Monday, 3 October 2022

Sabine Engelhardt Chooses Brac Agriculture over Architecture

October the 3rd, 2022 - Sabine Engelhardt is a German architect who came to live in Croatia thirteen years ago, choosing the Central Dalmatian island of Brac as her home on which she switched her life of architecture for a life of agriculture.

As Morski/Blanka Kufner writes, Sabine Engelhardt is the owner of the eco estate Gea Viva which has been entirely designed according to permaculture principles. Her goal in life is not to use more than the planet can handle and she imagines the future of the world we live in as a multitude of small but strong local communities where people live self-sustainably.

The German national who moved to Croatia thirteen years ago is an architect and carpenter by profession, and while she had some level of contact with agriculture in her childhood, she never went on to have any sort of employment in it as an adult. She considers it illogical that in Germany, for example, they save on food, which is essential for health, and spend an awful lot of money on cars. For years she worked as an architect in Great Britain, but at one point she felt a strong need for change and decided to create her new life near Milna on the island of Brac, Agroklub writes.

The permaculture way of life has been attractive to her for a long time because the planet we live on is important to her, and she was also involved in eco-architecture. Her main idea was to organise a meeting place for people who think in a similar way, and agriculture, she says, somehow developed along the way.

''Permaculture is very close to the traditional approach to agriculture because it encourages a variety of plants, working with your hands, and a circular economy. Some things are more modern, others are very close to the traditional way of life,'' Sabine Engelhardt explained, readily admitting that agriculture on Brac is a challenge.

Since there's no connection to the water supply, you can't really base much on the production of vegetables, but there are plenty of fig trees and other fruit trees that she planted, as well as 180 olive trees. She realised that it is more profitable for her to produce olive brine than olive oil, and she also creates massage oils, macerates, creams, salves and soaps. On her family farm (OPG), which spans a little more than one hectare, he has various medicinal plants from which she makes things.

''The immortelle one is excellent for injuries and burns, and the mint one it great for neck massages,'' she revealed. As an interesting product, she pointed out a mixture of dry herbs that are lit for a pleasant smell in the home. It is particularly important for her that consumers become aware of how much power they do actually have and that it is important what they choose to spend their cash on, and she strongly advocates for supporting local producers.

''It's important for me to be able to spend time out in nature, not in the office. It's a great asset to be able to organise your day as you wish, even though there is a lot of work to do,'' said Sabine, admitting that it isn't easy because she has to take care of several animals - a donkey, chickens, a dog and a cat, and all of the plants, so she can't "just go somewhere".

Regardless of the many obligations and the great effort invested, Sabine Engelhardt says that the satisfaction she gets from creating her own products is far more valuable than anything else. This year, she had a lot of figs and tomatoes, but the potatoes were a complete failure. She added that this year she grew lentils for the first time, struggled with peeling them, and in the end only got five tablespoons. However, with a smile, her quinces produce well almost every season. She doesn't earn much from farming, she gets a little more from the campsite she runs and the events it offers. She doesn't lead a luxurious life and constantly needs to invest more and more.

She likes life in Dalmatia, as well as the fact that people here know how to enjoy the little things. When she first arrived on the island, there were still plenty of people who could pass on knowledge about traditional agriculture to her and she regrets that young people mostly run away from agriculture because there are fewer and fewer old people with experience to gain wisdom from.

Sabine also resents how absolutely everything is aimed at tourism, and the construction of yet another new resort is also planned near her property.

''I feel that big changes are coming and that people will need to focus more on food production and self-sustainability,'' concluded Sabine Engelhardt.

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

Saturday, 17 September 2022

Popular German TV Chef Johann Lafer Spends Time on Istrian Peninsula

September the 17th, 2022 - Popular German TV chef Johann Lafer has been spending time on the gorgeous Istrian peninsula as it seeks to position itself as one of the most exciting gastronomic destinations in all of Europe.

As Morski writes, one of the most prominent television chefs in the entire German-speaking region, Johann Lafer, recently visited Istria. During his stay, an extensive editorial photo production was carried out, which will be presented on as many as thirteen pages of the prestigious Lafer magazine this month.

At the end of July in Singapore, he created new menus for Singapore Airlines as one of the world's best airlines, which the German television company ARD reported to an audience of millions during a special one-hour show during the primetime evening programme. In August, German TV chef Johann Lafer visited Istria to thoroughly research the area and its rich and varied gastronomic scene.

The star chef, who, among other things, has been awarded multiple Michelin stars, is considered to be among the most respected and highest paid chefs in all of Germany and Austria. His visit to Istria without any fees was arranged by Dr. Wolfgang Neuhuber from ART Redaktionsteam, a public relations agency, a long-time partner of Istria, and the Tourist Board of Istria County.

''Johann Lafer is simply a passionate chef who takes a lot of delight from cooking, wine and other top quality products. Together with the director of the Istria County Tourist Board, Denis Ivosevic, we tried to present all the faces of the gastronomic destination of Istria,'' said Neuhuber.

During the three-day research tour, Johann Lafer got better acquainted with various Istrian specialties, from baking to fine dining and classic wines, as well as typical Istrian delicacies. Of course, there was no shortage of tasting prosciutto, truffles and Istria's well known extra virgin olive oil.

Along with German TV chef Johann Lafer, Patricia Brohm, the longtime editor-in-chief of the prestigious Gault Millau Germany guide, was present, as well as the top photographer from Hamburg, David Maupile, with Dr. Wolfgang Neuhuber working as the presenter. Johann Lafer was delighted with what he discovered and has already booked his next private holiday in Croatia to "get to know even more of this fascinating country''.

What is most important and represents a huge success for Istrian tourism is the extensive cover story about Istria as a gastronomic destination, which is due to be published in the autumn edition of the prestigious Lafer magazine. The magazine belongs to the elite publisher Jahreszeiten-Verlag (Feinschmecker, Merian), and it is estimated that the advertising value of this free reportage for Istria stands at about 230,000 euros, but it will bring inestimable value to the image of Istria and its destinations.

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

Thursday, 1 September 2022

25% More Overnight Stays Realised by German Tourists in Campsites

September the 1st, 2022 - German tourists have always been extremely populous and very important for the Croatian tourism sector, and there has been a significant 25% increase in the amount of overnight stays realised by German visitors in Croatian campsites.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, the Republic of Croatia is very well recognised over on the German market for its rich camping offer and the country is one of the absolute favourite foreign destinations for German tourists when it comes to this particular segment.

German guests have realised about 860,000 arrivals in various Croatian campsites up and down the country this year and achieved about 6.5 million overnight stays so far, which represents growth of about 25 percent when compared to the same period back in the pre-pandemic, record year of 2019.

''The continuation of these extremely positive trends from German tourists and the German market is also expected during the post-season,'' said Romeo Danghicchio, the director of the Croatian National Tourist Board's (HTZ/CNTB) representative office in Germany, on the occasion of the participation of HTZ at the Caravan Salon Fair, which is being held in the City of Dusseldorf until September the 4th, 2022.

The aforementioned German event is otherwise one of the world's leading fairs of this type, whose visitors have the opportunity to view the offer of a total of 736 exhibitors, whether they are popular destinations or a wide range of vehicles and all kinds of camping equipment.

In addition to the HTZ as the main exhibitor, the Kvarner Tourist Board, the Plitvice Lakes National Park, the Camping Association of Croatia and Valamar, are also presenting their respective offers at the fair.

In Croatia this year, faithful German tourists have realised more than 2.6 million arrivals and over 19 million overnight stays, which is impressive growth of about 15 percent compared to the record year of 2019.

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

Friday, 1 July 2022

Germans Purchasing Adriatic Property en Masse, Then Renting it Out

July the 1st, 2022 - Germans have been purchasing Adriatic property en masse, and then renting it out. While this trend is less than satisfying for many Croats living on the coast themselves, the Germans engaging in this are getting quick returns on their investments this way.

As Morski writes, more and more Germans are snapping up Adriatic property along the Croatian coastline and then renting it out. Two such Germans sat down to talk about their experiences with builders, taxes and processes.

Jens and his family from the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg have fulfilled their dream by purchasing Adriatic property. They now own a luxury villa with pool and gorgeous sea views. It all started with a joint holiday of his family and his sister's family in beautiful Istria. They really liked this region, but the rent for a large enough and well-equipped villa with a pool was quite high. When they started calculating the figures, they decided it would be more worthwhile for them to own their own house. They searched for a long time, but couldn't find something they loved, writes Deutsche Welle.

Eventually they discovered a beautiful construction site on the edge of a fishing village in the south of Istria with a magnificent view of the sea, and they decided to build their own house. "It was simpler than we thought it would be," said Jens, 53. He says the price of construction materials is about the same as it is over in Germany, but that labour is still significantly cheaper. As such, last year they finished building their villa with a pool, and this year they already have their first paying guests coming.

In order to facilitate it all, they took out a construction loan in Germany and they plan to repay it by renting the house out during periods when they aren't using it themselves.

An interesting tax model

Oliver, 55, from Bavaria, decided to "build, not rent" using the same model.

''It was actually somewhat accidental. From Italy we went further towards Istria and there we saw some truly beautiful cities, the crystal clear sea and stunning clean beaches. That immediately won me over,'' recalled this German. After that, he went on, they spent a couple of years in the south of Istria and decided to buy a house there. But they, like Jens' family, couldn't find anything suitable, so they decided that it was better for them to build their Adriatic property from scratch as well, and do it all according to their own personal wishes and needs.

A few years ago, they found a large construction site, and the original intention was to build their Adriatic property for their own needs. But on a plot with a fantastic sea view, the construction of a larger facility ended up being planned.

I asked the salesman, "What am I supposed to do with a family of three on 500 square feet?" and he said, "Well, build some apartments and rent them out!" And so a larger building was created in which his two-level private apartment with an imaginatively decorated pool and three other apartments for rent are all located.

''I founded a company in Croatia and thus got back 25 percent of the VAT when building the facility,'' he explained. He already has a company in Germany for the sale of machines for industrial plants, so he then started selling through his Croatian company.

''Everything we did through Croatia, all the way to the motor boat that belongs to the company, these are definitely some interesting tax models,'' said this German entrepreneur.

He admits that renting out purchased Adriatic property is worthwhile, but added: "In the meantime, it has become difficult to rent something out in Croatia if you don't have a swimming pool, because the offer is very large. And really, all over Istria, a bit like like mushrooms after the rain, it's mostly luxury villas with swimming pools that keep on popping up, despite the drastic increase in construction costs. A pool has become important if you want to make a good living," Oliver explained.

Most of the foreign buyers in Croatia are German nationals

Jens and Oliver are just two of thousands of Germans who own real estate across the Republic of Croatia, and there are more and more of them coming and doing the same every day. According to recently released data from the Tax Administration, foreigners bought 9,514 Croatian properties last year, up 50 percent from a year earlier, and this still isn't the complete data for that period. Germans, Austrians and the neighbouring Slovenes buy the most. Real estate sales to German citizens rose by as much as 70 percent last year.

Many foreigners buy for their own needs, but there are more and more of them who come and invest their money in this way. Renting out Adriatic property has obviously become a lucrative business in Croatia, and after the coronavirus crisis, tourism is finally booming again, rental costs for both apartments and houses are rising, and taxes are relatively favourable for foreigners as well.

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

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

German Portal BR24 Warns German Tourists of High Croatian Prices

June the 28th, 2022 - The German portal BR24 has warned would-be German tourists of the currently ''high Croatian prices'' as ongoing inflation continues to pinch pockets and tighten belts.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the German portal Bayerische Rundfunk 24 has stated: ''Whether it's a city trip to Dubrovnik or a beach holiday on Krk - tourists must be prepared for higher Croatian prices.''

Back in 2019 - before the global coronavirus crisis - 2.88 million inhabitants of Germany spent their summers here in the Republic of Croatia, and travel agencies in Germany are announcing that this year, the number of visiting Germans could exceed 2019's figures, reports BR24.

However, the aforementioned German portal also warned its fellow citizens about high Croatian prices as a result of inflation, which amounts to almost ten percent, and they say that the price of everyday basic items in stores is now even higher, RTL reports.

“It seems that in some cases, the prices have remained the same, but the packaging has become smaller. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), the prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages in May 2022 increased by 15.2 percent compared to the same month last year,'' stateed BR24 when explaining high Croatian prices.

They also say that the huge increase in prices is noticeable in the hospitality industry. Thus, they state that before the coronavirus pandemic, a beer in a pub in the City of Zagreb cost twelve kuna, or about 1.60 euros, and that German visitors will now have to pay 19 kuna for it.

"In places and islands popular with tourists, such as Split, Dubrovnik or Rovinj, the prices are much higher. Lunch for a family of four can cost 700 kuna and more, which is the equivalent of about 93 euros. According to the Croatian Bureau of Statistics, hotel prices have also risen. They were more expensive by more than twelve percent this May compared to May 2021,'' writes BR24.

In the end, BR24 warned the Germans to be careful when exchanging money, more precisely switching euros to the Croatian kuna.

“You can try to save at least some money. Because, depending on where you exchange euros for kuna, the exchange rate varies. As a rule, exchange rates in exchange offices are much cheaper than when you withdraw money from ATMs,'' they say.

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

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Germans Looking at Croatian Business Climate More Optimistically

June the 14th, 2022 - German business owners are beginning to look at the Croatian business climate a bit more optimistically than they have done so far, which is good news for Croatian companies.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, a mere three percent of German companies operating here in the Republic of Croatia are concerned about their own businesses, which is a better result than in previous years and better than in the rest of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), where in this year's German-Croatian Chamber of Industry and Commerce research (AHK), nine percent of respondents rate their business opportunities as bad.

In the seventeen years that this survey has been being conducted here in Croatia, this year, as pointed out by AHK President Thomas Sichla, the largest number of companies said they would re-elect Croatia for business, accounting for 84 percent among a total of 105 respondents. This means that German business owners are clearly seeing the Croatian business climate in a far better light than they had done in the past.

When compared to the pre-pandemic year of 2019, that's a thirty percent better result. The current economic situation here in Croatia is also assessed as the best so far, only 26 percent see it as worse, while in 2021, that share stood at a rather unimpressive 50, and in 2019 - at 61 percent.

For the first time ever, soaring energy prices and the lack of skilled labour currently available in the country are cited as the biggest risk to a company's operations in Croatia. Thomas Sichla explained the need and importance of a predictable tax system for doing stable business.

One of the biggest challenges this year will be hiring skilled and qualified employees, and according to the survey, 42 percent of companies expect to increase their numbers, which is more than in previous years.

Half of those companies intend to solve the problem of the shortage of workers through further employee education, and 39 percent by increasing the wages they're willing to pay their employees to above the market average. For next year, AHK is expecting positive effect on Croatia following its entry into the Eurozone, as it will facilitate business operations and reduce currency risks.

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

Sunday, 22 May 2022

German Lurssen Group Opens Rijeka Engineering Centre

May the 22nd, 2022 - The German Lurssen Group has opened its Rijeka engineering centre, which will come very handy when it comes to the development of ideas and design.

As Morski writes, the German Lurssen Group, which specialises in the design and production of luxury megayachts, has opened the doors of its brand new Rijeka engineering centre. It will develop ideas and design some of the most modern and expensive vessels in the world there, and after the Rijeka engineering centre, the German group has announced further investments.

Since entering the Croatian market just a couple of years ago, the German Lurssen Group has become one of the most frequently mentioned names in all of Kvarner when it comes to investments. It first became the majority owner of the largest hotel chain in Opatija - Liburnia Riviera Hotels, and then chose Rijeka as a centre of excellence for the development and design of vessels, hence the new centre.

''This is a city in which we've found highly motivated and quality employees. This is where we see great potential in terms of engineering, as well as the development of tourism,'' said Peter Lurssen, the co-owner of the Lurssen Group.

Hundreds of Croatian experts are already working on projects that represent the future of the maritime industry, according to a report from HRT.

''Our people aren't heading abroad, they're staying here and carrying out high value-added jobs as parts of international teams and we believe that this is a great thing for our region,'' said Teuta Duletic, Executive Director of the brand new Lurssen Design Centre in Kvarner.

Yet another capital investment in this sense can also be boasted of, as in cooperation with ACI, they're also working on the construction of a nautical port, worth more than 360 million kuna in total.

''These are significant investments and will certainly affect the quality of the nautical offer in Croatia. We've already outlined this through the strategy of sustainable tourism development,'' emphasised Nikolina Brnjac, Minister of Tourism.

''Over the next five years, the face of the City of Rijeka will change, especially when viewed from the sea. Let's look at this investment as an investment in highly educated people, so it's definitely something good that is happening in Rijeka,'' said Marko Filipovic, Mayor of Rijeka.

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

Saturday, 21 May 2022

German Desire for Croatian Holidays Enormous According to Tour Operators

May the 21st, 2022 - German desire for Croatian holidays as we approach the height of the summer season is enormous according to happy tour operators who are glad to be back to normal after two unstable and depressing pandemic-dominated years.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, record inflation and the ongoing war in Ukraine don't seem to be having any particular affect the desire of Germans to finally book their Croatian holidays, reports Deutsche Welle. Multiple tour operators are happily reporting a large influx of summer arrangements, and the number of Croatian holidays sold to German tourists already exceeds the figures that prevailed before the coronavirus crisis broke out in Europe at the beginning of 2020.

Another trend is noticeable among German tourists in 2022, it seems the people looking for a holiday this year are no longer looking at the price as much as they did before, and are also buying arrangements from the more expensive sector.

"People are looking for longer holidays in better hotels," said the largest German provider of travel arrangements, TUI.

"After a long period of giving up travel and tourism, Croatia is at the top of the German wish list. Even strong inflation and rising prices aren't negatively affecting this trend,'' said Norbert Fiebig, president of the German Tour Operators Association (DRV). It seems, according to Fiebig, that Germans are no longer looking at every euro they might spend this year when planning a holiday. Despite the general increase in prices, trips this year aren't significantly more expensive than they were last year.

Stable prices - for now

Many tourist companies leased hotel and transport contingents at the prices stated last year, which explains the stable prices. But the closer the summer season gets, the more expensive the arrangements get.

“This year, those looking for bargains could end up surprised,'' believes TUI director Fritz Joussen.

According to a survey commissioned by the Bavarian Tourist Board (BZT), 69 percent of those surveyed this year intend to go somewhere on holiday regardless of the situations which might play out, so they won't be spending their time off at home as was mostly the case during the coronavirus pandemic. One third of the respondents who haven't yet decided where to go on holiday, still state the price as the basic criteria when choosing an arrangement or destination.

Croatia remains one of the favourite destinations of German travellers

Those who decide on a spontaneous flight to their destination must in any case count on higher fuel prices this summer, which have risen significantly since the start of the war in Ukraine. Price increases have already been announced by companies such as Lufthansa and KLM.

The FTI Group says that after the start of the war in Ukraine, there was a delay in the purchase of tickets, but in the meantime the market has very much recovered.

"Reservations for the entire period from Easter to autumn for people's usual favourite tourist destinations exceed the figures from pre-pandemic times," said FTI Director Ralph Schiller. This, in particular, applies, he said, to destinations such as Croatia, Greece, Turkey and Egypt.

“Over the summer, we expect a big rush to these destinations so not everyone will get to their desired place on the plane,” Schiller says. Alltours reports similarly. They are talking about an "enormous increase in demand" that could exceed the demand from pre-pandemic 2019 by 40 to 80 percent.

Packages containing luxury hotels and offers are especially sought after. All companies emphasise that the increase in kerosene prices will not affect the prices of purchased arrangements. But despite huge demand, the turnover of travel companies overall still lies below the level of the last year before the pandemic (2019).

"Despite a very good summer, we still aren't expecting to achieve the total annual turnover from the period before the pandemic," said the umbrella organisation DRV. As for 2023, the industry is cautiously optimistic, despite the unpredictable development of the situation around the war in Ukraine, as well as ongoing inflation.

For more, check out our travel section.

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Expulsion of Germans From Krndija at End-WWII Commemorated

ZAGREB, 11 May 2022 - Vertreibungstag was observed in Krndija near Đakovo on Wednesday in memory of the day at the end of WWII when the Partisans expelled the majority German population and turned the village into a labour camp for villagers who had not left their homes and other members of the German community.

A prayer was said at the memorial at the local cemetery, wreaths were laid and candles lit. The commemoration was organised by the Đakovo branch of the Danube Swabians Association and was also attended by representatives of the City of Đakovo.

Parish priest Đurica Pardon recalled that 77 years ago today the expelled Germans left their homes in Krndija, whose population then was almost 2,500.

The villagers who stayed ended up in a grave at the local cemetery alongside many others from the Đakovo area and other parts of Croatia who had been brought to the Krndija labour camp, he said.

Pardon spoke of the horrors the inmates went through and said that none of the Danube Swabians who lived in Krndija until the end of WWII ever came back.

Today the village has 40 inhabitants and the church has been reconstructed, which the Partisans shelled and later used as an artificial fertiliser warehouse.

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

Sunday, 8 May 2022

Croatian IT Company Q Develops App for German Driving Test

May the 8th, 2022 - The Croatian IT company Q has come together with the German startup Streamways and developed a mobile and web app for German driving school students to pass part of their driving tests.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Croatian IT company Q, in cooperation with the German startup Streamways, has developed a mobile and web application that will help the younger generations and students of German driving schools to more easily master their driving theory exams. The solution was launched back in early February and is currently being used by over 30 driving schools in Germany.

The founders of Streamways - Christian Karstoft and Magnus Werner - came up with the idea while taking their own driving tests, when they noticed that the driving test system in Germany was very much outdated. Students of driving schools had to solve exactly 1,300 questions prescribed by the German state, as well as successfully pass the simulation of the exam five times in order to even get the right to take the theory exam.

This pair of young founders saw the space and opportunity to build a more modern application which would be more youth-friendly, and as such, they turned to the Croatian IT company Q. Q, in collaboration with Streamways, has created a platform that makes driving exams much easier and more fun. With it, the whole process doesn't look like learning, but instead a game, and each student can choose the pace at which they want to learn. An additional advantage is that through it, driving instructors can monitor the progress of their students.

“When creating this application, the main challenge was to increase the motivation and interest of students in learning, but also to find a way to engage them to master driving in a more interesting way. Therefore, the focus of our project was to empower young people to feel freer while gaining knowledge through the best digital educational experience,'' said Q CEO Filip Ljubic.

Streamways is available to German driving schools, and this new web and mobile edition is also available to students. Each lesson has its own three-minute video in which it explains to the participants the theory part of traffic regulations and rules, often referred to as the highway code. Streamways has optimised the application to motivate users to continuous learning, which is why they solve a quiz related to the material after each lesson. The Croatian IT company Q worked on the design and branding of the platform, patenting the desktop and mobile version of the app for students, as well as the desktop version for driving schools and administrators.

“The applications that were previously available to users weren't developed for young people who have grown up with digital technologies. In Germany, over a million people take their driving tests every year, and mastering the material through the application is mandatory. That's why we decided to develop a solution that would help end users find it easier to master the theory part of the test,'' added Christian Karstoft Madsen, co-founder and CEO of Streamways.

The Croatian IT company Q is otherwise continuing to grow its business across a variety of key markets, after the company was selected as one of the five finalists in this year’s EY Entrepreneur of the Year award. In addition to startups such as the German Streamways, the company also collaborates with already established brands such as Novartis, The Times, Manpower Group and many others.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

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