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.
Croatia will face even more severe consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic than previously thought. According to the latest forecasts published yesterday by the European Commission, the decline in GDP in Croatia this year will be as much as 10.8 percent, and next year the recovery will begin and growth will be 7.5 percent of GDP.
Only Italy with a drop of 11.2 percent and Spain with 10.9 percent will have a bigger drop than Croatia. A similar category includes France, which is expected to fall by 10.6 percent, and Greece, which is down by 9 percent. From this it is evident that the countries for which tourism is one of the key branches will be the hardest hit. Poland, which should have a 4.6 percent drop, and Sweden, 5.3 percent, will feel the least.
The latest report of the European Commission, along with summer forecasts, states that the Croatian economy was more resilient before the outbreak of the crisis than before the global financial crisis in 2008.
“Private consumption should recover quickly after the opening of the economy because it seems that mass layoffs have been avoided thanks to government support. Current and new EU-funded projects and several liquidity grants for companies should help recover investments,” the European Commission said.
They predict that tourism will be in trouble next year due to the continuation of disruptions in international traffic.
After almost three months of isolation and social distancing, restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have started to be gradually lifted, and one of the major questions that many of us have regards how traveling and tourism are affected this year.
If you’re anxious to go somewhere this summer and beyond, there are additional safety measures to take in order to lower your risk of getting sick. Since traveling by car is somewhat safer as you are exposed to fewer people you don’t know, driving trips are likely to gain greater attention in the next few months.
To make sure that you and the people you travel with are less exposed to the new coronavirus, it is best to stick to a few simple recommendations coming from experts.
Choosing your route
This year, many of us will have to choose a destination that involves less exposure and that is accessible, considering the various tourism-related restrictions each country will come up with. Before you get on the road, you will have to do a bit of research to learn more about the restrictions and travel and traffic advisories in the regions or states you’d like to visit.
Mapping out the roadways you intend to take and the states you want to pass through is thus compulsory if you want to avoid unpleasant situations. Check out the official websites of the authorities in your state or the states you want to visit. Depending on what you find out and the latest changes, you might need to adjust your initial plan depending on the ongoing restrictions.
What to pack
Besides the things you’d usually pack when going for a road trip, this year, greater attention should be paid to the sanitizing products you pack. Start by including essentials, such as bottled water, meds, food, and various other supplies, including pet supplies such as drops for flea if you intend to take your pet with you.
Then add a hygiene kit that includes hand sanitizers, disposable gloves and face masks, disinfecting wet wipes, as well as plastic bags that are sealable so that you can dispose of the gloves and masks you use safely and properly.
Washing your hands when on the road calls for additional vigilance since public bathrooms and roadside stops are involved. For example, when using a public restroom, it is recommended not to touch door handles, faucets, or various other items after you’ve washed your hands. Shielding your hands against such surfaces with a paper towel or tissue is a simple and easy safety step to take.
Using your card instead of cash to pay for gas or various other things you need to buy has become a norm in the last few months. Going on with this payment method is another easy thing to do in the following months in order to avoid direct contact with other people and lower your risk of getting sick. Follow the travel precautions coming from the World Health Organization and health experts to boost your safety.
All the hotels and restaurants that will be open for business will be required to operate according to the latest cleaning and safety changes. Social distancing will still be an important part of the way such businesses work.
Make sure that you book the room of interest and call ahead for confirmation. For additional safety, it is also recommended to use the sanitizing supplies you’ve packed on surfaces that are highly touched, such as door handles, the TV remote, and faucets once you’ve checked in.
As far as dining is regarded, many restaurants might only offer drive-through or takeout services. If restaurants offer sit-down meals, expect restrictions regarding the number of people allowed to sit at a table and other such changes.
Tourism has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the consequences won’t go away too soon. However, if you still want to travel, you can at least lower the risk of getting sick by taking the safety measures health organizations and experts recommend. Plus, stay up to date with the latest news regarding the new coronavirus and restriction changes to make informed and safe decisions.
Yesterday there were 2 new cases of Covid-19 infection recorded in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County. These are two younger men from Dubrovnik, one of whom is associated with a gathering in Zagreb with which he and eight previous discovered cases are connected. While the other person is the contact of a previously positive case.
There are currently 3 people in the Dubrovnik General Hospital and no patient is on a ventilator.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, 4,001 samples have been sent for analysis to Zagreb.
There are 113 people currently in self-isolation, and since the beginning of the pandemic, a total of 38 cases of self-isolation violations have been determined.
The headquarters of the Civil Protection of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County continue to appeal to citizens to adhere to all prescribed measures of the Croatian Institute of Public Health and the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia.
The Scottish rock legend, Rod Stewart, was spotted yesterday strolling down the main street of the Old City of Dubrovnik. Sir Rod, who played a mega concert in Zagreb in 2018, enjoyed an evening meal in the historic core and then soaked up the sights and architecture.
And Stewart (75) made the most of this family break with his wife Penny Lancaster (49) and their two children. They all appeared in very high spirits and not even a brief summer shower dampened their mood as Stewart had a large umbrella on hand. They certainly saw a unique Dubrovnik, without the normal tourist crowds and cruise ship passengers.
It is believed that Rod Stewart and his family arrived in Dubrovnik on the mega yacht of the richest New Zealander, Graeme Richard Hart. The 116-metre-long Ulysses is currently at anchor near the Port of Dubrovnik.
The British leisure airline, Jet2, is introducing numerous routes from the UK to Dubrovnik, Split and Pula, reports Croatian Aviation.
Following the decision to abolish the mandatory 14-day self-isolation upon arrival in the UK from Croatia, the company has confirmed the launch of its seasonal lines with which many British tourists come on holiday to Croatia.
From mid-July, Jet2 will launch as many as 12 direct lines from Great Britain to Dubrovnik, Split and Pula. Certain routes have been canceled, while the number of weekly flights has been reduced for all routes.
The flights to Dubrovnik from the UK are from Birmingham, once a week, from the 18th of July, from London, once a week, again from the 18th of July. And then from Manchester, three times a week, from the 16th of July, and from Newcastle, once a week, from the 19th of July.
Jet2 will also connect Split to Leeds, East Midlands, Birmingham, London and Manchester. And Pula with Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester.
This week we caught up with one of the most influential, and quite possibly one of the most hard-working, online names today. Described as an influencer, TV host, model and socialite, Hofit Golan is certainly at the top of her profession, followed by millions on social media, the darling of the red carpet and has recently picked up the lifestyle influencer of the year award. Golan recently visited Dubrovnik and Korcula, after being invited by the Croatian National Tourist Board and the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, and her updates on Instagram spread the word on the region during these challenging times for tourism. Sitting in the five-star Hotel Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik we found out just what makes this Israeli born influencer work so hard and just what is the secret of her success. Today she calls London home, but really she is a citizen of the world, and after weeks of being cooped up at home she just couldn’t wait to spread her wings again.
Is this your first time to Dubrovnik, and what are your impressions?
Yes, I have been to Croatia a few times before but this is my first visit to Dubrovnik. I think this is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. I can’t understand why it isn’t really more on the travel scene. We were walking through the stone streets of this medieval city and we were looking at the architecture. Not only is it so incredibly beautiful but it is so clean. The streets were glowing. It feels like brand new stone everywhere. I said to my friend that it feels like we are in Las Vegas in a replica of Dubrovnik. It almost seems too perfect to be real. I can’t name one city in the world where it is as clean as Dubrovnik. It looks like a film set. I actually saw some guys cleaning the streets and said “What are you cleaning? It is spotless already.” The sounds of the birds and the sunsets…wow! I don’t think I’ve seen such a glorious sunset in my life. And the food is excellent, very Mediterranean. And because there aren’t many tourists we have had the opportunity to meet and talk with lots of locals. I know we are seeing Dubrovnik in a unique time, and this is a special treat. I will always remember this city and this beautiful region.
Your social media is full of exotic destinations; it seems like you are constantly travelling
For nine years I was the face of Fashion TV and I travelled extensively with my TV show. I would normally be travelling to a new country every three of four days. In December, January and February I was in Miami five times, the Bahamas twice, the Dominican Republic, New York, LA, Milan, Paris, Moscow, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ghana, Maldives and probably I have forgotten a few countries along the way. My smart phone is my office.
What do you believe are influencers roles in the travel industry, especially with the current situation?
I was probably one of the very first people you could describe as a travel influencer, as I started doing this 20 years ago, long before social media was ever born. I used to be the face of a travel show for MTV. Then I travelled with BBC and ITV. I even hosted the Australian version of “I’m a celebrity get me out of here.” In some ways today with social media everyone has a voice, but then the wrong people also have a voice. They are able to say things that aren’t checked, aren’t fact checked and there have no liable. Like any other power there must be responsibility. I don’t really see myself as an influencer, I have been travelling and reporting about my travels for 20 years. What drives me personally is that travelling has been my passion since the day I was born. In fact, I felt tortured whilst at school and university because I couldn’t move the way I wanted to. I didn’t like the schedule and the structure, I felt like a lion in a cage. That was until I was 19 and I broke free and haven’t stopped moving since. My sister is the same, she describes herself as a digital nomad. For me travel is an education a much deeper experience than just taking photos. In fact, I really don’t enjoy taking photos and posting on Instagram. For me travelling is like telling a story. I started from humble beginnings. I was born in Israel; my parents were both in the military, and often I was home alone whilst they were shipped off somewhere to fight. We really didn’t have freedom to travel when we were younger. Travelling has opened my eyes to different cultures.
How long did it take to build up such a large following on social media, you have 1.7 million followers on Instagram alone?
Sometimes I focus on social media and sometimes I don’t, I think the number of followers you have doesn’t really mean that much. I am still a little old school when it comes to media. I used to work really hard before social media came along to get noticed by journalists and photographers. I had no PR person and no publicist, so I was doing it all on my own without social media. This took a lot of perseverance and determination. To win the attention of old school media, to get in magazines, we had to work hard, we had to prove a reason why we deserve column inches. That time was fun to me. Today it’s much easier with social media, we are a beautiful person and you post a sexy photo and millions can see you, including the traditional media. Younger influencers don’t even think about the old school media, and why should they because they are their own media, they are speaking to their own audience. Again I’ll repeat whilst this is a great opportunity it also comes with responsibility. For whilst you might have a huge audience what are you actually saying to them, what is your message? You must be responsible to your followers. Are you inspiring them?
The Prime Minister and President of the HDZ, Andrej Plenković, arrived on stage to the song Eye of the Tiger blasting out and thanked the waiting crowd for the "great result and the great victory of the HDZ".
“First of all, I would like to thank all Croatian citizens, all those who went to the polls and cast their votes. Today, this result of the HDZ is not only great, but also binding. We have had a difficult mandate full of temptations, and the challenges ahead may be even greater. These challenges require responsibility, experience and knowledge,” said Plenković.
He added that “This kind of voter support is a huge obligation and we will take care of it all for the next four years. Today, Croatia needs a government of modern sovereignty. In recent years, we have placed HDZ on the part of the political spectrum to which Dr. Franjo Tudjman left. I want to thank everyone who worked on the election strategy. This result gives us the right to be happy tonight, to relax a little, but from tomorrow at 9 we will continue to work for Croatia.”
It wasn't only Croatian citizens that reside in Croatia who voted in yesterday’s General Election, thousands of voters who live all around the world also cast their ballot, from the US to Australia.
The Eleventh Constituency is a separate constituency for the election of parliamentary representatives elected by Croatian citizens who do not reside in the Republic of Croatia. They elect only three members, which is in line with the fact that there were 59 thousand voters on the 2016 census, and only 21 thousand of them went to the polls.
Diaspora votes are traditionally usually won by HDZ, and this election was no different. Croatian diaspora elected all three seats to HDZ members and HDZ saw a landslide of 64.86 percent of the vote. This was an even higher percentage than last election when HDZ won 62.72 percent of the vote.