Thursday, 12 May 2022

Tourists Continue to Take Serious Risks for Selfies on Dubrovnik Walls

May the 12th, 2022 - The Dubrovnik walls have always attracted the masses. These mighty, exceptionally preserved Medieval walls shield the old city and have done since the beginning of their construction way back in the 13th century. Unfortunately, they've become the grounds for very dangerous selfie attempts from tourists, including falls and even deaths.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, praise the heights but stick to the ground, goes the old saying. It's something that most people believe should be firmly plastered onto the pages or on the website of each and every tourism guide or website in Croatia. Even if that happened, it wouldn't guarantee that awkward falls from rocks, walls and other locations wouldn't occur, reports local Dubrovnik portal Dubrovacki. The first to go for a tumble are usually, of course, tourists who aren't on familiar terms with Dubrovnik's varying tricky altitudes, as evidenced by two falls of foreigners in less than one week.

The first to feel the unpleasant effects of gravity was a drunk 30-year-old German who fell down from the Revelin wall after a night out drinking, just before dawn. He is believed to have lost his balance, fallen down onto the ground below from a height of 3 metres and injured his head, fortunately without fatal consequences. A young foreigner, who was rescued by Lokrum firefighters a few days later near Golub's cave (Pigeon's cave), also got on the wrong side of gravity. This girl was on a kayak tour, climbed up a cliff and fell awkwardly down onto her back, slamming it painfully against the unforgiving rocks below. Lokrum's firefighters transported her by dinghy to the port, where an ambulance picked her up and took her for treatment to the Dubrovnik General Hospital.

Unfortunately, the stunning green uninhabited oasis of Lokrum which lies a mere 600 metres from Dubrovnik's coastline is a common location for falls and other injuries. The head of the Fire Protection Service, Vlaho Brautovic, pointed out that on the island of Lokrum, due to the large fluctuation of tourists visiting it, injuries happen every single day.

"Last year we opened later on due to the coronavirus pandemic, so there were fewer injuries, but back in 2018 and 2019, almost no day passed without people getting scratches, stings, falling over, some being foreigners, some being locals from the Dubrovnik area. From our side, we make sure that all critical places are properly fenced. However, it should be taken into account that the area of this island spans a huge ​​72 hectares, so falls are always going to happen regardless of our efforts,'' said Brautovic for Dubrovacki.

Apart from the Lokrum Reserve, the imposing Dubrovnik walls are certainly a point of increased risk to safety, health, and life.

''Every summer, we're horrified by seeing of young tourists taking selfies from the edge of the fortress plastered all over portals and social media. But such adventurers are, thankfully, more the exception than the rule,'' said Maro Kapovic, secretary of the Society of Friends of Dubrovnik Antiquities, which takes care of the Dubrovnik walls.

“All visitors are warned that when they go on a tour of the Dubrovnik walls, they do so at their own risk. In all critical places, our warnings of the dangers that threaten them if they lean over or try to climb are highlighted. We're doing everything we can to prevent injuries and deaths. Night visits to the Dubrovnik walls aren't possible precisely in order to avoid falls and injuries to young people who often walk around drunk in the late hours, like the German who fell from down from Revelin's wall the other day.

Of course there will always be people who want to take pictures at a precarious height or walk along the edge of the walls, that's the law of large numbers, in good years one million and 300 thousand tourists come and walk the Dubrovnik walls, which are longer than 2 kilometres in total, so someone just has to cause an incident. However, it's still a rarity,'' concluded Kapovic.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

24 Hours in Dubrovnik: Good Things Come in Small Packages

26 April 2022 – For a city of just 21 square kilometers, it’s sure packed full of activities and surprises. Come with me as I showcase the best ways to spend 24 hours in Dubrovnik, the Pearl of the Adriatic!

A (very) brief history of Dubrovnik

Dating back to the 7th century, Dubrovnik was once a town known as Ragusa, founded by refugees from an ancient Greek colony – Epidaurus. Since then, Dubrovnik has changed hands several times, having been part of the Byzantine Empire, the Republic of Venice, the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy, and the Kingdom of Dalmatia within the Austrian Empire.

More recently, Dubrovnik became part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and the Banovina of Croatia upon its creation in 1939. During World War II, it was reincorporated into Croatia as part of Yugoslavia prior to Croatia’s independence in 1995.

Right, with that in mind, let’s begin a full day of activities in Dubrovnik!

9.00 a.m. - 10.00 a.m.

What better way to start your day in this rich, historical city than treating yourself to a lush breakfast with an amazing view. While there are a number of restaurants in Dubrovnik, a personal favorite is the breakfast “Orlando” at Gradska Kavana Arsenal, situated in the heart of Dubrovnik’s Old City.

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Located in the very heart of Old Town, overlooking the former medieval shipyard. Image: Management/Tripadvisor screenshot.

Think crispy bacon, eggs, grilled mushrooms, and toast, finished off with a well-made latte (big plus, they have milk alternatives like oat, soy, and almond) to power you through this busy day.

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Can't think of a better way to fuel the day. Image: Tripadvisor/Screenshot.

10.00 a.m. - 12.30 p.m.

With your bellies filled and the caffeine flowing through your veins, time to explore Dubrovnik’s Old Town, housed within its famed city walls that date back to the 9th century. You can either choose to join one of the free walking tours (2-2.5 hours), take a game of thrones tour, or as I highly recommend, head off on your own adventure. For those who are a choose-your-own-adventure type, here are some not-to-miss spots.

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Famed for its terracotta roofs and stunning architecture, Dubrovnik has been the setting for many international films over the years. Image: Pixabay.

While it’s still early, head to Gndulić Square which hosts the Gunduliceva Poljana Market to pick up souvenirs and treats like small jars of honey, jam, and lavender products before it winds down around noon.

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The market is busiest between 8.00 - 11.00 a.m., so get there early! Image: Sab5859/Tripadvisor screenshot.

Criss-cross the famous Pile and Ploce gates located on opposite ends of the city, and flit through the 300-meter-long pedestrian street called Stradun, whilst ticking numerous monuments off your checklist.

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Stradun, the main pedestrian vein of Dubrovnik's Old Town. Image: Pixabay.

Visit the landmark Bell Tower that’s a rebuild of the 1444 original, the famed Dubrovnik Cathedral and Onofrio Fountain that’s been providing the city with fresh spring water since 1438. Then there’s the St Ignatius Church at the top of Jesuit Stairs; St. Blaise, a Venetian Baroque-style church; Sponza Palace where great minds of the past discussed literature, science, and art; the Rector’s Palace built in 1435 but has not lost any of its former grandeur; before finishing off this exploration at the Franciscan Church and Monastery.

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In the Onofrio fountain, built from 1438 to 1440, each of the sixteen sides has a unique stone-carved design of a masked face. Image: Pixabay.

12.30 p.m. - 1.00 p.m.

All that walking is guaranteed to make you peckish, so head down to Pekara Glavinić and pick up some delicious pastries like the forearm-sized burek, a flakey filo pastry stuffed with cheese and/or meat.

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Nothing like a light, flakey, cheesy snack to keep you going. Image: Recipe 24/Screenshot.

Looking for something sweet? Head down to Slasticarna Ana for an assortment of kolači (sweet pastries) such as a slice of apple strudel, krempita, or a delectable cream puff.

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Do try to get your hands on a luscious, creamy vanilla slice (krempita) when wandering the Old Town. Image: Recipe 24/Screenshot.

1.00 p.m. - 2.00 p.m.

While locals would grab a yogurt or coffee to wash all that deliciousness down, I suggest seeking out one of the cliff bars that are unique to Dubrovnik. Buža bar is my star pick as one of the original cliff bars, so well hidden that if you blink, you’d probably miss it. While not a fancy place, think worn metal furniture and curt service, the ice-cold drinks and panoramic views more than makeup for it.

So, sit back, enjoy a drink, and watch the cliff divers leap off a rock beside you to the turquoise waters below (not for the faint of heart).

buza_bar_-_tripadvisor_screenshot_1.jpgThe bar has literally been built into the side of the cliff walls. Image: Tripadvisor/Screenshot.

From here, there are two alternatives for afternoon itineraries.

OPTION 1

2.00 p.m. - 4.00 p.m.

24-hours in Croatia would not be complete without time on the beach to work on that tan. Banje Beach is just a few minute away from the city, boasting views of the Old Town and Lokrum Island. Alternatively, a 20-minute walk from Old Town will bring you to Sveti Jakov, boasting some of the clearest waters along the Dubrovnik Riviera.

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Time for a quick dip in the Adriatic. Image: Pixabay.

4.00 p.m. - 5.30 p.m.

2 minutes from Sveti Jakov beach lies the skeletal remains of Hotel Belvedere. Opening its doors in 1985, this once epitome of luxury even had its own helipad and private marine to welcome the well-heeled. Guests could lounge around the pool, and dine at several of its restaurants before dancing the night away at the hotel’s in-house nightclub. Sadly, during the Homeland War (1991-1995), the hotel was bombed and unlike the Old Town of Dubrovnik, has since been left in ruin.

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Go on a slight detour and explore the haunting ruins, scars from a devastating past. Image: Pixabay.

OPTION 2

2.00 p.m. - 5.30 p.m.

Without a doubt, Lokrum island is one of the most beautiful spots just a stone’s throw from Dubrovnik. Hop on a ferry (€20 return) that runs every hour from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. from the Dubrovnik harbor, and just 15 minutes later, you’re in a different world. One where peacocks strut around without a care in the world, weaving around the luscious greenery of the island.

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Just a short 10/15 minute ferry ride from the Dubrovnik harbour. Image: Pixabay.

While there, try to visit the Botanical Gardens, Royal Fort, and the former Benedictine monastery, or take it easy by lounging on one of the island's many picturesque beaches. Just remember to pack enough food and water as the offerings on the island are quite underwhelming.

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Lokrum is known for being a lush, green jewel. Image: Dubrovnik Tourism Board/Facebook screenshot.

5.30 p.m. - 6.30 p.m.

Head back to your accommodation to wash that salt off your skin, recoup, refresh, change into your evening's finest, and get ready for a night out in Dubrovnik.

6.30 p.m. - 8.00 p.m.

Since 1969, visitors have been able to take a short ride aboard the Dubrovnik Cable Car (€22 round-trip) up Mount Srđ that transports you 1350 feet above the Old Town. From the top, you’ll be able to gaze down on the Dalmatian coast and get a bird’s eye view of the terracotta rooftops that are a Dubrovnik icon.
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Alternatively, you can also choose to hike up Mount Srđ. Image: Dubrovnik Tourism Board/Facebook screenshot.

While at the top of Mount Srđ, indulge in a bottle of wine or cocktails, paired with a sensational cheese plate whilst watching the sunset at Panorama Restaurant. As you can imagine, this will be a pricey experience but again, the atmosphere and views here are second to none.

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Panaroma Bar offers an unparalleled bird's eye view of Dubrovnik and the stunning sunsets. Image: Management/Tripadvisor screenshot.

8.00 p.m. - 10.00 p.m.

Cheeks flushed, bellies half-full, now’s the perfect time to round out the evening with some good, hearty cuisine. There’s only one place for you: Pantarul. Housing a simple, modern, and cozy interior, Pantarul’s food is creative, honest, and absolutely delish. With a seasonal menu, all dishes are prepared using ingredients sourced from the surroundings of Dubrovnik such as the regions of Župa and Konavle. The tender braised ox cheeks and vegetable risotto are the stand-out dishes that I would not hesitate to get again and again.

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Expect high-quality seasonal ingredients and creative presentations in a warm, intimate setting. Image: Alajandra G/Tripadvisor screenshot.

At this point, you might want to call it a night but for those night owls looking for more, here are some spots to check out.

10.00 p.m. - the sun comes up

There’s something for everyone when it comes to nightlife in Dubrovnik. For those looking for an intimate setting to sit, chat and relax at the end of this busy day, D’Vino Wine Bar is the perfect place to be.

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Do try some of the domestic Croatian wines (e.g. Plavac Mali, Debit, Prošip), you'll be in for a wonderful surprise. Image: Pixabay.

If dancing the night away is your thing, there are several places to choose from. You might want to head down to Culture Club Revelin, built inside a medieval fortress or Lazareti, a club set in an old stone ex-quarantine barracks. If a beach party is more of your thing, check out Banje Beach Club, with its stunning views of Dubrovnik’s Old Town.  For electronic dance music lovers, give Skybar Dubrovnik a go.

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Nothing like dancing under the stars with sand between your toes at Banje Beach Club. Image: Pixabay.

8.00 a.m. - 9.00 a.m.

Whether you’ve partied till the sun came up or just looking for a good cup of coffee in the morning, ring in the final hours of this 24-hour whirlwind trip of Dubrovnik at some of these spots.

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Some of the best artisan coffees can be found at Cogito Coffee. Image: Kaleb F/Tripadvisor Screenshot.

Cogito Coffee is my top pick, serving quality coffee with beans roasted at their HQ in Zagreb. 

Alternatively, let's finish where we started with a prime spot on the Stradun, Café Festival is where you can sit back, watch the buzz along the street, and reflect on your wonderful time in this marvelous city.

And that's a wrap! A packed 24 hours in Dubrovnik, hoping to show you just a fraction of its uniqueness and beauty.

Thursday, 7 April 2022

520,000 Cruise Ship Passengers in Dubrovnik Expected this Season

April 7, 2022 - Blaž Pezo of the Dubrovnik Port Authority announced 345 ship arrivals and about 520,000 cruise ship passengers in Dubrovnik this season. 

When measures were relaxed in mid-May 2021, the conditions for restarting cruising tourism in the destination were finally met, taking into account the reduced covid-capacity of 60 percent of passengers. The Dubrovnik Port Authority was happy to welcome the tourism market, and as the season progressed, many cruisers came. In the end, the director of the Dubrovnik Port Authority Blaž Pezo said they ended 2021 with traffic above expectations, reports DuList

Last year, he stressed, a solid cruise season was achieved in which they were visited by 139 ships and 110,130 passengers. Given that there were none in 2020, Pezo said that the Port Authority is satisfied with the 2021 result, which is 30 percent of 2019 and is a good base for this season which they expect 70 percent of 2019.

"We are optimistic about the 2022 season. According to current announcements, in 2022, we expect 345 ship arrivals and about 520 thousand passengers, which is fully in line with the plans for sustainable tourism development in the destination. The maximum number of passengers from cruise ships in Dubrovnik throughout 2022 is 4,000 passengers at a time or an average of two ships at berth. The Dubrovnik Port Authority is actively participating in the City of Dubrovnik project ‘Respect the City’, in which we strive to ensure the sustainability of Dubrovnik tourism. As part of the project activities, the Ordinance on conditions and criteria for accepting and allocating berths for cruise ships in sustainable destination development was developed. As a result, an even better schedule of cruise ship arrivals in Dubrovnik was achieved, which will result in a more even flow of passengers from the port, mostly towards the historic core, and thus reduce the intensity of the load on city roads in the direction Gruž - Pile - Gruž," said Blaž Pezo for Dulist.

How does the situation with Ukraine reflect on the announcements for the cruising season, and are specific markets disrupted?

"In recent days, information has appeared in the public that the war in Ukraine has begun to affect cruising tourism. Some cruisers have canceled their visit to Dubrovnik, but the situation is not dramatic. So far, we have only two cancellations due to operational reasons and several changes in the entry schedule into Dubrovnik due to the relaxation of measures in Italy. I would not say that the situation is alarming, but we monitor the situation together. In the announcement for this year, which should be very good after the coronavirus pandemic, we have 345 ships.

Of course, there is a possibility some will cancel, but we hope that will not happen. It is unknown how many passengers the cruisers could bring to Dubrovnik, as the number is changing, but they are currently between 60 and 70 percent full. Given the much more favorable situation with the coronavirus pandemic, we expect that European and American shipping companies will gradually increase their cruiser capacity this season. With the improving situation, the greatest demand, i.e., the most serious number of tickets and passengers on cruises, is expected from the major tourist markets from Great Britain and the USA, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain," concluded Blaž Pezo.

For more, check out our travel section.

Sunday, 27 February 2022

Year of Megayachts in Dubrovnik: More than Ever Expected in 2022

February 27, 2022 - It will be the year of megayachts in Dubrovnik, as more 100-150 meter yachts are expected this summer than ever before. 

This year's first cruiser sailed into the port of Gruž on Thursday. Namely, it was the MS Bolette with Dubrovnik captain Jozo Glavić, carrying about 600 passengers.

This is not the first time Bolette visited Dubrovnik. This cruiser was already on tours that included Dubrovnik, only then its name was Amsterdam, and Holland America owned it. Now, it is owned by the shipping company Fred. Olsen Cruise Line. Captain Jozo Glavić made history when he passed through the Corinth Canal with the largest ship ever, the Braemar cruiser owned by the same company.

Announcements for this year's cruising season were commented on by the director of the Dubrovnik Port, Željko Raguž, and the director of Dubrovnik Port Authority, Blaž Pezo.

"The arrival of the Bolette is the first harbinger of a great season ahead in terms of cruises. We are also looking forward to Viking Sky, Viking Star, Athena, and Arethusa, which will arrive in mid-March, after which sailing will be more frequent, according to the announcements," said Blaž Pezo for Dubrovački Dnevnik.

Raguž pointed out that this is the best year ever for megayacht arrivals, but the same cannot be said for cruisers.

"More megayachts than ever are expected this year, even more than in 2019. We are talking about yachts over 100-150 meters, the announcements are excellent, and we expect to break all previous records," said Raguž.

As for cruisers, he claims, it cannot be compared to 2019 but can with all previous years.

"We are working following the decisions of 'Respect the City', so we will not accumulate that number in the future to be much higher than it will be this year, so we can say that we are almost at full capacity," said Raguž.

Pezo pointed out that last year was a 'solid cruise season' in which we were visited by 139 ships and 110,130 passengers.

"Given that there were none in 2020, we are satisfied with the result in 2021, or 30 percent of 2019, which is a good base for this season in which we plan to expect 70 percent of 2019," said Pezo.

He added that they are optimistic about the 2022 season.

"According to current announcements, in 2022, we expect 343 cruise ship arrivals and about 530 thousand passengers, which is fully in line with plans for sustainable tourism development in the destination. Therefore, the maximum number of passengers on cruises in Dubrovnik throughout 2022 is 4,000 passengers at a time, or an average of two ships at berth," Pezo explained.

Last year, city tours for cruise tourists looked quite different than in the pre-pandemic years. Last year, guests toured the city with strict measures; they could not enter restaurants, souvenir shops, or boutiques. There were pre-arranged spaces where the group could be, organized transportation, and passengers could not contact tourism staff without prior arrangement.

"On cruise ships, all passengers, as well as crew members, are vaccinated. Regarding the testing and application of epidemiological measures, the procedures are standardized in this segment of tourism," Pezo explained.

However, this year should return to the 'old normal' and the extinction of the 'bubble model' of cruising tourism.

"It seems that this is no longer the case as it was with the 'bubble model' and everything should be as it was before the pandemic," Raguž is optimistic.

However, he adds a dose of caution to the good news.

"There may be one decision in May, and then another in July, so it is still questionable. We hope that all these ships will come according to plan. Before the pandemic years, ships would come because there were huge penalties if they were a no-show, and now that’s no longer the case in a pandemic. It is enough to check out seven days in advance so that they are not punished in any way, so we need to take everything with some reserve. But, if last year we had five times fewer ships, and all the announced ones came, then I don't think we will come to that as the situation is much better in Croatia and the world than last year," concludes Raguž.

The Dubrovnik Port Authority is actively participating in the City of Dubrovnik project 'Respect the City', which seeks to ensure the sustainability of Dubrovnik tourism. As part of the project activities, the Ordinance on the conditions and criteria for the acceptance and allocation of berths for cruise ships in sustainable destination development was created.

"I especially emphasize that in 2022, an increase in traffic in the pre-season and post-season and a decrease in traffic in the peak months of the main tourist season, July and August, is expected. In this way, the cruise season has been extended from mid-March to the end of November and extends the tourist season, which I consider extremely important for the destination as a whole," said Pezo.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 31 January 2022

Hunt for Dubrovnik Seasonal Workers Begins, Chefs and Waiters Needed Most

January 31, 2022 - The hunt for Dubrovnik seasonal workers begins, with chefs and waiters most in demand for the 2022 tourist season. 

Hotel houses and caterers in Dubrovnik are looking to fill the missing workforce ahead of the 2022 tourist season, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

The labor market is flooded with tenders, workers are wanted outside Croatia, and no one wants to repeat last year's mistake when employment was delayed due to fear of closing the emitting markets. As a result, some seasonal workers have gone abroad, and some have been recruited in the northern Adriatic. But what are the salaries attracting labor?

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, the average salary in Croatia in November 2021 was HRK 7,333. However, the median net income was HRK 6,149, which means that half of the employees had a lower and half a higher income than that amount. Income in the so-called "real sector" in tourism has always been lower than the national average.

"The lowest salaries in tourism are paid to cleaners and kitchen support staff, around HRK 5,000 net per month. The average salary of a waiter in a Dubrovnik hotel is between HRK 6,000 and 7,500," says Dolores Lujić, commissioner of the Croatian Tourism and Hospitality Union. There is no data for restaurants, but given the high demand for waiters, she is convinced they are not lower. Receptionists are in the rank of waiters.

"Coefficients are generally not applied to them. So, for example, cooks and chefs in a top restaurant in Dubrovnik receive HRK 12 thousand or from HRK 15 thousand to 20 thousand," says Lujić.

According to the Croatian Employment Service advertisements, the most sought-after occupations are chefs and waiters. In Dubrovnik-Neretva County, 67 ads were opened for chefs and 52 for waiters in the entire area. Julijo Srgota, head of the Regional Office of the Croatian Employment Service (CES) in Dubrovnik, says that employers do not rest; advertisements arrive daily from the beginning of the year.

According to the Law on Foreigners, for some jobs, employers must obtain a positive opinion from the CES and the so-called "labor market test", and only then submit an application to the Ministry of the Interior for a residence and work permit for a foreign worker. On the other hand, the tourism sector can obtain work permits for workers from third countries without a labor market test, but only for up to 90 days during a calendar year.

In 2021, the CES office in Dubrovnik received 1,887 applications for employment of third-country nationals. In Dubrovnik-Neretva County, the CES issued 286 positive opinions last year, 10 are being processed, and 1,070 work permits have been issued. On the other hand, the institute refused 71 and suspended 361 work permits. The most significant number of requests related to jobs in construction and catering and tourism, such as building worker, cook, waiter, assistant chef, carpenter, bricklayer, valet, reinforcement worker, civil engineer, and facade worker. Since employers are obliged to enclose income data in their request for the opinion of the CES when hiring foreigners, it turns out that the average salary of a worker who came here from third countries to work as a chef is HRK 5506.9, waiter HRK 5462.6, and baker HRK 4631.8, while employers reported an average salary of HRK 4876 for a maid or HRK 4461 gross for a cleaner.

The average salary of employees in the Dubrovnik Tourist Board in 2019 was HRK 7,724 net. 

The County Chamber of Commerce performed a salary analysis in Dubrovnik-Neretva County companies for 2020. According to their data, the average salary in the provision of accommodation and food preparation services is HRK 4971 net, in trade HRK 4743, in transport HRK 6276, and in administrative and support service activities (90% being travel agencies) HRK 5166.

Compared to 2019, the most significant decline in monthly wages was recorded in accommodation services in tourism and food preparation (22 percent), and the smallest in transport, while in construction it increased by five percent and averaged HRK 4552.

"The highest average monthly net salary was paid in the supply of electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning, HRK 6,811. Paradoxically, the lowest average wage in the county is in the field of education, HRK 3,890.

This applies to private institutions and companies, not schools financed from the budget, but it says how we treat this activity. The data are exact, based on the data presented by entrepreneurs in their final financial reports to Fina," says Nikolina Trojić, President of the Chamber.

Commenting that the average income in the Dubrovnik area is lower than the state, Trojić noted that the coronavirus hit a large part of businesses much harder and that many employees depended on government support for job preservation (HRK 4,000).

Through the Dubrovnik Student Center, the student population, in most cases, works in tourism and catering. In 2021, 6878 contracts were signed through the student service. For comparison, in 2020, 4097 contracts were signed through student services, and in 2019, 10,364 contracts.

"Most often, hourly rates for students last year were between 30 and 35 kuna, and the most sought after jobs were waiters, support staff in catering, cleaners, maids, and other hotel housework," says Marko Potrebica, director of the Student Center Dubrovnik.

For more, check out our business section.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Dubrovnik Winter Festival Kicks Off This Saturday With a Magical Program

November 24, 2021 - This Saturday the program of the 8th Dubrovnik Winter Festival will begin with the lighting of the first Advent candle and the Christmas lighting in the city, which will last for 40 days.

As Turističke Priče reports, the program of the 8th Dubrovnik Winter Festival event will begin on Saturday, November 27, with the lighting of the first Advent candle. On the same day, the holiday lighting will be turned on, which will complete the magic of this year's holidays for 40 days, and there will be a concert by Nena Belan & Fiumens in front of the Church of St. Vlaho.

The center of events returns to Stradun where the people of Dubrovnik and their visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy six concerts. Thus, on December 11, the group Magazin will perform, and on December 29, Marko Škugor will sing. The celebratory atmosphere on the last day of 2021 will begin at noon when Dubrovnik bartenders will prepare New Year's cocktails in front of the City Café, and the rock New Year's Eve will be prepared by Silente and Vatra with spectacular fireworks at exactly midnight.

Traditionally, on January 1, a waltz will be danced on the Stradun with the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra, while the Rišpet klapa will take care of the evening entertainment on the first day of the new year on Stradun.

The charity concert for the Covid ward of the Dubrovnik General Hospital will be held on Monday, December 6, at the Valamar Lacroma Hotel. Music diva Tereza Kesovija, klapa Ragusa and Ženska klapa FA Linđo will perform accompanied by the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra. Under the direction of maestro Huta, the DSO will traditionally perform at the Dubrovnik Christmas Concert to be held on Sunday, December 19, and on that occasion soprano Valentina Fijačko, tenor Roko Radovan, vocals Goran Karan, Lucija Pećar and Nikoleta Ivanković and the klapa Ragusavecchia. As for the concerts on Stradun, entry will be possible upon presentation of the EU digital COVID certificate.

From 16 to 19 December, the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, in cooperation with Dubrovnik restaurants, will organize the traditional "Cod Days" when many restaurants will be able to taste the holiday gastronomic treat cod, prepared in various ways.

Saturday mornings will traditionally be marked by the performance of the Folklore Ensemble Linđo with free tourist sightseeing organized by the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, while Saturday afternoons will be reserved for also free, thematic guided tours called "Golden Age of Dubrovnik" organized by the Marin Držić Home.

For the youngest on Friday, December 10, the North Pole Station will open its doors in Lazareti, and Lapad Bay will be enriched this year by the "Colorful Winters" program as well as the Advent train, which will run its small passengers for free every day from 10 am to 4 pm. This year, too, there will be a visit by Moto Mrazova, who will arrive on Stradun on December 26. Last year's novelty Pop-up Kolenda bus will delight everyone who meets it, and passengers will delight the youngest with sweet gifts.

Dubrovnik kindergartens and primary schools will once again decorate the windows of the City as part of the Marin Držić Home project "Advent Calendar on Stradun", and all lovers of good photography, except for the "photo point" location under the Advent wreath on Luža, expect a new one in the Rector's Palace atrium.

Dubrovnik cultural institutions have prepared various contents for the Dubrovnik Winter Festival for all ages, from exhibitions, lectures, and workshops to plays, so the Marin Držić Theater will perform its favorite Nutcracker in November and December in the version of Lada Kaštelan.

All programs of the 8th Dubrovnik Winter Festival will take place in accordance with the current recommendations for the prevention of COVID-19 infection, published by the Croatian Institute of Public Health. To attend the events, it will be necessary to register in advance with the institution or organizer of the event that is planned to visit.

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

Thursday, 28 October 2021

Mayor Franković Discusses 2021 Dubrovnik Season, Wants to Keep 1-2 Cruisers Per Day

October 28, 2021 - Was the 2021 Dubrovnik season successful? Mayor Mato Franković weighs in on what worked and what needs to happen to maintain tourism in the Adriatic Pearl. 

Dubrovnik cannot say that this was a successful season, said Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Franković at a meeting with Dubrovnik-Neretva County hoteliers. The exchange of experiences from the previous season and the best possible preparations for the challenges that the next year and season will bring were the main topics of this meeting, organized by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce - Dubrovnik County Chamber, reports HRTurizam.

Mayor Franković called this season extremely demanding and especially thanked the members of the Tourist Board and Dubrovnik Airport who worked hard on its preparation even when it seemed that there would be no season.

"In marketing and communication activities, we achieved several flights that were sufficient for the needs of Dubrovnik and the surrounding area, given the open capacity. However, when we look at 44% of overnight stays in the City of Dubrovnik compared to 2019, it is not completely comparable because, for example, Valamar decided to keep most hotels closed, which I consider a bad business decision, but also a bad attitude towards Dubrovnik," Franković said at the meeting. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he added, played a significant role in facilitating the establishment of new air connections with the US and Russia, whose passengers were allowed to obtain one-day visas, which was very important for tourism. He also emphasized that the Croatian Government had allocated more than HRK 500 million for this area to help business people, which ensured that they maintained working.

Commenting on this year's season and the arrival of cruise ships, Franković highlighted how the city and the city economy need cruise ships guests, but with moderation.

“This year, we had the perfect measure, one to two cruisers a day. The city can handle that, and business people can feel it, from restaurants, cafes, guides, museums, walls to bus carriers. So we need cruisers, but not four at a time. So let us continue in this direction," said Franković and pointed out the significant increase in the arrival of private planes and guests of higher spending power.

According to the Dubrovnik mayor, what has been recorded in these few months is good in that it has given business people momentum to survive until the next season. Still, Dubrovnik cannot say how successful this season has been. Therefore, business people should be given support in providing information to the Prime Minister and the Government that the entire Croatian tourism cannot be viewed through the prism of Istria and that Dubrovnik as an air destination is in a much different position.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 11 October 2021

German TikToker Jackthebackpacker Complains About Croatian Coast

October the 11th, 2021 - German TikToker Jackthebackpacker has publicly complained about the Croatian coast, more precisely Dubrovnik and some of the prices and services there.

If there is one complaint that the Croatian coast gets each and every summer (one of the very few), it's that things are too expensive. While those of us who live here often disagree, because you quite simply need to find the more local and out of the way places and not expect a coffee on the UNESCO protected Stradun to be cheap, the comments keep on coming. The issue of parking continues to be a big one, and most people would agree it's problematic in most coastal cities.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, German TikToker Jackthebackpacker, who is otherwise from Berlin, recently arrived in Croatia, more precisely Dubrovnik, but he is not as enthusiastic as many other tourists are about Croatia's stunning southernmost city. He recorded a video and explained what disappointed him about Croatia's tourist Mecca.

Right at the beginning, he pointed out that he thinks this is one of those cities that just wants to get the last coin out of the pockets of tourists and not much else.

"An hour of parking is 5.5 euros, but well, they are kind, so they give you 24 hours for only 65 euros," he said ironically, adding that insanely high prices continue in other services, especially in restaurants and cafes, according to a report on the topic from Vecernji list.

“A portion of french fries is 5.5 euros, a hamburger costs 11 euros, which isn't so terrible, but then again... some coke costs 5.3 euros? What robbery,'' stated German TikToker Jackthebackpacker.

He also complained about the crowds in the city, which are unbearable and which make it impossible to visit everything you want to see.

“This is another big scam - if you want to walk along those famous walls, you have to pay as much as 26 euros! They also have a selfie museum where you can take pictures… Who would even want that?!''

In the end, he said that he what he did like was the prices of fast food restaurants and supermarkets because they are the only places with down to Earth prices - he paid three euros for a sandwich.

“I don’t want to be too negative, there are nice things here, but there are also better destinations. It's insanely expensive!'' concluded Jackthebackpacker.

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

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

No Beds in Dubrovnik: August Overbooked, High Hopes for September and October

August 10, 2021 - August looks much different in the Adriatic pearl than July, as there are currently no beds in Dubrovnik, apart from a few at the most expensive hotels. 

Dubrovnik, which before the pandemic in 2019 was the most visited city in Croatia with the highest number of tourist overnight stays, suffered huge losses last year due to the corona crisis. Since this is an air destination and there were almost no flights last year, Dubrovnik received the heaviest blow on the Adriatic, but the city is finally full of tourists again. The core of Dubrovnik now shows a much different picture, with full bars, long queues for restaurants, and thousands of people walking Stradun, reports Index.hr.

Official figures confirm this. According to eVisitor data from the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, from 1 January to 7 August 2021, 225,163 arrivals and 809,391 overnight stays in Dubrovnik were recorded. In the same period in 2020, 133,532 arrivals and 426,998 overnight stays were recorded, while in 2019, 870,819 arrivals and 2,615,588 overnight stays were recorded.

A large increase compared to last year was recorded in June when there were 40,038 arrivals and 135,895 overnight stays in Dubrovnik, or 201 percent more arrivals and 210 percent more overnight stays than in the same period last year, said the Dubrovnik Tourist Board. In July 2021, there were 115,323 arrivals and 422,679 overnight stays, i.e., 152 percent more arrivals and 131 percent more overnight stays than in the same period last year.

As for August, from August 1 to 7, 36,750 arrivals were recorded in Dubrovnik, and 149,607 overnight stays, which is 90 percent more tourist traffic than last year.

There are currently 21,038 tourists in the city of Dubrovnik, which is 74 percent of the total tourist traffic on the same day in 2019, and compared to 2020, 68 percent more.

"A significant increase and intensification of tourist traffic was recorded at the end of June and continued in July, and according to the announcements, we expect an increase in the number of arrivals and overnight stays in August. In addition, air traffic continued to increase in August. All carriers increased their operations traffic in August compared to the traffic in July, provided that the positive epidemiological picture continues. Given the absence of the pre-season, we hope that more intensive tourist traffic will continue during September and October to speed up the economic recovery," said the Dubrovnik Tourist Board to Index.

Ante Vlašić, a representative of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County Restaurant Association, told Index that since the second half of July, tourism in Dubrovnik picked up and that they are at about 70 percent of traffic compared to 2019. However, he also mentioned the problems they are facing now.

"As for the work of restaurants, those who can organize their team are doing well, but now a lack of workforce is an issue. Moreover, we are constantly afraid in the media about a possible break in the season, so many colleagues were afraid to hire more workers. Here, the local headquarters demanded the closure for another 15 days longer than the rest of the country. Hence, many seasonal workers decided to work in the north, i.e., in Istria and Kvarner. Also, flights were not running yet, and as the Headquarters defended our work, nothing sounded optimistic and good," Vlašić told Index.

He states that due to these reasons, Dubrovnik now does not have enough workers in the catering industry, so queues are being created to enter restaurants.

"Now, we can't even receive as many guests as we would like because we also have restrictions due to COVID-19. So at the moment, we are missing at least a third of the capacity that we should have, so I hope that these restrictions will be lifted as soon as possible. And we hope that the import of foreign labor will accelerate and we stop talking about closures. We are really scared in the south, last year we didn't have anything to do all winter, we were closed longer than the rest of Croatia," concluded Vlašić.

Index also spoke to representatives of family accommodation associations who said that Dubrovnik is fully booked and that only some of the most expensive rooms in the most exclusive hotels are still available. In contrast, some of the hotels did not even open this year.

"Split-Dalmatia County is the first, and Dubrovnik-Neretva County is the second county where more rooms are needed. There are currently no free nights; the latest information for Dubrovnik is that only a few superior hotel rooms remain free, where prices are high. That is now all that is free. Now we hope that this good season will last as long as possible so we can fill September as well, because only then can we talk about earnings. Last year we worked at a loss, and Dubrovnik was completely cut off as an air destination. I want them to work as long as possible. Last year there was no post-season, last year only expenses were covered, there was no income," said Barbara Marković, vice president of the Croatian Association of Family Accommodation.

She also states that it is unbelievable that some people are surprised every summer by the prices in Dubrovnik.

"Dubrovnik is a top destination, I worked a lot in France and Spain, and in some restaurants, the minimum consumption per person is 200 to 300 euros. So Croatia must also have a top destination like Dubrovnik, and what was written for minimum consumption in one place it is not unusual in the world," Marković said.

Nino Dubretić, from the Dubrovnik Accommodation Association, also told Index that the situation in Dubrovnik had changed drastically for the better since July 20.

"Dubrovnik is now sold out. There is a very high demand for accommodation in Dubrovnik, and at the same time, there are not many hotels on the market; you can find a maximum of one or two nights in a hostel or the most expensive rooms in luxury hotels. In addition, some hotels, such as Valamar's three hotels in Babin Kuk, have remained closed this season. On the other hand, some private renters have skipped the season out of caution, fearing corona, and some have turned to long-term rentals. At the same time, some new quality renters appeared, but when everything is added up, it turns out that we are in a small deficit in terms of accommodation capacity compared to 2019. On the islands near Dubrovnik, hotels remained mostly closed because there is no labor force," Dubretić told Index.

He states that the prices from 2019 have returned due to such high demand.

"There has been an overbooking of the destination. By August 20, our occupancy is very high, and we also receive reservations for September and October, and next year, so the situation is slowly normalizing. They are now in trend given the situation and last-minute bookings. Previously, the guest would have booked at least a month in advance and now book a week in advance. Guests decide to travel late because they are waiting to see what will happen. But anyway, now the situation is great, and we hope that it will remain the same in the off-season," concludes Dubretić.

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

Friday, 6 August 2021

Cele Dubrovnik Introduces 300 kn Minimum Spend for Table Reservations

August 6, 2021 - An uncommon rule was introduced by the owner of Cele Dubrovnik Gourmet & Lounge, where guests are warned they must spend 300 kuna minimum to reserve a table. While this is commonplace in many destinations worldwide, it's not something Croatians are accustomed to... yet. 

The fact is that the owners have the right to set rules, just as guests have the right to agree with something or not, and look for a place where they can sit without restrictions. However, it was precisely restrictions such as booking a table with a minimum spend in the evening that revolted one Dubrovnik local, reports Jutarnji List.

"There were four of us; we wanted to sit in front of Cele for a drink. I looked at the terrace, all reserved. At that moment, guests got up from one table, so I asked the waitress if it is free now. She said no, the table is reserved, but the minimum consumption is 300 kuna," the Dubrovnik local said.

She was particularly annoyed that four foreigners sat down at the table immediately afterward, and the waitress just removed the reservation sign. "Maybe it was a foreign company that made a reservation," the source added with sarcasm. 

"It's not a pleasant feeling when the waitress weighs you and says in such a tone that 'it's not for you, the minimum consumption here is 300 kuna'. Worst of all, if the four of us could sit down, we would have had at least four drinks, which would surely have been more than 300. This way, with a sarcastic smile, I just turned around and left. In principle, I would never sit there again.

People are really full of it. I rarely go to the City during the year, and even when I do, I can’t have a drink anywhere. Very rude," the local added, who noticed the same practice of reserved tables in the surrounding restaurants.

Last year, when there were no foreigners, these restaurants relied on locals, and now that the season has started, they are no longer worthy.

"Will they now wonder if you are from Germany, America, or Austria, so if you are, you can sit down, and the others can't? God forbid you are Romanian or Czech. Then the local is better. Really funny," concluded the source. 

Jutarnji asked the owner of Cele, Tomislav Ivušić, for a comment, who said that the principle of booking a table is still a matter of business in a private facility.

"It's the same everywhere in the world; only Croatians haven't learned about it. When there is a high demand at night, tables are reserved. You can’t sit at a table with two juices for three hours. We introduced reservations solely because of that, and not to assess whether someone can spend or not," explains Ivušić and adds that the owner has the right to say that the tables in his facility are reserved. 

"This rule is on weekends after nine in the evening. Depending on where you sit, you can book a table if your minimum spend is 300 to 500 kuna. I don't know what's in dispute here? That’s the rule; if it doesn’t suit someone, they don’t have to sit there. You can't occupy the whole table for 30 kuna for hours because you have learned to sit and watch who passes by on Stradun. That happens nowhere in the world," Ivušić said.

He was asked if this rule applies exclusively on the weekend.

"Every day is a weekend for us now. After 9 pm, all tables are reserved, and with the reservation, there is a minimum spend," says Ivušić.

"Why doesn't anyone comment on how every morning for the last ten years Croatians can enjoy hot drinks for 10 kuna at Cele? And someone is offended because imagine, they can't sit on Stradun and watch passers-by for three hours drinking tea or coffee?

This is not to belittle someone as a guest. We have such a rule in the evening, and it is normal everywhere in the world. May all of us come to this type of business because only then will we be able to talk about real tourism," the Dubrovnik caterer concluded. 

For more, follow our lifestyle section.

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