Tuesday, 20 November 2018

All Concession Authorizations on Šolta Cancelled Due to Irregularities

A few days ago, a notice was received by the Municipality of Šolta, the Šolta Municipal Council, the Department for Tourism and Maritime Affairs of Split-Dalmatia County, the State Administration Office in Split-Dalmatia County, the Budgetary Control Service of the Finance Ministry, and the Municipal State Attorney's Office in Split. The notice in question is a detailed report about administrative inspections carried out over the summer, from July 20 to August 20, by inspectors of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transportation and Infrastructure, based on a complaint submitted by the Island Movement about illegal activities in granting of concession authorizations, reports Otoci.eu on November 20, 2018.

Although the entire process was initiated after an Island Movement complaint, for unknown reasons the report did not arrive at its address. However, due to its persistence in trying to be informed in a lawful and transparent manner about the process, the Island Movement did eventually receive the document.

Amongst other things, the commission has ordered the Municipal Council of the Municipality of Šolta that it must, within 30 days of the receipt of the report, discuss the findings and conclusions contained in the report, as well as the state of affairs in the maritime domain management sector. However, according to available information, the municipal councillors have not yet received the report nor has a session of the Municipal Council with this item on the agenda been convened. There are just about a dozen days to call the session with the item of agenda. In the meantime, a session of the Council has been convened for Tuesday, November 20, but without this point on the agenda.

Over the summer months, chaos ruled on the island. Catering facilities started operating in May without concession authorizations or with authorizations which were granted illegally. The Maritime Domain Management Plan of Split-Dalmatia County was approved only on May 30 and that was a precondition for granting concession authorizations.

The administrative inspections included:
– regular management of the maritime domain in general use in the area of the Municipality of Šolta;
– the legality of activities of the Concession Authorization Board of the Municipality of Šolta, including the approval of applications and the issuance of concession authorizations;
– charging of fees for concession authorizations granted.

In addition to the administrative oversight of the Concession Authorization Board, the members of the Concession Authorization Board were interviewed. Only a representative of the Split-Dalmatia County had not appeared at the hearing.

Inspections of certain catering facilities were also carried out. The Island Movement does not have any additional information about the results of these inspections.

The use of budgetary funds contrary to the stated purpose and forgery of official documents are just some of the irregularities identified in the process of granting concession authorizations. This is the reason why the commission has requested further measures by the Finance Ministry in order to establish unlawful compensations for concession authorization fees and catering services, and by the Municipal State Attorney's Office in Split for the suspicion of criminal offenses of forgery of official documents.

Time will tell whether this process has touched the very tip of corrupt and illegal activities in the municipality. Given the officially initiated procedures, the Island Movement believes that it is the right time, in the public interest and in order to respect the legal regulations, to re-examine the way how the municipality is run.

This makes it clear that finger-pointing against those who warned about these and similar problems was malicious. The Island Movement hopes that the time it eagerly expects will come, that is that the truth, justice, transparency and legality of public activities will become a rule and not an exception. The Island Movement hopes that the politics on the island of Šolta will become what it should be – an honourable service for the benefit of the people.

Translated from otoci.eu.

For more on the Island Movement, click here.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Passenger Shipping Lines to Croatian Islands Aligned with Flight Schedules

The Agency for Coastal Liner Shipping has already prepared the schedules for the next year and presented them to partners at the World Travel Market in London. This means that all passengers travelling to Croatian islands in the upcoming season will soon be able to see all the details of the passenger shipping schedules, which have finally been aligned with flights coming to coastal airports, particularly in the evening, reports Slobodna Dalmacija on November 9, 2018.

For decades, one of the problems for the tourism partners was the late publication of the shipping schedules to the Croatian islands which were not known until the spring, which meant that partners sometimes had to cancel their already scheduled travel packages for the islands.

“Tourism Minister Cappelli wanted all tour operator and partners of our tourism to be provided with timely information on coastal and liner shipping for lines which link the mainland with the islands. This year, we have accepted all the remarks given by the public and private sectors and tried to be as fast as possible so that everyone would have the info on how to reach the Croatian islands. There are 51 state lines and 11 seasonal lines that have been established so far, and we can still receive and supplement the seasonal line requests,” said Paola Vidović, head of the Agency for Coastal Liner Shipping in London.

For example, this will solve a well-known problem for passengers landing at Split Airport in the evening, who until now had to wait until the next morning for the first ship to sail to the island of Hvar. “In about ten days, our schedule for the next season will be published on our website. We have already defined it, accepting suggestions and criticism and adapting to the demands of the islanders and tourists. From early May to late September, Jadrolinija will have a fast line from Split to Hvar at 8 pm, and a ferry half an hour later,” she said

“The shipping companies have accepted many of the tour operators’ demands. During the peak tourist season, there will be 16 lines connecting Hvar with the mainland, including to Dubrovnik and Korčula. The evening connections have been introduced as per passenger requests, and in about a month you will be able to buy the tickets on Jadrolinija’s webpage,” said Vidović, who attended the fair in London together with Minister Cappelli.

The seasonal lines will start from early April and last until late September. In 2019, some of the new seasonal lines will be the one from Split to Šibenik and Zadar, and a new line from Rijeka to Zadar that will visit the islands of Krk and Vir. These lines will be maintained by private shipping companies.

There is also talk about the possibility that guests could be transferred directly from Divulje to the islands on lines to be agreed with the shipping companies.

It is highly commendable that, for the first time ever, Croatia has done everything that its tourism partners in London were asking for.

For more on Jadrolinija, click here.

Translated from Slobodna Dalmacija (reported by Ružica Mikačić).

Monday, 29 October 2018

After Years of Waiting, Sućuraj on Hvar Getting a New Ferry Port

After the recent cabinet meeting in Hvar, director of the Split-Dalmatia County Port Authority, Domagoj Maroević, spoke about his enthusiasm for soon to be launched projects, reports Dalmacija Danas on October 29, 2018.

We certainly have a lot of reasons to be pleased after the government met in Hvar. We have received 22 million kuna from European funds for the construction of a new ferry port in Sućuraj on Hvar. This is one of the most important projects because the Drvenik-Sućuraj line is one of the busiest in Split-Dalmatia County and has seen the fastest growth in the number of passengers and vehicles. So far, it is possible to load just 30 vehicles in Sućuraj and the construction of a new port will allow more than 60 vehicles to be loaded onto the ferry, and this will make our lives much easier.

When will the works begin?

We have received the construction permit and we will publish the tender next week. I hope that the works will begin in 2019. They should take about a year and a half, and we hope that the new ferry port will be operational for the 2020 season.

hvar sucuraj 2

Eastern part of Hvar is expected to see major benefits from this in terms of traffic connections with the mainland?

Absolutely. The Sućuraj-Jelsa road, which has already been built in the 14-kilometre Jelsa to Poljica section, is necessary for the entire island and I think that this part of the island will be further developed after the construction of this road. The construction of the port is a prerequisite for the road to see a larger number of vehicles. Last year, more than 450,000 passengers passed through the Sućuraj port. These are large figures and therefore this road is a necessity.

What other investments will Dalmatia see over the next year or two?

We hope that in the next 6 months we will receive financing from EU funds for the construction of a port in Omiš. We already have a construction permit for the project and expect to sign a grant agreement by the end of the year. The investment would reach almost 90 million kuna. Also, project documentation for the construction of a new catamaran port in Stomorska is being prepared. This investment is worth about 15 million kuna. During 2019, we expect to finish the project documentation for the reconstruction and extension of the port in Stari Grad on Hvar, with the investment worth about 75 million kuna. With these two ports, we would solve the current problems for docking on the island of Hvar for the foreseeable future.

If you are interested in more news about Hvar, check out our section devoted to the island.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Croatian Government Adopts Measures for Development of Islands and Tourism

On Friday, October 26 2018, the Croatian Government held a special session on the island of Hvar, where it adopted a series of important measures for islands and tourism.

The Croatian Government submitted to parliament the final draft of the Law on Islands, whose aim is to create the conditions for the demographic and economic revitalisation of islands and their self-sustainability and self-sufficiency. “The goals of the new law are to manage the island policy and sustainable development of islands, improve the living conditions and achieve demographic and economic revitalisation, self-sustainability and self-sufficiency on what we call smart islands,” said Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds Gabrijela Žalac, pointing out the importance of projects which can be funded from various sources, including EU funds.

The smart island is an island which, through the use of appropriate tools and innovative solutions, is developing environmentally-friendly and in a socially, technologically and economically sustainable way, based on the circular economy and with an increasing self-sufficiency and resistance to climate change.

The minister said that the key provisions of the new law were the introduction of the concept of “islanders” and “islandness,” and a new model categorising islands, as well as a new approach to the strategic planning of island development.

One of the new provision is the introduction of island coordinators whose activities will be funded by the Ministry of Regional Development through county development agencies. They will ensure joint preparation and implementation of projects on islands, the minister said. The island coordinators will be tasked with organising, launching and coordinating plans and projects important for the sustainable development of islands.

The use of an existing island card will be extended to ensure that all rights are coordinated from one place. The law also encompasses measures for subsidising public sea and road transport, the free crossing of bridges, and equalizing the prices of water on land and on the islands for households and businesses.

Žalac also pointed out measures for encouraging social entrepreneurship which can also be financed from European funds, for removing waste from the island, as well as for solving the current problems with wild animals and the removal of invasive foreign species.

The new law, introduced after 20 years, defines an island as an area with developmental specificities and introduces the notion of “islandness” – a set of geographical, social, historical, economic and ecological specificities derived from being surrounded by the sea. The law allows for stronger involvement of all stakeholders in the development of islands, especially those at the local level, in adopting and suggesting island-oriented policies.

Introducing the law, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that the law would stimulate the demographic and economic revitalisation of islands.

Minister Žalac also submitted a report on the effects of the implementation of the current Law on Islands, saying that last year a total of 1.7 billion kuna was invested on the islands. Croatia has 1,244 islands (50 inhabited), which represent 5.8% of the land area, in seven coastal island counties with 59 local self-government units. The coastal sea covers 31,500 square kilometres.

Croatia and Finland are the only two European countries which have a law on islands. Given the constitutional definition of islands as an area of special interest, the state co-finances, among other things, maritime links between the islands and the mainland and links between islands, their water supply and transport infrastructure. “Overall, from 2004 to 2017, over 21.8 billion kuna was invested in the islands," said Žalac. The state has invested the most in the economy and measures that contribute to the development of the economy, more than five billion kuna, followed by traffic connections and infrastructure.

Also on Friday, the government sent to the parliament three tourist laws – on tourist boards, on tourist board membership fees, and tourist tax.

Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli said that the main objective of the new Law on Tourist Boards and Promotion of Croatian Tourism is the establishment of a new system of tourist boards, based on the principles of destination management, which significantly changes the goals of boards at all levels. “We are encouraging tourist boards to merge, as well as to establish joint tourist boards for multiple units of local and regional self-government,” Cappelli said.

According to the proposal, the tourist board system will consist of local tourist boards, regional tourist boards, the Zagreb City Tourist Board and the Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ).

Tourism Minister said that the new law also introduces a significantly higher degree of transparency in the activities of tourist boards and better promotion of destination tourist products. One of the provisions of the new law is the possibility for the president of a local or regional tourist board to be appointed by the relevant mayor or prefect. Until now, mayors and prefects were automatically named presidents of their tourist boards.

It is also proposed to limit the share of gross employee wage costs to 30 percent of the total tourist board revenues. The current practice has shown that the costs of gross salaries of employees in some tourist boards amounted to up as much as 90 percent of total revenues.

Presenting the proposal of a new law on tourist board membership fees, Cappelli emphasized that the law would reduce the administrative burden and costs to businesses, and would bring about a fairer model for allocating funds. The new law reduces the number of payers of tourist board membership fees. As many as 21 business sectors will no longer have to pay the fees, while 12 sectors will see their fees reduced.

According to the proposal, for example, tourist membership fees would no longer be paid by businesses in sectors such as maritime and coastal freight transport, water transport services, accounting, bookkeeping and auditing services, and photographic businesses, translation and interpreter services, artists, fitness centres and other sports facilities, hairdressers and beauty salons, etc. However, according to the new proposal, banks would have to pay tourist board membership fees, given that they see an increase in income during the tourist season.

The law also reduces the number of rates for calculating the membership fees from 28 to 5. Private renters and family farms will pay the fee in a lump sum and will be able to choose whether to do it in one or three annual instalments.

The government also adopted the law on tourist tax, which changes the “sojourn tax” into the “tourist tax.” As one of the most important provisions of the new law, Cappelli cited decentralisation. So far, the government's regulations have imposed the amount of the sojourn tax. The tourist tax will now be determined by the county assemblies.

Cappelli also pointed out that more funds would be allocated to regional self-government units, which will get five percent more money. According to the proposed law, from the funds collected from the tourist tax, 2.5 percent will be allocated to a special HTZ account for development projects and programmes in underdeveloped tourism areas, while two percent will go to a special HTZ account for projects and programmes of united tourist boards. Of the remaining funds, 65% will go to local tourist boards, 30% of which will be allocated to the municipality or town in which the local tourist community is located, 15% to the regional tourist board and 20% to the HTZ.

After the session, a series of agreements important for islands were signed. Numerous contracts and decisions on financing island projects were also signed. Prime Minister Andrej Plenković pointed out that “the total value of these projects is about 5.6 billion kuna, and some of these projects will be implemented over the next ten years.”

The Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure signed contracts for the construction of a ferry dock in the port of Kaprije and the extension of the external dock in Sućuraj, as well as an agreement on the extension of the port at Unije.

The Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds signed an agreement on grants for Lastovo Islands Nature Park, historical gardens of the Dubrovnik area, and the cultural route in Zadar County.

The Ministry of State Property signed agreements for the use of the fortress of St. George by the Town of Vis, for the use of two apartments in Komiža by the Town of Komiža, on giving use of a building in Postira for a retirement home, and for giving state-owned property to the Municipality of Tribunj.

The Ministry of Administration signed agreements on the introduction of e-registry in Supetar, Stari Grad, Jelsa, Bol, Sućuraj, Sutivan, Okrug, Šolta.

The Ministry of Science and Education signed an agreement on providing a grant to the University of Split.

The Ministry of Agriculture announced four decisions approving projects from investments in wineries and marketing for Vrbnik, Blato 1902, Madirazza and Dingač-Skaramuča.

The Ministry of Construction and Physical Planning signed grant agreements on the energy restoration of a sports facility in Rab, for energy restoration of the Vela Luka retirement home, for the energy restoration of primary and secondary schools in Vis, and for the energy restoration of a local kindergarten.

The Ministry of Administration announced that the Town of Hvar can use the proposed coat of arms and flag.

To follow the latest from the Croatian Government and politics in general, follow the Total Croatia News Politics page

Friday, 26 October 2018

Croatian Government Meets on Hvar to Discuss Island Development

ZAGREB, October 26, 2018 - Today's cabinet meeting of the Croatian Government on the island of Hvar has reference to the development of islands, and "a hand has been extended" to the island populations through a bill on islands and three tourism-related bills, since a quarter of tourism revenues comes from the islands, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said after the meeting in the town of Hvar on Friday.

The meeting focused on the development of the Adriatic islands and summed up the outcome of the country's most successful tourist season so far.

The government also signed several projects and decisions on financing the projects on the islands, with an aggregate amount of 5.6 billion kuna.

The prime minister said that some of the projects related to the development of the electricity supply system in the next 10 years.

The government sent to parliament a bill on Thursday paving the way for the demographic and economic revitalisation of the Adriatic islands and their self-sustainability and self-sufficiency. "The purpose of the new bill is to manage island policy and sustainable island development, raise living standards, and ensure demographic and economic revitalisation, self-sustainability and self-sufficiency based on the 'smart islands' programme," Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Gabrijela Žalac said at a cabinet meeting in Hvar.

The “smart islands” programme provides for the use of appropriate tools and innovative solutions to develop the islands in an environmentally, socially, technologically and economically viable way, building a circular economy and increasing self-sufficiency and resistance to climate change.

The bill envisages the appointment of island coordinators to initiate and coordinate plans and projects important for the sustainable development of the islands. It also proposes subsidies for public maritime and road transport, toll-free passage across bridges, and the same water rates for households and businesses on the mainland and the islands.

Reporting on the implementation of the existing law on the islands last year, Žalac said that a total of 1.7 billion kuna had been invested in the islands by different government departments. From 2004 to 2017, this figure had reached 21.8 billion kuna, she added.

Croatia has 1,244 islands, 50 of which are inhabited, constituting 5.8 percent of its land territory. According to a 2011 census, 132,756 people lived on the islands and the southern peninsula of Pelješac.

Four of the islands – Krk, Pag, Vir and Čiovo – are connected to the mainland by bridge, and their population increased by 10.3 percent from 2001 to 42,245 in 2011. All other inhabited islands had a total population of 82,710, down 2.1 percent from 2001.

Croatia is the only EU member state, along with Finland, to have a law on islands, and given the constitutional designation of islands as areas of special interest, the government co-funds maritime connections between the islands and the mainland and between the islands themselves, as well as water supply and transport infrastructure.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Smart Islands and Cities Initiatives Presented in Dubrovnik

ZAGREB, October 25, 2018 - A project of the Regional Development and EU Funds Ministry and the European Investment Bank, designed to help develop investment platforms for smart islands and cities, was presented in Dubrovnik on Thursday.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Meet 6 Unique Croatian Islands of Outstanding Beauty

October 9, 2018 - Croatia has more islands (some 1,244 in all) than some people have had hot dinners, and some of them are truly unique and spectacular. Meet six of the most unusual on the Adriatic. 

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

HTZ Promoting Islands with Influencers and Bloggers

ZAGREB, September 25, 2018 - Eighteen popular influencers and bloggers from nine countries are spending a week in Croatia at the invitation of the Croatian Tourism Board (HTZ), and will tour six Dalmatian islands to be familiarised with Croatia's nautical and tourism offer and natural attractions, HTZ said on Tuesday.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Croatian Islands Are Open for Business

ZAGREB, September 11, 2018 - It is worthwhile investing in the islands, but more needs to be done to make living there easier, improve access to health services and transport connectivity, create jobs and provide tax breaks for investments, a conference organised by the Novi List daily was told in the northern Adriatic town of Opatija on Tuesday.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Government Set to Improve Living Standards on Islands

ZAGREB, August 15, 2018 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Tuesday said that his cabinet would convene in the town of Hvar on 26 October and that the meeting would focus on measures aimed at improving the quality of life on Croatian islands. "We want to mark 150 years of the organised tourist service on Hvar and in late October, Croatian Tourism Days will take place on Hvar, too," Plenković said adding that the cabinet meeting on that southern Adriatic island would also be dedicated to the tourist trade and development of Croatian islands.

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