Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Croatian 404 Agency Overtaken by German-Swiss MYTY

February the 7th, 2023 - The leading group of German and Swiss agencies MYTY, which is based in Berlin, has taken over the largest Croatian communication agency 404 and Shape 404, a technology company that is part of the wider Croatian 404 group.

As Marija Crnjak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Croatian 404 agency has become the very first domestic agency to participate in the consolidation process on the European market, and this is also MYTY's first foray from the DACH region into Southeastern Europe.

The Croatian 404 agency claims that they are working towards greater business success, which is the result of long-term investments in quality, and this all brings them the opportunity to work with some of the best agencies and clients from both Germany and Switzerland.

This is the fastest growing European initiative that consolidates communication, marketing and technology agencies, and MYTY brings together ten agencies spanning 26 offices across Germany and Switzerland. The group is known for bringing together the best agencies in their respective fields, while all agencies within the group retain their complete independence and own brands.

The same will happen with the Croatian 404 group, whose founders Nikola Vrdoljak, Martina Pintaric and Zoran Stekovic have become partners in the company.

It is otherwise the largest Croatian communications agency of all with more than 80 clients from the region's strongest industries, while Shape 404 is focused on technology projects. The group employs 180 employees and back in 2022, they achieved a very impressive non-consolidated income of almost 16 million euros, or 25 percent more than the year before.

"We've been researching and looking into what our next step should be in terms of the development of our group for a long time now and we finally found a partner who offers and sees the future in the same way as we do. MYTY is a step forward that will allow us to provide our clients with an even better and more advanced service, and our teams will get to work for new challenging clients in foreign markets.

The Croatian 404 agency will continue to operate completely independently, under the same brand, and will contribute to the development of the entire group with its knowledge and teams. We're focused on our clients who are primarily leaders in their own industries, digital challengers and leaders within the tech sector,'' said Nikola Vrdoljak from the Croatian 404 agency.

MYTY says that this is the next step in the internationalisation of their group.

"404 is one of the most awarded agencies in Southeastern Europe and is becoming a centre for the continuous expansion of the group in that same part of Europe. With more than 80 clients, including major brands such as Adidas, Uber, Huawei, Coca-Cola and McDonald's, the agency is laying the foundations for further expansion. For both 404 and Shape, this integration is a big step forward, since MYTY offers the possibility of cooperation with the best agencies and clients in Germany and Switzerland," the German-Swiss group announced yesterday.

“We're very excited about their addition to the group, with 404, we aren't only leaving the DACH region for the first time ever and gaining access to a new geographic market, but we're also able to additionally expand our capabilities and capacities in the areas of international communications and product development," said David Rost, the co-founder and CEO of the MYTY Group, on the occasion of the takeover.

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

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

HEP Plans Increase to 200 Integrated Solar Power Plants 2025's End

February the 7th, 2023 - HEP has some big plans as we go forward, with the hope to increase the number of integrated solar power plants they have from 63 to 200 by the year 2025.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, HEP Proizvodnja (Production) has put an integrated solar power plant with a power of 215 kW into operation, and it is installed on facilities in the area of the Sisak Thermal Power Plant (TE-TO Sisak). Preparations are now also underway for the trial operation of an integrated solar power plant with a power of 200 kW in the Thermal Power Plant Osijek (TE-TO Osijek).

The investment in the design and construction of these two power plants amounted to an enormous 389 thousand euros, of which 40 percent, or almost 156 thousand euros of the total amount, was co-financed by the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund.

Both of these power plants will produce electricity according to the concept of a customer with their own production, which will enable a significant reduction in costs for the consumption of electricity at the locations of HEP's power plants.

The HEP Group now has 63 integrated solar power plants, with a total capacity of 2.7 MW. A new investment cycle is about to start, the implementation of which will increase the total number of solar power plants at HEP facilities to more than 200 by the end of 2025.

"Solar panels on the roofs of our buildings are an essential element of the renewable development scenario, which we're intensively implementing despite the financial burden of 900 million euros that we took on as part of the government's package of measures to limit the growth of energy prices. By this summer, we will have ten large non-integrated solar power plants in permanent operation, and by 2030 we plan to have 700 megawatts of solar and wind power," said Frane Barbaric, President of the Management Board of HEP.

The director of HEP Proizvodnja, Robert Krklec, added that a cycle of reconstruction and revitalisation of hydropower plants worth as much as 570 million euros is currently being carried out, and that projects for the modernisation of thermal energy facilities by building new high-efficiency blocks are also being implemented.

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

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Zagreb Hotel Capacities to Increase, Numerous Projects on Coast

February the 7th, 2023 - Zagreb hotel capacities are set to increase significantly this year, with numerous projects in the pipeline down on the coast from Dubrovnik to the Istrian peninsula.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, although the aforementioned items are investments that have been going on for a few years now, 2023 will bring the most news to the Zagreb hotel scene, which is finally returning to pre-pandemic tourism numbers, and business events are going along with it. Maistra is set to open the newly renovated former Panorama, Arena in the centre will open Radisson, a in Praska ulica, a hotel is being completed by an Albanian investor - the Abau company.

After the implementation of several large projects down on the Adriatic over the past few years, such as Adris's Grand Hotel Park, Arena's Grand Hotel Brioni, Hotel View in Postira, summer destinations mostly have minor adaptations or investments set up for this season, aimed primarily ay improving the quality of the content and services. Several new large projects are being prepared, which won't be completed until the beginning of the 2024 summer season, such as Split's Marjan or the first Croatian Hyatt, which the Turkish Dogus has now finally started building.

These are all projects that were planned long before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic or the jump in inflation that slowed down or postponed many such projects. In addition, Croatia still has unresolved issues of tourist land and maritime property, which partially slow down decision-making on investments all along the Adriatic.

A survey conducted by the Association of Employers in the Croatian Hotel Industry back at the end of the last season showed that around 400-500 million kuna will be invested in the preparation of the next tourist season, which is roughly half of the potential it does boast. At the same time, the total investment potential of the members is about 35 billion kuna, but only when it comes to ''ready-made'' projects. Part of those projects will be financed through the NPOO, for which the tender is still ongoing, and so far the public is only partially informed about investment projects in thermal capacities in the continental part of the country.

Although the revenues of tourism companies over the first nine months of last year were higher by 22 percent compared to the revenues in the same period of pre-pandemic 2019, at the same time, operating expenses increased by 41 percent. The costs of raw materials and other such items increased by 45 percent, and labour costs by 26 percent, which is why most of the standard financial indicators of tourism companies last year had a negative trend, both in relation to 2021 and 2019.

The gross profit margin of tourism companies, which was 13.5 percent back in 2018, was almost halved last year to 7.6 percent, the share of profit before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) in total revenues decreased compared to 2021 for 8 percentage points, and the rate of return on business has also decreased compared to 2019.

The analysis showed that tourism companies' pre-tax profit of 1.238 billion kuna from 2021 and 2022 (estimates for the entire year based on results achieved over the first nine months) still doesn't cover the pre-tax losses of 1.551 billion from pandemic-dominated 2020. On top of all that, the rate of change in long-term tangible assets fell, which is indicative of a slowdown in the investment cycle, and this potentially endangers the realisation of the business results of tourism companies in the future.

As has now been learned, investments in the tourism portfolio managed by Valamar Riviera for the year 2023 are planned in the amount of 58 million euros, which includes various projects in all of their destinations, as well as the continued development of the Istra Premium Camping Resort.

Investments worth around 32 million euros are also underway down in Dubrovnik, related to the repositioning of the Valamar Tirena Hotel to 4*, the rebranding of the Valamar Club Dubrovnik hotel to the Sunny Plus brand, and the investment in the Valamar Lacroma Hotel and Maro World facilities for children, which are all part of the investment cycle of Imperial Riviera after the recapitalisation of Dubrovnik hotels by both Valamar Riviera and AZ pension funds. A special emphasis of investments in 2023 will be placed on further investments in digitisation, sustainability and product improvement, the company says.

The total planned investments of Adris Group in the tourism part of the business in 2023 will amount to a massive 820 million kuna, of which more than 300 million kuna will be directed to improving the quality and offer of Istria's many campsites. Preparations for two strategic tourism projects, the Westin hotel in Zagreb and the Marjan hotel in Split, are also in the pipeline. The reconstruction and repositioning of the former Zagreb hotel Panorama was part of the investment plan for last year and amounted to almost 220 million kuna, and they expect the opening of that particular new Zagreb hotel this spring.

That Zagreb hotel will undergo a major transformation, and one of the main ideas of the project is for the lower part of the hotel to be maximally open to the public and become the lifeblood of this part of the capital. Adris also noted that they have invested more than six billion kuna in tourism so far, and in the period 2023-2025, they plan to invest an additional 460 million euros in total.

Furniture is already arriving at the hotel in Zagreb's Praska ulica, and this upcoming Zagreb hotel is taking shape well, although the exact date of the opening, as well as the amount of the investment that was launched five years ago by the Abau company in the building it bought from Zagrebacka banka, hasn't yet been communicated. The company Abau was founded back in 2015 with its headquarters in Lovran by the Albanian company Gener 2 SHKP, which is in the construction and energy business, and among others, they are involved in the construction of the Adriatic pipeline.

After the completion of the Arena Franz Ferdinand hotel in the Austrian Nassfeld ski resort, in the second quarter of this year, the Arena Hospitality group plans to complete the project of the Zagreb Radisson Hotel, a high-category lifestyle hotel that was launched back in the autumn of 2021.

This 118-room Zagreb hotel will include a restaurant and bar, wellness and spa facilities, a fitness centre, event spaces and parking. The hotel will also include the first and only rooftop pool and bar in all of the City of Zagreb. While the project is progressing without any underlying construction or structural issues, delays and complications related to the supply chain adversely affect the planned completion of the works. As a result, the project is scheduled to be completed in the second quarter of 2023 only, the investor noted in the third quarter report.

They also added that the group is still exposed to the high inflation costs that are continuing to prevail throughout all of Europe, which negatively affects the cost of purchasing goods and services, not to mention raw materials. The expected profitability over the coming months is therefore affected by the increasing operating costs, overheads and salaries. The group is working on a number of energy conservation initiatives across its operations and is also planning to invest in solar energy to reduce energy costs.

Arena's important investment this year will also be the beginning of the second phase of the repositioning of the Arena Stoja camp, a project worth around 3 million euros. This phase includes a new entrance to the camp, an extensive renovation of the main restaurant and cafe bar, along with major infrastructure upgrades.

After last year's investment of 45 million euros, the Sunce hotels company is continuing its investment cycle in its Bluesun hotel chain, and they're set to enter into the renovation of Hotel Afrodita in Tucepi and Hotel Bonaca in Bol on the island of Brac, which is why the Arab investor Eagle Hills Real Estate plans to recapitalise the company with almost 9 million euros. As has since been learned from that particular company, in addition to the renovation of these two hotels, there are also several smaller operations to improve their offer and raise the quality of services in other facilities going on.

A big investment cycle is also starting further inland in Plitvice, where the renovation of the Plitvice and Belevue hotels, the demolition of the Grabovac hotel and the construction of a new hotel with four stars, 146 rooms, a swimming pool and a congress hall are underway.

Works are also starting on the Hyatt Regency Zadar Maraska hotel, which should open its doors next year, as many as eight years since the Turkish Dogus announced its entry into this investment. Hyatt Regency Zadar Maraska will operate as part of the well known Regency brand of Hyatt International Group, and is the first hotel under the Hyatt brand in all of Croatia so far. This Zadar hotel will have 133 rooms and suites, a bar, restaurants, a spa area, and a conference hall spanning an impressive 400 square metres in total.

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

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Croatian Energy Price Capping to End Soon, What Awaits Us?

February the 7th, 2023 - Croatian energy price capping is going to come to an end in less than two months. What awaits us after the government decision to limit these spiralling prices comes to an end?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, in less than two months, the government's measures capping Croatian energy prices for electricity for households and companies will come to an end. What will happen from April the 1st onwards, and are we set to experience even more blows to our back pockets and bank accounts?

At the moment, prices on the wholesale market have stabilised - they're between 150 and 170 euros, which is significantly lower than they were one year ago when they occasionally exceeded 400 euros, and on average were around 270 euros per megawatt hour. The government says that the situation is already being analysed in order to decide in time what to do next, more precisely after midnight on March the 31st, as reported by HRT.

At the beginning of February, people and companies became increasingly concerned about what will happen to electricity prices after March the 31st, 2023.

"What we as employers expect is to receive timely information on what happens with the prices of energy products after March the 31st. As I've repeatedly emphasised, an environment of safety and certainty is necessary for all employers,'' said Irena Weber, the director of the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP).

Individuals who have contracts with private suppliers are already receiving notices about the price increases from April the 1st on, and they've been instructed to switch to HEP. The government has yet to decide what will happen to electricity prices as of April the 1st.

"We tasked the competent ministers, primarily the Minister of Economy and the Minister of Finance, to prepare and analyse the situation for after April the 1st," said Andrej Plenkovic when discussing Croatian energy price issues.

Due to the unusually warmer winter we've been experiencing, not to mention more favourable hydrological conditions, electricity prices on the market are currently lower than they were a year ago, but they are still significantly higher than before the crisis caused by the Russia-Ukraine war broke out and stand at around 160 euros per megawatt hour.

"The analyses show some predictions that such prices will remain what they are for least for the next two to three years," said Drazen Jaksic, the director of the Hrvoje Pozar Energy Institute. People currently pay 59 euros per megawatt hour, which means that without the continuation of the Croatian energy price capping measures introduced by the government, electricity should become more expensive.

"I personally believe that these government measures, which are due to expire on March the 31st, will continue in some form, because suppliers would otherwise be forced to raise prices for people," added Jaksic. The current measures enable consumers to get cheaper electricity this winter than in other countries, the Prime Minister reminds.

"These are enormous sums of money, we're not talking about something small, these are large sums that made it possible for us to go through this crisis much more easily than we would have done without them," said the Prime Minister.

The biggest part of that financial burden of all was transferred to HEP, which has the obligation to accept all consumers who want to leave private suppliers, and in the last four months there have been 41,000 such cases. Whatever happens after March the 31st, HEP says that it will adjust its electricity prices to be in line with the further decisions made by the government.

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

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Zagreb Tehnika Company Expects Jobs Worth 55 Million Euros in 2023

February the 7th, 2023 - The Zagreb Tehnika company is expecting to contract jobs worth a massive 55 million euros this year, and it is the selected contractor in a procedure being carried out by the Diocese of Sisak. They'll soon begin work on the structural renovation of a number of churches.

As Suzana Varosanec/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the aforementioned works on the churches will kick off the phase of the so-called visible renovations, after an "invisible" but extensive set of preparations in which the Diocese of Sisak will take the lead.

The legal deadline for the introduction of contractors into the work is eight days from the signing of the contract, and as it was concluded on January the 25th, it is to be expected that the preparation will begin this week, as confirmed by the director of Tehnika Bojan Horvacic.

This means that works on the buildings can begin soon, and the deadline for completion is seventeen months for one church located in Zazina, and fourteen months for the other two. The contractor companies GME from Sunja and Spegra from Split were chosen for the construction and renovation of the Sisak Cathedral and five other sacred buildings.

The value of the works contracted by the Zagreb Tehnika company reaches a total of 8.1 million euros - 3.3 million for the church in Zazina, and 2.4 million for the others. Capacities have been secured for this, although the Zagreb company will soon already be filling up its book of this year's contracts.

Opportunities on the market for builders are currently favourable and there is plenty of work, but there is still a lack of workers to be had, which, like others, Tehnika has to solve by importing foreign labour, and subcontractors are successively used. Today, this company employs 314 workers and about 60 more people through agency hiring, and due to the growing volume of work, new employment is also underway.

"We're hiring for regular employment, we have a constantly open tender through which we're looking for engineers, foremen, carpenters, rebar workers and masons. I believe that we can attract them by offering a generous income, challenging business opportunities for additional improvement and education, and advancement through the system," said Horvacic, adding that the average salary is close to 1,000 euros.

The share of foreign workers within the Zagreb Tehnika company currently stands at around 30% - they employ Ukrainians, Turks and Georgians, and the current level of contracted jobs for 2023, as well as those about to be signed, amounts to slightly more than 30 million euros, which is a 100% increase compared to same period 2022. The plan for this year is about 55 million euros of contracted jobs.

The ratio of deals signed with investors in the public and private sectors is 70:30, but corrections to that figure are coming, as a wave of contracts with private investors is expected in just a few months.

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

Monday, 6 February 2023

Registrations Open for 6th Pag Island Life on Mars Trail Race

February 6, 2023 - Registrations are now open for this year's sixth edition of the most attractive Croatian trail race, Life on Mars Trail. The island of Pag attracts an increasing number of outdoor enthusiasts to this race every year due to its incredible scenery and excellent organization.

As Turističke Priče writes, this famous island trail, described as incredibly beautiful by runners, was officially opened in 2019, and it remains relevant and visited throughout the year.


In Novalja, in the area of Metajna and on the trail itself, you will find the most beautiful beaches on the island of Pag: Ručica, Beriknica, Slana and Seline, whose cosmic beauty impresses absolutely everyone. You can find marked trails and coordinates here.

This year's race will take place on March 25, and all information about the race, conditions and registration can be found here. If you're ready, though, you can register for the sixth Life on Mars by clicking on this link.

The Life on Mars trail is held in three categories:

- the CHALLENGER with a length of 24 kilometers following the trail concept, which means that the trail is marked by hiking and trail paths. There is no trail starting from 3.5km to 5.5km of the route, but the area is passable, and in one place, as always, it is necessary to go through the sea for about 50 meters, with its level reaching up to the hips. All those who do not want to get wet, can opt to go back from KT 4 to KT 3 and continue along the trail. This option is about 500m longer. There are no refreshment stations, and water is available from the Malin spring at the 15th kilometer. ž

- the ACTIVE category of 15 kilometers also follows the trail concept. The course is marked and follows hiking and trail paths and passes 50 meters through the sea and along a water source towards the end of the race.

- LIGHT is the final category, with a length of 7 kilometers follows a marked path with hiking and trail paths.


Google recognized the Life on Mars trail

The popularity of the Life on Mars trail is confirmed by Google, which puts Novalja and this trail in the fifth place for the search term Life on Mars, despite the world-famous song by David Bowie.

This trail owes its attractiveness to the incredible and unique landscape shaped by the bura, and the photos shared by the runners are the best advertisement for the island of Pag and its outdoor offer. Thanks to the Life on Mars trail, Pag has become an unmissable outdoor destination. You can find the complete outdoor offer of Pag on the Pag outdoor web platform.


There is life on the "Mars of Pag" every day and in all seasons! Run to the beats of David Bowie on a trail which they say captures you at the first step and creates an adrenaline addiction to which you return again and again.

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

Monday, 6 February 2023

Vukovar Water Tower Had Over 111 Thousand Visitors in 2022

February 6, 2023 - The Vukovar water tower had 111,133 visitors last year and 210,128 since its opening on October 30, 2020, as stated today at a press conference.

According to the Vukovar mayor Ivan Penava, the water tower generated an income of HRK 5.7 million and a profit of HRK 2.5 million in 2022, writes Index.

23 people employed at the water tower

"Today, it employs 23 people, and the achieved business results show that the direction of its renovation was a good choice, not only in a symbolic sense but also from the aspect of the tourist attractiveness of Vukovar, as well as the Croatian Danube region. This includes the profitability and business of private, accommodation, and hospitality facilities in the area of Vukovar and its surroundings", said Penava and thanked everyone who participated in any way in its reconstruction.

He announced further investments, recalling that public procurement for a new souvenir shop worth three million kuna was carried out. "I am sure that the Vukovar water tower will continue to delight its visitors in the future, and their good reactions are an excellent indicator of the value of our vision," said Penava.

Director of the Vukovar water tower, Mirela Janković, said that the number of visits in 2022 compared to 2021 was 30 percent higher, and revenues grew by 20 percent.

New content

"Given that our visitors keep coming back again and again, we try to introduce new content, so we set up boards with QR codes where all visitors can see how the Water Tower looked before the renovation. Also, two projects are underway - the ERASMUS + project and an augmented reality project," said Janković and added that for those who cannot visit them, "there is the possibility of a virtual tour."

She reminded that from February 1 this year, the citizens of Vukovar can buy an annual ticket and use it ten times a year.

The restoration of the Water Tower began in 2017, and more than 7,000 Croats from the diaspora, Croatian citizens, and numerous Croatian cities, municipalities, counties, and companies joined the campaign to collect donor funds for the restoration. The renovation cost HRK 46 million, of which HRK 39 million was collected through donations.

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

Monday, 6 February 2023

Alarming State of Croatian Healthcare - Young Doctors Don't Bother Staying

February 6, 2023 - Croatian healthcare has reached an alarming state. The country currently lacks up to 230 family doctors and around 170 primary pediatricians, gynecologists and speech therapists, Social Democrat member of parliament Romana Nikolić estimated on Monday. Over 180 doctors are over 65 years old and work only out of pure enthusiasm because they have no one to leave their patients to, 750 doctors are over 60 years old, and currently only 150 of them are in specialization, Nikolić warned at the press conference.

As Poslovni writes, if al the older doctors were to retire at this moment, around 300 thousand citizens would be left without their chosen family medicine doctor. Nikolić noted that Croatia is threatened with the collapse of the entire healthcare system.

She believes that young doctors stay away from family medicine because they have the lowest salaries and benefits in the system.

This can best be seen in the example of Đakovo. The Trnava Municipality, which consists of six villages, according to the last population census has about 1,300 inhabitants, and has not had a family doctor for a year, says Nikolić.

She also stated that every doctor needs to be given the opportunity to choose whether they want to work in a health center or in a private practice, but to still be contractually bound by the HZZO, with clearly set rules and without administrative obstacles.

She finds it necessary to promote family medicine during studies, and the local self-government should, she says, find ways to stimulate young people to come and work with them through scholarships and housing subsidies.

Hajduković: Mobile clinics and pharmacies would help older citizens

"Pediatricians are retiring, and they don't have adequate replacements. The entire region of Miholjac depends on one pediatrician who works part-time while in retirement, reminds parliament member and party vice-president Domagoj Hajduković.

He also notes that there is a big problem with internships that must be completed in order to get a work license and so that doctors can enter the labour market.

The state does not provide it to the required extent, it takes a few years and then many decide to leave Croatia, Hajduković points out. He adds that there are currently around 3,000 people waiting for an internship, and that the minister has announced that only 1,500 places will be secured in 2023. He sees the basic problem in the fact that the state did not provide enough money so that everyone could complete the internship within a reasonable time.

Hajduković also states that access to health care for many elderly citizens is limited and that this problem could be partially solved by establishing mobile clinics, palliative clinics and mobile pharmacies that would be part of the Health Centers of local and regional self-government units.

These are projects that literally mean life for the rural area, and such problems should have been solved by the so-called project Slavonia and European money, Hajduković concluded.

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

Croats Leaving, Foreigners Arriving, How to Preserve Hrvatska?

February 6, 2023 - One of the biggest undiscussed topics in Croatia today - at least in my view - is the rapidly changing demographics and the arrival of many more foreigners.

Back in the 2018 World Cup, there was a very strange discussion in the French media after the French anti-racism organisation LICRA (International League Against Racism and Antisemitism) tweeted that the Croatian team was too white ahead of the World Cup Final. Nobody seemed to think that the Nigerian team was too black, by contrast. Having lived in Croatia for 15 years at that point, mostly on a Dalmatian island, seeing non-white people was a rarity in my daily reality. Nothing right or wrong about that, just the way it was. It got me thinking about how many foreigners lived in Croatia, and just how homogenous Croatia was compared to other Caucasian countries in the world, and I published my findings on TCN - Croatia was the whitest country in the world.

I am not saying that is a good thing, or a bad thing (in fact, I am not going to express any opinion on it, since it might divert from the discussion), just that it is (or at least was, back in 2018), a thing. 

Reaction to the article was pretty intense, with many saying that this was one of the reasons Croatia was such a safe country. Many said that they should keep it that way, to keep the Croatian identity strong, especially after centuries of subjugation and oppression. 

Having lived here for 20 years, It is a point of view I can certainly understand from a proud nation whose recent independence was so hard-fought. 

As a foreigner who has lived in Rwanda, Somalia, Russia, Japan, and multicultural cities such as Manchester and Munich, moving to Croatia back in 2003 felt different in so many ways. It was only when I saw my first black person on Hvar after a year or so living here that I connected that I was in an almost exclusively white society. I am not saying that is a good or bad thing, just that it was the reality. And I wondered what it must be like for locals without my multicultural upbringing to encounter people of other races on the street. 

A little like the reaction of my mother back in the 1960s, perhaps. Born and raised in rural Ireland, she saw her first black person on the streets of Dublin in the 1960s - she was not alone in staring at this exotic visitor. 

I don't normally engage in comments on social media (and rarely read them), but I have been making more of an effort as I grow my Paul Bradbury Croatia Expert YouTube channel (you can subscribe here). 

As with most things in Croatia, the comments are polarised. Some welcome the channel and a different perspective of a foreigner who has lived here for 20 years. Others (often from the comfort of diaspora locations in Australia) say that we should have no more foreigners in Croatia, let alone their opinions about Croatia.


This remains one of my all-time favourite comments on one of my articles, so much so that I made it my Facebook cover for a while. But it is also quite instructive. Some of the loudest voices against foreigners living in Croatia are those in the diaspora with no intention of ever returning to the Homeland, apart from that 3-week holiday on the beach and visit to the selo. 

Nepotism, corruption, low wages, the dreaded communism everywhere - these are the main reasons cited by the patriots abroad as to why they will not move back. A decision I respect, and we are all free to make the choices we do.

I chose Croatia, and after 20 years of living here through the nepotism, corruption, low wages and the dreaded communism everywhere, I still think it is the best place to live in Europe, despite having no Croatian blood. As I explained in one of my videos, which I am pleased to see has been watched over 70,000 times already - see below.

I am sure I am not alone in noticing a subtle change in the makeup of the population in Croatia in recent years. In the cafes and restaurants, supermarkets and building sites. A lot more workers from Asia and Africa, doing the jobs that Croats no longer want to do, as the salaries are much higher in Germany and other parts of the EU. Again, a decision I respect, although I do find it sad. I also find encouragement in those who decide that they want to take advantage of the remote work revolution and continue to live in Croatia and with determination find a job internationally which allows them to continue their Croatian lifestyle. You can follow the series here.  

Although I hadn't paid too much attention to the rising number of foreign workers (and I am talking about year-round workers, not the seasonal help from Serbia and Bosnia now that Slavonians are choosing Germany), it was a post from one of Croatia's most influential contributors on LinkedIn, Milan Horvat, on the rapidly changing demographics in his native Varazdin, that really caught my attention. You can read the full translation in Milan Horvat, Snapshot of Change: Foreigners 15% of Varazdin Workers.

So how much has Croatia changed demographically? Above is the first in a two-part video snapshot of Croatia from 2018 and 2023, just five years later.

We will be analysing and reporting on the current numbers and demographics based on data supplied by the Ministry of the Interior.

There is no question that the number of foreigners - both in the higher-paid IT sector in places such as Rimac and Infobip, and in the service industry - have risen. It will be interesting to see how much. 

And, as the last census shows, there are less Croats here now than a decade ago (population under 4 million). 

Less Croats; more foreigners; strong voices in the diaspora for less foreigners to be allowed into Croatia, as Croatia's resistance to multiculturalism is heralded as a reason for its safety and strength of identity. 

But with Croats leaving and foreginers coming to take the jobs, how to preserve Hrvatska?

It seems that there are two main variables, both in the hands of the Croatian people:

1. A change of politics to a less corrupt and nepotistic society, achieved through the ballot box - Croats are the ones with the vote.

2. The return of the diaspora in large numbers, to play their part to preserve Hrvatska and make it shine. 

Which one is to be? Or is there another way? Interested in your thoughts to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Preserving Hrvatska. 


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Monday, 6 February 2023

Great Success of Iskra Shipyard Croatia: Unsinkable Emergency Boat

February 6, 2023 - Great Success for Iskra Shipyard 1, where the handover tests confirmed a great success - they managed to build a flawless boat for emergency medical assistance.

As Poslovni writes, the first Croatian boat from the series contracted as early as 2021, produced as part of the Search and Rescue (SAR) project for emergency medical interventions at sea and on islands, passed extremely complex tests at the request of the Ministry of Health as the customer.

Intended for Dubrovnik

Built from aluminum alloys in ideal conditions, it reaches a maximum speed of almost 35 miles per hour. With a hull length of 15 meters, the boat can sail as the only means of transport in conditions where even helicopters cannot fly. It is practically unsinkable.

This is its main characteristic - when it capsizes, it stands up again, and not a drop of water enters the cabin, so it is equipped with modern medical equipment and forms the first and most important 'link' in the establishment of emergency maritime medical services in the Republic of Croatia. According to the latest information, it is intended for Dubrovnik.

The achievement brings multiple benefits for the builder Iskra Shipyard 1 in Šibenik, including references for new business on the international market. And the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Croatia, as the client, can count on, in addition to the delivery of the first boat announced by the end of the month, the orderly delivery of five more SAR boats of the same quality by the end of the year, confirms the Administration.

Thus, the people of Šibenik are building sophisticated boats at full steam as part of the project of establishing an emergency maritime medical service, which is co-financed by the EU. The work of building and equipping six emergency boats is worth around HRK 76.4 million, and it was jointly won by Iskra Shipyard 1 and Tehnomont from Pula as the best bidder.

The shipbuilder from Pula later withdrew under the pressure of the contract book, and the period from tendering to contracting stretched to about a year.

The Šibenik shipyard in the ownership portfolio of the Slovenian Iskra Shipyard is experiencing a revival on several grounds. Along with characteristic workboats for the Scandinavian market, it is constantly improving its business with new investments. Now it is confirming its competitiveness with the SAR project as an 'entrance' to the market of high-speed ships for civil and military purposes.

Iskra Shipyard's majority owner Dušan Šešok, as well as the directors - Aleš Ekar, who was in the cabin in the cockpit during the testing of the boat's resistance to a 180-degree side roll, and Roko Vuletić point to the new perspective that opens up.

"It was a very sophisticated ship for us and a big task that our engineers and employees did well, so a new page is being opened for our shipyard. Now we have a world reference with which we will go to tenders for such ships in the entire Mediterranean", Sešok, the majority owner of Iskra, told Poslovni dnevnik.

Tender for patrol boats

The premise for this is that the first boat platform produced applies to different projects because it is practically the same regardless of whether it is a harbor master ship, a medical ship, or for ecological research.

This is already shown in the current tender for seven high-speed patrol boats under the Ministry of the Sea, Transport, and Infrastructure jurisdiction since, according to Šešok, the offer of the Iskra Shipyard in Šibenik proved to be the most favourable.

A decision on the selection is expected soon, and the people of Šibenik will be interested in the tender announced in Slovenia for such a sophisticated ship as part of the activities of the marine biological station there.

The design for the boat was made by the Croatian branch of the American company Metal Shark, which is the world leader in the design of this type of vessel. They will be able to accommodate three crew members and nine people, and apart from emergencies, these boats will also be used for search and rescue at sea.

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

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