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.


''US nationals crossing the Atlantic should require additional travel documents as long as citizens from five EU countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania) are kept from entering America without a visa'', the European Parliament said after a mini plenary session held on the 2nd of March.

On this occasion, the European Parliament required from the EU Commission to reintroduce visas for Americans wishing to travel to Europe, after MEPs agreed the EU is now “legally obliged” to suspend the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) with the US for a year because the US administration does not respect the principle of visa reciprocity.

In December last year, the EU Commission reported on progress in the last five months in terms of achieving full visa reciprocity with Canada and the United States. Unlike the US, the agreement was reached with Canada, thus citizens from Romania and Bulgaria will be able to travel to Canada without visas from the 1st of December 2017.

A few months ago, the EU Commission also announced that upon the establishment of the new US government it would make additional efforts to achieve full reciprocity visa waiver in coordination with the five member countries of Croatia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland and Romania.

According to the US law, visas are required for citizens of countries that have more than 3 percent of declined visa applications. The State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs has said that Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania still have not met security requirements for the US VWP.

The percentage of declined visas for Croatian citizens is 5,3 percent, for citizens of Cyprus 3,5 percent, for Polish citizens 6,4 percent, for Romanians 11,3 percent, whilst citizens of Bulgaria have the largest number of declined visa applications, 17,3 percent.

This year’s Fête de la Francophonie en Croatie or the Festival of La Francophonie in Croatia is being organized in 14 towns throughout Croatia from the 1st to the 31st of March.

In order to promote French culture and cultural diversity the festival will feature over 100 events, including film screenings, lectures, exhibitions, workshops and concerts, as well as programs of gastronomy-related events.

The Festival of La Francophonie is a joint initiative by the embassies of the member countries of La Francophonie in Zagreb (Belgium, Canada, France, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia and Switzerland), with the support of the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, five French alliances in Croatia, the French-Croatian Friendship Society, and many other Croatian cultural and educational organizations and institutions.

Apart from the Croatian capital, the festival is taking place in Dubrovnik, Kastela, Koprivnica, Korcula, Lipik, Omis, Pakrac, Rijeka, Samobor, Split, Supetar on the island of Brac, Varazdin and Zadar.

''Croatia is the top candidate of European health tourism'', experts say at the HTI conference currently being held in Rovinj, which has gathered 300 distinguished guests from all around the world.

On this occasion, the president of the American Medical Tourism Association Jonathan Edelheit has said that Croatia is the leading destination in Europe because it has great potential in top medical professionals, nature, location, hospitals and health resorts like the one on the island of Losinj. ‘’With investments this health resort could attract visitors from China who highly appreciate well known sanatoria for the respiratory system issues’’.

These are only some of the highlights at the Health Tourism Industry (HTI) conference, which is taking place at the Hotel Lone in Rovinj from the 28th of February to the 2nd of March. Apart from the conference on medical tourism, the conference also includes two more international events – ILHA’s European Luxury Hospitality Summit and Taste the Mediterranean Festival.

The Croatian Minister Gari Cappelli has addressed to the leaders of European and international institutions from Slovenia, Montenegro, Hungary, Portugal, Serbia, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, France and the US. ‘’Health tourism is one of the key products in the development of Croatia’s tourism till 2020, thus as soon as the country solves the legislative regulations it will be ready to invest already prepared 400 million Kunas’’, explained Cappelli.

In addition, the vice president of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) for tourism, trade and finances Josip Zaher has commented that health tourism is the fastest growing form of tourism in Europe, which is not seasonal, with the average growth rate of 15 to 20 percent annually. ‘’Europe is a world leader in tourism, however, projections show that the current 50 percent market share of all tourist arrivals will decline to almost 40 percent. We need a joint promotion of Europe as a destination for health tourism’’, concluded Zaher.

On the second day of the conference, the main topic of lectures and presentations was luxury tourism, whilst one of the guest speakers was the American actress Eva LaRue, who is also an expert in luxury travel and a promoter of the American internet platform Dot Luxury.

It was an action packed day yesterday on the set of Robin Hood: Origins with horse chases, fireballs and ear deafening explosions that echoed through the narrow side streets of Dubrovnik. The main street through the Old City, Stradun, was once again the centre of attention with Jamie Foxx as Little John speeding along the cobbled street in a cart.

The horse chase began at the Pile end of the Stradun and saw four Knights on horseback chase Foxx through a tunnel and along the main street whilst explosions and fireballs filled the air. A body double was used for many of the scenes as the cart raced at breakneck speed over the stone streets.

foxx rider

Once again there was a buzz of anticipated on the set of Robin Hood as the star of Fifty Shades of Grey, Jamie Dornan, was expected to make his first appearance. However it would seem that the Northern Irish hunk will have only small part in Dubrovnik as he had a free day yesterday. After arriving two days ago Jamie Dornan, who plays Will Scarlet in this Leonardo DiCaprio produced Hood, has been recovering from his long-haul flight across the Atlantic from the Oscar ceremonies.

Taron Egerton also briefly appeared on the Dubrovnik set yesterday and caused a storm on social media as a rumour spread that it was in fact Dornan.

foxx double 2

jamie double

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And Taron Egerton arriving on set

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Video courtesy of Break Time Dubrovnik 

According to a press release from Croatia Airlines, the national air carrier has included new flights to Bucharest and Helsinki in its summer schedule for 2017.

Croatia Airlines has never operated scheduled flights to these two European capitals. However, it will have no direct competition on the routes to Bucharest and Helsinki.

In 2007, over 8,000 people travelled between Zagreb and the Romanian capital, however, after several attempts of launching scheduled flights between the two cities in the last decade, there were no results. Croatia Airlines has recognized the great potential of this route, thus will introduce new flights this summer season.

Furthermore, within its expansion plans for coverage of Northern Europe, Finland will become a new market for Croatia Airlines in order to respond to the growing tourism demand there. Finnair itself has been considering introduction of services to Zagreb for some time, ''“The Croatian market serves as a great destination for Finnair customers from Northern Europe and Asia. We have also seen increasing numbers of passengers from Croatia using Finnair on their trips. Our tourist demand for Croatian destinations has been growing year by year and we have increased our flights to the area consequently”.
The Finish air carrier currently operates seasonal flights from Helsinki to Dubrovnik, Pula and Split during summer months.

On the other hand, the Croatian national air carrier has also planned to start operating flights to Stockholm this summer as part of its expansion plan.

The Croatian brand Juicy has attended Gulfood, the world's largest food event which is being held at Dubai World Trade Centre from the 26th of February to the 2nd of March.

With its line of Juicy 100 % juices (orange, apple, pineapple) and Juicy Nectar cranberry, the Croatian company Stanic Beverages has been present on the market of the United Arab Emirates since 2015, primarily in the HoReCa channel which makes 70 percent of exports to that country. The Juicy juices have been included in the offer of some of the most popular local and international chains of restaurants and clubs in Dubai, such as Cipriani, Blue Marlin Ibiza, The Act, Roberto's and Dubai Creek Golf&Yacht Club.

''Our products are currently available on the UEA market and we are in the stage of registration of our products for the markets of Qatar and Saudi Arabia. However, our goal is to cover the whole MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) of 380 million people and to achieve the medium term plan for exports of 10 million litres per year. It is a lucrative market with very high consumption of juice per capita mainly because alcoholic beverages are almost unavailable in retail'', explained Svjetlan Stanic, the CEO of Stanic Beverages Croatia.

This year Juicy has planned a more powerful entry in retail channels (that currently make up 30 percent of exports to the MENA region) thanks to cooperation with retail chains Geant and Panda which are present on almost 20 percent of the Saudi Arabia market. The Juicy's plan is to launch Juicy 100% orange, apple and pineapple, as well as Juicy Nectar cranberry, orange, apple and pineapple, with a long term goal of expanding the offer depending on consumers' preferences.

''Juicy premium juices are juices of superior quality which have been recognized by consumers on new markets. The quality control is extremely strict and products must be tested in order to comply with high standards and legislation. We are proud to say that Juicy juices have complied with all necessary regulations and requirements'', emphasized Alen Hrkovic, the director of exports.

First of March brings good news – after being closed during February, Dubrovnik Cable Car is back on track from today.

Just a quick reminder – Excelsa Real Estate Ltd, the company that operates the cable car, made an announcement at the end of January, reporting that the cable car will be out of service due to investments projects on the upper station.

- The purpose of these works is to improve the quality of services – it was said from the company back then.

It's been five years since the last performance of legendary Sir Tom Jones in Croatia. He's coming again to the ''scene of the crime'' this summer. Concert will take place in the beautiful Pula Arena on 2nd of August as the part of his European tour. 

Audience will have a chance to enjoy many great hits like "It’s Not Unusual", "Kiss", "Delilah", "What’s New Pussycat", "I’ll Never Fall In Love Again", "If I Only Knew" from his over 50 years long rich career.

- Croatia, I am thrilled to be playing one of the world's largest and oldest Roman amphitheatres, the Pula Arena, this August, it looks beautiful! – it's written on Tom Jones official Facebook page.

In his long career Jones has sold over 100 million records with thirty-six Top 40 hits in the United Kingdom and nineteen in the United States, including "It's Not Unusual", "What's New Pussycat", "Delilah", "Green, Green Grass of Home", "She's a Lady", "Kiss", and "Sex Bomb".

Sir Thomas John Woodward or simply Tom Jones received a Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1966, an MTV Video Music Award in 1989, and two Brit Awards: Best British Male in 2000 and the Outstanding Contribution to Music award in 2003. Jones was awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1999, whilst in 2006 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to music.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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