Sunday, 8 November 2020

Istrian Tourism Continues to Shine - Hotels Work, Restaurants Full

November the 8th, 2020 - Istrian tourism is continuing to shine bright in the otherwise concerning world of not only Croatian tourism but global travel. The Istrian peninsula has been praised on multiple occasions throughout the duration of the ongoing pandemic for its handling of not only the spread of the infection but the way it has coped in a broader economic sense.

As Morski writes, this weekend in Rovinj, three large hotels are open and functioning: Grand Park, Lone and Eden. Maistra is too meticulous of a company financially to keep three big hotels open if it isn't paying off. In fact, there is a great demand for rooms.

''We booked the Lone hotel through On Thursday night, the page read that there were only two rooms left,'' writes

Two weeks ago, the luxury wine hotel Franca Cattunara in Nova Vas was also full to the very last room, as was the famous San Rocco in neighbouring Brtonigla. Restaurants in Istria are also solidly full on weekends, which was revealed this morning in Rovinj's Rio, which, at this time of year, also serves breakfast in precisely the same way as it does during the very height of the summer tourist season.

The phenomenon of stability during the second wave of the coronavirus crisis is obviously happening for Istrian tourism. Despite the virtually closed borders and the very small number of people infected with the new coronavirus, a solid number of guests still continue visit this gorgeous part of the country and boost Istrian tourism each and every weekend. These visitors are mostly from Zagreb, which was confirmed fifteen days ago by the owner of San Rocca, Tulio Fernetich; The ''weekend invasion'' of guests from Zagreb to Istria was visible this morning as well, according to numerous Zagreb registrations on cars parked in front of Rovinj hotels.

Istrian tourism, or at least some parts of Istria, are doing relatively well given the truly extraordinary circumstances that govern Croatia at this moment in time. Therefore, any lockdown measures for Istrian tourism and the local Istrian economy would be quite catastrophic indeed.

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Saturday, 15 February 2020

New Novigrad: Little Pearl of Adriatic Turns to Gourmet Tourism

February 15, 2020 - Vesna Ferenac, director of the Novigrad Tourist Board, emphasizes that their ultimate goal is more efficient promotion, that is, visibility of the destination and raising the quality of the offer in the city. 

"Last year we achieved record results: three percent increase in arrivals and a two percent increase in overnights, exceeding 1.3 million overnights. This is a great result considering that the beginning of the preseason did not start well due to terrible and cold weather. The period before and after the season is very important for us, so this year we are focused on activities during this period to increase the number of guests,” said Vesna Ferenac, director of the Novigrad Tourist Board, speaking about the preparations for the new tourist season.

Glas Istre writes that behind the scenes, they are preparing for the reception and provision of even better service and hospitality of the guests. And as Novigrad, colloquially called the "little pearl of the Adriatic", is becoming an excellent place for an increasing number of tourists.

“We continue with activities related to defining the tourist offer of Novigrad that started in 2018, one of the priority goals of which is branding the destination of Novigrad, according to the guidelines of a document we presented in May last year. So last year, we realized some of the activities that have emerged from this document, such as the summer entertainment program, with which we are continuing with some new content that will fill the week-long program in the city at several checkpoints," Ferenac says.

Based on these guidelines and a printed document, they collected offers to brand the destination and selected designer Marko Baus & associates from a Zagreb agency. For the realization of this vital branding project, they continued to hold workshops with stakeholders of tourism and other offers in the town, i.e., caterers, owners of accommodation facilities, travel agencies, institutions, associations and institutions that organize and conduct various events, but this time, the topic defined the strategic position of the brand for profiling future tourism products and creating experiences for guests staying in Novigrad.

“We also used the latest tools for analyzing guest posts on social networks, analyzing data collected from platforms for reviewing accommodation and analyzing posts on news portals, that is, a digital media image survey of Novigrad was carried out, with about 120,000 posts. By analyzing these announcements through platforms and social networks, we will have a clearer landmark for branding the destination. A pervasive analysis has been made because we believe that guest feedback is essential, as they see and perceive us as a destination, in order to address some of the shortcomings and targeted development. To us, from the perspective of a local, some of the appearances and things in the town may seem different than it would for guests, because we are here every day, and therefore their wishes should be heard and self-critical changes and improvements can be made,” explains Ferenac.

As she points out further, in this project, it was very important to take into account the local observations that were analyzed at the workshops. The result of the work in last year's workshops will compare with the opinions of the guests and define the attributes of Novigrad that need to be more actively promoted and branded to become even more visible in the highly competitive tourism market. Ferenac explains that this complex research and strategic document for destination branding implies a change of the city's visuals, its implementation (unification), that is, connecting all carriers in all fields of the city's tourism offer.

“The ultimate goal is more efficient promotion, i.e., visibility of the destination and raising the quality of the offer in the city. Also, with unique content networking, guests should be additionally stimulated to visit and stay, and spend more throughout the year,” Ferenac points out.

In addition, a number of events have been expanded as the Tourist Board moves ahead with new tourism products.

“We have judged that there is a lack of content related to marine activities. So, in cooperation with an Austrian swim club, we are organizing an international swimming marathon on May 16 and according to the announcements so far, we expect between 200 and 300 swimmers. We will organize a new sailing regatta, but we are still in negotiations,” announced Ferenac and added that they are thinking about new gourmet products. 

Namely, for the development of gourmet products, two editions of the new Park Food Fest gourmet event are planned this year, in the pre and postseason, while the traditional gourmet events united under the name Gnam-gnam fest will be realized this year at the Novigrad Captains Evening at the beginning June, and Sardelafest in early September.

“In mid-July, at the increasingly popular event "Che gusto", numerous local and foreign producers of wine, craft beer and food products will present their offer. Also, we continue with events that started last year, like: "Movie nights" with screenings of films in the park under the stars, "Jazz Corner" at Bosko Petrovic Passage, tribute band concerts at the Piazza Grande in Novigrad, "Kids' day” with a program of street entertainers, then music programs on every corner, and debut music nights in the romantic setting of the restored Belvedere Lodge.

There will also be traditional events such as the Painting Ex tempore Contest, Magical Novigrad, Slovenian nights and all sorts of surprises, Ferenac says, adding that every guest is equally good and that there is something for everyone.

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

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Croatia Hotel Renovation Project Abandoned in Downtown Pula

A well-known Croatian entrepreneur has abandoned his plans to transform a historical building in Pula, Croatia into a hotel and lost his 785,000 HRK (105,000 EUR) deposit after he was informed by government officials of unexpected additional costs.

Another Failed Croatia Real Estate Venture

Another real estate venture has failed in Croatia, this time in the historical center of Pula according to Barbara Ban/Novac/Jutarnji List on December 31, 2019. This project involved the renovation of Scracin building, which formerly housed the Croatian Pension Insurance Office (HZMO) and Croatian Health Insurance Office (HZZO). The building is located next to the Zlatna vrata (Golden Gate) or Slavoluk Sergijevaca (Arch of Sergius) landmark.

The buyer, renowned Istrian entrepreneur Kristijan Floričić, allegedly abandoned the purchase of the building priced at 15.7 million HRK (2.1 million EUR) and lost a sizeable deposit of 785,000 HRK (105,000 EUR) after he realized that, due to the number of unanticipated conservation projects and required research, he would not be able accomplish everything he had planned, which was to transform the property into a hotel. In December, TCN covered another much larger failed real estate venture, which was abandoned by investors for eerily similar reasons, on the island of Pašman. Back in Pula, the Scracin building is on the market again as of December 11, under the exact same conditions and for the exact same price.


Kristijan Floričić | Facebook

Buyer Informed of Costs and Restrictions After Deposit

Unofficially, problems arose after Floričić submitted his offer, and he found out that he would have to invest a considerable amount of money in research before he could move forward with his renovation plans. The conservators would not allow specific renovations to the building and the conditions they set for the buyer allegedly amounted to a multi-million HRK investment, which is why Floričić decided in the end that the project would be unprofitable. What kind of research was necessary and whether that research required a multi-million HRK investment could not be confirmed because the Pula Conservation Department could not be reached for comment. But this building, built between 1880 and 1881, and destroyed in a 2014 fire, will unfortunately remain vacant until further notice.

The building owners are claiming that Floričić knew what kind of property he was buying because the tender noted that the building was a cultural asset.

Building Registered as Protected Cultural Property

“According to the provisions of the Law on Protection and Preservation of Cultural Property, before the procedure of sale by public tender, the real estate was offered to the Republic of Croatia (Ministry of State Property), the County of Istria and the City of Pula. These authorities showed no interest in the purchase, and on October 10, 2018; a public tender for the real estate sale was published in Narodne novine, Glas Istre, and on the HZZO and HZMO websites.”

“The tender stated that the so-called Scracin Palace is a property of a cultural value and had been entered in the Register of Cultural Properties of the Republic of Croatia and the List of Protected Cultural Properties. Each potential bidder had the opportunity to inspect the real estate, as well as access to the Register of Cultural Properties of the Republic of Croatia. The buyer also had the opportunity to inform the ministry of their potential plans related to the renovation of a cultural property,” the Croatian Health Insurance Office pointed out.

They added that the bidder had fulfilled all the conditions of the tender and his bid had been selected as the most favorable one, but he eventually decided that he did not want to finalize the purchase contract.


Zlatna vrata and Scracin Building | Vintage Postcard | Facebook

Buyer Abandoned Purchase and Lost 105,000 EUR Deposit

“After the conditions for the finalization of the real estate purchase contract were fulfilled (the prior consent of the Governing Council of the co-owners and the Government of the Republic of Croatia), the selected bidder-buyer was invited to finalize the purchase contract. However, the buyer abandoned the finalization of the purchase contract because, according to him, the real estate has certain material defects which make it impossible to use for the specified purpose, which was the completion his planned project. Since the co-owners of the real estate do not believe that the material defects were not known to the bidder at the time of submitting the bid, the selected bidder has lost the right to recover the deposit,” according to a statement from Croatian Health Insurance Office.

They add that it was stated in the conditions of the public tender that the successful tender applicant was obliged to finalize a purchase contract with the sellers of the real estate within 30 day from the invitation to finalize the purchase contract. Otherwise he would forfeit his deposit.

Building Back on the Market: Same Price and Conditions

The building is now on sale again for the price of 15.7 million HRK (2.1 million EUR) as it was previously and is available to view as of January 14. Bidders are required to pay a five percent deposit of the initial price of the property, or 785,000 HRK (105,000 EUR). The deadline for bid submissions is January 17, and bids will open to the public on January 23. The building itself is about one thousand square meters, with an additional 576 square meter building and a 15 square meter auxiliary building. They state that the property is for sale in its current state, which is "as-is".

Follow our Business page to keep track of failed (and successful) business ventures in Croatia.

Monday, 30 December 2019

Brijuni Islands National Park: Tito's Former Summer Residence Gets Upgrade

The Brijuni islands, once the private summer residence for Josip Broz Tito, longtime president of former Yugoslavia, is getting a long-awaited renovation. A new catamaran will allow access to both islands for the first time and dormitories are being updated for education and research projects.

According to Barbara Ban/Novac/Jutarnji List on December 29,2019; Tito’s legendary cinema is also getting a facelift and tourist facilities are undergoing upgrades. Those upgrades include a new information center and an updated Natural History Exhibition. Trains will allow tourists with disabilities to see all of Veliki Brijun, the larger of the two islands.

Recently, a contract to build an aluminum catamaran for the Brijuni islands was signed at Tehnomont Shipyard in Pula. It is a 15.5 million HRK (2.1 million EUR) investment, and this ship will be able to transport visitors to Mali Brijun, the smaller of the two islands, for the first time. Sveti Nikola Bay on Mali Brijun has a jetty dating back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which was so shallow that the previous excursion boat couldn’t dock there. Therefore, Mali Brijun has been largely neglected, since visitors could only reach it as part of an organized group and smaller boat. On Mali Brijun they could see a performance at the Ulysses Theater. This will be now be possible on a regular basis, and the ship should be finished in 18 months, which means that the Brijuni islands will offer more tourism opportunities when the 2021 season begins.

Ulysses Theater on Mali Brijun

Biggest Brijuni Islands Investment in Over a Decade

But this is only a part of a larger plan, and the largest investment on the Brijuni islands in the last decade, and beyond. It’s worth pointing out that billions are not involved, considering that big numbers are often mentioned when it comes to investing in these interesting islands. Recall that not long ago there was a plan to completely renovate the hotels and villas and add facilities and accommodations. It would have been a 250 million EUR investment, and the names of well-known worldwide luxury chains were being mentioned to run these hotels and attract the elite back to the islands, as they had done back in the 1920s and 1930s. Very little remains of that elite past and the islands still await the government’s next move. But governments and ministers with big plans have changed as the years have passed. Now the future of the Brijuni islands is no longer on hold.

In any case, opportunities to finance projects are being taken advantage of wherever they arise, and one of those is the Novo ruho Brijuna (New Brijuni Outfit) project which is worth 41 million HRK (5.5 million EUR). This project is being funded by the European Regional Development Fund. Ten percent of the funding is coming from the Environmental and Energy Efficiency Fund, and the rest from public institutions. This is a small sum when compared to more ambitious investment proposals, but it is noteworthy and will provide more tourism opportunities for the only national park on the Istrian peninsula. Finally, Mali Brijun will be available to a wider group of visitors, and that’s where the largest construction project is being planned.


Dormitories Renovated for Research and Education

“We plan to renovate seven facilities next year. These are former military dormitories at Sveti Nikola Bay. They will be updated and returned to their original use. The dormitories won’t house the military, but are intended for nature schools, for scientists, divers, researchers and even artists. Therefore, the purpose of these dormitories is to serve these groups who conduct their summer activities at the island. The updated dormitories will have about 70 rooms with bunk beds. They will be simple buildings with sanitary facilities. Some rooms will have their own bathrooms, and some will be equipped with common bathrooms,” says Masa Mihelić, who runs this European project on Brijuni National Park, and hopes that after this project there will be many others which will increase the tourist capacity on the island.

She also points out that the kitchens will be arranged among the seven facilities to serve guests’ needs. One kitchen will be used at the information center and another will be for other facilities, such as laundry and storage. Mihelić emphasizes that these new accommodations in Brijuni are not intended for the typical commercial tourist who might otherwise visit Veliki Brijun.

“We are placing emphasis on the educational research and cultural importance of this project. Larger groups will always be accommodated here, so the facilities cannot be used for individual purposes,” she explains.

Most of these facilities are not being used now and are in rather poor condition. One facility currently has a janitor, and another stores firefighter equipment. These investments will make this section of the national park come back to life. However, although construction has already begun and was expected to be finished by the start of this season; it has not gone as smoothly as planned, unfortunately. The completion of project had to be extended to 2021, Mihelić points out.


Mali Brijun Project Completion Postponed to 2021

“The project should have been completed by April 2020, but this will not be possible because of unforeseen circumstances. The pier on Mali Brijun collapsed and needed to be repaired. That became a multi-million EUR project, and our institution had to focus all its resources to address this issue. The rehabilitation of the facilities can begin only after this construction is completed,” Mihelić explains.

Their most significant accomplishment was choosing a contractor for the 150-passenger boat. One hundred of those seats will be inside the boat and accessible to people with disabilities.

New Catamaran Will Access Both Islands

“This boat will allow us to reach Veliki Brijun and Mali Brijun from Fažana. At the same time, the ship’s route will connect both islands. Then we will be able to organize a full day trip to Veliki and Mali Brijun. There will also be an option to go directly to Mali Brijun. Presently, it is only possible to visit that island as part of a special tour, but those had to be booked with advance notice and smaller groups. Special transport had to be used, which is why the trip was so expensive. This project will open the island to the general public and make the trip available to a wider audience,” points out Mihelić, who is the head of the largest EU project ever conducted on the Brijuni islands.

Veliki Brijun Renovation on Schedule

But no matter how far that project has fallen behind schedule, the rest of the renovation is being carried out according to plan. Therefore, by the end of this season, an information center had already been set up in Veliki Brijun, with an interactive screen presenting all the islands’ attractions. Two modern trains were purchased to transport tourists, and these allow people in wheelchairs to sightsee the island for the first time. The well-known Natural History Exhibition has been modernized and several new acquisitions are underway, as this is a complex project which will provide numerous new educational and tourist facilities. Tito's Summer Cinema will also get a new face.

Tito’s Cinema Gets Facelift

“It is a legendary cinema where Tito watched all the films which came to the Pula Film Festival, before their official screening. This space will be able to be used by cultural anthropologists when it is renovated and will feature long and short films on nature. So far, we have purchased 300 video clips from the archives of the former (Yugoslav) state in Belgrade which show the Brijuni islands from the 1950s to the 1980s. All of these films will be shown at the summer cinema,” the project manager points out.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton visit Tito on Brijuni Islands

And that's not everything. As part of the trip, the Brijuni islands will offer more than just a train ride and a visit to a safari park. That's why they are also designing 11 new attractions including promenades, stone stories, and educational trails.

For more information on tourist destinations and developments in Croatia, follow our Travel page. Check out the Brijuni Islands National Park website here, YouTube page here, and Instagram page here for more information and reservations.

2014 Best Croatian Promotional Film | Zagreb TourFilm Festival | Croatia

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Croatian Electric HEP: New Solar Power Plants on Adriatic Coast

Renewable energy sources are increasingly being harnessed on the Croatian coast, where there is ample wind and sun. In addition to wind power plants, which are multiplying every year, the construction of solar power plants is also on the rise.

There is one plant in Istria, which became operational in 2018, and three more will produce electricity in early 2020: on the islands of Cres and Vis and near Vrlika according to Morski on November 26, 2019. With investments of HRK 80 million, Croatian Electric Company (HEP) will add four new power plants to their network with a total capacity of 11.6 megawatts (MW). In the long term, they plan to complete solar power projects with a total power of 350 MW by the end of 2030.

The Kaštelir solar power plant has a capacity of 1 MW and an expected annual production of about 1.5 million kWh, which will meet the electricity needs of about 500 households. The power plant is equipped with solar panels manufactured by the Solvis company in Varaždin. This plant has been operating since December 2018. It has a contract with HROTE (Croatian Energy Market Operator) as a preferred producer within their incentive system. Here is an aerial video of the plant.

The location permit for the Cres solar power plant was obtained in June 2018 and that plant is being developed by the County of Primorje-goranska. The location of SE Cres is about 2 kilometers north of the settlement Orlec on the island of Cres. The power plant is 6.5 MW with an expected production capacity of 8.5 million kWh per year, which will meet the electricity needs of about 2,500 households. The total value of the investment is HRK 41 million. Preparatory work on the site is underway and the power plant will begin operating in 2020. Here is a simulation of the Cres power plant.

The Vis solar power plant will be located on the hill of Grizova Glavica, near the village of Žena Glava, about 3.6 kilometers southwest of the town of Vis and about 4.8 kilometers east of Komiža. HEP purchased the project from Končar-Obnovlji izvori energie (Končar Renewable Energy). The expected annual output is 4.2 million kWh, which will meet the needs of about 1,400 households. This investment is valued at HRK 25.3 million. The power plant is under construction and is expected to be operational by February 2020.


The Vrlika Jug solar power plant represents the completion of the first phase of planned construction in the southern part of the Kosora working zone in the town of Vrlika. The power plant will have 2.1 MW of power and an estimated annual output of about 2.9 million kWh. Construction will be completed in the first half of 2020, according to HEP.

For more information on HEP solar plant projects, check out their website here.

To keep updated on renewable energy projects in Croatia, follow our Business page here and our Lifestyle page here.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

"The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard" Filming Started in Rovinj

The Hitman's' Bodyguard, a movie released in 2017 starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson was a sleeper hit, making well over a hundred million dollars worldwide, despite mixed reviews. And, as we know is the case in today's Hollywood, any movie even remotely resembling a hit will get a sequel sooner or later. So, here comes The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard!

The key figures in the production of the sequel are more or less the same: two of the biggest stars are here, so is Salma Hayek (probably with the even bigger role in the sequel, based solely on the title of the movie) and directing again is a talented young director Patrick Hughes. After several complications and delays, the filming of the sequel finally started last week, and the reason we're reporting on that is that one of the locations where the scenes of the movie will be shot is the Istrian town of Rovinj! 

Rovinj will, reportedly, double for a town in Italy. Some scenes will be shot in Italy as well, in Bulgaria, the UK and in early May the production is supposed to move to Rijeka and Zagreb, as some scenes will also be shot in those towns! So far there have not been any reports of the stars' sightings in Rovinj, where they are supposed to arrive this weekend. Jutarnji list reports that they have arrived on Saturday afternoon, but they've not yet been seen. They are expected to be staying in Hotel Lone or Grand Park Hotel Rovinj, the newest and the most luxurious hotel in the town. 

Croatia is still, obviously, doing some good work that is continually bringing several big TV or movie productions to get filmed here. One of the first big shows to be filmed in Croatia in recent years was the Game of Thrones, whose final season is just about to be premiered, and even after that production has wrapped-up, we still see big stars filming in Croatia! The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard is just the latest in the long list.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Vinistra: Legendary Steven Spurrier Thrilled with Malvasia

At the masterclass workshop led by the renowned British wine critic, the sensational Malvasias demonstrated all their power and beauty, as well as an extraordinary richness of tastes.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Sad Truth About Istra 1961: "Glover Will Not Show His Face in Pula Again"

Is there a new owner in sight? Have the players been paid? The Istra 1961 captain speaks. 

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Sea Star Festival Announced, Croatian EXIT Festival Brings 6 Stages and 70 Performers for 2017

Summer music festival EXIT, one of the top ten music festivals in Europe and an award-winner which is held at the Petrovaradin Fortress in the city of Novi Sad, Serbia, will have a Croatian version next year. Held in Umag on May 26 and 27, Sea Star, Croatia’s EXIT Festival, has already confirmed The Prodigy, Urban & 4, and Kolektiv for the 2017 lineup.

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