Wednesday, 28 October 2020
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

Don’t forget to move your clocks backwards this Sunday at 3 in the morning.

This Sunday, October 25, daylight saving time ends and clocks should be moved back an hour from 3:00am to 2:00am, meaning more daylight in the morning.

Whereas in previous years drivers across Croatia were obligated to turn on their lights at all times whilst driving from the end of daylight saving time this year that is not the case. The law has changed and now drivers have to have their lights on from the 1st of November to the 31st of march.

Also the electricity company, HEP, reminds consumers that with winter time comes a change in the timing for tariffs. Electricity consumed from 7 am to 9 pm is calculated according to the higher tariff (VT), and energy consumed in the period from 9 pm to 7 am according to the lower tariff (NT).

 

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Croatia has less than three percent denied visas for the United States, but they are unlikely to be abolished before the end of 2020, US Ambassador Robert Kohorst said on Monday, reports HINA.

Croatia "officially has less than three percent of denied visas," Robert Kohorst told reporters, confirming that Croatia had met that key conditions for entering the visa-free regime in the United States.

He added that some technical conditions still need to be met, and the American services on the ground to be convinced of all procedures in Croatia.

The ambassador says the whole process has been slowed by the Covid-19 pandemic, but he is "very confident" that visas will be abolished soon.

"It probably won't be before December 31, but it won't take long," Kohorst said today.

The abolition of visas has been an unresolved diplomatic issue in relations between the two countries for almost 30 years. To enter the visa-free regime, a number of preconditions need to be met, and the last that Croatia had to meet was less than three percent of rejected applications.

Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus are the only EU members whose visas have not yet been abolished by the United States.

 

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Whilst it might not have been a busy year for tourism in Dubrovnik it has however been a hectic one for the film industry. This autumn Dubrovnik has played host to a number of home-grown and international film productions.

From the Hollywood film, The Islander, starring James Cosmo, to Nicholas Cage and Pedro Pascal filming the upcoming movie, The Unbearable Weight of a Massive Talent, to the HBO production Oslo which has just finished a weekend shoot in the Old City. But one production almost passed under the radar, a Disney+ documentary about UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In fact, Disney filmed cultural and historical events and sites across Croatia for two weeks all for a documentary that will last 52 minutes.

 

 

 

This new Croatian based documentary is part of Disney’s adventure into the world of streaming TV, going head-to-head with the big guns of Netflix and Amazon Prime. And as Croatia and indeed Dubrovnik feature heavily with this new documentary it will also be great promotion for the city and its tourism industry. As one of the leading tour guides, Ivan Vuković, in Dubrovnik told us “This is great promotion. The documentary also includes the Game of Thrones sites, the impact of movie fans and cruise ship passengers on UNESCO sites, local life history and of course some truly great views.”

disney filming in dubrovnik 2020

Disney+, the streaming service of the Walt Disney Company, is moving its business model more towards a streaming service, and it would appear that the Covid-19 pandemic has motivated the entertainment company to move forward with these plans even faster.

“Managing content creation distinct from distribution will allow us to be more effective and nimble in making the content consumers want most, delivered in the way they prefer to consume it. Our creative teams will concentrate on what they do best—making world-class, franchise-based content—while our newly centralized global distribution team will focus on delivering and monetizing that content in the most optimal way across all platforms, including Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ and the coming Star international streaming service,” said Disney in a statement.

In the last 24 hours, 393 new cases of Covid-19 virus infection were recorded, and the number of active cases in Croatia today is a total of 5,070. The City of Zagreb again saw the highest number of new Covid-19 cases over the past 24 hours with 192 detected.

There are currently 571 people in hospital across the country and 35 people on a ventilator.

Unfortunately, over the past 24-hour period 11 more people have passed away due to Covid-19 in Croatia.

Since February 25, 2020, when the first case of infection was recorded in Croatia, a total of 25,973 people have been infected with the new coronavirus, of whom 374 have died, a total of 20,529 have recovered, 476 in the last 24 hours.

There are currently 21,329 people in self-isolation.

To date, a total of 400,636 people have been tested, of which 3,636 in the last 24 hours.

 

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In the last 24 hours, no new cases of Covid-19 infection have been recorded in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County.

14 people have made a full recovery - 8 from Dubrovnik, 2 from Župa and 1 person each from Vela Luka, Mljet, Konavle and Metković.

12 people tested positive for coronavirus are currently were hospitalized in the Dubrovnik General Hospital.

In the last 24 hours, 35 samples were processed, and since the beginning of the pandemic, a total of 17,034 samples have been analysed.

There are 539 people in self-isolation, and in the last 24 hours no violations of the self-isolation measure have been recorded.

 

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The Dutch airline KLM will connect the Croatian capital with Amsterdam with daily flights until the end of November.

The company plans to operate daily on this route in November, with E190 aircraft, with a capacity of 100 passengers. The daily direct connection between Zagreb and Amsterdam is extremely important, primarily because it is possible to continue the journey through Amsterdam to a number of European and world destinations, reports Croatian Aviation.

Croatia Airlines will also operate on this route every day, so Zagreb will be connected to the capital of the Netherlands twice a day.

The second KLM line in Croatia, between Amsterdam and Split, operates seasonally, and will end this year at the end of October. The last flight this year on the route Amsterdam - Split has been announced for Saturday, October 24, when this year's summer flight schedule ends.

 

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In spite of the Covid-19 pandemic and the travel challenges a major US travel conference will be held in Dubrovnik and 150 US travel agents are expected to attend.

ASTA Destination EXPO 2020 will be held from the 3rd to the 6th of December in the Valamar Lacroma Hotel and will be a great opportunity for the local tourism industry to network with one of the biggest travel markets for the city ahead of 2021.

At a meeting held between the City of Dubrovnik, the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, ASTA, Amcro Travel, Hotel Valamar Lacroma, Elite Travel and HIT Dalmatia all the participants agreed that the ASTA conference is an important step for tourism, especially due to the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. They all reiterated that holding this major conference is an optimistic and strong message to the entire travel industry. The conference will be held on a slightly smaller scale, in order to comply with all safety measures of the national headquarters and maintain the safety of visitors and hosts. About 150 American agents and advisers are expected to attend.

 

 

The conference "ASTA DESTINATION EXPO 2020", which will be held in Dubrovnik with the support of the Croatian Tourist Board and the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, is a unique opportunity to promote Dubrovnik and Croatia. The hosting of about 150 American tourism experts in Dubrovnik, who will negotiate deals directly with Croatian tourism service providers at B2B meetings, will surely make this conference the most important tourist event for Croatian tourism in 2020. Croatian travel agencies, hotels and other tourism service providers have expressed great interest in exhibiting at Trade shows and B2B meetings as part of the ASTA conference, and US agents will stay in Croatia for an average of 7-10 days, traveling through other parts of the country before and after the conference.

The American market is the second most important travel market for Dubrovnik after the British market, and in 2019 an impressive 159,146 American tourists stayed in Dubrovnik (16 percent more than in 2018), and 442,256 overnight stays were realized (15 percent more than in 2018).

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What has happened to Mexican soap operas? I mean where are they, they have disappeared from our TV screens. There was a time when every grandmother in Dubrovnik was glued to their screens all early evening watching Esmeralda or La usurpadora.

Every soap opera seemed to have the same actors, Gabriela Spanic who spent half the time crying and the other half with a face like she had lost her car keys, and Fernando Colunga, who reminded me of Joey from Friends.

They have all vanished from our screens. Not that I’m sad but now I know why children aren’t speaking Spanish anymore. Walk through a side street of the Old City as the sun was setting and all you could hear drifting from open windows was “Mi Amor” and “Te quiero.” As grannies got their daily fix of love and passion Mexican style. I didn’t even know they had been cut until my mother-in-law visited for a week.

I really can’t remember the last time I watched one of the main TV stations, it’s all Netflix and streaming for me nowadays, I’d even forgotten what the HRT logo looked like. “Oh, it’s 8 o’clock quick turn on the TV,” said my mother-in-law, “We’ll see what they’ll cook tonight.” It appeared that Spanic and Colunga had been replaced by Večera za 5 na selu (Dinner for 5 in the country) quickly followed by Superpar.

“Why don’t you watch those Mexican Telenovela soaps anymore,” I asked. “Uff, when did I even watch them,” she answered.

“Oh, The Biggest Loser is coming back soon,” she cheered as an advert appeared in the middle of her favourite cooking show. And then all of a sudden the volume on the TV went to mute, silence in the house. Had she turned the TV off? No. “Why did you turn the volume right down?” I asked. “I can’t listen to their voices, Uff, almost as bad as German,” she slid her chair closer to the screen so she could read the subtitles.

Looked like a scene from Istanbul. What was she watching now? Ok, now I understand Mexican soap operas have been replaced by Turkish ones. Same format, probably similar story line just different looking actors. Colunga and Spanic had been replaced by Yeşilçay and Burak Dakak.

Again actors spending unusually long periods of time looking at each other or off into the distance and every two minutes someone was crying. “What’s it called,” I asked. “Gulperi…sshhh I am reading,” she answered.

Quite by chance a few days later I tuned into the BBC and was surprised to see a soap opera that was a hit when I left the island. It’s set in London and called EastEnders. To my even bigger surprise was the fact that I even recognised a few of the actors. Now, the last time I watched this was over 22 years ago and the same bloody actors were in it then. There was even one actor who had been in the soap opera since it first started, and to give you some context the first ever episode was aired in 1985!

My first thought was thank God they don’t show EastEnders on Nova TV as my mother-in-law would be glued to that as well. It is basically a London version of Esmeralda, but instead of tequila and coffee they drink warm beer and tea.

The week long mother-in-law visit passed and the TV went silent again, or should I say Večera za 5 na selu was replaced by Netflix dramas and football matches. But then my mobile rang, “Oh, turn on the TV a new week of Večera za 5 na selu has started and all the contestants are fat…looks like The Biggest Loser has started early,” she laughed down the phone line.

 

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