Saturday, 29 October 2022

Croatian Returnee Stories: Denis Vlahovac, from Vancouver CA to Daruvar

October 29, 2022 - Whisper it quietly, but more and more people are relocating to Croatia from the diaspora. In a new TCN series, we meet them to find out how they are faring and what advice they have for others thinking of making the switch. Next up is Denis Vlahovac, who moved from Vancouver CA to Daruvar.

My name is Denis Vlahovac, and I am a bar consultant and cocktail event manager. I own a company called Cocktail Empire that focuses on improving hospitality standards in Croatia through education and events. I promote the usage of locally grown products, connecting local producers with cafes and restaurants, and I am trying to implement new creative ways to use existing products in cocktails while lowering costs and making the business sustainable. I grew up in Daruvar, Croatia. After I finished University in Opatija in 2014, I moved to New York, and I lived abroad until the pandemic started in 2020. I visited 61 countries and lived in 5 countries.

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

Ever since I moved out of the country 8 years ago, I thought about what it would be like to actually go back to Croatia and work there. Did something change? Money was not the main reason I left (even though it was an important factor), but actually, the situation itself was with my university diploma, I actually had to know people to get a good job. Your skills didn’t matter much. When I moved out, I actually saw that if I worked hard, I could go places. And I worked hard and learned along the way. The decision to come back home was pretty much straightforward. I was forced to return to Croatia because of the pandemic. My Canadian visa expired, and I was unable to renew it. I barely managed to leave the country because I was on vacation in Alaska when it was decided that the border between Canada and the US was about to close the following day, so I rushed to the airport to return to Canada before it happened. The restaurant I worked at closed permanently the same week, so there was no other option but to go back to Croatia for, what I thought at that moment would be, six months.

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

My family always wanted me to come back and to be closer to them, even though they supported me in my travels. They were always here for me when I needed them. I haven’t seen my parents or my friends back in Croatia for 2 or 3 years sometimes. When it was time to come back, neither they nor I knew it was going to be for good. And we all thought the pandemic was going to end in a couple of months and everything would be back to normal. The day of the flight, I had 2 flight cancellations and barely managed to get out of Vancouver to Montreal and from there to Brussels, only to realize that there was a huge earthquake in Zagreb that same morning. We managed to get there the same day, and my parents left a car for me at the airport, and I drove back home to Daruvar to self-isolate for 2 weeks.

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

I was reading Croatian media wherever I lived in the world. Most of the time, I was grateful I didn’t live there. But when you start reading the news about the country you live in, you realize that the news is the same everywhere. In Croatia, there’s a problem in the past with previous regimes but so is in Canada or New Zealand.

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

It was hard for me to think about Croatia when I made all the other places my home. I lived in New York for 3 years, and the hardest decision I made in my life was to leave New York. I had lots of friends and a great job. But I needed a change. I wanted to travel the world. At that time, I never imagined myself living back in Croatia. But things change, and people change. Now when I am in my thirties, I can see Croatia as a wonderful place to live in. And I try to hang out with people who think alike and really want to work on making this place even better.

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

I knew what Croatia was like in 2014, and I didn’t want to live there at that time. The people were great, but the situation was hard. I do not come from a wealthy family, nor do I live on the seaside where opportunities to get better-paying jobs are abundant. But after 6 years abroad, I started to think about Croatia more. I wondered if the situation has changed. After 6 months of being in Croatia in 2020. I realized that covid was not going to go away quickly, so I started looking for a job as a bartender. I thought salaries must be much higher now than they were in 2014. After a few job interviews, I was left speechless. The sheer disappointment I felt at that moment as I was walking away from a cocktail bar in Zagreb I just had an interview made me think about moving away again. But this time, it was impossible for me to leave. All my savings were melting away fast, and I had to think hard about what I wanted to do with my life. I saw the opportunity to start my own business and apply all the things I learned abroad to the Croatian hospitality scene in order to improve it. I decided to stay in Croatia for good this time.

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

What I love about Croatia is that it is really beautiful, people are easy-going, and it’s easy to make new friends there is a big potential for business growth, especially if you have something unique to offer to the market. Every part of Croatia has something unique to offer in regard to food and sights. It’s awesome to go to places like Baranja and Istria, Zagorje, and Dalmatia and experience great food and meet friendly people. I like the way of life here and being close to my family and friends. I do feel it is getting more and more westernized with a fast lifestyle and the constant run for the money, but it still has some of that chill vibe. Especially in smaller towns. What I don’t like is that it is a relatively small market, so unless you have something original or are extremely good at what you do, you will have a hard time succeeding. Another thing I find interesting is that Croatians always think of themselves as really hard-working, but I don’t see that in Croatia that much. Of course, there are hard-working people here, but not in the amount we like to tell ourselves. Bureaucracy is a constant problem, but it is getting better. The thing I feel is the most annoying in Croatia is that you need to know people to get good jobs and that people think and talk about other people's lives too much. Related to my love of traveling, what I hate in Croatia is the lack of railroad infrastructure and the lack of long-haul flights from Croatian airports. Especially in the winter.

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

If you need a relaxed lifestyle and are thinking about moving to a slower-paced country that has great food, good people, and a high potential for business growth, Croatia is an excellent choice. Especially if you are a high earner, you will find that Croatia has everything you need. You can go hiking, play different sports, enjoy the sun and visit 1000 islands, drink the finest wine, eat quality local food and hang out with friendly people. It is extremely safe and well-connected with the rest of Europe.

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

I think the Croatian government missed the opportunity to keep Croatians that returned to Croatia during the pandemic in the country. Now it is hard for them to come back. I am one of the rare ones who decided to stay and build my life here. I think we should work on “stopping” the people from leaving Croatia permanently in the first place. It’s great for people to go abroad to study there or to get some work experience, and we should offer those people some benefits to come back to Croatia to use that knowledge to improve the local economy. Corruption is, unfortunately, still a big problem in Croatia, and we should all work together to get rid of it as much as possible. That is probably the main reason Croatians are leaving Croatia.

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Thanks, Denis, and good luck with www.cocktailempire.hr

https://www.facebook.com/cocktailempireDV

https://www.instagram.com/cocktail.empire

https://www.instagram.com/denis.vlahovac

 

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You can follow the TCN Croatian Returnees series 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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Saturday, 29 October 2022

Podravka Group Maintains Growth, Sales Revenue Increases

October the 29th, 2022 - The Podravka Group has managed to hold onto its growth despite the negative economic circumstances and inflationary pressures we're currently experiencing. It even secured sales growth of 10 percent.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, during the first nine months of 2022, Croatia's well known Podravka Group successfully coped with the various market challenges generated by the coronavirus pandemic and the Russian aggression against Ukraine, the consequences of which are reflected in the strong and continuous increase in the prices of all raw materials, packaging and energy.

Over the first nine months of this year, the Podravka Group achieved impressive revenue growth of 329.1 million kuna, which is equal to a 9.7 percent increase when compared to the same period last year. The Nutrition segment grew by 11.1 percent, or 292 million kuna, while the Pharmaceuticals segment recorded an increase in revenue of five percent, or 37.1 million kuna. The investment cycle is in full swing, so capital investments at the Podravka Group level in the first nine months of this year amounted to 294.5 million kuna, which is almost three times more than in the same period last year when that figure amounted to 103.7 million kuna.

Operating profit before depreciation (EBITDA) during this same period was 5.7 percent higher, and net profit was 3.8 percent higher when compared to the first three quarters of 2021. However, comparing the third quarter of 2022 with the same period in 2021, a visible a drop in net profit in the Food segment can be seen, which is a direct consequence of business conditions that have further worsened due to rising prices of raw materials, packaging and energy. The current high costs of raw materials, packaging and energy in the Food segment amounted to 269 million kuna, meaning that they were 25.3 percent higher than they were during the same nine months of last year.

"The business conditions over the first nine months of 2022 have been far more challenging than we expected them to be back at the beginning of the year, which is why we're strongly focused on optimising all types of costs and maintaining our sales volume. In this period we've just come through, through the active management of stocks, sales prices and increasing production efficiency, we partially amortised the rise in the prices of raw materials, packaging and energy, and thus managed to maintain growth.

I'm particularly pleased that, even in such challenging circumstances, we increased the salaries of our employees back at the end of March. However, it's important to emphasise the fact that the results the Podravka Group achieved in the first nine months of 2022 don't reflect what awaits us at the annual level. The most severe impact of cost growth awaits us in the fourth quarter, which will certainly affect the overall result for this year,'' commented the President of the Management Board of Podravka, Martina Dalic, adding that despite this, the company is continuing to implement all its strategic plans, which include significant investments and improvement of conditions of work.

In accordance with the company's development strategy, the implementation of the Podravka Group's investment cycle is in full swing, as evidenced by the investments completed over the last three months. A new line at the Koktel Pastry Factory, worth 30 million kuna, was put into operation, and work was completed on the company's solar power plant, which is currently the largest integrated (on the roofs of existing facilities/buildings) solar power plant in all of the Republic of Croatia.

In addition to all of the above, the Podravka Group's production facilities were all fitted with air conditioning units and a complete energy and IT renovation of the business headquarters worth 104.5 million kuna was completed, which significantly improved the working conditions of a large number of employees. The digitisation of production processes at Tvornica Juha i Vegeta was also completed, the installation of a new line in Varazdin, worth 40 million kuna, is now in its final phase, and construction work on the expansion of Tvornica Juha i Vegeta began at the beginning of October. This investment, worth a massive 104.8 million kuna in total, is the first investment in the construction of new Prehrana production facilities in Koprivnica after fifteen years, which will also create new jobs.

During the month of September, the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Podravka Group began, and the management of the company made a decision to pay the employees a special award in the amount of 750 kuna to mark the occasion, instead of being boastful with large ceremonies.

For more, make sure to keep on top of our dedicated business section.

Friday, 28 October 2022

A Week in Croatian Politics - Schengen, Slovenia, Ukraine and Nancy Pelosi

October the 28th, 2022 - This week in Croatian politics, we've had everything from insults, Slovenia's opinions on Croatian Schengen entry and wage increase proposals to healthcare reforms, Milanovic's latest actions, and Nancy Pelosi.

The Croatian Health Insurance Fund's HDZ boss referred to Croats as arrogant in his speech about healthcare not being free

The director of the HZZO, HDZ member Lucian Vukelic has referred to Croats as arrogant because "they think healthcare is free". The HDZ member at HZZO's helm also made sure to refer to himself as somewhat arrogant, too, just for good measure.

"We have a lot of relatives in America, as soon as you see them, they say: 'Thank God I'm healthy'. They say that because healthcare costs serious money in America. In America, you pay for your healthcare out of your own pocket. Our people here are arrogant, and I must say that even I was arrogant, people in Croatia say 'it's free'. It's not free. Healthcare in Croatia isn't free, healthcare in Croatia also costs money," he said.

Vukelic failed to really explain what the point of saying any of that actually was, but he seemed to imply that there is a widespread opinion across Croatia that healthcare somehow doesn't cost money. Moreover, Vukelic himself said that a third of Croats who work annually pay 26 billion kuna from their wages for basic health insurance, so they certainly know that healthcare isn't free.

Of course, there's also the question of what we actually get out of this healthcare we're paying for, which HDZ member Vukelic claims is expensive. It would perhaps be okay if, given that Vukelic is already more than happy to admit that we all pay dearly for our healthcare, he explained why every now and then people are forced to collect money for their treatment, why pregnant women sometimes have to take their own toilet paper to maternity hospitals with them, why the waiting times for often basic examinations are so long and why medical staff are leaving Croatia.

Only later, when asked by a journalist about his statement, did the HDZ member try to justify himself by calling himself arrogant as well, which is absolutely true, but it is also true that he called other people arrogant with the thesis that "our people say that healthcare is free", which honestly, they don't. When they see how much of their wage is shaved off for it each month, they definitely do not.

A man who takes home a monthly salary of over 18,000 kuna, who drives a 300,000 kuna Mercedes, who has an official car, who owned a 150,000 kuna 2001 Harley Davidson until 2019 and who claims his ''communication skills are excellent'' but makes sexist remarks on a TV show (Otvoreno) about women talking a lot should perhaps quiet down before calling others arrogant.

On the topic of healthcare, Health Minister Vili Beros has announced reforms to the system

Beros has presented his healthcare reform package, and it's extensive. Preventative examinations will be introduced, with pilot projects beginning next year in two Croatian counties, the number of specialisations in primary healthcare will be widened, there will be revisions for national preventative programmes for malignant diseases, a focus will be placed on melanoma, hospital system changes are set to come in, and there will be an emergency helicopter service fully established and up and running (or flying) by 2024.

This is just a little bit of what was presented and discussed. You can read more details in this article.

Are Croatia and Slovenia set to start falling out over Schengen entry?

The topic of Croatian Schengen entry is hotting up as the country's Eurozone accession rapidly approaches, but is neighbouring Slovenia ready to throw yet another spanner in the works? 

An expert in European Union law from the Faculty of Law in Maribor, Janja Hojnik, was a recent guest of Novi Dan on N1 where Croatia's entry into Schengen, among other things, was discussed. Hojnik noted that, as far as it seems, the Slovenian Government has not decided to block Croatia's entry into Schengen in any way.

"It has been determined that it is a mutual benefit for Croatia to enter the Schengen zone. The plan is for Slovenia to also ratify the agreement on Croatia's entry into Schengen," she said. She also commented on the announcement, which was published yesterday in the Ljubljana-based newspaper Delo, that Slovenia will issue a unilateral note stating that Croatia, by entering the Schengen area, accepts the arbitration ruling which was reached in the past regarding a territorial dispute.

"Recently, I was on Slovenian television and they asked two ministers for their comments on those statements and one minister said that it was all misinformation, and the Minister of Justice said that the Government hadn't even commented on it and that she knew nothing about it, that this statement should be confirmed in parliament, and there is no information from the Foreign Policy Committee about it. We can only speculate whether it will be brought to the Slovenian Government itself or to parliament. I think it would be a little unusual if it were inserted into the Act on Ratification. This is not the norm and the European Commission would probably ask Slovenia what it all means. I don't think that ratification with this condition is possible. I don't see any legal consequences to this. Such a statement can't be part of European Union law, and it doesn't have any legal consequences even in international law,'' explained Hojnik.

When speaking about the arbitration agreement between Slovenia and Croatia, she said that the task of politics is to resolve relations between neighbours, not to deepen them.

"I'd like Slovenia and Croatia to solve this problem themselves, without any external factors getting involved. Schengen is probably the last thing where Slovenia could have a veto. It is in Slovenia's interest that they aren't on an external border. I see it as the responsibility of politics to find an agreement,'' she said.

Plenkovic says he's going to regulate work on Sundays and raise the minimum wage. Again.

PM Andrej Plenkovic recently discussed the state of the economy, ongoing inflation, the consequences of the global coronavirus pandemic and of course, Russian aggression against Ukraine. Digitalisation and the green transition, two topics that keep coming up, were also touched on. Perhaps what attracted the most attention of all, however, were the discussions on banning (or should I say regulating) work on Sundays (remember that?) and of course, talk of raising the minumum wage. If you've spent any time following the domestic political scene, neither of the aforementioned and farily worn out topics will come as a surprise to you.

"We're going to regulate work on Sundays and the minimum wage will go up,'' says Plenkovic, who announced that his government would make several steps forward in both this and in other regards in the coming weeks. "We'll regulate work on Sundays and we've come up with a rational, well-balanced proposal," Plenkovic assured, adding that the minimum wage will also increase from next year to 4,220 kuna net, and a proposal for an additional tax on extra profits is being prepared in order to more fairly share the burden of the ongoing crisis. He also announced the continuation of the social dialogue with the trade unions, with whom intense conversations have been happening of late.

He noted that in just two months, the Republuc of Croatia will be among the fifteen countries in the world that are in NATO, the European Union, Schengen and the Eurozone, and that negotiations with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have been launched.

Plenkovic uses yet another opportunity to troll President Zoran Milanovic (SDP)

If you've spent any time in the City of Zagreb over the last few days, you'll have noticed that getting anywhere by road proved impossible for about 48 hours. The Crimea Platform Summit was being held right here in the Croatian capital, and for road users, the problems were very much in evidence. Plenkovic recently discussed how this extremely significant summit went, making no effort to hide his satisfaction with how it unfolded, and once again offering words of support to Ukraine.

It didn't stop there. If you follow Croatian politics, you'll know that Andrej Plenkovic (HDZ) and Zoran Milanovic (SDP), the Prime Minister and the President of Croatia, make sure to miss no chance to insult or troll each other, and this was no exception. Plenkovic made sure to make his feelings clear on Milanovic's earlier comments about Nancy Pelosi and the aforementioned summit.

"I think you're more than aware of just how important, useful and excellent an event like this that we organised actually is for the courageous, correct and moral foreign policy of the Croatian Government. This topic of whether or not someone went to Makarska just isn't the subject of my interest. He can explain that one himself,'' Plenkovic said, referencing Milanovic having gone to the aforementioned part of Central Dalmatia.

''I guess you can see who has been saying what over the past few years. I don't know what sort of rally he'll decide to go to, maybe he'll go to one Russia organises. Mrs. Pelosi didn't waste her time on irrelevant things, and neither did we," Prime Minister Plenkovic concluded, having made a very clear jab at Milanovic with the Russia comment. Gordan Grlic Radman, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, also touched on the topic of Milanovic, claiming that ''people are calling and asking what Croatia's position actually is'' in regard to the Russia-Ukraine war.

Nancy Pelosi praises Croatia for its humanity towards Ukraine and refers to the country as a leader in the diversification of energy sources

Nany Pelosi said that Croatia could offer Ukraine a lot owing to its relatively recent experience of war, and she also said that this country is a leader in the diversification of energy sources. Pelosi issued a warning that energy has become a means of blackmail in Russia's horrendous aggression against Ukraine, before thanking Croatia and Plenkovic for their leadership in the field of energy.

"Croatia is a small enough country to be resilient, but big enough to be significant in terms of security, democracy, peace and values," Pelosi believes, adding that the diversification of energy sources is helping to save planet Earth. Plenkovic said that with the construction of the LNG terminal on Krk, Croatia has now ''finally resolved" a four-decade-long debate in energy circles and that by deciding to increase its capacity, the government has "enabled Croatia to become an energy hub'' for natural gas.

Pelosi also said that the Croatian capital is the "perfect" place for the summit to be held, emphasising the very strong Croatian-Ukrainian friendship and the help that Zagreb continually provides to Kyiv as it goes through such terrible times.

For more on Croatian politics, make sure to keep up with our dedicated section, and keep an eye out for our A Week in Croatian Politics articles which are published each Friday.

Thursday, 27 October 2022

USKOK Shares Details of Indictments Against Four Former Ministers

October 27, 2022 - After the arrests of several former ministers made a big, but short splash on the Croatian political scene, now USKOK has published the details of the indictments against them.

The four former ministers from the Plenković government in the focus of the investigation are Darko Horvat, Boris Milošević, Tomislav Tolušić and Josip Aladrović. There are also four other suspects in two branches of the investigation, launched due to alleged illegalities with the awarding of funding.

Without specifying the identities of the defendants, USKOK reported that, in addition to the four ministers, it had filed indictments against Horvat's assistant Ana Mandac, former State Secretary of the Ministry of Regional Development Velimir Žunac, Director of the Administration for Assisted Areas Katica Mišković and Županja Mayor Damir Juzbašić.

The prosecutor's office announced that eight defendants are charged with misuse of position and authority, inciting and assisting in the misuse of position and authority, trading in influence, and assisting in trading in influence. Uskok specifies that Horvat is accused of putting his assistant Ana Mandac in charge of implementing the Program "Development of small and medium-sized enterprises and crafts in areas inhabited by members of national minorities". 2.65 million kuna in grants was awarded to "business entities" in which he was personally interested or at the instigation of Tolušić, Žunac, Mišković and Milošević. At the same time, USKOK adds, Mandac, according to Horvat's orders and the requests of Tolušić, Žunac, Mišković and Milošević and third unidentified persons, made a spreadsheet with the amounts of grants and economic entities to which these funds are allocated and then instructed the expert services to ensure the signing of the payment contract incentive.

USKOK's indictment also states that Horvat has used the authority of a minister and previously a member of parliament, through Ana Mandac, from January 2018 to April 2019, and asked the then-director of the Croatian Pension Insurance Institute (HZMO) Josip Aladrović to favor the employment of a certain candidate in HZMO. Aladrović, USKOK points out, then sent through Mandac the questionnaires which were to be used in the selection process to the candidate, which gave her an advantage over the other candidates. After several additional corrupt steps, HZMO ended up signing an employment contract with her for an indefinite period. According to the media, the candidate/employee in question is Lidija Sinković, whose father is Horvat's friend. Ana Mandac is also accused of asking Aladrović, at Juzbašić's request, to favor another candidate in order to hire her at HZMO, which Aladrović did the same way as previously described. After the candidate achieved the maximum number of points, she was also employed on an indefinite contract. The media previously reported that this part of the indictments refers to Petra Periša.

Thursday, 27 October 2022

Minister Beroš Presents Health System Reform

October 27, 2022 - Croatian Health Minister Vili Beroš presented the long-awaited health system reform today, although all of the details have not been ironed out yet.

The people of Croatia have gotten used to each new health minister coming up with their own, personal version of health system reforms, while the system seems to be getting worse all the time. The new minister took surprisingly long to present his plan, which is understandable when we know the circumstances under which he took over the department.

Today, he made his plans for the reform public. The changes will be enacted through the changes of the basic laws that cover the area of health, which will happen in early November.

One of the goals of the reform is strengthening primary health care, which is currently not doing what it should be. It's not the doctors' fault, but it has to change. Primary health care must become the strongest tool in our fight against disease, Beroš pointed out. The goal must be to detect diseases early, so turning to prevention is a necessity, as well as the development of health literacy from an early age. Preventive systematic exams will be established, to help detect diseases as soon as possible. The pilot project will first be implemented in two counties at the beginning of 2023, and it is later expected to be rolled out at the national level.

The number of specializations in primary health care will increase, which will help overcome the shortage of doctors. Specialist health care is transferred to the primary level, in health centers. Specialists from hospitals will also work in health centers, for which they will be paid additionally. In order to solve this, additional work contracts will be concluded with the specialists, Beroš pointed out.

Among other plans, Beroš announced that the national preventive programs for malignant diseases will be revised, a preventive program for the early detection of melanoma will be introduced, and an emergency helicopter service should be established by 2024. He also gave details of the changes to the hospital system. There are too many hospitals per population in Croatia, he said, adding that it is important to introduce the categorization of health institutions and functionally integrate them. The Minister also highlighted the strategic infrastructure projects, among which the revitalization of the Institute of Immunology at a new location in Rugvica and the National Children's Hospital in Blato.

Krunoslav Capak, the director of the Croatian Public Health Institute, stressed that the emphasis of this health system reform is on the transition to prevention. Croatia has not made enough investments in prevention and now we have to treat the consequences of diseases, which costs a lot and burdens the health system, he said and added that most of these diseases could have been prevented by informing the public about health and by changing habits.

The health system reform is expected to last until 2030, in three phases.

Thursday, 27 October 2022

Coffee App 'Kava' Conceived in Croatia Launches on App Store

October 29, 2022 - Croatia, a land of inspiration. Meet Sam Brown, a British digital nomad who came for the lifestyle, stayed for the coffee, then launched a spceciality coffee app called Kava. 

Kava, a new speciality coffee app that was conceived in Croatia, has just launched on iPhone and Android. Sam Brown, the founder and lead developer of the app, first thought of the idea after spending time in several of Croatia’s world-class speciality coffee shops, so it was natural to name the app after the Croatian word for coffee, Kava.

In an interview with Total Croatia News, Sam explained:

“As a Digital Nomad, I’m always visiting somewhere new and when I land in an unfamiliar city I want to find the best places to go for speciality coffee. But Google searches often result in inaccurate suggestions and blog recommendations are often untrustworthy or outdated. And if I do find somewhere that sounds good it is often unclear what sort of place I’d find when I get there. Would it be laptop friendly? What sort of food would be on offer?

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So I had the idea for an app that solves two problems.

One, it’s a map of the best speciality coffee shops across Europe (and eventually the world) all of which have been approved by us. Whenever you travel to a new place, you can check the Kava app to not only find the best coffee, but also see accurate information about what is on offer at each coffee shop. All this data comes directly from the Kava community so you can trust that it is impartial and up-to-date.

Two, it creates community around speciality coffee. Every time you go for coffee you can rate your experience on Kava. What type of coffee are you drinking? How good is it? What amenities are available?

Users can have fun sharing these ratings, images, comments and likes with their friends and followers. All this data feeds back into the map and gives other Kava users a clearer idea of where they should go for coffee.”

The popularity of speciality coffee has soared in Croatia, with locals, expats, tourists and digital nomads alike now flocking to the country’s speciality coffee shops around the country. Not just confined to the big cities, speciality coffee shops can be found up and down the country from Rovinj to Stari Grad.

Sam adds: “Kava isn’t only aimed at people like me who are constantly traveling. The aim of Kava is to create connections and community between coffee lovers and coffee shops which is just as important at home as it is on the road. We strive to support speciality coffee shops by connecting them to coffee drinkers who care about what’s in their cup. We give coffee lovers a place to share and connect with like-minded coffee drinkers. Above all, we champion the sustainable, ethical speciality coffee industry.”

Kava is available now on iPhone, Android and as a Progressive Web App. Visit discoverkava.com to learn more and download the app.

For more innovation from this beautiful land,check out the TCN Made in Croatia section.

Thursday, 27 October 2022

Mate Rimac Puts Sveta Nedelja at Top of EU Investment in Climate Tech

October the 27th, 2022 - Croatian entrepreneur Mate Rimac can be praised for many things, from attracting the automotive industry's attention to a small nation without any car production to speak of, to placing Croatia firmly on a map that doesn't involve tourism. The list is a long one, and attracting huge EU investment in climate tech to Sveta Nedelja is another string to his impressive belt.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Mladen Miletic writes, a new report by PwC, in partnership with Wolves Summit, on the status of climate technology investment in 27 countries across the Central and Eastern European region found that investment in climate technology grew from 10.6 million US dollars back in 2013 to an extremely impressive 398 million dollars in the pandemic-dominated tear of 2020. It continued on that same upward trajectory, reaching more than 502 million US dollars in the first half of 2021 alone.

Although more than 1.76 billion dollars has been invested in climate technologies in the aforementioned region (which includes Croatia) between 2013 and the first half of 2021, the report also states that there are further opportunities for growth and diversification in this country's immediate region. It is also stated that investments in climate technologies in Central and Eastern Europe are more concentrated in the mobility and transport sector (59.8 percent) and in startups based in Estonia and Lithuania (74.8 percent), and it is also interesting to note that the three most active centres of investment in climate technologies are Tallinn, Vilnius, and Croatia's very own Sveta Nedelja!

Although it isn't explicitly stated in this report, the development of Mate Rimac's Rimac Technology, in which Porsche has been rather heavily investing since 2018, as well as the start of the construction of the Rimac Campus spanning more than 70 thousand square metres of production space in Sveta Nedelja, are responsible for this town near Samobor's enviable position. It also confirms a clear tendency towards complete integration into the environment and climate neutrality.

The example of Mate Rimac's remarkable company was pointed out by the vice-president of the EIB, the EU's climate bank, Teresa Czerwinska, during her visit to the City of Zagreb, during which she pointed out that the Republic of Croatia needs more such companies who are focused on contributing to the green transition.

For more, make sure to keep up with our dedicated business section.

Thursday, 27 October 2022

AWFT: BiH Signs Agreements - Cross Sector Collaboration for Sustainability

October 27, 2022, Nimes, France - The A World for Travel Forum was opened this morning with welcomes from the representatives of the partner organisations, the Occitanie region, agencies, as well as Jamaica's Minister of Tourism. The event of the morning was the signing of agreements between the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (notice how environment takes the first place) of Bosnia and Herzegovina and their partners, all on a mission to develop tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina while focusing on sustainability. Tourism will not be an accident but a planned collaborative effort, with environment in the focus, built on the foundations of communication and partnerships between the governmental organisations and external partners. Panels of the country's representatives and interviews will follow this afternoon, but their opening did make us wonder if Croatia can still learn.

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The representatives from the Global Travel and Tourism Resilience Council, Intrepid Travel, The Travel Corporation and USAID’s Developing Sustainable Tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Turizam) project are signing the culmination and launch of their partnership which was born to facilitate the sustainable tourism development of Bosnia Herzegovina. The project is built on a platform of collaboration starting with the spurring of sustainable community-based tourism experiences to drive and answer increased market  demand for unique experiences. The international networks of these partners will jointly work on transforming Bosnia and Herzegovina’s world-class tourism potential into a globally recognized example of sustainable tourism development. Two agreements are being signed by USAID Turizam Chief of Party Ibrahim Osta, Intrepid EMEA Managing Director Zina Bencheikh, The Travel Corporation Global Sustainability Manager Nadine Pinto and the CEO of Jacobs Media Group/The Global Travel and Tourism Resilience Council, Duncan Horton.

“We could not be prouder of the work our Resilience Council has done this year, particularly with such a positive story coming forward to share with other destinations who may be looking at repositioning sustainably,” stated Mr. Horton in a recent interview with Travel Weekly.

“Developing sustainable tourism in new destinations is a key focus for us at Intrepid and we are delighted to be working with USAID, Project Turizam and the Global Travel and Tourism Resilience Council on this project. Partnerships like these are essential as we move toward a more sustainable future for our industry,” said Zina Bencheikh, Managing Director, INTREPID Travel, EMEA.  She continued,” We’re grateful to play a part in making this beautiful destination more accessible in a way that respects the history of the country, leaves a light footprint and respects and supports local communities."

The partnerships are building upon a strong foundation which includes community engagement, toolkits and consistent communication on the value of collaboration in driving sustainability.  The destination benefiting from these projects, Bosnia and Herzegovina has joined the AWFT22, as they did last year in Evora to share more in depth various aspects of the project with this year’s attendees.  The  announcement at AWFT 22 includes the participation of Deputy Minister of Tourism and Environment of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Sabina Sahman-Salihbegovic, Secretary General of the Republika Srpska Chamber of Commerce Dragana Kokot, Deputy Director of the USAID/BiH Economic Growth Office Dr. Erol Mujanovic and USAID Turizam Chief of Party Ibrahim Osta.

Additionally, USAID Turizam Tourism Product Development Team Leader Fedja Begovic will participate in the Case Study Agriculture and the Food Industry’s Relationship with Travel, Sabina Sahman-Salihbegovic is one of the speakers at the panel Community Involvement vs. Engagement – Has it Been defined? Are the Benefits Reaching Local Communities?, Dragana Kokot will be part of the panel How to Bring Talent Permanently to the Industry?. Ibrahim Osta will lead one of the headliner sessions titled Billions Available, a session with panelists such as BpiFrance, Certares, ICF and Roland Berger which represent investment, finance and consulting global powerhouses with billions of euros in annual investments in the tourism, hospitality, aviation and infrastructure spheres. The objective of this session is to explore the most optimal approach to expand access to capital for large-scale multi-billion dollar investments and to identify challenges and solutions to smaller borrowing needs of tourism enterprises. In addition to his participation in the opening session dealing with international partnerships, Erol Mujanović will participate in the conference’s Final Roundtable slated to determine the event’s output.

"Tourism is the country's strategic sector, accounting for around 11% of total employment and one of the key generators of exports and foreign exchange. And perhaps the best embodiment of the concept of partnership is how our USAID Developing Sustainable Tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina project is being implemented. Our delegation here in Nimes consists of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism representing government, the Chamber of Commerce representing the local private sector, two international trade partners, examples of our global partnerships, and our project leadership that works with local communities, entrepreneurs, and youth," noted Erol Mujanović, USAID/BiH Economic Growth Office Deputy Director.

USAID Turizam is a five-year project that aims to fuel broad-based tourism-driven economic growth and promote social harmony by capitalizing on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s rich cultural heritage and distinctive nature. The project aims to set the tourism industry on a robust growth trajectory toward a sustainable tourism economy with increased employment and business expansion. With the aim of generating arrivals, increasing tourism spending by international travelers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, expanding retail options for the country’s rural producers and spreading economic opportunities into secondary destinations, USAID Turizam is establishing partnerships with the following companies and organizations:

  • Global Travel & Tourism Resilience Council’s key focus is to bring together the public and private sectors to facilitate collaboration and sustainability in the development of tourism strategies. Similarly, broad dissemination of collaborative efforts towards sustainability through tourism dispersion, cultural product development, experiential opportunities, local community inclusion, regional coalitions and financial parity sets a path for others to follow.
  • The Travel Corporation (TTC) is a leading operator of 40 award-winning, sustainable brands, offering unique and industry-leading service that puts its guests at the heart of everything the brand does. TTC also has an extensive global distribution & marketing network to support the inward flow of business to support activities included in TTC tours.
  • Intrepid Travel is a leading operator of Sustainable Experience Rich travel with significant expertise in developing experiential activities in communities and supporting various stakeholders to prepare to manage, operate and maintain their business as a supplier. Intrepid also has an extensive global distribution & marketing network to support the inward flow of business and support activities included in Intrepid tours.

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

Wednesday, 26 October 2022

Croatian OPG Tourism Improving, Digital Marketing Crucial to Growth

October the 26th, 2022 - Croatian OPG tourism has seen significant improvements since the pre-pandemic year of 2019, but continued digital marketing is absolutely crucial to further growth.

As Mladen Miletic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the tourism campaign entitled "Experience all Croatia has to offer" was carried out jointly by the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) and Mastercard this summer with the aim of promoting the Republic of Croatia as a tourist destination with a focus on the European markets of Italy, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

Croatian OPG tourism was also the topic of a panel discussion within the wider scope of this campaign in which the representatives of the Croatian National Tourist Board and Mastercard, Kristjan Stanicic and Gea Kariz, as well as the scientific advisor of the Institute for Tourism Josip Mikulic, all participated.

As digital marketing is crucial today when people make their decisions on the choice of a travel destination, the panelists agreed that this country is less recognised in general when it comes to continental and rural areas, and Mikulic also pointed out that overnight stays realised on family farms (Croatian OPG tourism) have a share of a mere 0.1 percent in all of Croatia, and as such they also recorded the smallest drop in the global coronavirus pandemic, and compared to the pre-crisis years of 2018/19, they're now at 146 percent.

OPGs as micro-destinations offer everything that a modern tourist is looking for - a combination of agriculture and tourism, being totally green, promoting what is native and non-massive, it is generally much less seasonal, and offers a personalised approach to the guest, to Croatian products, and to the secure employment of the resident population.''

The average CTR (click-through rate) of this particular tourism campaign was at least ten times better than the market average, and it was implemented entirely on the basis of data from Mastercard's Tourism Insights solution, which provides a comprehensive analysis of the attitudes, behaviour and preferences of tourists.

For more, make sure to keep up with our dedicated news section.

Wednesday, 26 October 2022

From Mattress to Bank - How Much Deposited Kuna Cash is Legit?

October the 26th, 2022 - With Croatian Eurozone entry looming, more and more kuna cash is appearing in bank accounts having made its way there from sock drawers and under mattresses. How much of it is legitimate, however? With many of these amounts not exactly being small, these deposits might well attract the taxman's unwanted radar.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, as RTL has learned from the Croatian Association of Banks (HUB), back in June this year, household deposits reached 255.2 billion kuna, in July they rose to 259.6 billion kuna, and according to the latest Croatian National Bank (CNB) data, they rose to 263.4 billion kuna this August.

When compared to the same month last year, at least according to the Croatian National Bank, this is an increase in deposits of this kind by 22.3 billion kuna or 9.4%. Peoples' deposits have been growing rapidly for a couple of years already, meaning the growth of deposits was similar a year earlier compared to 2020, when they grew by 20.7 billion kuna or 9.2%. People in this country typically deposit far more foreign currency than they do kuna cash, so the share of foreign currency deposits was 59.4% or 156.5 billion kuna, while the share of kuna cash savings and stood at 7.1% or 18.9 billion kuna.

In this way, some of the money that has been under the radar until now will surely end up being deposited into various different bank accounts. If a larger amount appears on someone's account, the spotlight might well be switched on and the bank's due diligence and analysis procedures will automatically be activated. On top of that, there there is also the Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism, which also prescribes which alarms need to be raised and when.

"Measures of in-depth analysis should basically ensure that banks get to know their clients and the transactions being carried out in detail, and include establishing the identity and verifying the identity of the party, collecting data on the purpose and intended nature of the business relationship, and carrying out the constant monitoring of the business relationship", they stated rom the CNB.

If an amount greater than 200,000 kuna appears in someone's account all of a sudden, regardless of who is carrying out that cash transaction, the bank is also obliged to collect information on the source of the funds.

For more, make sure to keep up with our dedicated news section.

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