Tuesday, 23 November 2021

4 easyJet Summer Lines to Dubrovnik and Split Canceled in 2022

November 23, 2021 - The latest news on flights to Croatia as 4 easyJet summer lines to Dubrovnik and Split have been canceled for the 2022 season. 

The British low-cost airline easyJet has canceled some seasonal routes to Croatia, despite announcing that the airline will significantly increase its capacity to Croatian airports next summer. This is due to financial troubles, which began before the pandemic, reports Croatian Aviation.

As the Ex Yu Aviation announced earlier, easyJet withdrew three lines to Dubrovnik and one to Split. The airline claims that the lines with the least passenger interest were withdrawn from sale.

Namely, lines between Luton, Milan, Toulouse, and Dubrovnik are no longer on sale, and the line between Belfast and Split has been canceled. In addition, the airline has not launched several other lines to Croatia this summer season, justifying the move by low demand due to the pandemic.

easyJet currently offers 40 international routes to Croatia next summer, but there will be operational changes at the beginning of the summer season. The Croatian Tourist Board points out that the airline showed great interest in Croatia at the World Travel Market in London, and even announced negotiations with Rijeka and Osijek on establishing regular routes to the two mentioned airports.

For now, the largest number of easyJet lines is offered to Split (14), Dubrovnik (12), Pula (9), and Zadar (5).

The airline also points out that they will announce new routes to Croatia in the coming months, emphasizing the importance of Croatia as a traditional destination of this airline. Negotiations on introducing new lines for next summer are underway. It should be noted that easyJet is one of the largest users of joint advertising, for which the Croatian Tourist Board is announcing a tender.

Croatian Aviation adds that easyJet is slowly but surely losing its share of transported passengers on the Croatian market, primarily due to the new lines of Ryanair and Wizz Air, which also have yet to announce summer programs for next year.

For more on flights to Croatia and other travel announcements, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

2022 European Men's Handball Championship: Croatia's Group Stage Schedule in Szeged

November 23, 2021 - The 2022 European Men's Handball Championship is right around the corner. Croatia will play their group stage games next January in Szeged.

The European Handball Championship is scheduled for January 13-30, 2022, in Hungary and Slovakia. Croatia is in Group C, where they will play against France, Serbia, and Ukraine, reports Gol.hr.

The two best national teams from each of the six groups of the first round will travel to the second round and compete in two new groups with six teams. Finally, the best two national teams from both groups will reach the semifinals of the European Handball Championship. 

Croatia plays in Szeged, on the border with Serbia

The Croatia national team will play their three introductory matches in Szeged, hopefully not the only matches at the Euro. At the start of Group C, a handball classic between Croatia and France awaits us on January 13 at 8:30 pm.

Two days later, on January 15, another spectacle - Croatia plays a neighborhood derby against Serbia in a city on the border with Serbia. After that, Croatia will play its last match in Group C on January 17 against Ukraine.

The two best in the second round group go to the semifinals

The best two from Croatia's group will play in a new group in the second round with the two best teams from groups A and B. This group will play their matches in Budapest from January 20, 2022. 

The semifinals are scheduled for January 28, and the final and match for 3rd place on January 30.

2022 Euros Handball schedule:
Group A
January 13
18.00 Slovenia - North Macedonia
20:30 Denmark - Montenegro

January 15
18:00 North Macedonia - Montenegro
20:30 Slovenia - Denmark

January 17
18:00 Montenegro - Slovenia
20:30 North Macedonia - Denmark

Group B
January 13
20:30 Hungary - Netherlands

January 14
20:30 Portugal - Iceland

January 16
18:00 Portugal - Hungary
20:30 Iceland - Netherlands

January 18
18:00 Iceland - Hungary
20:30 Netherlands - Portugal

Group C
January 13
18:00 Serbia - Ukraine
20:30 Croatia - France

January 15
18:00 France - Ukraine
20:30 Croatia - Serbia

January 17
18:00 Ukraine - Croatia
20:30 France - Serbia

Group D
January 14
18:00 Germany - Belarus
20:30 Austria - Poland

January 16
18:00 Germany - Austria
20:30 Belarus - Poland

January 18
18:00 Poland - Germany
20:30 Belarus - Austria

Group E
January 13
18:00 Spain - Czech Republic
20:30 Sweden - BiH

January 15
18:00 Czech Republic - BiH
20:30 Spain - Sweden

January 17
18:00 BiH - Spain
20:30 Czech Republic - Sweden

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Rogoznica Dragon's Eye Lake Becoming Nationally Protected Nature Monument?

November 23, 2021 – Šibenik-Knin County assembly is formally launching the process to obtain the official protected status for Rogoznica Dragon's Eye Lake

On the shores of Šibenik-Knin County, a dragon is stirring. For as long as anyone can remember he has slept here. Famously, he rests next to the Adriatic and Marina Frapa, one of the most beautiful yacht harbours of the Mediterranean. Indeed, this giant - Rogoznica Dragon's Eye Lake - is one of the most iconic natural features of the mainland's coast.

He's at least 10, 000 years old, so local residents are used to having him around. However, he's recently become a lot more famous for two distinct reasons.

104171346_10158257158665930_2444010874871502806_n.jpg© Vlado Franolić

Firstly, the rise in drone photography has successfully unlocked the startling beauty Rogoznica Dragon's Eye Lake gifts this varied landscape. Secondly, over the last two decades a successive stream of scientific researchers have arrived to study these unique waters. They have poked and prodded, taken samples and photos. Their published findings have lead to the current awakening. Rogoznica Dragon's Eye Lake now looks set to become a nationally protected Nature Monument.

Today, 23 November 2021, Šibenik-Knin County assembly is formally launching the process to obtain the official protected status for Rogoznica Dragon's Eye Lake. Classification as a Nature Monument (Spomenik prirode or prirodna baština in Croatian) is sought to preserve the original natural values of a place or object. The protection is awarded because of the rarity, uniqueness or beauty of a natural monument, its value to science or its value to surrounding ecosystems. Rogoznica Dragon's Eye Lake meets each of those criteria.

Rogoznica Dragon's Eye Lake aka Zmajevo oko jezero

Autor-Dream-Division-Split-1_1600x900_0.jpg© Dream Division Split / Rogoznica TZ

This elliptical-shaped lake was formed after the end of the last ice age. After all the ice melted, sea levels rose a massive 100 metres. When that happened, the Adriatic penetrated through cracks in the wall of a sinkhole located on the Gradina peninsula. The sinkhole became Rogoznica Dragon's Eye Lake.

The lake has a maximum measured depth of 15 metres. It is surrounded on all sides surrounded by vertical rocks that range between 4 and 24 metres in height. These walls protect a unique hydrological and geomorphological phenomenon and ecosystem.

Below the water surface, the lake is connected to the open sea by a large cave. At the bottom of the lake is a thick bottom layer of hydrogen sulfide. This creates an environment that is, in parts, extremely low in oxygen. It also produces a meromictic lake - one which has layers of water that do not usually intermix.

This combination creates a challenging but unique set of conditions for the sea creatures and plants that inhabit the lake. Although, for the former, their residence can be somewhat transitory. From time to time, the lake waters become uninhabitable. Its sea creatures are forced to leave the lake en masse and head out into the open seas. They only return when the lake waters are purified.

To people of the locale, Rogoznica Dragon's Eye Lake has held a fame long before the drone cameras and scientists arrived. Myth and legend surround the lake and its formation. Some believe the sinkhole is actually a crater left by a falling meteor. Others say that long ago, a dragon really used to live here. The awarding of Nature Monument status ensures these entertaining stories will be retold long into the future.

If you want to read more about Rogoznica, read our Total Croatia guide here. And if you want to keep up with news from Šibenik-Knin County, keep an eye on Total Croatia News's tagged pages here

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

First Free Public Tennis Court in Croatia with Wimbledon-Like Grass Opens in Osijek

November 23, 2021 - Donna Vekić and her family have helped to open the first completely free public tennis court in Croatia, in her hometown of Osijek, with Wimbledon-like grass that flew in from England! 

Donna Vekić's father welcomed the end of the Courmayeur final in Italy with many emotions. It was Donna's first title in four years, the first since knee surgery. Their long-lasting hug after Donna's triumph against Dane Clare Tauson said it all, reports Sportske Novosti.

"I won't even hide it. At that moment, I wanted not to show until the end even though it was difficult because I am a part of Donna's entire career, especially the last two years, and I know how much effort, will, and desire Donna has, how much work has been invested in all this, how many difficulties with injuries she had this year. I know how much this tournament meant to her, which will surely give her extra confidence for further work, and that is the biggest gain for me," said father Igor Vekić at the beginning of November.

The 2021 season was more demanding for Donna than before, and she was forced to take a break for three and a half months. With the triumph in Courmayeur, she jumped from 97th to 67th place in the WTA ranking, and for a short-term goal, she wants to be among the 20 best tennis players in the world.

"Donna's career has been long; at the age of 16, she entered the top 100 in the world, and after so many years in professional sports, it was hard to expect that such an injury would not happen. This jump in the WTA ranking is just a step on the road where Donna wants to be. She doesn't just want to enter the top 20; her goals are much bigger," Igor Vekić assures.

The coronavirus pandemic in the spring prevented a humanitarian tennis spectacle in Osijek organized by the Vekić family; a tournament called the Premier Tennis Show, the first edition held last year when the pandemic stopped tennis for several months around the world. The pandemic postponed the tournament but did not interfere with plans.

At the foot of the School of Civil Engineering and Geodesy in Osijek, the first public tennis court in Croatia was built, completely free to use. Its construction was financed partly through a humanitarian auction in which the items were donated by Roger Federer, Luka Modrić, Janica Kostelić, Sandra Perković, Goran Ivanišević, and Donna Vekić. 

Had Donna had such an opportunity in her tennis beginnings, it would indeed have meant a lot to her.

"This was exactly one of the reasons why we want to transfer Donna's result and success at the global level to the local level, to Osijek, where she started her tennis career. We wanted to provide the best possible infrastructure so that children can fall in love with tennis and so that children can play tennis and sports, and later show interest and talent for something more from time to time. Still, the goal is to work on popularizing it for children to get involved in tennis as much as possible," explains Igor Vekić.

Five months later, a public tennis court, the construction of which cost 450,000 kuna with Wimbledon-like grass from England, fulfilled expectations.

"The court has completely fulfilled its purpose; it is full, reserved. It is used by children, the youth, sometimes older players. What fills our hearts is that the court is completely free to use, and everyone can try it," says Vekić.

"The court operates from 8 am to 10 pm. The booking procedure is very simple, and you can book on the website premiertennisosijek.com up to five days in advance. You get a code that enters the system when entering the court and under controlled conditions uses certainly the most beautiful and best public tennis court in Europe," Igor Vekić adds.

Children from the Klasje Osijek Community Service Center, who receive free tennis education, are regularly on the courts.

"Through the humanitarian action, one of the goals was to build a public tennis court, but not only to stop there but to provide education to children, residents of the Klasje Home and now for a few months I can say that this cooperation is going very well. Davor Grgić from Donna's tennis team conducts education with his coaches, and the children are satisfied, everything is going as we imagined for these children to one day be able to use the court on their own," explains Igor Vekić

The next steps in popularizing tennis in Osijek are self-imposed, providing free tennis education to all interested parties.

"The next step, given this interest, is to provide everyone else with completely free education in terms of improving their game, working on the technique at the agreed time in two categories, children up to 14 years, but also adult recreationists who want to improve their game - we will make it possible," says Vekić.

They will also have a place to show their tennis skills because the first public tennis court in Croatia will not remain the last. The plan is to make a total of four in Osijek, with four different courts.

"We have partners in the city and county. For example, at the tennis court opening, the prefect and the mayor said what we wanted to hear: they would be our partners in further developing public tennis courts in Osijek. Our goal is to make four courts in different parts of the city with one special feature. Namely, we want to make four courts with all four Grand Slam surfaces," reveals Vekić.

Two years ago, the idea of a tennis academy was promoted. 

"We are completely ready. We have the "know-how," and in this case, we are waiting for the moves of investors who will get involved with our program, our knowledge, and professional staff so that we can work on education and popularizing tennis," said Vekić.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Commission Initiates Proceedings Against Jelsa Mayor Niksa Peronja

Real title which was too long anyway so do what you want with it: Slobodna Dalmacija reveals: Peronja appointed his colleague from SDP as the head of the utility company because he's ''got a vision'', the mayor of this Dalmatian municipality is now under investigation due to a conflict of interest

November the 23rd, 2021 - The Commission for Deciding on Conflicts of Interest has initiated proceedings against official Niksa Peronja (SDP), the mayor of Jelsa, for possible violations of the Law on the Prevention of Conflicts of Interest.

As Slobodna Dalmacija/Mirko Crncevic reports, this has come to be the case because allegedly, Niksa Peronja, as the only member of the Assembly of the utility company "Jelkom", appointed the acting director of the public company on March the 18th and again on November the 12th, 2020, and on November the 30th last year, he also appointed Ruzica Viskovic (SDP) as the "permanent" head of the company, all without the prior proposal of the Municipal Council. This was also done on the eve of the local elections held in late May this year. It's worth noting that Slobodna Dalmacija wrote about Niksa Peronja having made this questionable move back on February the 10th, and Sandra Barcot was the author of the text.

The aforementioned publication contacted Mayor Niksa Peronja to tey to find out his view of the new "continuation" of this story, but he only briefly said that this was "just the initiation of proceedings and that he couldn't comment further on it,"

''I'll make a comment as soon as the Commission makes its final decision, and since several proceedings before this state body have already turned out in my favour, I believe that it will be the same situation with this one,'' Peronja stated.

Since in the Municipal Official Gazette his decision was, among other things, explained by the wording that "it is a person [who was appointed to the aformentioned position] with a vision that coincides with the vision of the members of Jelkom,'' Niksa Peronja then answered the question about the context of the appointment of Ruzica Viskovic, instead of the previous director Toni Damjanic. He stated the following:

''When it comes to the new director of "Jelkom", she's an excellent lawyer, with more work experience, who, except in the classic law firm with a bar exam, has worked for a high position in the legal department of "Suncani Hvar" for the last two years. She's a very capable and proven member of staff, so I'm convinced that she's going to greatly improve the services of waste collection, campsites and all other activities that Jelkom in engaged in,''

Peronja also added that he was "convinced that she would achieve better communication with the population than how things were before, because utility companies exist to serve their residents, and not the other way around.'' Niksa Peronja also said that "former director Damjanic had been in that position for almost a decade and that after such a period, it was necessary to refresh and improve overall functionality and compliance, which the external, independent audit of the company's business suggested."

''Ruzica Viskovic was directly appointed to the position of director, in accordance with all legal provisions and possibilities. The previous director, Damjanic, had been appointed in the same way for the last two years. A number of directors were also appointed in all other towns across the island of Hvar in various utility companies, as well as most directors of utility companies throughout Croatia, and a report was submitted to the Municipal Council, which adopted it,'' Niksa Peronja concluded when discussing this move.

****

Not the biggest problem in the world of public service in Croatia for sure, but one which caught my attention and took me back a few years to the unpleasant summer of 2018 in Jelsa. 

It was something of a surprise to attend a public meeeting, only to record the speaker on camera announcing that he was suing me. It was the first time in my life that someone had declared that they were suing me. More than three years later, I await the lawsuit. 

The reasons for the lawsuit were apparently something to do with my reporting on a procedure that was a little controversial surrounding a tender for the use of the Gradska Kavana commercial space that lay behind Jelsa's iconic bench. Ironically, it was probably the most researched article I have ever written on TCN. 

174771137_10159724533639073_6696381558264772188_n.jpg

(Photo credit Vivian Grisogono)

Things got so unpleasant that I wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, who was gracious enough to call me over for a chat and told me not to worry, promising he would never sue me. He never has.

We will watch proceedings with interest and wonder if the scope of the investigation will take a closer look at other issues, tenders and appointments should the commission uphold the complaint of conflict of interest.  

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Croatia is Key Market for New Sustainable Quartz Inn Hotel Chain

November the 23rd, 2021 - The Republic of Croatia is a key market for the new Quartz Inn hotel chain, and the move could finally kickstart Croatia's more sustainable ambitions as a tourist destination, as this chain places an emphasis precisely on that.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, after the recent official presentation at the London Tourism Fair WTM, a new European hotel brand will be launched in around one month, the new Quartz Inn Hotel chain for independent sustainable hotels, and one of the main markets they plan to expand to is Croatia, where they're already negotiating with facility owners.

The was confirmed to the above-linked publication by Ignacio Merino, the co-founder and director of the Quartz Inn Hotel chain, revealing details of the expansion to at least 100 hotels across Europe. Quartz Inn Hotels Ltd. was founded by Spaniard Merino and Dutchman Alexander Zawadzki, both of the men have extensive experience in the hotel industry, as well as with online travel agencies and travel startups.

“We're the first sustainable hotel brand for independent hotels in Europe, our goal is to connect sustainable accommodation from all European countries, while preserving the authenticity of each facility. We're helping hotels become ''green'' and creating a more sustainable tourism industry. By joining our brand, hotels gain greater international visibility, which leads to higher revenue and more direct bookings,'' explained Ignacio Merino of the business idea that came to him in the midst of a global pandemic, partly as a result of the crisis it caused.

"Independent hotels have been hit hardest and don't have the same resources as larger chains do in order to properly overcome this situation. We talked to many people and decided to form a community that will support them. Through our partners, we provide them with the latest technology to manage things for them, covering all commercial areas, such as OTA distribution, connectivity, marketing, online reputation, online sign-up, additional sales, reservations and revenue management, to optimise hotel prices and maximise benefits,'' he explained.

They also offer members a free academy for hotel owners and their staff. It will focus in particular on direct bookings to bypass online platforms and expensive commissions, ensuring more revenue for hotels and a better deal for guests. Hotel owners aren't charged a fee to enter the Quartz Inn Hotel brand and they promise the lowest commission on the market, depending on the services the hotel wants to provide. In addition, the goal is for each property they're associated with to become a brand shareholder.

“Hotels make up our brand, so they deserve to own part of the Quartz Inn Hotel chain itself. Depending on the number of shares and the length of the cooperation agreement, we will determine the amount of shares that we'll assign to each owner,'' said the co-owner of the brand whose name is inspired by the mineral quartz, which has is very hard and is claimed to purify energy.

In addition to hotels, guesthouses and holiday villas are also welcome to join the chain. So far, they have dozens of contracts signed across Europe, and in 2022 they plan to conclude with at least 100 facilities in the Quartz Inn Hotel chain. Although they say their focus is primarily on sustainability, the propositions for members don't seem too strict, the main goals sound rather generic - to reduce energy and water consumption and eliminate the use of disposable plastic in rooms, all while encouraging sustainable healthier eating habits and contributing to local culture and economy.

That said, if a certain facility doesn’t meet the criteria, they can still work with them, and they'll be helped and provided with technology to grow and aid them in becoming much more sustainable. Once they reach the sustainability standards of the Quartz Inn Hotel chain, they incorporate them into their portfolio. Chain members get keep their names, but are free to add a brand name to it should they so wish. They're completely focused on Europe, and Croatia is one of their main markets, they consider it an attractive coastal destination and a paradise for nature lovers.

“I visited Zagreb for the first time back in 2009, and learned more about Croatia while working in a hotel in Munich with several Croatian colleagues who were proud of their country and recommended many places to me. Since then, I've visited not only places on the coast, but also many national and nature parks. We want to offer our guests a wide selection of conscious and sustainable accommodation. We're currently in talks with several hotels from Istria and Dalmatia and I sincerely hope that Croatia will soon become part of our hotel family,'' concluded Ignacio Merino.

For more, check out our business section.

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Removal of Croatian Earthquake Damaged Buildings to Begin Next Year

November the 23rd, 2021 - It's no exaggeration to say that Croatia's post-earthquake ''cleanup'' in Zagreb and Central Croatia is moving at a snail's pace. That said, it is still moving, however slowly. Croatian earthquake damaged properties which cannot be rescued will start being removed as of 2022.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, as of the beginning of next year, the proper plans for the removal of Croatian earthquake-damaged buildings that have collapsed and can no longer be rebuilt or saved will be ready and organised. The State Inspectorate has announced a tender for the performance of these tasks in the areas of the City of Zagreb, Krapina-Zagorje, Zagreb, Sisak-Moslavina and Karlovac counties.

These are contract award procedures based on a framework agreement, and the total estimated value of the works is 30 million kuna, increased by the amount of VAT (meaning the true total will be around 37.5 million kuna). The tender doesn't specify the exact number of Croatian earthquake-damaged buildings that need to be demolished and removed, nor the time limit in which the work would be realised. The quantities in cubic metres of gross space have been stated, and the amount of work itself, as stated in the documentation of the State Inspectorate, will additionally depend on the needs and available financial resources at the given time.

For these jobs, candidates whose bids will be considered should have a cumulative annual turnover in the last three years of at least 15 million kuna, and among other things, they must prove that they have completed the removal of buildings worth 10 million kuna over the last five years.

They also must have at least one construction engineer with five full years of experience who is registered as one of the Chamber's construction engineers, and four construction engineers and truck drivers and six workers, with all of the necessary technical equipment.

The bidders for the Croatian-earthquake building removal job must also guarantee their seriousness with a promissory note in the amount of 900,000 kuna. The State Inspectorate is going to be collecting bids until December the 6th, and although the demolition of these damaged facilities is eagerly awaited out in the field, a deadline of 90 days has been set for the decisions to be made on the selection of contractors.

The State Inspectorate, under which the construction inspection is responsible for problematic facilities that endanger public safety, is performing this task by the decision of the Civil Protection Directorate of the Republic of Croatia.

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

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Beautiful Split Scenes to Feature in Brand New OneLife Rally Series

November the 23rd, 2021 - Stunning Split scenes have appeared in a brand new OneLife Rally series, and many believe that Croatia's second largest city absolutely deserves to be ranked among some of the world's elite locations in this way.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marta Duic writes, thanks to its geographical position and rich tourist offer, the City of Split deserves to be alongside some of the world's top destinations. At least that is the opinion of Nik Papic, the director and co-founder of the OneLife Rally, an automotive event that has been working for five years to promote the countries of Croatia's immediate region and which has so far gathered more than 500 participants from across all of the globe's continents. In addition to the international rally and an exhibition of unique cars, the OneLife Rally team presented a novelty this year - the shooting of a new series.

"OneLife Rally isn't an ordinary event and is much more than a luxury rally - it's also a humanitarian mission that knows no regional borders. We're small individually, but united we are much stronger. We've decided to limit the number of participants to 100 cars, and the 2022 stage starts in Kiev, Ukraine, passing through the city of Lviv to the High Tatras in Slovakia, through Slovenia and down to Split, ending down in Montenegro. We expect that the trend of connecting the Balkans and the wider area will be further strengthened and that the energy we create at the event will bring even more interest in investments and good ideas for further development. The humanitarian part of the programme will be expanded and we'll donate to several places,'' exlained Papic.

Among the sporting activities, they added the filming of a new series in which the focus is on placed on super cars and, as they say, "the spirit of the Balkans with the inevitable dose of humour." The production of the series is in the hands of Warehouse Collective, led by Darej Somen and Luka Furlan. Part of the series was also filmed in Split, with gorgeous Split sure to wow viewers. The vehicles for the purpose of filming the Split scenes were borrowed by Auto kuca Kovacic.

"We've been thinking about this for some time now because the Balkans are very interesting and provide a lot of stereotypes that aren't only interesting to us, but to the wider global population. On top of that, it's also a great way to present the culture, nature and food that this area offers. About 25 people are working in the first phase of filming, but that number will increase to 50 in the following phases. Our focus is on stereotypes from our area, cars and the people who live there. We want to make a serious, and at the same time a small comic series, while showing all the natural beauty. Split is a great city, which looks very good on camera and is perfect for one of the starting cities in the series. It will be filmed in literally all Balkan cities, Ljubljana, Belgrade and Sarajevo are also planned, and the show will be broadcast after February the 22nd, 2022. We're in negotiations with various companies, so we don't have the exact details, but it will certainly be broadcast in all Balkan countries and beyond,'' revealed Papic.

It's worth mentioning that this humanitarian event passed through Croatia back in 2019 as well - the rally passed through Dubrovnik and Korcula, and the collected money was donated to the Maslina Children's Home. The OneLife Rally is an extremely well-attended automotive event that was attended by more than 100,000 people this year alone. It is the only open type of rally in the world that allows all fans of super cars to take photos and even sit in the cars. On social media, this year’s edition had a reach of more than 25 million people worldwide.

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

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

6 Rebro Hospital Employees Receive Dismissals Following Covid Test Refusal

November the 23rd, 2021 - Six Rebro Hospital (KBC Zagreb) hospital employees have been dismissed after refusing to regularly test for the presence of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.

To briefly bring you up to speed in case you haven't been following, several weeks ago a decision made by the Croatian Civil Protection Directorate was made that stated that all employees in the health and social care sector must have valid covid certificates, proving their vaccination status, that they've recovered from the virus in a specific time period, or that they have recently tested negative. The move was also intended for everyone who wanted to enter a health and/or social care facility unless it was a medical emergency.

Those who refuse to show their covid certificates and those who are not vaccinated and/or recovered who refuse to be tested regularly were warned when the rule came into force that they would likely be warned and then dismissed. That has occurred now on multiple occasions.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, six Rebro Hospital employees received extraordinary termination of their employment contracts because they persistently refused to show a valid digital covid certificate upon arrival at work and didn't want to be tested.

As RTL has learned, the documentation on the termination of the employment contract was sent to six employees of Zagreb's Rebro Hospital, and the information was confirmed by the deputy director of the hospital, Dr. Milivoj Novak.

The director of Rebro Hospital, Dr. Ante Corusic, previously emphasised that the institution has 6,156 employees, 12 of whom refused to be tested and didn't have a covid certificate to present when going to work. Two of them later changed their minds on the matter and started accepting regular coronavirus testing, one employee was fired, and the others, the director said at the time, would be fired in accordance with the law and the decisions of the Workers' Council.

However, the Healthcare Workers' Union claims that the Workers' Council did not comment on the dismissals of these six Rebro Hospital employees because none of them even asked for them to step in or make a comment.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Vukovar Card: Support Local Economy Rather than Temporary Facebook Status

November 23, 2021 - 30 years after the fall of Vukovar, the global Croatian community commemorates the horrendous event, but is it time to support the Vukovar community with something more concrete than an annual Facebook status update? A practical suggestion to introduce the Vukovar Card.

For many, many years, I avoided writing about the topic of Vukovar, and with good reason. 

I am not Croatian, I was not there, and how could a foreigner have an opinion worth having about one of the most painful periods and events in Croatian history? And not only that, but how could he possibly understand? 

Having spent a year as an emergency aid worker in Rwanda, arriving two weeks after the genocide that killed 800,000 people in just 100 days in 1994, I had an understanding of suffering, but the complexities of the Vukovar situation and my lack of knowledge meant that I avoided writing about the topic. Instead, I limited my involvement to accompanying my kids to light the annual candle, and also delegating the topic to a native writer to cover.

street-vukovar-remembrance-day.jpg

Years passed. The November 18 remembrance parade took place each year, every Vukovar Street in the country was lined with red candle holders on each side of the street, Facebook became a sea of images with messages such as Never Forget and City of Heroes. 

It was powerful stuff. As I wrote after the World Cup which was followed by the death of Oliver Dragojevic, which led to In Life and In Death, Croatia are World Champions at Celebration.

And they really are. It is amazing to watch the passion of Croats in times of extreme joy and extreme pain. 

But as the years went by, I realised that by the time November 19 came round, Vukovar was forgotten for another 364 days. And while the Facebook statuses and candles were no doubt appreciated, Vukovar was forgotten for another year as soon as the candles went out. 

Two years ago, I realised that while the November 18 remembrance parade takes place each year, there was nothing online about the actual experience in English. I decided to go and document the whole event as a foreign neutral, to at least give some perspective for TCN foreign readers. 

vukovar-remembrance-day_18.jpg

It was one of the most harrowing, but also one of the most educational days in all my 18 years in this country - Vukovar Remembrance Day Through the Eyes of a Foreign Resident.

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These two photos - taken with permission - killed me. The look of joy on the young boy's face as he ran in to see everyone marching past was pure innocence and happiness. Finally, something was happening in the city, even if he perhaps did not appreciate what. That face, that innocence, and that joy has stayed with me ever since. The innocence will not last long in the Vukovar of today, but what can we do to keep the smile on his face and give him a future that will keep him? 

Temporary Facebook statuses and extinguished candles were not going to be enough. 

Back then, inspired by that smile, I wrote Vukovar: How to Honour the Fallen and Assist the Survivors? It was not so widely read as I had hoped, but after returning from Vukovar and this year's event, I feel compelled to try again. 

The 2021 Vukovar Day was a much different experience for me. The initial shock was no longer there, as I knew what to expect. But there were other differences. The water tower was open, and the experience became more one of joy, celebration, and national pride than looking at a national scar. Perhaps it was the fact that it was the 30th anniversary, as well as comrades being reunited after the more muted, pandemic-affected 2020 Vukovar Day, but there was a much more positive atmosphere overall. There was respect and remembrance of course, but a notable toning down of the politics, lots of hugs, and sharing of rakija. 

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As we filmed, I was struck by how many people asked us to take their photos. And many begged us to take one of their flags. These guys wanted to tell me about Travnik (I already knew about it from previous visits to Bosnia). They wanted the world to know they were in Vukovar. And the selfies. For every person grieving by an individual grave, there were ten talking selfies in the cemetery with friends reunited. 

It didn't feel wrong. 

But the main difference to me this time was the time I spent with local people from Vukovar, as they observed this mass invasion with a mixture of emotions. I heard stories over wine and rakija that brought tears to my eyes, and stories of resilience and survival that had me welling up again. And LOTS of stories about the great new things happening in Vukovar. Of new opportunities, of local people having a go. The conversation that stayed with me was with a lovely guy who fought back the tears as he told me his story, before going to pick up his young kids so that they could walk to the cemetery. 

Don't hate but never forget. I want my kids to know what happened and to respect that. We have our past but it is not the first thing tourists need to know when they arrive. We have a great tourism offer based on the future. I am proud to live here but things have to change. I want to leave a better Vukovar for my kids so that they will stay.

We didn't fight for a country like this. It is rotten in every way. Why do journalists come looking for positive Vukovar stories every year on November 18 only? Why never in March?

Unlike most visitors who only come once a year, 3 days later, I found myself back in Vukovar offering an extraordinary young lady called Katarina a part-time job. And I can't tell you how excited I am about hiring her. This is not a charity job offer - far from it. With her help, we will be telling the positive stories of Vukovar and eastern Croatia not just once a year, but throughout the year. Stay tuned. 

So how can we honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice, while providing economic benefit to those living in Vukovar today? And how to keep that smile on that young boy's face, while also allowing those far away to keep that connection to Vukovar and to never forget?

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There is a very simple solution that I will be proposing to the Minister of Tourism, Nikolina Brnjac, who promised me a meeting when we met in Dubrovnik recently. 

It could actually use the infrastructure of a previously failed initiative by the Kings of Accidental Tourism before Minister Brnjac's time - the CRO Card.   

It is called the Vukovar Card. 

I had lunch with the regional tourist board directors of both Vukovar Srijem and Osijek Baranja counties last week. I told them my idea and asked them if they could produce an award-winning 7-day itinerary of eastern Croatia, which not only gave participants more than enough time to honour and grieve for the tragedy of 1991, but also to give eastern Croatia's visitors a unique tourism experience that will blow their minds. As it did mine on a similar itinerary last week - more soon next week. 

Is this a charity case? Yes, it is. This is eastern Croatia saying no hard feelings about being ignored for 25 years and giving its visitors an outstanding and unforgettable 7 days showcasing a Croatia they hardly knew existed. I have travelled all over this country, and the last week in eastern Croatia with digital nomad videographer Steve Tsentserensky, was probably the best in my 18 years here. 

Many of the diaspora who change their Facebook status for November 18 come to the Adriatic coast each year for 2-3 weeks. So here is the simple suggestion. On one of those visits, for 7 days only, take the Vukovar Card package, experience a Croatia you never knew existed, pay respects to those who fell to free this country, and put money into the local economy of those who are left behind. The tour is sensational.

And there is a bonus if you do. 

For all those tourism businesses on the coast who change their Facebook profile each November 18, offer a 10% discount on some services for holders of the Vukovar Card. Your way of giving back. 

And that, as they say, is that. 

The infrastructure for the Vukovar Card is already there with the CRO Card, as well as the brilliance of Croatian Tourism Month, which ran from October 1 to November 7. The only practical suggestion I would make is to keep this project away from certain failure is to exclude the Croatian National Tourist Board from the project entirely. Otherwise we might have a repeat of the situation recently when a huge national campaign to promote (among other things) our celebrated gastronomy could result in the only thing to eat in half the country being popcorn from Cinestar. Yes, really. Gourmet Croatia: 35% Off Popcorn the Only Offer in Kingdom of Accidental Tourism

Once I receive the 7-day itinerary, I shall request that ministerial meeting. If anyone with more knowledge of how these things work would like to get involved (ideally take over the project completely, as I have plenty of work to do), then please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Vukovar Card.

If I have angered or offended anyone with this suggestion and article (I am aware of how emotive Vukovar is), that was not my intention. I hope, at least, that it would be welcomed by those who matter most - those who gave their lives, and those who were left behind. 

And if in any small way it helps to keep that smile on the little boy's face, it will have been more than worth it.  

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