Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Concours Mondial de Bruxelles: Wine Competition Coming to Istria

May the 24th, 2022 - Istria is set to play host to one of the most prestigious wine competitions on the face of the Earth, which will be fantastic promotion for this region of Croatia which is celebrated for its wine and other indigenous products.

As Morski writes, what the Champions League in the world of sport is is what the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles is to the wine world. This prestigious international competition is coming to Istria in May 2023, and this acts as great recognition not only for the gorgeous Istrian peninsula and Istrian winemakers, but for the whole of Croatia.

With the aim of promoting Istrian wines and the Istrian peninsula as an attractive wine destination, Vinistra has nominated the coastal city of Porec to host this famous evaluation in the section of still red and white wines, which will be held from the 11th to the 14th of May, and will gather more than 350 evaluators, top wine connoisseurs and other similar experts. Among them will be wine journalists, and in a few days about ten thousand wine samples from about fifty countries will be evaluated in total.

Accompanying programmes, excursions and tastings will be organised for the participants of this international wine event, so the evaluators will get to know Istria, and posts on social media, portals, blogs, TV shows and magazines will tour the world. Showcasing Istria and Croatia and the amazing wine the country produces, which still tends to fly under the radar in the shadow of the likes of France for most.

Since Istria a small region, we've opted for excellence and that's why today we can proudly say that we produce top quality wines and that for the seventh year in a row we have been proclaimed to have the best olive oil in the entire world. Wine and winemaking are part of Istrian traditions and have made Istria a recognisable brand on the global market. That's why being the host of the international wine evaluation, Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, is a great honour and a perfect opportunity for us to present just why Istria is famous to the whole world,'' said the Istrian prefect Boris Miletic.

Along with Decanter and IWC, the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles is the world’s largest wine evaluation and it was founded way back in 1994, and since 2006 it has been held every other year in a different country. So far, the competition has visited fifteen of the most famous wine countries, including the Republic of Croatia next year.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

700 People Join 7th Istria Wine and Walk Event, 60% of Them Foreigners

May the 24th, 2022 - The seventh Istria Wine and Walk event was attended by 700 people this year, with 60 percent of that figure being made up by foreign visitors, which is an excellent indicator for both this gorgeous region of Croatia and its wine.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, as many as 700 lovers of the charm of the northwestern Istrian peninsula gathered at the seventh edition of the Istria Wine and Walk event and enjoyed an even richer eno gastronomic offer and the outstanding natural beauty of this beautiful region.

The first event of this type in the Republic of Croatia, the very first edition of which was initially held back in 2015, welcomed many local and foreign visitors with 13 top quality Istrian winemakers, nine local caterers and producers at as many as eight refreshing stops.

"I've been coming to the Istria Wine and Walk event for several years now and it surprises me each and every time. The Istria Wine & Walk event is a truly unique event that combines top wines with an excellent gastronomic offer, all during the part of the year that is ideal for exploring the charms of this part of Istria,'' said photographer and travel blogger Domagoj Sever.

This year's Istria Wine and Walk, for which 700 registration fees were sold out in a mere few days, once again proved to be especially popular among guests from abroad, as well as guests from other parts of Croatia who recognise northwestern Istria as a top tourist and eno-gastronomic destination.

"We come every year, except when the coronavirus pandemic was raging. We look forward to every edition because we're always greeted by beautiful landscapes, top wines and food, and this is our day to recharge with a bit of positive energy. The Istria Wine & Walk event is a sort of retreat for us,'' said Maja Culig, a visitor from Zagreb.

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

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Pula Airport to be Connected to 30 European Cities This Year

May the 14th, 2022 - Pula Airport is set to be connected with an impressive thirty different European destinations this year, which is excellent news not only for Istrian tourism but for the height of the main summer season across Croatia as a whole.

As Morski writes, in addition to scheduled and charter flights to Pula Airport, some very well-known low-cost airlines are flying this season: easyJet, Ryanair, then the German low-cost airline Eurowings, the Czech Smartwings, the Swiss Edelweiss Air, Norway's Air Shuttle and the Dutch low-cost airline Transavia Holland.

Pula Airport plans a traffic of about 400 thousand passengers this year, which is one hundred thousand passengers more than last year or almost five times more passengers than the initial pandemic year of 2020, when only 83 thousand passengers were recorded passing through the airport.

When it comes to the record-breaking, pre-pandemic year of 2019, Pula Airport had a traffic of almost 778 thousand passengers, which is a good example to look at when comparing the expectations when it comes to passengers this year.

According to the director of the Pula Airport, Nina Vojnic Zagar, these are the current plans for the announced flights, which are subject to change because the situation in the area is unstable owing to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

''During the month of May, we expect an increase in the activity of air companies, with more intensive operations (an increase in terms of frequencies) and the remaining flights of low-budget companies starting at the end of June. Last weekend (Saturday, April the 30th and Sunday, May the 1st), there was a turnover of 825 passengers and 23 rotations of regular and general aviation,'' said Vojnic Zagar for local portal Istra24.

Owing to sanctions, Pula Airport has been left without the impact of the Russian market

When asked how much air traffic will suffer due to the war in Ukraine following Russian invasion, especially given the fact that Pula Airport was connected to Russia by planes that landed there every weekend, Zagar said that last year there were 50,834 passengers from Russia and 21,670 passengers from Ukraine, which accounts for about 27 percent of the airport's total turnover.

Last season, Pula Airport had the largest number of airlines to and from Russia, and from this market there were as many as 12 weekly flights offered by five different airlines.

''Before the invasion of Ukraine, the expected number of passengers from the Russian and Ukrainian markets in 2022 was about 92,000 passengers,'' said Vojnic Zagar. It is obvious that this year we will be left without these emitting markets.

This year, Pula will be connected with 13 different European countries and about 30 cities by air, regular and charter lines.

For example, Great Britain with London, Manchester, Bristol, Glasgow, Doncaster, the German cities of Frankfurt, Munich, Duesseldorf, Stuttgart, Cologne and, in France, Paris.

The planes will also fly to Poznan, Poland, Amsterdam and Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Vienna in Austria, and there are as many as four Swiss cities included as well: Zurich, Geneva, Basel and St. Gallen. As for the north of Europe, Pula will be connected with Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Gothenburg and the Finnish capital of Helsinki.

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

Saturday, 7 May 2022

Grand Hotel Brioni Opens in Pula, Enriching Istrian City's Tourist Offer

May the 7th, 2022 - The Grand Hotel Brioni has opened its luxurious doors in the much loved Istrian city of Pula, enriching the area's overall tourist offer and providing its guests with stunning views over the nearby Brijuni islands, after which the facility is named.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Grand Hotel Brioni has just opened in the City of Pula and is ready to receive guests after a highly detailed renovation and decoration process which made it one of the largest investments in Croatian tourism, worth over 34 million euros. This luxury hotel has 227 rooms and is part of the Arena Hospitality Group's enviable portfolio. Such an investment will raise the tourist offer of Pula and the whole of Istria to an even higher level, and significantly enrich the Croatian tourist offer as a whole.

This year, the famous Pula hotel is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and throughout history it has been one of the leaders in the hotel industry in Pula and Croatia. With this investment, the Grand Hotel Brioni received a unique and modern interior and exterior design, and the first guests have already been announced. The total area of ​​the hotel spans a huge 21,000 square metres with about 27,000 square metres of landscaped exterior with oases for relaxation as well.

The exclusive feeling the facility offers is the result of carefully planned decoration, imbued with refined elegance, grey with blue details accompanied by the warm tones of wood, artistic and marine/coastal details. For the decoration of each room, works by local artists have been selected that give the impression that each room is a small art residence of sorts. The Grand Hotel Brioni is also well equipped with a system of smart hotel rooms that is in line with the latest trends and technologies. Guests can check in online and room doors are unlocked with a digital key via their own smartphone.

The City of Pula organised a lunch on the occasion of the Day of the City of Pula in the Grand Hotel Brioni on the opening day, which was also attended by the President of the Republic of Croatia Zoran Milanovic. On the occasion of the opening, Reli Slonim, the President of the Management Board of Arena Hospitality Group stated the following:

"Brijuni is an internationally attractive destination and we're pleased to be able to welcome guests in honour of one of the most beautiful Adriatic gems in this special ambience of the newly renovated Grand Hotel Brioni, which boasts a rich history. We've kept the best of the past so the quality architecture and exterior of the hotel has remained the same, but the hotel has been completely refurbished.

Guests can enjoy the luxurious furnishings and each room is equipped with the latest technology. The hotel has several conference halls, which can be adapted to the needs of congress tourism and various business and social events. Providing the perfect destination for rest, relaxation and enjoyment, but also for corporate needs, the Grand Hotel Brioni will be open all year round. Our goal is to provide permanent jobs for all 230 hotel employees, and we plan to further expand our team as time goes on.''

The Grand Hotel Brioni is preparing a top gastronomic offer for guests from across the rest of Croatia and the world, backed by an exceptional culinary team led by chef Luka Jukic, and the hotel has as many as 4 restaurants. In the relaxation areas, guests will get to enjoy the best numerous beauty treatments, massages, an indoor pool, a hot tub and saunas. With a beautiful view of the nearby Brijuni islands, the imposing infinity pool which is around 60 metres long is perfect for a hotel which will soon reach the very top of the tourist map of Croatia.

For more, check out our travel section.

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

Construction of Three New Fazana Hotels Planned, Locals Displeased

April the 5th, 2022 - The construction of three more brand new Fazana hotels are planned as this beautiful part of Istria is set to place itself even more firmly on the tourism map. Some, however, are far from pleased with the plans.

As Morski writes, there could be three more new Fazana hotels constructed within a distance of 200 metres. The third hotel is planned on a municipal plot spanning 2,200 square metres located on the very waterfront. That plot is set to on sale next year at a starting price of 1,200,000 euros.

''SDP councilors are the ones who bear full moral responsibility for these apartments and hotels that will irrevocably change everything that makes us love Fazana today,'' said opposition councilor Lidija Udovicki.

A few days ago, we reported that two new Fazana hotels with a total capacity of up to 350 beds are planned to be built on the very waterfront, but it was established that this was incomplete information. Readers of the local Istra24 portal warned that, after the latest changes to the spatial plan and right in the centre of the waterfront, the construction of another hotel which would be 15 metres high and with a capacity of 75 beds was planned.

This allegation about the existence of the third plot on which the hotel is planned, was also confirmed by the mayor of Fazana himself, Radomir Korac.

''Next to Badel is a municipal plot which spans 2,200 square metres in total. In the earlier plan, there was an activity called K1, which is a market or something very similar. However, we estimated that there was no place for a market there. The sixth amendment adopted by the municipal council was also marked T1, which is a hotel,'' Korac went on to explain.

The plot will go on sale next year at a very high price of 550 euros per square metre, and Korac expects that there will be a huge interest in that plot as well, and that it could achieve a higher price than this one in the tender. In the calculation, the starting price for a plot of 2,200 square metres would be the aforementioned 1,200,000 euros.

That would mean that, on a mere 200-metre stretch, Fazana would have three new hotels in the near future: one boasting 195 beds owned by Aleksandar Dzombic, one of 75 which would be mostly on the municipal plot, and a third, boasting 150 beds, which would also be on a municipal plot that will soon go on sale for at least two million euros.

''Six changes to the spatial plan in a very small area next to the old town and on the first row to the sea, enabled the construction of as many as 120 apartments and three new Fazana hotels. I'd like to point out that all SDP councillors voted for this megalomaniacal and devastating plan without any discussion. They're the ones who bear the full moral responsibility for all these apartments and hotels that will radically and irreversibly change everything that makes us love Fazana today. The entire opposition voted against these plans,'' said Udovicki in protest.

''When looking into the minutes of the aforementioned session, it's evident that the SDP councillors didn't participate at all in the discussion on any of the changes to the plan that are evidently and extensively in favour of the investors,'' she added.

''Many key things were agreed upon and then changed behind the scenes. The public debate didn't accept the peoples' remarks on the oversising of these hotel projects, but the numerous and extravagant demands of the company "Terra-Rex", represented by Nebojsa Dzombic, the brother of Aleksandar Dzombic, were readily adopted. For example, one such request concerned the closure of an unclassified road leading to what is currently a car park. Dzombic cited the need to secure and close the whole area for himself in order to develop the tourist complex,'' concluded Lidija Udovicki critically.

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

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Underwater Exploration: Istria to Brand Destinations as Best Spots for Snorkeling

March 2nd, 2022 - A map of the seabed containing all the best spots for snorkeling is in the works

Did you know that there’s no specific word for snorkeling in the Croatian language? Now that you do, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that so far, not much thought has been given to the prospect of branding destinations as attractive snorkeling spots.

As a low-effort activity that doesn’t require any special skills or a full set of scuba diving gear, snorkeling appeals to all generations. It would make sense for Croatia, a country where tourism promotion is largely based on the sun and sea, to promote destinations that are ideal for this type of underwater exploration. 

Things are looking up, though, as the Administrative Department for Tourism of Istria County, along with numerous tourist boards in the region, embraced an initiative to create a map of the seabed which would feature all snorkeling-friendly locations. The initiative is seen as a good opportunity to develop a new tourism product on the Istrian peninsula.

A round table was held yesterday, bringing together representatives of the tourism sector and experts involved in marine conservation, writes Glas Istre. Various opinions were voiced at the meeting, concerning all the things that need to be taken into consideration when developing this product. It was emphasised that it’s important to find the right balance between the potential benefits of such an initiative and preservation of the sustainability and biodiversity of our waters.

‘The maritime area of Istria is an important natural resource that we need to preserve, whereas on the other hand it has exceptional potential for tourist valorization. It is for these reasons that the initiative was launched to create a new tourism product based on the principle of sustainable and responsible tourism development’, said Nada Prodan Mraković, the head of the Administrative Department for Tourism.

The round table was organised as a sort of professional brainstorming, aiming to ensure that development of this product is well thought-out so that any potential issues and mistakes could be avoided.

‘The sea is a very sensitive environment, and we can and must promote the importance of its conservation and protection as we develop this new product’, said Prodan Marković.

Director of the Istria County Tourist Board Denis Ivošević brought attention to the importance of media promotion that Istria as a destination receives by generating new tourism development projects.

‘It is very important for every tourism development project to be well-communicated. The project we are talking about today is definitely very creative and innovative, and since it has a direct link with sustainable and responsible development, it’s definitely a project that could be met with approval of the public’, said Ivošević.

The person who came up with the initial idea is Barbara Unković, owner of the Underwater Affair company and the round table moderator. As she says, diving has been a passion of hers for three decades.

‘My life story is intertwined with the sea, and the experience of working with tourists has shown me that it’s difficult to explain to people where you’re taking them diving. That’s why I started drawing maps of the seabed to make the task easier. The concept of a project related to snorkelling came to me during lockdown, when the idea was born to use maps to introduce more people to our underwater environment and make them interested in it’, she said.

The idea was shared with institutions involved in tourism development in Istria, and it drew a lot of interest thus far. Some tourist boards took steps to develop this particular segment of tourism on their own, Melita Peroković of the Fažana Tourist Board being one of the pioneers.

‘We’ve recognized the potential of snorkelling when it comes to promotion of our extremely rich history, cultural heritage and tourism offer. The Archaeological Museum of Istria (AMI) recently conducted research at a hook-shaped ancient Roman pier which, after the sea level rose more than two metres over the last two millennia, now lies submerged in the area in front of Villa San Lorenzo. Together with the AMI, we researched how this archeological site could be valorised for tourism purposes through the means of snorkeling, and we were the first in Croatia to receive approval from the Ministry of Culture to allow snorkelling above a protected cultural asset’, said Peroković.


Monday, 24 January 2022

Istrian Gastronomy Celebrated in Promotional Film ''Good Mood / Good Food''

January 24, 2022 - Through the ''Authentic Istria'' initiative, the region's tourist boards have jointly presented the promotional film ''Good Mood / Good Food'', highlighting the most characteristic and valuable elements of the Istrian gastronomy, both its unique ingredients and traditional recipes.

The premiere of the promotional film Authentic Istria: Good mood / Good food was held in Pazin, which includes a part of the gastronomic offer of the Tourist Boards of Central Istria, the City of Buzet, and the municipalities of Barban, Kanfanar, Svetvinčenat, and Žminj Labin companies Level 52, reports HrTurizam.hr.

The backbone of the film is the rich Istrian gastronomy and good mood that Istrian local food encourages. The film thus visually presents the ambassadors of Istrian cuisine: truffles, prosciutto, wine, čripnja, cheese, oysters, homemade pasta, desserts such as Cukerančić and Christ's Crown, and others.

In the film, the viewer meets the hosts who are in the field, in their catering facilities and production units to show the originality and quality of local food offered in central Istria. In addition to gastronomic experiences, there are other unique experiences to offer: sleeping on straw, driving through beautiful landscapes, tasting fresh food in the field or on a boat, lunch among the vineyards, socializing with the hosts, etc. 

Sanel Isanović, director of the Level 52 company and the film's author, emphasized that with this film the desire was to go a step further and tell the story of Authentic Istria, which will first create good feelings and connections between viewers and destinations and create a desire to come.

"The whole film is designed as a journey that begins with a couple of tourists waking up on a straw bed, rich in panoramic shots of central Istria, sun-drenched hills, fields with hay bales, forests, and shots of beautiful scenery," explains Isanović.

As the film's producer Bianca Dagostin pointed out, over 40 local extras took part in the film, and the collaboration with local producers and caterers who significantly helped in the realization of the film was exceptional.

The promotional film that celebrates Istrian gastronomy was published in Croatian and English, and realized within the activities defined by the Agreement on the Association of Tourist Boards of Cities and Municipalities from Central Istria entitled "Authentic Istria". The realization of the film was financed by the Fund for United Tourist Boards, Croatian Tourist Board.

For more, check out our dedicated travel section.

Friday, 31 December 2021

10,000 Tourists in Istria During Christmas and New Year Holidays

December 31, 2021 - About 10,000 tourists in Istria County will celebrate the New Year in fifteen open hotels and two camps on the Istrian peninsula. The Istria County Tourist Board reveals that this is a 3x increase in guests compared to last year. 

"Almost ten thousand guests are currently vacationing in Istria, which is three times more than last year when 3,750 guests stayed during the Christmas and New Year holidays, but twice less than the record 2019 when 21,500 tourists stayed in our county," says Istria County Tourist Board director Denis Ivošević, as reported by HRT.

He adds that he is satisfied with the number of guests because "if the epidemiological situation allows it, it is the announcement of a good tourist year in 2022."

During December, 105,000 tourists stayed in Istria, which is 27 percent less than two years ago when there were 142,166.

Most guests stay in Poreč and Rovinj, with domestic tourists in the lead, followed by guests from Slovenia, Germany, Austria, and Italy. According to the Istria County Tourist Board, most guests stay in hotels, almost 60 percent.

Arena Hospitality Group reports that during the winter months, including New Year's Eve, they opened the Park Plaza Belvedere hotel in Medulin and the Arena Grand Kažela camp in Medulin. They expect about a thousand guests who will stay two to three days. Their guests are mainly from Austria and Slovenia, and this year, they noticed increased interest from domestic guests.

Following the epidemiological situation and prescribed measures, Valamar will organize a unique holiday program for guests of its hotels and camps, such as live music and DJ performances, in facilities that operate during the Christmas and New Year periods.

During December and the holiday season in Rovinj, Maistra's Grand Park Hotel Rovinj, Lone, Adriatic, Eden, Amarin, then Pineta, apartments Riva and camping Porto Sole in Vrsar were opened.

For more, check out our dedicated travel section.

Saturday, 27 November 2021

Lorena Boljuncic Develops Idea Istra, Focuses on Cultural Heritage

November the 27th, 2021 - Entrepreneur Lorena Boljuncic from Pula was named the most innovative Croatian entrepreneur this year in the selection of the Women in Adria network. Her entrepreneurial story, which focuses on her Idea Istra concept, is an interesting one.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, Lorena Boljuncic’s story is one of those that inspires and gives other women the courage they might be seeking to do something brave even when it seems impossible.

From a secure job in an international company, Lorena switched to the far less stable, far more challenging waters of entrepreneurship and launched several successful projects in Pula with her agency for the development of new cultural and tourist products, Idea Istra.

“My entry into private business wasn't accidental, it was a conscious decision. After years of working in international companies, I felt I was ready for entrepreneurship. The different things that interested me during my life finally came together and I knew what area of ​​work I wanted to create something in,'' Lorena Boljuncic said.

Although culture is usually not a field, at least not here in Croatia, to which business is connected, Lorena took culture as the focus of her business development. “I was born in Pula, which is rich in historical heritage, I studied art history and I was always interested in how we talk about it and how we present our culture and history... how we present our destination through cultural heritage. During and after college, I travelled along the Croatian coast and collected materials/brochures from our historic cities. Culture has always been just an ornament, a beautiful picture in one general brochure, without much content. The museums had classic exhibits which were several decades old, with many artifacts, and without a story, without something whole, so few people entered, and no one cared about it,'' explained Lorena Boljuncic.

She added that she also realised that Croatia as a tourist destination has many great opportunities to attract guests who aren't only interested in the sun and the sea, but also travel because of cultural heritage, that this can be a reason to come and that various cultural and tourist products in a given destination must be made profitable. She says there are examples of this all over the world, especially here in Europe.

"Today, in general, everything is changing rapidly, we have an increasingly extensive network of heritage interpreters, great people who create interesting content, interactive museum exhibits are being created, cultural monuments are being restored. However, I have to say that there are a lot of projects that lack an entrepreneurial approach where you want to have as many guests as possible, making money from it so that you can reinvest and create new content. A lot of museums are still "waiting" for something to happen to them, for some money to come, instead of making a move on their own. On the one hand, there's certainly a lack of knowledge in cultural management, and on the other hand, the owners, the public administration, don't ask for specific goals to be met from the heads of institutions,'' she stated.

Her most famous project is the House of Istrian Olive Oil, which is the first project, and not only in Croatia, which moves away from the classic settings with a lot of artifacts and gives a wide approach to knowledge of olive growing.

“There's certainly an interesting historical story about the development of olive growing in Istria, from the Roman period until today. Modernity is quite well represented through the display of the assortment, which all olive growers must pay attention to in order to obtain quality extra virgin olive oil, which we learn through chemical and sensory analysis, etc. After that, each guest goes through a guided tasting session - a form of education where, according to international standards, we learn different categories of olive oil and how to recognise them. Our guests are incredibly surprised when they realise that most of what they buy in their stores isn't real extra virgin olive oil, and that quality and healthy olive oil has different flavors and aromas,'' Lorena Boljuncic noted.

She explained that her idea behind Idea Istra is a more transformational form of the presentation of cultural heritage, where guests not only get better acquainted with part of the cultural heritage and the present, but also learn something new that benefits them in everyday life.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Friday, 26 November 2021

New Port Opens in Trget, Istria

ZAGREB, 26 Nov 2021 - A new port with 295 refurbished berths for a total value of HRK 10.5 million was officially opened on Friday in Trget, Istria as the most organised port in the remit of the Rabac Port Authority.

During the opening ceremony it was said that the Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure financed the project with HRK 8.4 million and Istria County provided HRK 2.1 million.

In the wake of an accident involving the Liberian ship Fidelity in 2018, when oil leaked out in the Bršica port and the entire Raša Bay and the Trget port were polluted, it was necessary to remove the old berths and clean up the bay. This clean-up cost Istria County HRK 195,000 and Raša Municipality HRK 92,000.

The director of the Rabac Port Authority, Antonela Mohorović Kožuh, recalled that incident and said that today that episode was brought to a happy end.

"With the assistance of the Civil Protection Authority, with a lot of effort, we managed then to organise and deal with the damage. At the end of it all, we have a new port in Trget. Once a small, ugly and abandoned port, we now have 295 refurbished berths. Trget port is now the most organised port in the area in the remit of the Rabac Port Authority and it makes us all proud," underscored Mohorović Kožuh.

She added that next year a moor would be built in Trget and that documents are being prepared to refurbish the Sv. Marina port.

For more on travel, CLICK HERE.


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