Friday, 19 August 2022
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 course of the main tourist season is excellent, we are approaching the record year of 2019 and the income will be large, said the director of the Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ) Kristijan Staničić, on Monday.

He added that at the moment Croatia has around 96 percent of overnight stays and 90 percent of arrivals compared to 2019. Today, there are about one million and one hundred thousand tourists in Croatia.

And he commented on the forecast of the Croatian National Bank (CNB) that Croatia will earn about 7 percent more from tourism this year, which is about 800 million Euros more, compared to 2019.

Namely, according to CNB estimates, tourism revenues could reach 11 billion 300 million euros this year. "We have great announcements for the postseason, so at the end of the year we will add up the indicators and income, for sure the season will be great", assessed Stanicic.

Today, the 15th of August, is a national holiday across Croatia, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Great Assumption is a holiday when the Catholic faithful remember the dogma of their faith that the Blessed Virgin Mary, after the end of her earthly life, was taken up to heaven in soul and body in the company of her resurrected son Jesus Christ.

The doctrine of Mary's ascension into heaven was proclaimed on November 1, 1950 by Pope Pius XII, and the official proclamation was preceded by a long tradition of celebration, as old as Christianity itself.

The popular actor Goran Višnjić, one of Dubrovnik's Hamlets, has arrived in Dubrovnik again on vacation. Višnjić, who played Dr. Kovac in the popular serial ER, has fond memories of Dubrovnik, and the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. While rehearsing and acting in Lovrjenec in the 1990s, Goran, like most actors and other theatre crews, used to go to the cult cafe Talir during the festival.

Although he has been living and working in the United States for a long time, Višnjić is a regular visitor to the City and the festival. And he took the time whilst in the city to visit his old friend, Frano Cetinić at the art gallery that carries the same name as the cult café, Talir.

Former Croatian President, Kolinda Grabar Kitarović spent the day on Lopud yesterday and dined at the Dubrovnik restaurant.

The Croatian politician and diplomat, who held the position of President of the Republic of Croatia from 2015 to 2020, looked summery and relaxed.

Before becoming the Croatian president, she was the ambassador of the Republic of Croatia in Canada and the USA. When she accepted the position of assistant secretary general of NATO, she became the highest-ranking woman in the history of that alliance, and thus one of the most prominent diplomats and women in the political world.

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“Walking gets the feet moving, the blood moving, the mind moving. And movement is life,” once wrote Terri Guillemets. Very true, movement is life.

So after much deliberation and planning my wife and I are going on a walk, well an adventure. And we’ve decided to jump right in at the deep end by taking on the longest continuous path, the South West Costal path. It is a mammoth walk. A grand total of 630 miles or almost 1,100 km, so basically like walking from Dubrovnik to Zagreb, turning around and walking back to Dubrovnik.

And with so many hills that it is equivalent to climbing up Everest four times. And if you’ve got one of the step counters on your mobile we will roughly be taking 1.6 million steps!

Why, I can hear you ask. Well, my first answer would be because I can. Life is short. And facing challenges like this will be an unforgettable experience. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. And years ago when I was undecided as to whether to move to Dubrovnik from the capital of the UK a good friend said, “If you really want to do it then just do it, or you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.” He was right.

south west coast

There is also a much more important reason for going. My father loved this coastline, he liked it so much that we moved from the south east of England to the south west when he retired. And he loved the coast and the coastal path. I’m guessing that he would have loved to have walked the path. So after he died I made a promise to myself that I’d walk the path in his honour.

I’m not really the most religious person but I do believe that whilst we are walking that he will somehow see the walk through my eyes. And I can’t let him down, I’ve got to finish.

Am I ready? Well, probably not. But are you ever ready? We’ve bought all the gear, so on that front we are ready. Rucksacks, tent, walking boots, dried food and jackets are all packed. Yes, tents because we’ll be doing a lot of camping. And on a physical level, probably more important, I have been doing some training, I did 10 km a day for six months, rain and sun.

But I still don’t feel that prepared. However, I do have one ace in my sleeve. You can prepare, pack your rucksack and plan your route, but the one thing that you can’t pack is determination. I have this is abundance, sheer bloody-mindedness, like a horse with blinkers only seeing one goal. Yes, I get that from my father.

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How long will it take? Roughly two months of pretty much continuous walking. In fact, not many people do it in one go, most split it up into sections, we are going hard-core. So almost all of September and October we’ll be “on the road” and out of office. In fact, I’ll be a digital nomad, literally, as I’ve found room in my rucksack for a laptop.

Now, it is important to both of us that the walk has a connection between Croatia and the UK. We are linked. So we’ll be raising money for two charities, one in the UK for dementia and one in Croatia for animal welfare. Animal welfare is an obvious one given our love for animals, and in fact my dog (Toto) will be joining us (although he doesn’t know this yet) and dementia in my father’s name. And of course we’ll be spreading the word about Dubrovnik on the walk. The more publicity the more money we’ll raise for these worthy charities.

Have I ever attempted anything like this before? NO. Not even close. It’s like a learner driver sitting in a Formula 1 machine and making a few laps of a face course. There will be ups and downs, bumps along the road and hairpin bends, but we’ll reach the finish line. Of that I am sure.

Life flashes by in the blink of an eye, a fact that I was sadly reminded of with the passing away of a colleague and friend last week. He was someone who lived their dream, who pushed his boundaries and grabbed life with both hands. Above all he was kind, a gentleman who understood honour.

So, we’re in our final stages of preparation. Toto Travels is the title of the social media that we’ll be uploading almost every day, both to open this stunning part of the UK to a larger audience, as well as to help raise funds. It is without doubt the most difficult thing, both physically and mentally, I’ve ever done in my life. But with determination, and the knowledge of why we’re actually doing it, we’ll do it.

Wish us luck, we’re off in a few weeks, let the adventure begin! 

Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to

             

The World Cup in Qatar is getting ever closer, and the coach of the Croatian national team, Zlatko Dalić, spent a few days in Vela Luka on the island of Korčula.

He firstly attended the concert dedicated to the memory of the singer Oliver Dragojević, and then took some time out to relax and prepare for the upcoming World Cup.

Dalić was happy to chat with locals and talk football as well as pose for photos.

Currently, almost one million and 100 thousand tourists are staying in Croatia, of which about 942,000 are foreign.

Most of the tourists are from Germany, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria and the Netherlands.

A big jump in the number of tourists has been seen in parts of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, since the opening of the new Pelješac Bridge. The number of tourists on the island of Korčula has also increased drastically as it is now considerably easier to reach the island by car.

“The number of guests has increased significantly on the entire island. The fact that the journey has been shortened and made easier has resulted in more tourists coming, there is a lot of pressure on the ferries from Orebić to Korcula, new lines have been introduced and larger ferries have been brought in,” said Miljana Borojević, the director of the Korčula Tourist Board.

 

There are currently more than 82,000 Italian tourists in Croatia, making them the third most numerous foreign guests, right after Germans and Slovenians, and the largest influx of Italian guests is expected this weekend, the Head Office of the Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ) announced on Friday.

Ahead of the “Ferragosto” holiday, there is currently great interest in Croatia in Italy, and Italians singled out Croatia, Greece, Spain and France as the most desirable foreign destinations, the director of the HTZ representative office in Italy, Viviana Vukelić, points out in a press release.

According to her, the HTZ representative office in Milan has been recording increased interest in all Croatian destinations since June.

"Bus, ferry and air lines to our country have been strengthened, especially now in the month of August, when most Italians go on vacation. We are also noticing significant interest in organized trips for young people to Croatia, especially in Novalja, and the demand for trips in this period will be most pronounced as part of last-minute arrangements", Vukelic pointed out, adding that Italians, considering the war events in Ukraine, inflation and numerous price increases in Italy, but also the fact that they themselves have the sea, they still come to Croatia.

At the same time, HTZ presents data from the eVisitor system, according to which 136,000 arrivals and 634,000 overnight stays have been achieved in Croatia in the current part of August from the Italian market, which, compared to last year, is a growth of 73 percent in arrivals and 68 percent in overnight stays.

 

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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