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.
The “catastrophic state of bookings" and greatly exaggerated news that Croatia is facing a poor tourist season has dominated the front pages for the past few weeks. This pessimist mood has washed over the country, however according to a report on the specialised financial website novac.hr there is no cause for panic.
It’s true we have heard stories of lower tourist numbers and a supposed bad tourist season for years. And there is always some excuse, such as bad weather, rising competition, high prices and lack of organisation. However, these bombastic headlines are as fleeting as an ice-cream in the August sunshine, and when the time comes to count the numbers and the financial benefits the headlines die down as the real figures show another year of growth.
And whilst around 17 percent of Croatia’s GDP comes directly or indirectly from the tourism industry, that also means that 83 percent comes from other businesses. With more than four-fifths of Croatia’s economic income coming from other sources the tourism industry is of course important, but a little reality is also needed.
Crisis, what crisis!
And in spite of the predictions of a disastrous tourist season this year it is important to bear a few facts in mind before jumping to the wrong conclusions. Since 1995 Croatia’s tourism industry has pretty much recorded a growth in every year. Only twice, in 1999 due to the NATO bombings of Serbia, and then in 2009 thanks to the world recession, has the country actually seen a drop in tourism. And it has to be added that in 2009 the drop was only by 1.4 percent. This is clearly an industry that is very robust and strong and more than able to deal with bumps along the road.
And it isn’t only tourism numbers that have increased. More importantly revenue from tourism has also increased. Over the past 18 years’ revenue from tourism has increased by a massive 3.3 times, from 3 billion Euro in 2000 to 10 billion Euro in 2018.
And it’s the months outside of the main tourist season that are one of the driving forces for such growth. From 2013 to 2018 the number of overnight stays in Croatia jumped by 39 percent and the highest percentage increase in that period was achieved in the off-season.
So how is this year really progressing? According to data from the first six months of this year growth is continuing: tourist arrivals increased by six percent and overnight stays by three percent compared to the same period from last year.
So why the panic?
According to the article in novac.hr the main reason for the scratching of heads and cries of “it’s a terrible season” is the fact that the number of apartments has exploded in recent years. Figures from the Croatian Tourist Board show that from 2016 to 2019 an extra 650,000 beds have been added. Over the same time period the number of beds in hotels increased by less than six thousand. And this is basically the crux of the matter. These extra beds in private accommodation aren’t filling as quickly as their owners would like. Is that a crisis? Do all the apartments have to be filled, should everyone who has a private apartment be secure in receiving a guaranteed income?
Looking for a summer cruise to remember and have a spare million dollars burning a hole in your back pocket? The solution sailed into Cavtat this afternoon. The super luxurious yacht “Solandge” will set you back a whopping $1 million a week for a cruise, and plus expenses, which means that the price is bumped up to $1.13 million a week.
This award winning yacht was launched in 2013 and at 85 metres in length is one of the largest yachts available for charter in the world today.
The Southern Croatian region, from Korcula to Cavtat, is awash with these mega yachts this summer. Already Jon Bon Jovi and Sylvester Stallone have enjoyed family cruises in the Dubrovnik Adriatic, but this latest monster yacht is considerably costlier than both their charters.
Photo - Mark Thomas
And in spite of its size it can only accommodate 12 guests, but that’s because each passenger has plenty of room to spread their legs. With a crew of 29 the level of service id also second to none.
With an on-board stream swimming pool, spa, massage room, elevators, fully stocked wine cellar and even a sundeck dance floor complete with DJ booth this is a yacht that draws plenty of attention.
But who, or rather which billionaire, has actually dropped anchor in Cavat today is still unknown.
The number of taxis on Dubrovnik’s roads has clearly reached saturation point and the Mayor of Dubrovnik is making a stand to considerably lower their numbers. Mato Frankovic, the Mayor of Dubrovnik, has stated that the current situation on the city's roads is untenable, therefore, an amendment to the law is needed to eliminate the negative effects of the liberalization of taxi services.
In Dubrovnik there are currently about three thousand taxis, and before the liberalization there were about 220, however even with this greater number of taxis their fares are still too expensive.
And in order to limit the number of taxis a number of measures are being proposed. As Dubrovnik is a UNESCO protected city the Mayor believes that it is necessary to recognise the importance of this fact and that the roads and infrastructure should be better controlled by local governments who should have the ability to limit the number of vehicles. This would include a limit on the actual number of taxis.
The Mayor is also putting forward a proposal to introduce electric only vehicles around the Old City. “We are not backing down from our plan to create a special zone around the Old City, and every vehicle inside that zone must be electric vehicles. We are already in negotiations with the Croatian Electric Company (HEP) to install two electric charging stations around the city, one on Ploce and the other under Minceta,” concluded the Mayor.
Honestly it fell off the back of a lorry. We’ve all heard that excuse, but today it actually happened. So far this season we’ve had potatoes, bananas and even building material land all over Dubrovnik’s roads, but as far as we know this is a first, crates of beer!
On a busy Dubrovnik road as the working day was coming to an end bottles of beer were seen literally rolling down the road. Most drivers skilfully avoided the foamy bottles and cardboard crates but some took the time to load up on a few beers for refreshment.
Locals and tourists enjoyed the “beer drive-through” and in a matter of minutes the beer obstruction of the road was cleared.
Germany's population rose by over 400,000 in 2018 as a result of immigration and Croatian citizens, numbering 29,000, were the second largest group of immigrants from the EU last year after Romanians, the Federal Statistical Office of Germany said on Tuesday.
A total of 1.58 million people moved to Germany in 2018, while 1.18 million moved out so that, as a result of migration, about 400,000 more people lived there at the end of 2018 than at the beginning of the year, the office said in a press release.
In 2018, 57,724 Croatian citizens arrived in Germany, while 28,869 departed, so the number of Croatian citizens living there increased by 28,855 to 395,665.
At the end of 2017, 367,900 Croatian citizens lived in Germany, 27,765 fewer than a year later. At the end of 2016, 332,605 Croatian citizens lived there, 35,295 fewer than a year later.
Since 2010, when 220,199 Croatian citizens lived in Germany, the number of German residents holding Croatian citizenship rose by 175,466.
Also, 158,595 Croatian citizens have been living in Germany over 25 years, 113,760 stay from one to four years and 34,960 stay there less than a year.
In 2018, Germany recorded the largest number of EU immigrants from Romania (68,000), followed by Croatia (29,000) and Bulgaria (27,000). Last year 22,749 Bosnian citizens arrived in Germany and 10,331 departed.
Eighty-seven percent of last year's immigrants to Germany were foreigners, while the rest were Germans who moved back after living abroad.
The Prime Minister, Andrej Plenković, yesterday officially put into operation the new water purifier system in Dubrovnik. “The purifier will ensure the daily quality of water and the overall life in Dubrovnik, and the most recent demonstration of the agility of the newly elected city government in the realization of one of the crucial issues that have been the subject of public debate for years,” commented Plenkovic at the opening ceremony.
The new Dubrovnik water purifier cost 56 million Kuna. The Director of the Dubrovnik Water Company, Lukša Matusic, announced that there would be a second phase of the water purification. He stated that the citizens of Dubrovnik will now have water of a high standard according to European standards. “Clean water 365 days a year is what the citizens of Dubrovnik deserve and they have received today,” concluded Matusic
Jump on in the Adriatic Sea in Dubrovnik is clean and warm. The fourth regular testing of the sea water quality of the 118 beaches in the Dubrovnik – Neretva County was carried out between the 1st of July and the 11th of July by the Public Health Institute of the County.
The quality of the sea water at 116 of the 118 beaches passed the water quality test according to the bathing Water Quality Regulation. From these 116 beaches 113 beaches passed the test with flying colours with the highest rating of excellent, with 3 beaches, Žuljana, Duboka and the mouth of Ploće, passed with a good quality rating.
The beaches in front of Rixos Libertas Dubrovnik and the beach at Donje Čelo on the island of Koločep both failed the quality test. Further testing at the Rixos beach showed that the short term pollution had cleared and the beach passed the test. However, the beach on the island of Koločep is still not fit for swimming.
What a year for Dubrovnik Airport. 2019 has certainly started in positive form for Croatia’s southernmost airport with every single month of the year showing an increase in passenger numbers. June this year was the busiest ever June for Dubrovnik Airport on record with a massive 415,876 passengers travelling through the airport an incredible increase of almost 14 percent when compared to the same month from last year. And apart from being a record breaking month it was also the month that the airport welcomed its millionth passenger.
In January the year started well with 26,323 passengers an 18 percent increase, February saw the biggest increase of the year so far with 33,765 passengers and a 40 percent growth, March was the third best month of the first six months with a growth of 21 percent and 57,880 passengers handled. Then the summer months approached and all the international lines opened. In April the airport handled 210,803 passengers, a 39 percent growth, in May 315,037 passengers an 8 percent growth and in June a whopping 415,976 passengers a 13.8 percent growth.
In total in the first six months of 2019 Dubrovnik Airport has dealt with 1.058.684 passengers a healthy increase of 17.4 percent over the first half of 2018. In other words, an extra 157,184 passengers have used the airport so far this year.