Tuesday, 28 March 2023

5 Things Rwanda Does Better Than Croatia

March 28, 2023 - Two countries devoured by war a generation ago. Learning from excellence is an inspiring thing - 5 things Rwanda does better than Croatia. 

It is a strange thing, being an expat. Or an immigrant, as some people prefer me labelled. A country you live in becomes a part of you, will never leave you. 

And after over 20 years in Croatia, I have never lived longer anywhere else. And I am very happy here. 

But there is one other country I lived in for almost a year that refuses to leave me. 


1994 in Rwanda was among the biggest hellholes of the 20th century. Arriving just a week after a genocide which killed 800,000 people in 100 days (almost 12% of the population) is an experience I wiill never forget. Nor those intense months afterwards, working 20 hours a day to provide food security for the survivors to start again. Rwanda - much like Dalmatia - is my blood, but for very different reasons. She made me cry as a 53-year-old when I finally went for my first counselling at the tender age of 53 last year. 

I have followed the journey of that tortured Central African countries for the last 30 years, a journey of dictatorial democracy, reconciliation, and tentative steps of hope for the future.

It is a country that I have allocated more than my fair share of my emotional well-being to over the years, as well as my tears. I will never forget the face of my 4-year-old daughter on April 6, 2014 - the 20th anniversary of the genocide. 

It was 6 am on the idyllic island of Hvar when my youngest woke and came to say hi to her blogger father on the couch, who was in tears. A combination of memories and this excellent article in the New York Times, called Portraits of Reconciliation

"What's wrong, Daddy?" asked the confused child, who had never seen a grown man - let alone her father - cry.

"Nothing," I answered, holding her tighter than I have ever held a human in my life.

"It was just something bad that happened in Africa a long, long time ago." And then I strengthened my grip.

Comparison is the thief of joy, and no two countries are alike. It would also be wrong to claim that 'democratic' Rwanda is a true democracy, as the experiences of my Rwandese friends will testify. And yet...

One of the poorest countries in the world, which lost an eighth of its population in 100 days, the latest - but certainly not the first - genocide. Some 30 years later, it has emeged a lot brighter than many might have predicted. And when I look at my adopted homeland of Croatia, I see parallels, and I see lessons to be learned. Here are 5 things that I think Rwanda is doing better than Croatia - all of which would be very welcome for Croatia to emulate - which it can. 

1. A ban on plastic bags in the whole country since 2009


I have lost count of the number of articles I have read - and written - about hotels which are proving their environmental credentials by banning the use of things such as plastic straws. Rwanda banned plastic bags in the whole country back in 2009. The whole country, enforced with fines and even the threat of imprisonment. 

2. Emergency blood delivered by drone within 30 minutes all over the country

Medical emergency? How to get that emergency blood? For more than 6 years now in Rwanda, a doctor names his requirements, and within 90 seconds, a drone is on its way with a life-saving package - ETA maximum 30 minutes.  

3. Reconciliation

As a Brit, with no experience of civil war in my country, it is hard for me to comment with authority on the effects of civil war. Having lived in both Rwanda and Croatia, however, I can see the healthier way forward - reconciliation. And while my 7-year-old child got her first nightmare with her homework in school (Read more in Is it Really Necessary to Poison the Minds of the Next Generation?), the comprehensive rehabilitation process performed in Rwanda has gone a long way towards healing. No longer Tutsis and Hutus, we are all Rwandan now. 

Contrast that with the ongoing torment of Vukovar, a city not reconquered, but handed back, where schools are still divided, those who perpetrated horrific crimes encounter their victims on a daily basis, and where politicians stoke the hatred for politcal gain a generation on. 


4. Tourism

The land of 1000 islands had been usurped by the land of 1000 hills. On the face of it, Rwanda doesn't have that much going for it regarding tourism, apart from a few mountain gorillas, but man, have they done an amazing job with what they have. So much so that in 2019, Bloomberg named Rwanda as one of the top 10 destinations in the world for billionaires. And they had plenty more to say on the subject in How Rwanda Became the Unlikeliest Tourism Destination in Africa. And not just Bloomberg, here is the Robb Report - Rwanda Is Building a Low-Footprint, Luxury Tourism Industry From Scratch—and Succeeding.

An intresting strategy - building a tourism industry rather than just waiting for tourists to arrive as in Croatia...

5. Tourism Promotion

And perhaps my favourite of the five - tourism promotion. In 2018 Croatia was one of the most-searched countries on the planet, its players and fans adored all over the world for their World Cup heroics in Russia. If ever any country had the moral high ground to claim to be the tiny country that dared to dream, and to cash in commercially on that footballing success, it was Croatia.

And yet, with the Kings of Accidental Tourism congratulated themselves on a job well done (not by them, but by others, as usual), tiny Rwanda, a country that had never been to the World Cup, never had a player in the Premier League, stole the show with a sponsorship deal with Arsenal - the first sponsorship deal between a tourism country and a Premier League team - which saw Visit Rwanda seen on Arsenal shirts around the world 35 million times a day. You can read more in my article a few years ago in Lessons from Rwanda: Promoting Tourism Through Football, African-Style.


You can subscribe to the Paul Bradbury Croatia Expert YouTube channel here.

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.

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





Tuesday, 28 March 2023

Luxury Istrian Resort Introducing Offer to Entice Golf Lovers

March the 28th, 2023 - One luxury Istrian resort is set to raise the level of its offer this year, with a special emphasis placed on enticing golf lovers to the beautiful Istrian peninsula.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, one luxury Istrian resort, known as a prestigious five-star golf and spa resort, is opening its doors this year again. Located in Istria, near Savudrija and Umag, Kempinski Hotel Adriatic is bringing in some new content with which it will raise its business to an even higher level.

From this year on, this popular luxury Istrian resort will offer its services throughout the entire year, which will allow guests to enjoy the charms of Istria and indeed the rest of Croatia during the winter months as well.

Another piece of business news that will delight all passionate golfers is the rebranding of the golf course and the exclusive news that Golf Adriatic has become the first "PGA National Golf Course" in Croatia and in this part of the region.

"The PGA" is the first association of professional golfers in the world, founded way back in in 1901. The organisation provides support to its members and their work is aimed at promoting golf. If you've ever followed many of the blunders Croatia has got itself into when it comes to creating certain golf courses (think Dubrovnik, for example), you'll know that this will definitely be a plus for golf lovers across Europe and indeed the rest of the world.

As part of this prestigious organisation, Golf Adriatic has the right to absolute exclusivity as the only PGA certified golf course in the Republic of Croatia and the possibility of organising golf tournaments on an international level.

Being a part of such a prestigious organisation will contribute to further development and growth, as well as enhanced recognition of this luxury Istrian hotel on an international level.

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

Tuesday, 28 March 2023

EURO 2024 Qualifiers: Two Kovačić Goals Bring Croatia Away Victory against Turkey

March 28, 2023 - After drawing against Wales at Poljud on Saturday, Croatia beat Turkey in the second round of the EURO 2024 qualifiers.

Croatia and Turkey met in Bursa on Tuesday for the second round of EURO 2024 qualifiers. This was Croatia's last match before the Nations League finals, which is held this June in Rotterdam. 

Coach Zlatko Dalić lead Croatia tonight for the 72nd time, which ties him with the undisputed record holder Miroslav Blažević.

Croatia and Turkey had played ten times so far before this match. Croatia's first victory in a major competition was against Turkey (Euro 1996), but perhaps also the biggest shock - losing on penalties in the EURO quarter-finals in Austria and Switzerland in 2008.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić made three changes in the starting lineup. Josip Stanišić, Borna Barišić, and Mario Pašalić entered the starting 11 instead of Josip Juranović, Borna Sosa, and the injured Marko Livaja.


TURKEY: Günok, Celik, Söyuncu, Demiral, Kadioglu, Kökcu, Calhanoglu, Özcan, Ünder, Ünal, Aktüroglu

CROATIA: Livaković, Stanišić, Šutalo, Gvardiol, Barišić, Modrić, Brozović, Kovačić, Pašalić, Perišić, Kramarić

The match started at 20:45 in front of nearly 40,000 fans. Around 1500 Croatia fans were in attendance. 

Brozovic lost the ball in the penalty area in the 5th minute, forcing Livakovic to make a quick save to keep Turkey from taking an early lead. Livakovic had to save the day not even five minutes later after a Sutalo slip allowed Turkey to get a shot off. And in the 11th minute, a Turkey goal was called offside. 

Croatia started waking up shortly after and pushed into Turkey's half. Stanisic got a shot off wide of the goal in the 16th minute.

But even with their lack of concentration, Croatia found the back of the net. Stanisic was played wide on the right wing and sent the ball to Pasalic who played a one-two with Perisic and laid it off to Kovacic in the box for 0-1 Croatia! 

Croatia's lack of concentration continued after they took the lead, and another close encounter with Livakovic nearly leveled the result. Stanisic dribbled into the box and failed to get a good shot off in the 32nd minute. 

Croatia really struggled to find their footing in the first half, but the injury to Turkey's captain did not do them a favor, either.

Even with their poor play, Croatia found a way to the back of the net again. Brozovic and Modric stole the ball in Turkey's half, found Pasalic on the left whose shot went off the keeper's fingertips, and to Kovacic who scored his second goal for 0-2! 

The first half ended 0-2 for Croatia. 

Croatia attacked well in the 53rd minute, but both Kovacic and Pasalic failed to get a shot off in time.

And Croatia's best chance of the second half came five minutes later. Modric played a low ball into the box from the right side, and Pasalic side-footed to the goal with an incredible reaction from the Turkey keeper. 

Dalic made his first sub - Juranovic came on for Pasalic in the 65th minute. 

Turkey picked up the pace from the 70th minute and even had a good chance on goal which went wide of the far post. 

A brilliant attack by Kovacic, Perisic, and Kramaric almost resulted in another goal, but Kramaric's shot just missed the goal. 

Two corners for Turkey in the 80th minute had Croatia on their toes, but with 10 minutes to go, the game was still 0-2.

Modric and Kramaric came out for Majer and Musa in the 84th minute. 

Five minutes of stoppage time were added. Ivanusec came on for Perisic.

Turkey had a dangerous chance in the 2nd minute of stoppage time which Livakovic brilliantly saved, but the game ended in Croatia's favor. 

Croatia meets next in June for the Nations League Finals in Rotterdam. Croatia plays the semi-final against the Netherlands on June 14.

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

Tuesday, 28 March 2023

All Croatian Fuel Prices Lower as of Today, New Costs Published

March the 28th, 2023 - As of today, all Croatian fuel prices are lower than they were following a government session held over the phone yesterday. The new Croatian fuel prices, before they inevitably go back up again, are published below.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, a telephone government session was held yesterday at which the Decree on determining the highest retail prices of oil derivatives was adopted, the Croatian Government reports.

The regime according to which the highest retail prices are calculated according to the formula based on the basic price of fossil fuel in the previous fourteen-day period, with a limited premium of 0.0995 EUR/l (0.75 HRK/l) for diesel and petrol, and 0.0531 EUR /l (0.40 kn/l) for blue diesel, and in the amount of 0.8229 EUR/kg (6.20 kn/kg) propane-butane mixture for bottles, i.e. 0.3716 EUR/kg (2.80 kn/kg) for large containers, will remain valid for a further fourteen days as of today.

The new Croatian fuel prices in effect as of today's date are as follows:

1.39 EUR/l (10.47 HRK/l) for petrol (a reduction of 0.01 EUR/l)
1.34 EUR/l (10.10 HRK/l) for diesel (a reduction of 0.06 EUR/l)
0.84 EUR/l (6.33 HRK/l) for blue diesel (a reduction of 0.06 EUR/l)
1.29 EUR/kg (9.72 HRK/kg) LPG for tanks (a reduction of 0.13 EUR/kg)
1.85 EUR/kg (13.94 HRK/kg) LPG for bottles (a reduction of 0.13 EUR/kg)

If there were no government measures introduced to control Croatian fuel prices and if their retail prices were completely freely formed at the level of premiums of energy entities before the first Regulation, they would amount to:

1.62 EUR/l (12.21 kn/l) for petrol
1.57 EUR/l (11.83 kn/l) for diesel
0.96 EUR/l (7.23 kn/l) for blue diesel
1.53 EUR/kg (11.53 kn/kg) LPG for tanks
2.16 EUR/kg (16.27 HRK/kg) LPG for bottles

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

Tuesday, 28 March 2023

Invento Summit Sees Leaders of Croatian Startup World Come Together

March the 28th, 2023 - The recently held Invento Summit in Zagreb brought together the leaders of Croatian startups and others from the world of investment and technology, including Photomath's creator, Damir Sabol.

As Suzana Varosanec/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, over the last decade or so, the Croatian startup ecosystem has changed an enormous amount, and while young entrepreneurs used to depend on themselves and themselves only, they can now count on advice, mentorship and even money from those who have succeeded, and there are no longer so few of those here in Croatia.

Damir Sabol, currently the most talked about entrepreneur in the entire country, who is waiting for regulatory approval of the sale of his third company - Photomath - to the global giant Google, said from the Invento Summit that after the sale, the approval process of which is quite arduous, he plans to help others.

"I see myself helping other people achieve what they want," Sabol said, noting that everyone expects him to do something, and contrary to expectations, he believes that the time has come to dedicate himself to others. The power of giving back was also the motto of the Invento Summit regional conference, which gathered more than 200 experts in technology, business development and investments in Zagreb on Friday.

Sabol, one of the conference panelists, certainly has an awful lot of skill to pass on. He has been in the world of entrepreneurship practically since his student days, and as he recalled, when he told his colleagues from FER that he was going to found his own company, nobody believed him.

"The prevailing attitude was that you can get a job and work for others, but not that you can found your own company. We have to change that," emphasised the founder of Photomath. He also noted that we must work on better communication. "Americans know how to communicate well, which is very important and that's their advantage. In this country, on the other hand, neither the education system nor employers insist on having proper communication skills,'' stated Sabol, who continued in his belief that ideas should be shared and not merely kept to oneself.

Although the idea itself doesn't have to be crucial for success, it was not so in the case of Albert Gajsak, the well known 24-year-old founder of CircuitMess.

"He had an idea, but no plan on how to realise it,'' Tomislav Car, the co-founder of Infinum, and today the director of Productive, recalled the beginnings of this young and successful entrepreneur. Car is otherwise the only investor in Gajsak's idea, as well as the mentor of the business, which turned out to be a good and smart move, because CircuitMess currently generates revenues of 2.3 million dUD ollars and cooperates with Walmart, the largest retail chain in the entire world. This collaboration began when Car decided to pay for a plane ticket for a then young high school student, Albert Gajsak to go to a European robotics competition.

"My parents didn't have money for that ticket, so I sent emails to all the IT companies I knew, asking them to help me out," recalled Gajsak, who was bored with school because there weren't enough practical exercises for him to engage in. That was also his motive to start a private business, the product of which is STEM toys.

In addition to CircuitMess, Car also invested money and time in Rentlio, he said at the Invento Summit. It is important, he believes, that young people have a role model and that they understand that a lot can be achieved with a bit of hard work.

"I have a nice car, so when children stop me and ask how I got it, I tell them that they have to study and go to school, and they don't believe me. In Croatia, the prevailing opinion is that only politicians and thieves can drive a nice car," stated Car.

Sharing knowledge, and then money, was also the motive of the entrepreneurs who founded the Slovenian VC fund Silicon Gardens. Gregor Rebolj said that it is in their interest to help young entrepreneurs out. "When we help, we don't ask for anything in return except that they also help themselves and don't turn their backs on their ideas," he stated.

For more, check out our business section.

Tuesday, 28 March 2023

More Than 80% of Citizens Want Free Market for Croatian Bus Companies

March the 28th, 2023 - More than 80 percent of Croatian residents surveyed would ideally want a free market for Croatian bus companies. Domestic carriers have been struggling through troubled waters for some time now, and it seems no perfect solution has yet been found.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Association of Croatian Bus Carriers (UHAP) is still not remotely satisfied with the approach being taken by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure to the amendments to the Law on Road Transport and demands market liberalisation.

They pointed out that the public bus transport market in Croatia has not been liberalised, nor is it in line with European Union (EU) regulations. While almost all other member states have opened up their markets for the benefit of the population, the aforementioned ministry has not yet made a concrete move in the same direction for Croatian bus companies, according to UHAP.

According to them, there is a group of carriers operating in the Republic of Croatia who persistently want to maintain the current situation and "use the opportunity to get money for public service work without a public tender under''. If the liberalisation of the market for Croatian bus companies is not carried out, the Transport Ministry will continue to be under the attack of various sorts of blackmail, the association pointed out.

"Cabotage, which makes up only 1% of the Croatian market, cannot be the only major focus of changes within the law, without working on other segments as well,'' stated the president of the association, Kresimir Cumbrek, who emphasised the fact that the recently carried out IPSOS research confirmed that more 80 percent of citizens want an open and free market for Croatian bus companies with better service and more competitive, cheaper ticket prices.

"It's already more than clear as day to them that free, fair and greater competition will bring them lower prices, better service, a larger offer, and more jobs,'' Cumbrek concluded.

For more, check out our dedicated news section.

Tuesday, 28 March 2023

Medjimurje Sustainable Tourism Proves Itself, Tourists Willing to Pay More

March the 28th, 2023 - Tourists from across the rest of Europe and indeed the world are ready to pay more for sustainable tourism, and the situation for Croatian tourism is no different. With visitors ready to fork out around 20 percent more, Medjimurje sustainable tourism stands out from the crowd.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, as many as twenty years of dedicated and hard work at the level of the entire destination was needed for Medjimurje sustainable tourism to reach a level of sustainability that many are only just beginning to think about.

Confirmation that they're on the right track came back at the beginning of March at the ITB Berlin tourism fair, where beautiful Medjimurje County was declared a Green Destinations region and was awarded the silver Green Destination label. This made it the first region in all of Croatia and the fourth in the world to receive this certification.

''Green Destination'' is a globally recognised non-profit organisation that cooperates with 200 destinations across more than 80 countries of the world, and develops sustainable and responsible tourism in accordance with the principles of the United Nations (UN) and the goals of the Global Council for Sustainable Tourism.

Rudi Grula, the director of Medjimurje County's tourist board, and Nusa Korotaj, the director of the very well known Terme Sveti Martin, which generates an impressive 80 percent of tourist traffic in Medjimurje, spoke about how sustainability has become a lifestyle for the people of Medjimurje at the Place2Go tourist fair.

"The fact that sustainability has become imperative is also showcased by the new policy of the TUI group, which will no longer enter into contracts with hotels that don't have a sustainability certificate. In Medjimurje County, tourism makes up only 2% of the local economy and we see tourism as an activity that will improve the lives of the local population as well. That's why we can freely choose guests who are ready to pay 20% more for all of the services that are carried out in a sustainable way here,'' explained Grula. In the survey that preceded the certification process for Green Destination, as many as 80% of respondents, out of 60% of the total number of stakeholders in the county's tourism who responded to the survey, were in favour of introducing sustainable solutions.

The next step will be the introduction of the Good Travel brand, and a new analysis of the satisfaction level of locals is underway, which is being done for them by the Tourism Institute. The local tourist board frequently realises many projects with Terme Sveti Martin, which is the largest tourist entity in the entire county and also operates in a sustainable manner. For example, as Nusa Korotaj revealed, they have signed contracts with 25 OPGs (family farms) that supply Sveti Martin with local products, grown within a radius of 15 kilometres.

As many as 80% of employees working at Terme Sveti Martin are locals, and since many of them work the land, with the project ''Work, earn extra'', the company offered them to open their own OPGs and be priority suppliers, so that a waiter can also brag to his guests that they're eating zucchini that he grew himself.

Local products are more expensive than those we can purchase in retail chains, that's true, but this way we have foods we know the origin of and we know exactly who grew them, with extremely short supply chains. In addition, we support the surrounding restaurateurs, so we send our guests to eat at their restaurants, we also have packages in which guests can exchange dinner at our hotel for a local restaurant. In order to appreciate these locally grown foods even more, we introduced a programme to reduce food waste, after we determined that we were throwing 200 kilograms of food into the compost every single day. In order to reduce this, we reduced the number of plates at breakfast and reduced food waste by 40% on the first day," said Korotaj.

The road to sustainability is often paved with a lot of small steps, and the next one is to convince restaurateurs to stop serving biscuits wrapped in cellophane with their coffee, but rather to serve biscuits in bulk. At the same time, through promotion, they also educate the guests, who not only appreciate these solutions, but also look for them themselves. In fact, research by the Expedia portal showed that this year as many as 65% of travellers will look for some form of sustainable service in tourism, while companies will invest significantly more in marketing through which they show what they are doing to contribute to sustainable development.

For more, make sure to check out our news and travel sections.

Monday, 27 March 2023

Vinistra: Germans Loving Istrian Wines Exhibited at Dusseldorf ProWein Fair

March the 27th, 2023 - German visitors to the recently held ProWein fair in Dusseldorf have been loving wines from Croatia, with a particular emphasis having been placed on Istrian wines.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the decision to present Istrian wine and its producers independently at the world's largest fair in the German city of Dusseldorf this year was nothing short of a complete success for Vinistra.

Over three intensive days, the representatives of thirteen well-known wineries, which were also supported by the prefect of Istria County, Boris Miletic, presented the rich offer of Istrian wines to German visitors. At an independent stand in Hall 12, along with big wine countries such as Portugal and Hungary, the Agrolaguna, Damjanic, Medea, Fakin, Meneghetti, Pervino, Cattunar, Rossi, Bertosa, Kozlovic, Benvenuti, Matosevic and Frankovic were presented at Vinistra's stand.

"ProWein has once again showed that it is the leading international trade fair in the wine and spirits sector. I'm extremely pleased by the great interest of wine professionals in Istrian wines, especially in our Malvasia and Terano varieties. This is primarily the result of the top quality of our wines, but also of the intensive promotional activities that we undertake as an association in key markets.

We may not have large areas under vineyards like some of the world's most famous wine regions, but the quality of Istrian wines is absolutely not lagging behind the best, which was confirmed this year at ProWein,'' said Luka Rossi, president of Vinistra, the association of winegrowers and winemakers of Istria.

From March the 19th to the 21st, the entire global wine market was presented at the Dusseldorf fair, almost six thousand exhibitors from more than 60 countries exhibited what they had to offer, and 49 thousand business visitors from as many as 141 countries visited it over those three days.

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

Monday, 27 March 2023

Two Croatian Destinations Listed Among 25 of Europe's Most Beautiful Places

March the 27th, 2023 - Two stunning Croatian destinations have found themselves ranked among 25 of Europe's most beautiful places by Travel+Leisure magazine.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the travel magazine Travel+Leisure recently presented a list of what it considers to be the 25 most beautiful places in Europe, which includes destinations from small towns to secret beaches, writes Klixba.

"Throughout this continent, and sometimes quite nearby to it, there are countless colorful small towns, magnificent castles, Roman ruins, church buildings, medieval castles, sparkling lagoons and secluded beaches," writes Travel+Leisure magazine presenting the list of the 25 most beautiful places in Europe.

"Although it isn't difficult to come across (or look for) a photogenic destination, defining the most beautiful places in all of Europe is a bit more difficult because there are so many of them,'' they added, pointing out that if you want to choose a place with endless photographic potential, they recommend the following destinations.

The first place on the list was taken by Villa Ruffolo in a small town on the Amalfi coast (Italy), and the top three are Egremni beach (Lefkada, Greece), Pena Palace (Sintra, Portugal).

Destinations from Croatia's most immediate neighboyrhood were also on the list, and Gospa od Skrpjela in Montenegro took an impressive fourth place.

When it comes to Croatian destinations, the magazine singles out the country's oldest and largest national park - Plitvice Lakes, and of course, the southern Dalmatian city of Dubrovnik. While rather obvious and sometimes overdone choices when it comes to the enormous offer of jaw-dropping places Croatia boasts, the portal considers both of them to be among the most beautiful in all of Europe.

"The search for the bluest water in the world leads travellers to many photogenic places, including the famous Croatian Plitvice Lakes National Park. Located halfway between Zagreb and Zadar, this natural wonderland delights more than a million visitors every year with its crystal clear lakes, waterfalls, caves and lush forests," writes Travel+Leisure.

For Dubrovnik, Croatia's tourist Mecca, they point out that a mandatory activity on every trip to the pearl of the Adriatic is "a walk along the iconic walls of Dubrovnik", which offers visitors an incomparable perspective of its protective fortifications, bastions and towers, plus its recognisable red roofs, clear blue sea and nearby islands.

While we certainly agree that both Dubrovnik and Plitvice Lakes National Park are absolutely gorgeous, it might be time to let the abundant offer of stunning Croatian destinations up and down this country take the throne from time to time.

For more, check out our news section.

Monday, 27 March 2023

Croatian Cyclists to Get Boost with 167 Million Euro Investment

March the 27th, 2023 - Great news for Croatian cyclists, that is if we're to believe the official part line as it were, as investments totalling 167 million euros are set to be poured into new infrastructure and safety.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Jadranka Dozan writes, if promises from the National Plan for the Development of Bicycle Transport are to be believed, Croatian cyclists are set to be much better off, both in terms of overall infrastructure upgrades and in terms of general safety. In the proposal of the National Plan, investments in this field totalling almost 167 million euros between the years 2023 and 2027 have been defined

In addition to the modernisation of the existing infrastructure (which is desperately needed, especially here in Zagreb) and the construction of more new cycling infrastructure, part of the planned investments are also aimed at increasing safety, for which 1.82 million euros should be invested over the next four to five years.

All together, all of these investments and improvements should result in an increase in the number of Croatian cyclists all over the country. According to surveys of travel habits conducted for the purposes of creating the National Traffic Model (back in 2016), the amount of Croatian cyclists using their bikes as their main means of transport was below the EU average.

According to the comparative data referred to by the authors of the analysis, the daily use of bicycles for the EU member states amounted to about eight percent for the reference year, and six percent in Croatia, while the Netherlands (36%) and Denmark (23%) had the largest share of bicycle use.

To reach the European Union average, investments are needed across all segments of bicycle traffic, from infrastructure as a prerequisite for safety and the expansion of the range of services (a system of public bicycles, parking and other accompanying facilities), to the promotion and education of future road users.

The draft proposal for the National Plan for the Development of Bicycle Traffic 2023-2027 was prepared for the competent ministry (transport) by the Faculty of Transport Sciences in Zagreb in cooperation with its partners, and it has been put to public debate for a month now. For the purposes of its creation, data was collected on the "modal distribution of bicycle trips". They make up 3% in Zagreb, 8.3% in Slavonski Brod, 8% in Sisak, 6% in Zadar, and Varazdin has the largest share, 26%. However, the fact that in the end, data on this was obtained for only 5 of the 29 largest Croatian cities (with more than 20,000 inhabitants living in them) points to challenges in the systematic collection, processing and analysis of traffic indicators in most cities.

The National Plan is based on the strategic goals of the EU in the field of green and sustainable mobility and the goals of several strategies Croatia currently has in the field of transport, tourism, environmental protection, healthcare and sport. The National Recovery and Resilience Plan also mentions encouraging bike traffic in several places.

The bike market here in Croatia is generally growing, and this statement in the analysis is supported by data from the CBS on the number of imported/exported bicycles from 2010 to 2020, which show that in recent years, imports accounted for about 100 thousand classic bicycles (without electric motors), and exports accounted for about 30 thousand.

Over more recent years, bicycles with electric motors have become increasingly prominent. For example, in 2020, 38,000 e-bikes were imported and 13,000 were exported, while back in 2016, around 5,000 were imported and 700 were exported. The demand for bikes in this country also speaks volumes about the potential for their greater use as a means of transportation, the authors conclude.

Among other things, public bicycle systems are an excellent complement to bus, tram, railway and other public transport systems, they noted, adding that their role is to make these systems more accessible to users. Back at the beginning of 2021, a public bicycle service was available in 33 Croatian cities, with 219 stations and over 1,350 bicycles on offer to the public.

For more, check out our news section.

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