Saturday, 25 February 2023

Ancient Salona Research: Sensational New Archaeological Discoveries

February 25, 2023 - The latest discoveries in Salona, an ancient city near Split, show that the site is almost a third larger than previously known and confirm that ancient Salona was a large city in an extremely important strategic position of the Roman Empire. The value of these discoveries is sensational, according to the conservators.

"These discoveries and their presentation will soon become a great archaeological sensation like the world-famous Aquileia and Pompeii and will have a significant share in the economic development of the city of Solin," Radoslav Buzancic, head of the Conservation Department in Split, said for Hina, as reported by Poslovni.

The presentation of the ancient Salona will be developed through the generations and long into the future, he said, noting that some newly discovered finds, such as mosaics, will be presented in the Cultural Centre. "It is not one project, but many projects with the same goal, financed from different sources," Buzancic pointed out, adding that "the process of the physical presentation of the ancient Salon in the city and outside it is related to future research and spatial planning policies of the city, which the Ministry of Culture and Media has always supported."

The latest research carried out south of Gospin Otok on the left bank of the river Jadro revealed parts of the city ramparts that give a new image of ancient Salona and show that the city was larger than previously thought. These ramparts, Buzancic explains, stretch south of Gradina to Marko Marulic Street, from where they turn west to Sirina.

The analysis of archaeological research has established, he emphasizes, that Gospin Otok, as well as the entire part of the city to Maruliceva Street, was located inside Salona. In archeological research on Sirina, walls that we know from 19th-century blueprints were found, towers that were not drawn at the time, and economic complexes of buildings within those walls.

The new findings shed an entirely new light on ancient Salona

New finds, not only the ramparts of the southern part of the city, but the sensational finds of monumental buildings and infrastructure, as well as the finds of stone sculptures and sculptures found in these investigations, shed a completely new light on ancient Salona, Buzancic points out.

Among them, he singles out "the imperial building with mosaics between the post office and the monastery of the Sisters of the Handmaids of Little Jesus, the ancient road with a huge canal opposite the same monastery, the large thermal baths that have only been partially explored on the stretch from Tuđmanova Street to the City Administration building, as well as the southern gate of the city which are located under the road in Petra Kresimira IV Street, together with the previously found channel and bridge north of Tudmanova street."

Salona, Buzancic explains, is a huge Roman city with Illyrian and Greek roots. It was the port of Delmata until the age of Augustus. It began to develop as an important urban center of Illyricum, with new walls and monumental gates, a forum, and temples erected.

The Flavian dynasty left a memory of its rule in the vast arena built west of the old city. In the time of Marcus Aurelius, in the middle of the 2nd century AD, the city, walled with ramparts and towers, reached the size of what, Buzancic notes, was considered the ancient Salona until recently.

"It was a significant city in an important strategic position, the center of Illyria, which was destroyed and rebuilt many times because of this. It flourished in the period from the creation of the Roman Empire to the Gothic Wars, was rebuilt into a large and important late antique center, with the seat of a huge archdiocese that reached to the Sava and the Danube to the north, destroyed by the invasion of the Avars and left to the Croats, who built the center on the ruins of Salona his medieval state", he explains.

Salona, Buzancic points out, has great importance for Croatian history and statehood, as well as an educational character that brings knowledge of such an important ancient center of the Mediterranean. According to him, it is also a huge Christian archaeological site with a history that goes back to the apostolic times.

Ancient Salona research will continue

The latest discoveries in Salona are the work of the skill and expertise of Croatian conservators. According to Buzancic, who were never behind the Italian ones, Salona was better protected than the famous Pompeii, which experienced great devastation a few years ago when entire parts of attractive ancient buildings collapsed.

"In the past, the buildings in Salona were destroyed so that the enemy army would not use them as fortifications, but the construction was still so solid that despite all that, it was not completely destroyed," explains Buzancic .

He adds that parts of the architecture partially preserved as ruins were once extremely sensitive to earthquakes. "This can be a great danger, especially if it is a question of slender columns on which parts of a massive structure are located," warns Buzancic.

In Solin, there have been protective archaeological investigations for years, which, he reminds, necessarily precede construction works and are financed by the Investor. Systematic archaeological research in Salona is financed from the state budget and EU funds, and some research is co-financed by the City of Solin.

Salona's research will continue. Thus, the insights into the ancient past of the current Solin region will continue to expand. The discoveries bridge the almost two-millennium time gap between the current Solin and the former Salona, a fortress of the Roman Empire in Dalmatia. The exciting archaeological story of Salona turns into a promising magnet for visitors.

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

Saturday, 25 February 2023

Dubrovnik Traffic to be Restricted in the Old Town Area

February 25, 2023 - With the city being one of the main tourist hubs of Croatia, it is to be expected that Dubrovnik traffic might need some adjustment, especially around the old town area.

As Index writes, mayor Mato Frankovic presented a draft decision on traffic restrictions in the contact zone of Duborvnik's old town to reduce traffic jams in the heart of Dubrovnik and the negative impact on the monumental heritage. Frankovic emphasized that the draft is based on UNESCO guidelines and the Management Plan for the old town.

"Given that Dubrovnik is the first to issue such a document, I expect business entities and citizens to participate in the public consultation for the next 30 days so that the final decision is as high-quality and realistic as possible and so that we change it as little as possible in the future. This dialogue is extremely important to us," said Frankovic.

"We want to reduce crowds and give priority to the population of Dubrovnik"

He noted that the recent changes to the Road Traffic Safety Act were the prerequisite for drafting the decision. "We want to reduce crowds and give priority to the population of Dubrovnik, with a special emphasis on the residents of the old town," said Frankovic.

The draft defines five categories of vehicles with different rules. Citizens who have had a registered residence in the zone for more than one year, as well as public transport vehicles, mopeds, motorcycles, emergency services, armed forces, and HGSS, will be able to move freely in the zone of the special traffic regime.

Special category

The same will be possible for everyone with a PPK (privileged parking ticket), pre-paid parking, parking lot, or garage space outside the system of public parking lots.

A special category includes operations in transporting people and cargo, while the traffic of tourist buses, 7+1 and 8+1 passenger vehicles, and car sharing can continue under the current conditions. Access to the old town will be prohibited for campers, camper vans, tractors, and similar vehicles.

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

Friday, 24 February 2023

A Week in Croatian Politics - Croatian-Ukrainian Solidarity, Sundays and Eggs

February the 24th, 2023 - This week in Croatian politics, we've seen the marking of one year since Russia invaded Ukraine, messages of solidarity with the Ukrainian people, a deeper look into what makes Plenkovic tick, discussions around working Sundays... Oh, and some eggs.

An anti-war protest is held in Zagreb as the one year anniversary since Russia's horrific invasion of Ukraine is marked

An anti-war protest has been being held today here in the heart of Zagreb on the occasion of the anniversary of the shocking Russian invasion of Ukraine.

''Expressing solidarity with the victims of Russian aggression in Ukraine, we, feminists and peacekeepers from Croatia, alongside the rally "Stop the War Now" want to encourage those responsible to stop the suffering of the Ukrainian people as soon as possible. We'll send our requests to the addresses of the Prime Minister and the President of the Republic of Croatia, reminding them that Croatia, which itself survived the Homeland War with many scars, is morally and humanly obliged to make the maximum effort for peace.

On this day, demonstrations for peace are being held all over Europe and around the world. We're joining all the people who demand an end to the war in Ukraine, the arms race and the start of peace talks! Negotiating does not mean surrendering, arming yourself does not mean winning. As peacemakers and feminists, we especially support related peace initiatives and efforts in Ukraine, in Russia and around the rest of the world. We demand the following from the Croatian Government and the President of the Republic of Croatia, the competent bodies of the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN), as well as international bodies in charge of security and cooperation:

- The immediate cessation of the war, killing and war-related destruction;
- Demilitarisation and serious diplomatic efforts to initiate negotiations and the peace process;
- The launching of a new security and peace agreement that would include all countries on the territory of Europe;
- The launching of a new global agreement on arms control, especially in regard to nuclear weapons;
- Systemic support for women in war zones because militarism and warrior machismo reinforce gender-based violence including rape, prostitution and trafficking in women;
- The ensuring of the rights of civilian victims, including victims of sexual violence in war, in accordance with international criminal law;
- Full respect for the rights and protection of all displaced persons and exiles, including conscientious objectors who refuse to participate in this or any other war.

We know that peace isn't just about stopping war. Peace is a long-term process in which women are the supporting actors of social healing and the normalisation of life and care for the most vulnerable groups in our society. Therefore, as feminists and activists, we oppose:

- The imperial division of the world, the global escalation of conflicts, any new arms race and the maximisation of the profits of the military-industrial complex;
- The current atmosphere that generates preparations for further wars on a global scale;
- Hate speech and warmongering media coverage;
- Increasing the budget for further armaments because this means less funds for education, healthcare and social services and the fight against natural disasters and climate change;
- We'd like invite the media to report responsibly and impartially, including reporting on peace activities while respecting the majority commitment of European citizens to peace.

Peace building processes take decades and must take place at all social levels. Therefore, we're asking all responsible political actors to act in accordance with international conventions on human security and peace and to prevent further destruction, human suffering, killing and forced displacement by starting peace negotiations," reads the call to protest signed by the Ad Hoc Feminist Anti-War Coalition, which is supported by the following organisations:

The Centre for female victims of war - ROSA
The Centre for Women's Studies in Zagreb
The Centre for Peace Studies
Documenta – The Centre for dealing with the past
Women's room - The Centre for victims of sexual violence
The Croatian Women's Network

Parliament speaker Goran Jandrokovic assures Ukrainians that they can count on Croatia's unwavering support until the very end

As we mark the solemn anniversary of the launch of the full scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, Croatian politics turned to the topic of solidarity. Parliament speaker Goran Jandrokovic has made sure to assure Ukrainian nationals, be they displaced and living in Croatia and the rest of the EU or at home fighting in Ukraine, that they can count on Croatia's support until the end. A minute of silence in the Croatian Parliament then followed.

"I'd very much like to begin today's session by recalling the events which took place back on February the 24th, 2022, as this marked the beginning of the brutal Russian aggression against Ukraine. We followed the news that reached us that morning in total and utter disbelief, deep concern and palpable anxiety. That day, war returned to our European continent, dragging the Ukrainian people into a bloody fight for their own bare existence. The defenders of Ukraine, despite many expectations, surprised their aggressors, they met the Russians with strong resistance, they showed and continue to show how to love their homeland even in the most difficult circumstances," said Jandrokovic at the beginning of the session.

"We in Croatia can very much identify with that, and memories of the sacrifices made in the Homeland War are the reason for our special form of empathy towards the Ukrainian people. The Croatian Parliament reacted extremely quickly and just one day after the Russian aggression we almost unanimously adopted the Declaration on Ukraine, which sent a timely and strong political message of condemnation of Russia's aggression and confirmed our support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine," said Jandrokovic.

"The Ukrainian people can count on Croatia's undying solidarity and continued support in their righteous struggle for freedom. We will remain at Ukraine's side until their victory, because Croatia really does deeply understand the Ukrainian struggle. That's why Croats are obliged to stand by Ukrainians, and we must make sure we're on the same, correct side of history," said Jandrokovic.

Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Goran Grlic-Radman also stated at the UN that Ukraine must not be forced to wait for years before it wins its freedom like Croatia had to.

In lighter news, a man has been arrested and fined for throwing eggs at HDZ's official building

One Zagreb resident decided to take out his frustrations with Croatian politics and the way HDZ does things by launching eggs at their Zagreb building. The Zagreb resident, known to the public solely as Boris B (44), now has to pay a fine after having been found guilty at the Zagreb Magistrate's Court for throwing the aforementioned eggs at the HDZ building during a protest back in September 2022.

According to the verdict, on September the 10th, 2022 at around 13:30 on Victims of Fascism Square, during a protest, he violated public order and peace as a protest participant.

"Arriving in front of the central office of the HDZ party, he took out the eggs, which he threw at the door of the aforementioned building, causing it to hit the front door and break, therefore, in a public place (the street), he disturbed public order and peace, thereby committing the crime misdemeanor from Article 13 of the Law on Offenses against Public Order and Peace, punishable under the same article of the same Law," reads the explanation of the verdict.

The egg-thrower apparently arrived on a bicycle, pulled out a Cedevita box, and the eggs were taken out of it.

A police officer identified as Marko S testified at the trial, and according to him, he says he saw a man who left his bike on the pavement and came to the protective fence in front of the front door of HDZ's headquarters.

"He took a Cedevita box out from his backpack, grabbed something from it and threw it at the front door, and then I saw that it was an egg that broke and spilled down onto the door, after which he walked away back to the bike," the policeman testified. He added that approached the man and asked him for his ID, which he provided without any problem. After that, he was taken to the police station for further questioning.

Boris B. was sentenced in absentia, considering that he didn't bother to respond to the summons of the court. He was ordered to pay a fine in the amount of 53 euros (which could buy a whole lot of eggs), and he must also pay 40 euros for the costs of the misdemeanor procedure, the judge decided. The verdict is final and can be appealed.

Political scientist Berto Salaj says it's important for PM Andrej Plenkovic to be the longest serving Croatian Prime Minister

''Say what you like about him, but he gets things done'' is one of the main messages taken from political scientist Bero Salaj's opinions on Plenkovic published by Index.

Berto Salaj, a political scientist and professor from the Faculty of Political Sciences in Zagreb, commented on Croatian politics for N1, more precisely on the opposition's initiative to impeach Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic due to the latest scandals revealed in the media. Answering the question of whether anything could shake the prime minister, Salaj said that this initiative to impeach the prime minister will certainly not succeed. 

"If we look at public opinion surveys, HDZ is still between 25 and 30 percent. Not a single opposition party exceeds 15 percent. It's questionable whether this way of pointing out corruption is a good way to fight against Plenkovic at all. It seems to me that we've already learned that when it comes to Croatian politics, this just isn't a good way of going about things. Now there would have to be an affair where the clues would lead to the prime minister himself, for the prime minister to be caught on the spot with his fingers in the till, as it were," Salaj stated.

"Neither Grbin, nor Bencic, nor Grmoja enjoy the trust of citizens like Plenkovic does"

The political scientist advised the opposition to start thinking about how to increase the turnout of citizens in the elections. He believes that this and this alone would be the key to their victory.

"It's simply illusory to expect that HDZ's rating could erode dramatically in the coming period. In the perception of the citizens, none of the current leaders enjoy the trust Andrej Plenkovic does from people. Say what you like about him, he is how he is, but he gets things done. On the other hand, we have all these corruption scandals and an attempt to control independent institutions," says Salaj.

"I think it's important for Plenkovic to be the longest-serving prime minister"

Salaj also believes that some changes could happen within Croatian politics only if Plenkovic fails to stop spiralling inflation, something that is affecting everyone and everything. He believes that it is important for Plenkovic to be the longesr serving prime minister of Croatia.

The Croatian Government has remained fixated on the topic of working on Sundays, and a document to reduce the amount of working Sundays has now been published

Remember when everyone in Croatian politics and beyond was going on about banning or severely limiting working Sundays? Well they still are. You can read much more about it here.


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

Friday, 24 February 2023

Out of Office Travel Conference - Meet the Croatian Globetrotters

February 24, 2023 - All travel lovers and enthusiasts in Croatia, we've got something just for you - the Out Of Office travel conference. It will bring together famous Croatian world travellers, and it's taking place in Zagreb, 10 - 11 March 2023, in the newly opened premises of the Wespa Business & Lounge.

The aim of the conference, according to the organisers, is to encourage people to spend more time out of their homes and offices and to draw their energy from overcoming unknown situations on trips or from a relaxing vacation in nature. After all, taking a break and returning fresh will make everyone a lot more productive in solving daily tasks.

At the conference, seasoned Croatian travellers will happily share information and ideas on how and where to travel, telling stories from around the world. There will also be plenty of opportunities to exchange experiences with like-minded people. Those who want to travel, but have inhibitions about where to start, will find all the motivation they need in the presentations on travelling cheap or visiting American national parks. Those with more experience, on the other hand, might find it interesting to learn about trekking through the jungle or travelling in a campervan.

Ranko Ilić, the director of Zagreb Airport, will reveal some secrets of air travel.


You can see the complete program and lecturers at the official website and on Instagram.

Ida Prester will moderate the conference. The key speaker will be Kresimir Sucevic Mederal, known to the Croatian public as one of the chasers from the Croatian version of The Chase (Potjera) and a passionate traveller.

We do not doubt that there will be something for everyone and that all visitors will leave with new insights inspired for their next trip.

Morana Zibar's travel quiz will ensure lots of fun, where in addition to a light test of knowledge, visitors will have the opportunity to win valuable prizes. In addition to the quiz, there will be several other fun corners.

Come and check out what the Croatian travel scene is all about!

Tickets are on sale at Entrio.

The conference was made possible by the sponsors who recognised the importance of the event and supported Out Of Office - by travellers, for travellers.

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

Friday, 24 February 2023

Varazdin County to Lend High School Facilities for Foreign Workers Training

February 24, 2023 - For the sake of integration of foreign workers on temporary work in Croatia, Varazdin County will provide the premises of secondary schools for the implementation of language improvement programs and training, as was one of the conclusions of the working group for the development of the integration program for foreigners on temporary work.

As 24Sata writes, Varazdin County announced on its official website on Thursday that the working group was established at the beginning of the year, and the first meeting was held recently.

As they confirmed for Hina from Varazdin County, seven conclusions were reached at the meeting, where the main topic was determining the working group's plan and program of work.

Thus, to provide the premises of secondary schools in Varazdin County for the implementation of language improvement and training programs, it was also proposed to survey citizens and foreign workers to determine attitudes towards them and to see what can be done to encourage their integration into society.

The working group also proposes the creation of a joint database on the number of foreign workers, their nationality, and the places where they work, and that one of the conditions for their employment be learning the Croatian language.

It was also suggested that the banking sector consider the possibility of loans to foreign workers to buy real estate for family reunification and possible permanent immigration, confirmed Prefect Andelko Stricak.

It was also suggested that the media present the positive effects foreign workers bring to Croatia to create a positive image. It was concluded that there is a difference between workers from countries closer to Croatia, who adapt more easily to Croatian culture and customs, and workers from distant countries, whose adaptation is more complex.

Since the Ministry of the Interior is the holder of the proposal for the decision on the establishment of the Interdepartmental Working Group for the Drafting of a Draft Proposal for Documents on the Immigration Policy of the Republic of Croatia, which would also include the issue of integration of foreign workers into society, Varazdin County sent it a letter on February 15 with established conclusions and proposals of the working group.

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

Friday, 24 February 2023

Croatian Government Publishes Document Heavily Reducing Working Sundays

February 24, 2023 - The Croatian government sent the final proposal of the Trade Act to the Parliament, according to which shops would usually be closed on Sundays. Retailers could choose 16 Sundays a year during which they would be open. The new law would enter into force on July 1, said the Minister of Economy and sustainable development, Davor Filipovic.

"We have the final draft of the Trade Act; we are sending it to Parliament for a second reading. Minister Filipovic will present the details. We believe that this will contribute to everyone's quality functioning. We wanted to make it sustainable and of high quality, and all interested parties were consulted," said PM Plenkovic at the beginning of the Government session, report Index / Poslovni.

As he said, the working hours of shops are regulated so that the shops are closed on Sundays and holidays, and the weekly maximum of working hours that a retailer will be able to distribute independently from Monday to Saturday is set at 90 hours.

"We have planned for some exceptions"

"When this final proposal is compared with the first reading, due to the need to supply the population, the continuous performance of public services, and the operation of those facilities that normally work on Sundays and holidays due to specificity, we have planned for some exceptions. Compared to the first reading, bakeries were removed from those exemptions because we took into account everything discussed in the committees and in the parliament," said Filipovic.

As for the possibility of working on Sundays, as he stated, the Act foresees 16 working Sundays throughout the year. It is also proposed that it enter into force on July 1, and for the sake of adaptation of business entities, in 2023, 16 working Sundays are not counted as working Sundays until the new Act comes into force.

"We found a model of 16 working Sundays, I think it's a good balance, and I believe it will contribute to workers' rights and family life, to quality functioning in this new working regime on Sundays, which was and is part of our program," said Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic in the introduction of the Government session. We wanted to do it in a sustainable and high-quality way, and in the decision-making process, all interested parties were consulted, he added.

Retailers to choose the 16 Sundays they will be open

According to the proposal, the retailer independently determines which are the 16 Sundays of the working year based on individual needs, seasonality, micro-location and other relevant factors. In weeks in which Sunday is a working day, the maximum allowed hours are increased by 15, which makes a maximum of 105 working hours per week from Monday to Sunday.

The act prescribes exceptions to the general rule that are located within or are an integral part of railway and bus stations, airports and ferry ports, ports of inland navigation, ships, airplanes, and ferries for the transport of people and vehicles, gas stations, hospitals, hotels, cultural spaces and religious institutions and other subjects in culture, museums, visitor centers or interpretation centers, nautical marinas, camps, family farms and declared protected nature areas in accordance with special regulations.

Who is exempt?

Exceptions also apply to the purchase of primary agricultural products, the sale of own agricultural products at retail stands and benches at markets and the sale of own agricultural products at stands and benches at wholesale markets, occasional sales at fairs and public events, and sales through vending machines and distance selling.

As a special form of sales outside shops, press distribution through kiosks can be open on Sundays and holidays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

As stated in the explanation, the mentioned exceptions are prescribed due to the need to supply the population, the continuous performance of public services, and the operation of those facilities that normally work on Sundays and holidays due to the specific needs of consumers.

Read the entire document here.

For more, check out our dedicated News section.

Friday, 24 February 2023

Daruvar Spa €17.1m Project to Enrich Croatian Spa Tourism Offer

February 24, 2023 - The Daruvar Spa (Daruvarske toplice) submitted a project proposal to improve the spa and wellness tourism offer worth 17.1 million euros, including VAT, to the National Recovery and Resilience Program, the company's management announced on Thursday.

As part of the project, the reconstruction of the existing accommodation units is planned, as well as the introduction of new accommodation capacities within the Spa Hotel Termal and the construction of new thermal pools within the existing complex, writes 24Sata.

The project includes the construction of a new facility for recreational and tourist purposes, which, among other things, will include new and innovative wellness facilities and facilities based on virtual and augmented reality technologies.

It is fully focused on applying "green" principles and standards but also on the complete digital transformation of the Daruvar Spa by introducing the most modern technical and technological solutions.

The project aims to improve the quality, variety, and attractiveness of the tourist offer of the Daruvar Spa.

This will contribute to the strengthening of competitiveness in the domestic market, the sustainable development of tourism in the area of the city of Daruvar as a tourist destination, and the positioning of the Daruvar Spa as a market leader in the segment of health tourism in the Republic of Croatia, the company points out.

The realisation of this project is of great importance, not only for the Daruvar Spa as the project's host but for the entire local community of the city of Daruvar, as well as the Bjelovar-Bilogora County, as it will result in a number of positive effects.

They will be visible through the strengthening of cooperation and networking of the tourism and hospitality sectors, the placement of local products, the generation of new jobs, but also the creation of a stimulating environment for the further development of the tourism sector and all sectors directly and indirectly related to tourism, according to the press release.

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

Thursday, 23 February 2023

Dejan Lovren Retires from Croatia National Team

February 23, 2023 - Dejan Lovren retires from the Croatia national team and says goodbye in a letter to his fans on Instagram. 

You can find Dejan Lovren's letter to his fans transcribed below. 

"Dear national team, dear loyal fans,

I want to address you with some sad news, but believe me; I made this decision with an open heart and after much thought. This is quite difficult for me, and while I'm writing this, I'm trying not to cry, but you already know me well as a person with a heart and undisguised emotions.

The day has come when I have to say goodbye to the Croatia national team, even though I still see myself as an ardent fan who will always cheer on his national team.

As a child, I dreamed I would play in big tournaments in that most beautiful shirt with the checkers on it. I first wore those red and white checkers when I was nine years old, and I will never forget that special feeling - as if I was wearing Superman's cape. Like my hero Superman, I felt powerful, confident, and fearless.


I will forever remember October 8, 2009, as the official debut for my homeland.

I went through all the youth selections, but I always wanted to feel the top of the pyramid, which is the A national team. This is where I could show my true skills to the whole world.

Honestly, I expected more from myself in the beginning. I was disappointed several times with my performances, I thought I could give a lot more, but some things didn't add up. I once even considered leaving you early. Youth-craziness, I didn't have much patience with myself. I hope you didn't take it for granted because in the end, I listened to my heart and continued, mainly because of you, dear fans.

I want to tell all young footballers that you should look at the Croatia national team differently than anything else - look at them as your superheroes.

The most beautiful side of this national team story is all we have achieved in the past five years. It's still like a big dream to me. So many emotions passed through me, especially in 2018 and 2022, that it is difficult to describe. I lived for such moments and experienced them with the greatest pride. I will never forget them, I will carry them forever in my heart.

I want to thank all the coaches for their cooperation, starting with my first one, Slaven Bilić, then through Igor Štimac, Nika Kovač, and Ante Čačić to Zlatko Dalić. Each of you left something behind, and I will be forever grateful because I learned a lot from each of you.

I want to thank all former and current teammates for a wonderful and unforgettable journey. We have had our ups and downs, laughed and cried together, and I will have you all in my heart forever. I have played with some of you for more than ten years together. I experience you as my brothers, you were there for me when I was really having a hard time. Thank you very much.

Thanks to all the people behind the scenes who have been there since day one. I can't name everyone in order, but we know very well who these people are. You are the core of this national team, you are not in the headlines, and maybe you don't get too much attention, but believe me - without you, we are nobody and nothing.

Finally, I would like to say that you have one new fan from now on. As before, we stand by each other, because our unity is of inestimable importance for the Croatia national team, it is our greatest strength.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart,

Your Dejan"

Lovren played his last match for the Croatia national team in the 2022 World Cup semi-final against Argentina. He recorded 78 caps and five goals for Croatia throughout his national team career.  

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

Thursday, 23 February 2023

Pointers Travel: Croatia is an Undiscovered Gem for American Tourists

February 23, 2023 - I opened an office on 7th Avenue, and we’re starting our activities there, including the promotion of Croatia on the American market, proudly says Krunoslav Weinpert, founder and owner of DMC agency Pointers Travel from Osijek.

And there are many reasons for him to be proud because for an agency from Croatia to have an office in New York is a great success and a huge challenge. It's one thing to come to a tourist fair for a couple of days, and quite another to be present at the market every single day, writes hrturizam.

"We are starting with one project directed at all tourist boards in Croatia. It unifies the presentation of Croatia as a tourist destination to more than 2,000 agents in America. For the American market, we will present tourist destinations through 4 regions, plus "Best of Croatia.” American agents will go through training, be it 45-minute or 60-minute lessons, separate for the regions of Croatia,” says Weinpert.

The decision to open an office did not come overnight. Pointers Travel has been working on a market expansion for the last five years, and they have been to various fairs in America during that period. The opening of the office followed a logical sequence of events. American agents for sure view it differently when an agency is present on-site in the USA.

"This is our 10th time appearing on the American market - last year we went to 5 fairs, this year two, and before that with the Croatian Tourist Board. We were there before the pandemic. We already have two fairs arranged for next year. Next year we are going to Chicago and New York; the contracts have already been signed. Opening an office in NY immediately turned out to be a great move. We have already seen at the fair that it changes a lot. Travel agents and companies prefer to work with a company from the USA.

I can say that these are extremely large investments. So far, attending 7 trade fairs plus the ones before, while being present for two years on the American market, was a significant investment. We had some support from the EU, but we really gave it our all - not just financially, but our energy," points out Weinpert and emphasizes that, according to their experience, American agents are extremely interested in Croatia.

"Croatia is becoming one of the top three locations in Europe for the American market, and we realized that Americans still need to learn a lot about Croatia. They know some information, but they don't have much detail. Seeing as Pointers has more than 400 videos, and we work with more than 150 tourist boards all over Croatia, the decision is to approach agents in such a way. We will also do PR activities on the American market, as well as online campaigns, all kinds - adverts, Facebook, and PR articles on the American market", states Weinpert.

Focus on the pre- and post-season: Americans do not want to go to Croatia at the peak of the tourist season

Another sector that Pointers travel will cover is strategic assistance to tourist communities. Again, it is one thing to take up advertising space in the media, and quite another to have partners who are on the market, presenting, and know the market best. This is something that every tourist board should take full advantage of if it’s trying to communicate with the American market.

When asked what their cooperation with tourism boards will entail, Weinpert states three directions.

"We give the tourist boards the opportunity to become our partners in the project and, in that way, present their tourist destination, the special features of the destination and, what is very important, want to help them boost the pre-season, and post-season. Americans don't want to come during peak season; they do not find that interesting.

Secondly, we can bring them visitors with high paying power. We try to make sure that the events in which they invest significant funds are well attended, that they are sufficiently present in the American media and presented to agents as if we are "selling" the new contents of their destinations. For example, if a destination has invested in cycling or hiking in recent years, then we will focus on what they have invested in. This is how we give tourism boards the opportunity to cooperate."

The project officially starts on the 10th of March with the arrival of the first American agents in Croatia. These are agents who own companies in both America and the Emirates and cover the markets of America, the Emirates, and India.

"They want to come, they have 5 days, and their entire tour of Croatia this time starts from Baranja. We start from Baranja, Osijek, and the rest of Slavonia. Then we go via the golden hills of Papuk, Velika, towards Varaždin, the pearl that is Zagorje, Zagreb, we tour the famous four rivers, Gorski kotar, Lika, and Plitvice. Via Knin and Split, we end up in Dubrovnik.

One of the tours goes to Umag to the Kampinski Resort and includes a tour of Istrian wineries. We provide agents with study trips to Croatia, which allow them to get to know Croatia as a whole. What we are going to do now is to create more than 30 types of travel packages for the whole of Croatia; there will be between 50 and 60 travel packages, and they will be given to agents in America for use.

We provide agents with more than 10,000 photos, free of charge. These are photos that Pointers has been able to create together with tourist boards in the last 7 years, and we provide them with more than 400 videos of professional quality," explains Weinpert and adds that the benefit of what they have been doing in Croatia for the past seven years is finally being recognized.

The third segment, which is included in the entire project and is very important, is cooperation with hotels, restaurants, wineries, and destination attractions. Naturally, they find it interesting to be on the route and defined itineraries of the American agents.

"We go to the hotels in those destinations with which we cooperate; we go to quality restaurants, wineries, and attractions. We offer them cooperation on an annual level, on a contractual basis, where we also present them and include them in tourist packages. We bring agents to introduce them to all of this. I expect that by the end of the year, a large number of agents from America will come to Croatia, a few dozen. I don't know if the number will reach a hundred, but many American agents will certainly come to Croatia this year," points out Weinpert.

Croatia is an undiscovered jewel of Europe for American tourists

It is difficult to generalize, especially when the American market is concerned, but when asked what the perception of Croatia is on the American market, Weinpert emphasizes that there is great interest for this Adriatic beauty.

Americans want to avoid the biggest crowds in the peak season; they want a different type of vacation than just chilling at the beach; Weinpert further explains and points out that American tourists are looking for packages where they can taste and experience quality gastronomy and wine, and see natural and cultural sights.

"We got to know the American market well; we saw that its potential is huge, that Croatia is well accepted, that our prices do not pose any problem to them, and that they need much more in-depth information about Croatia. We push packages that last 14 days, some 7 days of cruising the Adriatic and visiting the main points along the coast, and after that, the continental areas, via Zagreb to the east of Croatia.

We do not work below that, nor does the market demand it; it simply does not make sense to come for a shorter period due to the length of the journey. We must admit that the reason for coming is still a brand stronger than the name of Croatia - Dubrovnik, followed by the Plitvice Lakes, food, nature, clear sea, wonderful people - this is what is most often communicated.

What surprised us all these years is that people who have been to Croatia have so many exceptional positive emotions for the country. Croatia is the undiscovered jewel of Europe for American tourists, which is starting to push hard alongside Greece, Italy, France; it is starting to brutally beat the competition," Weinpert concluded.

A large part of the work has already been done. The promotion has been done, and promotional photo and video materials are available, as well as direct contact with American agents who come to Croatia and experience Croatia firsthand. The most important thing, however, is to be constantly present in the American market.

By opening the Pointers Travel office, he took that big step forward and completed the whole story with strong foundations. That is the first prerequisite for a more serious approach to a market, in this case, the American market.

Finally, if you want to be part of this project and your focus is on the American market, representing a tourist community or a hotel, restaurant, or winery, contact Krunoslav Weinpert from the Pointers Travel agency (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) or via the website.

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

Thursday, 23 February 2023

Damir Sabol Selling Remarkable Croatian Photomath to Google

February the 23rd, 2023 - Whoever said that entrepreneurs are doomed when trying something new in Croatia? There's no denying that it is difficult, perhaps more so than in many other EU countries, but Damir Sabol has proved that where there is a will, there's a way. The remarkable Croatian Photomath is being sold to no less than Google.

As Josipa Ban/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Google is buying the genius Croatian Photomath, a company founded back in 2016 by Damir Sabol, which developed an application that solves maths problems. The transaction still needs to be approved by the European regulatory authority for the protection of market competition, and the decision should be made by March the 28th, 2023.

Damir Sabol, founder and director of the Croatian Photomath company, confirmed the transaction recently. "That's right, we've signed an acquisition agreement with Google, but it's subject to regulatory approval. Unfortunately, I can't say anything more until the decision of the regulatory body is known," Sabol said at the time.

Confirmation of the takeover agreement was also given to Reuters by a Google spokesperson, pointing out that they concluded the takeover agreement with Photomath back in May 2022, but he also warned that it remains subject to regulatory review.

He also added that the Croatian Photomath's technology will help Google provide a better mathematics learning experience and expand its overall offer among its young users. Currently, the biggest rival to Photomath on the American market is Microsoft's application for solving mathematical problems.

If the acquisition is approved by the European regulatory body, which is taking an increasingly tough stance on the tech giants, Google would gain a significant advantage over Microsoft. The procedure is such that the transaction, as Reuters explained, is currently in a preliminary audit. If the European Commission recognises a violation of market competition in the acquisition, it can open an investigation, which would last four months. If this doesn't happen, the transaction will probably be approved at the end of March as stated above.

If the transaction is approved, it will probably be the biggest acquisition of a Croatian startup, probably even bigger than that of Nanobit, which the Swedish Stillfront bought in 2020 for 148 million US dollars. Sabol has otherwise been tight lipped about why he decided to sell the company whose application has been downloaded more than 300 million times in six years in the first place.

The investment of two years ago in the amount of 23 million dollars also speaks of the potential of the Croatian Photomath. Menlo Ventures invested in Sabol's company with the participation of GSV Ventures, Learn Capital, Cherubic Ventures and Goodwater Capital, and the money was invested in increasing the number of employees, investing in the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning, and scaling product development and marketing.

To date, a total of 29 million dollars has been invested in Photomath, and these investments were accompanied by good business results, as Photomath has recorded continuous growth for the past five years. The revenues of the company, the application of which uses a smartphone camera to recognise and solve maths problems, grew 622 percent from 2017 to 2021, from 810,000 to 5.85 million euros. In the same period, profit grew by 557 percent, from 65,000 to 432,000 euros, according to data from the business service Poslovna Hrvatska/Business Croatia. The number of employees increased from 16 to an impressive 91.

The fact remains that Sabol succeeds in successfully developing, but also successfully selling the companies to which he dedicates himself. This was also the case with Iskon, one of the first Croatian companies that provided Internet services, which he founded just after graduating from college, at the age of 26. In the end, Iskon was sold to Hrvatski Telekom/Croatian Telecom for 100 million kuna (13.2 million euros), which was the most successful sale of a domestic startup ever back at the time.

With the Croatian Photomath company, Sabol could quite easily repeat this scenario, that is, once again realise one of the largest financial transactions on the domestic technology scene ever. His successes are a reflection of the philosophy he lives by. In a big interview that he gave to Poslovni dnevnik back in 2015, he talked about how he walked to work in Iskon for the first three years.

"I didn't have an official car. I leased 60 modems instead. In business, you can't allow yourself to spend irrationally on personal needs, first of all, everything should be focused on the development of the company," he said at the time.

After Iskon, he successfully developed the company Microblink, which deals with the development of mobile document scanners.

Photomath was created as its spin-off. At the end of 2020, Microblink received an investment from Silversmith Capital Partners in the amount of 60 million US dollars, with which the market evaluation of Microblink exceeded a massive 1 billion kuna. Not long after that sale, Sabol retired from the management position and today has an advisory role in that company as a co-owner. In addition to all of the above, the entrepreneur who was among the first on the market to recognise the importance of cameras on mobile phones and the opportunities that were to come of that, is also known as an investor.

Investing in STEMI, Marin Troselj's School of the Future/Skola buducnosti, is just one example of an investment. FER's Nuqleus programme was also included, in which it participates as part of the investment committee, and should help young startups with its advice. Another wildly successful business under Damir Sabol's rule is therefore at a turning point, and what his role will be within Photomath if the European competition authority approves the transaction and the company ends up in the hands of the powerful Google, is yet to be learned.

For more, check out our dedicated business section.

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