Friday, 22 February 2019
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

Croatia and Fiji have signed a reciprocal agreement on the ending of visas for citizens travelling to either country. Croatians travelling to Fiji, and vice versa, will for now be able to travel for up to three-months without a visa. The visa free agreement was signed this week between the Governments of Fiji and Croatia.

In a signing ceremony hosted at the High Commission of Fiji in Canberra, Fiji’s High Commissioner to Australia, His Excellency Luke Daunivalu signed the agreement on behalf of the Fijian Government together with Croatia’s Ambassador to Australia, Her Excellency Betty Bernardica Pavelich Sirois.

The agreement allows Fijians and Croatian nationals to travel, transit through or stay in both Fiji and Croatia territories without a visa for up to three (3) months. With formal diplomatic relations having been established between the two countries in 1997, the visa waiver agreement introduces a much-needed mechanism to strengthen relations between Fiji and Croatia.

The reciprocal visa arrangement will, amongst other things, benefit Fiji in the areas of socioeconomic development, investment, tourism and educational partnerships. High Commissioner Daunivalu stated that “the signing is in line with the Fijian Government’s National Development Plan to enhance international trade and foreign relations.”

Both Ambassadors agreed that the signing is an important step towards exploring and strengthening of cooperation in economic, cultural exchanges and sports such as soccer and rugby, as well as tourism.

Do we control our phones or do our phones control us? Who is really in control. Drink a coffee in any bar in the world and you’ll see who really is the boss. I bet that the vast majority of people sitting at tables in what is supposed to be a social environment will be staring down at a blinking, blue screen. Glued to the screen, slaves to their phone.

I am one of the generation who can remember life before mobile phones, yes for younger readers there was a time that we communicated with our mouths and not with our thumbs. When the mobile was launched people thought that it would liberate our lives, that we would be free to work where we wanted, that we would all become closer and bring us all together and break down barriers. How wrong we were.

Of course the opposite happened and instead of being free and enlightened we became slaves to the monster in our pocket. Research shows even having a phone on a table nearby during a conversation diminishes trust and empathy, and lowers the quality of the relationship.

So when I lost my phone last week the first feeling was liberation, ok the first feeling was panic but soon after that liberation. To make matters worse I wasn’t even in Dubrovnik but in our capital. I had flown up for the day to a Brexit meeting, I seem to be having a lot of these in recent weeks. And later in the afternoon jumped in a taxi to take me to “the worst organised airport in the world” or as most people know it Franjo Tuđman Airport.

 

“Take a Zagreb taxi, they are the cheapest and the best,” commented a relative who I had met in snowy Zagreb. I came to the taxi line only to see a Zagreb taxi third in line in the queue. Undetermined by taxi etiquette I opened the back door of the taxi and jumped in. “To the airport please,” I said to the lady taxi driver. “Sorry but I am first in line you’ll have to get in the first one,” she replied, I was literally in her taxi for 6 seconds.

Unfortunately, when I asked the driver first in line he wanted a double fare to drive me. “Don’t worry I’ll call a radio taxi,” said my sister-in-law. Within minutes the taxi turned up and whisked me to the airport. I had planned to get to the airport early so as to meet a colleague and have a coffee. “Call me when you get to the airport,” he had said a few hours earlier. That’s when the problems began. I arrived at the airport and searched my pockets….no mobile! Panic! I ran back outside to see if the taxi was still there, maybe waiting for another passenger but he had disappeared into the cold night.

Luckily I had my iPad with me and so I connected to the free Wi-Fi in the airport and sent my wife a message. After some time she came back to me. “Your phone has been found in a taxi,” she answered. It turned out that my wife and my nephews had been constantly calling my number in the vain hope that someone would answer. Someone did, but it was a woman’s voice.

Yes, my mobile was indeed in a taxi but not the one I had actually taken to get to the airport but the one I had jumped in for six seconds. The slightly annoyed lady taxi driver was surprised to find a mobile on her back seat. I can only presume she had had a slow day. Negotiations for the recovering continued and she demanded a 50 Kuna fee to drive my mobile across the capital to my waiting nephew. Was it a fee to drive my mobile or was it a ransom fee? Safe in the knowledge that my mobile was coming home, although without me, I relaxed for a coffee with my friend in the airport. During our coffee his phone rang three times. Mine might have rung, I don’t know, and quite frankly I didn’t care.

Whilst on his second call I gazed around the café. Of the 18 people in the bar, 15 were glued to their phones. Busy collecting likes on Facebook or posting a photo of their coffee on Instagram. In a flash I felt liberated. Free from the shackles of my phone. I remembered an interview I had once listened to on the BBC with Denzel Washington, he said “Are you using your device, or is it using you?” Think about it the next time you are having a coffee with friends.         

Expected lower growth of exports between Croatia and other European Union members for this year has meant that the EU has lowered its estimate of Croatia’s GDP growth for 2019. Previously the European Union had stated that Croatia’s economy should grow this year by 2.8 percent however the new forecast on the back of the predicted export business has seen them now readjust that figure to 2.7 percent.

For concerning for the Croatian economy is that for 2020 the European Commission estimates that Croatia’s GDP will continue to slow down and reach only 2.6 percent.

In 2017 Croatia’s economy grew by 2.9 percent so if these new figures turn out to be actually correct then the economy is slowing down. For the first three quarter period of 2018 GDP in the country increased by 2.7 percent.

"Private consumption is expected to remain the main driver of growth, supported by improving labour market conditions, positive consumer sentiment, low interest rates and subdued inflation. Administrative data at end-2018 suggest that dynamic employment growth continues to drive a steady fall in the unemployment rate. Private investment is expected to continue its modest growth, as companies continue to enjoy favourable financing conditions. The projected pick-up in disbursements from EU funds should provide a boost to public investment, which will nevertheless stay well below pre-recession levels," stated the European Commission report.

Adding that “In view of the anticipated slowdown in Croatia’s main trading partners in the EU, goods exports are likely to grow more slowly than in recent years. Service exports are expected to continue performing well on account of an increasingly extended tourist season and sizeable investment in higher-end hotels in recent years. Bolstered by high domestic demand, imports of goods are set to remain strong, slowing only slightly over the forecast horizon and driving the goods trade balance increasingly negative.”

Croatia is a small and young but promising country. It’s full of potential, especially in the field of tourism, history, and economics. Not a lot of investors recognize its potential because it currently is not a very well-known country. However, if you can be one of the first investors to penetrate the country, you’re putting yourself ahead of others who may, later on, discover its potential, too.

Here are some of the top reasons why investing in Croatia is a smart business move:

1. The world is aware of Croatia's value.

Croatia is one of the top tourist destinations in the world. Every year, tourists flock to Croatia for its beautiful views, sunsets, and historical value. Because of the tourists that visit the country, this country already has a global value. This is a good indicator for investors like you as it would mean that you already have a steady influx of possible target market yearly – and one that is global. If you need more information and help about tourism investments, it’s always wise to consult a professional financial advisory firm like Capstone.

2. The people of Croatia are creative, innovative, and talented.

Croatians are innovative and quite intelligent. Thus, you can be sure that they can contribute much to your business. Not only will they work for you, but they can also give in insights that can lead to your business' success. Do remember that it is in Croatia where some things were invented, such as:

● Double-entry bookkeeping
● Antibiotics
● The MP3 player
● The ballpoint pen

3. Croatia is a member of the European Union.

Croatia is one of the newest members of the European Union. When you establish your business in Croatia, you have access to trade relations with the other countries within the European Union. You can import and export goods to other countries within the union freely. This is a significant advantage, as trade relations to countries within the EU are usually strict if you are not a member.

investing in dubrovnik is a good idea

4. Croatia's workforce is cheap but hardworking and multilingual.

Croatia's geographical location puts it close to other nearby European countries. Therefore, you shouldn't be surprised that, apart from their local language, many can speak foreign languages such as French, Italian, and Greek. Because Croatia is met with a large volume of tourists annually, its people can speak English. Therefore, you will not have a hard time communicating with and training your employees.

Further, labor in Croatia is quite cheap, compared with that in other European countries. Because the standard of living is quite low, there is no need to pay hefty wages to its workers. Plus, Croatians are known to be quite smart and hardworking.

5. Croatia has an excellent geographical location.

Croatia boasts harbors and airports that serve as a gateway to the rest of Europe. Currently, the ports of Croatia are open to international trade. Cargo from all over the world comes in and comes out of various ports such as in Dubrovnik and Split. As with airports, there are a lot of regional European airlines that take you from Croatia to the rest of Europe, and these flights operate multiple times daily. Because of its excellent geographical location, you can reach the rest of Europe in less than three hours.

6. Croatia's legal system is stable.

Before you decide to invest in a foreign country, you should always check if the laws of the states are in place, particularly laws concerning trade, business and commerce, and taxation. When you know that the laws of a country are intact, you are at least aware that there is a ceiling that operates to watch over how businesses interact with each other. The Companies Act of Croatia is the governing law in Croatia concerning businesses.

The legal business systems of Croatia include:

● General commercial partnerships
● Limited partnership
● Joint stock company
● Limited liability company
● Economic interest grouping

7. Expat families can also enjoy the various government benefits that locals enjoy.

One of the most significant concerns that you may have in mind when looking to invest in Croatia is that you may have to travel to the country regularly or you may have to live there for certain periods of time. When you choose Croatia as your next country to invest in, you will not have to worry about leaving your family behind; you can actually take them with you. Your children can even enjoy free government education, and your family can benefit from the subsidized healthcare as well.

Conclusion

These are only a few of the reasons why you should invest in Croatia. The advantages are numerous, especially with its relatively cheap workforce and strategic geographical location. The best part is that if you position your business in Croatia, you get to enjoy traveling regularly to a beautiful country while working!

PROMO

Green and Intermodal solutions for Adriatic airports and ports is a cross-border cooperation project co-funded by Interreg V-A Italy-Croatia CBC Programme with the aim to improve integration of Adriatic ports and airports with other modes of transportation in order to enhance the processing of passengers that are reaching the main touristic destinations located on Adriatic coasts and to improve environmental performances of the regional maritime and aviation system. The project with duration of 25 months (1 January 2019 – 31 January 2021) and a total budget of 2.104.217,00 Euro brings together some of leading Croatian and Italian ports and airports motivated to work together so as to make their facilities greener and more sustainable.

One of the main problem that characterize the Adriatic coastal area is the imbalance in the development of infrastructures and modes of transport, caused by low level of investments and insufficient approach to innovation. In Italy and in Croatia there are many maritime cities, which have to deal with a very high number of passengers, especially during the peak season. Even though the road transportation is still predominant, the number of people that are reaching Adriatic cities by ferries and airplanes is significantly increasing year by year. However, most of Adriatic ports and airports are suffering from lack of integration with various modes of transportation, causing serious traffic congestion problems during the summer season.

ADRIGREEN’s scope is to derive an innovative framework for supporting the Croatian and Italian airport and port to improve their environmental performances and connectivity with other modes of transportation. This will be based on several concrete and tangible outputs produced by the partnership through an integrate and transnational approach: i) international investigation on best solutions to be transferred on Adriatic coasts; ii) environmental assessments of involved ports and airports; iii) 2 Joint Actions Plans: intermodal measures and green and sustainable actions to be implemented; iv) testing of innovative solutions in involved territories; v) technical manual on identified practices; vi) cross-Border Forum of Green and Intermodal Ports and Airports to present solutions, explain benefits and share recommendations for new strategies.

The consortium with 10 partners is lead by Pula Airport (Croatia). The consortium is well-balanced in terms of involvement of ports and airports: Dubrovnik Airport, Dubrovnik Port Authority and Pula Port Authority from Croatia and Rimini Airport, Abruzzo Airport, Airports of Apulia, Southern Adriatic Port Authority, Central Adriatic Ports Authority from Italy. The scientific guidance is provided by the University Polytechnic of Marche.

Project Kick off meeting was held in Pula at 5-6 February 2019 where project partners were introduced and project activities, timeline and deliverables discussed.

The Deputy Director of UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre has praised everything the City of Dubrovnik has undertaken to find viable and sustainable solutions as responses to all the challenges in tourism.

Recognizing the 40th anniversary of the UNESCO World Heritage List and 10 years after the celebration of St. Blaise's Celebration on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in Dubrovnik on February 1, the Ministry of Culture and the City of Dubrovnik organised a conference entitled “Dubrovnik celebrates its heritage.”

In addition to numerous Croatian and international experts at the conference held at the University of Dubrovnik, the Deputy Director of UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, Lazare Eloundou, also participated.

“This conference is a great opportunity to evaluate all the efforts that have been taken on a state and local level over the past few years in order to implement the decisions of the World Heritage Committee from Doha in 2015,” commented Eloundou.

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“What is certainly to be noted and evident from all that we have seen today is the mobilization, in particular by the City of Dubrovnik, and I would really like to praise you finding applicable and sustainable solutions to answers to all the challenges you are facing in the field of tourism, but also to define sustainable management models,” added the UNESCO representative.

The Deputy Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre concluded that Dubrovnik is already an example of sustainable management of urban historic environments in southern Europe.

 

According to a new survey by Freedom House Croatia received 85 points from a possible 100 for its overall freedom of democracy. Freedom House complies an annual list for the levels of democracy across the globe. The American institution is a democracy and civil liberties watchdog and in their latest report democracy across the world is in decline.

Croatia fared relatively well in the latest report with a score of 85 from a possible 100. The highest ranked countries in the world were Norway, Sweden and Finland who all received a maximum 100 from 100 points. They were followed by Canada and the Netherlands with 99 points and Uruguay, Australia, Luxembourg and New Zealand with 98 points.

As far as Croatia’s direct neighbours are concerned only Slovenia ranked higher with 94 points. Serbia recorded 67 points, Montenegro 65, Macedonia 59 points, Bosnia and Herzegovina only 53 points and Hungary 70 points.

The lowest ranked countries in the world were Syria, the only country to record zero points, Tibet only 1 point and Turkmenistan, South Sudan and Eritrea with 2 points.

The report, titled Freedom in the World 2019, measured the state of democratic values using a series of indicators for 195 countries and 14 territories around the world. Based on their overall weighted scores, countries are categorised as either Not Free, Partly Free, or Free, and also ranked based on their individual scores from 0 to 100.

"In 2018, Freedom in the World recorded the 13th consecutive year of decline in global freedom. The reversal has spanned a variety of countries in every region, from long-standing democracies like the United States to consolidated authoritarian regimes like China and Russia. The overall losses are still shallow compared with the gains of the late 20th century, but the pattern is consistent and ominous. Democracy is in retreat," the report said.

The globally popular Swedish furniture and home accessories chain IKEA will open their first delivery centre in Dubrovnik. IKEA, who already have a mega store near Zagreb and a delivery centre in Split, will on the 14th of February open their first ever centre in Dubrovnik. The new IKEA Dubrovnik centre will be located in Župa in the Spiona Land shopping centre.

Speaking to The Dubrovnik Times IKEA commented that “On Thursday, 14 February, within the shopping mall Spiona Land, Gornja Čibača 14, the IKEA delivery centre Dubrovnik will start with its work. Through the new delivery centre, IKEA wants to make its solutions more accessible and affordable to the many people in Croatia.”

With a delivery centre in Dubrovnik IKEA customers in the region will now be able to order items from the online IKEA catalogue and pick them up in Župa. Before this new delivery centre IKEA customers in Dubrovnik either had to drive to Zagreb, pick their furniture up at the Split delivery centre or use one of the private delivery companies that operate in the region. Soon that will be in the past as the new delivery centre will open in a week in Dubrovnik.

“At the delivery centre customers will be able to take over the products that they ordered earlier through the IKEA web shop or that they bought at the IKEA Zagreb store. The cost of picking up the products at the delivery centre will amount to 99 Kunas for the products up to 1 ton,” stated IKEA to The Dubrovnik Times.

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A ton of goods from IKEA is a relatively large amount so basically for every delivery IKEA customers in Dubrovnik will pay an extra 99 Kunas on the total price. And with so many private apartments in the wider Dubrovnik region that rent to foreign tourists throughout the summer this is a great opportunity to furnish your apartment at reasonable prices.

“Through the opening of delivery centre in Dubrovnik, IKEA wants to additionally approach its products and solutions to the customers in Croatia and enable them savings. The delivery centres at the coast, in Rijeka and Split, followed by the one in Osijek, were opened earlier. IKEA continues now to explore the ways through which it can make its offer even more accessible to the many people in Croatia,” concluded a spokesperson for the Swedish company.

 

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The Voice of Dubrovnik

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