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.
As part of the Travel News Market, the most significant business tourism event in Stockholm, Croatia has been named the best destination for weeklong trips in 2024. This recognition is based on research conducted by the professional magazine Travel News and Nordic Bench, which declared the top destinations in several categories.
"Another in a series of awards for Croatia confirms that we have had a very successful tourist year, achieving excellent results in many markets. These positive outcomes and trends provide the best foundation and introduction to the upcoming year, which will be very challenging. However, awards like these confirm that Croatia will remain a significant player on the tourism map of Europe in the coming years," said Kristjan Staničić, director of the Croatian Tourist Board.
The research surveyed 1,500 Swedes across the country to discover what is most important to them when choosing vacation destinations. Three categories of travellers were identified: those seeking value for money, those prioritizing safety, and those preferring luxury travel. In the "Affordable Week" category, awards were given for the weekend destination of the year, the weeklong destination of the year, and the long-haul destination of the year (distant markets). Croatia won the title of the most accessible weeklong destination for 2024, competing against countries and destinations such as Mallorca, the Canary Islands, Cyprus, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Albania.
"This recognition, coming after another successful season, is an indicator that we are still recognized in this market and in people's focus, giving us hope for another successful season. It is especially gratifying that this result comes directly from potential guests we count on in the future, and that we have managed to position ourselves as a desirable destination in the minds of the Swedes," emphasized Vedran Sušić, director of the Croatian Tourist Board Representation for Scandinavia.
Croatia was represented at the Travel News Market by the Croatian Tourist Board Representation for Scandinavia, which participated in numerous meetings with partners and media. The Travel News Market Event brought together tour operators, airlines, travel agencies, travel planners, MICE experts, and providers of various services from around the world. More than 150 exhibitors participated, over 1,000 meetings were booked, and numerous seminars were held.
According to the eVisitor tourist check-in and check-out system, this past weekend in Dubrovnik, there were two and a half thousand tourists - five percent more than this time last year.
Alongside domestic tourists, the most numerous guests come from Germany, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the United States, and France.
Since the beginning of the year, there have been nearly 1,206,000 arrivals and just over 3,811,000 overnight stays, which marks a nine percent increase compared to the same period last year.
In the so-called "white strike," judges, unlike their court recorders who went on strike after them, managed to secure significantly better salaries. However, they are still not satisfied, as reported by Jutarnji list on Monday.
The Croatian Association of Judges (UHS) slammed the Ministry of Justice and Administration with demands that would more than double coefficients for some judges compared to the current rates, resulting in an average net salary increase of about 1100 euros.
The union's request for a salary increase has caused concern in the Ministry because the pressure, already significant from the judiciary, and according to the latest demand, would entail an additional 70 million euros annually from the budget to be directed towards judges' salaries, disrupting the "harmonization of the salary system in relation to civil servants, as well as the prescription of rights to other material benefits."
Apart from demands for increased coefficients, judges listed 12 additional items where they seek extra rights, from bonuses and Christmas bonuses to assistance in case of extended sick leave.
The Ministry in charge states its openness to discussions with judges for further regulation of the salary system concerning civil servants, as well as prescribing other rights besides salary. However, they emphasize the need to regulate the salary system in the public administration, which includes reforming the payment systems for officials and employees in the judicial system.
Local judges, it should be recalled, supported the strike of officials and employees in the judiciary, as after their white strike, their salaries increased by about 500 euros, an amount their court recorders worked an entire month for, as reported by Jutarnji list.
The International Book Fair Interliber 2023, which concluded on Sunday evening at the Zagreb Fair (ZV), was visited by over 120,000 visitors this year, and publishers achieved a 20 percent higher income.
Renata Suša, the director of ZV, emphasized the high attendance at the fair, noting that during the six days of its duration, parking spaces around ZV were filled with cars and buses.
Interliber was visited by people from Slavonia, Bosnian Posavina, and Dalmatia via organized bus transport, she mentioned, and added that Croatian publishers were particularly pleased with this year's Interliber. Publishers, as highlighted by the fair's director, Dina Grozdanović Poštolka, had a 20 percent higher income this year.
The fair was also visited by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who highlighted that with the government's support, the publishing and bookstore industry had overcome the crisis before, during the time of COVID, and in the recent past in a good and qualitative manner. He emphasized that Croatia publishes four to five thousand new titles annually and added that publishers are satisfied with the income and tremendous turnout.
When asked if he was satisfied with the commercial aspect of the business at this year's Interliber, the Managing Director of Školska knjiga, Ante Žužul, responded that the multitude of people around the sales booths best confirms his satisfaction. People are looking at new titles, buying them, and as a house that publishes enduring literature, we offer previously published handbooks, monographs, studies, and literary works at significant discounts that are indeed purchased, said Žužul.
ZV highlighted that this year at Interliber, whose special guest was Indian diplomat and writer Vikas Swarup, author of the novel Slumdog Millionaire, more than 200 hours of professional programs were held on two stages in pavilions 6 and 7, and outdoor concerts and performances by young DJs were held in front of pavilion 5. As part of the program for children and youth entitled "Hundred Percent Literate," several educational workshops were organized, such as Financial Literacy, a Small Glagolitic Workshop, a workshop on media literacy for children and youth - UNICEF, and workshops on Graffiti Street Art organized by Rockmark.
The title "Tourist Destination of the Year - Champion of Croatian Tourism" will be celebrated in in Dubrovnik tomorrow with a gala concert on the Stradun.
On Tuesday, November 14, the City of Dubrovnik and the Dubrovnik Tourist Board are organizing a celebration on Stradun with a performance by popular singer Goran Karan.
The concert begins at 7:00 PM on the stage in front of the Church of St. Blaise. Dubrovnik bartenders from the Croatian Bartenders Association will ensure a special offer of cocktails for our fellow citizens and visitors to enjoy for free.
From 6:00 PM until midnight, transportation on all city bus lines provided by the public transportation company Libertas will be free.
Let's remember, at the Annual Croatian Tourism Awards ceremony in Rovinj, Dubrovnik was awarded the main prize - "Tourist Destination of the Year - Champion of Croatian Tourism."
This year, the City of Dubrovnik has already received the title of the best large city for living in the country overall and also the best in the Smart City category. It has also won four international tourism awards: "Meeting Star" in the category of medium destinations for hosting congresses, "Best Leisure Destination for Groups," "Europe's Leading Cruise Destination 2023," and "Europe's Leading Seaside Metropolitan Destination."
Money transfers to another account often take several days, but there is a solution in the form of real-time transfers. However, many banks charge additional fees for this service. Nevertheless, new EU regulations enable transfers within a few seconds, free of charge.
You might have noticed: besides the standard method, there's a faster way to transfer money. Real-time transfers move funds from account A to account B in just a few seconds. 'Normal' transfers take at least one day but can take longer due to public holidays or weekends.
The trick of the banks is that if you want to make a real-time transfer, many banks also demand an additional payment for this service. You'll have to pay a fee for the transfer. The amount of the fee varies from bank to bank and from account to account but can be several euros.
The EU Council and the European Parliament have agreed that this practice should come to an end in the future.
The final decision hasn't been made yet, but the direction is set: the new rules will be applied in the EU, as well as in Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein, after a transition period. However, the parliament and member states need to reach an agreement first.
According to the temporarily agreed rules, banks offering standard transfers in euros must also provide real-time transfers. Fees for express transfers must not exceed the charges for regular transfers. Since regular transfers are usually free, real-time transfers will also be free of charge.
As early as 2022, the European Commission introduced a proposal for a regulation to increase the adoption of fast transfers and facilitate consumer access.
According to a European Commission report, only about 11 percent of all transfers in the EU are processed in real-time, likely due to high fees. Once the decision is adopted, real-time money transfers could become the new standard.
The Plitvice Lakes National Park has been awarded the prestigious Green Destinations Award for sustainability. This recognition not only confirms the adoption of sustainable practices at Plitvice but also signifies that it will be promoted globally as a "green destination" for environmentally conscious tourists.
Ecologically aware tourists seek destinations that implement sustainable practices, and in Croatia, this certification is held by Plitvice Lakes National Park, Međimurje County, and the town of Mali Lošinj. This signifies the acknowledgment and validation of their current responsible practices. It also provides a framework for continuous two-year monitoring and improvement upon the existing practices during the upcoming assessment.
The director of Plitvice Lakes National Park, Tomislav Kovačević, stated that the Green Destinations certification is an affirmation of significant progress in fostering sustainability at Plitvice. It serves as an impetus for the park's management to further enhance and create new sustainable practices. Kovačević highlighted that Green Destinations offers guidance for sustainability enhancements, improved communication regarding sustainability with staff and the local population.
Over the next two years, during the revaluation of the certification, a sustainability coordinator will be appointed. Efforts will focus on visitor monitoring, reducing harmful gas emissions—especially in transportation—and transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. Additionally, local inhabitants will be involved in environmental protection and sustainable, indigenous tourism goals. Feedback from tourists regarding the sustainability of the destination will be monitored, emphasizing the importance of an authentic experience by strengthening local culture and traditions and implementing them in the real life of the destination.
The Green Destinations certification process includes 84 criteria across four dimensions of sustainable development: social, environmental, economic, and cultural.
UNESCO's concerns have been addressed in recent years by reducing visitor pressure on the Plitvice Lakes National Park through a visitor management plan, alleviating objections raised by UNESCO, which has listed the site as a World Heritage Site since 1979. The area represents the richest biological and geomorphological region in Croatia, and its preservation is of public interest for the country and the world. Therefore, it should be safeguarded from excessive tourism exploitation and overdevelopment, risks that UNESCO highlighted for Croatia in 2016.
Kovačević mentioned that UNESCO's monitoring previously alerted to issues of overcrowding in visitor zones and inadequate solutions for wastewater. These problems have been rectified through the implementation of a visitor management plan and the installation of wastewater treatment facilities. Further steps are being taken to develop sustainable tourism in the region, guided by Green Destinations' recommendations.
Addressing the most sensitive issue—the number of visitors in July and August—remains a priority, although the visitor management plan has proven successful. The average daily number of visitors this summer was ten thousand. Efforts are directed at providing necessary information about the destination and proper conduct within the park to all visitors.
Plitvice Lakes National Park actively collaborates with both domestic and international protected areas. The park's experiences and techniques are utilized in preserving travertine barriers at Ruidera Lakes in Spain, which were damaged due to hydroelectric projects. Through the Green Destinations network, this collaboration will expand.
Green Destinations conducts activities on climate change, public-private sector collaboration for sustainability, national and regional perspectives, destination management, sustainable solutions for tourism businesses, communication of sustainable practices, planning sustainable events, and digital transformation in tourism. A specialized team in Plitvice is implementing these strategies.
Dubrovnik was declared the Champion of Croatian Tourism at last night's ceremonial annual tourism awards as part of the Croatian Tourism Days event in Rovinj.
The doyen of the Neretva tourism offering, Pavo Jerković, received an award for the tourism programs of tangerine picking and photo safaris. The award for 'Man, the Key to Success in Tourism' in the category of best bartender was given to Mario Ljiljanić from the Dubrovnik Hotel Bellevue.
The recognition was received by the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Franković. The most significant tourism award in Croatia went to Dubrovnik, once again affirming its excellence, attractiveness, and efforts in managing the destination and achieving sustainable tourism. The award was presented by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia, Andrej Plenković.
"I am very proud that this award is coming to our city. This is recognition for all our fellow citizens who work hard to maintain and enhance the quality of Dubrovnik's tourist offerings, as well as for all the efforts we have made to guide Dubrovnik towards sustainability, for the benefit of our citizens and the satisfaction of our visitors. An extremely important role was played by the 'Respect the City' project, whose implementation positioned us as leaders in sustainable tourism in the international professional community," said Mato Franković, the Mayor of Dubrovnik.
This year, the City of Dubrovnik has already earned the title of the best big city to live in the country overall, as well as the best in the Smart City category. It has received four international tourism awards: 'Meeting Star' in the category of medium destinations for holding congresses, 'Best Leisure Destination for Groups', 'Europe's Leading Cruise Destination 2023', and 'Europe's Leading Seaside Metropolitan Destination'.
"This is our fifth tourism award this year, but also the dearest, speaking to Dubrovnik's return to where it belongs, on the path of sustainability. This encourages us to continue in the same direction. I believe that tonight, all Dubrovnik citizens are very proud," also stated Mayor Franković.
The Croatian Tourism Days 2023 are organized by the Croatian Tourist Board, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the Croatian Chamber of Economy, and the Croatian Radiotelevision.