Wednesday, 8 February 2023

Coach of All Coaches: Ćiro Blažević Dies after Long Cancer Battle

February 8, 2023 - Miroslav Ćiro Blažević lost his battle with cancer on Wednesday, two days before his 88th birthday.

The legendary Croatian football coach lost his long battle with cancer on Wednesday. He was supposed to celebrate his 88th birthday in two days, reports

Blažević was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011 but fought off the vicious disease. A year after that, he was operated on for melanoma. In September 2019, his cancer unfortunately returned. 

Blažević made one of his last public appearances in mid-December last year when he received the "Vladimir Beara" award in Zagreb for his contribution to the development of sports culture and social tolerance.

"You gathered in large numbers and showed me a great honor. But this is my last address to the public. It's over—no more. Goodbye Ćiro. I'm counting the last days, and I'm aware of that," Ćiro said. 

"I'm so sick; it's so hard for me. This f***ing illness has taken over. I'm struggling, and I'm suffering. I'm in great pain, so, well..." said Ćiro about the illness three days ago. "My legs can't hold me more than heavy water; I'm going for an infusion. The situation is difficult, to be honest. Very, very difficult. Cancer has spread to all my bones and the worst and most dangerous place - the liver. And it destroys everything slowly and surely," he added.

Miroslav Ćiro Blažević was born on February 10, 1935, in Travnik, where he began, as he always said, a modest football career. He was born as the eighth, youngest child of Katarina Blažević (née Matovinović) and Mate Blažević. Their first two children, Ivica and Marica, whom their parents did not talk much about, died at just a few months old from the Spanish flu. Miroslav also had sisters Jelena and Dragica, brothers Ante and Joško, and an older sister Jozefina in Zagreb.

Ćiro played football until he was 31 when he decided to become a coach in Moutier, Switzerland. He stayed in Switzerland and managed Vevey and Sion before taking over the national team of Switzerland in 1979. However, his rise as a coach began in 1979 when he came to Rijeka. Although he finished the Championship in 10th place, Ćiro led Rijeka to the Cup Winners' Cup quarter-final and lost to Juventus. At the end of the season, he came to Dinamo, and that's when the legend of Ćiro began.

After finishing fifth in his first season on the bench, Ćiro brought Dinamo the Yugoslav championship title in 1982 after 24 years of waiting and forever became a Dinamo legend. Cerin, Deverić, Mlinarić, Zajec, Vlak, and others played fantastic football that attracted an average of 30,000 spectators to Maksimir.

Dinamo confirmed the title by winning against Željezničar four rounds before the end, and the celebration in the city did not stop for weeks. The architect of that great success was Ćiro, who trampled everything in front of him with a white scarf around his neck.

"It was perfect and, without competition, the biggest success of my career. Kudos to the bronze medal in France, but for me, Dinamo's 1982 success is the crowning glory of everything I've done as a coach," said Ćiro on his 82nd birthday.

The legendary coach did not stop there and won the Yugoslav Cup with Dinamo the following season and left Dinamo for the first time at the end of the season. Then, he went to Grasshopper, with whom he won the Swiss Championship, and won the hearts of the fans again in 1985 when he led Priština to the first Yugoslav league.

In the same year, he returned to Dinamo and did not achieve notable results. Nevertheless, he welcomed the declaration of Croatian independence in Nantes, where he stayed until 1991, and after a year at PAOK in 1992, he returned to Dinamo. 

As a great admirer of President Franjo Tuđman and a prominent member of the HDZ, Ćiro could not refuse Tuđman's invitation to return to Croatia. He won the Croatian Championship in 1993 and the Cup in 1994. However, at the end of that season, Ćiro left Dinamo again, for the third time, because he was given the most significant task - to lead the Croatia national team.

Ćiro sensationally started the European Championship qualifiers. In front of a powerful Italy (with the help of Tomislav Ivić), they won first place in the group, and directly qualified for the European Championship in England. Croatia brilliantly passed the group with Turkey, Denmark (defending champions), and Portugal with six points, only to lose to Germany 2:1 in the quarter-finals with the great help of referee Leif Sundell.

At that time, Ćiro already enjoyed a considerable reputation in Croatia and Europe, but the best was yet to come. After the dramatic qualifications, Croatia qualified for the World Cup in France, winning a sensational third place in 1998. Ćiro's team led in the semi-final against France 1:0 but lost with two goals from Lilian Thuram, who were the only goals in his career for the national team.

France was the zenith of Ćiro's coaching career. In the qualifiers for Euro 2000, in the last round at Maksimir, Croatia had to beat Serbia for a place in the additional qualifiers, but they played 2:2 and were eliminated. There was also a change of generations and the qualifications for the World Cup in Japan and Korea. Croatia got off to a bad start, and after drawing against Scotland at Maksimir, Ćiro resigned.

In six years on the bench, Ćiro led Croatia 73 times and recorded 36 wins, 22 draws, and 15 losses.

In 2001, he went to Iran, which failed to take him to the World Cup in Japan and Korea. After that, he saved Osijek from relegation from the league, only to return to Dinamo for the fourth time in 2002 and win the league title. However, at the end of the season, he had an argument with Zdravko Mamić, who kicked him out of the club.

After Mura and Varteks, Blažević came to Hajduk in 2005, who was then preparing for Champions League qualifications. Before the draw, Ćiro said they would give him "that Liverpool," but the balls connected him with Debrecen, against whom Hajduk experienced one of the biggest embarrassments in its history. The Hungarian club won 3:0 in the first game and 5:0 at Poljud, and it was a defeat from which Ćiro could not save himself. On September 18, after a series of bad results, he resigned.

In 2007, Ćiro was third in the HNL with Zagreb. By the end of his prosperous coaching career, Ćiro would manage six more clubs, but he left his most significant mark as the head coach of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Although part of the BiH public did not approve, Ćiro united the BiH national team in his way and soon earned the entire country's support, which once again breathed with its national team. He fit perfectly into the new environment and almost led Bosnia and Herzegovina to the 2010 World Cup. But, instead, he entered the additional qualifiers, where he lost to a strong Portugal.

After leaving BiH, Ćiro went to China and then to Iran, only to return to NK Zagreb in 2012, with which he was relegated from the league. In January 2014, he went to Sloboda from Tuzla and sensationally returned them to the Premier League in Bosnia and Herzegovina. After the end of the season, he took over NK Zadar, where he ended his coaching career in January 2015.

Ćiro Blažević's career overview

Playing career: Bratstvo Travnik, Dinamo, Lokomotiva, Sarajevo, Rijeka, Sion, Moutier

Coaching career: Vevey, Sion, Switzerland, Lausanne-Sport, Rijeka, Dinamo Zagreb, Grasshopper, Priština, Dinamo Zagreb, Nantes, PAOK, Croatia Zagreb, Croatia, Iran, Osijek, Dinamo Zagreb, Mura, Varteks, Hajduk, Neuchatel Xamax, Zagreb, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Shanghai Shenhua, China U-23, Mes Kerman, Zagreb, Sloboda Tuzla, Zadar


Sion, Swiss Cup - 1974

Championship of Yugoslavia - 1982
Yugoslav Cup - 1983
First HNL: 1993, 2003
Croatian Cup: 1994
Croatian Super Cup: 2002

Swiss Championship: 1984

Croatian Supercup: 2005

Croatia national team:
3rd place at World Cup 1998

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.


Wednesday, 8 February 2023

Moving to Croatia - Obtaining Residence Permits for Third Country Nationals

February the 8th, 2023 - In this edition of How to Croatia, I'm going to create a mini series of articles entitled Moving to Croatia, which looks specifically into residence permits and the types on offer for each nationality or work/personal situation. In this article, I'll be looking at third country nationals.

Who are third country nationals?

Third country nationals are nationals who hold the citizenships of countries which do not belong to the European Economic Area (EEA) and British nationals who did not exercise their right to free movement when the UK was an EU member state. These people have three types of stay in Croatia available to them. If you're serious about moving to Croatia permanently you must typically go through each, they are as follows: short-term stay, temporary residence, and permanent residence.

Short-term stay

Short-term stay is the right to remain in Croatia for up to 90 days in a 180 day period, regardless of whether you required a visa to enter or not. This can really only be shortened by the specifics of your visa, if you needed one, so make sure to read what it says, then read it again, and again. Typically, however, it is 90 days in any 180 days.

Temporary residence

A request for temporary residence for a third country national who does require a visa to enter Croatia should be submitted in a diplomatic mission, more specifically a Croatian consulate in their country of origin, and, I'll repeat, not in the Republic of Croatia, as is the legal procedure for EEA citizens and third country nationals who do not require a visa.

In some circumstances, such as if you're the life partner or the family member of a Croatian citizen, you might be permitted to submit your application for residency within Croatian territory, but do not risk it, if you're a third country national who needs a visa, you run the risk of being refused and told to do so from your own country, before returning again. Save yourself some cash and don't leave this up to fate, it isn't worth it. Do it from home after being granted your visa to enter.

If, however, you manage to be given the green light to apply from within Croatia, make sure you do so at the soonest possible opportunity, and no later than eight days before the end of your permitted 90 days of stay. Failure to do so can result in a fine.

You can apply for your first residence permit within several circumstances. They are: family reunification, life partnership or marriage, work, education, for research purposes, humanitarian reasons, or other purposes.

If you apply under ''work'', your permit will be a stay and work permit.

Choose which one you choose to go for carefully as this will govern the reasons behind the Ministry of the Interior (MUP) granting you a permit. If you're found to have strayed from the reason(s) provided, you might end up in some hot water or even risk having the permit terminated.

While permit termination is indeed a worst-case scenario and getting a fine is a more likely ''punishment'', my advice would be to apply for ''other purposes'' to give you more freedom while living in Croatia.

When an application is successful, then it's successful, and your worries are over for a year before renewing it, but upon being informed of your success, make sure to ask just what purposes it has been granted for, just to be sure.


Please be aware that many third country nationals have been surprised to be told that they can only apply under ''other purposes'' for their first year of residence in Croatia. After that, you should expect to be asked to provide a concrete reason, such as family reunification, life partnership or marriage, work, education, humanitarian reasons (and be able to prove that your reason is true), to be granted a second year. This is not always the case, but it does happen very often.

What do you need to provide to be approved as a third country national?

Your birth certificate

A copy of your birth certificate

A valid passport 

A scanned copy (its wise to make several copies), of the photographic ID of the page with your details in your passport

A colour 35x45mm photograph (passport style, not passport size - MUP will either take your photo there and then or direct you to a nearby place to have it done to the correct measure)

Proof of health insurance (ask specifically as to how this can be showcased at the consulate if you apply from outside of Croatia)

Proof of funds to sustain yourself for the foreseen length of stay in Croatia (this can be proven with a printed statement from the bank showing and attesting to the amount in the account)

Proof of the justification of the reason behind your request for temporary residency

Proof of having housing (this can be proven in several ways, either with a notarised rental contract, proof of home ownership, or having your landlord or whoever you're staying with come with you in person)

Proof of having paid consular tax if your application has been made in your country of origin, which, as stated several times, it should be

In some cases, a police clearance certificate from the applicant's home country is required, however, this is not always asked for, so make sure to ask if you need this beforehand!

The documents submitted with the correct form you must fill in from MUP must be either originals, or certified copies. These foreign documents are usually required to be translated (with a certified translation) into the Croatian language. The documents must not be older than six months (aside from the obvious documents which will be older than six months, such as your original passport and original birth certificate).

The conditions for approval of your residence permit

As a third-country national moving to Croatia, you will be granted temporary residence if you can prove the purpose of your request for temporary residence, if you own a valid travel document/passport, the correct health insurance, and in the case that there are no restrictions on your entrance or stay in Croatia, and that you don't pose a threat to public health or to national security.

In some cases, applicants are told that they do not need to prove that they have health insurance or the means to sustain themselves for the length of their stay if they are the family members of a Croatian national. Don't rely on this, depending on who you speak to, this requirement alters. Make sure you have the means and are ready to prove you have both should you be asked to do so.

The first temporary residence permit for a third country national moving to Croatia is typically issued with a validity of up to one year, this isn't always the case and in some situations it can be for longer, but usually it is one year and you should therefore expect it to be. The travel documents of third-country nationals requesting temporary residence must be valid for at least three months longer than the period covered by the temporary residence permit.

The permit is provided first in the form of a white sheet of paper (registration certificate) which acts as your temporary ID, and then, about three or four weeks later, in the form of a biometric residence card which also acts as photographic ID.

If you're applying at a diplomatic mission/Croatian consulate abroad, make sure to ask how the following procedure works. If you have made your application as a third country national within the Republic of Croatia you will be given a slip of paper attesting to the fact that your request has been granted while the card is made. Do not lose this piece of paper!

As previously stated, MUP will either take your photo at the station or direct you to a place in which to have it taken.

If you have managed to apply from within the country, you will be required to come and pick up your biometric permit in person. This is likely the same when having applied at a consulate abroad. Again, ask about the consulate procedure where you are. If you have been allowed to apply from within the country, you will be allowed to stay in Croatia legally until a decision on approval is reached.


Once you're granted your residence permit, you must carry it on your person at all times when in Croatia, you can be stopped and asked to show it by the police, just as any national can. If you fail to produce it, you can be hit with a 100 kuna fine.

If you change your address, make sure to inform the police. If you move to a different city or jurisdiction, make sure to inform the police in your new city and be ready, if asked to do so, to provide proof of the move. Don't be taken aback or surprised if the police decide to turn up at your door at random to ''make sure you really do live there'', this doesn't happen to everyone, but it can and does occur.

If you do move to another area of the country, the rule is that you must inform the police in your new area as soon as possible (typically within 15 days). This rule is very loose. When you go to the police in your new area to register your change of address, you will need to have a new ID card made and pay the administration fee (79.50 kuna), and have a new photo taken. This is not a new application and is just a formality.

Third country nationals with temporary residence must not leave Croatia for periods longer than thirty days in continuation unless they have a good reason and are given permission by MUP to do so. This is something that should be discussed with MUP or at your consulate of initial application as you're likely to not be told anything about this unless you ask yourself. If you can read Croatian, you can read more about that here.

Permanent residence for third-country nationals

You can renew your temporary residence permit year on year at the police station should you have been granted a one year permit. As is typical, you must do so several days before the expiry of your current permit, make sure to ask how many days before expiry you need to do so. This is typically 60 days before expiration of the current permit. Failure to adhere to this can result in a fine.

To repeat what I have already written a few paragraphs ago, third country nationals can expect to need to provide a concrete reason (and concrete proof of that reason) for a second year of residence and may find that ''other purposes'' won't be accepted again.

After five years of continuous, legal residence in the Republic of Croatia, you have the right to apply for permanent residence. Permanent residence comes in the form of a similar biometric permit but with a validity period of ten years, which is then simply renewed like a passport would be every decade, without any further questions or requirements from the authorities.

What will permanent residence mean?

Permanent residence provides almost all of the rights a Croatian citizen enjoys and when granted, you are no longer subject to any conditions as long as you do not leave Croatia for more than two consecutive years, or for more than five consecutive years if you're a British national who held legal residence before Brexit (December the 31st, 2020).

You can access the state's social security system, you can work and carry out services freely, in any manner citizens do without needing any type of special permit or permission for foreigners, and you can leave the country as often as you'd like to.

In some circumstances, you may be allowed to apply for permanent residence before completing five years of temporary residence, I'll provide more detail about that a little later.

The application for a permanent residence permit should be filed with the police responsible for your place of residence as a third country national, and the application is decided upon by the Ministry of the Interior. As a third country national, you're not bound by EU law and therefore your fundamental right to permanent residence is not the same as it is for a person from the EEA, and at the time of the decision on the application, the third-country national must have a valid temporary residence permit.

While not always the case, as Croatian law states that a foreigner can stay in Croatia while awaiting a residence decision from the authorities, it could mean that you'll need to apply for another temporary residence permit while you await the outcome of your request for permanent residence.

Permanent residence will very likely be granted to third-country nationals who have been legally resident for a period of five years (holding temporary residence, asylum or subsidiary protection) up to the date of their application. Continued residence means that in these five years Croatia, the third country national has not been absent from the country for more than ten months over that five year period.

In addition to permanent residence after five years of continuous stay, permanent residence can be granted in four other special cases according to Sredisnji drzavni portal:

A third-country national who has been granted temporary residence for a period of three years and who has held refugee status for no less than ten years, as evidenced by a certificate issued by the competent state body for refugees.

A third-country national who resided in the Republic of Croatia on the 8th of October 1991 and who is a beneficiary of the programme of return, as evidenced by an appropriate certificate attesting to that fact.

A child living in the Republic of Croatia: whose parents held a permanent residence permit at the time of the child's birth, or with one parent who, at the time of the child's birth, was granted permanent residence (with the consent of the other parent).

A child with a parent who has been granted permanent residence in the Republic of Croatia at the time of childbirth, with the other parent having been unknown, who died, or has been declared deceased.

A third country national who was born and has, since birth, been living on the territory of the Republic of Croatia, but for justifiable reasons over which they had no influence, they had no type of regulated stay (as evidenced by a birth certificate, proof of attendance of preschool or an educational institution, proof of employment, evidence of the use of healthcare services, evidence of the use of social care).

Conditions for the approval of permanent residence for third country nationals

The conditions for the approval of permanent residence are the possession of a valid passport, means of subsistence and health insurance, knowledge of the Croatian language and the Latin script (proven via an exam taken in an educational facility which MUP accepts, ask for further information), and that the third-country national is not a threat to public order, national security, or to public health.

The Croatian language and Latin script language exam can be conducted by higher education institutions, secondary schools and adult education institutions that run Croatian language programs approved by the competent ministry. The cost of the exam is borne by you as the third country national yourself.

The Croatian language and Latin script exam doesn't have to be taken by children of preschool age, persons older than 65 if they're not employed, and persons who have completed their elementary, secondary or higher education in Croatia.

Permanent residence will not be granted to anyone who has been denied asylum or subsidiary protection.

The situation is slightly different if you're a third country national who already holds permanent residence in another EEA member state, and I'll delve into that in another article.


For more of our How to Croatia content exploring moving to Croatia, living in Croatia and administrative formalities, make sure to keep up with our dedicated lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Croatian 404 Agency Overtaken by German-Swiss MYTY

February the 7th, 2023 - The leading group of German and Swiss agencies MYTY, which is based in Berlin, has taken over the largest Croatian communication agency 404 and Shape 404, a technology company that is part of the wider Croatian 404 group.

As Marija Crnjak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Croatian 404 agency has become the very first domestic agency to participate in the consolidation process on the European market, and this is also MYTY's first foray from the DACH region into Southeastern Europe.

The Croatian 404 agency claims that they are working towards greater business success, which is the result of long-term investments in quality, and this all brings them the opportunity to work with some of the best agencies and clients from both Germany and Switzerland.

This is the fastest growing European initiative that consolidates communication, marketing and technology agencies, and MYTY brings together ten agencies spanning 26 offices across Germany and Switzerland. The group is known for bringing together the best agencies in their respective fields, while all agencies within the group retain their complete independence and own brands.

The same will happen with the Croatian 404 group, whose founders Nikola Vrdoljak, Martina Pintaric and Zoran Stekovic have become partners in the company.

It is otherwise the largest Croatian communications agency of all with more than 80 clients from the region's strongest industries, while Shape 404 is focused on technology projects. The group employs 180 employees and back in 2022, they achieved a very impressive non-consolidated income of almost 16 million euros, or 25 percent more than the year before.

"We've been researching and looking into what our next step should be in terms of the development of our group for a long time now and we finally found a partner who offers and sees the future in the same way as we do. MYTY is a step forward that will allow us to provide our clients with an even better and more advanced service, and our teams will get to work for new challenging clients in foreign markets.

The Croatian 404 agency will continue to operate completely independently, under the same brand, and will contribute to the development of the entire group with its knowledge and teams. We're focused on our clients who are primarily leaders in their own industries, digital challengers and leaders within the tech sector,'' said Nikola Vrdoljak from the Croatian 404 agency.

MYTY says that this is the next step in the internationalisation of their group.

"404 is one of the most awarded agencies in Southeastern Europe and is becoming a centre for the continuous expansion of the group in that same part of Europe. With more than 80 clients, including major brands such as Adidas, Uber, Huawei, Coca-Cola and McDonald's, the agency is laying the foundations for further expansion. For both 404 and Shape, this integration is a big step forward, since MYTY offers the possibility of cooperation with the best agencies and clients in Germany and Switzerland," the German-Swiss group announced yesterday.

“We're very excited about their addition to the group, with 404, we aren't only leaving the DACH region for the first time ever and gaining access to a new geographic market, but we're also able to additionally expand our capabilities and capacities in the areas of international communications and product development," said David Rost, the co-founder and CEO of the MYTY Group, on the occasion of the takeover.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

HEP Plans Increase to 200 Integrated Solar Power Plants 2025's End

February the 7th, 2023 - HEP has some big plans as we go forward, with the hope to increase the number of integrated solar power plants they have from 63 to 200 by the year 2025.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, HEP Proizvodnja (Production) has put an integrated solar power plant with a power of 215 kW into operation, and it is installed on facilities in the area of the Sisak Thermal Power Plant (TE-TO Sisak). Preparations are now also underway for the trial operation of an integrated solar power plant with a power of 200 kW in the Thermal Power Plant Osijek (TE-TO Osijek).

The investment in the design and construction of these two power plants amounted to an enormous 389 thousand euros, of which 40 percent, or almost 156 thousand euros of the total amount, was co-financed by the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund.

Both of these power plants will produce electricity according to the concept of a customer with their own production, which will enable a significant reduction in costs for the consumption of electricity at the locations of HEP's power plants.

The HEP Group now has 63 integrated solar power plants, with a total capacity of 2.7 MW. A new investment cycle is about to start, the implementation of which will increase the total number of solar power plants at HEP facilities to more than 200 by the end of 2025.

"Solar panels on the roofs of our buildings are an essential element of the renewable development scenario, which we're intensively implementing despite the financial burden of 900 million euros that we took on as part of the government's package of measures to limit the growth of energy prices. By this summer, we will have ten large non-integrated solar power plants in permanent operation, and by 2030 we plan to have 700 megawatts of solar and wind power," said Frane Barbaric, President of the Management Board of HEP.

The director of HEP Proizvodnja, Robert Krklec, added that a cycle of reconstruction and revitalisation of hydropower plants worth as much as 570 million euros is currently being carried out, and that projects for the modernisation of thermal energy facilities by building new high-efficiency blocks are also being implemented.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated news section.

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Zagreb Hotel Capacities to Increase, Numerous Projects on Coast

February the 7th, 2023 - Zagreb hotel capacities are set to increase significantly this year, with numerous projects in the pipeline down on the coast from Dubrovnik to the Istrian peninsula.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, although the aforementioned items are investments that have been going on for a few years now, 2023 will bring the most news to the Zagreb hotel scene, which is finally returning to pre-pandemic tourism numbers, and business events are going along with it. Maistra is set to open the newly renovated former Panorama, Arena in the centre will open Radisson, a in Praska ulica, a hotel is being completed by an Albanian investor - the Abau company.

After the implementation of several large projects down on the Adriatic over the past few years, such as Adris's Grand Hotel Park, Arena's Grand Hotel Brioni, Hotel View in Postira, summer destinations mostly have minor adaptations or investments set up for this season, aimed primarily ay improving the quality of the content and services. Several new large projects are being prepared, which won't be completed until the beginning of the 2024 summer season, such as Split's Marjan or the first Croatian Hyatt, which the Turkish Dogus has now finally started building.

These are all projects that were planned long before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic or the jump in inflation that slowed down or postponed many such projects. In addition, Croatia still has unresolved issues of tourist land and maritime property, which partially slow down decision-making on investments all along the Adriatic.

A survey conducted by the Association of Employers in the Croatian Hotel Industry back at the end of the last season showed that around 400-500 million kuna will be invested in the preparation of the next tourist season, which is roughly half of the potential it does boast. At the same time, the total investment potential of the members is about 35 billion kuna, but only when it comes to ''ready-made'' projects. Part of those projects will be financed through the NPOO, for which the tender is still ongoing, and so far the public is only partially informed about investment projects in thermal capacities in the continental part of the country.

Although the revenues of tourism companies over the first nine months of last year were higher by 22 percent compared to the revenues in the same period of pre-pandemic 2019, at the same time, operating expenses increased by 41 percent. The costs of raw materials and other such items increased by 45 percent, and labour costs by 26 percent, which is why most of the standard financial indicators of tourism companies last year had a negative trend, both in relation to 2021 and 2019.

The gross profit margin of tourism companies, which was 13.5 percent back in 2018, was almost halved last year to 7.6 percent, the share of profit before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) in total revenues decreased compared to 2021 for 8 percentage points, and the rate of return on business has also decreased compared to 2019.

The analysis showed that tourism companies' pre-tax profit of 1.238 billion kuna from 2021 and 2022 (estimates for the entire year based on results achieved over the first nine months) still doesn't cover the pre-tax losses of 1.551 billion from pandemic-dominated 2020. On top of all that, the rate of change in long-term tangible assets fell, which is indicative of a slowdown in the investment cycle, and this potentially endangers the realisation of the business results of tourism companies in the future.

As has now been learned, investments in the tourism portfolio managed by Valamar Riviera for the year 2023 are planned in the amount of 58 million euros, which includes various projects in all of their destinations, as well as the continued development of the Istra Premium Camping Resort.

Investments worth around 32 million euros are also underway down in Dubrovnik, related to the repositioning of the Valamar Tirena Hotel to 4*, the rebranding of the Valamar Club Dubrovnik hotel to the Sunny Plus brand, and the investment in the Valamar Lacroma Hotel and Maro World facilities for children, which are all part of the investment cycle of Imperial Riviera after the recapitalisation of Dubrovnik hotels by both Valamar Riviera and AZ pension funds. A special emphasis of investments in 2023 will be placed on further investments in digitisation, sustainability and product improvement, the company says.

The total planned investments of Adris Group in the tourism part of the business in 2023 will amount to a massive 820 million kuna, of which more than 300 million kuna will be directed to improving the quality and offer of Istria's many campsites. Preparations for two strategic tourism projects, the Westin hotel in Zagreb and the Marjan hotel in Split, are also in the pipeline. The reconstruction and repositioning of the former Zagreb hotel Panorama was part of the investment plan for last year and amounted to almost 220 million kuna, and they expect the opening of that particular new Zagreb hotel this spring.

That Zagreb hotel will undergo a major transformation, and one of the main ideas of the project is for the lower part of the hotel to be maximally open to the public and become the lifeblood of this part of the capital. Adris also noted that they have invested more than six billion kuna in tourism so far, and in the period 2023-2025, they plan to invest an additional 460 million euros in total.

Furniture is already arriving at the hotel in Zagreb's Praska ulica, and this upcoming Zagreb hotel is taking shape well, although the exact date of the opening, as well as the amount of the investment that was launched five years ago by the Abau company in the building it bought from Zagrebacka banka, hasn't yet been communicated. The company Abau was founded back in 2015 with its headquarters in Lovran by the Albanian company Gener 2 SHKP, which is in the construction and energy business, and among others, they are involved in the construction of the Adriatic pipeline.

After the completion of the Arena Franz Ferdinand hotel in the Austrian Nassfeld ski resort, in the second quarter of this year, the Arena Hospitality group plans to complete the project of the Zagreb Radisson Hotel, a high-category lifestyle hotel that was launched back in the autumn of 2021.

This 118-room Zagreb hotel will include a restaurant and bar, wellness and spa facilities, a fitness centre, event spaces and parking. The hotel will also include the first and only rooftop pool and bar in all of the City of Zagreb. While the project is progressing without any underlying construction or structural issues, delays and complications related to the supply chain adversely affect the planned completion of the works. As a result, the project is scheduled to be completed in the second quarter of 2023 only, the investor noted in the third quarter report.

They also added that the group is still exposed to the high inflation costs that are continuing to prevail throughout all of Europe, which negatively affects the cost of purchasing goods and services, not to mention raw materials. The expected profitability over the coming months is therefore affected by the increasing operating costs, overheads and salaries. The group is working on a number of energy conservation initiatives across its operations and is also planning to invest in solar energy to reduce energy costs.

Arena's important investment this year will also be the beginning of the second phase of the repositioning of the Arena Stoja camp, a project worth around 3 million euros. This phase includes a new entrance to the camp, an extensive renovation of the main restaurant and cafe bar, along with major infrastructure upgrades.

After last year's investment of 45 million euros, the Sunce hotels company is continuing its investment cycle in its Bluesun hotel chain, and they're set to enter into the renovation of Hotel Afrodita in Tucepi and Hotel Bonaca in Bol on the island of Brac, which is why the Arab investor Eagle Hills Real Estate plans to recapitalise the company with almost 9 million euros. As has since been learned from that particular company, in addition to the renovation of these two hotels, there are also several smaller operations to improve their offer and raise the quality of services in other facilities going on.

A big investment cycle is also starting further inland in Plitvice, where the renovation of the Plitvice and Belevue hotels, the demolition of the Grabovac hotel and the construction of a new hotel with four stars, 146 rooms, a swimming pool and a congress hall are underway.

Works are also starting on the Hyatt Regency Zadar Maraska hotel, which should open its doors next year, as many as eight years since the Turkish Dogus announced its entry into this investment. Hyatt Regency Zadar Maraska will operate as part of the well known Regency brand of Hyatt International Group, and is the first hotel under the Hyatt brand in all of Croatia so far. This Zadar hotel will have 133 rooms and suites, a bar, restaurants, a spa area, and a conference hall spanning an impressive 400 square metres in total.

For more, make sure to check out our news section.

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Croatian Energy Price Capping to End Soon, What Awaits Us?

February the 7th, 2023 - Croatian energy price capping is going to come to an end in less than two months. What awaits us after the government decision to limit these spiralling prices comes to an end?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, in less than two months, the government's measures capping Croatian energy prices for electricity for households and companies will come to an end. What will happen from April the 1st onwards, and are we set to experience even more blows to our back pockets and bank accounts?

At the moment, prices on the wholesale market have stabilised - they're between 150 and 170 euros, which is significantly lower than they were one year ago when they occasionally exceeded 400 euros, and on average were around 270 euros per megawatt hour. The government says that the situation is already being analysed in order to decide in time what to do next, more precisely after midnight on March the 31st, as reported by HRT.

At the beginning of February, people and companies became increasingly concerned about what will happen to electricity prices after March the 31st, 2023.

"What we as employers expect is to receive timely information on what happens with the prices of energy products after March the 31st. As I've repeatedly emphasised, an environment of safety and certainty is necessary for all employers,'' said Irena Weber, the director of the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP).

Individuals who have contracts with private suppliers are already receiving notices about the price increases from April the 1st on, and they've been instructed to switch to HEP. The government has yet to decide what will happen to electricity prices as of April the 1st.

"We tasked the competent ministers, primarily the Minister of Economy and the Minister of Finance, to prepare and analyse the situation for after April the 1st," said Andrej Plenkovic when discussing Croatian energy price issues.

Due to the unusually warmer winter we've been experiencing, not to mention more favourable hydrological conditions, electricity prices on the market are currently lower than they were a year ago, but they are still significantly higher than before the crisis caused by the Russia-Ukraine war broke out and stand at around 160 euros per megawatt hour.

"The analyses show some predictions that such prices will remain what they are for least for the next two to three years," said Drazen Jaksic, the director of the Hrvoje Pozar Energy Institute. People currently pay 59 euros per megawatt hour, which means that without the continuation of the Croatian energy price capping measures introduced by the government, electricity should become more expensive.

"I personally believe that these government measures, which are due to expire on March the 31st, will continue in some form, because suppliers would otherwise be forced to raise prices for people," added Jaksic. The current measures enable consumers to get cheaper electricity this winter than in other countries, the Prime Minister reminds.

"These are enormous sums of money, we're not talking about something small, these are large sums that made it possible for us to go through this crisis much more easily than we would have done without them," said the Prime Minister.

The biggest part of that financial burden of all was transferred to HEP, which has the obligation to accept all consumers who want to leave private suppliers, and in the last four months there have been 41,000 such cases. Whatever happens after March the 31st, HEP says that it will adjust its electricity prices to be in line with the further decisions made by the government.

For more, make sure to check out our news section.

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Zagreb Tehnika Company Expects Jobs Worth 55 Million Euros in 2023

February the 7th, 2023 - The Zagreb Tehnika company is expecting to contract jobs worth a massive 55 million euros this year, and it is the selected contractor in a procedure being carried out by the Diocese of Sisak. They'll soon begin work on the structural renovation of a number of churches.

As Suzana Varosanec/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the aforementioned works on the churches will kick off the phase of the so-called visible renovations, after an "invisible" but extensive set of preparations in which the Diocese of Sisak will take the lead.

The legal deadline for the introduction of contractors into the work is eight days from the signing of the contract, and as it was concluded on January the 25th, it is to be expected that the preparation will begin this week, as confirmed by the director of Tehnika Bojan Horvacic.

This means that works on the buildings can begin soon, and the deadline for completion is seventeen months for one church located in Zazina, and fourteen months for the other two. The contractor companies GME from Sunja and Spegra from Split were chosen for the construction and renovation of the Sisak Cathedral and five other sacred buildings.

The value of the works contracted by the Zagreb Tehnika company reaches a total of 8.1 million euros - 3.3 million for the church in Zazina, and 2.4 million for the others. Capacities have been secured for this, although the Zagreb company will soon already be filling up its book of this year's contracts.

Opportunities on the market for builders are currently favourable and there is plenty of work, but there is still a lack of workers to be had, which, like others, Tehnika has to solve by importing foreign labour, and subcontractors are successively used. Today, this company employs 314 workers and about 60 more people through agency hiring, and due to the growing volume of work, new employment is also underway.

"We're hiring for regular employment, we have a constantly open tender through which we're looking for engineers, foremen, carpenters, rebar workers and masons. I believe that we can attract them by offering a generous income, challenging business opportunities for additional improvement and education, and advancement through the system," said Horvacic, adding that the average salary is close to 1,000 euros.

The share of foreign workers within the Zagreb Tehnika company currently stands at around 30% - they employ Ukrainians, Turks and Georgians, and the current level of contracted jobs for 2023, as well as those about to be signed, amounts to slightly more than 30 million euros, which is a 100% increase compared to same period 2022. The plan for this year is about 55 million euros of contracted jobs.

The ratio of deals signed with investors in the public and private sectors is 70:30, but corrections to that figure are coming, as a wave of contracts with private investors is expected in just a few months.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Monday, 6 February 2023

Registrations Open for 6th Pag Island Life on Mars Trail Race

February 6, 2023 - Registrations are now open for this year's sixth edition of the most attractive Croatian trail race, Life on Mars Trail. The island of Pag attracts an increasing number of outdoor enthusiasts to this race every year due to its incredible scenery and excellent organization.

As Turističke Priče writes, this famous island trail, described as incredibly beautiful by runners, was officially opened in 2019, and it remains relevant and visited throughout the year.


In Novalja, in the area of Metajna and on the trail itself, you will find the most beautiful beaches on the island of Pag: Ručica, Beriknica, Slana and Seline, whose cosmic beauty impresses absolutely everyone. You can find marked trails and coordinates here.

This year's race will take place on March 25, and all information about the race, conditions and registration can be found here. If you're ready, though, you can register for the sixth Life on Mars by clicking on this link.

The Life on Mars trail is held in three categories:

- the CHALLENGER with a length of 24 kilometers following the trail concept, which means that the trail is marked by hiking and trail paths. There is no trail starting from 3.5km to 5.5km of the route, but the area is passable, and in one place, as always, it is necessary to go through the sea for about 50 meters, with its level reaching up to the hips. All those who do not want to get wet, can opt to go back from KT 4 to KT 3 and continue along the trail. This option is about 500m longer. There are no refreshment stations, and water is available from the Malin spring at the 15th kilometer. ž

- the ACTIVE category of 15 kilometers also follows the trail concept. The course is marked and follows hiking and trail paths and passes 50 meters through the sea and along a water source towards the end of the race.

- LIGHT is the final category, with a length of 7 kilometers follows a marked path with hiking and trail paths.


Google recognized the Life on Mars trail

The popularity of the Life on Mars trail is confirmed by Google, which puts Novalja and this trail in the fifth place for the search term Life on Mars, despite the world-famous song by David Bowie.

This trail owes its attractiveness to the incredible and unique landscape shaped by the bura, and the photos shared by the runners are the best advertisement for the island of Pag and its outdoor offer. Thanks to the Life on Mars trail, Pag has become an unmissable outdoor destination. You can find the complete outdoor offer of Pag on the Pag outdoor web platform.


There is life on the "Mars of Pag" every day and in all seasons! Run to the beats of David Bowie on a trail which they say captures you at the first step and creates an adrenaline addiction to which you return again and again.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Monday, 6 February 2023

Vukovar Water Tower Had Over 111 Thousand Visitors in 2022

February 6, 2023 - The Vukovar water tower had 111,133 visitors last year and 210,128 since its opening on October 30, 2020, as stated today at a press conference.

According to the Vukovar mayor Ivan Penava, the water tower generated an income of HRK 5.7 million and a profit of HRK 2.5 million in 2022, writes Index.

23 people employed at the water tower

"Today, it employs 23 people, and the achieved business results show that the direction of its renovation was a good choice, not only in a symbolic sense but also from the aspect of the tourist attractiveness of Vukovar, as well as the Croatian Danube region. This includes the profitability and business of private, accommodation, and hospitality facilities in the area of Vukovar and its surroundings", said Penava and thanked everyone who participated in any way in its reconstruction.

He announced further investments, recalling that public procurement for a new souvenir shop worth three million kuna was carried out. "I am sure that the Vukovar water tower will continue to delight its visitors in the future, and their good reactions are an excellent indicator of the value of our vision," said Penava.

Director of the Vukovar water tower, Mirela Janković, said that the number of visits in 2022 compared to 2021 was 30 percent higher, and revenues grew by 20 percent.

New content

"Given that our visitors keep coming back again and again, we try to introduce new content, so we set up boards with QR codes where all visitors can see how the Water Tower looked before the renovation. Also, two projects are underway - the ERASMUS + project and an augmented reality project," said Janković and added that for those who cannot visit them, "there is the possibility of a virtual tour."

She reminded that from February 1 this year, the citizens of Vukovar can buy an annual ticket and use it ten times a year.

The restoration of the Water Tower began in 2017, and more than 7,000 Croats from the diaspora, Croatian citizens, and numerous Croatian cities, municipalities, counties, and companies joined the campaign to collect donor funds for the restoration. The renovation cost HRK 46 million, of which HRK 39 million was collected through donations.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated News section.

Monday, 6 February 2023

Alarming State of Croatian Healthcare - Young Doctors Don't Bother Staying

February 6, 2023 - Croatian healthcare has reached an alarming state. The country currently lacks up to 230 family doctors and around 170 primary pediatricians, gynecologists and speech therapists, Social Democrat member of parliament Romana Nikolić estimated on Monday. Over 180 doctors are over 65 years old and work only out of pure enthusiasm because they have no one to leave their patients to, 750 doctors are over 60 years old, and currently only 150 of them are in specialization, Nikolić warned at the press conference.

As Poslovni writes, if al the older doctors were to retire at this moment, around 300 thousand citizens would be left without their chosen family medicine doctor. Nikolić noted that Croatia is threatened with the collapse of the entire healthcare system.

She believes that young doctors stay away from family medicine because they have the lowest salaries and benefits in the system.

This can best be seen in the example of Đakovo. The Trnava Municipality, which consists of six villages, according to the last population census has about 1,300 inhabitants, and has not had a family doctor for a year, says Nikolić.

She also stated that every doctor needs to be given the opportunity to choose whether they want to work in a health center or in a private practice, but to still be contractually bound by the HZZO, with clearly set rules and without administrative obstacles.

She finds it necessary to promote family medicine during studies, and the local self-government should, she says, find ways to stimulate young people to come and work with them through scholarships and housing subsidies.

Hajduković: Mobile clinics and pharmacies would help older citizens

"Pediatricians are retiring, and they don't have adequate replacements. The entire region of Miholjac depends on one pediatrician who works part-time while in retirement, reminds parliament member and party vice-president Domagoj Hajduković.

He also notes that there is a big problem with internships that must be completed in order to get a work license and so that doctors can enter the labour market.

The state does not provide it to the required extent, it takes a few years and then many decide to leave Croatia, Hajduković points out. He adds that there are currently around 3,000 people waiting for an internship, and that the minister has announced that only 1,500 places will be secured in 2023. He sees the basic problem in the fact that the state did not provide enough money so that everyone could complete the internship within a reasonable time.

Hajduković also states that access to health care for many elderly citizens is limited and that this problem could be partially solved by establishing mobile clinics, palliative clinics and mobile pharmacies that would be part of the Health Centers of local and regional self-government units.

These are projects that literally mean life for the rural area, and such problems should have been solved by the so-called project Slavonia and European money, Hajduković concluded.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated News section.

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