Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Croatia Logs 165 New COVID Cases, 12 Deaths

ZAGREB, 16 August, 2022 - In the last 24 hours, 165 coronavirus cases, out of 1,237 tests, and 12 related deaths have been registered in Croatia, the national COVID-19 crisis management team said on Tuesday.

There are 6,107 active cases, including 680 hospitalised patients, 28 of whom are on ventilators, while 2,838 persons are self-isolating.

Croatia has registered 1,200,972 coronavirus cases to date, and the death toll has reached 16,520, while 70.89% of adults have been vaccinated.

Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Croats Shopping Abroad - Revival of Bosnian Shopping Mecca

August 16, 2022 – Growing up in eastern Croatia in the early 2000s meant a few things. It had its challenges and rewards, but one thing was sure – August was time to shop for new school gear. Since everything was a bit too expensive in Croatia, this day usually became a special field trip. Off to the Bosnian shopping mecca!

After shopping centres sprung up everywhere and things became a little more affordable, it has not been so much of an event, but Croatian people would still go abroad to shop for groceries. The restrictions around the pandemic made it a lot more complicated, impossible at times, but the current situation paired with the lifting of restrictions is helping the revival of shopping trips across the border.

As Glas Slavonije reports, judging by the data on the number of approved requests and the amounts for VAT refunds on purchased goods, Bosanska Posavina is slowly but surely regaining its status as a shopping mecca for many Slavonians, which it had before the emergence of the coronavirus, when they would go daily, especially on weekends, to shop in Orašje, Brčko, Šamac, Brod, Gradiška, and the demand would break records year after year.

Crowds at the Županja-Orašje border crossing are once again becoming a common sight, albeit often due to the numerous trucks that are directed there after the closure of the Gunja - Brčko bridge for freight traffic. At the exit from Orašje, there is often a queue of vehicles in which passengers wait for the customs officials to examine the purchased goods with the attached receipt and to certify the form based on which they will receive a refund. As foreign citizens in Bosnia, their bills are 17 percent cheaper, which is the current VAT rate. Invoices, goods, and the original completed tax refund form are inspected at customs.

According to the data provided to GS by Dženan Kovačević from the Department for Communications and International Cooperation of the Directorate for Indirect Taxation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, foreign citizens (mostly from Serbia, Croatia, and Montenegro) in the first six months of this year bought and exported 31.47 million convertible marks (KM) worth of goods. It amounts to HRK 120.8 million (according to the average CNB exchange rate of HRK 3.84 for one KM). They submitted as many as 106,411 requests for tax refunds in the amount of 4.57 million KM (HRK 17.5 million).

For comparison, in the first six months of last year, foreigners in BiH spent 14.7 million marks (HRK 56.5 million) and submitted 58,116 requests for tax refunds in the total amount of 2.1 million KM (HRK 8 million).

Even more significant numbers were recorded by the border crossings towards Slavonia. In the first half of 2022, the consumption of Slavonians in BiH quadrupled compared to the same period last year. According to the data submitted from the five BiH crossings leading to the Vukovar-Srijem and Brod-Posavina counties, Slavonians spent approximately 11.2 million KM, i.e., HRK 43 million, "across the Sava" from January 1 to June 30 of this year. They submitted 34,734 requests for VAT refunds in the total amount of slightly more than 1.6 million KM, or HRK 6.1 million.

In the same period in 2021, the consumption was four times lower – Slavonians brought in goods worth 2.8 million KM, i.e., HRK 10.8 million, through the mentioned crossings.

The calculation shows that in the first six months of this year, an average of 62,000 KM, or HRK 238,000, was spent across the border per day. In 2021, they spent an average of HRK 146,850 per day, and just two years earlier, in the record 2019, more than HRK 528,000. And last Friday, in the late afternoon, numerous cars with Županja and Vinkovci registration plates were parked in front of a large shopping center at the entrance to Orašje. Few people went out without packing a case of beer in the trunk, which they would pay 19 KM (76 kunas), half of the Croatian pricew. "On Assumption of Mary we have our village celebrations, and it pays off to come here several times because the savings are noticeable even if you only buy beer and soft drinks. For example, a liter and a half of lemon and lime Jana, our favorite summer drink, here we pay only one and a half marks, and in Croatia it's about HRK 10. All other drinks are also cheaper," Ivica from Cerna told us. He paid 6.60 KM (HRK 26.5) for a package of six half-liter cans of beer, and in Croatia, he adds, it costs HRK 45.99, with a five percent promotion. He adds that it is best for him to pay by card in Orašje. "Recently, when shopping, only stamps are returned as change, regardless of whether it was paid in kuna or euros, which was not the case before. And they no longer accept kuna in coins anywhere”, he said. Marica from Županja added that prices have also risen in Bosnia and that some items are now even more expensive than in our country, but with the tax refund, especially if you also buy tobacco which is still priced at HRK 50 per half a kilogram, and various beverages, it still makes sense to go.

Some of the prices are as follows: a liter of Zvijezda oil costs 5.80 KM, 500g of Vegeta is 5.25 marks, a kilogram of sugar 2.25 marks, while flour costs 1.65 marks. A large Argeta chicken pate costs 1.55 marks, a tube of Zvijezda mayonnaise 3.25 KM, Meggle's butter 9.50 KM, and a 4-kilogram bag of Ariel costs 16.96 marks.

Good to know: refund within three months

Foreign citizens who do not have a residence in BiH have the right to a VAT refund, which they can exercise on purchased goods with a minimum value of one hundred convertible marks (HRK 400). The refund is processed within three months from the day the invoice is issued, with the presentation of the certified original form "PDV-SL-2". The tax refund does not apply to exported mineral oils, i.e., fuel, alcohol and alcoholic beverages, and tobacco products. Goods whose total value does not exceed HRK 2,200 per adult passenger and HRK 1,100 for passengers under the age of 15 are exempt from customs and excise duties. The instructions of the Customs Administration clearly state how much and what kind of goods from third countries, including BiH, can be transported across the border. Travellers coming from third countries are obliged to declare goods whose entry is prohibited or restricted - medicines, meat and meat products, milk and dairy products, pesticides, herbicides, plants and plant products, pets, weapons... In Croatia, for example, he can bring in 40 cigarettes and 50 grams of tobacco.

For more, check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Croat Vjekoslav Prebeg Pleads Not Guilty in Donetsk

ZAGREB, 16 August, 2022 - Croat Vjekoslav Prebeg has pleaded not guilty to charges of being a mercenary at a court of the unrecognized Donetsk People’s Republic, while the pro-Russian separatist authorities accuse him of being a Ukrainian mercenary who took part in efforts to oust them, which is why he faces the death penalty.

The Slovenian News Agency (STA) said on Tuesday that Prebeg had stated that his activities on the battlefield had been limited to monitoring enemy positions, and he said that he had not been included in armed conflicts against Russian forces.

Russian media outlets that are allowed to cover the trial, which started on 15 August, quoted Prebeg as saying that he had used firearms last time before the start of the war in Ukraine, STA says.

Apart from Prebeg, Swede Matthias Gustafsson and Briton John Harding are also indicted on the counts of attempting to "forcibly seize power or forcibly retain power" and "participation of a mercenary in an armed conflict or hostilities," according to the Russian Izvestia newspaper.

They face the death penalty.

Another two Brits in this trial are Andrew Hill and Dylan Healy.

All of them pleaded not guilty to the charges, according to reports released by Russian media outlets.

The next court hearing in their case is scheduled for October, the Interfax news agency reported, citing a statement by the separatists’ court.

Russia's media outlets have released footage of the trial, showing the five men in a cage in the courtroom.

On 10 August, Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Ministry strongly condemned the indictment against Croatian national Prebeg, who has been detained in the self-proclaimed republic of Donetsk.

Croatia "rejects the indictment and does not consider it to be legally sound because it is contrary to international law and conventions on the treatment of captured civilians and prisoners of war," the ministry said in a press release.

The ministry and competent services are in constant contact with the Ukrainian authorities and other partners in order to shed light on the case and have Prebeg released, the ministry said on 10 August, adding that it has been in touch with the detainee's family.

Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Split Hospital to Establish Genetic Counselling Department

ZAGREB, 16 August, 2022 -  The University Hospital Centre in the biggest Croatian coastal city of Split will this year set up a genetic counselling office that will provide opportunities for testing for hereditary cancers.

The genetic counselling, which will be opened this autumn, will be within the molecular pathology laboratory of the Department of Pathology and Cytology.

Thus, the counselling will perform diagnostic testing for healthy persons who are members of the families in which some hereditary cancers appear to run.

The head of the Department of Pathology and Cytology, Nenad Kunac, explains that, for instance, a member of the family where breast cancers have already been diagnosed will be given an opportunity to undergo testing for inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2.

Tuesday, 16 August 2022

3.32 Million Passengers at Croatian Airports in in First 6 Months of 2022

ZAGREB, 16 August, 2022 - Croatia's airports registered 3.32 million passengers in the first half of this year, which was a 398% increase compared to the first half of 2021 when the COVID restrictions were in place.

The relaxation of COVID protocols resulted in more trips, and in H1 2022, flight operations jumped by 101%, according to the data provided by the Croatian Bureau of Statistics (DZS).

Croatia's airports handled over 4,700 tonnes of cargo, or 19% more than in the corresponding period of 2021.

In June only, 1.28 million passengers passed through Croatia's airports, a 300% rise compared to June 2021.

This June, the airports saw a 90% increase in flight operations to 15,000.

Split Airport which served 418,000 passengers in June was the top performer, and it registered a 264.6% increase on the year.

Dubrovnik Airport ranked second in June, with a 428.2% rise to 311,000 passengers.

Franjo Tuđman Airport in the capital city catered for 291,000 passengers in June, or a 191.9% increase compared to June 2021.

According to the DZS data, in Zadar, 170,000 passengers passed through its airport in June. Pula Airport registered 60,000 passengers and  Rijeka Airport 26,000. The airport on the island of Brač had 2,000 passengers, and the airport in the biggest eastern city of Osijek reported 1,800 passengers in June.

The largest number of passengers came from Germany, the UK and France in June.

Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Croatian Tourist Board Director says Tourist Season is Great

ZAGREB, 16 August, 2022 - Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ) Director Kristjan Staničić told the national television (HTV) on Monday evening that the tourist season was great and some indicators showed that the results were already close to those in the record-breaking 2019.

Currently, there are about 1.1 million visitors staying in Croatia, Staničić said.

He expected even higher revenues than in 2019.

Also, the Croatian National Bank (HNB) forecasts that the revenues from the tourist industry could reach € 11.3 billion, or 7% (€800 million) more than in 2019.

Staničić expressed satisfaction with also a higher number of fiscalised receipts and revenues from the tourist trade.

He, however, would rather wait for the end of the season to see the final results.

The HTZ director also commented on some complaints about too high prices of the services along the Croatian coast and said that every price rise must be followed by the upgrade of services and products.

Staničić said that the HTZ is preparing a new strategy for sustainable tourism, and this document should soon be finished.

Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Croatia's Mihaljević European Champion in Men's Shot Put in Munich

ZAGREB, 15 August, 2022 - Croatia's shot put record holder, Filip Mihaljević, won the European title in the men's shot put event in Munich on Monday evening, with the winning distance of 21.88 metres which he had in his last throw.

Serbia's shot-putter Armin Sinančević won the silver with 21.39 metres in his fifth throw, and Czech Tomaš Stanek grabbed the bronze (21.26 metres).

The 28-year-old Mihaljević already had medals from the world and European indoor championships.

On Monday morning Croatia's long-distance runner Matea Parlov Koštro won the silver medal in the women's marathon at the 2022 European Championships taking place in Munich.

Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Vjekoslav Prebeg, Indicted Croat in Donetsk, Faces Death Penalty

ZAGREB, 16 August, 2022 - Croatian Vjekoslav Prebeg, who is together with Briton John Harding, and Swede Mathias Gustafsson, accused by the Russian separatist authorities of being a mercenary, is facing the death penalty, Reuters quoted Russian media outlets as reporting on Monday.  

"A Russian-backed separatist court in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk charged five foreign nationals captured fighting with Ukrainian forces with being mercenaries on Monday, saying three could face the death penalty, Russian media reported," according to the Reuters news agency.

Prebeg, Harding and Gustafsson were captured in and around the port city of Mariupol, and they face a possible death sentence under the laws of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, Russian state-owned news agency TASS reported.

On 10 August, Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Ministry strongly condemned the indictment against Croatian national Prebeg, who has been detained in the self-proclaimed republic of Donetsk.

Croatia "rejects the indictment and does not consider it to be legally sound because it is contrary to international law and conventions on the treatment of captured civilians and prisoners of war," the ministry said in a press release a few days ago.

The ministry and competent services are in constant contact with the Ukrainian authorities and other partners in order to shed light on the case and have Prebeg released, the ministry said on 10 August, adding that it has been in touch with the detainee's family.

According to Reuters, two more Britons, Dylan Healy and Andrew Hill, were also charged but do not face execution. All five of the accused pleaded not guilty to the charges, TASS reported.

It cited the judge as saying that the trial would resume in early October.

Tuesday, 16 August 2022

New Structure for Pula Tourism as Younger Visitors Dominate Scene

August the 16th, 2022 - The Pula tourism structure has changed somewhat, with the scene currently being dominated by much younger tourists than back during previous years.

As Morski writes, on the gorgeous Istria peninsula, the number of tourists this weekend exceeded a very impressive 300,000. Although the Istrian peninsula is mainly oriented towards family tourism, the number of younger guests, aged 18 to 30, is now increasing. Pula tourism is based precisely on the "city break" category, that is, it has become a destination for more frequent and shorter stays.

''In Italy, accommodation is way too expensive, here we found a house at a good price. We just arrived, we saw some beautiful beaches, the city is beautiful,'' said visitor Mateo.

''If we compare what we've currently got with 2019, which was the last pre-pandemic year, we see that we have a few percent more young people making up the Pula tourism picture, which if we look at July and August - when the numbers of people in the city are higher - it isn't a negligible percentage,'' pointed out Sanja Cinkopan Korotaj, the director of the Pula Tourist Board.

Manifestations and events that have never been seen before are not negligible either. Music week, wine city, and now a burger fest with a series of concerts in the Arena and on city squares are drawing more and more visitors to this Istrian city, and the bars, restaurants and cafes are full.

There are 25 thousand guests currently staying in the City of Pula. Private accommodation units are now sold out, and young people have started to fill the city's numerous hotels as well.

''We decided to stop in Pula on our visit to Croatia because we had heard only the very best things about the city. We visited many places there, and the beaches are beautiful,'' said Camilla.

This new structure of guests making up Pula tourism's picture, with a significantly higher proportion of young people, also increases costs for hoteliers, they say.

''Because they stay in one destination for a shorter period of, they want to see as much as possible in the shortest possible time, so in a way we're reduced to a type of station tourism. Because we have to change everything every day, bedding and everything, this creates additional costs for us,'' emphasised Deniz Zembo, a hotel owner from Pula.

Recently, hostels have also started to spring up, now there are about 20 of them in the city and they are getting better every year.

''We are talking about a lot of young guests who came of age during the coronavirus pandemic, they couldn't travel, and we are also talking about guests who are starting families and who will come to Pula with their families,'' added Boris Zgomba, the president of the Association of Travel Agencies within the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK).

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

Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Pula Aquarium Gets New Resident Which Changes Own Gender

August the 16th, 2022 - The Pula Aquarium, known for its efforts in conservation and the rescue and rehabilitation of all sorts of Adriatic marine lifeforms, has a new and very interesting resident which can change its own gender every eight years.

As Morski writes, over more recent days, the much loved Pula Aquarium presented to the public the third largest fish of its future tropical lineup, a Humphead wrass named Napoleon (Cheilinus undulatus), the largest bony fish which naturally lives on coral reefs.

The Humphead wrasse is an unusual looking fish which stands out for both its colour and its size, and it got its name from the large hump on its head that resembles Napoleon Bonaparte's hat - hence the name.

What is rather remarkable about this fish, is the fact that after the eighth year of its life, it changes its gender from female to male, and during this sex change, the colour of the body also changes - from orange-red to dark blue-green. This species is extremely important for the health of coral reefs because it feeds on an animal known as the crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci), which eats coral and given the chance, destroys these gorgeous reefs.

Humphead wrasse are a very widespread Indo-Pacific species, they reach an impressive body size of up to 2.2 meters and a weight of 191 kilograms with a lifespan of up to 32 years. It is quite a rare fish, but despite that, it is still unfortunately hunted for its tasty meat, and according to the IUCN, it is now considered an endangered species as a result of that. Due to overfishing, their population has decreased by a worrying 50 percent in the last 30 years alone, Aquarium Pula explained when discussing their new resident, Napoleon.

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

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