Sunday, 16 June 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

The City of Dubrovnik, through its Department of Tourism, Economy, and Sea, is currently conducting maintenance work on beaches and public bathing areas.

On 32 beaches and bathing sites within the city that are not under concessions, preparations for the bathing season include the installation of psychological barriers. These barriers are being set up by the Dubrovnik Diving Club, which is contracted to handle the installation, maintenance, and removal of the barriers, as well as their regular inspection.

Minor repairs are being made, and the beaches are being cleaned, leveled, and replenished with gravel as needed. Beach equipment such as ladders, showers, and changing cabins are being installed. Fences on the beaches and access to the sea are being repaired and painted as needed. In response to citizens' requests, the sanitary facility at Šulić beach is being repaired and will soon be operational again. Repairs to the pier in Pile and a small wall at the Belvedere bathing area will follow.

Lifts for people with disabilities have been installed at six Dubrovnik beaches: Mandrač in Solitudo, Copacabana, Zaton Veliki, the beach by the fire station in Zaton, the beach in Donje Čelo on Koločep, and the beach in Suđurađ on Šipan. In response to residents' requests, the lifts were installed earlier this year, and their operation was extended last year as long as weather conditions allowed.

The total budget allocated for these programs in 2024 includes 305,993.44 euros with VAT for the regular maintenance of public bathing areas that are not under economic concessions, and 11,950 euros for the installation, removal, and maintenance of psychological barriers in the sea.

In April, Croatia maintained its position among the EU countries with the highest retail sales growth, according to data released on Thursday by the European statistical office.

In both the eurozone and the EU, retail sales in April remained at the same level as the same month last year, the statisticians calculated.

In March, retail sales had increased by 0.7 percent in the eurozone and by 1.4 percent in the EU, revised data shows.

In the eurozone, only food, beverage, and tobacco stores recorded a decline in sales, by 0.5 percent compared to April last year. In the EU, sales of these products remained more or less at last year's level.

However, the strongest growth in the eurozone was seen in the broad category of non-food products, up by 0.4 percent, though roughly half the growth rate of the previous month.

Sales at gas stations increased modestly by 0.3 percent in the eurozone, while stagnating in the EU, according to Eurostat.

The highest annual retail sales growth in April was recorded in Bulgaria and Romania, at 9.8 percent.

Following Bulgaria and Romania, Croatia and Slovakia saw a retail sales growth of 8.6 percent compared to April last year. In March, Croatia had a growth rate of 8.9 percent.

Luxembourg also ranked among the countries with the strongest growth in April, with a sales increase of 7.3 percent.

According to the eVisitor system data, during May 2024, the Municipality of Konavle recorded 23,901 arrivals and 97,844 overnight stays, which is seven percent more arrivals and 31 percent more overnight stays compared to May 2023.

 

From the beginning of the year to the end of May, there were 39,059 arrivals, which is on par with last year, and 154,883 overnight stays, which is 22 percent more overnight stays compared to the same period last year. This data indicates that guests are staying longer on average compared to the same period last year.

 

In the first five months, hotels recorded 107,953 overnight stays, representing an increase of 14.7 percent, while private accommodations recorded 46,930 overnight stays, which is a remarkable 43 percent more than last year. The highest number of overnight stays was recorded by guests from the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Germany, Croatia, and Poland.

After the successful completion of the DANOVA project, the implementation of the DANOVA NEXT project began with a workshop on the assessment of needs and existing solutions for people with disabilities, held on June 4 at the University of Dubrovnik. The DANOVA project focused on improving transport accessibility for blind and visually impaired individuals, while the DANOVA NEXT project is expanded to include all other people with disabilities.

Hrvoje Spremić, Deputy Chief Director of the Ruđer Bošković Airport, presented the DANOVA NEXT project. Darijo Jurišić, the Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities, presented the legal framework for transport services for people with disabilities. Miho Katičić, Deputy Head of the Department of Education, Sports, Social Welfare, and Civil Society, presented examples of good practices in the City of Dubrovnik for equalizing opportunities for people with disabilities. These examples will serve as a template for the implementation of the DANOVA NEXT project.

The result of the EU project DANOVA is improved accessibility for blind and visually impaired individuals in Dubrovnik's transport infrastructure. Project partners included Dubrovnik Airport and Dubrovnik Port Authority, with active participation from representatives of the City of Dubrovnik and the public utility company Libertas Dubrovnik.

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Through its pilot actions, Dubrovnik Airport installed a total of 150 meters of external and 240 meters of internal tactile guiding lines. Additionally, 55 tactile warning fields were installed, 19 outside and 36 inside the terminal, along with 6 tactile orientation plans. Dubrovnik Airport and Dubrovnik Port Authority improved the accessibility of their websites for blind and visually impaired individuals. Dubrovnik Port Authority also marked points of interest within the Dubrovnik Port passenger terminal in Gruž with contrasting Braille stickers. The project also included training for the staff of the Airport, Port Authority, and other stakeholders to raise awareness and improve the quality of interaction with blind and visually impaired individuals.

In addition to managing a specialized vehicle for transporting people with disabilities, with costs fully covered by the City of Dubrovnik, the company Libertas Dubrovnik adapted the accessibility of its vehicles for people with disabilities. The introduction of voice announcements of bus stops on all city and suburban lines is underway, significantly facilitating the movement and transportation of blind and visually impaired individuals in the Dubrovnik area, as well as numerous visitors to Dubrovnik.

The Slovenian parliament approved the recognition of an independent Palestinian state on Tuesday, rejecting a request from the main opposition party to hold a referendum on the issue.

The vote followed the decision by the Slovenian government last week to follow Spain, Ireland, and Norway in recognizing Palestine as an independent, sovereign state, as part of efforts to halt the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Presenting Ljubljana's decision as a "message of peace," Prime Minister Robert Golob said it was an important step and a prerequisite for negotiations on a two-state solution.

The ruling coalition holds a majority in the 90-seat parliament. The document recognizing the Palestinian state was approved by 52 deputies, with one abstention and no votes against, while opposition representatives walked out of the session.

The Slovenian Democratic Party of former Prime Minister Janez Janša submitted a request on Monday for a consultative referendum on the recognition of Palestine.

According to Slovenian media, Janša said the government's decision to recognize Palestine had already caused long-term damage to Slovenia "because it supports the terrorist organization Hamas."

The Israeli Foreign Ministry condemned Slovenia's decision to recognize an independent Palestinian state last week.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz said that the decision, which the parliament would vote on, was a reward to Hamas for murder and rape.

In a statement, Katz said that the move also strengthened Iran, Israel's enemy, and harmed "the close friendship between the Slovenian and Israeli people."

Ireland, Norway, and Spain officially recognized independent Palestine last week. Sweden made this move ten years ago.

All these actions have strengthened the Palestinian issue globally but have angered Israel.

More than 140 of the 193 United Nations member countries recognize Palestine as a sovereign state. Western European countries and the United States have long been exceptions.

According to estimates by the Croatian Association of Employers, more than half a million foreign workers are expected to work in Croatia by 2030. There is a labour shortage across all industries, including trade. Increasingly, workers from distant countries, such as Nepal and the Philippines, are filling these gaps, with about 30 percent of foreign workers coming from these two nations.

The average salary in retail ranges from 700 to 1,000 euros. "Croatia often serves as an entry point for EU countries because the more developed countries of the European Union offer higher wages not only in trade but also in all activities," said Martin Evačić, president of the HUP - Trade Association.

And added "Given the labour shortage, we also employ people with primary education," he says, adding that he often hears customers' dissatisfaction with the service in stores. However, he notes, this is a reality not only in retail but across the entire economy due to the insufficient number of adequately qualified workers.

 

Alfonso Cuarón, the acclaimed Mexican filmmaker, will share his vast professional experience in a friendly, informal setting at Slano Film Days, while also getting inspired by young regional talents such as directors, actors, and cinematographers.

Cuarón, a Golden Lion winner and five-time Oscar winner, is one of today's most versatile directors. Notable films in his career include *Roma* (2018) and *Gravity* (2013), which earned him three and two Oscars, respectively. Other highlights are *Children of Men* (2006), *Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban* (2004), *Y Tu Mamá También* (2001), *Great Expectations* (1998), and *A Little Princess* (1995). As a producer, he has worked on many films, including the Oscar-nominated short film *Le Pupille* (2022) by Alice Rohrwacher. His latest project, the series *Disclaimer*, featuring Oscar winners Cate Blanchett and Kevin Kline, and nominees Sacha Baron Cohen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Lesley Manville, will be released soon.

Joining Cuarón at Slano Film Days are renowned filmmakers Paweł Pawlikowski, Ruben Östlund, Michel Franco, and Juho Kuosmanen. These directors, celebrated by audiences and critics alike, have won awards at major film festivals worldwide.

Slano Film Days will be held from June 18 to 22, 2024, in Slano and the Elafiti Islands. The main program will be hosted at the Admiral Grand Hotel, featuring evening screenings of award-winning films. The first screening will take place on the opening night at the central square in Slano, with other screenings at the summer cinema in the garden of Villa Riva. The event also includes informal gatherings for participants and guests.

Partnering with Slano Film Days is the Sarajevo Film Festival, which will organize CineLink workshops aimed at developing new film projects. These workshops have been fostering film professionals' ideas and projects for over a decade.

Croatian citizens mostly plan to travel within Croatia and Europe this year, with only a few planning to travel outside of Europe. On average, they will spend a little over 1,000 euros on their vacation, according to a new MasterIndex survey conducted on a sample of about a thousand adult citizens.

The traditional Mastercard travel survey conducted before summer was carried out by the agency Improve in March this year, with the note that the sample consisted of citizens who are banking service users. A striking 92 percent of them plan to travel this year, which is described as “optimistic” by the card company.

This year, about 77 percent of surveyed Croatian citizens plan to travel within Croatia, a little over half of them plan to travel within Europe, and only 6 percent plan to travel outside Europe.

Seventy percent of surveyed citizens plan to spend their summer vacation in Croatia, similar to last year, while 7 percent prefer to spend their summer vacation outside Croatia due to more favourable prices.

The biggest obstacle to travel and vacations for every fourth respondent is financial inability, while for 15 percent it is financial insecurity. The researchers also note that among those who do not plan to go to the coast this year, the majority (37 percent) live by the coast.

For half of those who wish to vacation in Croatia, private accommodation remains the most popular choice, similar to last year. Among them, 35 percent will stay in their own holiday home or with relatives and friends, 17 percent will stay in hotels, and only 4 percent in camps.

On average, they plan to vacation for ten days. If they are staying in their own or friends' accommodation, this extends to about 14 days, while it is around nine days in hotels and ten days in camps.

 

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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