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 Christmas Tree in the Dubrovnik Tourist Board main office on Pile has a rather special decorative feel this year. The tree is adorned with specially made festive decorations by the children from the local kindergarten, Pile Kindergarten, and it is really shining.
The children, together with their teachers, spent more than a month making the decorations and Bethlehem arrangement and their hard work has brought a creative touch to the tree.
Well done to the children (and their teachers) for the creativity and the Tourist Board for the community spirit!
Photo - TZ Dubrovnik
In the first nine months of this year, approximately 700 million tourists travelled around the world, which is 133 percent more than at the same time in 2021, but also at the level of 63 percent recorded in the pre-pandemic 2019, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reported on Wednesday.
Based on the new, provisional results of its World Tourism Barometer, as well as estimates from a panel of tourism experts, UNWTO estimates that by the end of 2022, there could be some reduction in world travel due to challenges related to the economic crisis, high inflation and the war in Ukraine, which could influence tourist traffic in 2023 as well.
Nevertheless, despite all these challenges, which slow down the recovery of tourism at the global level, the UNWTO points out that export revenues from tourism could reach 1,200 to 1,300 billion US dollars by the end of this year, which would be about 70 percent more than in 2021, and at the level of 70 to 80 percent of the total 1,800 billion dollars of revenue generated globally in 2019.
UNWTO also expects that by the end of the year, a total of more than 900 million tourist arrivals will be recorded in the world, and thus their number will reach the level of 65 percent from the pre-pandemic 2019.
Almost 50 percent of the total tourist arrivals in the world in the first nine months, or 340 million of them, were achieved only in the third quarter of 2022.
More than half of all those who travelled around the world by the end of September, i.e. 68 percent or 477 million of them, were in Europe, which thus maintains the leading position among all world regions, as well as reaching the highest level of 81 percent of this traffic from 2019.
In addition, Europe recorded a particularly strong performance in the third quarter alone, when the number of tourist arrivals reached almost 90 percent of the 2019 level.
Compared to the same time in 2021, there were 126 percent more tourists in Europe by the end of September this year, which the UNWTO says is driven by strong demand within Europe itself and trips from the USA.
Among those who achieved a significant increase in income from international tourism in the first nine months of 2022, UNWTO singles out Serbia, Romania, Turkey, Latvia, Portugal, Pakistan, Mexico, Morocco and France, while among the tourists with the highest spending, those from Germany, Belgium, Italy, USA, Qatar, India and Saudi Arabia.
Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Franković presented the city budget for 2023 today, pointing out that there is currently 95 million Kuna in the city accounts.
Franković pointed out that the city overcame two difficult, financially challenging years when it happened that there were no payments even for a month. Although the pandemic crisis has passed, enough funds have been left for three and a half months of operation, that is, as Franković said, for "God forbid" in January, February and March. “On December 1, the "large" budget of 86.5 million euros will go before the city councillors. We started 2017 with 58 million euros, so the budget grew to 92 million euros by 2019, and then the decline began due to the corona crisis. Comparing 2019 with 2023, we are recovering step by step and returning to the old pre-pandemic budget figures,” reminded the mayor.
In the revenue side of the new budget, among other things, he pointed out that the amount of 4.7 million euros is planned to be collected from Du Pass, from the walls 9.8 million euros, and 863 thousand euros from tickets for the walls. He announced a significant increase in revenue due to the new Law on Maritime Property, which will enable local self-government units to grant concessions instead of concession approvals, which will also increase revenues. There are also revenues from cruisers in the amount of 597 thousand euros.
Speaking about the expenditures in the next year, Franković pointed out that the expenditures will largely be created by the participatory budgeting project, which will be fully implemented in 2023, that is, by citizens deciding on projects in their city districts and local committees. In addition to the completion of housing for Croatian war invalids at Nuncijata, among other things he singled out the rehabilitation of the Ombla bridge, the extraordinary maintenance of roads, which, as he said, had not been carried out for two years, the construction of a monument for children killed in the Homeland War and the project of a new multifunctional hall in Gospina polje. There are also numerous projects that will not be financed from the budget but from EU funds, such as the asylum for abandoned animals in Grabovica.
There is still a little more than a month left until the introduction of the euro, and the members of the National Council for the introduction of the euro reported today that preparations are underway. "The disappearance of the currency risk, the reduction of interest rates, savings in the costs of foreign exchange transactions, are the key benefits of the introduction of the euro in Croatia," said Prime Minister Plenković.
Opening today's 18th session of the National Council for the introduction of the euro as the official currency, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković mentioned numerous activities in the last few weeks carried out through a campaign to sensitize the public on this topic.
When it comes to the direct and permanent benefits of the introduction of the euro for citizens, Prime Minister Plenković pointed out that the greatest benefit is that the currency risk to which all those who have loans tied to the euro are exposed will completely disappear, so the amount of the loan instalment will no longer depend on the movement of the exchange rate of the kuna in relation to the euro.
Another important benefit, the Prime Minister said, is the trend of lowering interest rates for new loans.
Dual display started in September
Furthermore, all those who frequently travel abroad and make foreign currency payments will realize savings in exchange transaction costs.
As for the risk of rising prices, Prime Minister Plenković emphasized, comparatively, this has not happened in other member states so far and this risk has been reduced to a minimum.
However, the specificity of our entry into the euro area is that it is happening at the moment of inflation, which is not linked to the euro, but to other circumstances.
He reminded that the exchange rate is fixed at HRK 7.53450 for one euro, and the dual display of prices has already been in place since September 5 and will continue for a full year after entering the euro area in order to protect consumers as much as possible.
As for the economy, especially exporters, Prime Minister Plenković stated that they are all ready for conversion, and he singled out more favourable financing options and the disappearance of transaction and exchange costs as the main advantages for them.
In this context, he reminded that Croatia carries out 53 percent of merchandise exports and 60 percent of merchandise imports with euro area countries.
"Membership in the euro will additionally attract foreign investments to Croatia, strengthen competitiveness and reduce the vulnerability of the domestic economy," he said.
Speaking about the conversion process, Prime Minister Plenković pointed out that it has come a long way at the moment, from the production of euro coins and the acquisition of cash to the distribution to banks.
In just one week, from December 1, citizens will be able to get two initial packages of euro coins, which will have Croatian motifs, he announced.
From January 1 to 14, we will be in a transition period in which it will be possible to pay in kuna and euros.
From January 15, cash payments will only be possible in euros, but even after that deadline, kuna will be able to be exchanged for a longer time without costs, and deposits in banks will automatically be converted into euros.
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said on Tuesday, the day before his visit to Zagreb, that his country would not veto Croatia's accession to the Schengen area.
"We hardly feel any migrant pressure from Croatia towards the north. Since Croatia fulfills the border protection requirements in an exemplary manner, I don't see a problem there. The countries are voted on individually," Nehammer said in an interview with reporters on Tuesday in Klagenfurt, as reported by the Austrian daily Kleine Zeitung.
The paper adds that this "in simple language means that the threat of a veto is aimed at Bulgaria and Romania.”
Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner caused great concern in Croatia after he said that he was against the extension of the Schengen area to Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania. In recent days, he has repeatedly said that he is against the expansion of the Schengen zone, which he said is not working, which can be seen from the increased number of asylum seekers in Austria.
This was emphasized by Chancellor Nehammer, who said that in Austria "there are 100,000 people who crossed the border irregularly, of which 75,000 crossed countries like Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary, without being registered by the security authorities there. It's a security risk and we have to take care of it."
Nehammer is coming to Croatia on a working visit on Wednesday.
Croatia take on Morocco in the first match at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar today and the players and staff awoke to a surprise message on the beach in front of their team hotel.
“Match day morning view from our hotel rooms. Thanks to Hilton Doha staff for their support,” wrote the Croatia Football Association on their social media along with a photo and video of the beach message.
And even more impressively the staff of the hotel actually wrote the good luck wishes in both English and Croatian.
One million vehicles crossed the Pelješac bridge in almost four months since its opening, which is an average of more than 250,000 per month. According to data from Croatian Roads, the most vehicles, around 460,000, crossed the bridge in the busiest tourist month - August.
At exactly 12:52 p.m. yesterday, the millionth vehicle crossed the Pelješac bridge, states HRT.
On average, almost eight and a half thousand vehicles cross the bridge every day.
And the journey will be made even easier soon with the completion of the access roads to the southern side of the bridge. Although these access roads were supposed to be completed in time for the opening of the bridge they are still under construction. However, the new access roads will be finished next year and the drive from Dubrovnik to the rest of Croatia will be even quicker.
Croatia start their World Cup 2022 adventure in Qatar tomorrow morning with the first match against Morocco in the 60,000 capacity Al Bayt Stadium, the second largest stadium built for the World Cup.
Croatia will be looking for a positive start in Group F against Morocco. They will also face Belgium and Canada. And a win tomorrow could well be a sign of a successful campaign. So far in the World Cups that Croatia have played at they have recorded two victories and three defeats in the opening games. And interestingly on the two times that they won their first match they went onto win medals, a bronze in 1998 and silver in 2018. Could a win tomorrow against Morocco also signal a medal in Qatar?
In France 1998 Croatia started the World Cup with a 3:1 win over Jamaica, with Mario Stanić scoring the first ever goal for Croatia at a World Cup. And then in the third-place match Croatia defeated Netherlands 2:1 with goals from Davor Šuker and Robert Prosinečki.
Interestingly Prosinečki holds a World Cup record, as he is the only player to have scored goals for two different countries. He scored for Yugoslavia in 1990 and for Croatia in 1998. And to add another twist he wasn’t actually born in either country, but rather in Germany.
And in 2018 Croatia opened the Russian World Cup with a 2:0 win over Nigeria, before going on to face France in the finals.