Saturday, 20 July 2019
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.


A diesel engine train that was manufactured by the Gredelj company in Croatia a few years ago will be soon be presented in Sweden as the first such product from Croatia in this Scandinavian country.

The Croatian company Tvornica željezničkih vozila Gredelj (Rolling Stock Factory Gredelj) is one of the leading companies in the region in the field of designing and manufacturing new types of railway vehicles.

A few years ago, the company manufactured a diesel engine train for the needs of the Croatian Railways Passenger Transport. The train is leaving Croatia on the 24th of March heading to Sweden for a promotional ride on a limited route and for a series of promotional activities in cooperation with the Inlandsbanan private company from Östersund. This will be the first time that a railway vehicle from Croatia rides Swedish railways.

The first contacts and talks with representatives of the Inlandsbanan company began in September 2016 during the InnoTrans fair in Berlin, after which the representatives visited the Gredelj company's facilities in Croatia. A detailed insight into the technical capacity and a special organized ride by Gredelj's train resulted in concrete interest of the Swedish company; it was concluded that the train, with its technical and other characteristics, would fully meet the needs of the Swedish partner.

Furthermore, the promotional activities in Sweden will last a few days; they will include a promotional train ride on a limited route for a small number of invited guests as well as a presentation of the train at stations on the Inlandsbanan's route, with the possibility of sightseeing the vehicle.

The promotional ride itself will be an excellent opportunity for the Gredelj company to present the train to the representatives of Inlandsbanan as well as to other private operators in Sweden who need to purchase a vehicle of this type. An interest from companies in the neighbouring countries of Denmark and Norway is not excluded.

These activities on the demanding Swedish market are yet another confirmation of Gredelj's quality and capacity to implement the most complex projects.

On the 20th of April the Groton - Dunstable Choir will perform a concert together with the Dubrovnik Chamber Choir in the St. Ignatius Church. The Groton-Dunstable Regional High School Chamber Choir is renowned for their choral performances throughout Massachusetts. Combined the two choirs will perform sacred and secular music.

The Groton-Dunstable Regional High School Chamber Choir has competed in national competitions held in New York and Philadelphia. In these competitions they have placed first for three consecutive years and have been honored with the title, “Best Overall Performer”, in Philadelphia’s 2010 Music Showcase Festival.

According to the growing demand on the French start-up digital platform for renting boats in Europe in 2017, Croatia placed as the second, just behind France, whilst the number of vessels in Croatia tripled since the end of the last season to nearly a thousand, reported the Click&Boat headquarters in Paris.

Click&Boat or the so-called ''Uber for boats'' is one of the major internet platforms for renting boats in Europe, which arrived in Croatia last summer. It had more than 600 boats in the country in 2016 and after a few months of doing business in Croatia and 500 boat bookings, business growth in 2017 is reasonably expected.

‘‘Our thousand boats represent around 10 percent of the total number of available boats on the platform. So far, more than 10,000 people sailed the Croatian side of the Adriatic with Click&Boat, and we expect this number will tenfold in the next two years'', said Dubravka Puljak, the Click&Boat manager for Croatia.

Puljak also points out that such expectations are based on the growing popularity of Croatia as a destination for renting boats, as well as on the increasing number of vessels for renting in Croatia, adding ‘‘That is why Croatia is the second most requested destination on the platform, after France''.

Furthermore, the Click&Boat manager for Croatia also reveals that the most popular type of vessel/boat for rent in Croatia are sailing boats, and not only during the high summer season, but practically throughout the whole year. In addition, the most numerous renters in Croatia on the Click&Boat platform are coming from Germany, France and the UK.
Puljak also emphasizes that according to the latest data for the first two months of 2017, Click&Boat registered 2 million viewers on the platform on which every two minutes one vessel/boat is reserved.

''Every year we record a business growth, and even though we launched the platform in Croatia last year, we are very satisfied with excellent feedback from customers and boat owners, as well as with their high scores for rentals in Croatia'', concluded Puljak.

The French start-up was launched in Paris in 2013 and since then it has become one of the strongest internet platforms for private boat renting (''yacht charter''). Currently the company employs 22 people; it has 8,000 vessels of various types in 22 countries worldwide and about 80,000 members.

After 70 world cities such as London, New York, Sydney, Tokyo, Mexico City, Toronto and Los Angeles, an exclusive ''dinner in white'' is coming to the Croatian capital this spring. Tickets for this upcoming gastronomic event will no doubt be extremely sought after.

Le Diner en Blanc is a worldwide event and a popular Parisian pop-up picnic known for its strict dress code. The story began in Paris in 1988 when a Frenchman Francois Pasquier invited a group of friends to an elegant outdoor dinner at Bois de Boulogne asking them to dress in white so they could recognize each other.

This international gourmet sensation, which promotes friendship, elegance, equality, gathering, gallantry and secrecy, has grown to over 70 cities in 25 world countries attracting more than 100,000 people a year.

In 2009, Pasquier's son, Aymeric, introduced the concept in Montreal, Canada where the organization Le Diner en Blanc was launched. Two years later, the event made its New York debut, whilst Singapore was the first Asian city to host Le Dîner en Blanc in 2012. Among cities ‘’down under’’, Brisbane was the first Australian city to host the event in 2012, Canberra held Le Dîner en Blanc in 2013 and 2014, whilst Melbourne debuted the phenomenon in 2015.

sydney le dinner en blanc

Le Dinner en Blanc in Sydney 

On the other hand, among thirteen European cities that already hosted the exclusive dinner, this year the Croatian capital will have the honour to host Le Diner en Blanc for the first time.

‘’We are very proud to host the premiere edition of the most famous picnic in white in Zagreb this year, and we are very pleased that the City of Zagreb and the Tourist Board Zagreb have recognized the importance of this project. Even though the location will be kept secret until the last minute, we are sure that all participants will enjoy in magical moments sharing food and drinks with their friends and creating unforgettable memories’’, said Tihana Barisic, one of the hosts of Le Diner en Blanc in Zagreb.

This year only 800 selected lucky ones in Zagreb will have the opportunity to participate in this exclusive secret gathering, which will be held on the 20th of May.

After opening successful pilot stores at a busy train station in Moscow, Russia, Surf'n'Fries has recently opened two more stores at one of Europe's busiest airports - Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport.

The most successful franchise in Croatia launched in 2009 has already expanded its business by opening 55 franchises in eleven European countries such as Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Romania, Hungary, Germany, Austria, Ireland, Russia, and Norway as well as in Vietnam and Iran.

It is interesting to note that Andrija Colak and Denis Polic, a successful Surf’n’Fries duo from Rijeka won an award in America for the most promising young franchise business, beating more than 300 franchises from 38 countries in 2015.

In the same year they presented their new oil free technology, which they claim solves the problem of unhealthy fast food items by only using air to make fries, chicken nuggets, mozzarella sticks and other Surf’n’Fries specialty products.

The successful duo has also announced the opening of further 300 Surf’n’Fries outlets across Russia and Kazakhstan in the next five years. Furthermore, negotiations for signing a deal in South Africa are in the final phase, whilst Surf’n’Fries outlet in Dubai is to be opened this May. There are also plans for business expansion to the largest world markets of the US and China.

A leading coffee, tea and snacks company in Croatia successfully continues to conquer world markets.

The Franck company, one of the most successful food production and export companies in present-day Croatia, recently entered the market of the United States i.e. Franck's iconic jubilee ground coffee is now available in 150 stores of the largest American retail chain Walmart.

A business analysis shows that Franck's market share has been growing in the Adria region. The company has already expanded to Central Europe through companies in Vienna and Bratislava. On the other hand, Franck has invested more than 20 million Kunas in modernization and introduced 30 new products; therefore, the further expansion to other demanding markets is reasonably expected.

''We've shaken our distributors thus this year we are expanding exports to Scandinavian markets, whilst with a special offer of our jubilee ground coffee we recently entered Walmart stores in the US. Our products have already been available in more than 350 stores in Vienna, and after 25 years we have returned to the markets of Serbia and Montenegro with our popular ''brick'' (vacuum-packed jubilee coffee of 250 grams) as well as with our other assortment of ground coffee, instant cappuccino and teas'', explained Zoran Mabic, the sales director at Franck.

It is interesting to note that this year the Franck company is celebrating its 125th anniversary. The story began when a young and ambitious German entrepreneur named Johann H. Franck managed to produce a coffee substitute using chicory root. The company was first registered as Heinrich Franck Sohne G.m.b.H in 1828.

After opening branches in Austria, Italy, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, another one was opened in the Vodovodna Street in Zagreb in 1892, where the company’s headquarters are still today.

The island of Lokrum disappeared in a blanket of fog this afternoon.

These rather strange weather conditions brought thick fog down over the Adriatic Sea and completely covered the island of Lokrum from the Old City of Dubrovnik. As warm sunshine blazed down this micro-climate around the island was wierd to see. 

lokrum fog 2

Photo Barbara Gate 

Croatia Air Traffic Control (HKZP) has received the Single European Sky 2017 award at the World Air Traffic Management Congress which was held in Madrid, Spain from the 7th to the 9th of March.

On this occasion, the European Commission awarded five projects that help modernise EU Air Traffic Management (ATM), whilst the winners were chosen among 36 applications from 35 world countries.

Croatia Air Traffic Control (HKZP) received the EU Commission’s award for the multinational project called the South-East Axis Free Route Airspace (SEAFRA).

SEAFRA is the first cross-border application of 24-hour free route airspace in Europe. The project brings together four countries: Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which are part of the Functional Airspace Block (FAB), with Serbia and Montenegro, which are not part of any FAB initiative. By doing so SEAFRA provides a concrete example of how this type of cooperation is possible and can benefit all stakeholders. The idea of such large-scale free route airspace was initiated to improve safety and efficiency, as well as environmental protection by reducing fuel consumption.

‘’This award is a great recognition of our project which we have implemented with our partners SMATSA and BHANSA from neighbouring countries. This project was the first to introduce free route airspace in Europe in the area of four countries – Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro. Apart from exceptional reduction of fuel consumption for air carriers, we have also significantly reduced CO2 and NOx emissions’’, emphasized Dragan Bilac, the director of HKZP.

Furthermore, EUROCONTROL’s Network Manager and high-level representatives from five air navigation service providers will present the Free Route Airspace (FRA) concept and provide real examples of implementation over Central and South East Europe.

Apart from four SEFRA countries, the FRA project would also encompass air spaces of Austria and Slovenia (SAXFRA). This project will significantly improve services for air carriers considering the fact that large part of European air traffic passes just over these six countries on the way from north-western Europe to the Middle East.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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