Monday, 29 March 2021

Novalja Business Incubator Open - First Such Facility on Croatian Island

March the 29th, 2021 - When it comes to differences between the Croatian mainland and its many inhabited islands, one could write a book. From unreliable ferry connections disappointing island residents to a lack of proper infrastructure, the list is long. However, the Novalja business incubator, the very first one on a Croatian island, is now open, marking a significant shift when it comes to island life.

Novalja has always been known for tourism and strong bura winds. In pre-pandemic times, Pag as an island was visited by countless tourists on an annual basis. Lovers of partying and of this island's strange moonlike landscape have come to know this island well, but just like with the majority of other Croatian islands, stoking business hasn't really been a strong point unless it involves revenue from bars and beaches. That could all be about to alter.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Pag could be pushed up yet another level, and one which doesn't necessarily have to involve tourism, with the opening of the brand new Novalja business incubator, the first of its kind on an island in this country, reports Zimo.

The director of the new Novalja business incubator, Dinko Skunca, referred back to Pag's famous bura winds and stated that of all winds the island experiences throughout the year, this, the wind of strength, will certainly be the most significant yet.

With the opening of the Novalja business incubator, one of Novalja's doggedly determined entrepreneurs also got a spring put back in her step.

''Miracles will happen here,'' said entrepreneur Nikolina Persola Dabo, adding that her tracksuits for both girls and boys with the Pag ''signature'' on them might not have ever even seen the light of day if the incubator hadn't opened on Pag.

''For the first six months, I don't have to pay anything - which is wonderful, I'll be able to invest that money into buying other business items and raw materials,'' she stated.

For more, follow our business section. For current coronavirus information specific to Croatia, including border and travel rules, as well as testing centres across the country, bookmark this page.

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Croatian Island Register Published! All Islands in One Place

February the 28th, 2021 - The definitive Croatian island register has finally been created, listing all of Croatia's many islands and islets and all of the interesting facts they boast - all in one place.

As Morski writes, as announced at the Croatian Government session held a few days ago, the Ministry of Regional Development and European Union Funds, based on the Islands Act and the Ordinance on the methodology of establishing and maintaining the Croatian island register, created the definitive document.

This document records all 1,244 islands, islets and reefs in the Republic of Croatia in one place. All of them are classified according to their specific external characteristics, features and other parameters important for their management, use and the preservation of a unique island geographical unit.

The aim of the Croatian island register is data and cartographic recording of all of the country's islands and islets that are an integral part of the territory of the Republic of Croatia, creating databases for the islands that will serve as a basis for analytical reports necessary for further guidance and policy when it comes to island development.

The Croatian island register has been set up at the address of the Shared Services Centre and is designed to be, in the long run, an integrated information system of island indicators with connections to the offered web services of more than 30 public bodies across Croatia that hold data on islands within their respective competence.

The Croatian island register, at least in version 1.0, boasts basic, geographical and demographic data, data on territorial jurisdiction as well as data on the development index, traffic connections and data from the competence of the Ministry of Health.

You can access the new Croatian island register by clicking here.

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Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Krk Companies are Strongest Registered Enterprises on Croatian Islands

February the 24th, 2021 - Krk companies are the strongest of all enterprises registered as being headquartered on Croatia's many islands, with impressive revenues to boast of.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes, Krk companies enjoyed an amazing 12.1 billion kuna in revenue back in pre-pandemic 2019, a tenth of the total revenue generated by the tourism sector that record year.

When compared to back in 2018, the income of Croatian enterprises operating in various municipalities, towns and cities of Croatia's many inhabited islands increased by a fifth in just one single year, according to the analysis of the Financial Agency (Fina).

The strongest island enterprise registered currently in Croatia is GP Krk with a massive 686.5 million kuna in revenue, followed by Trgovina Krk with 428 million kuna and Jadranka hotels with 299.7 million kuna in revenue.

The analysis of financial statements included 4954 Croatian island enterprises registered across 51 cities and municipalities. They employed 23,977 employees in total, equal to 7.1 percent more than were employed back in 2018. When it comes to total export revenue from such companies, as much as 1.7 billion kuna was calculated.

Unsurprisingly, the most numerous of these island-based enterprises operate in the activities of providing accommodation and food preparation and serving, of which 1108 were analysed, and together they generated 3.2 billion kuna, 26.5 percent of the total revenues of companies based on Croatia's islands.

Unsurprisingly again, tourism activities are also the largest employers: they employ 7,378 workers, which is 30.8 percent of the total number of employees working for island-registered companies. This is followed by trade with 682 companies and 2,874 employees enjoying 2.4 billion kuna in revenue, and construction with 564 companies, 3,195 employees and 1.8 billion kuna in revenue.

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Sunday, 21 February 2021

Croatian Islanders Voice Anger at Alleged Croatian Post Discrimination

February the 21st, 2021 - Croatian islanders have voiced their irritation at alleged discrimination from Croatian Post (Hrvatska posta) as certain types of mail continue to fail to reach them owing to an odd decision made by Croatian Post. 

Croatian Post is often the butt of the joke when it comes to talking about snail mail, mail which simply never arrives or postmen claiming they've knocked at your door when they quite honestly haven't, but for Croatian islanders, issues with the Croatian postal system have been seriously raised.

As Morski writes, Croatian islanders, more specifically the annoyed residents of the island of Premuda are far from happy with the performance of Croatian Post, which, as they say, has been preventing them from receiving any packages heavier than 2 kilograms since mid-February. Letters warning of discrimination against Croatian islanders were sent to the various addresses of Croatian Post, but also to the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure.

''As of Friday, February the 12th, 2021, the residents of the island of Premuda are no longer able to order supplies through the web store of Croatian Post, Yellow Click, if the package weighs more than 2 kilograms. Through their website, it's possible to order only through the HP Express service, which is disabled for the islands of Premuda, Silba, Olib, Molat, Ist… Throughout the past year, Croatian islanders have used this service mostly for potatoes, apples and the like because the agricultural season was bad, and a pandemic ensued.

We have a great internet connection, the web store is booming, and the only option for those of us who live on the islands is being abolished? This is Croatian Post, 100 percent owned by the state. The islands have a post office like we have shipping lines, and we can't just let this issue go so easily. Does the state intend to abolish the post office as their next step, too? Another job removed from the island? Disable Croatian islanders the use of a postal service throughout the year, on every working day? These letters are being sent by the residents of Premuda to the authorities, feel free to download them and ask for a statement,'' warned Lea Grdovic.

In the letter they sent to Croatian Post and the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, it says:

''To whom it may concern, we're addressing you because of the decision of Croatian Post not to deliver packages to some islands, including the island of Premuda. The island is connected to the mainland by ferry three times a week. The journey takes several hours, and the inhabitants of the island are mostly elderly people and it isn't easy for them to travel to Zadar. Package shipments are even more important to Croatian islanders during these pandemic-dominated times, because they're often the only way for people to get certain things from the mainland and from abroad.

The decision of Croatian Post discriminates against the inhabitants of the islands in relation to other inhabitants of Croatia. They cannot choose between other delivery services, but are dependent exclusively on Croatian Post. The country's postal services are under your jurisdiction and should be available to all residents of this country, so please allow the residents of Premuda to receive and send packages that mean everything to them,'' said the locals of the island of Premuda in their joint letter.

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Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Circular Economy on Islands Lags Due to Low Environmental Awareness

February 17, 2021 – In a video podcast entitled "Energy Transition on the Islands," organized by the Island Movement initiative, participants warned that underdeveloped environmental awareness is one of the main obstacles to implementing the circular economy on islands.

As Hina reports, the deputy mayors of Hvar and Cres warned that citizens are still unaware of the green economy's importance, which makes it challenging to introduce a circular economy on islands.

"The most difficult phase in achieving sustainable development is to explain to ordinary citizens why the energy transition would be a step forward," said Marin Gregorović, deputy mayor of Cres.

The circular economy is a production and consumption model that encourages sharing, borrowing, reuse, repair, recovering, and recycling of products and materials to achieve the product's added value. Such a concept has a positive effect on reducing the amount of waste.

Commenting on the inefficient disposal of waste on the islands, Gregorović noted that "the system is not working well" and that "we have not yet reached the stage of resolving the issue of biowaste disposal."

"Although we have a recycling yard and dual waste management on Cres, and we plan to build a composting plant, the story of the circular economy is still just – a story," said Gregorović.

Kuzman Novak, deputy mayor of Hvar town, added that "the fundamental problem at the national level is waste management."

"We take the garbage bags out of the house, and they are taken away, which we don't see, so we don't think they are our concern anymore. That is the key problem," Novak said, explaining the underdeveloped environmental awareness of citizens.

"When we talk about sustainable development, it's not just about solar power plants and waste management, it's essentially developing an awareness not to be selfish," said Novak.

The new EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy is one of the key elements in achieving climate neutrality, which is a central goal of the European Green Plan. Voting on the new EU circular economy action plan, the European Parliament this month called for additional measures to achieve a carbon-neutral, environmentally sustainable, and fully circular economy by 2050.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 16 November 2020

Lastovo is a Hit! Families and Entrepreneurs Want to Live Here

November 16, 2020 – Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, when tourism and business are significantly affected industries, one Croatian island is gaining popularity in both. Lastovo is a hit.

As Slobodna Dalmacija reports, the island of Lastovo is still a corona-free zone, they had a great tourist season this year, and a baby boom. However, as if those were not compelling enough reasons, in the last two months, Lastovo has recorded the interest of several families with children who would like to settle on the island.

And not only families, but on this Dalmatian island, a few hours away from Split by ferry, several entrepreneurs are interested in starting their own business. This story is confirmed to Slobodna Dalmacija by 26-year-old Don Tonći Ante Prizmić whose arrival on the island, in his first parish, coincides with this interesting and unusual phenomenon.

Why do people want to come to Lastovo? Well, the reason is simple. Besides the favorable conditions, the Church on this island continues to lease agricultural land for ten lipas per square meter. The only condition is that you must stay on the island. In the new normal, some see it as a ticket to a better tomorrow.

Because of that, and also because of the church's million square meters of land, the sum of numerous Lastovo fields, and cheap fertile soil – Lastovo is a hit.

"I agree, Lastovo is a hit. And I am so pleasantly surprised that coming to my first parish accompanies me with such good stories," says Don Tonći, continuing with a story about a family from Imotski who first came on vacation on Lastovo, but then fell in love so much that they expressed a desire to move here and engage in agriculture.

"I asked him if he knows how far we are from the mainland and what our ferry lines are. And he said he knows everything, but that they are serious. The only problem is that it is difficult to buy or rent a house on the island due to unresolved property relations. And there are a lot of houses. But they have a solution for that as well. They say they would put a container on the ground first hand. I told them then to come," says don Tonći.

'We wanted to give people a chance'

Other people also called, mostly young families from the area of Kaštela, Split, Dubrovnik, and even from Zagreb. This was followed by several calls from those who would grow lavender, essential plants, produce oils, and open a healthy pharmacy on church land.

Don Tonći opened the door to everyone, happy that on the island from which the youth must move to the mainland to continue their education, the new youth wants to settle. Lastovo, with its 46 green islands and 46 fields, has many church plots where a lot can be grown.

"We are happy that people are calling us and want to come. The price is not commercial because we wanted to allow people to cultivate the land. It began with the blessing of the bishop, and as we now await the new one, we will acquaint him right away with this noble idea. We have vineyards, pastures, fields, forests, all in different sizes. The problem is that they are not in one plot. Some land plots are 20, 50 meters, and more apart. But it is always possible to arrange a lease with one of the owners so that consolidation can be done. This island is beautiful. The truth is, we are a little further from the mainland. To get to Split, you have to get up at three in the morning to catch the ferry. But it has its charms," Don Tonći considers.

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The island of Lastovo / Sara Alduk

Don Tonći is a native of Dubrovnik, and on all of the island, as he jokingly likes to say, he is the only spiritual authority. When he got his first parish, St. Kuzma and Damjan on Lastovo, at first it was a small shock, but he adjusted very quickly. He says that the local people are very open, noble, atypical islanders. They are so strongly attached to each other that an island of 760 inhabitants seems like one big family caring for its members.

"And that's why the interest of those who would like to come here surprised me so pleasantly. I openly showed them what we have – plots of a few hundred to a few thousand square feet, vineyards just waiting for hardworking hands. There are no problems with irrigation either because the dew and nature here do the work themselves. There is a lot of lands, and the locals from Lastovo also rent it. The soil is fertile, soft, well, and gives excellent fruit. We offer you a welcome, so come," says Don Tonći.

Lastovo Statute

Don Stipe Miloš, a former Lastovo priest, explained to Slobodna Dalmacija where the Church got so much land from.

The church land is connected to the Lastovo Statute from the 14th century, according to which each family was obliged to give one-tenth of its annual income to the parish. A third of it went for the needs of the parish, another third as a salary for the pastor. And the third was used for the education of priests. In the 700 years that the Statute has been respected, a lot of lands have accumulated, but also the Lastovo youth has been ordained. And a good part of the estate came through the foundations of fraternities such as Our Lady of the Rosary, the fraternity of St. Anthony, and the fraternity of St. Peter.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 30 October 2020

Numerous Croatian Islands Chase Energy Independence in Coming Years

As Morski writes on the 29th of October, 2020, following the first two years of the EU Clean Energy Secretariat's initiative, these Croatian islands form part of a growing community of islands actively working on the energy transition of the European Union.

22 European islands will announce their clean energy transition programmes, thus taking a firm step towards decarbonising their energy systems with a special focus on citizen involvement. An additional 7 EU islands will announce their programs in the near future, reports the Island Movement (Pokret otoka).

A Ilha de Arousa (Spain), the Hvar Archipelago (Croatia), Brac (Croatia), Cape Clear (Ireland), Halki (Greece), Ibiza (Spain), Kasos and Symi (Greece), Korcula (Croatia), Kökar (Finland) ), Menorca (Spain), Pantelleria (Italy), Ouessant, Molène and Île de Sein (France) and Eigg, Muck, Rum, Canna, Fair Isle, Foula and the Knoydart Peninsula (Scotland) have developed a transition plan adapted over the past nine months which also covers their individual needs and resources.

Most of these islands were pioneer islands selected back in February 2019 in a competition by the Secretariat for Clean Energy of the EU Islands, an initiative of the European Commission.

The islands' energy transition strategies have been written by island transition teams themselves, with the support of the Clean Energy Secretariat for EU Islands. A year ago, six pilot island initiatives announced their strategies.

An additional 7 islands currently in the process of final approval that will soon announce their transition plans are: Azores (Portugal), Mallorca (Spain), Marie-Galante (France), Belle-Île, Hoedic and Houat (France) and Crete Greece). They will be available on the website when they are ready.

The official announcement of the strategies will take place during the island's Clean Energy for EU Islands Forum, when decision-makers and representatives of the EU island community come together to discuss the future of the European Islands, EU Islands reports.

''These energy transition strategies are proof of the hard work and productive cooperation among islanders, both within their communities and between countries. It was truly inspiring to see what is possible when local people have the power and support to write their own future. We look forward to continuing to work with the EU's island communities to make the European Green Agreement a reality, both through this initiative and through other EU actions to support local energy transition,'' said European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson.

Among these Croatian islands lies the Central Dalmatian island of Brac which wants to become energy independent by 2030 in order to provide its residents and visitors with a healthy environment. It plans to do so by increasing its own energy efficiency, installing renewable energy sources, arranging and improving public transport, and building a waste management centre.

The Hvar archipelago plans to be energy self-sufficient by 2035, and this transition should ensure the proactive involvement of both the islanders and energy communities.

Korcula wants to become carbon neutral by 2050 and become a green island where the community is guided by the principles of caring for people, caring for the environment, and preserving the common good and resources.

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Thursday, 13 August 2020

Could Green Energy on Croatian Islands Become EU Funds Magnet?

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes on the 12th of August, 2020, when it comes to dealing with the particular needs of people living on Croatian islands, as well as the development of island economies, things can become very challenging. Apart from the obvious issue being the continual connection to the mainland, the biggest problem of all those living in Croatian islands is the infrastructure, and especially the flow of electricity.

That is why in recent decades, great efforts have been made across Europe to make the bloc's islands as energy-efficient as possible through the development of green energy.

With the entry into the EU, this has also been being carried out across Croatia's many inhabited islands. As such, the continued development of renewable energy sources on Croatian islands has gained new momentum, which is contributed by the fact that Croatian MEP Tonino Picula is the president of the parliamentary Intergroup for Seas, Rivers, Islands and Coastal Areas in his second term. He boasted that his lobbying had secured around four million euros in the new EU budget for the energy transition of Croatian islands.

"We've successfully pulled the islands out of political anonymity in Europe and imposed them as the engine of energy transition. The islanders are the most heavily called upon to manage the development of their islands and that is why I'm in favour of a long-term and lasting EU island strategy as the main instrument of support to the islanders,'' Picula pointed out.

The “The Future of the Energy Transition of the Island of Hvar” conference was recently held on the island of Hvar, when the strategic partnership between the Island Movement (Pokret otoka) and the Renewable Energy Sources Association of Croatia (OIEH) should be signed. This is to make the best possible use of money from EU funds and their Green Plan project. As Maja Pokrovac, Director of OIEH, explained, the EU has offered a plan for recovery from the coronavirus pandemic worth a massive 750 billion euros, of which at least 30 percent must be spent on climate protection and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

"EU member states must prepare their recovery plans within their national programmes, which should include investment and reform priorities, and submit them by April 2021. In its plan, Croatia should focus on activities that can start the economy up again, on a sustainable basis, and have it be closer to carbon neutrality,'' she said, adding that the energy transition of Croatian islands is one such activity.

"With this agreement with Hvar, we want to ensure the timely information and preparation of projects ready for financing in the areas of Croatian islands and to advocate for the well-being of island communities and their participation within these development projects. Therefore, we'll cooperate across all areas of common interest, including the development of RES on the islands, and especially on energy project development activities, the preparation of project studies, community involvement, strategic planning and consulting the Island Movement in the field of energy, information and education. The transition to clean energy sources can help Croatian islands become self-sufficient and open new employment opportunities for people living on them,'' said Pokrovac.

However, she added that the entire population, representatives of local and regional self-governments and entrepreneurs, civic initiatives and cooperatives, educational institutions must all be involved in the implementation process.

As many as ten Croatian islands: Cres, Ilovik, Lošinj, Male and Velike Srakane, Susak, Unije, Brac, Hvar and Korcula are currently implementing projects to prepare for the transition to clean energy.

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Monday, 10 August 2020

Discovering Lastovo, Croatia's Southernmost Inhabited Island

August 10, 2020 - The southernmost inhabited Croatian island, Lastovo, together with other 45 islets, cliffs, and reefs, is Croatia's youngest nature park. Due to the richness of the Mediterranean plants and endangered animal species, Lastovo is among the last ten treasures of Mediterranean biodiversity. Along with Mljet, Lastovo is the most heavily forested Croatian island, with about 70% of it covered with forests. The larger settlements on the island are Lastovo, Ubli, Pasadur, Zaklopatica and Skrivena Luka.

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The hilly landscape formed by numerous karst fields and bays is ideal for those who enjoy recreational cycling. The seabed rich in caves and passages is a paradise for diving lovers. Of the diving sites, the most attractive and the most visited are Seka Drašan and Petrovac.

In addition to the above activities, visitors can enjoy hunting, recreational and sport fishing and star gazing. Lastovo is an island with one of the darkest skies in Europe and among tourists, it's also known as „the island of crystal stars“.

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According to the 2011 census, Lastovo has 792 inhabitants, but the real number is much lower. In the last ten years, many have moved away and the number of those who are registered there, but actually live and work elsewhere, is not negligible.

Most islanders are engaged in tourism and related activities such as agriculture, fishing and trade. Since the season on Lastovo is very short, tourism is not the only branch from which most residents live.

„Part of the population is employed in the institutions located on the island, such us JUPP Lastovo islands, Elementary School Braća Glumac, police, army, post office, state administration office… There are those whom agriculture, tourism or fishing is the only source of income, so when the season is over, after a short break, preparations for the next one begin very quickly“, says Bruna Rizvanović, director of the Tourist Board of the Municipality of Lastovo.

In terms of tourism, last year was a record for the number of overnight stays.

 „Due to the tendency to increase in number of overnight stays in the last seven years, we believed that it would continue by at least 5-10% in terms of capacity. We planned our activities accordingly. However, this epidemic surprised us all and showed that the future is unpredictable. I believe that we will be able to push through this year and that this experience will help us to become even better and to develop in line with sustainable tourism“, she explains.

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During July 2020, 74.21% of last year's arrivals and 73.79% of last year's overnight stays were realized in the municipality of Lastovo. All catering facilities are open, but most of them opened later than planned, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As for the music festivals for which Lastovo is famous, one has not been held, and the other will be held from 12th to 16th of August.

„The 'LUZ – Lastovo u zvijezdama' festival was not held this year, but the reason was not the current situation, but technical difficulties with the organization. I believe and hope that next year, the organizers of LUZ will meet again and continue the tradition of a diverse program and offer in the pre-season period, which is extremely important for our island“, Rizvanović adds.

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This year's edition of festival LAstovo.OTOKGLAZBE. adheres to a slighty different concept of organization due to the situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the attitude of organizers about the importance of ensuring the health of visitors. Because of it, it will be held in a much smaller capacity, without the organization of a camp and with fewer visitors than usual.

DJ D-Gree, Stray Dogg and Mary May are responsible for the music program, while the young contemporary circus collective  Madame Gauc will perform the show „Fil“. In addition to the abovementioned program that will take place in MihajLA bay, part will take place in the village of Lastovo.

Rizvanović believes that the results of this tourist season are more than good, considering the situation in the rest of the county. 

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„I believe that the distance of the island from large city centers and the lack of crowds, but also the fact that we didn't record any cases of COVID-19, have affected that the results of tourist traffic are higher than expected. People feel safe knowing that the possibility of infection on the island is small“, Rizvanović concludes.

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Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Jadrolinija's Summer Prices Remain at 2019's Levels, Islanders Disgruntled

If there is one bone of contention or thorn in the side, if you will, of Croatia's many island inhabitants, it is that there are either issues with maritime transport to the mainland and back again, or that the prices are too high. Islanders do get island cards and often pay lower prices to use the services of let's say, Jadrolinija, but this doesn't stop the complaints.

As Morski writes on the 27th of May, 2020, we have only got a few days to go until entry into force of Jadrolinija's summer sailing schedule, which has further upset the already irritated Croatian islanders who have been in isolation, separated from the mainland for months now.

The sore point for the majority of the islanders is the fact that Jadrolinija's prices will remain the same as they were last year, which as we all know, was a record year for Croatian tourism. That ship soon sailed, however, (no pun intended), with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic which saw tourism across the globe grind to a very sudden halt. It isn't just the pockets of the islanders which have been hit, and this leaves them wondering just who will visit the central Dalmatian islands in such circumstances, when finances are tight?

HTV stated that Croatia's premier island of Hvar is empty. There are no yachts and no guests. The elite hotels that once boasted of their offers and their guests are closed.

Jadrolinija's summer sailing schedule should finally bring in a handful of guests from nearby markets, including domestic tourists, but the prices being the same as last year when Croatia enjoyed a record tourist year is unlikely to draw many people to the islands.

''I think the time has come for Jadrolinija to reconsider its prices and to help us simply get through this summer by reducing their prices to a level that would satisfy both them and us. Let it be 50 percent lower when compared to last year,'' said the president of the Hvar Craftsmen's Association, Katica Vucetic.

For more on Jadrolinija and travel throughout Croatia and its many islands, follow our travel page.

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