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.
Winter tourism, or rather the lack of winter tourism, in Dubrovnik has been an unsolvable problem for the city’s tourism experts for years. The latest move to address this conundrum comes from the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Andro Vlahusic, who has approached all the hotels in the region to cooperate in strengthening Dubrovnik as a year-round destination.
The core of the problem has been the lack of flights during the winter months. Although British Airways used to fly four times a week through the winter months this has now dropped to once a week, with no flights at all at the beginning of this year. Apart from British Airways no other international airline operates to the city through the winter. Tourists have been forced to fly through Podgorica Airport in Montenegro with Ryanair, or catch a connecting flight from Zagreb, to reach the “city for all seasons.”
In the mayor’s letter to the hotels in Dubrovnik he points out the importance of creating new programs outside of the summer season, he says that the intention is to change potential tourist’s perception of Dubrovnik as a summer holiday destination.
The first proposal is to offer subsidies to British Airways to fly outside of the main summer season. The mayor has sent a letter to BA offering to subsidise all empty seats on planes flying to Dubrovnik through the winter. In December the mayor met with representatives from the British national airline and presumably this move is in response to their conditions. For all empty seats, up to the average capacity, the City of Dubrovnik will pay BA £100 for flights from London and €100 for flights from Frankfurt and Istanbul. Britain’s favourite airline is yet to reply to the proposal, but an answer is expected in the coming weeks.
As a correct solution highlights the joint proposal for this purpose assembled a working group, which refers to the correction of residence tax season.
The idea is to raise finances through the summer months, with a slight increase in accommodation taxes, and for these extra funds to be dedicated to help fund winter tourism activities.
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall are set to pay an official visit to Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo in March. From the 14th to the 19th of March the Royal couple will tour the region and, according to a statement on the British Embassy in Croatia’s website, they will undertake a broad range of engagements to celebrate peace, reconciliation, youth empowerment and restoration.
On the 14th of March Charles and Camilla will begin their tour in Zagreb where they will be welcomed by the President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović. They also plan to visit the historic upper town of the Croatian capital and the Croatian National Theatre where the Royal couple will attend a performance by children celebrating the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare.
On the following day, the 15th of March, Charles and Camilla will travel to Osijek the largest city in eastern Croatia. This region was very much on the front line of the Homeland War between 1991 and 1995 and the Prince of Wales will attended a meeting with religious and community leaders.
The Duchess of Cornwall will also visit the State Stud Farm in Đakovo, one of the oldest horse farms in Europe, which was visited by Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh in 1972.
“Is this one of the sets for Star Wars...how cool,” shouted a group of Korean tourists today on the Stradun in Dubrovnik. Filming of the eighth episode of Star Wars begins on the 9th of March but already the set on the main street in the Old City is taking shape. Souvenir shops, bakeries and jewellery boutiques along the historic street now have a sci-fi facade. Shoppers were also seen entering the shops and trying to press the fake buttons that have been installed in the fibreglass sets.
Although the production company stated that the set would be under high security today there were only a few security guards present. Whilst the filming is taking place security levels will raise, as one waiter on the Stradun explained to The Dubrovnik Times today, “they have asked us to close the cafe bar at 2 o’clock in the afternoon so that they can film in peace.” In fact the Stradun will be closed during recording dates and pedestrians will be diverted onto a parallel street. The filming of the VIII episode of Star Wars in Dubrovnik begins on the 9th of March and continues until the 16th of March.
Check out our photo gallery from the set today.
It was a day of preparation and pruning for employees of the Dubrovnik parks department today. They had their hands completely full getting things ready for the summer season. With the help of the Dubrovnik fire brigade branches were trimmed on the plane trees on the Pile area in order to eliminate the danger of falling branches, as was the case last summer.
The director of the parks department commented that today’s action was part of the annual overhaul and that the palm trees on Pile would also be treated for red palm weevil, a species of beetle that has been attacking palm trees in the Dubrovnik region.
High up in the trees on Pile
The travel section of the popular UK daily newspaper “The Daily Mail” featured Dubrovnik on its front page today with the headline, “Adventures waiting to be discovered...”
The Daily Mail is one of the most popular newspapers in the UK with a daily circulation of around 1.7 million copies; it is also one of the oldest being founded in 1896. In fact after The Sun newspaper it is Britain’s second biggest selling newspaper.
The travel section highlighted the destinations that are popular for 2016 and Dubrovnik and Croatia were included. The UK is the top marker for Dubrovnik’s tourism industry with the most numerous guests to the city over the past five years coming from Great Britain.
Zagreb will be connected with direct flights from Seoul this summer season. Korean Air has announced that they will resume operations on the link between the South Korean capital and Zagreb.
Korean Air is the largest airline in South Korea. Korean Air operates flights to a range of European destinations including Prague, Frankfurt, Milan, Rome, Vienna, Paris, Moscow, Madrid and London.
Flights will start on the 20th of May and in total eleven planes from Korean Air will land at Zagreb Airport, from May to October. Around 350,000 Korean tourists visited Croatia in 2015, according to information from the Korean Embassy in Zagreb, and this direct air link will help to make those numbers even larger this year.
If you’ve ever visited a Croatian family home and you're not Croatian yourself you might think people there are plotting to kill you by trying to induce a lethal surge of cholesterol in your system. Especially if the home is populated by a granny or two. They can be pretty relentless in offering homemade food to all those who venture over the threshold.
Traditionally, when it comes to feeding our guests we tend to go a bit overboard as a nation. Our intentions are good, homemade food is usually nothing short of mouth-watering, but you better leave your caloric intake guidelines at home. Recommended serving size? Hah! We laugh in the face of international nutritionists. Yes, you can always choose not to eat what’s put in front of you. If you like causing international scandals, that is.
The lifestyle of Croatian Millennials may be similar to their Western counterparts, which was not the case with past generations, but we are still keen on putting out a decent spread when entertaining guests. My wife and I are no different. Just the other day we were expecting company and were preparing more food than would be humanly possible to eat. She was in charge of most of the preparation so she retreated in the kitchen some two hours before the guests were due to arrive and began churning out dishes as if we were catering a Christmas party for the European Parliament.
Ten minutes before guests arrived we packed the table with food until there was no more room for a toothpick. When our friends finally showed up, my wife did another very Croatian thing when hosting a dinner party:
“Hi! Welcome. We’ve had one hell of a day at work so I just whipped up a little something to eat at the last minute. Gosh, I hope it’ll be enough.”
Bozidar Jukic is a Dubrovnik local with too many interests to name them all, with writing being at the very top of the list. He is a lover of good food, music and film, and a firm believer in the healing power of laughter. His professional orientation is towards tourism and travel so it comes as no surprise he spends most of his time alongside Mrs. Jukic running their own local tour company. Their goal is helping travellers from all over the world get a more intimate experience of Dubrovnik and what it has to offer. To find out more about their work, visit their website or Facebook page.
The Dubrovnik Police Authority carried out an action yesterday to crack down on drivers using their mobiles phones. The penalty for taking on your mobile phone whilst driving in Croatia is 500 Kunas, unless you are using a hands free device.
In yesterdays police action 132 drivers were stopped for driving offences with a 120 of them due to talking on their mobiles phones.