Sunday, 18 April 2021
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.


Rational decisions based in fact. I honestly thought that I had my days mixed up, surely it must be April Fool’s Day today, as I read the headline.

“That can’t be right,” said the puzzled looking journalist next to me who I had just showed the headline to. “Try refreshing the page, that must be wrong,” she added. But no matter how many times I refreshed it the same title glared back at me – Café and restaurant terraces to be allowed to be open from Monday.

This logic defying decision seems strange on a whole number of levels. It’s almost like there is an election just around the corner and logic has been thrown out the window – oh, wait, silly me!

I mean we had under ten cases a day before and had a complete lockdown, and yes, I know financially we can’t support ourselves for long if at all shutting everything down, but it’s the timing of this that had me scratching my head.

So of the many reasons not to open up and potentially increase our daily case rates I am going to concentrate on just one, although I had a wide choice to go for.

Are you sitting comfortably, can I begin? Tourism. The mainstay of our economy, what the vast majority of people live directly or indirectly from. The largest percentage, by some margin, of our tourists come from my home country. You all saw what happened last year when the UK took Croatia off the “safe corridor travel list.” End of season.

And we all know the UK government have been introducing their new travel restrictions for this summer. It is basically going to look like a traffic light system. Clearly, and it doesn’t take a genius to realise this, we don’t what to be on the red list. All indications would suggest that Croatia will be on the amber list, but nothing is set in stone yet. Needless to say the difference between being on the red list and the amber list is life or death for our travel industry.

So how are the lists complied? They will take into account factors such as Covid infection rates, the prevalence of variants, and the extent of vaccination programmes. And as these travel traffic lights have just been announced it is also clear that over the next month, as the travel ban is at least until the 17th of May, that the relevant ministries in the UK government will be looking at figures over the next month.




Which is what makes this time, like now, so incredibly important. So I have one simple question. Do you think opening cafés and restaurants will lower our daily case rate?

We already know that the vaccination issue is, and I am being generous, not going as well as it should. Wouldn’t some sacrifice now make sense for the long-term health of our tourism industry?

It must also be mentioned that our potential target market of Brits is considerably smaller than before. And here’s why. So from our end Brits can enter Croatia if they fulfil one of four different points, three of which mean taking a PCR test and one refers to people already vaccinated. And from the other end even Brits returning home from a green country would need to take a pre-departure virus test and a PCR test on the day after their return.

People coming from amber-list countries will have to take a pre-departure test, isolate for 10 days at home, and get tested on days two and eight after their journey. That’s a lot of testing and consequently a lot of money. Imagine the price of testing for a family of four! Twice!

Or as the Tim Alderslade, the chief executive of Airlines UK, said rather bluntly “the insistence on expensive and unnecessary PCR testing rather than rapid testing – even for low-risk countries – will pose an unsustainable burden on passengers, making travel unviable and unaffordable for many people.”

So even if, and it’s a big “if”, we find ourselves on the green list our potential market just got a lot smaller. Being on the amber list means tourists will have to take a pre-departure test, isolate for 10 days at home, and get tested on days two and eight after their journey. And the red list means quarantine for ten days in a hotel at your own cost.

The facts are as clear as the Adriatic. And we have to react now or face the consequences.

And if you thought “oh, it doesn’t matter, we’ll just improve later and everything will work out fine,” then think again. According to information released it isn’t going to be easy to change your status and the restrictions for each tier of the system will be looked at for potential changes on 28 June, 31 July and 1 October.

Get in wrong now and you’ll have to wait for some time to improve your position. I ask again. Will opening café bars and restaurants help us?

Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to 

The Ministry of Tourism announced on Saturday that it has launched the "Croatian Islands - COVID free zone" campaign, so that tourists will soon have access to special data on the epidemiological situation on the islands.

"In anticipation of the upcoming main part of the tourist year, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports has further intensified its activities and, in cooperation with the Croatian Institute for Public Health, has launched the action Croatian Islands - COVID free zone. Namely, currently on the epidemiological map of Croatia, all islands are shown within the respective counties, despite the fact that their incidence of the virus is much lower than in other parts of the county," the Ministry said in a statement.

Therefore, on the website, in addition to information on the epidemiological situation by counties, tourists will soon have access to special information on the epidemiological situation on islands.

The Croatian archipelago is the second largest in the Mediterranean, and consists of 78 islands, 524 islets and 642 cliffs and reefs that are particularly attractive to tourists and thanks to which a large part of tourist traffic.

The Minister of Tourism and Sports, Nikolina Brnjac, pointed out that the importance of our islands for tourism is extremely high, because a quarter of tourist nights in Croatia are realized on the islands, and the stay of tourists on the islands is two days longer than in mainland tourist centres.

“Also, a third of the commercial accommodation capacities are located on the islands and that is why it is important that we have accurate information about the epidemiological situation on all islands, many of which are green zones. In this way, we will provide tourists with a detailed and clear insight into a safe and pleasant stay in Croatia,” said Minister Nikolina Brnjac.


Want to learn how to use Instagram Reels to Promote your Brand? Want to increase engagement on Instagram for your brand? Here we give you the top seven tips, and a bonus tip to Reel in excitement for your brand!

With 1 billion monthly active users, spending an average of 28 minutes per day on the social networking site, Instagram is THE PLACE for your brand. With the top tips mentioned in this blog, you will no longer have to buy Instagram views to increase engagement on Instagram now.

Reels are the way to go now. They are short, crisp and engage the user in a better manner than any other media. All you need to learn to increase engagement on Instagram is to master your Reels game. The tips and tricks mentioned in our blog post will help you do exactly that and much more and save your money which you would otherwise use to buy Instagram views.

So, let’s dive into the tips you came here for, to promote your brand using Instagram Reels and Increase engagement on Instagram. These are - 

1. Glimpse into behind the scenes – Brand Transparency

The users are always eager to know what goes into the making of the brand, the products and everything associated with it. So, leverage that curiosity of the user. Give them a glimpse of the behind the scenes of the product, the brand and the making of the product. This will help you increase engagement on Instagram, and generate an inquisitiveness amongst the prospective user. It will promote your brand as a Transparent Brand, which is not afraid to show the users the behind the scenes. Make 15 second reels with a time-lapse video and engage users in a fun interactive way.

2. Teasers

Teasers are a great way to capture the imagination of the users. It is a balance of showing them what’s in store and still keeping them hanging and not revealing the entire thing. This will make them eager to know what is coming. Instagram reels are a great way to make fun and tempting teasers. Use relevant songs, make them peppy or use humour as an instrument to create that teaser. Choose what aligns more with your brand image and value and accordingly leverage the reels feature to increase engagement on Instagram.

3. Rewards as positive reinforcement

Give the prospective users and the current users an added benefit to watch your reels. The end of the reel will have a discount code especially for those who watch the reels. Rewards will act as positive reinforcement for the user and attract them towards the brand. It will help you, as a brand, to increase engagement on Instagram without the need to buy Instagram views.

4. Everyday stories…more connect with the users

To increase your connect and engagement with the users/customers, it is important that they feel connected to your beyond just the product you are selling or marketing. In order to do that, you can use Instagram Reels creatively to show the users – the company culture, short interactions with the leadership, inspiring stories from the company.



5. Sneak peak into the lives of the boss

When you are building a holistic brand image, it is important to maintain a connection through trust and transparency. Direct peek into the lives of the bosses who run the operations at every level, helps build that trust and connection with the users. Use Instagram Reels and give a quick glimpse to how the leadership is sweating it out to make the brand a user friendly and sustainable brand.

Show also the fun side of the leaders, the jokes they crack at meetings, or how well they can sing/dance, along with snippets of quotes from their speeches and interviews. This will open a conversational door and bring the user closer to the company and the brand.

6. Content on relevant contemporary topics with brand integration

When you are focussing on ways to increase engagement on Instagram, it is important that besides JUST MARKETING, make the brand a Humane brand, which cares about issues affecting the people at large. Build this humane image of the brand with the help of Instagram reels where you talk about issues such as menstruation, using masks for COVID-19 protection, manual labour, climate change etc. Show them infographics, and what steps is your organisation taking towards that end. Engage the users with those reels.

7. Tutorials way to build a communication

Another creative way of using Instagram reels is to use them to make short tutorials which align with the brand and the products. For example, if you are a stationary brand, create quick origami tutorials, DIY planters, etc. Every brand will have something which they can teach to the users. Invite the users through these reels to post their creations after following the tutorial and give them visibility on your Instagram Page/reels.

Bonus tip - Rope in influencers…float a challenge

Invite influencers, collaborate with them to create new challenges like 7-day exercise challenge, 24 hour no social media challenge etc. User engagement on Instagram through fun challenges and games will help the brands create a lasting impact on the user/customer and form an association.

Follow these quick tips, and you will never have to buy Instagram Views and still you can increase engagement on Instagram. Happy Reeling!!

The Finnish national airline, Finnair, has confirmed that it plans to resume traffic on routes from Helsinki to Dubrovnik and Split from June.

Finnair plans to resume operations on its seasonal routes to Split and Dubrovnik from June, reports Croatian Aviation. In previous years, the company operated briefly on a regular route to Pula, but it was cancelled before the outbreak of the global pandemic.

Although Finland does not currently recommend its citizens to travel abroad, including to Croatia, it is to be expected that with the arrival of summer the measures will be significantly milder, meaning that travel restrictions should enable tourist trips to Croatia. For this reason, Finnair plans to resume traffic to Split and Dubrovnik this summer.

The first flight to Split is currently announced for June 3, and the company is offering as many as five flights a week. Whilst on the line Helsinki to Dubrovnik, Finnair plans to establish traffic from June 1 with four flights a week, but the company also warns of the possibility of cancelling certain rotations.


We may be apart geographically, but that doesn’t stop us connecting, and this Thursday 22nd April 2021, as part of International Earth Day, people from over 12 countries from all over the world will be experiencing some of the magic of the city via a live yoga class which will be going out on Zoom, YouTube and Facebook Live.

The iconic Lazareti building, once a place of quarantine back in 1647 due to an outbreak of the plague and cholera, enjoys outdoor space just steps away from the Adriatic Sea, and overlooking the Old Town itself. The event is kindly sponsored by Dubrovačka baština.

Steeped in history, with 10 naves (narrow halls like those in churches), the building is one of the premier centres of culture in Dubrovnik, it makes a fitting location as it has played such an important part in preserving the health of its citizens.


Looking after ourselves has become more important than ever since the pandemic, yet staying connected is also part of what keeps us well. Restrictions have meant that we need to be more creative than ever in finding ways for us to taking care of our wellbeing.

Which is what inspired International Yoga Teacher and Wellness Consultant Gillie Sutherland, who is now based in Cavtat, to run this event. Gillie’s work is inspired by nature, but grounded in science, and her morning session will be a guided Moving Meditation themed “One Planet, One Humanity, One Love”.

Gillie has been teaching for over 25 years, and over the last year, due to the pandemic, she has taken her business 100% online. She is passionate about finding positive ways to cope with the current situation, physically, mentally and emotionally.


In her own words - 

“In times when we have very little control over what’s going on around us, we have to switch our focus to those areas we can influence. The most important thing right now is that we work to stay strong, healthy and happy. When we do this, it tends to have a positive impact on the rest of our life, as well as giving us the best chance at fighting a virus.”

“The additional benefit is that when we look after ourselves, we tend to look after each other better, and we look after the world around us better. So it’s a triple win. We are healthier, kinder, and more ecologically conscious”.

“I see Earth Day as a day for us to come together and remember that we all share this same planet. The only way we are going to survive is if we look after ourselves, each other and the home that we all share – the Earth”.

With her large global network, Gillie will be connecting countries from all over the world in different time zones, but in Croatian time, it will be 0800-0930, a morning “rise and shine” looking out to sea watching the day break over Dubrovnik.

The event is open to all levels, even total beginners, and there are 12 spaces for people who would like to join in the class live. In order to make the event safe and compliant with current COVID restrictions, places are limited and pre-booking is essential.

If you would like to reserve a place at the Lazareti, then you can email Gillie on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or find out more at

In the last 24 hours, 2,698 new cases of Covid-19 virus were recorded, and the number of active cases in Croatia today is a total of 16,053. Among them, 2,003 people are in hospital, of which 186 are on ventilators.

Unfortunately, a further 44 people died in the past 24 hours.

Since February 25, 2020, when the first case of infection was recorded in Croatia, a total of 303,598 people have been infected with the new coronavirus, of which 6,486 have died, a total of 281,059 people have recovered, of which 1,908 in the last 24 hours.

There are currently 31,195 people in self-isolation.

To date, a total of 1,683,651 people have been tested, of which 9,233 in the last 24 hours.

As of April 15, 393,002 people had been vaccinated with the first dose and 124,459 with the second dose.


The Dubrovnik Tourist Board is marking the 10th anniversary of the broadcast of the first Game of Thrones episode with a special gift for all fans of the series who visit Dubrovnik this weekend - a free Game of Thrones tour in Croatian and English.

Themed Game of Thrones tours will be held on Saturday, April 17 starting at 10 a.m., in front of TIC Pile. Due to epidemiological measures, the number of participants is limited, so it is necessary to confirm arrival by Friday, April 16, by 17:00, by e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone number: +38520312011.

Dubrovnik hosted the filming of this planetary popular series and the most watched HBO series ever from 2011 to 2018, from the 2nd to the 8th season. A series that has become a worldwide television phenomenon, based on a novel by George R.R. Martina, won numerous accolades including 59 Emmy Awards, was first aired on April 17, 2011 and was watched by about 13 million people worldwide.




In the series, Dubrovnik represented the capital of seven kingdoms, King’s Landing, one of the most important locations in the series, and the scenes filmed in King’s Landing brought invaluable worldwide promotion to both Dubrovnik and Croatia. The well-known attractive views of Dubrovnik have been recognized around the world, both by fans of the series and by numerous foreign media who have written about the beauties of Dubrovnik.

Austrian Airlines have announced flights from Vienna to both Split and Dubrovnik by the end of this month!

The Austrian national airline will resume their seasonal flight schedule to Split and Dubrovnik by the end of April, with the first flight from Vienna to Dubrovnik scheduled for the 23rd of April, reports Croatian Aviation.

The Vienna to Dubrovnik line will operate from April 23, once a week, every Friday, and as early as the beginning of May, two more flights a week will be added, so Austrian will operate to Dubrovnik every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

The Vienna to Split line has been announced from April 30, also three times a week, on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.


The Voice of Dubrovnik


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