Tuesday, 18 October 2022

Roads, Laws, Alcohol and Car Rentals - How to Drive in Croatia

October the 18th, 2022 - When it comes to the question of how to drive in Croatia, you'll need to pay attention to several road rules and laws that might differ slightly to those of your own country, such as keeping up with traffic updates on road closures due to strong winds like bura on the coast.

People always laugh at me when I go on about how good Croatian roads are, but they really, really are. Compared to British roads anyway. The further north you get in the UK, the more track-like they become. The amount of potholes in the roads where I come from would soon dislodge any kidney stone, they might take a filling or two away, as well.

To say that Croatia is for the most part a very rugged, mountainous land, with the exception of the Eastern part of the country, the roads are absolutely outstanding. The new motorways built not so long ago make everything easier and the country is extremely well connected, but what about actually driving on them?

You drive in Croatia on the right and all overtaking is done on the left. Seat-belts are of course compulsory, and the use of mobile phones or any other device while driving is banned. The police are very much on the ball with this type of thing, more so than in other countries. This is especially the case during the busy summer months, when there is more traffic in general and unfortunately - more accidents also.

The motorway speed limit is 130 km/h, 90 km/h on national roads, and 50 km/h in urban areas.

Winter tyres and headlights during the day are requirements during the winter months, from around November the 15th to April the 15th.

Croatia's motorways are relatively new, fantastically built and very, very expensive. They will likely remain looking brand new for a while to come yet, as for the most part, the newer sections are rather empty, apart from during the peak tourist season when they’re packed with cars and motorhomes with foreign licence plates all heading down to the coast. Because of the sudden increase in traffic, traffic jams, long queues at the country’s various land border crossings and bottlenecks are frequent occurrences.

During these times of heightened tension, sweltering heat and the endless ‘are we there yet’ on repeat from the back seat, it makes sense to consider taking the old road from Zagreb down to Split, which is usually fairly empty (unless everyone has had the exact same idea, of course), but also stunningly beautiful. You’ll see parts of Croatia’s absolutely jaw dropping coastline that you otherwise would completely bypass, and with the amount of cars on the road during summer, there’s no guarantee you’d have reached your final destination much faster anyway.

Toll prices are expensive and can be paid for by cash (kuna) or by credit/debit card. Non-residents have always been able to pay for this service in euros, which of course will also be the norm as of the 1st of January, 2023, when Croatia becomes the newest Eurozone member and adopts the single currency. Prices are reduced by 10% in winter, and to work out the costs of your road trip, there is an interactive motorway map and toll calculator available if you visit www.hac.hr/en/interactive-map.

If you live in Croatia and you plan to become a regular motorway user, you can apply for the ETC (Electronic Toll Collection) scheme, which has the dual benefit of offering a discount on toll prices, as well as a separate toll booth (the special booth will be marked with the letters ENC). This is usually less busy. The downside is that the service is a prepaid one, but if you’re a regular, you’ll be glad of it.

Car rentals

As one would expect for a major tourist destination, Croatia has a wide selection of car rental options available, from large, well known companies to smaller agencies which might be more flexible in what they offer should you need that. These vehicles can be rented from airports and delivered to hotels, and the concept of one-way rental is commonplace all over the country. Some of the more enterprising island-based car rental companies, for instance, offer one day rental cars with collection taking place at the ferry terminal itself. This allows tourists to come and sample a given island in one single day without the added expense and stress of two ferry tickets. I’ll talk more about this in the ‘Getting Around’ chapter.

Up to date traffic information in English 

You can easily find the latest road information in English language on the HAK website (as well as current information on ferries, trains, and borders). The website you’ll need is the following: www.hak.hr. Additionally, the Croatian Motorways website has a section with the very latest updates. Additionally, you can download the HAK traffic app, which gives you all the latest information in English, as well as help with roadside assistance should you need it, which hopefully you won’t. There is also a comprehensive database of 15,000 places of interest, spanning everything from national parks to healthcare facilities. We hope you’ll be making more trips to the former than the latter.

Don’t consume any alcohol if you’re getting behind the wheel in Croatia

Croatian law has a zero tolerance policy for drivers under 25 which means that their blood alcohol level (BAC) limit is a very strict, very clear 0%. The BAC limit for drivers over 25 years old isn’t much different, at just 0.05% (or 0.5 g/l). It is never worth it to drink and drive, wherever you are, but the rules here are very strict and the police are very active during the summer months. If you're going to drive in Croatia, just put the Karlovacko down unless you want to end up with a headache far stronger than beer could ever give you.

Webcams

HAK has a good network of webcams located all over the country for motorists looking to keep an eye on the latest situations on various roads. These include several locations on each or Croatia's motorways, ferry terminals, important bridges, national roads, and border crossings.

Driving and ferry crossings

A drive in Croatia is never quite complete without a trip to some of the country's stunning islands, which is a very popular activity, especially in the summer. While the car ferry service generally works well, it won’t hurt to keep a few things firmly in mind before you embark: Firstly, buying a car ticket doesn’t guarantee you entry on the ferry. It seems a bit illogical I know, but boarding a ferry with a car is carried out on a strictly first come, first served basis, and if you want to ensure you make the ferry with your car, you should get there with plenty (and I mean plenty) of time to spare during the peak tourist season when many ferries are packed solid. If the ferries cannot handle the sheer amount of human (and car) traffic, there are often additional ferries put into function on various busy lines in order to reduce the waiting times. Don’t count on this, however, just get there with some time to kill. If you’re interested in ferries, catamarans and how they work, I’ll get into that in the ‘Getting Around’ chapter as well.

Parking

I’m sure that Diocletian could never have imagined that in a few centuries time, people would be lining the narrow, ancient streets of the city in which he chose to build his remarkable retirement palace (Split), with Ford Fiestas that have been reversed into and scratched by scooters a few dozen times. Parking in Croatia is, to put it bluntly, a complete and utter pain in the backside, especially in the bigger cities. You might get lucky now and again, and outside of the summer season, you do get lucky more frequently, but technology has had to step in and come to the rescue of many a frustrated driver. One of the best examples of this is the SMS parking service which is now available in most bigger Croatian cities.

Once you’ve parked, you just need to dial the number on the parking info sign which will be easily located and seen where you’ve parked, enter your licence plate, and your payment will be added to your phone bill. Innovative!

Do be aware, however, that street parking in the City of Zagreb is limited to 2 or 3 hours in the very centre. So, if you do manage to find a spot and think you are there for the day, think again. There are various garages and other parking options where you can freely leave your car, however. They can come at a bit more of a cost, but the peace of mind is worth it.

Electric vehicles

Croatia is the birthplace of the genius Nikola Tesla, who was born in Smiljan (which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) in Western Lika on the 10th of July, 1856. The name ‘Tesla’ is now synonymous with the electric cars which we’re seeing more and more frequently on the roads, in spite of their expense. 

A modern-day genius from Livno, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mate Rimac, has been keeping Nikola’s desires alive in this country. This doggedly determined Croatian entrepreneur and passionate lover of cars has been continuing the Croatian mantle of electric innovation, and doing so beyond successfully. His company Rimac Automobili produces the fastest electric supercars in the entire world, and it is doing so in a country with no other automotive industry to even speak of. Sometimes described as Europe's very own Elon Musk, Rimac is the protagonist of what is by far modern day Croatia’s most successful entrepreneurial story.

Thanks to both Nikola and Mate, the electric vehicle revolution is being drip fed into Croatia much like it is everywhere else, and Tesla charging stations are on the increase. There are now hundreds of electric vehicle charging stations across the entire country, and their numbers will just keep on increasing as electric cars grow in popularity.

I’m a resident of Croatia with a foreign driving licence, do I need to exchange it?

Short answer, yes, but not everyone does. 

If your driving licence has been issued by another EEA member state

An application for the issuance of a Croatian driving licence needs to be submitted at (you guessed it) an administrative police station which deals with the issuance of driving licences. Once you’re there the clerk will fill in the application form for the issuance of a Croatian driving licence and you as the applicant will need to confirm the accuracy of the data the clerk has entered by signing the application form.

You’ll need to provide the following:

Proof of your identity (a passport, government issued ID or your Croatian residence permit)

Your driving licence issued by another EEA member state

A 35x45 mm photograph of you

Proof of you having paid an administrative fee for the procedure. This payment can be made using a paper payment slip or via internet banking.  The payment should be made to the Croatian state budget’s bank account, the details of which are as follows:

IBAN: HR1210010051863000160, model: HR64, reference number: 5002-713-OIB, purpose of payment: ‘državne upravne pristojbe’

Proof of you having paid for either a standard procedure, an accelerated procedure, or  an urgent procedure for the issuance of a Croatian driving licence. Choose a standard procedure if you’re in no rush to get the document, and the latter two if you are, obviously.  You can pay with a paper payment slip which can be collected at the administrative police station, with a general payment slip or via internet banking. 

You’ll need to pay into the Croatian state budget’s bank account, the details of which are as follows:

IBAN: HR1210010051863000160, model: HR65, reference number: 7005-477-OIB

If the date of first issuance for each category of vehicle the licence allows you to drive isn’t specified on the driving licence issued in another EEA member state, you’ll also need to enclose a certificate from the competent EEA member state authority confirming the date of first issuance for each category.

If your driving licence has been issued by a third country (a non-EEA member state)

The process and where you need to go (to an administrative police station which deals with the issuing of driving licences) is the same as is detailed above, but the documents you’ll need varies slightly. You’ll need the following:

Proof of your identity

Your foreign driving licence issued in a non-EEA member state

A translation of that foreign driving licence if the categories for which the licence can be exchanged are not evident, or if it isn’t evident whether the foreignlicence is still valid, or if it expired more than six months ago

A medical certificate confirming you can indeed drive a vehicle. This certificate can’t be older than six months

A 35x35 mm photo of you

Proof of you having paid an administrative fee for the procedure in the amount either with a payment slip or using internet banking. The payment should be made to the Croatian state budget’s bank account, the details of which are the following:

IBAN: HR1210010051863000160, model: HR64, reference number: 5002-713-OIB, purpose of payment: ‘državne upravne pristojbe’

Proof of you having paid for a standard procedure, an accelerated procedure or an urgent procedure. The payment details are as follows:

IBAN: HR1210010051863000160, model: HR65, reference number: 7005-477-OIB.

If the date of first issuance for each vehicle category is not specified on your licence, you also need to enclose a certificate issued by the competent foreign authority confirming the date of first issuance for each category.

Things to note

There is no need to enclose a photo of you if, over the last five years, you’ve been issued with a biometric passport, an e-ID card, or an e-driving licence issued after September the 4th, 2017, for the issuance of which a photo was enclosed, provided that your appearance hasn’t changed significantly.

Just like anywhere else, Croatia has some excellent drivers and some absolutely terrible ones. Sometimes, the driving leaves a lot to be desired in more rural areas, so do take care and always abide by the national rules if you want to drive in Croatia, whether you be in a selo (village) or a grad (town or city). As I mentioned before, the police tend to be much more on the ball when it comes to traffic offences here, especially during summer.

For more on How to Croatia, which we'll write each week, make sure to keep up with our dedicated lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 18 October 2022

Croatian Returnee Stories: Australia's Oldest Married Couple from Vrgorac

October 17, 2022 - Did you know that Australia's oldest married couple (82 years) hailed from Vrgorac? The fascinating TCN returnee inbox contributions continue. And the returnees keep on returning. 

The TCN inbox has never been dull, but since I posted an offer of a free interview to any returnee who wanted to share their experience of moving back to the Homeland, things have been very interesting indeed. 

The TCN series, Croatian Returnee Reflections has been a big hit - check out the stories so far here.  If you want to share your returnee story, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Returnee

That led to the first TCN/AVG Returnee Drinks Night in Zagreb, which was attended by more than 50 people. This will become a regular monthly event.

That in turn led to the formation of the TCN/AVG Croatian Returnee Networking Facebook Group. All welcome.

And the inbox keeps on giving with more stories of those returning or planning to return, including Michael, whose relative was part of the longest marriage in Australian history!

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Hello Paul

I'm enjoying the articles very much on those Croats who have relocated to Croatia through their descendants and parentage

I am of Croat heritage (born in Western Australia) through all my descendants on both sides of my family (Tolj-Turkic i Ajduk) who relocated from Vrgorac in the early 1920s and started the wine industry in Western Australia. Of particular interest is my great uncle Joze Zekulic who died at 108 having been married for over 80 years to my great Aunt Ruze Zekulic (nee Beus), Australia's oldest living married couple at the time, and 12th oldest in the world. Now sadly both passed on.

I have applied for my citizenship with a view to retirement, and I'm sure others of my age group would like to follow the story and share theirs.

I asked Michael to send me some details. 

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Hi Paul

Thanks for your response

Insofar as your thread for the website is about relocation and acquiring Croat citizenship my experience is noted below (tried to keep it as brief as possible, but its beaurocracy right?) so here goes:

Croats in Western Australia:

I am the grandson of two great WA Croat families: On my mother's side Ajduk & Beus, and on my father's side, Tolj-Turkich, later upon arrival in Australia, just Turkich, both families originally located im Zavojane (Ajduk) and Stilja (Turkic) with my great grandmother's family (Ante i Antica Beus) just "down the hill" in Podgora.

Having now lodged my application for Hrvat citizenship here in Sydney through my paternal grandmother: Ruza Turkich (nee Turic) as the other records no longer existed, I suspect due to war, fires, dislocations, and other loss-inducing events.

Both Andrija Ajduk (maternal grandfather) and Joze Tolj-Turkic left Croatia in the early 1920s, their wives and families following 4-5 years later. Andrija Ajduk was also a personal bodyguard to the late King Peter Georgevic.

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Andrija's wife (Mara Zekulic) passed away after complications from childbirth, leaving their infant son Tonko, in the care of his maternal grandmother while his father sought a better life in Australia than that which could be provided in Croatia after WW1.

Andrija was one of 5 siblings: Ivan, Ruza, Jure, Mate, all using the name AJDUK except for MATE who migrated to the USA in 1919, changing his name to MATTHEW HYDEK. Jure and Ivan stayed in Zavojane, and I am close to them to this day, having just returned from summer there in Makarska, which is the closest port town to Zavojane and Stilja

Andrija upon arrival to Perth in Western Australia quickly made his way to Kalgoorlie, the most productive and richest plot of gold in the world at that time. As he was a toolmaker, his skill set was in demand in the mines.

He met and married his second wife DIANA BEUS soon after, then brought his son Tonko to Australia. Now 12 years old, this boy arrived with no English, a father he hadn't seen in 10 years, and a new mother he never met before. Can you imagine? He is still with us in Perth aged 98.

Joe Turkich arrived around the same time to Perth on the SS Orsova with his wife Ruza and daughter Matija and son Mate arriving 5 years letter once they had all been granted citizenship. And we complain about beaurocracy today!!

He was a teamster and had horses haul timber to mills in South West WA prior to making the move to the famous SWAN VALLEY outside of Perth and beginning planting grape vines.

At the same time, Joze Zekulich migrated to Australia, married Diana Beus' older sister Ruze and they lived to become Australia's oldest living married couple and 12th oldest in the world. Wow! Ruza (Rose) passed at 98 years of age, Joe at 108. He was also inducted into the WA Agrivcultural Hall of Fame for his skills in blending and breeding grape stock that was resistant to Phylloxera and other funguses and pests associated with viticulture.

Other Croats in the valley also growing grapes, winemaking, running orchards and market gardens were in no particular order: Talijancich, Pasalic, Saric (Ralph the inventor of the Orbital Engine), Pervan, Boksich, Botica, and others.

You can follow the TCN Croatian Returnees series 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.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

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

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Monday, 17 October 2022

More Recognition for Zagreb County Wine Roads at Zagreb Tourfilm Festival

October 17 2022 - The steady and effective promotion continues to attract attention, as the Zagreb County Wine Roads promo video, Tastes above Everything, wins best wine video at this year's Zagreb Tourfilm Festival.  

A nice thing is happening around the Croatian capital - more and more people are discovering the Zagreb County Wine Roads, which offer a very diverse tasting experience just a short drive from the city centre. The three wine roads of Samobor, Zelina and Plesivica offer an array of grapes, styles and presentations, including Croatia's premier sparkling wine production.

But rather than wait for visitors to show up, there has been excellent promotion of the region's wine potential in recent years, with some truly innovative initiatives such as the recent Via Vino month of open cellars, combined with art, music, cinema and culture. Where else in the world, for example, could you watch the premiere of the new James Bond movie last year, while sitting in a picturesque vineyard on straw bales, covered in blankets, which sampling roasted chestnuts and sipping young Portugiesac wine? 

That effective promotion has continued on YouTube, with a truly excellent promotion of the Zagreb Country Wine Roads in the shape of the official promo video, Okusi prije svega (Tastes above Everything). Released earlier this year, the video beautifully captures the region's nature and rich gastronomy. It was nominated for last week's Zagreb Tourfilm Festival, and with an excellent conclusion, winning Best Wine Film. The dynamic regional tourist board director, Ivana Alilovic, was on hand to collect the award.

The official press release below. 

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The Tourist Board of Zagreb County won the award for the best wine movie

The Zagreb County Tourist Board's destination film, Tastes above Everything, which introduces the audience to the rich, eno-gastronomic offer of the wine roads on the festive occasion at the Zagreb Tour Film Festival awards, and on Friday, October 14, it was declared the best wine film. In the competition, 106 films and works of audiovisual production that promote tourism aspects of the tourist destination, an expert jury made up of relevant domestic and international experts, first of all, he awarded the film Okusi the award for the best promotional tourist film in the category of eno-gastro tourism.

"First of all, we prepared the destination film Tastes with the aim of giving our guests and visitors the chance to bring Zagreb County closer to the inextricable link of wine roads and gastronomy that is cherished here for centuries. Zagreb County is a well-known destination for enjoying local gastronomy and fresh, indigenous foods that naturally complement the wine offer. We are extremely proud that our work is followed in the tourist community of Zagreb County, and the great results of our winemakers, winners of numerous international awards for their recognition excellence of the wine," said the director of the Zagreb County Tourist Board, Ivana Alilović.

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With this award from the Zagreb wine route countries, the winemakers themselves, but also the restaurants and producers of domestic products that accompany them, have achieved recognition in the international competition of the best tourist films in the world. Preparation of vinjak, care of the vines of the first ecologically certified winery in Zagreb County or the flavors of tradition - all this awaits you at its best wine film. The production of the film was entrusted to Martina Miličević, a multiple award-winning producer of tourist films. "The main actors in the Zagreb County destination film are themselves winemakers. Without preparation, they proudly stood in front of the cameras and showed what they truly have to offer visitors. I believe that it is the most sincere form of promotion, an experience that is truly expected of each visitor. Conceptually, we wanted to show how destination wine roads also include the unforgettable nature that surrounds them, the wealth of fresh food available in the narrow circle of the county, and that to explore the world of wine, you just need to start."

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The film takes us through the preparation of vinjak by the Šoškić family, the production of sincere wines by the Tomac family, by the way, the first ecologically certified winery in the area of ​​Zagreb County, which recently completed the construction of an impressive new winery. In the film, you will also see the fairy-tale mansion Nespesh, on the Zelina wine road where the Litterarii winery is located today. Bearers of the traditional wine roads of Zagreb County are families that have been producing wine for generations, such as the Kos winery. In the Braje winegrower's house, we follow the preparation of the local Plešivica copanjek and free-range domestic animals on the slopes of Žumberac are a reminder of the genuine wines of Zagreb the county also monitors the authenticity of the ingredients found on the menus of recognized restaurants.

Learn more about the Zagreb County Wine Roads on the official regional tourism board website.

Monday, 17 October 2022

Ilan Geva Interview, Medical Tourism Branding Expert at CIHT 2022

October 17, 2022 - As Croatia's premier health tourism conference, the Crikvenica International Health Tourism conference, prepares to open, TCN catches up with keynote speaker and branding expert, Ilan Geva.  

As previously announced on TCN, CIHT 2022 will be holding its tenth Jubilee edition later this week, the premier health tourism conference in Croatia. As with all previous years, there will be a very international field of quality expert speakers, including one of the conference's most-loved keynote speakers, global branding expert, Ilan Geva. TCN caught up with Geva ahead of his latest visit to the Kvarner Riviera, to learn more about the industry in the wake of the pandemic, Croatia's position, and the conference itself, a conference which has strong local support (CIHT is organised by the Crikvenica Tourist Board and Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster, with the Kvarner Region Tourist Board a key sponsor).

1. The medical tourism industry has been shaken up by the pandemic just like every other aspect of life. As things begin to get back to a semblance of normal, what has changed in the industry since pre-pandemic 2019?

A lot has changed. Number one: the consumers. Many of them want to make sure that healthcare providers understand them before they even arrive. That creates a completely different customer profile, and their expectations go together with anxieties and lower trust. Two years of having conflicting messages, different safety rules in different locations etc. contributed to hesitance and wanting to know everything in advance. The second big factor: Transportation is not the same. Airlines are not back in full force. Yes, they may have gotten the airplanes back, but they suffer from a lack of personnel, which means less flights all over the world, which means less comfortable scheduling for patients. The workforce has shrunk in hospitals, clinics, hotels etc., and with it, the level of service deteriorated.

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2. You have been a strong supporter of the Croatian medical tourism industry for many years now. What are its strengths and opportunities?

The opportunities are obvious, Croatia has great medical professionals in many specialties. I know personally a few that are really excellent in what they do. So, people are the strength. Opportunities were created because of a lack of activity during the pandemic, many patients need treatment, and they need it NOW! I’m not sure about the rest since the last time I’ve been there, so things may have changed. That is why I am back, and that is why Vmarsh Healthcare, of which I’m the Director of Strategy, is present at this conference to meet with the members of the Kvarner Cluster and see how we can help them. One thing I sense from afar, Croatians are extremely patriotic and proud (as they should be), but that alone doesn’t sell anything.

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3. And its threats and weaknesses?

The threats are not just in Croatia. Europe is in trouble, as well as other destinations around the world. We live in a very precarious time, very unstable. The economy is in bad shape; prices are going up all over, obviously, the geopolitical scene is changing rapidly etc. A specific weakness is in the fact that health providers are still not willing to invest in their business, and I mean building brands and doing brilliant marketing. Croatia, like many other destinations, has medical professionals who think that if they are good doctors for the domestic population, they can be successful in attracting global clientele. Not so. Learn from the biggest and the most successful, Mayo Clinic invests in marketing and never stops building its’ brand. Does a small clinic owner in Split have a chance without doing the same? (of course they need to do it with a smaller budget, and smarter…)

4. You are back again in sunny Crikvenica for the 10th edition of the Crikvenica International Healthcare Travel conference, a conference you know well. Tell us about the importance and impact of CIHT, and what are you hoping to get out of it this year?

I don’t know if you noticed, but many European medical tourism conferences have vanished…there must be a reason. CIHT has been here for 10 years because they provide a great platform to the local medical travel, hospitality and wellness industries. And they do it year round, not just in an annual conference. The location is wonderful, and the program is always good, with great speakers. The conference is an important part of the medical travel industry in Kvarner because it is part of building the brand of the destination.

All other conferences are moving around from one location to another, for them its all about the conference, not the local community. CIHT is all about the local community and the Kvarner members of the cluster, very different! this year, I want to meet the providers, get a sense of how their business plans are moving forward, and see where I can help the cluster as a whole.

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5. You are a global branding expert. Tell us about the branding of Croatia as a medical tourism destination. It almost seems that the organizers of CIHT, the Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster, has a bigger brand in the industry than Croatia itself.

Shall I be politically correct, or truthful? Yes, the Kvarner cluster is doing a better job than the rest of the country. Enough said.

6. Three things the Croatian medical tourism industry should be focusing on to develop.

1. Build a brand. 2. Build a brand, 3. Build a brand. Not a new slogan, not a new logo, not a new ad campaign with a wonderful new headline. No one cares about that! Do not fracture the Croatian medical tourism brand into hundreds of little clinic brands. Last time I heard, Croatia had 250 different local tourism brands, of regions, towns, resorts, villages etc. Don’t do it in Medical tourism, build a few major regional brands and support them, while they are collaborating and not competing with each other…sounds easy, right? Most important, don’t let the doctors drive the marketing, and build the brands from the inside. Want to know more? Come to my presentation :-)

7. Your presentation is entitled "Thoughts of market penetration strategies for healthcare and wellness operators." Can you give us a teaser?

See above…it is much more involved around internal brand building than the expensive external stuff.

8. And finally, as a regular visitor to Croatia, tell us what makes it special for you. Your favorite place and activity while you are here.

Since I am not looking for a wife or a girlfriend, it must be the air, the sea, the trees, the food, the clean environment, the people, the wonderful history and colors of the place. It is a fantastic combination that makes all my senses sing.

You can connect with Ilan Geva via LinkedIn.

To learn more about CIHT 2022, and to get your ticket, visit the official website

Monday, 17 October 2022

IMF Predictions Not Fantastic, What Awaits Croatian Economy?

October the 17th, 2022 - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has released its predictions amid ongoing inflation, the Ukraine-Russia war and spiralling energy prices during the post-pandemic period. What precisely awaits the Croatian economy according to their predictions?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the main problem that is currently being experienced on a huge scale is that this current economic slowdown is very widespread. A third of the global economy could end up having to record a "technical recession", which is equal to two consecutive quarters of contraction of economic activity,'' Croatian economist Matej Bule from the Croatian National Bank told the Croatian Radio network.

''An additional problem is that that same economic slowdown is simultaneously being accompanied by very strong inflationary pressures,'' he pointed out, adding that the Republic of Croatia is currently handling it better than some other comparable countries, which might come as a surprise to those who feel that their pockets and bank accounts are taking hit after expensive hit.

 "Everything is currently heading in the direction of normalising these inflationary pressures"

"We had double-digit growth back in 2021, in 2022, growth of 5.6 percent is expected for the Croatian economy, but for 2023, all relevant institutions expect a strong slowdown for the economy," he said, adding that growth of a mere 1 percent is expected next year.

He also stated that the movement of inflation will depend on a number of factors, and one of the most important things is that we'll have to keep a close eye on the movement of the prices of raw materials on the global market.

For more on the Croatian economy and ongoing inflation, make sure to keep up with our dedicated news section.

Monday, 17 October 2022

Could Offshore Wind Facilities See Croatia Become Electricity Exporter?

October the 17th, 2022 - Might Croatia become an established and successful electricity exporter with the proper development of offshore wind facilities?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, engulfed in the ongoing fear of rising electricity and gas prices, people are increasingly turning to greener, sustainable alternatives. Interest in solar energy is increasing across the country, which has been well and truly confirmed by HEP's data on the matter, as they are being overwhelmed by requests for solar power and household connections to said power source.

In the first six months of last year, there were only 295 requests of that nature, while in the same period this year, that number was a staggering six times higher. By the end of August 2022, almost 2,900 power plants had been installed, of which 1,540 were installed this year alone, reports HRT. Thirteen solar panels on the a roof with three households drawing power from them will be enough, homeowners hope, to slash their bills in half.

''We expect that the power plant will produce approximately 5,000 KWh per year, and in that case we'd actually manage to achieve significant savings on the level of electricity consumption. The system itself should pay for itself in five to six years," says Zoran Kordic, the manager and co-founder of the Green Energy Cooperative.

The number of Croatian households opting for solar power plants is constantly growing, and there are currently a little over 2,800 of them. "We have one solar factory in Croatia, which currently cannot cover all the needs we expect in the coming years. This is a great opportunity for Croatia to invest in this direction as well,'' said Vjeka Ercegovac from the economic interest association Renewable Energy Sources of Croatia.

"The problem is that we don't have enough staff. The number of companies installing solar panels on roofs just isn't enough for the Croatian market, and whoever gets involved in that market will do a good job," says Neven Duic, a professor at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Shipbuilding in Zagreb.

In addition, the "eternal" problem is this country's ridiculous and painfully slow administration. The connection to HEP's network is what people are typically waiting for the longest. "We have situations where people wait for six months. So, when the installation is already up, and you have to wait six months for the connection, these are situations that absolutely must not be permitted to happen,'' stated Kordic.

HEP also stated that there is a delay in resolving people's requests due to the great interest in this people suddenly have. "The increased interest people are having in solar panels, and thus the enormous increase in the number of requests for connections, is the result of the current energy crisis and the rise in the prices of energy and energy products, as well as tax incentives for the purchase and installation of photovoltaic panels," reads a HEP press release on the topic.

Everything is going in the direction of the Republic of Croatia being 100 percent renewable and self-sufficient when it comes to energy. It is precisely for this reason that the possibility of exploiting offshore wind in northern Adriatic waters is being very seriously considered. It would be, if it ever comes to fruition, a floating wind farm.

"It would theoretically produce 10 kWh of wind, which would be enough not only for Croatian needs, but also for exporting it elsewhere. So, with the development of offshore wind facilities, Croatia could become an exporter of electricity," said Duic. Due to the climatic conditions here in Croatia, Professor Duic believes that, in addition to electricity, we could also export green hydrogen, which could replace fossil fuels.

"Green" and independent

There is no shortage of positive experiences when it comes to savings made thanks to solar panels on your own roof. Igor Balazinec's house has been lit up for two years thanks to his own solar power panels, and the investment should pay for itself in a mere four years. They decided on this move, he says, in order to be "green", independent and to have zero electricity bills.

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

Monday, 17 October 2022

Zadar Airport Ranked Among Best in "Up to Five Million Passengers" Category

October the 17th, 2022 - Zadar Airport has been ranked among the best on an impressive list, which will work to further place Croatia, which relies very heavily on tourism, on the airport quality map.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Zadar Airport has successfully entered the short list of the best in the category of up to five million passengers, and the winner will be revealed later today across the pond in Las Vegas, Nevada.

This nomination is truly excellent recognition for Zadar Airport because it comes from the aviation profession. In addition to Zadar Airport, Nuremberg, Edinburgh and Larnaca in Cyprus were also all nominated in the ''up to five million passengers'' category, according to a report from HRT.

Mihaela Kadija, the director of the Tourist Board of Zadar County, said that this weekend 15,000 passengers passed through Zadar Airport and she expects to end 2022's tourist season with 1.1 million passengers, which is the most so far.

"This speaks of the importance of Zadar Airport for all kinds of tourism, especially for the off-season and for more distant markets," she said.

In October this year, she added, guests from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland "jumped" into the top five markets with an increase of 77 percent. Several more events still await this Dalmatian city, such as the Biograd Boat Show, the Zadar regatta, a bicycle race, and they also have hopes for Advent in Zadar this year.

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

Monday, 17 October 2022

All Croatian Medical Tourism Roads Lead to Crikvenica at CIHT 2022

October 17, 2022 - After disruption due to the pandemic, Croatia's leading medical tourism conference is back for its Jubilee 10th edition - the Crikvnenica International Health Tourism conference (CIHT 2022).

it is 5 years since Croatian entrepreneur and medical tourism trailblazer, Ognjen Bagatin, invited me to his office at Poliklinika Bagatin in Zagreb to introduce me to a world of Croatian excellence that I knew nothing about  - its medical tourism industry. After a tour of Bagatin, Svjetlost Eye Clinic, and St Catherine's Speciality Hospital, I was left stunned. Here was a Croatian industry of global excellence that few people knew anything about. The first of many articles I have written about the Croatian medical tourism industry came out a few days later - Health Tourism is Coming Home: Why Zagreb is the Next Big Medical Tourism Destination

But while Bagatin was performing miracles in Zagreb (it was an honour to be in Berlin to see him lift the Best International Cosmetic Surgery Clinic in the world at the International Medical Travel Journal awards in December 2019), it did not take me long to realise that the real capital of the Croatian medical tourism industry was on the coast in the Kvarner region, powered by an active and very organised Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster. 

The flagship event of the cluster's calendar is the annual Crikvenica International Health Tourism conference, which will take place for its Jubiliee 10th edition, when CIHT 2022 kicks off later this week (full progamme below).  I first attended back in 2018, when I was blown away by the quality of the very international field of speakers and participants. TCN interviews from that first event included keynote speakers Keith Pollard, Editor of International Medical Travel Journal, and Sherene Azli, the charismatic CEO of Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council, which was voted soonafter the best medical tourism destination in the world. 

 

The lineup for CIHT 2022 is s fantastic as ever, and with a little more celebratory spice to mark the tenth anniversary. We will be following this year's conference here at TCN - next up an indepth interview with one of the keynote speakers and long-time friend of CIHT, global branding expert, Ilan Geva. You can find the schedule below, and there are still tickets available via the official CIHT 2022 website here.

Wednesday, 19th of October 2022

Workshop I

17:00 – 18:00

Thursday, 20th of October 2022

Opening ceremony and welcome speeches

09:30 – 10:00

Part I – New, Newer and the Newest in Health Tourism  

10:00 – 11:30

  1. Irving Stackpole, President, Stackpole & Associates, Inc., USA „The Hybrid Future of Medical Tourism“
  2. Mario Škugor, M.D. FACE, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine CCLCM of CWRU and Director of Education, Cleveland Clinic, USA „Patient experience in Cleveland Clinic“
  3. Elizabeth Ziemba, JD, MPH, President & Founder, Medical Tourism Training, USA „“Accessible” Tourism: The Markets Hidden in Plain Sight. Why investing in accessible travel offers a ROI that also expands tourism, wellness, dental & medical tourism markets.“
  4. Maria Jukić, JD, Senior Director, Arts & Medicine Institute, Cleveland Clinic, USA „The Arts as Treatment and Differentiator in Healthcare“

11:30-12:00 – Break

12:00 – 13:00 Panel HEALTH TOURISM AND SPORTS REHABILITATION

  1. Prim. Vlasta Brozičević, M.D. specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation, rheumatology, Department Head and member of the Board, Polyclinic Terme, Croatia
  2. Danijel Premuš, MD, Cardiology specialist, Thalassotherapia Opatija, Croatia
  3. Pero Kuterovac, Conditional and strength coach, Croatia
  4. Martina Linarić, PHD, Owner, Center for Nutrition and Holistic Approach to Health, NutriMarLIn, Croatia

13:00-13:15 – Break

Part II – Health and Health Industry: Investment and Development

13:15 – 15:00

  1. Joško Brkić, Global Brand Manager, JGL d.d., Croatia „Investing, Adapting, Thriving“
  2. Stjepan Orešković, PHD, Scientist and entrepreneur, M+ Group, Croatia „Entrepreneurship in healthcare“
  3. Igor Čičak, CEO & Managing Partner, Provectus Capital Partners, Croatia „PROVECTUS CAPITAL PARTNERS (PCP): Leading growth capital investment firm in South East Europe“
  4. Slavko Štefičar, Director, General for Sustainable Development and Competitiveness of Tourist Destinations at Ministry of Tourism and Sport, Croatia „Possibilities of financing the development of health tourism in the Republic of Croatia“
  5. Mario Ravić, Head of IoT & Digital Health, Ericsson NikolaTesla d.d., Croatia „Internet of things in health tourism journey – quantify it all“

15:00-17:00 – Lunch

17:00 – 18:00 Workshop II – Careers in Health Travel

by Elizabeth Ziemba and Irving Stackpole

20:00 Gala dinner with a presentation of awards in recognition of personal/institutional contribution to the development of health tourism in Croatia

Friday, 21st of October 2022

Part III – Medical Tourism and Patient Expectations 

10:00 – 11:30

  1. Sandeep Sharma, Executive Director & Global Lead, Vmarsh Healthcare, UAE „The changed patient experience post pandemic – The global yet local insight“
  2. Ilan Geva, President, Ilan Geva & Friends Inc. and Director of Strategy and U.S. office head, Vmarsh Healthcare, USA „Thoughts of market penetration strategies for healthcare and wellness operators“
  3. Ognjen Bagatin, Owner and CEO, Polyclinic Sinteza, Croatia „The patient will see you now – what UX and UI can teach us about anticipating patients expectations“
  4. Marek Holowko, CEO & Co-Founder, Clinic Hunter, Poland, „How to increase conversion rate – best practices and tips
  5. Miroslav Varga, Google certified trainer, Escape Ltd., Croatia „Patients are people. Do we know people?“

11:30 – 12:00 – Break

Part IV – Natural Healing Factors and Health Tourism 

12:00 – 13:30

  1. Marijana Biondić, Director, Crikvenica Tourist Board, Croatia „From natural healing factors to one of the best health tourism destinations in Croatia“
  2. Assist. prof. Vladimir Mozetič, MD, PHD, MHA, President, Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster, Croatia „From clustering to the region of health and wellbeing“
  3. Ministry of AYUSH, India
  4. Simone Zagrodnik, Executive Director, European Historic Thermal Towns Association, Germany, „“Thermal Travels” – Spa Towns as Places of Health, Wellbeing and Culture

13:30 – 15:00 – Lunch

15:00 – 19:00 Additional activities

Monday, 17 October 2022

SuperSport HNL Round 13: 8 Points Separate Dinamo and Hajduk Before Friday's Derby

October 17, 2022 - The SuperSport HNL 13th round was played from October 14 to October 16, 2022. Another last-minute win for Hajduk keeps them 8 points behind Dinamo before the big derby this Friday at Poljud Stadium in Split. Rijeka also recorded their second consecutive win. Here's our SuperSport HNL round 13 recap. 

Sibenik v. Slaven Belupo (0:2)

Sibenik and Slaven Belupo opened the 13th round on Friday, October 14, in Sibenik. 

Sibenik was the first to score in the 21st minute, but VAR ultimately ruled the goal offside. Hoxha put Belupo ahead in the 71st minute for 0:1 before scoring again in the 89th minute for the final 0:2. 

 

Sibenik is currently in 7th place with 12 points, while Belupo is in 4th with 20. 

Osijek v. Istra 1961 (2:0)

Osijek and Istra met at City Garden Stadium on Saturday, October 15. 

The first half went without goals. Mierez scored for the Osijek lead in the 62nd minute. A red card for Istra's Antovski put the team a man down from the 3rd minute of stoppage time. Caktas scored for the final 2:0 in the 5th minute of stoppage time. 

 

Osijek is in 3rd place with 24 points, while Istra is in 6th with 13 points and a game in hand. 

Gorica v. Hajduk (0:1)

Gorica and Hajduk met on Saturday, October 15, in Velika Gorica.

The first half went without goals, but the second half certainly made up for it. Wague was shown a red card in the 49th minute, forcing Gorica to play with a man down for the rest of the match. Hajduk was awarded a penalty after the ref consulted VAR, which Marko Livaja hit at the Gorica keeper to keep the game 0:0. The match's only goal came in the 8th minute of stoppage time as Livaja redeemed himself to give Hajduk the win. 

Gorica is currently in the last place with 6 points and a game in hand, while Hajduk is in 2nd with 26 points and a game in hand. 

Dinamo v. Varazdin (3:1)

Dinamo and Varazdin met on Sunday, October 16, at Maksimir Stadium. 

Brodic put Varazdin ahead for 0:1 in the 9th minute. Herrera was shown his second yellow of the match in the 33rd minute forcing Varazdin to play with a man down for the rest of the game. Dinamo woke up in the second half, with Petkovic first scoring in the 64th minute, though it was called offside after consulting VAR. Petkovic got his goal 6 minutes later, equalizing at 1:1 in the 70th minute. Baturina made it 2:1 eight minutes later, and Petkovic scored a penalty in the 3rd minute of stoppage time for the final 3:1. 

 

Dinamo is in first place with 34 points and a game in hand, while Varazdin is in 5th with 16. 

Rijeka v. Lokomotiva (3:0)

Rijeka and Lokomotiva closed the 13th round on Sunday, October 16, at Rujevica. 

Frigan put Rijeka ahead in the 26th minute for 1:0 before Vukcic scored a penalty for 2:0 in the 39th minute. De Haas was shown his second yellow in the 73rd minute, forcing Lokomotiva to play with a man down for the rest of the match. Frigan scored for 3:0 five minutes later, and Pavlovic was shown his second yellow for Rijeka to even out the playing field with ten men on each side. 

 

Rijeka is currently in 8th place with 12 points, while Lokomotiva is in 9th with 10. 

You can see the full HNL table HERE.

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

Monday, 17 October 2022

Zagreb Tourfilm Festival Returns, Spain Triumphs in Strong International Field

Zagreb, October 17, 2022 - After two years of being held virtually due to the coronavirus, the favorite autumn festival returned to the big screen this week. The 11th Zagreb Tour Film Festival, which promotes audiovisual production and tourism, began on Wednesday, October 12, with a ceremonial opening at the Kaptol Boutique Cinema. Numerous visitors had the opportunity to watch top films from the world of tourist films, participate in tastings and city tours, and last night awards were given to the best tourist films!

The international tourist film festival - the 11th Zagreb Tour Film Festival - began on Wednesday, October 12, with the opening ceremony at the Kaptol Boutique Cinema. Organized by Balduči Film and the Zagreb Tourist Board and under the auspices of the President of the Republic of Croatia Zoran Milanović, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the Croatian Tourist Board, the festival returned to the big screen after two years of virtual holding due to the coronavirus, and the selected program met with positive reactions from the audience. among which were many famous Croats, tourism workers, media representatives and other numerous guests.

11th ZAGREB TOURFILM FESTIVAL from 12th -15th October, 2022 from ZAGREB TOURFILM FESTIVAL on Vimeo.

"This year's edition of the Zagreb TourFilm Festival meant a lot to us, especially after two pandemic years that significantly changed the trends in tourism. As many as 106 films were submitted to the Festival, of which 32 were tourist films from Croatia, which is the largest number ever. We are also pleased that we have films submitted from 29 countries around the world, from exotic destinations such as Fiji, Madagascar, Uganda, Australia, Japan and Iceland" - said Spomenka Saraga, director of the Zagreb TourFilm Festival, announcing the winners. Tourist reportages, documentaries and vlogs competing for prizes in the mentioned categories and the Grand Prix for the best film of the Festival will be specially evaluated.

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The second day of the festival was marked by free film screenings for all interested citizens, who had the opportunity to watch the best domestic, European and world tourist films at the Kaptol Boutique Cinema from 15:00 to 18:00. Foreign visitors were introduced to the magical Zagreb with a tourist guide, Josip Siklić, better known as Purgerica, who revealed to them several seductive faces of the Croatian capital - the one mysteriously filled with legends and stories, medieval, wacky and humorous.

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In addition to the rich film and tourist program, accompanying activities were also prepared for festival guests, such as a tasting workshop that showed how wine and extra virgin olive oil are the perfect accompaniment to film art and tourism. In partnership with the Zagreb Tourfilm Festival and the ART&TUR Tourism Film Festival and the support of the Tourist Board of the Istrian County and Vinistra - the association for viticulture and winemaking of Istria, a workshop with wine and olive oil tastings from Portugal and Croatia was held.

Portuguese sommelier Bebiana Monteiro, professor at the Polytechnic of Porto, presented three wines from Bairrada: Aliança (sparkling), São Domingos (white) and Messias (red). Regarding olive oils, three olive oils stood out: Azeite Fátima and Cabeço das Nogueiras (Premium Cobrançosa and Premium Cornicabra) from Sociedade Agrícola Ouro Vegetal, from Abrantes.

Istrians, sommelier Emil Perdec and Ivan Marić director of Vinistra, presented sparkling wine Festigia Blanc de Moi Vintage Brut, Vina Laguna from Poreč, dry Malvasia Santa Lucia from 2017, Kozlović wine from Momjan and Teran Il Primo from 2018, Fakin wine from Motovun and olive oil - Ipša Istarska Bjelica 2022 from Livada, Meneghetti's selection Buža 2021 from Bala and Salvela Aurum blend from 2021 from Vodnjan.

Given that this tasting workshop was a success and has great cultural significance for both countries, sommeliers Bebiana Monteiro and Emil Perdec will repeat this event, with the same wines and olive oil, on October 25 and 26 in Ourém, during the 15 ART&TUR Festival. This cultural bridge between Croatia and Portugal has the technical and scientific mentoring of the Portuguese team as part of the European Olive4All project, which aims to preserve and promote the olive heritage.

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The guests of the festival also visited the most famous medieval fortress in Zagreb, which shone in its full splendor last year after a major renovation and became even more attractive to visit. For years, the Medvedgrad fortress was a favorite meeting place and location for summer film and music festivals, and now it is possible to discover its interior through the Medvedgrad Visitor Center. The restored walls delighted visitors, as well as the impressive center and one of the most beautiful views of the Croatian metropolis.

The well-coordinated team of Balduči Film and the Tourist Board of the City of Zagreb ensure that the gathering of the world's best filmmakers, top experts on tourism and the audience goes perfectly. "This year, we have prepared for the guests of the Festival a superb tourist experience and a tour of the city, with great tastings, but above all phenomenal films. The audience thus had the opportunity to enjoy the best tourist films in the world that talked about various types of attractiveness. The best ones tonight were chosen by relevant domestic and international experts, led by the president of the jury, Boško Grubić (Bobby), an Emmy award winner," said Saraga, director of Balduči Film and the Zagreb Tour Film Festival.

The Zagreb TourFilm Festival has been supported by numerous media sponsors for years, and this year we were joined by our academic partner Edward Bernays University College and the gold sponsors of the festival Podrumi Kolar and Chic IB bags leather goods.

The Grand Prix was won by Spain!

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At the gala dinner at the Esplanade Hotel Zagreb, where the participants of the three-day gathering of filmmakers and tourism experts, professionals dealing with this, one of the most lucrative branches of the economy, and lovers of attractive destinations gathered, awards were presented to the best films as judged by an expert jury, namely:

GRAND PRIX – for the best film of the festival
NO JOY IN LIFE IS SMALL, Spain

No Joy In Life Is Small.mp4 from Filmservice International on Vimeo.

The best tourist film in the category TOURIST DESTINATION - city

1st place TIME SWITCH AVEIRO, Portugal

2nd place 10 PLANS TO LIVE MADRID, Spain

3rd place CANNES IS STILL STANDING, France

The best tourist film in the category TOURIST DESTINATION - region

1st place NO JOY IN LIFE IS SMALL, Spain

2nd place LOVE RIAS BAIXAS. A LOVE STORY WITH THE PROVINCE OF PONTEVEDRA, Portugal

3rd place JUST BETWEEN US, Portugal

The best tourist in the category TOURIST DESTINATION, country

1st place EXPERIENCE A WORLD BEYOND, Qatar

2nd place THE NAMELESS CALL – INSIDE COSTA RICA, Italy

3rd place (shared) EXPLORE UGANDA – THE PEARL OF AFRICA, Uganda

3rd place (shared) INTRODUCING THE ICELANDVERSE, Iceland

In the TOURIST PRODUCT category

The best Wellness & Spa travel film

LITHUANIA. FIND YOUR SAUNA SELF, Lithuania

The best Gastro film

WORLD PAELLA DAY, Spain

The best heritage presentation film

CROATIA: THE INTANGIBLE HERITAGE, Croatia

The best event Film

WHY CHOOSE PORTO & NORTH OF PORTUGAL FOR YOUR EVENT? The Majestic Adventures of Ofelia de Souza, Portugal

The best film about wine tourism, Croatia

A TASTE ABOVE, Croatia

Best film - Hotel and Resort

HOTEL BOHINJ – MEET YOUR SPIRIT, Slovenia

Special award - Cultural tourism

BOL & CULTURE, Croatia

In the category BEST TOURIST FILM and TV REPORT

Best documentary film

1st place THE HOUSES OF LIGHT, Croatia

2nd place NATURE WITHOUT BORDERS, Slovenia

3rd place MAMODY, THE LAST BAOBAB DIGGER

Special jury award - Ethnography and society

LILANJE IN LOZNICA, Serbia

The best environmental film

FOREST RIVERS, Poland

The best TV reportage

IT DOESN'T MATTER WHERE I'M FROM, Serbia

In the category the best CROATIAN TOURIST FILM

Tourist destination - city

MEET. FEEL. EXPLORE. ZADAR, Croatia

Tourist destination - region

AUTHENTIC ISTRIA – GOOD MOOD/GOOD FOOD, Croatia

In the category TOURIST COMMUNICATION, advertising

UTOPIA, Greece

The best video blog - vlog

1st place JORDAN, Croatia

2nd place THE REAL EGYPT, Croatia

This year, the STUDENT'S CHOICE AWARD awarded by a student jury composed of students from Edward Bernays University College - an academic partner of the festival, went to BUDAPEST MICE image film, Hungary.

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You can watch some of the selected films here.

 

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