British writer Philip Kerr described Croatia as ''a small and irrelevant country that nobody is interested in''. However, great tourist results, many celebrities visiting the country as well as major film productions that find perfect filming locations here, are constantly proving that Croatia is everything but irrelevant.

Due to its natural beauty and thanks to the practice of realization the rights to money refund, Croatia has become real Mecca for international filmmakers.

Over the past five years, 34 foreign productions filmed on various locations throughout the country. One of the most popular among them is surely the HBO TV series ''Game of Thrones'' filmed in Dubrovnik.

game of thrones dubrovnik filming

Game of Thrones filming in Dubrovnik

The Institute of Economics in Zagreb recently published a survey according to which the filming of the mega popular HBO TV series increased tourism spending by 126 million Euros and brought 1.5 million more overnight stays.

Therefore, in the period from 2012 to 2015, on the average 60,000 more tourists per month visited the Dubrovnik-Neretva County every year. In total, 244,415 more tourists visited the county due to ''Game of Thrones'' and realized 1,441,395 overnight stays.

Earlier this year Dubrovnik also hosted the new film adaptation of ''Robin Hood'' with Jamie Dornan and the famous Jamie Fox in the main roles. According to information in the British newspaper, The Mirror, the 25th and latest James Bond movie will be also filmed in Dubrovnik. Last year the most popular Croatian film location also hosted the film crew of a new sequel of the Star Wars series ‘’Star Wars: The Last Jedi’’.

last jedi set dubrovnik

The set of The Last Jedi in Dubrovnik 

In addition, Netflix filmed the futuristic series ''Kiss me first'' in Croatia this year, whilst the Oscar winner Meryl Streep is to play the leading role in the sequel of the famous hit-musical ''Mamma Mia!'' on the island of Vis this September.

Since 2012, international productions have generated 400 million Kunas in local consumption in Croatia, whilst the amount of 73 million Kunas was paid back through incentive measures.

The Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC) reported that in the first half of this year six international film productions filed a claim for the grant of incentive rights. This year HAVC hopes foreign filmmakers in Croatia to leave more than the record 155,7 million Kunas generated in 2015.

The Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Frankovic, has spoken out about one of the hottest topics in city, the cruise ship industry. Dubrovnik has been facing the challenges that hundreds of cruise ships and millions of passengers bring with them for the past decade. This year almost 750,000 cruise ship passengers will arrive on 538 mega ships. The drastic level of overcrowding in the summer months is primarily down to the sheer weight of cruise ships. This situation has clearly come to a head for the mayor and speaking to the British newspaper The Telegraph he commented that he would lower the cap of 8,000 visitors to the Old City to 4,000.

The three main entrances into the Old City of Dubrovnik have surveillance cameras installed that work as people counters. This pilot project was started by the former mayor of Dubrovnik, Andro Vlahusic, and was aimed at easing the crowds inside the historic UNESCO protected core. Whereas citizens feared that a barrier would stop them entering the city when the “magic number” was reached this isn’t the case. Instead when the cap is reached the coaches that are due to transport cruise ship passengers to the Old City would be asked to wait until the level of the crowds subsided. In reality this could potentially have thousands of cruise ship passengers waiting in sun baked coaches for hours before their turn to visit. “We don’t want to go with the maximum, we want to go lower than that,” commented Frankovic to The Telegraph.

cruise ship crush dubrovnik

 

And Frankovic is looking to go even further to limit the crowds “I am not here to make people happy but to make the quality of life better,” he said. “Some of the cruise lines will disagree with what I’m saying but my main goal is to ensure quality for tourists and I cannot do it by keeping the situation as it is.”

This latest move isn’t the first time that the city government have attempted to combat the cruise crush. A plan entitled 2 plus 1 was floated a decade ago that would limit the number of cruise ships allowed to dock. The plan was a maximum of two cruise ships in the Port of Dubrovnik and one in front of the Old City, therefore limiting the number to a maximum of three a day. Although this plan seemed to have the support of the Port of Dubrovnik at the time it was never implanted. Whether the new mayor will be more successful with his plan is a matter of time. He seems however resolute “We will lose money in the next two years - a million Euros maybe by cutting the number of tourists - but in the future we will gain much more. We deserve to be a top quality destination,” he concluded in his interview with the British newspaper.

Dubrovnik has once again been voted as a leading destination for congresses and conferences. The Dubrovnik Tourist Board has released data showing that the city has been chosen as the best conference destination in the central and south-eastern region by the specialised magazine “Kongres.” Out of a grand total of 71 cities Dubrovnik was voted as the best city to accommodate congresses with up to a thousand participants.

“Meetings Stars” is a regional award for outstanding achievements in the field of congress tourism for Central and South-Eastern Europe, and is awarded by the international specialized congress magazine “Kongres.” The award recognizes individuals and businesses that stand out with their creativity and knowledge, as well as measurable achievements in the domain of the congress industry.

The editorial board of “Kongres” this year prepared an overview of the best congress destinations in the region that were evaluated in the context of this project. Destinations were evaluated according to criteria such as - natural and cultural factors, security, general and transport infrastructure, tourism infrastructure and congress infrastructure, ICCA index, quality of life, etc. According to the results of the secret ballot, Dubrovnik received a total score of 4.27 (out of 5), and is on top of the list.

An evolution in the taxi service in Croatia is on the horizon. According to unofficial information, Uber will get the green light and continue its operations in the country.

A draft of the proposal for a new Road Transport Act is almost completed. It will be ready for public debate in September and then proceeded to the Croatian Parliament for adoption.

No significant opposition to the new Act is expected, because this proposal is a joint work of representatives of units of local self-government and the Ministry of Economy, rent-a-car companies, taxi drivers associations, and most importantly – Uber.

The Act is expected to come into force before the end of this year. It should also guarantee that Croatian citizens and their guests will no longer have to watch and be part of road scandals throughout the country.

During this summer, taxi drivers in Croatia twice massively protested against Uber drivers. Citizens witnessed stakeouts, terrible fights, and horrible traffic jams. Uber even organized a security service; however, the government and the Prime Minister Plenkovic as well as the Minister of Road Transport declared that Uber partners-drivers are operating illegally in Croatia and brought in an indictment proposal against the Uber application to be temporarily banned.

There are more open questions that the new Act should give the answer to, which will be acceptable to all parties because the existing law is more than inflexible.

Even though the Minister of Road Transport Oleg Butkovic does not want to comment on changes to the new Proposal, unofficial information state that Uber will stay in Croatia and will be treated as all other taxi drivers in the country who have all necessary permits and licences. Taxi drivers will have to accept the legislative novelties as well as a bigger competition due to the easier way of getting licences and permits in the future.

It is important to note that taxi drivers have had to cover quite many costs due to the extremely high regularity of taxi services, however, at the same time this regulative have protected them from competition and ensured them a privileged position.

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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