Saturday, 19 September 2020
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.

Email: mark.thomas@dubrovnik-times.com

In the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, 12 new cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in the last 24 hours. These new Covid-19 cases are 4 males and 6 females from Dubrovnik, of which two males are the contact of a previously infected case, and 5 females are contacts of another also known case. A male person from the borough of Zupa and a female person from Orebić.

On a positive note 12 people have made a full recovery - 5 from Dubrovnik, 3 from Metković, 2 from Župa, 1 from Ston and 1 person who does not have a residence in our county.

12 people tested positive for coronavirus are currently hospitalized in the Dubrovnik General Hospital, and since the beginning of the pandemic, 9,709 samples have been sent to Zagreb for analysis.

There are 444 people in self-isolation, and in the last 24 hours no cases of violation of the self-isolation measure have been identified.

 

All the heads of the Civil Protection of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County have gone into 14-day self-isolation after contact with people positive at a meeting.

Due to contact with Covid-19 positive persons, prefect Nikola Dobroslavić of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, deputy prefect and chief of the County Civil Protection Headquarters, Joško Cebal, director of the County Public Health Institute, Mato Lakić, and Headquarters spokesman, Nikša Miletić, have all gone into self-isolation as a preventative measure, the Civil Protection of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County announced.

During a meeting with representatives of business people from the county held last week in the Ranjina Palace, and subsequent testing determined that some of them were positive for Covid-19.

In consultation with Croatian epidemiologists, it was established that there was no close contact at the meeting, however, as a precautionary measure, self-isolation and Covid-19 testing were prescribed to all participants in the meeting. The public will be informed about the further development of events in a timely manner, stated the county.

 

Now that is an eye-catching superyacht. Lana sailed into the Bay of Župa this morning and stood out from the flotilla of yachts already anchored. This 107-metre long yacht was launched in the middle June this year and is presumably on one of her maiden voyages.

Able to accommodate 12 guests in the height of luxury and with a crew of 31 Lana has a top speed of 16 knots. And she certainly looks sleek as she reflects the morning sunshine in Župa.

lana zupa

If you fancy a week on board Lana you’re going to need extremely deep pockets, Russian oligarch deep pockets, as a week on this elegant yacht will set you back a cool $1.7 million.

 

 

However, you’ll also have to find some cash for expenses, an extra $219,000, yes the running costs for staff and fuel for one week is the same price as a good-sized apartment. So a week on board Lana will dent your bank account to the tune of $2 million.

lana yacht croatia 2020

From April 1, banks and entrepreneurs affected by the coronavirus epidemic have been granted a moratorium on loan repayments for at least 3 months with the possibility of extension, greatly easing the financial strain due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The moratorium on loans was requested by 42,500 citizens for about 56,000 credits. The total amount requested was about 9.2 billion Kuna, and 7.7 billion was approved, about 85 percent,” said Zdenko Adrovic, the president of the Croatian Banking Association, this morning on HRT.

The interest from businesses to hold repayments on loans was much less, “We had a significantly smaller number of requests, about 9,500, but the amount was fascinating - 29 billion Kuna, of which 25 billion was approved. Citizens and companies did not have to repay 32.5 billion Kuna for loans and they could spend that money on something else,” added Adrović, emphasizing that the moratorium is not a debt write-off but a deferral of payment.

He added that the repayment was first planned to be postponed for three months, and later extended for another three months, but if the situation due to Covid-19 becomes worse again in the autumn and winter banks could well reintroduce a similar scheme.

Asked whether the banks had felt the crisis, the president of the Croatian Banking Association said the pandemic had not slowed credit expansion. “There will be loans, there is money, banks have enough capital. Banks are part of the solution to this crisis, not the problem,” he concluded.

 

The Hungarian government has adopted new measures in response to the current deteriorating situation regarding Covid-19. As of today, September 1, 2020, foreign nationals are not allowed to enter Hungary.

This move makes Hungary the first Schengen country to reintroduce travel restrictions.

Persons under the following categories will be exempted from the mentioned restrictions: freight passengers, official visits, business trips, special requests, cross-border workers (30 km zone), athletes participating in sporting events and passengers in transit through Hungary.

Persons to be treated as Hungarian nationals: persons granted permanent residence in Hungary and members of their families, and persons holding a valid residence permit issued by a police authority for foreigners allowed to stay in Hungary for more than 90 days (type D visa is equivalent).

In accordance with Article 25 (1) of Regulation (EU) 2016/399 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2016 on the Union Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (Schengen Borders Code), Hungary will introduce border measure controls at all internal land and air borders within 30 days, starting from September 1, 2020, the Koprivnica-Križevci Police Department announced.

These three border crossings will be open for the Republic of Croatia

Udvar - Duboševica (open 00.00-24.00),
Barcs - Terezino Polje (open 00.00-24.00)
Letenye - Goričan (open 00.00-24.00)

 

The governor of the Croatian National Bank, Boris Vujčić, has stated that real estate prices across Croatia have started to fall due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In an interview for RTL Vujčić was asked about the situation of the real estate market in Croatia in these turbulent times for the economy. “What we can see at the moment is less turnover in the real estate market and that prices, as far as we can now estimate, although we do not yet have statistics, have already begun to fall. Real estate prices have declined, that is, the strong growth we saw by the first quarter of 2020 has now reversed to a trend of slight stabilization or declining prices, depending on which market segment we are talking about,” commented Vujčić on real estate prices in Croatia.

He added that “We do not predict by what percentage housing prices will fall. But we now see that prices in the summer no longer grew as they did until the first quarter.”

The housing market is an important factor in Croatia’s GDP, with around 10 percent of the GDP coming directly from real estate. Tourism is naturally connected to the real estate market, as new hotels, resorts and apartments spring up every year, mostly along the Adriatic coast. In this chaotic year tourism investment has been almost completely stopped.

When questioned about real estate prices falling further, the governor of the Croatian National Bank commented that “If you go to Njuškalo (a popular Croatian retail website) and look at the asking prices for the sale of certain apartments, you see that a lot of people say that they have already lowered the prices because of everything that happened. And of course, Zagreb and the coast are different markets from the rest of Croatia.

Banks have been seemingly tightening their belts since the Covid-19 pandemic began and making it harder than even for people to take out loans or mortgages. But when asked would it be even harder for people to get a loan this autumn the governor was upbeat, “No, as for loans, the situation is as follows. Interest rates are lower than ever. If we talk about housing loans, we had interest rates that were around 3 percent in 2019 and by 2020 they had already dropped to almost 2.5 percent, meaning to their historical minimum.”

 

Dubrovnik is certainly no stranger to the front covers of the world’s glossy magazines, and this week we caught up with one of the journalists who regularly fills column inches and helps put Croatia on the travel radar. Mary Novakovich, yes the surname gives away her Croatian heritage, is an award winning British journalist who has just finished a trip to Dubrovnik to compile an article for The Telegraph. Her portfolio reads like a who’s who of brand name media, The Guardian, Conde Nast Traveller, The Independent, the list goes on. And the pearl of the Adriatic wasn’t her only stop, the stunning island of Mljet was also on her itinerary. “Unbelievably beautiful Mljet. Very tempting to stay here and quarantine,” commented Novakovich.

You have visited Dubrovnik and the wider region on many previous occasions. In your opinion how has the destination changed over the years?

The main thing I’ve noticed was the huge growth in the number of visitors, especially from cruise ships. I know there has been a slight reduction in the number of cruise ships allowed at any one time, but the crowds seemed to be as thick as ever – before coronavirus, of course. It made it harder to enjoy the old town when it was so full of people, but it also made you want to explore other parts of the city and the region.

How is Croatia, and in particular Dubrovnik, viewed in the UK? Is it an exotic destination, an unknown destination or on the top of the travel list?

Perceptions vary quite a lot – to the extent where it’s hard to generalise. I have friends who visit Croatia often and know the country quite well, and others who have always wanted to visit but never quite got round to it.

Usually when I mention Croatia to people who haven’t visited, their first reaction is: “Oh, I’ve always wanted to go there. It looks so beautiful. What’s it like?” So there’s a huge amount of interest.

mary novakavich mato frankovic

Meeting the Mayor of Dubrovnik and getting the Covid-19 lowdown - Photo Grad Dubrovnik 

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the face of travel. What more changes do you see coming in the future and can we expect some normalisation of travel in 2021?

I think people will still need to adapt their behaviour even more, and keep up with the wearing of masks and try to maintain social distance. That’s been hard for many young people to do, not just in Croatia but everywhere. We have to get used to the virus being around us all the time until a vaccine is developed. As far as 2021 is concerned, I’m not convinced we will have anything approaching normality. The travel industry has suffered such an enormous blow, and so many businesses have gone under, that it will take quite a while to recover from this.

As the UK has now taken Croatia off the safe corridor list how will this affect the number of Brits planning to come here on holidays. And how safe do you feel in Dubrovnik?

It’s a shame the UK has taken this decision, as it will affect numbers of UK visitors – particularly because airlines will be reducing their flights. I’ve felt much safer in Dubrovnik than in the UK. The number of Covid cases in my small region of Britain is about three times the number of cases in Dubrovnik-Neretva county.

mary novakovich dubrovnik visit 2020

Talking tourism with the director of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board  

What are your top three tips/highlights for travellers to see or do in Dubrovnik?

My top three echo the classic choices: a walk around the city walls, a ride on the cable car and a visit to Lokrum. I know it’s been economically devastating having so few tourists, but from a visitor’s point of view, it’s been wonderful to explore the city when the atmosphere has been so relaxed and there’s so much space.

You have been staying on the beautiful island of Mljet. What are your impressions of the island?

Mljet is enchanting. I’ve loved everything about it: exploring the national park and swimming in the lakes, finding little coves to swim in, eating some superb seafood, meeting warm and friendly people. It’s been utterly blissful.

 

There are currently about 310,000 tourists in Croatia, of which 240,000 are foreigners, and 106,000 came during the last weekend of August, the Croatian National Tourist Board stated on Monday. Kristjan Staničić, the director of the Croatian National Tourist Board assessed the results in August as extremely good given the circumstances.

"August is behind us, in which we have achieved exceptionally good results given the circumstances. Our further strategic and marketing activities will primarily depend on the epidemiological picture of Croatia and the surrounding countries, and uncertainty in this regard requires flexibility and readiness for rapid and continuous adaptation.

We are witnessing that some countries in the region have started to close, which we also take into account when defining activities in the off-season," Stanicic told Hina.

He presented eVistor data according to which slightly more than a million overnight stays were realized during the weekend from 28 to 30 August, of which 319,000 were realized by German tourists, followed by Poles 109,000 and Slovenes 83,000.

A total of 2.6 million tourists came to Croatia in August, more precisely until August 30, with 20.7 million overnight stays, which is 64 percent of last year's result in the same period.

The German market maintained its leading position with 5.2 million overnight stays, followed by domestic tourists with almost four million overnight stays. Slovenia is third with 2.7 million overnight stays of their tourists in Croatia in August, while Poland and the Czech Republic are fourth and fifth with 2.2 and 1.3 million overnight stays, respectively.

 

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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