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.
July, the height of the tourist season, in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County was yet another challenging month for the tourism industry with occupancy rates down 60 percent on last year. The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the Dubrovnik region the hardest, with flights severely limited and hotel rooms and private accommodation half full. Whereas other regions, especially the north of Croatia and Istria in particular, are seeing growing numbers of tourists Dubrovnik is still way down on numbers compared to previous years.
During July 2020, there were 132,173 tourist arrivals and 862,649 overnight stays in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, this means that across the county only 41 percent of the overnight stays, compared to July 2019, were achieved.
And without doubt the main reason for these less than impressive figures are the lack of guests from the county’s traditional travel markets, such as the UK, US, South Korea and Australia. In fact, the Dubrovnik-Neretva County Tourist Board stated that “Absence of tourists from the USA, Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and other intercontinental tourists and tourists from a number of European countries such as Finland, Norway, Ireland (countries where Croatia is among the countries with mandatory fourteen-day quarantine upon return into the domicile country), strongly reflects on the tourist results in the Dubrovnik - Neretva County.”
There are currently, 36,624 tourists vacationing in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, of which 29,190 are foreign guests and 7,434 are domestic, which is 50 percent down when compared to the same day last year. The most numerous are domestic tourists, followed by tourists from Poland, Slovenia and Germany.
22,000 tourists are currently vacationing in private accommodation, or 53 percent of traffic since the beginning of August 2019, while about 8,000 tourists are registered in hotels, which is 39 percent compared to the beginning of August last year.
There will soon be some respite from the melting temperatures that have boiled Dubrovnik over the past few days. This weekend was a mini heat-wave with temperatures in the shade reaching a baking 35 degrees, and without a cloud on the horizon it’s been wall to wall blue skies.
August certainly opened in fine form with typical summer weather. There is, according to forecasters, going to be a short pause from the heat with a storm expected to roll over the south of Croatia from Tuesday. The Croatian Metrological and Hydrological Service predicts that the storm will run all the way down the Croatian Adriatic coast, starting in Istria on Monday and working its way to Dubrovnik by late afternoon on Tuesday.
Forecasters expect that Wednesday will be the wettest, and indeed coolest day, as the storms hit with highs to drop to around 21 degrees, almost a cold snap in the middle of August. Thursday will be a mixed bag with showers and sunshine and temperatures also around 22 degrees. But by the end of the week normal Dubrovnik summer service will be resumed, the clouds will clear, and a sunny and warm day is on the cards. Next weekend will also see calm and warm weather with zero chance of rain.
The sea temperature in Dubrovnik is currently around 25 degrees.
Ryanair, one of the largest low-cost airlines in Europe, has reopened flights between Frankfurt and Rijeka. The first flight from Frankfurt, Hahn Airport, took off yesterday, writes Croatian Aviation.
The Ryanair flights will operate until the end of October, and this first flight had 133 passengers on board.
The flights will run on a weekly basis, every Saturday, until the 24th of October, and this is good news for Croatia’s tourism industry as German tourists have shown the most interest in visiting Croatia.
This isn’t the only Ryanair flight to Rijeka this summer as the airline is alsp operating flights to London Stansted.
In the past 24 hours there have been 36 new cases of Covid-19 detected in Croatia, meaning that the number of active cases in the country is currently 738.
The highest number of new cases was recorded in the Vukovar-Srijem County, with 26 new cases, followed by the Split-Dalmatia County, with 11 new cases, and the City of Zagreb with 8 new cases. In fact, the Vukovar-Srijem County has the highest number of active cases in Croatia, with 173 cases, followed by the City of Zagreb with 143 cases and the Split-Dalmatia County with 124 active cases.
There are 131 patients in hospital across the country and from this number 6 are on a ventilator.
Unfortunately, over the past 24 hour four people have passed away in Croatia due to Covid-19.
Since February 25, 2020, when the first case of infection was recorded in Croatia, a total of 5,260 people have been infected with Covid-19, of which 149 have died and 4,373 have made a full recovery.
There are currently 2,662 people in self-isolation, and to date, a total of 121,320 people have been tested, of which 984 were tested in the last 24 hours.
In the last 24 hours, no new cases of Covid-19 infection have been recorded in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County.
As of today, two people have been cured, one from Župa and one from Metković.
A total of 6,238 samples have been analyzed since the beginning of the pandemic.
There are currently no hospitalized people positive for Covid-19 in the Dubrovnik General Hospital.
There are 179 people in self-isolation, and in the last 24 hours there were no violations of self-isolation measures. Since the beginning of the pandemic, a total of 47 cases of self-isolation violations have been identified.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused mayhem with the world’s airlines and Croatia Airlines is far from immune from the negative effects. The national airline of Croatia has announced that they expect a decline of 60 percent in passenger numbers this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2019 Croatia Airlines carried 2.179 million passengers, which was a record year for the airline, reports EX-YU Aviation.
It looks extremely likely that Croatia Airlines will carry under a million passengers for the first time since 1999. In April passenger numbers were down by a massive 95 percent, which is logical due to the almost complete lockdown of air traffic across Europe, and the fact that only Zagreb Airport was actually open. This downward spiral continued in May, down 94 percent and June by 81 percent.
EX-YU Aviation reported that “Croatia Airlines said it is too early to estimate the financial loss resulting from the crisis, as the pandemic is still ongoing and hindering traffic. The carrier has cancelled plans to launch new services to Podgorica and Sofia this year and has discontinued operations to Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki and Tel Aviv. It recorded a 14.6 million euro loss during the first quarter.”
The Mayor of Dubrovnik is pulling out all the stops in the media campaign to save Dubrovnik’s tourist season. 2020 will certainly not be remembered as a great tourist year for the city as the Covid-19 pandemic has hit Dubrovnik the hardest in Croatia, mainly due to the fact that the vast majority of the city’s tourist arrive through the airport. And combine this with the fact that for the past few years the main travelers have been from the UK and the US and you have a recipe for disaster.
Yesterday the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Frankovic, spoke to journalists from the Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun.
Commenting on his Facebook account the mayor said “We are not standing still! After Bloomberg, Reuters, ABC News, today I spoke to reporters from the leading Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun. Emphasizing that Dubrovnik is a safe city, ready for all the challenges that these challenging times bring and always spreading a positive story about the city. Despite the difficult times, the increase in the number of planes arouses optimism. And, with this kind of marketing promotion of Dubrovnik in the world these days, only the best tourist countries in the world can be compared. One step ahead of everyone, safe and determined!”
Due to global rules of physical distancing introduced due to the coronavirus, flu rates are at record lows, early data show, signaling that the measures have an unprecedented impact on other infectious diseases.
In China, where the earliest quarantine measures began, new reports of infections including mumps, measles and sexually transmitted diseases show a significant decline, with the number of people infected with the flu experiencing the sharpest decline.
The number of infections, which have been reported by the Ministry of Health on a monthly basis since the beginning of quarantine, has dropped by 90 percent, from an average of about 290,000 cases a month to 23,000.
The Canadian Influenza Surveillance System also reported “extremely low levels” of influenza, as did other states that report data on a weekly basis, including Britain and Australia.
In its latest weekly report, the South Korean Infectious Diseases Portal reported an 83 percent decrease from last year.
“We have the lowest rate of other viral infections ever for this time of year,” said Ma Marais, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Sydney and a doctor in the pediatric ward of Westmead Hospital.
“We usually have wards full of kids with breathing difficulties at this time of year, during the winter ... but this year the wards are mostly empty,” he said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are three to five million seriously ill and up to 500,000 deaths from seasonal flu globally.