Croatia National Tourist Board Finally Adopts Some of My Ideas

January 6, 2023 - Croatia National Tourist Board Director Kristjan Stanicic gives a wide-ranging interview on the direction of Croatian tourism - with some ideas sounding rather familiar... 

My lawyer thinks I am a little strange, but I am really excited about next week. 

For, more than 2.5 years after I got the first lawsuit of my life for an article I did not write, on a portal I do not own, which quoted me (nobody else got sued, there was no request for retraction, and the article is still live in its original format - you can read it here) - and after quite the journey, which you can read about in my mini-blog series, Diary of a Croatian Lawsuit, the judge has announced that there will be a verdict next week in the case. 

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On Friday the 13th, that luckiest of dates. 

What could possibly go wrong?

I actually don't even mind if I lose at this point. It has been a lot of fun so far, and even if I do lose in Croatia, where justice has a more arbitrary feel, I am 200% confident that the European Courts in Strasbourg will be able to smell a SLAPP lawsuit from some distance. That will probably occur in the year 2063, if any of us are still alive, and if the Croatian National Tourist Board wants to continue until then, then so be it. 

I will confess that I have been impressed by the amount of paperwork the case has produced, and what level of lengths the prosecution legal team has gone to, in order to press their case, including impressive screenshots of my Facebook page to prove to whomever it mattered how unpopular I was. One folder with my name on it had so much paper in it that I wondered how many trees in the Amazon had been sacrificed for it. 

But one thing was clear - they were taking a LOT of interest in my words, which some might find intimidating, but I am actually encouraged. For it seems that by reading some of my thoughts, they are actually starting to implement some of my ideas, while at the same time suing me. Quite special

And then I came across this quite extraordinary interview of self-congatulation by the Director of the national tourist board the other day, the man whose organisation is suing me, and a man I have never met (this despite us both giving evidence in a courtoom for over 2 hours with only 6 people in the room). Lots of new initiatives, some of them very familiar. 

It is also an interview with some quite astonishing assertions, which goes some way, perhaps, to show why the national tourist board is so disconnected from the realities of tourism today. Let's put in the word 'allegedly' and 'at least in my opinion', just in case someone wants to take exception to my sentence and send me another blue letter.  

Back in June 2019, less than a year after the 2018 World Cup, I wrote an editorial called Branding Croatia for the Future: 5 Gifts and Trends to Focus On, which provoked a lot of discussion. Looking at Croatia through my foreign non-tourist-expert eyes, it seemed that Croatia was missing a trick or five. The article began:

It is seven years since the late Anthony Bourdain told the world about Croatia and its 'world-class food, world-class wine, world-class cheese.' Seven years later, Dalmatia still has no wine road, and gourmet tourism - despite its huge potential - is bringing in peanuts compared to destinations with much less to offer. 

And it is almost a year since probably the greatest gift of all time, much more even than Game of Thrones, as the tiny country which dared to dream won tens of millions of hearts during the World Cup and its aftermath. It was left to a small country with no football pedigree whatsoever that has never even been to the World Cup, to take advantage. Visit Rwanda's innovative partnership with Premier League giants Arsenal will include, among other things, exposure on the Arsenal shirt more than 35 million times a day. 

The fact that tiny Rwanda, a country I used to live in and know well, managed to take advantage of the football opportunity at a time when Croatia's footballing status was at an all-time high after the heroics in Russia, was particularly galling. If ever there was an opportunity to build on sporting success, this was it. And yet, it was Rwanda who made the moves, as you can read about in Lessons from Rwanda: Promoting Tourism Through Football, African-Style

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Looking at Google Trends for information about interest in Croatia, especially with the hindsight of data from the 2022 World Cup and, to a lesser extent, the 2021 Euro Championships, it does not take a genius to see where the main interest and promotion opportunity for Croatia came from, as I wrote in November, 2018 in Where is Croatia? Why Football and Tourism Should Be Branded Together.

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Interest in Croatia was insane, with Mediatoolkit reporting at the time of more than 60 BILLION mentions of the tiny country that dared to dream. And, as you can see from the Google Trends chart above, then everything died until the footballers came back to play in another tournament, as I wrote in Remember the World Cup? Google Trends on How Croatia Took Advantage (Not) in July, 2019. 

Time passed, as it does in Croatia. The footballing heroics were once again repeated, with Croatia once again coming home with a World Cup medal, this time from Qatar. More than 4 years after this - and after missing the golden opportunity of 2018 and Moscow, this week's interview in Novi List went like this:

How much did this World Cup do for tourism?

We will see the first results when we complete some more analyses. However, the fact is that this World Cup contributed a lot to increasing the visibility of Croatia again. I will remind you that when we won silver in Russia in 2018, Croatia jumped from 32nd to 27th place within a month or two.

We stopped measuring the showing of our famous video with Luka Modrić and other athletes, there were over 80 million views. Football is the most watched, the most important secondary thing in the world, it has a huge impact on recognition, visibility, strengthening the strength of the tourist country's brand.

So, to be clear - Croatia jumped from 32 to 27 based on the success of the football team. If the team had gone out in the first round, then presumably that would not have happened. Would that success have happened without the tourist board, who had nothing to do with it? Absolutely. 

Secondly, it is interesting to note that the tourist board is waiting to complete analysis on this year's World Cup. Did they do any analysis in 2018? If yes, were there any conclusions, and then any concrete actions?

The promotional video mentioned I know very well (I am the author of The Tiny Country that Dared to Dream text) and I interviewed the agency who made it in The Story Behind Croatia's Award-Winning World Cup Promo Video by BBDO

 

Although the video has only had 1.1 million views on YouTube, it has been watched, according to the director, more than 80 million times - you can see it below. Interestingly, as with almost all national tourist board videos, comments are turned off so there is no opportunity for would-be tourists to engage. And with no link to any website, nowhere for viewers to go if they want to know more. Basic stuff. 

But it is great to see the esteemed director talking about strengthening the brand through sport. Is there something concrete to this, or does it just mean applauding the sports stars who do the tourist board's work pro bono?

One of the other five gifts I mentioned in that 2019 editorial was medical tourism, where Croatia competes on the global stage in several areas, including St Catherine's Specialty Hospital, one of the Leading Hospitals of the World, and the first in Europe to offer pharmacogenetic testing, in partnership with Mayo Clinic. On the subject of health tourism:

As far as health tourism is concerned, Opatija is number 1 in that tradition and in everything that has been done. The Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster is doing a very good job and when we connect all these destinations we can seriously talk about year-round tourism.

It is great that the esteemed director recognises the work of the Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster, he is not alone. 

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At the 2019 International Medical Travel Journal Awads conference in Berlin, where Ognjen Bagatin was named owner of the best international cosmetic surgery clinic in the world, a conference that was attended by the national tourist boards of most attending countries. Croatia was represented by just 5 people, two from Bagatin, two from the Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster, and one fat blogger with two lawsuits hanging over him. That Kvarner has a bigger brand than Croatia for medical tourism in the industry is beyond question. Here is what branding expert Iland Geva said in a TCN interview at the recent Crikvenica International Health Tourism conference - organised by Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster.

You are a global branding expert. Tell us about the branding of Croatia as a medical tourism destination. It almost seems that the organizers of CIHT, the Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster, has a bigger brand in the industry than Croatia itself.

Shall I be politically correct, or truthful? Yes, the Kvarner cluster is doing a better job than the rest of the country. Enough said.

So while it is great to cheer Modric and Kvarner, as well as finally recognise the opportunity, are there any concrete steps apart from cheering? 

Digital Nomads is a topic I have been writing on since May 2019, and one which made my life of 5 in that Branding Croatia editorial. My last ever meeting with the national tourist board, in March 2020, including a proposal to turn Trogir into Croatia's first nomad-friendly town. While they liked the idea, the national tourist board declined, stating that there was a tax issue with nomads which meant that they could not support the proposal. 

After I then introduced the concept to Jan de Jong and worked with him to make the nomad visa a reality, and after co-organising the first digital nomad in conference in Croatia in October, 2020, Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads, followed by the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads in Residence Program and Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, it was great (and I mean that sincerely) to see the Croatian National Tourist Board announce a partnership with the fabulous Digital Nomad Association Croatia. The lawsuits were the elephant in the room, particularly at the last nomad conference I was involved in organising  - Work. Place. Culture. in Dubrovnik. There was a wonderful situation where CNTB sponsored the opening evening, which resulted in the Head of CNTB Global PR greeting me and others as the evening's host, before flying back to Zagreb the next morrning to testify against me in court.

I wish both parties a successful partnership in this exciting opportunity for Croatia - the latest gift. 

But this is the Kingdom of Accidental Tourism (applauding the likes of Modric and co is a case in point), and two parts of this epic interview really made me smile. 

In fact, this had me falling out of my chair:

One of those contents that we may already be a little bored with, but it is certainly golf. In no way to break the deadlock, we are aware that, for example, the south of Portugal and Spain are working on golf during the winter season. Climatically, we are very similar.

We are similar, but with the difference that there are very mild winters, which means that you can play golf all year round. We can use it in some southern destinations, islands, even Istria. But nothing happens overnight. There is a lot of talk about golf, it has been worked on for many years.

There is a lot of talk about golf, it has been worked on for many years!?! Long-time followers of TCN may be familiar with the quite exceptional efforts from our tourism gurus in promoting golf. Who else remembers the legendary Jack Nicklaus and the 200 million euro signature course in Istria in 2006, complete with personal welcome from the then Prime Minister, Ivo Sanader (Whatever Happened to Jack Nicklaus' Croatian Golf Course, Approved by PM Sanader?)? Hopefully the first permit will be coming soon.

There is a lot of talk about golf, it has been worked on for many years. If memory serves me well, golf became a cornerstone of the strategic tourist direction as far back as 1998. What I do know is that in the 7-year strategic plan from 2013-2020 for Croatian tourism, the plan was to build no less than THIRTY golf courses in Croatia. Number of golf courses started in that time (or since) - zero. Indeed, the only developments in the golf scene during the last decade that I can see are a lawsuit of half a billion dollars against the Republic of Croatia from an Israeli investor over a golf course which will not be above Dubrovnik, and the Croatian National Tourist Board somehow promoting an 18-hole golf course located in central Zagreb, until I politely pointed it out in Tourism Quiz of the Summer: How Many Golf Courses Will Croatia Have Next Week? 

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(Screenshot from www.croatia.hr promotion of the Dolina Kardinala gold course... in Central Zagreb!)

The golf course in question is actually a short drive out of the capital. 

Or was... 

No longer in function, it seems to me to be something of a symbol of the Croatian golf initiative which 'has been worked on for many years.' Take a look at the ghost town of one of the few (four) golf courses in the country, despite a quarter of a century of official efforts to bring all these wondrous golf courses to Croatia.

And while we are on the subject of the 2013-2020 strategic plan for Croatian tourism which delivered only a fraction of what was promised, has anyone seen the plan for 2021-2027?

Not yet, as it is not yet finalised. And so the Kingdom of Accidental Tourism has been floating without a strategy for three years now. 

Has anyone noticed?

My other favourite part of the interview was the self-congatulations on the success of a tourism initiative which has been panned by many in the industry, who refuse to take part in it - Croatian Tourism Month. According to the esteemed Director:

Are there any packages being prepared that would facilitate the arrival of our tourists to the Adriatic?

We expanded the Croatian Tourism Week to the Croatian Tourism Month and I must say that we have had excellent results in the past two years. We are already thinking about changing the dates, of course we will do an analysis and survey in the tourism sector itself. We see that our summer season is moving more and more into autumn and that our capacities are well filled in October as well. I don't want to prejudge some new terms, we will of course communicate that in time, but this action showed good potential and the result we achieved.

Another thing we tried to do through our promotional activities is to relativize rural areas. For two years, we had the campaign "Experience locals, discover rural Croatia" and I must say that even today we have calls in HTZ of thanks from small renters, OPGs, people whom our tourists and visitors have discovered in the past two years and who now and return.

I am not sure if he really meant relativise rural areas, or revitalise, but the thing that made me snort with this answer - and I have seen it a lot - is how a project is deemed successful just because the esteemed Director declares it so. 

Croatian Tourism Week and Croatian Tourism Month were great ideas, so poorly executed and at completely the wrong time of year for continental tourism that very few tourism businesses signed up. 

This is the same project, remember, where the only food to buy in several counties was popcorn at a 35% discount last year -  Gourmet Croatia: 35% Off Popcorn the Only Offer in Kingdom of Accidental Tourism.

They must have sold a lot of popcorn, as this 'successful' project was back in 2022, but with even less on offer - Ajme Meni! Shocking Truth of Amazing Official 'Croatian Tourism Month' Project.

And don't get me started on the promo video which included a Norwegian train... 

So yes, quite a success and lots to look forward to. Let's hope the sportsmen continue to overachieve, the Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster to fly the medical tourism flag, and for SLAPP lawsuits to silence curious writers who have the audacity to question the official narrative.

At least the digital nomad initiative seems to be moving in the right direction finally.

Friday the 13th, The Verdict, a new chapter in my Croatian journey. Vindication of free speech or the start of the long journey to Strasbourg. Whichever it is to be, you will hear about it on TCN first. 

If you want to get up to speed with the cases of the only blogger/journalist to be sued by the Croatian National Tourism Board in 2020, scroll down to the bottom for Diary of a Croatian Lawsuit, now in its fourth calendar year.  

You can read the full interview with the Croatian National Tourist Board Director in Novi List here.

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What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

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Friday, 6 January 2023

The Feast of the Three Kings or the Holiday of Epiphany in Croatia

January 6, 2023 - In Christianity, today marks the Feast of the Holy Three Kings or Epiphany. Traditionally, the holiday of Epiphany in Croatia marks the end of the Christmas season. Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar are kings, or wise men, who, according to the Gospel came to worship Jesus Christ after his birth in Bethlehem. Religious or not, most Croatian people will mark the holiday by undressing their Christmas trees and houses of all the festive ornaments. 

Gold, frankincense and myrrh

HRT presents. The Greek word "magoi", meaning wise men, scholars, star readers, magicians, etc., denotes the wise men in the text of the Gospel, who most likely originate from Persia. These people knew how to decipher the secrets of human wisdom and see signs in nature. They were looking for the truth about themselves and the universe. They left their homes and possessions and set off on a journey to Bethlehem.

In the Christian tradition, theologians from the third century, Origen and Tertullian, contributed to the creation of today's image of the "three kings". Origen is credited with interpreting the three gifts symbolically: gold pointing to Jesus' kingship, frankincense to his divinity, and myrrh to his death.

Tertullian turned the wise men into kings referring to the biblical texts of Isaiah and the Psalms. In the Middle Ages, an Italian artist made a mosaic of three kings and placed the names above each figure: Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar. According to this painter, Gaspar means a man from the area of the Caspian Sea, Melchior means king of light, and Balthasar means "the lord protects the king".

Representatives of the then known world - Asia, Africa and Europe

It is unknown who saw the three kings as representatives of the three continents: Asia, Africa and Europe. That is why one of the three kings is depicted as a black man in the paintings, which is usually interpreted as a message that all countries and the entire world should worship Jesus as the Christ.

Since the Middle Ages, the three kings have generally been depicted in such a way that one of them is an old man, the second is a middle-aged man, and the third is a young man, which is believed to be a motif used to emphasize that all people, from children to the elderly, need to recognise Jesus as their Lord and God.

According to Matthew's Gospel, the wise men, following the star of Bethlehem, came from the east to Jerusalem to worship Christ. They were received in Jerusalem by King Herod, who wanted to trick them into telling him the place where Jesus was born, so that he could kill him.

When they found Jesus, Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar presented him with three gifts: frankincense for a God, gold for a king, and noble ointment - myrrh for a man. Then God commanded them not to return to Herod, so they returned to their country by another route.

The three kings are representatives of the pagan nations, whom God called into his kingdom by announcing the birth of the Savior, the Lord. According to tradition, after the death of the three kings, their relics were taken to Constantinople, and after they were found by St. Helena, were transferred to Milan, and then to the cathedral in the German city of Cologne, where they remain.

Melchior is the patron saint of travellers and World Youth Day, and Balthasar is the patron saint of people with epilepsy.

Epiphany

Epiphany is a Christian holiday that celebrates the revelation of God to humanity in human form, in the person of Jesus Christ.

The first mention of the Epiphany is found in the text of Clement of Alexandria at the turn of the 2nd to the 3rd century, and the first mention as an official church holiday is known from the middle of the 4th century.

At the end of the 4th century, the holiday of Christmas was introduced from the West to the East, so the Epiphany lost its meaning as a holiday in which all the events related to Jesus' birth and hidden life up to baptism are celebrated, but it still remains the holiday of God's epiphany, in which the trip of the Three Wise Men is mentioned.

After the Second Vatican Council, the end of the Christmas season is marked on the first Sunday after the Epiphany, and on that Sunday the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated.

The baptism of Jesus and the miracle at the Wedding at Cana of Galilee, where Jesus, at the beginning of his public activity, announces himself as the one who has the power to turn water into wine, indirectly heralds the establishment of the Eucharist.

Blessing of Water and "Križec"

Among Croatian Catholics, the custom of blessing water on the feast of the Epiphany has developed, which is then used to bless houses and families.

In northwestern Croatia, 'križec' was the term used for the blessing of houses. For that occasion, the whole family would be together, and the house would be well cleaned so that they would be ready to welcome the priest. The priest would bless the house and all the household members, and would regularly be treated to food and drink and given gifts. Though this tradition is somewhat tuned down these days, many Catholic families in Croatia still welcome their local priests around this time to bless their households.

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

Friday, 6 January 2023

A Week in Croatian Politics - Schengen, Euros, and Shallower Pockets

January the 6th, 2023 - This week in Croatian politics, we've once again been dominated by headlines (both good and bad) about the introduction of the euro in Croatia, the country's accession to the Schengen passport-free zone, and price hikes.

Croatia finally joins Schengen

After being a member of the European Union (EU) since July 2013, Croatia has now finally taken a step into much deeper integration by joining the passport-free Schengen zone, the largest such zone on the planet, which enables the totally free movement of over 400 million people. The move will facilitate the ease of travel into and out of Croatia though land borders, with airports set to follow in March. The scenes we've all unfortunately become familiar with of endless queues at the Slovenian border to enter the country each summer, sometimes going on for hours on end, are now a thing of the past. With the opening of the Peljesac bridge back in July 2022 also, very similar queues at Neum (neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina's only small piece of coastline) were also resigned to the history books.

Croatian Schengen accession was long awaited, and a nail-biting decision process saw the southeastern European nation readily accepted, while two other candidates, Romania and Bulgaria, still have to wait. For a nation which relies extremely heavily on tourism and for which tourism is its strongest economic branch by far, passport-free entry from the rest of the Schengen zone will be of an enormous benefit, as for a great many people, Croatia is a country one can drive to without much of an issue. The same can be said of air traffic, which will (as mentioned above) begin following the new Schengen rules in March, by which planes coming into the country from other Schengen member states will be treated as domestic flights.

Businesses and particularly Croatian exporters have made no effort to hide their elation with Schengen membership, as it is something the latter in particular have been hoping and pushing for for many years now.

Croatia joins the Eurozone and officially adopts the euro as its currency

The big news doesn't end with joining Schengen, with the country also joining the Eurozone on the very same day (the 1st of January, 2023). No country has ever successfully joined both of these EU zones on the very same date before, and Croatia has had a lot of adjusting to do despite having a long time to prepare for the changes to both border and monetary policies. The scrapping of the kuna, which has been Croatia's official currency since May 1994, and the adoption of the bloc's single currency, has been a mixed bag for most of the population. While many are thrilled about further EU integration and no longer being victims of exchange rate fluctuations, others are mouring the loss of Croatia's control over its own monetary policy (despite the fact that the kuna has been stable and also tied to the euro in many ways for years), and are worried that prices will quickly start shooting up for all kinds of goods and services.

While people scramble to use the last of their kuna and annoying little lipa coins given the fact that kuna cash can still be spent across the country until the 15th of this month, change will only be returned in euro banknotes and coins. Introducing the brand new currency during inflation which is still spiralling is far from ideal, and many price hikes which we've seen since the introduction of the euro have unfortunately been the result of not only a new currency, but the difficult economic situation we're still finding ourselves in during the post-pandemic, raging Russia-Ukraine war period.

Many forget that the reason there was no referendum on joining the Eurozone or not was because it was signed and sealed and agreed when the country joined the EU. Unlike nations which had been founding members or were very old members, such as the United Kingdom, which could freely opt out of ever adopting the euro, it was part of the deal for Croatia and as such the referendum on joining was also the referendum on adopting the bloc's currency.

Some have raised their prices, and the government is on their case

Keen eyes have been observing the prices in the first week of euro adoption, with some going up and some staying as they were. Certain goods and services are slightly more expensive than they were in the pre-euro era, while others, such as the prices for tickets issued by Croatian Railways (HZ), have remained the same as they were when they were being expressed solely in kuna.

Plenkovic has even been threatening stores and the government has thought up the idea of creating a so-called ''black list'' of companies which have increased their prices following Eurozone accession, which some have referred to as a stupid and useless idea. The government has openly stated that it will not the body to drag prices back to what they should be, but that it will do everything in its power to force the businesses trying to cheat the situation for a euro or two more to do it themselves. Measures to tackle these abuses have been outlined here.

It's more than safe to say that people are rightfully feeling betrayed after months and months of being told by the powers that be that any prices increases will be temporary and minimal. You can read more on price increases and so-called ''price rounding'' by clicking here.

 

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated politics section and keep an eye out for our Week in Croatian Politics articles which are published every Friday.

Friday, 6 January 2023

Life Being Breathed into Osijek Railway Station as Works Progress

January the 6th, 2023 - Brand new life is finally being breathed into Osijek railway station, with the ongoing works now in their final phase and due to be completed by spring 2023.

As Mladen Miletic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the ongoing renovation of the Osijek railway station building is now coming to an end. The renovation contract was signed back in March 2021 by Minister of Transport Oleg Butkovic and Ivan Krsic in front of the HZ (Croatian Railways) Board, and the value of the project was estimated to stand at 25 million kuna.

The expected deadline for the completion of the works on Osijek railway station was the spring of 2023, and apparently the people of Osijek and everyone who comes to the city on the Drava by train will be greeted by the newly renovated building on time. Otherwise, the Osijek railway station building is an attractive representative example of beautiful nineteenth century architecture because it was built way back in 1870.

The ongoing works on the building were divided into three different stages back at the beginning. In the first phase, work was carried out on the western, unused part of the building, and in the second, on the eastern wing, where there are rooms being used by Croatian Railways' services. ​

During this, the last phase of all, the central part of the Osijek railway station building with the waiting room and the ticket office is being renovated.

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

Friday, 6 January 2023

Euro Croatia: How Can I Make Sure My Euro Banknotes are Real?

January the 6th, 2023 - Euro Croatia is now finally here after a very long wait to introduce the nation's brand new currency - the currency used throughout the majority of the European Union (EU). There have been a few growing pains and concerns being aired as the country sends the kuna to the history books, and now we need to tackle the issue of fraudulent euro banknotes.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, as the now Schengen and Euro Croatia gets used to its new monetary reality, it's time for people and businesses alike to be aware of the new dangers - the circulation of fake euro bankotes. The police have issued multiple warnings that in recent days they have received more reports that fraudsters are using movie props of banknotes in this new Croatian currency instead of original euros for payment.

In this sense, the Brod-Posavina County police have cited several cases in which fraudsters used said fake euro banknotes, on which was written: "Souvenir production", i.e. "This is not legal, it is to be used for motion props" .

To make it easier for people to verify the authenticity of these potentially fake euro banknotes, the Croatian National Bank (CNB) recommends four steps - feel, look, move, check.

People have been instruced to take a second or two to really feel the texture and relief of the banknotes in their hands, to look at it in the light (as would often be done in stores when handing money to the cashier) and checking whether or not they have a watermark and a protective thread on them, as well as a transparent number and a window with a portrait.

To verify their authenticity, people can tilt the euro banknote and check the hologram, the colour-changing number, the shiny strip and the portrait window.

There is also micro writing on euro banknotes that can be checked using a magnifying glas if you really want to go that far with your investigationsd, and additional features can be checked using a UV lamp. The police will likely continue to rehash these warnings as we go forward, and an instruction video on how to check your notes has been published on the Croatian National Bank's website.

For more, check out our dedicated news section.

Friday, 6 January 2023

Dinamo Star Mislav Oršić Signs for Southampton F.C. until 2025

January 6, 2023 - Mislav Oršić signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with the English Premier League club Southampton F.C. on Friday. He thus leaves Dinamo Zagreb after four and a half seasons, where he scored 91 goals in 216 appearances.

Oršić is also Dinamo's top scorer in European competitions with 28 goals. He's won seven trophies with Dinamo - four Croatian championships, one Croatian Cup, and two Croatian Supercups.

"I will remember every moment I experienced in these four and a half years. Today is tough for me, although I believe everyone understands my decision. The way to this English Premier League club opened up, where I always dreamed of playing, and I think that for every Croatian footballer, going to a club in a top league, and especially to England, is a great opportunity and privilege," said 30-year-old Mislav Oršić in Dinamo's official press release.

Dinamo thanked the player for his exceptional contribution since his arrival in 2018.

"On the professional side, I am happy about the move to Southampton and all the new challenges that lie ahead of me. I will do my best for my new club every moment I'm on the pitch. Nevertheless, today I am parting with my Dinamo, and it is not easy for me at all. However, I am leaving just as sincerely and immeasurably proud and happy that I was part of the Dinamo club and team, had so much support from the fans, and achieved the most beautiful, valuable, and special moments in my career and life. I lived my dream," Oršić said at his farewell to the club, in which he wished his teammates, coach Čačić, and the coaching staff all the luck to defend the Croatian championship title and win the Cup.

He also addressed Dinamo's fans.

"There are no words to describe how grateful I am for that special bond we created, for the tremendous support and special emotions. Thank you for recognizing that I give my whole self for Dinamo; our mutual love will continue, and you all remain in my heart forever."

Oršić earned an invitation from Zlatko Dalić to play for Croatia and was part of the team that won the bronze medal at this year's World Cup. He assisted Lovro Majer for Croatia's fourth goal against Canada (4-1), assisted Bruno Petković for the equalizing goal in the quarter-final against Brazil, scored a penalty in the shootout, and scored the winning goal against Morocco (2-1) in the match for 3rd place.

Source: HRT

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

Thursday, 5 January 2023

Record Demand for Workers in Croatia, Top 5 Jobs Include Waiters, Cooks

January 5, 2023 - The OVI (Online Vacancy Index) for 2022 showed that the demand for workers in Croatia compared to 2021 increased by as much as 26 percent, while compared to the pre-crisis 2019, the total number of online advertisements was higher by 32.3 percent, which indicates that demand on the Croatian labour market is at historically highest levels, as announced by the Zagreb Institute of Economics (EIZ).

As Vecernji reports, it was pointed out in the announcement on the website of the Zagreb Institute of Economics, as in previous years, the most significant contribution to the annual growth in demand was made by ads seeking workers with lower qualifications and those with secondary education, while the need for employees with higher education contributed with only 2.4 percentage points increase in the total number of ads, which amounted to 12.1 percent.

Salespeople, waiters, cooks, storekeepers, and bookkeepers were among the five most sought-after occupations. At the same time, the most significant contribution to the overall annual growth in labour demand was recorded by advertisements seeking salespeople, storekeepers, accountants, waiters, hoteliers/caterers, and clerks, while among the very rare negative contributions were programmers, construction workers, carpenters, and bricklayers.

In 2022, there was also a more significant increase in the number of fixed-term contracts compared to open-ended contracts, which led to the fact that the share of fixed-term contracts in one year remained almost unchanged, from 46.2 to 46.1 percent of all ads, but the number of advertisements with open-ended contracts saw a decrease in share to 43.7 percent of total ads compared to 44 percent in 2021, the EIZ analysts noted.

OVI - Online Vacancy Index is a monthly index of online job vacancies developed at the Economic Institute in cooperation with the MojPosao portal, and its purpose is to provide timely information on the current state of demand for work. This index is created by simply counting the number of unique new ads whose application deadlines end in the month for which the index is calculated. Considering that ads published through only one portal are taken, the number of ads is expressed as an index (base year is 2015).

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

Thursday, 5 January 2023

Croats Living in Croatia, Earning Abroad: Barbara Boltiš in Ivanić Grad

January 5, 2023 - The Croatian dream - to live in Croatia and get income from abroad. Meet the locals who are living that dream, and find out how you could, too, in a new TCN series. In the latest in the series, meet Barbara Boltiš, who is enjoying life in Ivanić Grad.

Croatia, great for a 2-week holiday, but a nightmare for full-time living unless you are very rich, so the perceived wisdom goes. The Croatian dream is to live in Croatia with a nice income from abroad, as many foreigners and remote workers do. For Croatians, if I read the comments in my recent video, Croatia is the Best Place to Live: 8 Reasons Why (see below), salaries are too low and people are forced to emigrate in search of a better life.

While there is definitely an element of truth to this, it got me thinking. The era of remote work is here, and the workplace is increasingly global, with a labour shortage for many skills. It doesn't matter if you are from Boston or Bangladesh if you have the skills, desire, and work ethic, and are able to work remotely online.  And while it is certainly true that salaries in Croatia are low, what about the opportunities that the global online marketplace offers? If foreigners can find ways to live in Paradise and work remotely, why not locals? Curious, I posted this on my Facebook and LinkedIn:

Do I know many Croats who are living in Croatia, but working remotely for international companies who would be interested in being part of a TCN interview series showcasing living in Croatia but earning online, including advice to others on how to get started? It could be an interesting series. If interested, contact me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Remote Croatia.

Some 15 emails - and several inspiring stories - later, and I think we have the makings of what could be a rather interesting series, Croats Living in Croatia & Earning Abroad. Next up in the series, Barbara Boltiš in Ivanić Grad.

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I’m Barbara, and if you are not from Croatia or a neighbouring country, it will be a challenge to pronounce my surname, but you can give it a try – it’s Boltiš. I grew up and I live in the small town of Ivanić-Grad near the capital of Croatia. After finishing high school in my hometown, I studied communication science at the University of Zagreb. During these years, I discovered I enjoy writing. My passion for writing inspired me to start my blog, which led to my first gigs as a content writer and also to learning more about digital marketing. After getting a university degree, I worked in a Croatian company as a Digital Marketing Specialist. When my one-year contract expired, I had a now or never moment and packed my bags for Ireland. I landed an amazing remote-first job in an international company CXC Global. In a nutshell, after three months in Galway, a series of events and many personal reasons made me pack my bags back to my Croatian hometown. The best part was being able to keep my job and not sacrificing anything in the process.

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1. Many Croats are emigrating but you not only chose to stay, but managed to achieve the Croatian dream - living here and working for an international company. Tell us how you did it.

As I mentioned earlier, after quite a few student experiences and one year in a Croatian company, I just felt like there must be some kind of hack to have a better life. I didn’t want to settle. And I’m a (calculated) risk taker by nature. In August 2022, I started to apply for jobs on the Irish version of the website Indeed. By the second half of September, I was already working remotely as a Digital Marketing Specialist for a CXC Global EMEA in Galway. After three months in Galway, I just felt like I wanted to go back to Croatia. At that point, the job was the only thing I was happy with. And the people in my workplace were pleased with me too, so there was only one way to go about it – work remotely from my hometown. 

2. Looking for jobs based in Croatia can be a challenging task. How challenging was it for you to get where you are today - it must have taken a lot of determination and rejection.

Well, I think nobody will like this answer, but I would say it wasn’t the hardest thing in the world. From my university years up until now, I was rarely jobless. During my university years, I was also active in a student association, writing on my blog, having various interests, and working on different projects. All these things made me more employable, which resulted in getting the job more often than not. Before I decided to leave Croatia, I had the option to open up my business with clients in line, but I just wasn’t ready to take that step. I was also offered a job that was based in Zagreb, but I didn’t want to live through the same story again. So, I wouldn't say I experienced so many rejections, and the ones I did I see as a redirection to better things.

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3. If you can do it, presumably others can too. Are you aware of others who have had similar success, but maybe in different industries?

Yes, I know quite a few people based in Croatia in different industries that can work remotely, earn more and have international clients. For example, one of my friends works as a therapist. She can have sessions with clients via phone calls or video calls. I also know some people that work in the IT industry. Even in the creative industry, there are Croatians nowadays owning Etsy shops and offer their products in a global market. I would say it’s possible but it depends on the industry.

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4. What is the general feeling among people in Croatia today: Is it possible to have a good life here, or is the grass greener on the other side? 

I think there is a general feeling of being stuck in one place. Many people are complaining about how bad everything is and not doing anything about it. Since I’m a full-on optimist, I think people can have more than a good life here in Croatia. The grass is greener wherever you water it. It depends on personal priorities and the type of risk an individual is willing to take. For me, waiting 10 years in one company to have a somewhat decent paycheck is not an option.

5. Apart from corruption and nepotism, low wages are often cited as a reason to emigrate. But with the remote work revolution, as your example has shown, as well as the influx of many foreign workers to the likes of Rimac and Infobip for example, show that a good quality of life IS possible in Croatia. What are your thoughts on that? 

I agree, the only problem that nobody talks about in these scenarios is that many Croatian-based companies still require people to be present in the offices. I believe that not everybody (including me) wants to live and/or commute to Zagreb and Split. There is still not enough trust from the employers' side toward employees when it comes to remote work. In the terms of living a so-called Croatian dream, I think many companies are saying that you can live a Croatian dream, but only if it’s in Zagreb or maybe Split. Also, we have an IT boom, while other industries are not moving so much. We cannot depend only on one or two industries as a country, that’s why I would focus more on what each individual can change for themselves, rather than looking a collective situation.

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6. What advice do you have for others who would like to stay in Croatia, but have no idea where or how to find a possible remote work job or business as you have managed to do?

I know that it is scary to move on from things that seem familiar and to do something different. It’s not the most comfortable to not know where you will land or if you will land at all, but it’s so much better to try than to continue doing something you don’t like for the next month, year, or decade. Take some time out, write what you would like to do, and if you are not qualified to do this thing you want to do, start with some small goal because setting up a big goal means setting up for failure.

For example, if you would like to be a content writer, start by reading blog posts. Then, maybe you can think of the niche or industry you would like to write about. When you have these two things, you could volunteer to write a piece for a small business website or create your blog or a LinkedIn article. If you are qualified, start applying only for jobs that you like, don’t put pressure on yourself, and if it says remote-first based in a particular country, apply anyway. It can turn out that you are a candidate that they are looking for, and they would be able to make an exception, or they can contact you in the future in case something pops up.

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7. Three reasons you decided to stay in Croatia, and the one thing you would like to change in this country.

  1. People. I love Croatian people. I have amazing Croatian friends that I just can’t compare to anything and anyone. I love the way Croatian people are relaxed and easy to talk to and always ready to help. Also, I like our bluntness. 
  2. Nature and climate. As a person that requires a lot of outdoor time to feel and be sane, I like the fact that the Croatian climate allows me to be in nature all year round. Croatian nature is indescribable, I’m so lucky to live in a country that I could spend my whole life exploring, and still wouldn’t be able to see everything worth seeing. 
  3. Local food. I’m able to step outside of my house and just take everything I need to make a full meal from the vegetables in a garden behind the house I live in. In case anything is missing, there are always relatives and friends that bring eggs, pomegranates, tangerines, lemons, and all the other goodies. 

I would change more than one thing, but the main thing I feel is the root of the problem is a victim mentality. It seems like it’s always somebody else fault for everything that is happening. I feel that each individual should take the responsibility for the role they are playing in society. If you want to have a better life, move your ass and stop complaining.

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Thanks Barbara, very inspiring, and congratulations on all your success.

You can follow the rest of this series in the dedicated TCN section here.

If you would like to contribute your story to this series, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Remote Croatia.

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What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Subscribe to the Paul Bradbury Croatia & Balkan Expert YouTube channel.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

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Thursday, 5 January 2023

Euro Croatia: The Saga Continues, Government Tackling Price Increases

January 5, 2023 - Euro Croatia tackling dirty play - at today's session, the government adopted a conclusion calling on everyone, from retailers to restaurateurs and craftsmen, to return their prices to the level before the conversion to the euro. Prime Minister Andrej Plenković pointed out that such price increases represent dirty play and profiteering.

"We warned there would be a negligible price increase; it was like that elsewhere. But what we are witnessing is something else. This is unjustified, pure profiteering, dirty play, and we will strongly oppose it with the Government's measures in the coming period," the PM said, as reported by 24Sata.

He called on all competent institutions to expose unfair practices from the State Inspectorate and Tax and Customs Administration.

"We will do that, and when I say measures so that there are no dilemmas, I also mean subsidies and other taxes. The government will not sit back and watch this without a reaction, and everyone who thinks that in this situation they can cast a shadow from an extremely positive and useful thing with their irresponsible business policy or harm the strategic success of the state, the government, society and all of us, they will not succeed", he said.

The Prime Minister called on all business entities to distance themselves from those who unjustifiably raised prices.

"With the conclusion of the Government, everyone is invited to immediately revise the prices to those before January 1, 2023, at the end of December. All departments are tasked to strengthen supervision, the Ministry of Economy to take all measures to collect complete and accurate information on price monitoring, the Ministry of Agriculture to collect food and product prices", said Plenković.

He stated that the purpose of the euro is not for someone in a crisis to get rich unjustifiably at the expense of citizens.

"We will not welcome any phenomena that lead to an increase in inflation, but we will sanction and fight against it with all mechanisms to protect consumers and ensure fair business practices," he stressed.

"In this period, all authorities will contribute to uncovering unfair practices. The state inspectorate, and the tax and customs administration, will be given a specific task to act as soon as they see irregularities - said the prime minister and called on everyone to revise the prices and return them to what they were at the end of December - he added.

Minister Davor Filipović presented the Government's measures against price increases.

"All business entities, including credit institutions and other financial service providers, and all those who have raised prices against the law are obliged to revise the retail prices of their goods and services and that they be determined by the price level as of 31 December", said Filipović.

"The inspectorate, tax, customs, ministries, CNB... are tasked to implement increased supervision of entities within their jurisdiction without delay", he said, adding that the Ministry of Economy will monitor prices and offer price comparisons at various entities.

He called on the Ministry of Agriculture to immediately collect the prices of agricultural products.

Chief State Inspector Andrija Mikulić was also present at the Government session and reported that they had intensified monitoring of received consumer complaints. In terms of dual pricing, before introducing the euro, inspectors found 1,744 violations of the law from September to the end of 2022. From January 2 to 4, the inspection was carried out by more than 200 inspections in trade and service industries.

"Bearing that business entities freely set the price, inspections have begun based on the applications received. From January 2 to 4, the inspection carried out over 200 inspections in the area of retail trade, including bakeries and service industries. These were mainly hairdressing services, body care, and maintenance services. According to the first results, an increase in prices was determined. In the shops, a price increase of 3 to 19 percent was recorded for chocolate, baked products, beer, coffee, and chocolate... We will determine if this is unjustified. If this is established, misdemeanor measures will be taken", said Mikulić.

"Most submissions concerned bakeries, hairdressers, and body care services, where price increases have been confirmed. In the shops, some subjects raised prices from 3 to 19 percent for chocolate, bakery products, beer, butter, sour cream, toilet paper, coffee, and other items. If they determine that it was unjustified, in accordance with the law on consumer protection, they will be prohibited from engaging in unfair practices and will be subject to misdemeanor measures. In service activities, the price increase there, unfortunately, ranges from 10 to even 80 percent", said Mikulić.

In the last two days, out of 306 inspections, 96 violations were found, which is 31 percent, and the inspections continue.

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

Thursday, 5 January 2023

Looking for a Job in Croatia? This Week's Top 10 from Posao.hr (January 5, 2023)

January 5, 2023 - Looking for a job in Croatia? A new weekly feature on TCN, in partnership with leading job site agency, Posao.hr, who present a selection of weekly job listings.

How hard is it to find a job in Croatia, and what is on offer?

We spoke to Ines Bokan, director of leading jobs site Posao.hr, who kindly took the time for this excellent interview overview.  

Ines has kindly agreed to work with us on a new weekly feature on TCN - a weekly selection of 10 job listings, as chosen by Posao.hr.  Details and links to the job opportunities below in the latest edition of this feature.

Lindner Montage + Service GmbH is hiring a person in the position of Structural Engineer / Construction Designer (m/f). The place of work Arnstorf / Leipzig (Germany) or the surroundings of Zagreb (Croatia). For this position we offer you comprehensive training, a long-term perspective, work from home and a dynamic work environment. Send complete applications via link until Jan 24th.

Scalable Global Solutions d.d. is hiring a person in the position of C#/.NET Software Developer (m/f/d). Workplace Zagreb. Experience in the development of software for real-time systems or embedded systems. Send complete applications via link until Jan 31th.

Gotlib Cattle Trade Srl is hiring a person for the position of Personal Assistant (m/f). Place of work Home. Flexible working hours. Send complete applications via link until Jan 22th.

EMBL European Molecular Biology Laboratory is hiring a Senior Network and Security Engineer (f/m/d). Place of work Heidelberg, Germany. Monthly family, child and non-resident allowances, annual salary review, a comprehensive pension scheme, death benefit, long-term care, accident-at-work and unemployment insurances. Send complete applications via link by Jan 14th.

Rittmeyer AG is hiring a person for the position of Project Manager IT (a). Place of work Baar, Switzerland. We also offer attractive employment conditions and are a well-positioned company in a market environment with future potential. Send complete applications via link by Feb 3th.

Eumetsat is hiring a Remote Sensing Scientist – Hyperspectral Infrared Level-2 Products (m/f) for work in Darmstadt, Germany. The company is offering an excellent salary of up to 7.500 € net per month, flexible working time, private medical coverage, and much more. Apply via this link by Feb 2nd.

Falkensteiner Hotelmanagement d.o.o. is looking or a Event Marketing Manager (m/f) in Zadar, Croatia. The company is offering a competitive salary, all-inclusive onboarding, an employee discount, and much more. Apply by Jan 20th by clicking here.

Next Step career network is hiring a Children Animator (m/f) in Austria. The net monthly salary is 1.700 €, with 14 full salaries a year and 48-hour weeks. All the details are available here, and applications are open until Jan 20th.

CCPOTER Sp. z.o.o. is looking for a Sales Advisor with Croatian (m/f) for remote work. Other than 100% work-from-home benefits, they are also offering a competitive basic salary with attractive sales bonuses, flexible working hours, and more! Apply here by Jan 24th.

Strabag BRVZ d.o.o. is looking for a Linux System-Administrator / DevOps (m/f) for work in Zagreb, Croatia or Belgrade, Serbia. The company is offering a chance to work in a global, multinational working environment with a strong team spirit, a competitive salary, and much more. Apply until Jan 15th by clicking here!

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For more career options and job listings, visit posao.hr.

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These weekly job listings will appear in the weekly TCN newsletter - you can subscribe here.

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What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

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