Wednesday, 5 October 2022

Croatian Returnee Reflections: Mike Simundic, from British Columbia to Dalmatia

October 5, 2022 - Whisper it quietly, but more and more people are relocating to Croatia from the diaspora. In a new TCN series, we meet them to find out how they are faring and what advice they have for others thinking of making the switch. Next up is Mike Simundic from British Columbia, Canada to Dalmatia (Editor's note: being a Dalmatian, Mike is going slow with the full move, but has been building up to it with longer stays over the last two years). 

My name is Mike (Marijan) Šimundić; I was born and raised in British Columbia, Canada, and am the son of Croatian emigrants. My work is in the technology sector, but my exact job is hard to explain; not even my parents fully understand what I do. The best explanation I've read so far is "Mike does mysterious things that nobody can fully understand. He just pushes a few buttons, makes a few phone calls, and bam, things get done".

As the son of Croatian emigrants from Split-Dalmatia County and as a foreign-born Croatian I have three parallel identities. I am a Croatian, a Dalmatian, and as my family is from a small village that is part of the Imotski area, I’m also an Imoćanin. From what I’ve seen and been told, there’s always someone from that area, and I’m fortunate to be among them. 

My parents left during the SFRJ times to start a family in a more stable environment, which ended up being Canada, and I'm very grateful to my parents for making the choices they did so I could grow up to write this piece. However, I often wonder what my life would be like had I been born in and grew up in Croatia, if only for a little while. Fortunately, over the last 10 years, my affinity for Croatia has intensified, and I've experienced that intangible feeling of 'home' every time I visit, which I rarely feel anywhere else.

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1. You made the switch to Croatia. Tell us a little about the decision process and how long it took for you to get on the plane.

Since 2012 I started having idle thoughts about making the move to Croatia as I slowly felt more like I was not where I belong. In 2012 I submitted my citizenship application as I saw potential with Croatia’s ascension to the EU and imagined what I could do with my life. During a work trip to Ottawa in 2013, I was able to visit the beautiful Croatian consulate thanks largely to a family friend Zvonimir Aničić, who is the Vice President of Croats Abroad, which is an advisory board for the Croatian Government. Serendipitously, while speaking to the Ambassador to Canada, one of the consular officers asked me to repeat my name as I introduced myself using my Croatian name to keep me thinking in Croatian. This time, I stated my legal name, and as if by magic, she produced my ‘rješenje’, and the few consular officials that were present congratulated me as from that moment on, I was a Croatian citizen. It was one of the happiest moments of my life.

Switching countries is no easy task. I'm a planner, and as a planner, I need to think through as many aspects of what I'm trying to do before making decisions that I cannot unmake. For context, what started as idle thoughts in 2012, turned into soul searching in 2020, and now in 2022, there is no alternative for me, only progression towards my goal. I've mostly figured out what options I have on where I can live vs. where I want to live, what jobs I can do vs. what jobs I want to do, etc., however, the part that I'm missing and still struggling with is finding a job in the technology industry in Croatia that is a fit for me. I'm not going to give up, as it’s a matter of time.

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2. What did your family and community back home think of your decision at the time? 

Generally speaking, my family in Canada and Croatia admire my tenacity to make my dream a reality. Although, I'm sure they quietly question why I would make such a move. It's unusual, but not uncommon for someone who was born and raised in a western country (with an Eastern European upbringing) to want to return home, where things won't be so easy and as a non-native speaker of the language, there will much I won't understand, but I'll have to learn. I've subconsciously regarded my trips to Croatia over the years as pilgrimages that I considered essential and nourishing, which collectively (re)built my very strong sense of 'home' as soon as I get off the plane in Zagreb or Split. 

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3. Where did you get your information about the realities of Croatia prior to coming?

I've been visiting Croatia on and off between 1994 and 2013, then more consistently since 2013 for vacations to see family and learn more about how things 'worked' in Croatia, and I always left feeling a little smarter. I was also fortunate to spend a total of 9 months over the last two years in Croatia, specifically in Split, which gave me lots of perspective on day-to-day life and allowed me to pretend to live in Croatia while tending to family matters. It wasn't easy as my work schedule went from 15:00 to 01:00 most days, sometimes later, to fulfill my commitments to my current company, which was kind enough to allow me to work internationally for a period of time I was in Croatia tending to family matters. Living in Croatia is more different than it is the same. However, I was impressed by some of the modernization of payments and services, especially through the e-Građani portal. However, I also learned that renting a flat was not straightforward, nor was it easy, and I was very fortunate during my last trip, that my aunt knew someone, that knew someone who had an empty apartment that fit my needs precisely, otherwise, I would not have been able to visit like I did. Proof that relationships are an essential part of daily life in Croatia.

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4. What were you most nervous about making the switch? What was your biggest fear, and what was the reality of what you found?

Starting over is never easy, and fortunately, I had to do that recently, so I have some experience. However, starting over in another country will be different. I've spent years and decades forming solid relationships with friends, professionals, and the like, which allowed me to have a solution/contact for any problem that came up. When I'm able to make the move, I'll have to start over again and seek out new friends (some of which I've already made, thankfully) and professionals to support me when I need help with something that is not in my 'wheelhouse'. I wouldn't say I have any fears about doing this, but I'm not excited about leaning on other people's connections when I need to as I prefer to make my own. However, to learn how to find the right people, you have to start with good people around you, and that's something I'm looking forward to. I will have to un-learn to be stubborn and do things the hard way and instead not be apprehensive about asking for help from others when they're more than willing to help you at a moment's notice.

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5. Think back to the time before you arrived. What were your perceptions about Croatia, and how were they different from the reality you encountered?

When I first remember visiting Croatia as an adult, my knowledge of Croatian wasn't the greatest; I didn't know where I was going exactly, how I was getting there, etc. Someone came to pick me up, I stayed with family, didn't eat anywhere but with family, and was transported everywhere, which was nice but didn't give me much exposure to how things really were. This reality was rather jarring as my perception was based on spotty childhood memories in the village, and I didn't know exactly how everything worked and how different it was from Canada. After getting some exposure, staying on my own when visiting, and improving the language skills I learned: always bring cash, don't just nod your head and pretend to understand what people are saying, and always assume the people you're talking to know something you don't.

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6. You are still here, so obviously, the pros outweigh the cons. Tell us about some of the things that you love about being in Croatia, as well as some of the things you don't like.

Things I love about Croatia:

  • The food
  • Bura
  • Other Croatians

Things that don't excite me about Croatia

  • Tourist season because of the crowds and crazy prices
  • Always having to carry cash
  • Showering in a bathtub 

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7. What advice do you have for others thinking about making a move from the diaspora?

Try not to overthink it and talk yourself out of doing it. Pretend like it's your only option and really consider all options with the guiding principle of 'what do I want vs. what can I live with'. It won't be perfect; it's not meant to be. You'll need to learn to do more with less, but in the long run, it'll teach you to be more minimalistic, which I don't think is a bad thing. There are lots of groups on different platforms that contain tons of helpful people that want to help. Join these groups and use them to plan your departure from your current country, and I promise you'll meet some great people who may even turn into close friends. Don't downplay the value of learning the language if you're like a native English speaker and me. You'll likely speak Croatian with an accent, but don't let that discourage you. Persevere, and you will enjoy the pleasure of speaking the language which you can use to help yourself and others. 

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8. How do you think Croatia can better assist those who are looking to return to the Homeland?

Generally, I think Croatia is doing ok in assisting those who are looking to return home. I would personally like to see the citizenship verification process sped up through the consulates if at all possible and continue to digitize processes and procedures both domestically and abroad. More language options for non-native speakers through consulates or options at universities in the major cities would likely be warmly welcomed as well. I personally would attend these to strengthen my foundational knowledge and unlearn certain words like 'fonat' and 'povakumat', which everyone gets a good laugh over when I accidentally use in a sentence.  Finally, job placement/opportunities are an area in which I would love to see some improvement, selfishly, however, I know there can't be an improvement if there are minimal job openings in the first place. Perhaps more incentives for companies to open up shop in Croatia would stimulate job postings and in turn, applicants, or a cultural shift in how jobs are posted and salary transparency. Times are tough all over, and knowing if you can afford to apply for and be accepted to a job in advance is becoming crucial in people's job searches, especially with the rising prices of the basics in Croatia. 

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Thanks, Mike!

You can follow more stories in the Croatian Returnee Reflections series in our dedicated TCN section.

Would you like your returnee story - positive or negative - to be featured in this series? Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Returnee.

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What's it like living in Croatia, and where can you get the best survival tips? TCN CEO Paul Bradbury and TCN Editor Lauren Simmonds have teamed up to publish Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

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Wednesday, 5 October 2022

Croatian Highlander Takes to USA, Turning Point Marked With Move

October the 5th, 2022 - The Croatian Highlander brand which started right here in Croatia and refers to itself as the ''Adventure of a lifetime'' and a ''global series of long-distance hiking events which will take you on hikes to some of the most iconic mountains'' has crossed the pond.

This Croatian-made event which centres around physical fitness and giving yourself a true challenge has taken many countries by storm, and now it has headed across the Atlantic Ocean and found a home in the United States of America as well, marking an important step forward for the brand.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Mladen Miletic writes, the Croatian Highlander brand, which is already very well known among walkers and hikers now, entails mountain adventures which aim to connect man and untouched nature. As touched on above, it has already very successfully managed to spread to fifteen countries around the world, and for the first time it was successfully held on the trails of the stunning Big Bear Lake located in the mountainous region of Southern California.

The first arrival of the Croatian Highlander brand in the wild and beautiful nature of the United States was marked by the performance of 260 participants in sections of 60, 30 and 15 miles. Many brought of these keen hikers had their dogs join them on the walk, the youngest participant was a seven-month-old baby, and the oldest was a 65-year-old woman who managed to hike the 60-mile-long trail in a five-day adventure.

"The United States of America is the world's largest outdoor market and our arrival here is a major milestone for the brand and the fulfillment of our wishes," said Highlander CEO Jurica Barac. The next adventure is scheduled for October the 28th 2022 much, much closer to home on Zagreb's Medvednica.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Made in Croatia brand.

Wednesday, 5 October 2022

Croatian Brand Miret Earns Prestigious Certificate for Their Shoes

October the 5th, 2022 - The Croatian brand Miret has earned prestigious recognition on the global stage which will further shine the spotlight on this ecologically-aware producer.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Josipa Ban writes, the well-known Croatian brand Miret which designs and creates ecological trainers has received the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certificate for their complete product. Miret's shoes have as such become the only tennis shoes in the entire world that have a certificate confirming that they don't contain any harmful chemicals, meaning that nothing in the product poses a risk to human health.

It's important to note that other brands do carry this mark, but only for certain parts of trainers, where as the Croatian brand Miret's certification is for the entire shoe. The standard 100 marks represent the "eyes of the consumer", explained Domagoj Boljar, the co-founder and director of Miret.

"Given that footwear production often takes place far from the eyes of the consumers themselves, with this certificate, they get an accurate insight into what is happening in places that are invisible to them," Boljar pointed out.

Proof of quality

In order to be awarded with this certificate, they had to undergo rigorous testing of every single component and material incorporated into their product, and the whole process, which the certifier went through for the first time, lasted about a year, they explained from the company, which was founded a mere four years ago by the brothers Domagoj and Hrvoje Boljar.

Domagoj Boljar emphasised that it is a process that is much more complex than the certification of other items of clothing, because footwear is made from a dozen different materials and components, unlike clothing which typically only actually has two or three materials in it. Obtaining this certificate is extremely important for the Croatian brand Miret because this is just one in a series of confirmations of the foundations of their praiseworthy project.

"We're quite radical when it comes to our product and we like to take care not only of the ecological footprint but also of people's health. Now we've received an independent certificate that confirms the quality of the product and the positive impact on human health,'' emphasised Boljar, announcing that they plan to continue to prove their high ecological standards.

With that said, they should soon present the results of their research on the biological composition of tennis shoes and the CO2 footprint. Ultimately, they are convinced, all of this will have a positive impact on their business because they're now scientifically proving their story about ecological trainers. This, in turn, contributes not only to recognition, but also to the credibility of this Croatian brand, and as far as recognition is concerned, Miret seems to earn it rather quickly. This is confirmed by their revenue, which in just two years, from 2019 to 2021, grew by 179 percent to 1.1 million kuna.

However, according to Domagoj Boljar, further growth is still to come because so far they have been mostly focused on product development, the establishment of their infrastructure and growing the right team.

"Now that we've properly organised the business, we will focus on growth, certification and expansion of our offer,'' the men behind the Croatian band Miret explained.

Much like other Croatian entrepreneurs, the business path of the Boljar brothers was far from easy because they worked hard for six years on the development of their ecological trainers with partners from nine other European countries. Therefore, it wasn't easy to replace traditional materials such as leather and plastic with more sustainable and environmentally friendly materials, all while maintaining the quality, durability and modern and attractive design of the shoes.

This quality is mostly recognised by foreign markets, because 90 percent of Miret's shoes are exported to other European countries, such as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and then to the Scandinavian countries, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark.

For more, make sure to check out Made in Croatia.

Wednesday, 5 October 2022

Croatia Entering Eurozone in Turbulent Times, What are the Positives?

October the 5th, 2022 - Croatia is entering the Eurozone during particularly difficult and turbulent times, following a global pandemic, and now during the Russia-Ukraine war which has resulted in spiralling inflation and an energy crisis, but what are the positives?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, all Croatian kuna that people have at home will have to be exchanged for euros unless they want to keep hold of it for historical, nostalgic purposes (and I'm sure we'll all be keeping a coin or two). It's interesting to note that some of that money will be flowing into the purchase of real estate. Croatia's accession to the Eurozone, according to the Croatian National Bank (CNB), only partially caused huge growth in the property business.

''This boom in the market has been happening for the last few years, we've all been witnessing it, it isn't something that is exclusively related to Croatia joining the Eurozone, it's something that I'd primarily associate with the fact that we have lived for too many years in the zone of zero interest rates,'' said vice-governor Michael Foulend of the Croatian National Bank for HRT.

The double display of prices in both kuna and euros in stores should prevent additional price increases due to the rounding up of prices when Croatia does adopt the euro officially, but inflation is complicating everything.

''Having learned from the experience of other Eurozone countries, we don't expect that there will be more pressure due to the introduction of the euro here. What is inconvenient is that Croatia is in a period of very high inflation, so perhaps it creates the impression that everything is linked to the euro, but that isn't at all the case,'' stressed Zvonimir Savic, special adviser to the Prime Minister on economic issues.

Croatia is entering the Eurozone at a time of great geopolitical crisis, but this country's joining should actually provide many advantages.

''It is to be assumed that entering the Eurozone means greater financial stability, lower interest rates, more favourable conditional borrowing, even during crisis times, and we are and should be aware that this current crisis is geopolitical and has very serious economic implications - then you have an umbrella, some kind of shelter you can count on,'' pointed out Mladen Vedris from Effectus University.

''Within the Eurozone itself, there are some big differences between developed and less developed member states, but also between the political leadership of those countries, so it is particularly important that we navigate these waters skillfully and as strongly as possible in this currently turbulent sea,'' concluded Vedris.

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

Wednesday, 5 October 2022

Rijeka Boat Show 2022 Huge Success for Exhibitors and Visitors

October the 5th, 2022 - The Rijeka Boat Show's edition for 2022 has yielded great results and a sense of satisfaction for both visitors and exhibitors.

As Morski writes, more than 80 exhibitors using over 5,000 m2 of fair space, over 10,000 satisfied visitors, numerous novelties and premieres - in many ways, the record-breaking Rijeka Boat Show 2022 proved that Rijeka lives not only by the sea but for the sea.

The largest nautical fair in the northern part of the Adriatic, the Rijeka Boat Show, has closed after three intensive fair days at Karolina Rijeka Pier. The thorough organisation and painstaking preparations for this demanding event were almost ruined by an unprecedented storm that engulfed the wider region of Rijeka, submerging the city centre. However, the efforts of the organisers and the perseverance of the exhibitors were still rewarded. On Friday, September the 30th, the rain finally gave way to the sun, and the mayor of the City of Rijeka, Marko Filipovic, officially opened the Rijeka Boat Show 2022.

For this fair, a record 80 exhibitors prepared a truly rich exhibition programme for the visitors. On the crowded pier, on land and under tents, as well as in the sea on numerous moorings, there were attractive brands from the nautical world, including many Croatian-built vessels and additional content.

This year's fair was characterised by numerous representatives from the world of small Croatian shipbuilding, the expansion of the luxury offer and numerous Croatian premieres. Marin Boat presented boats up to 10 metres long to the Croatian market - those that can be afforded by a large number of customers, while Motonoavis premiered the Piranhascraft aluminum vessel, which interested visitors could try out. Demonstration runs of the Sailfin electric hydrofoil board presented by the Plurato company were particularly attractive to visitors.

The largest and most expensive vessel at this year's Rijeka Boat Show, which was also the Croatian premiere, was the MONACHUS 70 FLY - the largest ever series-produced motor yacht in the Republic of Croatia, manufactured by Vineta d.o.o. from the City of Split. This brand new model of a top-performance luxury yacht is just over 21 metres long, and with its impressive appearance, it attracted a lot of attention in the Port of Rijeka.

The importance of a strong nautical fair has been enhanced many times over by ambitious investments in nautical tourism in Rijeka, which should soon get the most modern marina on the entire Adriatic in Porto Baros. This was emphasised in speeches made by numerous partners and sponsors of the fair, representatives of the City of Rijeka and its tourist board, Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, the Port Authority and ACI. The director of the fair, Ivan Crnjaric, thanked them, and in particular highlighted the exhibitors without whose trust this demanding project would not have taken place.

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

Tuesday, 4 October 2022

4 Croatian Cities Boast Most Expensive Properties, Zagreb Isn't Among Them

October the 4th, 2022 - Four Croatian cities boast the most expensive property prices when looking at square metre costs, and the City of Zagreb isn't among them.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, to begin with, it's worth noting that the Republic of Croatia's real estate turnover last year amounted to a massive 60 billion kuna, which is a whole 20 billion kuna more than it amounted to back in 2020. The number of sales was also 30 percent higher. The highest price per square metre - coming in at more than two thousand euros - was achieved by property sellers in four Croatian cities: Dubrovnik, Rovinj, Split and Opatija, while in the City of Zagreb the average price per suqare metre was 1,600 euros.

It is particularly interesting that almost half of the properties were bought with cash, and when we talk about the possibility of buying real estate, residents of the coast are the least likely of all to be able to actually afford property.

This interesting data was commented recently on HTV's Dnevnik by economic analyst Luka Brkic from the Libertas University, who said that people, especially in turbulent, uncertain times, try to escape with their assets to safer harbours - and one of the anchors definitely comes in the form of purchasing real estate.

Brkic also said that APN's loans further stimulate the demand for apartments, and then the price increases follow.

"It's also possible to go into slightly more speculative waters and say that a large part of property that is bought with cash has speculative characteristics and attributions, that is, that it is possible that it is a matter of some percentage of money laundering," said Brkic, claiming such things can never really be ruled out.

Brkic added that some Croatian and international research estimates show that the shadow economy which is very much present here in Croatia could be worth slightly less than 30 percent of GDP. This is an absolutely enormous amount of money that does not end up in the tax system at all, he noted.

"This is something that is definitely a problem. Whether it is a third now or not we can't be sure, but whatever the figure is - it's definitely much too high," he warned.

For more on property prices in different Croatian cities, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 4 October 2022

Famous American TV Host Jay Leno Thrilled With Rimac's Nevera

October the 4th, 2022 - American TV host, writer and comedian Jay Leno is clearly pleased with the amazing Nevera created by Croatian entrepreneur Mate Rimac.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, famous American presenter Jay Leno well and truly threw himself into the waters of all things automotive just a few years ago. He has since grown a very successful YouTube channel called "Jay Leno's Garage" which is dedicated entirely to his passion and he recently tested out Mate Rimac's stunning Nevera.

Leno loved Rimac's remarkable car, the Nevera, and he was particularly impressed by the speed it can reach without much effort and the sheer ease of driving one feels when behind the Nevera's wheel. Leno said that Americans, especially many of those who have never even heard of the Republic of Croatia, will now hear about it and the incredibly intelligent people who built the strongest car in the entire world, as RTL Direkt reported.

"The Nevera's acceleration is impressive. It's linear,'' said Leno in the video in which he tested the Nevera, comparing it to the lack of ease of other electric vehicles and adding that he thinks that this, the latest of Rimac's astonishing supercars, is set to achieve great success on the demanding American market.

Livno-born Croatian entrepreneur and businessman Mate Rimac has often been compared to famous inventors and is frequently referred to as Europe's own Elon Musk. This doggedly determined creator started out with his love of cars from his garage, with not much knowledge or cash behind him.

He has since put Croatia, a country which had absolutely nothing to do with the automotive world whatsoever, very firmly on the map for all lovers of cars and connected it forever with Bugatti, showing that even the most unimaginable ventures can work out, even in a country which is still only just learning how to give entrepreneurs a fighting chance to succeed.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Made in Croatia section.

 

Tuesday, 4 October 2022

Zagreb Company Stemi Encouraging Kids to Develop Robots and Chatbots

October the 4th, 2022 - The Zagreb company Stemi, which is engaged in the development of software, wants children to learn how to develop robots and chatbots in school as skills which are more relevant for the rapidly altering times we're living in.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Josipa Ban writes, a couple of years ago, the Zagreb company Stemi launched the "School of the Future/Skola buducnosti" project in Croatian schools, through which elementary and high school students can work to acquire the technological knowledge of the future, that of robotics, artificial intelligence (EI), and the Internet of Things (IoT).

So far, more than 350 teachers and two thousand students have participated in their project, equal to every tenth school in the Republic of Croatia. The initiators of the project now want this project to come to life in every fifth school, 220 of them. With this goal, together with their partners Infobip and A1 Hrvatska/Croatia, they launched a group financing campaign "Build the school of the future/Izgradi skolu buducnosti", during which they plan to raise a grand total of one million kuna.

In this way, all those who want their children to acquire the technological knowledge and skills of the future from an early age now have the opportunity to influence changes in the Croatian education system. They can change things in this country's often-criticised education system precisely through showing their support to the Zagreb company Stemi's praiseworthy campaign.

Marin Troselj, the initiator of the project and director of the Zagreb company Stemi, explained that their goal is to expand the bridge between schools and our technology industry. "We want to bring knowledge and practice from our best technology companies to every fifth school in Croatia and thus turn them into schools of the future," he pointed out.

This truly innovative and valuable project, in which around 750 thousand euros have been invested so far, has advantages for both students and teachers. Through technological challenges, students can gain some of the most sought-after knowledge on the market, and through teamwork and project work, they'll develop key soft skills for a successful career in the technology industry. The teachers, on the other hand, are also educated about new technologies, and using an innovative educational platform significantly facilitates the preparation and implementation of classes.

Slobodan Velikic, Stemi's business development director, announced that soon, both students and teachers will be able to talk with their colleagues from other countries who are also participating in their programmes. This will be possible because the School of the Future also starts across the pond over in the USA and closer to home in Europe in Great Britain this year.

"Students need to start preparing for the jobs of the future in their classrooms, where they will definitely have to work in an international environment, and through practical work, they'll improve the local community with their projects," said Velikic.

Until this year, through the School of the Future project, students learned about artificial intelligence through the development of chatbots, i.e. computer programmes that can talk to people using natural language. This year, the programme will be enriched with two new ones - robotics and the Internet of Things. Students will thus learn how to make a walking robot for Mars exploration, but also how to grow their own food and how to manage production with the help of technology.

In addition to transferring the technological knowledge of the future, the School of the Future project is also of great value because it popularises STEM fields.

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

Tuesday, 4 October 2022

As Huge Ships Return, How Has 2022's Croatian Cruise Season Been?

October the 4th, 2022 - The Croatian cruise season for 2022 has been excellent, much like the rest of the country's post-pandemic tourism picture. Which were the most visited Croatian destinations for cruise ships?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, just as the global coronavirus pandemic decimated air traffic, it also brought the cruise industry to its knees. Large cruise ships saw their passengers vanish overnight, and the question of when this segment of the tourist offer will recover, given the large number of passengers in one place, remains open.

This year, however, passengers returned to cruise ships, albeit not in the same volume as before, after all, the companies themselves aren't selling at full capacity, but many companies have now announced that they did have a good summer season and that 2023 should be a very good year for cruises, as reported by Novi list.

Recently, a specialised fair for cruises, Seatrade Cruise Med, was held, which took place this year from September the 14th to the 15th in Malaga, Spain. Croatian ports were also presented there under the joint name of Croatian Cruise Ports. As part of the MedCruise pavilion, the Port Authorities of Rijeka, Zadar, Sibenik, Split, and Dubrovnik, the Port Authority of Dubrovnik-Neretva County, the County Port Authority of Dubrovnik and the Port Authority of Vukovar all presented their offer. Croatian representatives in Malaga also presented the Adrijo project, which connects eight Croatian and Italian ports - Ancona, Ravenna, Venice, Trieste, Rijeka, Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik.

This year's hosts were the Port Authority of Malaga and the City of Malaga, with the support of the MedCruise association and CLIA, and it is one of the most important specialised fairs in Europe, attended by more than 3,000 participants from across the rest of Europe and the world operating in the cruise industry.

Representatives of the Rijeka Port Authority were also present in Malaga, representing Rijeka at this world cruise congress. A series of meetings were held with representatives of the cruise companies themselves, which resulted in agreements for the next cruise season. Rajko Jurman, head of commercial affairs of the Rijeka Port Authority, announced that two arrivals of Norweigan's Getaway cruise ship have been arranged in Malaga for next year.

"This ship will arrive twice in July next year. It's the longest vessel that has ever sailed into Rijeka, 325 metres long in total and with a capacity of 3,900 passengers," announced Jurman. He also added that the announcements for next year look very good, meaning that the City of Rijeka could host more than 40,000 passengers from cruise ships.

After two years dominated by the pandemic, this gathering of those employed within the cruise industry in Malaga is finally an opportunity to "examine" the state of the industry and make announcements for 2023. The conference said that the cruise industry must strive to improve its reputation and restore the trust of passengers, that the industry should be carbon neutral by 2050, and that the 2023 cruise season is looking great. Pierfrancesco Vago, CEO of MSC Group and the president of CLIA, referred to new CLIA data on passenger interest in cruises and said that a significant number of passengers tend to stay in destinations before and after a cruise, contributing to local economies.

According to the latest data from the State Statistics Office (DZS), in the first seven months of this year, 66 foreign cruise ships, or large cruise ships, entered Croatian seaports, which is equal to far fewer cruise visitors than the Croatian cruise season was used to before 2020. There were 294 thousand passengers being carried on those ships, who stayed in Croatia for 658 days. The number of passengers on foreign cruise ships increased by 259 thousand passengers during the first seven months of 2022 compared to the first seven months of 2021, when due to the pandemic, stricter epidemiological measures were introduced that restricted cruises by foreign ships. Last year, the first entry of foreign cruise ships was recorded in Croatia once again only in June.

This year, the data shows that the results from the pre-pandemic year of 2019 were not reached during the Croatian cruise season. As such, during the first seven months of this year, the number of trips realised by foreign cruise ships decreased by 10.6 percent, and the number of passengers on these ships decreased by 48 percent compared to 2019. This indicates the trend of the arrival of smaller vessels and the fact that the companies aren't selling at full capacity. Cruisers are back, and the Croatian cruise season has bounced back with it, but with far fewer passengers.

Foreign cruise ships during the first seven months of 2022 sailed under the flags of thirteen different countries, with the largest number of cruisers having arrived under the flag of the Bahamas, followed by cruisers under the flag of Malta, Italy and Panama.

Out of a total of 329 cruises, most of them were realised down in Dubrovnik-Neretva County, a total of 45.6 percent, then in Split-Dalmatia County, which accounted for 31 percent of cruise ship arrivals during this Croatian cruise season. Together, these two Dalmatian counties accounted for as much as 78 percent of the traffic that cruise ships achieved in all Croatian ports until the end of July this year. Primorje-Gorski County, for example, accounted for a mere 3.3 percent of round trips.

The most visited port this year was of course the Port of Dubrovnik, which saw 213 cruise ship visits in seven months, followed by Split with 144 visits, then by Zadar with 73 visits, and the the Central Dalmatian islands of Hvar and Korcula with 45 cruise ship visits each.

For more on the Croatian cruise season and cruise tourism, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Tuesday, 4 October 2022

Mirela Kardasevic Sets New World Record in CNF Freediving Discipline

Mirela Kardasevic set a new world record at the World Cup in Kas, Turkey in the CNF freediving discipline (constant weight without fins) with a dive of 75 meters. 

Mirela Kardasevic set a new world record at the World Cup in Kas, Turkey in the CNF freediving discipline (constant weight without fins) with a dive of 75 meters. With this exceptionally great success, she became the first woman in history to win a gold medal and set a new world record at the depth and pool world championships. Mirela is one of the few divers who competes in the pool and in the deep, so this success is even bigger. 

“I did it! NEW WORLD RECORD CNF 75m ??‍♀️ (constant no fins) at Kas Baska World Cup? My first world record in depth (the hardest discipline by far), and let me tell you, the one I ve been waiting for the longest. It took me 5 years to finally achieve this result. The journey was hard. I had many failures and doubts. I was the "early turn" diver, but nevertheless, I never stopped working hard, I changed my approach, I started from the beginning this year regarding equalization, and I wasn’t afraid to take that risk. As I said in my previous post, sometimes we have to take that huge step back in order to understand and grow ?”, said Mirela Kardasevic in her latest Facebook post. 

Mirela Kardasevic pics Facebook

At the Free Diving Indoor World Championship that took place in Belgrade in June, Kardasevic set two new world records. In the DYNB (Dynamic With Bifins) discipline she won a gold and set a new record by swimming a distance of 250 meters, while in the DYN (Dynamic with Fins) event she covered a distance of 275 meters, winning another gold and setting another world record. 

Mirela has a total of 11 medals from the world championships in diving, of which four gold, four silver and three bronze medals, while she has two bronze medals from the European championships. It is interesting that the Croatian Diving Association did not include our most successful athlete in freediving in the national representation for the upcoming world championship. 

Mirela Kardasevic 2


 

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