Friday, 21 December 2018

Koprivnica to Become Location for Future of Pyrotechnics in Croatia

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 20th of December, 2018, as a group, Orion achieves revenue of about 6 million euro and is constantly investing in security, consumer education, and further innovation. Owing to the constant investment and care of their business, Koprivnica is set to get a huge cash injection, and new work positions are set to be opened.

Poslovni Dnevnik talked with Damir Šimunic, the founder and owner of Koprivnica's Orion, about the situation and the development of the market for pyrotechnics in Croatia and the wider region, the business plans of the company, and the latest investment in Podravina.

In which countries is Orion the market leader?

As a company, we've existed for more than twenty years and the word ''leader'' carries with it a huge responsibility. If you think about where the Orion Group does business under that [title], most of it is done in neighbouring countries, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. In Croatia, we've established a serious business system based on the professionalism and an innovative approach with pyrotechnics, which today, primarily, is mainly in the entertainment world. Over the years, we've become the leading specialised company for producing and distributing entertainment pyrotechnics, fireworks, and stage effects. As a company, we're oriented towards the development of new products in order to meet the needs of a more demanding market.

How did you manage to break even on Western markets such as Austria or Belgium?

In Croatia, there is a fairly regulated market for pyrotechnics, because we're part of the European Community, but on the western markets the laws are very rigorous and without the required quality [standard] you can't be competitive. Foreign distributors have recognised our product quality as well as our distribution service, so we started working with Austria and Belgium over time. All our pyrotechnics have CE certificates, which is the European standard today, and a prerequisite for sales on the EU market.

Why did you decide to go into the world of pyrotechnics?

Like all kids, I liked pyrotechnics during my childhood and over time, that game turned into work. In those years, especially during the 1990s, the pyrotechnic market was not regulated and as a company we were actively involved in drafting regulations and then developing the market in accordance with those regulations. After that, from a small family business, I managed to create a serious company that employs over 120 people during the sales season and is developing new products that are successfully marketed every year.

When and how did you become the market leader in Croatia?

We started with the sale of pyrotechnics back in 1993, first as a distributor for foreign brands and then as independent importers from China. Of course, there was no serious and well-organised sales system before, because not even the legal regulations were defined, but today, our company has the most selling points in Croatia. According to the number of sales outlets, ie chains we supply, and according to the number of our seasonal sales outlets, popularly known as pyroshops, we've been a distributor since 2009 in Croatia. We've been seriously present in the region since 2006, and in 2012 we took the lead. In Croatia, we supply a total of over 4,000 sales outlets.

If you do, how do you influence the development of the local community?

Like every responsible company, we work very closely with our local community. We're sponsors and donors for many activities and events and we're involved in a large number of humanitarian, cultural, sport and social events both in Croatia and in the region. So, within our capabilities, we help local communities realise their projects.

Is the law on sales in Croatia too high? And what is it like in the rest of the EU?

The law has set rules which apply to everyone. The provisions of the law primarily protect consumers and users. In that, there will always be those who are satisfied and those who are less satisfied with the prescribed rules, but we didn't invent the rules. A major problem is in controlling and enforcing the law due to a short sale period. We have always supported the more transparent [way of doing] business, and as such, a clearer and more concrete law, because only a market of that kind can function properly.

How many sales outlets (pyroshops) do you have in Croatia and beyond?

In Croatia, we have 260 of our own pyroshops and about 100 distributors. In other countries in the region, we have several of our own pyroshops and we serve over 350 sales outlets. But as time passes and given the fact that we're introducing some modern forms of marketing into our system, the story is expanding rapidly and in three years we expect to expand on the regional market.

What are your specialty stores and your distributors' stores?

Specialised pyrotechnic shops must obtain approval from the Ministry of Interior to conduct retail sales of pyrotechnic items. The conditions for such an approval include staff training, fire prevention, security protocols, anti-burglary protection and a variety of other conditions that ensure safe storage and the safe sale of entertainment pyrotechnics. Pyrotechnics is fun, but to be able to sell them, we as distributors have to meet a number of legal and safety rules.

How much is your annual income?

Orion as a group earns about 6 million euro in revenue depending on the season and on the market conditions. Of course, as a company, it's in our interest to grow, and every year we're investing additional resources into security, the education of our consumers, as well as the innovations that are indispensable if we want to keep up with modern world trends.

How do your sales go outside of the main season?

Out of the main sales season, that is, from January to November, a smaller part of the range is sold. Mostly specialised [items] for purposes such as naval pyrotechnics and rescue pyrotechnics. There are, of course, party pyrotechnics (confetti, cake fountains, sprays etc.), professional pyrotechnics and special effects that are always sought throughout the year, especially for some festivals, concerts and the like. We also produce a great number of fireworks and stage effects during the tourist season, and there are more and more wedding pyrotechnics which are always attractive.

What innovations in pyrotechnics are you introducing?

We're constantly working on the development and improvement of the safety-technical properties of pyrotechnics so that we can make our customers as safe as possible. We have two recognised patents. A more secure rocket system, a worldwide-recognised patent, followed by a patented security system for firecrackers and innovation called PyroBlock. Pyroblock is the latest technology for box fireworks that we have launched on the market. Now our fireworks are even better and even safer, so that users can enjoy their luxurious effects and our spectacular fireworks.

What are the trends in sales that today's customers look for the most?

As information and education grows alongside the fans of entertainment pyrotechnics, consumer trends and tastes are changing. Once upon a time, firecrackers made up 80 percent of sales, while today they account for less than 40 percent, and consumers are increasingly using our fireworks, rockets, fountains and Roman candles. Naturally, firecrackers will always be popular, but the trends are changing, and interesting new items are always expected from us as the market leaders.

How are you approaching the younger generation - events, collaboration with YouTubers and influencers?

We use all permitted channels for communication with our consumers. Today, we live in the digital age, so we've adapted to this trend which will soon become our strongest communication medium with the youth. Currently, social networking is in fashion, YouTubers and influencers closely monitor what's happening in this product segment. What is in and what is not in is created today by the media of the younger generation who capture everything on their vlogs and videos. Through these channels, we primarily want to act educationally and affirmatively to give the younger generation better quality information with an emphasis placed on security and regulation. Education through entertainment has always been effective, it is today just as it was before. Some things never change.

What are your business plans for the future?

The list of plans is time-consuming and is solely related to the development and production of safer and more quality products. We're an entertainment industry and our goal is to have safe entertainment successfully implemented. This is possible only by investing constantly in infrastructure, technology, equipment, and our expert associates. For this reason, we're able to announce the construction and expansion of the regional distributive centre in Koprivnica, and thus create a new need for workers. The planned value of investment in the distribution center and storage systems amounts to 1.5 million euro, and it will be the future of pyrotechnics in Croatia and in the region. This business policy has provided us with a leading position in the region as consumers have recognised our work and the effort that we invest into our products.

Mišel Jakšić, the mayor of Koprivnica stated that he welcomes every good entrepreneurial idea and investment, and expressed his desire to encourage young people to stay in the city.

"As the Mayor of Koprivnica, I'm proud of the economy of this city that we're increasingly developing every day. The business zones which are expanding, and the entrepreneurial incubator, where more and more young people are ready to start their own businesses, is our vision and desire to provide a decent life for young people The cooperation with Orion as the leader of the fun-pyrotechnic market is exceptional, and every year Orion sponsors our events as a responsible company in the local community. As Mayor of Koprivnica, I will always support all the important, however big or small entrepreneurial endeavors so that our young people remain here in Koprivnica, and so that employment gets as high as possible,'' the mayor concluded.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and Made in Croatia pages for more information on Croatian companies, products and services, as well as doing business in Croatia, and the overall business and investment climate.

 

Click here for the original article by PD i VL native tim

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Startups in Croatia: Estonian Entrepreneur Gives Croatia Advice

Entrepreneurs and startups in Croatia often have a difficult time getting things off the ground when starting with their business here, with the country's notoriously draining red tape and a usually slow and outdated approach to everything, launching a business, company, or startup in Croatia isn't a particularly attractive thought for most. Despite that, many startups in Croatia are seeing the arduous process through to the end, and are succeeding. 

Just what can Croatia and Croatian startups learn from the wildly successful TransferWise founder?

As Novac.hr/Jutarnji/Gordana Grgas writes on the 15th of December, 2018, because of his ''robbing'' of the earnings made by banks on their faithful customers' money, this Estonian entreprener is being referred to as a modern day Robin Hood.

The financial and tech startup that he founded with his partner back in 2011, TransferWise, was one of the most valuable in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and was built on the foundation of offering a cheap and fast money-sending service around the world with the help of a simple and handy mobile app. Already holding 0.5 percent of the global market, transferring about 4 billion dollars per month, and having four million users, it's not doing too badly, to say the very least.

The brain behind the genius idea which is rubbing the banks up the wrong way is Taavet Hinrikus, 37, an Estonian citizen, and this past week he was in Zagreb, because in the meantime, he has gone a step further and become a business angel, entering into the development process of the promising Croatian startup based in Osijek, Gideon Brothers, which deals with robotics and was founded by Matija Kopic and Milan Račić, who he says are a fantastic team.

While Novac.hr talked with the Estonian in the Katran club, where the first industrial robot made by Gideon Brothers had just been presented with great enthusiasm, the talented entrepreneur was asked about just how he earned the title of Robin Hood, Nottingham's famous outlaw who went down in history by robbing the rich and giving to the poor. Taavet responded with the fact that TransferWise ''returns'' the money to the people, which they would otherwise be forced give banks in hidden and sometimes very unfavourable exchange rate costs when it comes to international transfers.

"We've noticed that as a global problem and we've been able to find a ten-fold better solution for that than the existing ones," said Hinrikus, and this point was also the main ingredient of his ''recipe'' for business success in a lecture he had previously given to his young audience at the largest hall of the Zagreb Faculty of Electronics and Computing (FER). Among the students, all of whom are interested in startups in Croatia, were the minds behind the Gideon Brothers startup from Osijek.

''There's no better place in Croatia to start a technology company than FER,'' Kopić of Gideon Brothers told them.

And what exactly does Transferwise do so well to make it so popular and successful? The best description is probably the fact that it is the ''Skype for money transfers'', and they have succeeded in a world that has been, at least until now, ruled almost entirely by banks and their often unfair fees, these all-powerful banks have been ''wounded'' only by the likes of America's PayPal and Western Union, so far. They came to this business idea because they often sent money to Tallinn from London and were shocked and hindered when they'd see that they lose money each and every time.

''How we started is very simple. We're focused on applying new technology. And we're less greedy,'' said Hinrikus, adding that there's no real reason why sending money electronically should actually be expensive.

They're even anything from five to ten times cheaper than PayPal. Since last year, their services have also been made available in Croatia, and they are currently focusing on the further expansion of their business platform, and further remuneration for cash transfers. They currently employ about 1,300 people, several hundred of them are in Estonia, where both founders are themselves from.

Their success was initially driven by marketing, and they were rebellious against the "evil banks in London", as was recalled by Ivo Špigel, a Zagreb entrepreneur and the founder of Perpetuum Mobile.

Hinrikus's acquaintance with Matija Kopić from Osijek, who also also presented his own startup at the same London event, has gone from strength to strength. Both then won over investor interest with their performances and ideas.

Should Croatia dream of being like Estonia? Novac.hr asked Hinrikus.

''Of course you should. You need a government that appreciates the importance of technology, a government which thinks about how to make the government more efficient itself, and better for citizens with the help of technology,'' responded Estonia's answer to Robin Hood.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and Made in Croatia pages for more information on startups in Croatia, doing business in Croatia, Croatian companies, products and services, and the business and investment climate.

 

Click here for the original article by Gordana Grgas for Novac.hr/Jutarnji

Friday, 14 December 2018

Amanresorts Cavtat: Most Luxurious Tourist Project in Croatia

Greek investor Petros Stathis has been visiting numerous institutions in order to complete the most luxurious tourist project in the Republic of Croatia, Amanresorts Cavtat, in Croatia's southernmost county of Konavle which borders Montenegro.

As Marija Crnjak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 13th of December, 2018, Greek investor Petros Stathis has re-activated matters over more recent days in regard to the eventual realisation of the Amanresorts project in Cavtat, otherwise being hailed as the most luxurious tourist project in the whole of Croatia, which could even end up making the list of strategic projects in the Republic of Croatia, which would be a useful move in terms of resolving the outstanding issues of spatial planning, among others, as soon as possible.

As a result of the large amount of paperwork involved in the process, the aforementioned investor has been heavily engaged in all of the required fields, from the state administration to the local administration, as Poslovni Dnevnik has unofficially published. The reactivation of the Amanresorts Cavtat project comes after more than three years after Amanresorts Cavtat was supposed to open its doors, but unfortunately encountered several stumbling blocks, mainly typically administrative ones, although Stathis never once gave up on it.

"I'm convinced that the Amanresorts Cavtat project will be successfully completed, and together with other Aman projects in the vicinity, Amanresorts Venice and Sveti Stefan (Montenegro), will become the star of the tourist sector of South East Europe," said Petros Stathis in the spring of 2015, when he explained why he was suddenly closing the Cavtat construction site.

He then stated that there were problems with the Bonvena Hotels company which was due to take care of the Cavtat project, which Stathis took over in the meantime, and that the entire chain of Amanresorts luxury resorts had gone through the process of ownership change.

For the realisation of the project, the investor is supposed to adapt the spatial planning documentation, and it's necessary to reach an agreement on various other factors, considering that the investor is seeking the closure of the beach below the area with his 30 million euro project.

The Municipality of Konavle didn't respond to Poslovni Dnevnik's question of what exactly they are willing, or unwilling, to offer to the investor in order to realise the Amanresorts Cavtat project. In addition, not even the investor himself, who has been investing in Montenegro in the meantime, has spoken publicly on the subject.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle, travel and business pages for much more.

 

Click here for the original article by Marija Crnjak for Poslovni Dnevnik

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Small and Medium Croatian Companies to Receive 25 Million Euro

The Investment Plan for Europe (Juncker's plan) is one of the key EU steps in boosting investment in Europe, aimed primarily at creating jobs and boosting growth. A large sum of money from the plan will flow into both small and medium Croatian companies.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 7th of December, 2018, the European Investment Fund (EIF) will support Privredna banka Zagreb (PBZ) with the guarantee contract for 25 million euro's worth of new credit for innovative small and medium-sized Croatian companies (MSPs) and those of a smaller size (up to 500 employees).

The EIF guarantee has been secured through the Investment Plan for Europe (Juncker's plan), through the Innovfin SME Guarantee Program, established by the EIF, part of the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Commission (EC).

Innovfin's guarantee enables innovative MSPs and small and medium Croatian companies to borrow under more favourable conditions than currently available on the Croatian banking market, meaning that the loans included in the Innovfin portfolio will enable MSPs, among other things, to grow and and open up new job opportunities.

Carlos Moedas, the EU's commissioner for research, science and innovation, stated: "I welcome the new contract supported by Juncker's plan and Obzor 2020 in Croatia, which brings new funding for innovative Croatian small and medium companies, and that's often exactly what they needed to launch their new products, integrate innovative processes, create new jobs, and expand their business outside of the local market.''

Dario Scannapieco, EIB's vice president said: "Innovation and MSP support is one of the top priorities for the EIF and the EIB Group. Innovations and MSPs are crucial to Croatia and to the European Union in its efforts to improve and maintain competitiveness on local and global markets, create new jobs, and create conditions for sustainable economic development. We're happy to find a reliable partner in PBZ for such an important task.''

Dinko Lucić, CEO of Privredna banka Zagreb, said: "For many years, Privredna banka Zagreb has been very active in establishing and supporting programs aimed at developing the MSP segment and striving to contribute more to the strong growth of small and medium-sized enterprises in the country. The bank has confirmed this by participating in the COSME program and now in InnovFin, through which innovative MSP clients will have further facilitated access to funding sources and more favourable lending will be enabled.''

The Investment Plan for Europe (Juncker's plan) is one of the key European Union steps in boosting investment in Europe, creating jobs and boosting growth. The EIB Group plays a key role in this investment plan.

With the European Investment Funds (EFSI) funds, the EIB and the European Investment Fund (EIF) can take on a larger share of risk in projects, encouraging private investors to participate more in these projects. Initially, EFSI was to launch 315 billion euro in investments across the European Union over a period of three years, until mid-2018.

In December 2017, the European Parliament and the EU's member states reached agreement on extending EFSI's lifetime to the year 2020 and thus increasing the financial resources to a massive 500 billion euro. In addition to the EFSI, the new EIAH advisory platform helps both the public and the private sector's project promoters to structure investment projects more professionally. The investment plan should also create an EU regulatory environment that is favoured by investments.

Until November 2018, Juncker's plan has already mobilised 360 billion euro in additional investment, including over one billion euro in Croatia alone, with 850,000 small and medium Croatian companies benefiting from easier access to finances.

Make sure to stay up to date with our dedicated business and politics pages for more information.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Chinese Investment in Croatia: First 160 Million Euro Project Begins

As Gordana Grgas/Novac.hr writes on the 1st of December, 2018, after much talk and many announcements, the official launch of the first Chinese investment in Croatia took place last week, which should reach the staggering amount of 160 million euro in two years.

This massive foreign investment is an interesting one, not only because of the amount, and not only because it's pioneering in its nature, but because when looked at in its wider context, it's a big part of the strategic Chinese "One Belt, One Way" initiative. It certainly ''lit up'' on the ever-watchful radar of the European Commission, which overlooks investments from third countries, it also naturally drew the attention of all those who look at China's investments in Croatia in a more geopolitical context. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković presented it as part of "project-oriented cooperation between the two countries".

The project itself is the construction of a wind farm near Senj, which was inaugurated by a huge Chinese construction company, Norinco International Cooperation, one year after signing a contract to take over a majority stake in the Croatian company - Energija projekt. This 32 million euro transaction was also recorded in a large analysis of both realised and announced Chinese investments across Europe, which was published by Bloomberg in the spring, pointing out that over the last ten years alone, the figures of such huge Chinese investments reached an incredible 300 billion euro.

The CEO of the Peking-based Norinco International Cooperation, Wang Yitong, was present at the opening ceremony in Senj last week. Otherwise, the company is listed on the stock exchange (the Shenzhen Stock Exchange), but is actually owned by the state. The situation is rather complicated, but when it is looked at objectively, it's clear that Norinco is part of the gigantic China North Industries Corporation, which was founded back in the 1980s and is among the largest state-owned conglomerates in terms of assets and revenues, and is the world's best known company for the production of weapons of all kinds.

Since 1999, it has been a part of an even larger group of companies, the China North Industries Group Corporation (CNGC). It is made up of fifty companies with a total of about 280,000 employees, it accounts for more than 40 percent of its revenue outside of China, operates in 40 countries, and is engaged in research and development, as well as in the production of weapons and military equipment. It is also involved in mining and oil businesses.

This group, abbreviated as just CNGC, is on this year's Fortune magazine's list at 140th place on of the list of global top-ranked companies, estimated at 64 billion dollars. As was published by Jane's Defense Weekly, CNGC has been on the list of twenty state-run Chinese firms for restructuring since last year, when the Chinese Government announced that it would accelerate a reform program to introduce "mixed ownership". This is a measure of privatisation, and from the huge group, as was announced last year, twelve companies are listed on stock exchanges from the automotive, electronics, and chemical industries.

Owing to above, Croatia did not enter into the Senj project via a private company, but with a company associated with the very leaders of the Chinese state, which is a part of an important conglomerate. In Brussels, the somewhat expected raising of eyebrows has so far been following and challenging the major Croatian contract with the Chinese to carry out works on the long awaited Pelješac Bridge. The strategic project is cofinanced by money from the European Union budget, and Brussels isn't happy that the Chinese will be the ones to built it.

Now, in a direct Chinese investment in Croatia, into the energy sector (several similar ones have already been realised in the EU), the Chinese will, in a period of two years, build 39 wind turbines with a total power of 156 megawatts under Velebit, while Brinje and Senj will see 5.5 million kuna a year spent on wind energy, Croatian subcontractors will be part of the construction work.

For the takeover of Energija projekt, over which the former owners have been holding disputes, the Chinese have engaged the American consultancy firm Norton Rose Fulbright, and the process was brought to an end and registered at the Commercial Court in Rijeka back in September this year. Thus, the Chinese company has also taken over the rights to build and manage the wind power plant near Senj, and the consultants' belief is that Norinco is "taking the initial position for entering the European Union market and then expanding and increasing its market share within the EU, and obtaining references in a new business environment". Plenković has expressed his hopes for Norinco to be the predecessor to other Chinese companies and further direct Chinese investment in Croatia, often holds talks about intensifying relations, and is preparing a meeting on the subject which will be held in Croatia in the spring of 2019.

Geopolitical experts, like one particular Berlin think tank, announced earlier this year that China's investments, especially when they are made by state-owned companies, should always be looked at as an attempt to secure influence over European Union politics. But should Plenković really worry about that now? Probably not; direct foreign investment is not so common, and whether or not Chinese companies will appear on projects such as construction of railway lines, more specifically what will happen with the Chinese investment in the Port of Zadar and the cooperation between Chinese and Croatian construction companies and such, is yet to be seen.

During current moments on the international scene, China continues to attract large amounts of attention as a global creditor, not just as an investor, and despite Chinese investments in Croatia, the country doesn't have such an experience under its belt. Yet.

Recently, the New York Times published a text entitled "The World, Built by China", which analyses as many as 600 projects in as many as 112 countries worldwide which were somehow funded by the Chinese over the last decade, from gas pipelines to bridges, roads to railway lines, and many more. Many of these projects are part of the strategic "One Belt, One Way" initiative (often described as the Silk Road for the 21st Century), and in the aforementioned text, the Chinese strategy is even compared with the American plan after the Second World War, yet describing it to be ''brave, expensive, and far more risky".

Make sure to follow our business page for more news on Chinese investment in Croatia and much more.

 

Click here for the original article by Gordana Grgas on Novac.hr (Jutarnji)

Thursday, 29 November 2018

New Hotels in Croatia: After Šibenik's Solaris, Amadria Park Takes Zagreb

New hotels in Croatia are popping up all the time, and some major investments have seen the tourism sector come on leaps and bounds even very far away from the glitz and glamour of the yacht-filled coast. 

Croatia's investment climate has some big improvements to be getting on with, and quickly, but despite numerous issues, large investments in the country's safest sector, tourism, continue to pour in.

The Croatian capital of Zagreb has gone from all but entirely overlooked as a tourist destination to a ''must visit'' continental city which many are referring to as the ''new Vienna'' among other names. The city's dazzling Advent in Zagreb festivities has seen the Croatian capital take the prize for best European advent destination for an impressive three years running, and as the hotels fill up, new ones continue to open their doors.

As SibenikIN writes on the 28th of November, 2018, the new luxury Hotel Capital Zagreb group Amadria Park, to which the extremely popular Solaris Resort near the ancient Dalmatian city of Šibenik belongs, will be officially opened on Thursday in the centre of the Croatian capital. The brand new hotel boasts 112 rooms and the value of Ugo Group's investment, which stands behind Amadria Park, is a massive 14.5 million euro.

The new hotel is located in the building of the former Croatian branch of Wiener Bankverein at the corner of Jurišićeva and Palmotićeva street, and is the first so-called ''city'' hotel of the Amadria Park group.

''[Opening - TOMORROW 29.11.2018] The moment has arrived! It's time to unveil Amadria Park's first Zagreb hotel - Capital.

A heritage hotel with a well-appointed, central Zagreb location, it combines early 20th century architectural grandeur with the upmarket elegance of a modern hotel.

Only 450m from Ban Jelacic Square, it offers 112 rooms, restaurant, bar and cafe, fitness zone, underground garage, upmarket store and meeting rooms.'' wrote an update on Amadria Park's Facebook page.

Make sure to follow our travel and lifestyle pages for more info on new hotels in Croatia, and much more. If it's just Zagreb you're interested in, stay up to date with our dedicated Total Zagreb site for everything going on in the capital.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Pula Riva Tram: The Answer to Istrian City's Summer Crowds?

As Glas Istre writes on the 26th of November, 2018, calculations show that almost a million people per year can be found on Pula's riva (waterfront), with the highest concentration naturally being in the tourist season, during the warmer summer months. Could the introduction of a Pula riva tram be the answer to a silent yet pressing question for the city?

These high concentrations of people are all potential users of the historic Istrian city's future tram. Rather than driving cars into the city and its roads, a tram could be a much better option. Ultimately, the benefits of such a move would be multifaceted. Pula would have the opportunity to put its abandoned resources back into proper use, namely the railway line, and solve a good part of its traffic problems in an environmentally friendly manner.

Can the introduction of an electric tram along the Pula riva significantly reduce the traffic and crowding during the summer, and eliminate the proverbial tourist suffocation on the streets of Pula? Yes, it can - claim Livio Nefat and Ivan Skol, who are completing their project on the introduction of an electric tram in Pula, by reactivating the neglected railroad tracks which already exist in the popular Istrian city.

Instead of going back into the past, the Pula riva tram project introduces us to the future, just like in the film. We imagine that it would be able to travel along the entire Pula Bay, where there is already a line from older times. To be able to take a tram to go swimming at Punta Krišto, Štinjan and Hidro on one side, or go shopping in Max City on the other. And how would it be, during the summer, to be able to sit on a tram that would take you under the tunnels below the Montezaro park all the way to the exit not far from Elektroistra? It sounds unreal, but it isn't an impossible task.

The above is the vision of the Pula locals, who have been steadily and enthusiastically engaged in the Pula riva tram idea for the last four years.

''Thousands of tourists a day, from the nearby tourist zones, from settlements, camp sites, and hotels from various places across Istria, come to the centre of Pula during the summer in their cars and on buses to see its sights, to embark on a boat tour or to go to one of the evening performances at Pula Arena. They go and park wherever they arrive in the city centre, and more and more are parking at large car parks at the entrance to the city - at Mandrač, on the outskirts of the riva in the north, on Marsovo polje, and at the former Industrokema in the southern part of the city. There are no adequate, targeted means of transport now. Walking in the summer at 35 degrees is a problem for everyone. After all, they want to be comfortable, most aren't bothered about walking, but they'd be happy to drive,'' Livio Nepat states.

According to his idea, the Pula riva tram would initially run from the car park at Mandrač, near the railway station, and then along the waterfront all the way to the Forum. If the line ended up being extended as planned, and then realised, the southern part of that same symmetrical line would see a tram take tourists and other travellers from the Forum to the future garage located at Marsovo polje, where there are other larger car parks. Therefore, the tourists would leave their vehicles in the aforementioned parking areas, at Mandrač and Marsovo polje, in order to get into the city by public transport, more specifically by electric tram. This smart solution would significantly relieve Pula's burdened roads of the overwhelming crowds during the summer, according to the authors of the planned project.

According to the business plan they have developed, the first phase of the investment is worth about five million kuna, and that could be paid off within a three year period. These calculations show that almost a million people can be found on the waterfront per year, where they then embark on ships, excursion boats, buses on the waterfront, or go to concerts and other various events held at Pula Arena. These are, as stated, all potential users of Pula's future tram.

Ultimately, the benefit of the introduction of such a tram service in Pula would be a multifaceted one. The city would put its unused and abandoned resources back into proper use, such as the railway line, and thus solve at least a good part of the traffic jams in an environmentally acceptable way, explained Ivan Skol.

As far as the second phase of the project is concerned, the proposal is to use a railroad that runs along Pula Bay as a whole. The track already exists on one side all the way to the cement factory (alternatively, the old route from back in 1904 could be restored) not so far from Muzil, Max City, the Naval cemetery and the church, and on the other side, to Punta Guc at Valellunga, where a cruise terminal is planned. So, an even greater influx of tourists who need transportation to Pula Arena, the Forum, the market etc is expected. By extending the line from the cement factory to Muzil, it could also even reach an important future tourist area, as well as a new shopping centre.

On the other hand, the railway line towards the north, from the railway station to the military airport, already exists. With the addition of the section to the civilian airport, the Pula riva tram would be able to offer an elegant transfer service for thousands of passengers from the airport to the city, as well as to the future cruise terminal.

''I've been working on this tram north-south simulator for four years now. So far, a lot has been agreed. After lengthy negotiations, (with particular emphasis and thanks to the professional staff of the traffic section of Pula and Istria) HŽ confirmed to us that it's technically possible to use two tracks that are not being used at Pula railway station. The licensed company from Zagreb, authorised to design the railway infrastructure, has been working on completing the entire design process over recent days. We got a CD from the City of Pula with all the necessary geodetic substrates of the Mandrač - Forum route for the project, for which we're especially grateful to the Administrative Department for Spatial Planning of the City of Pula,'' noted Livio Nefat.

The author's desire is to present the "Tw" Pula riva tram project to the City of Pula when all of its loose ends are tied up. It is the City itself which will decide whether or not the project will come to life. Without the green light from them, it is impossible to realise, among other important things, the availability of a funding channel through European Union money. With EU cash behind it, the whole project would be easier to kickstart and then later continue to elaborate.

The two Pula locals have said that their desire to bring this project to fruition comes from their wish to make a contribution to the community as citizens of Pula, for the citizens of Pula, and in cooperation with the City of Pula, with the help of EU funds, ITU mechanisms and other forms of financing to realise a self-sustaining entrepreneurial venture, from which everyone would benefit.

Want to find out more? Make sure to keep up to date with our lifestyle page.

 

Click here for the original article by Jasna Orlic for Glas Istre

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Virovitica Will Have Largest Budget Ever in 2019, Investments Planned

Virovitica is by far one of Croatia's most overlooked cities. Located what feels like a world away from the hustle and bustle of desirable Dalmatia and the funk of the capital city, not far from the Hungarian border, this quiet continental Croatian city is like a step back in time, with all but its highly advanced budget for next year, it seems.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 21st of November, 2018, Virovitica will have the largest budget in its entire history in 2019, it adds up to about 286,175,000 kuna, an amount the city councillors adopted at their fifteenth regular session.

At the session of the city council, it was stated that in relation to last year, Virovitica's budget plan had increased by a considerable 13 percent, mainly due to large and significant urban projects that will be co-financed by European Union funds and the state budget itself. In addition to providing funds for the material expenses and the investment maintenance costs, the City of Virovitica expects continued work on projects which have already begun being worked on, as well as some brand new investments.

Thus, the city's 2019 budget includes funds to continue the construction of the Centre for Education and Rehabilitation and three-part school sports hall in the amount of 27,150,000 kuna and the reconstruction of the City Park and Castle Pejačević in the amount of 28,200,000 kuna. There are two projects which mainly involve the energetic restoration of buildings, including the "Cvrčak" kindergarten and the Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić primary school, both in the amount of 1.620.000 kuna, according to a report from Glas Slavonije.

In addition, the City of Virovitica has plans for a few totally new investments, including the construction of a sports and recreation centre in Virovitica - a complex which will be built on the site of some former barracks, worth 26,300,000 kuna, an increase in the overall energy efficiency of public lighting worth 14,350,000 kuna, and the energetic renovation of various buildings, a cultural centre, and the reneal of the of the sport community building, worth a massive 16,330,000 kuna.

In addition to all of the aforementioned, there are also plans for several more projects, including the construction of communal infrastructure, rearranging the traffic zone around the Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić primary school, road construction in certain areas, car park construction, and other infrastructure projects described in more detail in Virovitica's construction program for 2019.

Make sure to keep up to date with more information like this by following our lifestyle page.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Investment in Croatia: 150 Million Kuna for Primorje-Gorski Kotar County

Whether it be big or small, investment in Croatia with the help of European Union funds continues to keep the country's offer competitive.

As Morski writes on the 17th of November, 2018, in one port area in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, the biggest investment cycle so far has begun. ​​Of the massive 150 million kuna investment, as much as 60 million kuna are the projects of the County Port Authority of Crikvenica, and works in Jadranovo, Crikvenica and Selce will begin next week, according to HRT Radio Rijeka.

The project's contractors are Crikvenica Construction and Rijeka BSK Commerce. The completion of the port extension has been announced in Crikvenica for eighteen months time, that in Selce will be done in five years, and in Jadranovo, the expected time limit is one year, with the overall desire for it to be completed before next summer.

Speaking generally, investment in Croatia is a hugely important step in continually improving the country's already rich offer, and Primorje-Gorski Kotar County has not launched such a large investment cycle in its coastal area ever, County Prefect Zlatko Komadin said. This year, 40 million kuna's worth of works began, while the rest of the investment cycle is expected to reach 150 million kuna in the next two years. Along the coast in the Crikvenica area, there also will be works on the ports of Unije, Susak, and Cres. The views of places and cities are changing, which is already evident in Njivice (Krk) and in Novi Vinodolski, and such changes will soon also be seen in Crikvenica, noted the prefect. Komadina also pointed out that they have withdrawn most possible European Union incentives for the upcoming works.

Nada Milošević stressed that as much as 101 million kuna is coming from EU funds. "The Ministry's contingency has been extended until February the 29th next year, so we're planning to run two more projects in addition to the Crikvenica project, involving Rab and Purpurela ports, part of the fishing port and the extension of the Baška port," said Milošević.

The director of ŽLU Crikvenica, Mario Kružić, announced that in Crikvenica, the existing pier will be extended by another sixty metres, and a new western breakwater of 130 metres in length will be built to protect the port from waves. Two existing gates will be built in Selce on Polača and Stari mul, which will be 100 metres longer. In Jadranovo, the plans are the construction of a new promenade of about 400 metres in length, and in Perčin port, the communal berths will be renovated, and in the concessioned area, nautical berths will be constructed. The plan also boasts an 80-metre deep breakwater pontoon, as well as the construction of two piers at lengths of sixty metres.

Work should begin next week, and Crikvenica's administration has asked tourists and citizens alike for their patience, as heavy machinery will be moving through the city streets.

Want to keep up with more news on investment in Croatia, EU funds and other big projects? Make sure to follow our business page for much more.

Click here for the original article by Neva Funcic for HRT Radio Rijeka

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Investment in Tourism: After Zagreb, Hilton Looks to Coast

After finding its place in the country's capital, Hilton is looking for further potential locations and opportunities along the Croatian coast for its Canopy hotels as Cappelli cites an investment in tourism for 2019.

As we reported yesterday, in a huge investment in tourism, Canopy by Hilton has found its way to the Croatian capital of Zagreb, but the search for possible hotel locations isn't over for the highly respected hotel company yet. 

As Marija Crnjak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 12th of November, 2018, the brand nurtures local culture, and this is Canopy by Hilton's very first hotel in continental Europe. After the opening in Zagreb, such hotels in desirable European capitals are set to open, including London, Madrid, and Paris.

Hotel Canopy by Hilton, a massive eight million euros worth of investment by Hrvoje Pezić's Zagreb City Hotels company, was opened on Monday in Zagreb's Branimir Centre.

The lifestyle brand is, as stated, set to take numerous other European cities. It nurtures local culture, and domestic designers, including Studio Franić and Šekoranja, as well as Croatian furniture manufacturers, who are engaged in decorating the Zagreb hotel, as pointed out from Hilton.

In the hotel itself, you can find various pieces of Zagreb's long history, from folklore to its rich scientific and industrial heritage, as well as some of the capital city's typical traditional dishes presented in a new, modern way at the ReUnion restaurant.

The hotel boasts 151 rooms, a restaurant and bar, a fitness room, a retreat room, a transfer room and two meeting rooms.

''After DoubleTree, we're opening Canopy, and we're expecting the opening of Garden Inn next year. We're exceptionally proud of this hotel and we're happy to have had such good cooperation. Croatia is an extremely important market for Hilton. It has a wonderful coastline and we're already looking to expand there and develop our hotels there, but the City of Zagreb is also of utmost importance because it's growing, and we also want to participate in that,'' stated Alan Mantin, Managing Director of Hilton for the development in southern Europe.

Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli emphasised that this investment with the world-renowned brand will contribute to the even better positioning of Zagreb as well as Croatia as a destination which boasts a high quality offer.

Want to keep up with more news on hotel openings, investments in tourism, or just news in Zagreb? Make sure to follow our travel, lifestyle, and Total Zagreb pages for much more.

Click here for the original article by Marija Crnjak for Poslovni Dnevnik

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