Saturday, 24 February 2024
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

Iceland's budget airline PLAY is making headlines with its unconventional strategy, offering seasonal flights between Reykjavik and Split this summer and targeting Canadian passengers for the unique journey. Despite a whopping ten-hour transfer time in both directions, PLAY encourages travellers to embrace the long layover by incorporating a free stopover in Iceland. The airline, known for its affordability mission, operates flights to Hamilton (also known as Toronto Hamilton Airport), located about 64 kilometres southwest of Toronto.

PLAY's CEO, Birgir Jonsson, expressed enthusiasm for Split, hailing it as a dream destination with picturesque landscapes and a vibrant culture, reports EX-YU Aviation. Confident in their competitive edge, Jonsson stated, "Everywhere we go, we give the competition a run for their money. We want to make travel more affordable, and I am sure our Split services will be well received by Canadians who can also visit our beautiful country of Iceland at the same time."

Related - Inaugural Seasonal Flights Connect Iceland and Croatia

This unconventional move mirrors previous attempts by Canada's Air Transat, which scheduled seasonal weekly flights between Toronto and Split in 2019, only to cancel the service six months before its launch citing "commercial reasons." PLAY's bold offer aims to captivate adventurous travellers willing to embark on an extraordinary journey connecting two stunning destinations.

Real estate transactions across Croatia declined last year in most counties, while in nine of them, mostly in the north and east of the country, there was a higher number of sales than in 2022, according to the new portal of the Ministry of Finance, allowing for a comparison of the tax systems of European Union countries. The highest interest in real estate in the whole of Croatia was recorded in Varaždin.

In Varaždin and the Varaždin County, over 5,300 sales contracts were concluded in 2023, which is twice as many as the previous year, according to the Tax Administration data.

Real estate agent Dražen Mesec shed light on these trends in an interview with HRT.

In contrast to the broader national trend where the price per square metre is gradually decreasing, Varaždin continues to maintain relatively high real estate values. Quality older apartments command a price of €2,000 per square metre, while newly constructed properties are swiftly selling at around €3,500 per square metre.

The Varaždin real estate market has undergone substantial changes since 2010 when a two-bedroom apartment a popular neighbourhood could be acquired for €40,000 during the financial crisis. Today, such offers are scarce, and properties rarely dip below the €100,000 mark.

Related - Slovenes Take the Lead in Real Estate Purchases in Croatia

As real estate prices soar, particularly for houses, families, and investors are diversifying their portfolios to include family homes and land. However, this shift in the market is accompanied by challenges, as young families, with the average Croatian salary, find it increasingly difficult to afford newly constructed homes, prompting many to resort to multi-year loans.

Despite the surge in real estate prices, industry estimates suggest that prices in Varaždin have peaked and are expected to stabilize. Real estate agent Dražen Mesec emphasized that the market slowdown observed last year is likely to continue, with a stable pricing environment and a slightly reduced number of buyers compared to the previous year.

While there remains a robust demand for apartments, houses, and building plots, the market for castles in the Varaždin County is notably struggling to attract potential buyers, indicating a nuanced real estate landscape in the region.

The Croatian exhibition space stands out as one of the busiest at the New York Travel & Adventure Show, the largest U.S. tourism fair held on January 27 and 28. The presentation of Croatia at the fair was organized by the Croatian Tourist Board and the CNTB Representative Office in New York. Within the Croatian pavilion, 11 Croatian destinations showcased their offerings alongside numerous agencies and hotel companies.

"This is a renowned global tourism event, providing the Croatian tourism sector with an opportunity to highlight a wide range of domestic tourism products. The goal is to promote our country as a safe, accessible, and year-round destination. Croatia is known in the U.S. market for its breath-taking landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and warm hospitality. This recognition is evident among many agents and the audience, positioning Croatia as one of Americans' favourite European destinations," emphasized Leila Krešić Jurić, Director of the CNTB Representative Office in New York, marking the office's 25th anniversary this year.

Croatias Tourism Spotlight Dazzling Success at New York Travel Adventure Show 1

Photo - CNTB

The significance of the fair for promoting Croatian tourism is underscored by over 1,500 accredited agents, 400 media representatives, and a 30% increase in ticket sales compared to the previous year. The Croatian Tourist Board, for the second consecutive year, secures the exhibition pavilion where presentations of regions and private sector companies, along with meetings with American agents, take place intensively during the two-day event.

Croatias Tourism Spotlight Dazzling Success at New York Travel Adventure Show 2

CBS News at the Croatian stand in New York - Photo CNTB

"The presence of Croatia at such significant events, coupled with Croatian destinations being featured in the offerings of American tour operators and agencies, is crucial for Croatian tourism. The U.S. market is our most important distant market, contributing the highest tourist traffic, and we are very proud of the results achieved so far. Last year, we exceeded 700,000 arrivals from Americans for the first time, generating over 2 million overnight stays. In 2024, we expect a continuation of this positive trend and traffic growth," stated Kristjan Staničić, Director of the Croatian Tourist Board.

In recognition of the best and most creative approach to presenting to travel agents, the CNTB received a special award, making this year's appearance at the fair even more successful. The special award was presented to Director Leila Krešić Jurić by John V. Golicz, Director of the New York Travel & Adventure Show, in the presence of the Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to the U.S., Pjer Šimunović.

Croatias Tourism Spotlight Dazzling Success at New York Travel Adventure Show 3

Croatia a winner in New York - Photo - CNTB

This year, agents were treated to a tasting of Croatian wines, attended by over 200 agents, along with special prizes provided by Croatian co-exhibitors. Participation in the New York fair demonstrates Croatia's commitment to expanding its presence in the American tourism market and fostering international cooperation.

Among the destinations represented at the fair are the Tourist Boards of Dubrovnik-Neretva, Split-Dalmatia, Šibenik-Knin, Zadar, Lika-Senj, and Primorje-Gorski Kotar counties. Also, the tourist boards of cities such as Dubrovnik, Split, Šibenik, and Zagreb, along with joint representation by the tourist boards of the island of Hvar, showcase the diverse offerings of Croatian tourism.

 

The audience votes have determined that Martin Kosovec (18) is the winner of this season of 'The Voice Croatia.' Martin garnered a total of 88,504 votes.

The four finalists, eager to give their best, were selected by the viewers on Saturday. Ana Širić, Luka Novokmet, Jakov Peruško Rihtar, and Martin Kosovec, in the grand finale, reminded everyone of how it all began with a performance of the song from their auditions. They then sang a song they had prepared for their final solo performance in the competition, and all finalists bid farewell to the viewers who supported them throughout 'The Voice Croatia.'

Martin Kosovec took the first place, Ana Širić was second, Luka Novokmet claimed the third spot, and Jakov Peruško Rihtar secured the fourth position.

The winner received a contract with Universal Music Group and a music training award worth €25,000, provided by HRT.

As anticipated, the first of two Pizza Hut restaurants in Zagreb has recently opened its doors. The inaugural branch of this American fast-food restaurant chain, specializing exclusively in pizza, is located at Bolnička cesta 34, in the Vrapče neighbourhood.

If you're planning to treat yourself to pizza there soon, it's good to know that they offer pizzas in three sizes: Small (S) with a diameter of 23 centimetres, Medium (M) with 30 centimetres, and Large (L) with 38 centimetres. You can choose between a thinner or thicker crust, or a cheese-filled crust, which incurs an additional charge.

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Photo - Facebook Pizza Hut

Among the first visitors to Pizza Hut was the food influencer Marijana Zlomislić, who shared her entire experience on her TikTok profile. She mentioned liking the concept, being a fan of typical American pizzas with lots of cheese, and praised the pizza for being light, airy, and rich in toppings.

She also revealed that a Pepperoni pizza in size S costs €8, in size M it's €9.50, and in size L it's €11.50. The additional cost for a stuffed crust ranges from €1.50 to €3, depending on the pizza size. They also offer Ben & Jerry's ice cream, priced at €3.50 for a small cup.

 

The Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund has allocated €15 million this year to subsidize the purchase of energy-efficient vehicles for citizens. This marks the largest planned budget for this purpose to date, and a public call for citizens is expected by the end of the first quarter.

"In ten days, the Fund will announce a public call for expressions of interest from motor vehicle distributors. After all interested distributors submit available brands and models of energy-efficient vehicles, a public call for citizens will be issued, expected to be released by the end of the first quarter," says the Croatian News Agency (HINA), citing information from the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund.

Citizens will be eligible to receive up to 40% of funds for personal electric and plug-in vehicles, as well as motorcycles and scooters.

The subsidy amounts in the Fund have been slightly adjusted, but essentially remain at the same levels as in previous years - up to €9,000 for electric cars, up to €5,000 for plug-in vehicles, and up to €2,500 for motorcycles and scooters.

What's new is that, based on their analyses, they have limited the price category of cars eligible for co-financing to an amount not exceeding €50,000.

The Fund expects significant interest from citizens. They have secured sufficient funds so that there should be enough money for all interested parties. If needed, they plan to allocate additional funds based on their capabilities.

In addition to the record €15 million allocated exclusively for citizens, in the second wave of incentives, the Fund plans to secure additional funds for economic entities.

In collaboration with all relevant ministries, they emphasize their systematic efforts to promote measures for the decarbonization of the transport sector. It is possible that funds from EU sources will also be available for economic entities for this purpose.

Furthermore, they encourage infrastructure development. In addition to the dedicated public call for charging stations they had last year, as part of the public call for energy renovation of family houses, they provide an opportunity for citizens installing photovoltaic power plants to receive funds of €1,000 for home charging stations for electric vehicles.

 

Despite the calls from Hajduk fans in Split, the most reliable Italian transfer expert, Fabrizio Romano, brings the news that Saudi Arabia has made an offer for Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitić.

Al Shabab, the club currently coached by Igor Bišćan, is interested in acquiring him.

"Negotiations are ongoing," reports Romano, citing Spanish outlet Releva.

Contract terms are being discussed, and it seems Rakitić might be making a move away from Europe.

This season, Rakitić has made 27 appearances, scored two goals, and provided four assists in 2037 minutes of play. Throughout his career, he has played for Basel, Schalke, Sevilla, and Barcelona. For the Croatian national team, he has made 106 appearances, scored 15 goals, and won a silver medal at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

 

The Dubrovnik Tourist Board, in collaboration with the Croatian Tourist Board, is promoting Dubrovnik at the prestigious international tourism fair, Holiday World Show Dublin 2024, held from January 26 to 28, 2024, in Dublin, Ireland.

Holiday World Show Dublin is the most important tourism fair in Ireland, and Dubrovnik will have the opportunity to showcase its rich cultural heritage, gastronomy, natural beauty, and numerous tourist attractions that attract travellers from around the world to the loyal Irish visitors. Irish tourists, known for their love of travel, appreciate the rich cultural heritage and unique experiences that Dubrovnik offers. With its natural beauty, sea, sun, and islands, Dubrovnik is an ideal destination for Irish vacationers.

The Irish market is of exceptional importance to Dubrovnik. With 31,209 arrivals and 141,595 overnight stays, Ireland positioned itself as the sixth country on the top list of visitors to Dubrovnik in 2023. From the end of March to the end of October, Dubrovnik will be connected with daily direct flights to Dublin by low-cost airlines Aer Lingus and Ryanair, while Aer Lingus will fly to Cork twice a week. Ryanair continues its flights to Dublin twice a week throughout the winter.

Tourist traffic from the Irish market testifies to the popularity of Dubrovnik among Irish tourists. Dubrovnik, with its rich cultural heritage, natural beauty, and unique experiences, has evidently captured the hearts of Irish travellers.

 

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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