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.
Today, the 26th of October, is a day that will forever be engraved on Dubrovnik’s calendar, they day that Dubrovnik became a member of a very exclusive list as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On the 26th of October 1979, a full 40 years ago, at a session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Egypt the Old City was included on this prestigious world list.
“In the past four decades, Dubrovnik has faced two major disasters - the 1979 earthquake and the 1991 brutal Serbian-Montenegrin aggression. And from both these tragedies, the City, like the mythical phoenix, rose up and was reborn. In particular, the tragedy of war has left numerous scars and still memorable wounds. Due to this aggression, Dubrovnik also ended up on the UNESCO List of Endangered World Heritage List in December 1991 and remained there until 1998,” commented the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Frankovic, remembering the UNESCO acknowledgment.
On the occasion of the 40th anniversary the City of Dubrovnik organized an exhibition "Dubrovnik, the Scarred City", which was staged at the United Nations Centre in New York, then in Washington and from the 1st of October in Lazareti in Dubrovnik. The exhibition deals with the casualties of war and the rapid and impressive reconstruction of the city. The exhibition is a testimony of the suffering of Dubrovnik in the Homeland War. And that war also brought two precedents. The first is that for the first time in its history, UNESCO sent envoys to the area affected by the war, while the verdicts for the commanders of attacks on the Dubrovnik, before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, were the first convictions for crimes against cultural heritage.
With temperatures touching 30 degrees and the Adriatic a bath-like 23 degrees the end of October in Dubrovnik is a real Indian Summer. The beaches are still doing a roaring trade, the Old City is shining in the low sun and the al fresco café bar culture is making the city resemble a day in August rather than well into autumn.
The thousands of tourists who decided to visit Dubrovnik at this time of the year are certainly having value for money. The summer crowds have died down, rolling out your towel on the city’s beaches has never been easier and finding a spare table in a restaurant stress-free. And whilst the majority of northern Europe has been in winter jackets for weeks already Dubrovnik is not letting go of bikinis and flip flops.
Unfortunately, the autumn sunshine won’t last forever, all good things must come to an end, and changeable weather is predicted to arrive on Tuesday next week. But in the meantime tourists and locals are still enjoying the Adriatic and the Banje beach with its spectacular views over the Old City is as busy as ever.
When I was around 10 years old we were shown this film at school that still gives me nightmares today. In fact, looking back it probably was a little too graphic to show to children but we certainly all got the message.
It was basically an anti-rubbish short film, probably the only real green message we got through school in those days. It showed a young boy who every day throw one piece of rubbish on the floor rather than in a garbage bin. The film then showed what would happen if every young boy in the world threw a piece of rubbish on the floor every day. Basically we were all drowning under a sea of waste. And yes the young boy died, suffocated under chocolate wrappers and Coke cans. Told you it was graphic. They even showed his funeral. But it worked. From an early age I was aware of the dangers of polluting the planet.
Forty years later and how times have changed. Instead of adults teaching children we have children teaching adults. The speed at which attitudes to climate change have evolved is lightening pace.
I grew up in a time without recycling bins. In a time when solar powered gadgets were cool because you got free electricity, nobody mentioned saving the planet from fossil fuels. But as we got supposedly more advanced we actually were taking an environmental step backwards. We drank our drinks from glass bottles that we took back to the shop and got 1p off our next drink. We bought our milk from a milkman. I am not sure if you had this concept before here. But basically a milkman would deliver every morning milk in glass bottles to your door. At night you would leave the glass bottles on the doorstep and in the morning fresh full ones would appear. And just as a cherry on top of the ecological cake, the milkman would drive an electric vehicle.
Now we drive our cars, polluting the environment, to the shop were we buy milk in plastic bottles. Then when we have drunk the milk we again drive to the recycle bins to dispose of them. And then a lorry, again polluting, turns up to pick up the bins. We stirred our coffee with real spoons, in fact drank coffee from real cups without a plastic lid, my father used a real razor in the morning and not a plastic disposable one and my backside was wrapped in a real Terry nappy and not a one with a Pampers logo on it.
Of course it has to be pointed out that we weren’t doing these things to be “green.” We were doing them because we had no choice. It just turned out that they were in fact eco-friendly. And over the next forty years, from me watching that horror pollution film to today, society went disposable. It was supposed to be change the world forever. It did but certainly not the way that we had imagined.
My first real experience that I can remember of climate change and pollution came with acid rain. That was a scary headline to read in newspapers, yes we read newspapers in those days. We imagined acid rain biting holes in our umbrellas. In a short time, we had travelled from milkmen with their electric vehicles and glass bottles to mountains of plastic. A disposable society was born. Gone were the days of fixing a part in your car, overnight mechanics became salesmen for car manufacturers and would simply change the whole part. TV repairmen were left without work as we dumped the old TV when the guarantee ran out. Instead of fixing and repairing we dump our white technical goods and buy another one. Whilst this might keep the cogs of capitalism running it also destroys the environment. Try finding somebody today in Dubrovnik who can actually repair things, who actually has the skills, the logical thinking, to find the fault and fix it and you have found the Wizard of Oz. How wrong we were. How naïve. Like a fish we all grabbed the bait of a better, easier life, and found ourselves on the hook.
And now we need children to tell us where we all went wrong. And now we need to change. “Some people don't like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster,” Elon Musk.
The tourist season in Croatia may have started slow, with changeable and indeed rainy weather in May, but it is certainly ending in fine form. In spite of the doom and gloom stories of this year being a disaster and that bookings were down it would appear that the truth is in fact the exact opposite.
The Croatian National Tourism Board has released figures today showing that revenues generated from tourism so far this year have already surpassed last year’s figures. Basically meaning that the two months ahead of us, which is always a busy time for the capital’s tourism business, will push earnings into record numbers.
So far this year an incredible 19.7 million visitors have enjoyed the Croatian Adriatic coastline and the hidden beauties of the hinterland, and a whopping 106 million overnight stays have been recorded. Meaning that the number of tourist arrivals is up by 5 percent on last year, and overnight stays by 2 percent.
Of course it isn’t all sugar and spice as the country and certain destinations in particular are having to learn to deal with the organisation and infrastructure challenges that tourism brings. The crux of the problem is certainly the seasonality of the tourism industry in Croatia, and this is particularly acute in popular hotspots such as Dubrovnik, Rovnij and Hvar.
The most overnight stays in Croatia so far this year have been made by tourists from Germany, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Poland, Italy, Czech Republic and Great Britain.
And when the results are broken down it clearly shows that Croatia’s tourism industry is heavily reliant on accommodation in private villas, apartment and rooms. The AirBnb and booking.com culture has seen almost 39 million overnight stays in private apartments. Whilst the lack of hotel space means that just over 24 million people have stayed in hotels so far this year.
Work on the construction site of the new Dubac Cemetery will continue in early November with the construction of the roads within the scope of the cemetery, approximately 900 meters long, with two large parking lots, a substation and all the necessary infrastructure to which the cemetery will be connected at a later stage.
At the same time, a public procurement procedure is being carried out for the preparation of the main and implementation project with cost lists for Stage 2, which refers to the burial fields and facilities within the cemetery, the project for all types of graves and the project for the so-called “Bible Garden.” The future cemetery will also have all the necessary infrastructure, including a chapel, office buildings and a meeting room.
Currently 1,840 requests have been received and a total of 3,550 burial sites can be accommodated in this area, which will be upgraded in the following periods according to needs and requirements.
The two men suspected of carrying out the armed robbery of the Duty Free Shop at Dubrovnik Airport on Monday the 21st of October at 7.40am have been brought before the courts in Dubrovnik.
A father and son team from Konavle were arrested earlier today on suspicion of the robbery at which around 90,000 Euros was stolen as it was being delivered by security guards to the management offices. The cash stolen was the weekend’s takings from the Duty Free shop at the airport.
During the interrogation of the first suspect, A K., his lawyer, Dragan Pistalo, was present.
Ten minutes after the first suspect, the father, was brought in for questioning, his son A.K. arrived at the Dubrovnik courts with police officers.
The two men from Gabrili in Konavle stole a scooter from a local restaurant and with helmets on their heads threatened security guards with weapons to hand over the cash. This is the first time that such a robbery has occured in the Dubrovnik region.
The demolition of the former headquarters of the largest company in Dubrovnik, Atlanska Plovidba, has begun.
A new office-residential building will replace the old head office of the Dubrovnik shipping company. The company spent the summer organising all the required paperwork and now the actual demolition work has begun.
Once completed the new building will be home to 106 apartments and 7 office spaces and will reach a height of 22 metres. To solve the normal problem of parking the new building will have three levels of underground parking with 147 spaces. And future owners are sure of a good view as the building is located close to the Port of Dubrovnik.
According to information from the Zagreb Stock Exchange, permits were issued by the City of Dubrovnik, the Administrative Department for the Issuance and Implementation of Physical Planning and Construction Documents on the 3rd of July.
Two suspects have been arrested by police officers in connection with the armed robbery at Dubrovnik Airport at 7:40 on Monday morning. It has been reported that the two suspects are a father and son from Konavle, from the small village of Gabrili, and both are already on police records.
The two arrested suspects were brought into custody and then detained for further questioning.
“The criminal investigation is still ongoing," Davorka Becic, a spokeswoman for the Dubrovnik-Neretva Police Department, told HRT.
The father is believed to be a former taxi driver who worked mainly at the airport in Cilipi. He was known to the police for speeding and traffic offences, in spite of being a professional taxi driver, and managed to collect 54 fines for different driving offences. Why a driver with so many driving offences was still allowed to be a taxi driver clearly shows glaring holes in the taxi registration system.
The investigation continues.