Thursday, 2 February 2023

Ajme! When Life Gives You Lemons, Hrvatska Posta Delivers... (Not Lemonade)

February 2, 2023 - Which takes longer in Croatia - to change the registered name for a property in the cadastre, or deliver some lemons from Hvar to Zagreb? Just another random day (or month) in Absurdistan.

This a tale with a VERY happy ending, and one which points to huge positive change. Genuinely.

It just didn't look that way for 18 days.

Our story begins on the morning of Monday, January 9, 2023. A new year, a new start. For some, a new zest for life. What could be better to help with that zest than a shipment of lemons from the family tree on idyllic Hvar?

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A package of goodies was dispatched by my mother-in-law to her daughter at 09:14 with Croatian Post (Hrvatska Posta), early enough to make the ferry for onward delivery to Zagreb. 

Time passed.

A lot of time.

On Friday, January 20, a phone call to HP elicited the information that the package was in the system at Velika Gorica, close to Zagreb, and would be delivered soon.

When nothing had arrived the following Monday, a phone call to ask if we could collect the package rather than waiting was met with a negative. It would be there soon. 

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Seven phone calls in all, including from 28 and 38 minutes of waiting time (and I understand the calls are charged), resulted in nothing. Apart from the inconvenience of having to wait at home on the off chance of the delivery, the greater concern was the state of the lemons and how they would function as future stars in the evening gin and tonics after more than a fortnight in captivity. 

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Finally, on Saturday, January 28, some 19 days after the lemons started their journey from Croatia's Premier Island to the Big Smoke, the lemons arrived. 

In case we might think that the Kings of HP had some discriminatory policies towards lemons, a simultaneous example of delivery incompetence was ongoing with another shipment, this time from Germany.

The timeline...

January 11 - online ordering in Germany

January 14 - order dispatched. 

January 16 - arrived in the Kingdom of HP. 

January 26 - still no lemons and a phone call to cancel the German order, after 10 days of it being stuck in the Kingdom of HP, and an enquiry about the health of our lemons.

January 27 - miraculously, the German order arrives (one can only speculate if an email to the supplier had anything to do with it)

January 28 - our heroic lemons, a little worse for wear after their arduous 19-day journey without sunlight, arrive at their final destination, the tonic water already chilling in the fridge. 

Now, don't let this tale of the lemons who did not become lemonade discourage you, for there is a MUCH more efficient system of moving vegetables and anything else around the country, called the 'Balkan DHL Express', the fastest, cheapest and most reliable delivery service in all Europe. Check out our video explanation here and below.

I will tag Hrvatska Posta when I share this article to see if they have a policy on lemon compensation.

But it is not all bad. And here is the happy - and quite incredible (if you follow the joys of Croatian bureaucracy, prepare for a WOW moment) case of Croatian bureaucracy on fire.

The timeline...

January 16 - online application to change the name in the cadaster for a piece of property on Hvar.

February 1 - a letter from the cadaster in Stari Grad delivered to Zagreb with the updated cadaster details. 

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Just 16 days, INCLUDING delivery time. The same journey the lemons took from Hvar to Zagreb. 

Croatia - a delightful mixture of Absurdistan with the best lifestyle in Europe with a sprinkling of Balkan insanity on top. Why would you live anywhere else?

Now to investigate how to get my lemons delivered by the Stari Grad cadaster.  

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

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

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

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

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Thursday, 2 February 2023

Adriatic Gastro Show Opened in Spaladium Arena in Split

February 2, 2023 - A prominent international festival of gastronomy and tourism, the Adriatic Gastro Show, opened on Wednesday, the 1st of February, in the Spaladium arena in Split.

All visitors to the festival will have a chance to see the equipment for catering facilities and food preparation in the hospitality and tourism industry for the next four days, writes 24Sata.

"About eight hundred exhibitors from thirty-seven countries will be presenting on 12,000 square meters of space. Therefore, the visitors will be able to see all the novelties for equipping hospitality establishments as well as all the novelties related to the preparation of food and drinks for the hospitality industry," said the director of the fair, Josip Bužančić.

He added that everything that hospitality and tourism professionals might find interesting for themselves or their businesses would be presented at the fair.

Before the opening of the Adriatic Gastro Show, however, the mayor of Split, Ivica Puljak, expressed that he was against hosting the Adriatic Gastro Show in the Stadium arena. As he pointed out, the Spaladium Arena was closed at the end of last year. On the other hand, the bankruptcy administrator of the company that manages the Spaladium Arena (Sportski grad TPN), Natalija Mladineo, pointed out that the contract for the fair was signed with the company "Poslovi mediji" in May last year, long before the Arena was closed at the end of December.

The director of the Adriatic Gastro Show, Josip Bužančić, simply and shortly commented that, as organizers, they are not interested in politics.

"The owner of the Spaladium Arena is neither the City of Split, nor the Split-Dalmatia County, nor the state. Spaladium Arena is a private facility where the private company 'Poslovni mediji' is organizing this event. We just want to do our job," said Bužančić.

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

Thursday, 2 February 2023

Ilocki Podrumi, Croatian Wine Fit for the Queen's Coronation in 1953

February 2, 2023 - Croatia has some incredible wines and some of the wine stories are equally incredible. Learn more about the tales of Ilocki Podrumi, in Croatia's easternmost town of Ilok.

It is closer to Zagreb than Split, and yet for many, Croatia's easternmost town of Ilok seems to be at the end of the world.

Make the journey, however, and you will be rewarded with wines fit for royalty and a wine-making tradition dating back to Roman times.

Meet the wine which was served at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, and again at the weddings of Princes William and Harry.

And then hear the incredible story of how 1,200 bottles of the royal 1947 Traminac were saved after the Serbs took control of the winery during the Homeland War.

This video was shot by Steve Tsentserensky and edited by Igo Vuk in November 2021, while the Queen was still alive, which explains the words in the National Anthem at the end.

You can learn more about Ilok and eastern Croatia in my Total Croatia News article of that trip, Slavonia, Full of Life: Time to Tell the Truth about Eastern Croatia.

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

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

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

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

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Thursday, 2 February 2023

CNB: Introduction of Euro has not Worsened Inflation in Croatia

February 2, 2023 - The first data on January inflation in Croatia indicate that the introduction of the euro, like in other countries, has not significantly impacted overall inflation, according to the Croatian National Bank (CNB).

"Movements in January suggest that the introduction of the euro in Croatia could have had a relatively mild impact on overall inflation, which is in line with the experience of other countries," the CNB's statement says. It is added that, following the experience of other countries, the increase in prices after the introduction of the euro is probably most apparent in the service industry. For a final assessment of the price increase after the introduction of the euro in Croatia, it is necessary to wait for detailed data for January and the next few months, according to the central bank, as reported by Index.

Prices are almost 13 percent higher than in January 2022

After Croatia's entry into the euro area, Eurostat and the State Statistical Office published today for the first time a rapid estimate of inflation in Croatia. According to these data, in January of this year, compared to January of last year, prices were higher by 12.7 percent on average and compared to December, they remained the same.

On a monthly level, compared to December last year, food, drinks, and tobacco are 1.3 percent more expensive, services were inflated by 1.1 percent, industrial non-food products without energy are estimated to have decreased in price by 2.1 percent, and power by one percent.

"The decrease in prices of raw materials also contributed to the slowdown in inflation."

CNB says that the slight slowdown in inflation in January is in line with their expectations based on the reduction in the prices of oil derivatives and assessments of the slowdown in the annual growth of food prices.

"The decrease in prices of raw materials on the world market, visible since the middle of last year, as well as the gradual elimination of the remaining bottlenecks in the supply chains, contributed to the slowdown of inflation. On the other hand, the significant effects of weakening economic activity are not yet visible," says the CNB.

Bearing in mind indications of easing of inflationary pressures at the global level, as well as statistical elements in terms of the favourable effect of the base period, in the continuation of 2023, they expect a further gradual slowdown of the annual inflation rate, although it will remain elevated for some time.

"However, it should not be ignored that the risks of future inflation outcomes being higher than projected are still considerable," the central bank says.

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

Thursday, 2 February 2023

Intense Search for 10k Employees for Seasonal Work in Croatia

February 2, 2023 - Employers from the hospitality and tourism industry have started looking for employees to support the tourist season and work in Croatia for the summer of 2023.

As Poslovni writes, among the employers who represent businesses and are looking for employees are almost all the largest hotel companies, several marinas, agencies, associations, and others.

After Osijek and Bjelovar, Days of Work in Tourism began in Zagreb, taking place in the Congress Center at the Zagreb Fairgrounds.

Among the employers who represent businesses and are looking for employees are almost all the largest hotel companies, several marinas, agencies, associations, and others. There are around 60 exhibitors, and the most sought-after professions include waiters, cooks, maids, cleaners, animators, and dancers.

This year, about 10,000 people want to work in Croatia during the summer season, reveals Ante Lončar, director of the Croatian Employment Service (CES). He adds that estimates of the lack of workers in tourism are around this number, and currently, around 1,600 jobs in tourism are advertised on the CES website.

Goran Vlačić, representative of Valamar Riviera, said they are looking for about a thousand workers for various jobs in all of Valamar's destinations from Istria to Dubrovnik. "Since we expect a better season than last year, it is possible that we will need more of them, but we don't know exactly how many just yet," said Vlačić.

There is also a shortage of workers in the capital city. Zlatko Puntijar, vice-president of the Zagreb Hospitality Association, complained that Zagreb currently lacks about five thousand workers in tourism and hospitality.

And while employers point out that Days of Work in Tourism is an excellent place to find workers, workers complain about the offer. "The same jobs are always offered, most of them in the auxiliary ranks, and even lower-paid ones, while skippers, divers, and similar jobs related to the nautical field are rarely or never sought after," reports Hina.

Last year, there were about 46,000 requests from employers for employment in tourism, but it is still difficult to estimate how it will be in 2023, said the director of the CES, an institution that, along with the ministries of tourism and sports and labor, is the organizer of the event.

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

Thursday, 2 February 2023

Five USA Events This Year for Remarkable Croatian Highlander Brand

February the 2nd, 2023 - The Croatian Highlander brand has done excellently on the demanding American market, with five events this year alone across the pond in the USA.

As Ana Blaskovic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, many might have knocked on it, but very few have actually managed to successfully open the door to the challenging and fast-paced American market. That's why the fact that the obstacles in the trek ''across the pond'' are being unstoppably demolished by a group of innovative mountaineers from the Slavonian Plain is so astonishing. With the now very well known Croatian Highlander brand, they have created a global business in as many as twenty countries - from nothing but a love of nature and mountaineering.

After breaking the ice last year with their very first event in Big Bear Lake, California, this year they, the Croatian Highlander brand is organising five hiking events from the west to the east coast of the expansive USA.

"Our main goal is to conquer the American market, we're proud that the very first American Highlander was done in San Bernardino County, California, one of the most regulated countries for business in the USA," stated Jurica Barac, the executive director of Avantura zivota (The adventure of your life), the company behind of this wildly successful brand.

The rapid growth of the Croatian Highlander brand is also reflected in their number of employees, which has grown from seven to an impressive thirty in the last year and a half alone. The story of the Croatian Highlander brand began as a local hiking adventure more than six years ago. Fascinated by the rugged and imposing beauty of Velebit, a group of enthusiasts created an adventure that combines the natural beauty of those mountains and the ultimate long-distance hiking experience - Highlander Velebit.

"Five days in the mountains with no phone signal, with nothing but your backpack on your back and 100 kilometres of trail ahead of you. No suits, no stress, everything is up to you - it's a total 'reset' for the head. To put it bluntly, you feel as you once did as a child; dirty, under the stars, free, carefree... For people, it's a dopamine hit in a healthy way," they stated.

The success behind Highlander is a consequence of the wave of turning to a healthier life and escaping out into nature that has been strong as a human desire for the last ten years. Although when it comes to the Croatian national level, the statistics on obesity are devastating (two-thirds of Croatian adults are overweight), the number of people who play sports of some kind has grown tremendously in this country as well. This is reflected in the registrations for Highlander Velebit, which grow year after year, with last year having more than 650 participants.

In a short time, this Croatian mountaineering adventure crossed local and regional borders, and coronavirus pandemic restrictions provided an unexpected spring in their step. In the year 2020, dominated by the novel coronavirus, the rights for the event were sold in a number of countries. With that, the Croatian Highlander brand really came to life, and in addition to Croatia, on 12 mountains in Austria, Greece, Portugal, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, North Macedonia, Spain, Egypt, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates, the idea was born.

That was the moment when the company began to think about a further business step forward, searching for a fund or a bank that would finance their expansion. The choice, unexpectedly, fell on a strategic partner, the world's leading event brand Spartan Race, which became a global partner back during the summer of 2021. That investment amounted to more than one million dollars for a 20 percent ownership stake. It marked a turning point for Highlander and a key recipe for their entry to the USA.

"The American market is highly specific, you need a strong partner, otherwise everything takes a long time and the costs overwhelm you. Americans like to be sold things by Americans, be it a product or a service. Everyone advertises their products as the best, that's marketing, so it's extremely important that what you offer has a story behind it, especially if it's sustainable. "Sustainability" is now a hit among consumers there," they explained.

Highlander's target audience is very specific; athletes, recreationists and enthusiasts who love being out in nature and destressing by pushing their own physical limits. Managers and politicians are often found among them, such as Gordan Kolak (Koncar), Damir Djurovic (of the video game fair Reboot Infogamer), and former minister Josip Aladrovic have all passed through gorgeous Velebit several times, and allegedly in enviable physical form.

The franchise for the Italian Highlander was bought by the former leader of the Giro d'Italia. American consumers, noted Barac, are very engaged, they read reviews, ask and check, because compared to Croatia's typical three or four weeks of annual time off, the average American only has eleven days off and they want to make the most of them.

Armed with plans and with the help of Spartan Race, last year they organised the Big Bear Lake Highlander event with more than 250 participants from 31 states turning up, and some even came down to California from Canada as well.

"It's easier to work in the USA, the way a job looks is a big deal there, what kind of numbers you have counts for a lot and making sure the maths holds water is important. At first, everyone is skeptical, especially of someone who comes from Eastern Europe, but when you do what you promised you'd do, the door is swung open for you," Barac said.

"Given the positive feedback we had, we decided to put our feet to the pedal this year and arrange five events. Big Bear Lake remains the flagship event, and in 2023, North Lake Tahoe in California, Ogden in Utah, Kalispell in Montana and Shawangunk in New York are all on the calendar," stated Barac.

They carry out the entire organisation process themselves, and one event takes about six months to set up on average. While the overall impression is that the USA is more open to entrepreneurial ideas like these, that doesn't mean it's easy to wade through the paperwork involved. Environmental protection, for example, is very high on the list of priorities of the local authorities.

"You need to secure a number of permits, for example, a botanist went out into the field where we planned the trail to determine if there could be any threats to the flora there, if there is a risk of fire etc, there are a lot of little details like that to take into account," he said. The costs of the organisation rose to about half a million dollars in total, and most of it was covered by the registration fees for the 500 or so participants at an average of around 650 dollars each. Their sponsors and the local tourist board also gave their share, but at Highlander, they look at that amount as an investment in breaking into a new market.

This year's events, from mid-August to mid-October, are now all planned. The investors, including Barac himself and former minister Ivan Vrdoljak, invested over one million euros in the company, and last year's revenue roughly amounted to that amount as well. This year's finances reflect their expansion with a planned income of three million euros.

The global partnership with Spartan Race, whose events are attended by 1.5 million participants annually, and the cooperation with this Croatian company was evaluated as an opportunity to expand their "tough fitness" portfolio to include mountaineering. It brings them into Croatia as well. In Sveta Nedelja near Samobor, a Spartan Race will be held, races with obstacles (such as crossing a net, fire or mud), and a large Spartan trail event is planned on the rugged hill above Dubrovnik for October 2023.

"We intend to do 70% of our business over in the USA, that's our target market. Not only because they do good work there, but because their feedback is extremely good. We already have 150 applications for this year, our goal is to reach between 1,500 and 2,000 participants", Barac explained in an optimistic tone. In two or three years, he can see the Croatian Highlander brand becoming even more global and being present in 45 countries.

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

Thursday, 2 February 2023

Croatian Q Agency Enjoys 840% Growth in Five Year Period

February the 2nd, 2023 - The Croatian Q agency can rightfully boast of its success, having enjoyed very impressive growth of 840 percent in just five years. Things aren't going to slow down there, however, with further plans in the works.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Josipa Ban writes, the Croatian Q agency, one of the largest domestic digital agencies currently present on the market, achieved some extremely impressive business results last year.

Their revenues grew by 44 percent to around 19 million euros (144 million kuna). Such average growth has been achieved by the Zagreb agency for the last five years now, more precisely since 2017, when they were founded, and when they amounted to ''only'' 15 million kuna. As such, the Croatian Q agency grew by 840 percent in just five years.

BBC, Nestle, Pfizer...

Next year, Filip Ljubic, the co-founder and executive director at Q revealed more at the company's first gathering with journalists. He announced that they're expecting revenue growth of 40 percent, but that will all depend on the state of the market, which is currently very turbulent and whose tremors the company is already feeling.

"We feel that it's now much more difficult. Just the other day, completely unexpectedly, a client from London cancelled their cooperation with us. We now have the same situation we had at the time of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, when we had to work a lot more, have a lot more meetings and travel more in order to be able to arrange a job. Now we're in such a situation again, and we had to hire three new people for sales,'' explained Ljubic.

Despite the extra work involved, it's certainly not difficult for the Croatian Q agency to roll up their sleeves, because if it was difficult for them, they simply wouldn't have been able to create a list of clients like The Times, Coca Cola, BBC, Manpower, Vodafone, Novartis, Nestle and Pfizer in just five years. Those are just some of the 40 or so clients who use the services of this Zagreb-based agency for the development and design of their various mobile and web applications (apps).

Some other interesting names also joined in the last year, and the Croatian Q agency also entered the Middle Eastern market. "When the war in Ukraine broke out and the energy crisis began, we thought about which markets we'd be safest on. The decision fell on the Middle East because there certainly won't be an energy crisis there. On top of that, they operate with a strong dollar, and these are potent markets that are growing strongly," revealed the executive director of the company, which has two clients there - Takamol and Al Salam.

On that market, said Goran Kovacevic, Q's finance director, their monthly income is around 300 thousand euros, and in addition to conquering new markets, last year Q acquired the agency Flipkod, thus increasing their number of employees to more than 350.

Along with the satisfaction of their long list of clients, the satisfaction of their employees is the most important thing for the agency, which, in addition to Zagreb, has four other offices - in Belgrade, London, Zurich and the Philippines. "Our philosophy is that when employees and clients are satisfied, no matter what crisis comes, everything somehow works out," said the co-founder of Q, an agency that has been awarded the best employer for three years in a row now.

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

Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Goran Perkovac Replaces Hrvoje Horvat as Croatia Men's Handball Coach

February 1, 2023 - Goran Perkovac, the captain of the Croatia national team that won gold at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, is the new coach of the Croatia men's handball team. 

Hrvoje Horvat is no longer the coach of the Croatia men's handball team. Immediately after the World Handball Championship, where Croatia took ninth place in the overall standings, the Croatian Handball Federation assessed that result as a failure, but also prolonged the decision on Horvat's fate until the statement of professional coordinator Lino Červar. The decision has been made, and Horvat has been removed from his position. Goran Perkovac will succeed him.

Goran Perkovac was the captain of the Croatia national team that won gold at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. The native of Slatina was also the world runner-up at the World Champs in Iceland in 1995, the European bronze medalist in Portugal in 1994, and a double gold medalist from the Mediterranean Games. In addition, Perkovac was the coach of Switzerland, Greece, and Germany for many years. 

"After the last meeting of the Croatia men's senior national team at the World Handball Championship in Sweden and Poland and the victory against Bahrain (43:32), i.e., 9th place, the Croatian Handball Federation informs the public that it is not satisfied with the achieved result and considers it a failure. The minimum goal placed in front of the coach and the national team was the quarter-finals.

Since it has not been realized, the Croatian Handball Federation is waiting for the statement of professional coordinator Lino Červar about the status of the coach and the further sequence of events. Namely, the Croatian Handball Federation system is set up so that the coordinator proposes the national team coaches. After that, the decision is adopted or rejected by the Croatian Handball Federation Board of Directors," HRS announced eight days ago.

Horvat was Červar's assistant on the national team and succeeded him as the coach. However, he failed to return Croatia to the top of the world handball, and he will be remembered for the bizarre interview after Croatia's last match at the World Championship in Sweden and Poland.

Recall Horvat stood in front of RTL cameras and started the conversation by creating a heart with his fingers and directing it toward the camera.

"At the moment, I can't wait to see my family, then I will decide on my future," he answered. When asked about a possible resignation, he opened his mouth, pretending to answer whether he had the support of the Croatian Handball Federation. However, he didn't want to say whether that result was a failure. Instead, he said that he made some promises and that those were too intimate answers.

Source: Index.hr

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

Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Solving Dubrovnik Winter Connectivity: Flights to Belgrade

February 1, 2023 - Why year-round flights to Belgrade could solve Dubrovnik's huge connectivity problem.

The most important event in the Dubrovnik calendar takes part this year, and - don't tell anyone - this is the very best time of year to visit the Pearl of the Adriatic. The Feast of St Blaise, the much-beloved patron saint of Dubrovnik, is an extraordinary event when the UNESCO World Heritage Site, stripped back to its bare stone with most cafes and restaurants closed, comes to life and is packed once more. But not with tourists, but with locals, emerging from the winter hibernation to celebrate this most important of days. If you have never been, I rate it as one of the top 10 experiences of my 20 years in Croatia - you can read more in Dubrovnik Full of Life as St Blaise Celebrated in Style.

Want to come and enjoy the festivities, or chill in Dubrovnik in the off-season? Good luck, unless you live in Zagreb.

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After a week working in Montenegro last week, I got to see the realities of tourism and connectivity in January. 

It was a little sobering when I saw the Dubrovnik timetable, a European tourism champion and iconic city which could - and should - be a 12-month destination.

Above is the timetable for the next few days, including those magical St. Blaise festivities. Apart from one flight to London, Zagreb is petty much the only choice. 

And even those flights to Zagreb are crazy expensive - despite the fact that they are subsidised with the PSO (Public Service Obligation) scheme.

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Here are your one-way options from Dubrovnik to Zagreb a week from now, for example.

I have spent the last week on Lustica, the lovely and almost totally unspoiled peninsula south of Tivat in Montenegro. I flew in and out of Dubrovnik, and I was struck by how poorly serviced Dubrovnik is in the winter, and how the rise of Tivat from nothing has made it arguably a more interesting destination in winter - certainly livelier - than the Pearl of the Adriatic itself. Here is what I wrote:

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Croatian tourism tragedies in road signs and airport departures. 25 years ago, Tivat was a coastal backwater on the Montenegrin coast. Today, even though it is 3 times smaller than a nearer town to Dubrovnik (Herceg Novi), it has its very own sign as you leave Dubrovnik Airport. Porto Montenegro was supposed to have been built in Croatia, but someone got greedy and Tivat became its home. Today, there are 3 luxury resorts with investment totalling 2.5 billion euro in the Boka region of Montenegro, with many other large developments. By contrast, the largest hotel investment on the Croatian coast in today's money is Haludovo on Krk, a joint venture between Tito and Penthouse in 1971 (and now a ruin for over 30 years) at a paltry 250 million. Not only is the luxury tourism going across the southern border, but so are the locals for entertainment in winter. And flights. Tivat Airport connects to the world 12 months a year, while Dubrovnik is serviced by almost exclusively domestic routes this winter (see timetable in photo). On the positive side in the Kingdom of Accidental Tourism, the sun is shining, and soon the tourists will just come.

tivat.JPGTivat's daily schedule - windows to Belgrade and Istanbul, which are both outstanding destinations in their own right but are also windows to the world with the global network of Turkish Airlines and the rapidly expanding network of Air Serbia. Tivat to the world in 100 different combinations, four times a day. And the world to Boka Bay. 

And the prices aren't bad compared to those singles with Croatia Airlines (flights February 8-13 - a return not single):

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I asked legendary tourism consultant, Mario Seric, for his opinion. The first sentence shows the benefits of being connected to Belgrade, as well as Zagreb, whose connectivity pales by comparison.

Air Serbia will be offering direct flights to 93 cities /destinations worldwide, of which 62 are direct, scheduled, and year-round, 16 direct scheduled seasonal, and 15 direct charter seasonal!

This is impressive compared to the poor connections being offered by Croatia Airlines from Zagreb with direct flights to only 21 destinations (16 year-round and 5 seasonal).

So these connections with Belgrade can also be great to access other destinations as well, especially those that are far away because Belgrade has direct flights to New York, and as of this year also to Chicago and Tianjin...

Air Serbia is currently also considering the introduction of direct flights to Toronto, Miami, Bangkok, and Beijing.

And the good thing in this is that all these flights can be operated by smaller airlines that do not consume a lot of fuel. Turboprop airlines are perfect for intraregional connectivity, and you have a lot of great examples in Europe for this.

Thanks, Mario. And to connect all that network to one of Europe's top destinations, so that tourists could enjoy it out of season, as well as allowing locals to travel with ease, would it really be so hard to connect Belgrade to Dubrovnik 12 months a year? After all, if it is clearly working for tiny Tivat next door, surely it would work for a tourism giant like Dubrovnik. Worth the small investment to try?

Of course, I can understand that there might be some objections in certain quarters given recent history of the connection between Belgrade and Dubrovnik, but the Croatian tourism chiefs decided to move on from the recent past in 2011 by being the main tourism sponsor at the regionally significant Belgrade Tourism Fair back in 2011

Dubrovnik to the world, 12 months a year. It could - and should - be closer and more realisable than one might think. 

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

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

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

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

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Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Josip Gasparac Memorial - World Athletics Indoor Tour Bronze in Osijek

February 1, 2023 - The Slavonija-Žito Athletic Club Osijek has been organizing the International Indoor Athletics Meeting "Josip Gasparac Memorial", contributing to the Osijek events and sports scene for the last six years. The event is coming back in February.

As SiB writes, this year, the competition itself and its category are taking on a completely different, greater significance for the sport, the competitors, but also for the city of Osijek itself.

World Athletics has awarded the traditional indoor athletics meeting "Memorial Josip Gašparac" the prestigious title of World Athletics Indoor Tour Bronze, which places this competition among the largest world and European athletics meetings.

With the new title, the athletics competition will gather about 20 of the world's best pole vaulters in Osijek, among them Piotr Lisek, winner of silver and bronze from the World Athletics Championship, gold from the European Championship, three-time winner of the Diamond League, whose personal pole vault record is over 6.00m.

The results that the athletes achieve at this competition in Osijek will count in the norm for the Olympic Games and the World and European Athletics Championships.

The live streaming of the competition has been officially confirmed by the European Athletics Federation with a commentator in English. All members of the World and European Athletics Federations will be able to follow the live stream. The leaders of the national athletics federations as well as the managers of top athletes have also confirmed their attendance.

Over the course of two days on February 21 and 22 2023, Osijek will become the centre of world and European athletics in the athletics tunnel of the Gradski Vrt Hall in Osijek. In addition to top athletes, a large number of visitors and spectators from all over Europe are expected.

On February 21 (Tuesday), men and women in the B and C categories will have the opportunity to perform, while on February 22, competitors in the elite category will take the stage. A new website of the Meeting was launched, where you can find out all the information about the event itself, as well as about the top jumpers who are coming to perform in Osijek.

It is important to note that entry is free for all spectators.

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

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