Thursday, 16 December 2021

City Becomes Majority Owner of Dubrovnik Port Company

ZAGREB, 16 Dec 2021 - The City of Dubrovnik has become the majority owner of the Dubrovnik Port company with a 51.32% stake, mayor Mato Franković said on Thursday, calling this important for the company's future and the management of the city's port area.

The city previously acquired a 48.75% stake in the company and has become the majority owner after the city-owned company UTD Ragusa acquired another 2.75%. At a general shareholders' assembly on 22 November, Dubrovnik Port was authorized to buy 8.99% of its shares from the Atlantska Plovidba shipping company.

The mayor told the press that today was a historic day and decision for the future of Dubrovnik Port and the management of the city's waters.

"In recent years attempts were made to devalue Dubrovnik Port and award the cruise ship terminal project to another company. That would have made the port's future questionable and now we have changed all that."

Franković said that after 15 years the obligations to the government had been fulfilled and that, together with it, a procedure was launched to award a concession for the construction of a cruise ship terminal in the port. He hopes Dubrovnik Port "will soon get a priority concession."

The company's director Željko Raguž said the next step, in order to get the concession, is to amend the urban plan with regard to the city's port.

He said Dubrovnik Port would end 2021 with a profit of over HRK 2 million (€266,000).

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Monday, 22 November 2021

Agreement for Procurement of 18 Buses Signed in Dubrovnik

ZAGREB, 22 Nov 2021 - An agreement was signed in Dubrovnik on Monday for the procurement of 18 new buses for Dubrovnik's public transportation bus company, worth almost HRK 38.7 million (€5.16 million) of which 85% will be provided by the European Union.

The Libertas bus company will, thus, renew its fleet with two articulated low-floor buses, six mini low-floor buses, seven mini urban-suburban buses, and three midi suburban buses. As many old buses will be taken off the roads.

Mayor Mato Franković announced that traffic around the historical old town will soon be restricted to vehicles of local residents and public transport.

"I believe that visitors to the city will choose Libertas as the simplest and easiest form of transport to the historical old town," said Franković.

The bus company's director, Franko Mekišić, said citizens will directly feel the benefit of the procurement because the buses meet the newest standards and ecological norms.

"This will reduce the overall age of vehicles from 12 to 9 years. We currently have 110 vehicles, 80 of which are in use. We are intensively working on absorbing certain EU funds in the coming period to procure more buses," said Mekišić.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 28 October 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Racism in Dubrovnik? Mayor Mato Franković Responds to Actress Gabrielle Union

September 15, 2021 - Mayor Mato Franković sent a letter to famous American actress Gabrielle Union, responding to a story in her new memoir that details racism in Dubrovnik when she visited in 2019.

Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Franković sent an open letter to famous American actress Gabrielle Union, who in her new memoirs recalled an unpleasant racially conditioned incident she experienced during a summer vacation in Croatia, reports Slobodna Dalmacija

"Dear Ms. Union, I was quite surprised by your statement that during your stay in Dubrovnik you had an unpleasant experience where you, I quote 'experienced a large amount of hatred and threats of violence,' as you say, in a club full of racist symbols and neo-Nazis who were present.

On behalf of the City of Dubrovnik, the people of Dubrovnik, and myself, I express my strongest condemnation of such a statement and outrage at any messages of hatred and violence. Dubrovnik has always been an open city where racist segregation clubs have never existed. Dubrovnik is a city that actually has a single nightclub that is one of the best clubs in Europe.

Dubrovnik is a city of highly tolerant people, culture, and history that has been developed on the Dubrovnik cliff for more than a millennium. That is why we are surprised by such a primitive and individual act.

Moreover, we are proud that our rich history is adorned by the fact that the Republic of Dubrovnik banned the slave trade in 1416, long before the United States did so, even though the republic's main economic branches were maritime trade. As in many ways, the people of Dubrovnik were already ahead of their time in respecting human life and human rights. The notion of ‘freedom’ (libertas, libertà) is one of the key motives in the political tradition of old Dubrovnik that has survived to this day.

I believe that you are aware that your statement on the isolated case has caused great damage to Dubrovnik and all its citizens, who will get the impression that they belong to a system of values that Dubrovnik and its citizens have never inherited. Dubrovnik, on the contrary, is a city that has always accepted all people, and our fellow citizens treat everyone like good hosts. Therefore, your recollection about the event that you stated happened two years ago took us by surprise, especially because there is no such club as you describe in Dubrovnik.

Therefore, dear Mrs. Union, I again express my regret for the isolated incident that happened to you in our city. I apologize to you and at the same time emphasize that Dubrovnik has always been and will be in the future a city of freedom, equality, and respect for all," said Dubrovnik mayor Mato Franković.

Namely, Union was in Dubrovnik two years ago with actress Jessica Alba at NEM. In her memoirs, “We're Going to Need More Wine,” she recalled a ‘terrifying’ racist incident she experienced in Dubrovnik. The actress reportedly got into what she thought was a gay bar with a group of friends, but after looking around, they realized they were surrounded by people they perceived as ‘neo-Nazis’ who immediately threatened them.

"I have never experienced such a level of hatred and the threat of physical violence," Union recalled, adding that the group followed them down the street as they left.

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

Sunday, 11 July 2021

Mayor Mato Franković Invites All Brits to Dubrovnik from July 19

July 11, 2021 - Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Franković has invited all Brits to Dubrovnik from July 19, when self-isolation measures are lifted for amber list countries.  

Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Franković gave a statement to Times Radio in which he invited the British market to vacation in Dubrovnik this summer, reports HRTurizam.

Namely, the UK authorities have made a new decision for the travel of their citizens, according to which from July 19, those returning from countries from the "amber list" and are vaccinated with two doses or are under 18, will no longer have to self isolate for 10 days after returning to the country, which includes returning from Croatia.

For Dubrovnik, the decision is critical given that it is the British market that holds the leading position in the number of tourist arrivals in the city.

"This is great news, and we see that a lot of European countries are going in that direction. Of course, we still need to be careful about the presence of the Delta Variant, but with both doses of the vaccine, people can be free to travel and enjoy. I must also say that we started direct flights with London even before this decision of the UK government and that the plane was full," said Mayor Franković in an interview with journalist Carole Walker.

She was also interested in what measures are in force and what the situation is in Dubrovnik today.

"Everything is open, masks should be worn indoors, and for clubs that gather more visitors, there is a rule of entry with a negative test or both doses of vaccine received," the mayor explained.

He also invited the British to come to Dubrovnik because they are having a warm summer and no crowds at the moment, so this time is an opportunity for a nice and pleasant vacation.

Follow the latest on flights to Croatia HERE and the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia HERE.

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

Friday, 2 July 2021

Dubrovnik Mayor Cites Vaccinations as Crucial in Current Situation

2 July 2021 - Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Frankovic appeared on the N1 network’s central news show Dnevnik. In his interview, he was mostly focused on the current situation in Dubrovnik's tourism.

Dubrovnik is a world-famous destination and has been for quite some time. But, the city also lacks other notable industries contributing to the local economy. With the current situation on the city’s most important travel market, that of the UK, it is clear things are not looking great for Dubrovnik.

Frankovic reflected on the difficulties of getting guests from the UK at the moment. He did emphasize concerns over the Delta strain of the COVID19 virus that seems to be dominant in Britain. In his words, opening towards the British market this year needs to be slow and careful. In a couple of days the first British Airways flight of the season is coming to Dubrovnik from the UK. British Airways has been one of the most important airlines for Dubrovnik’s post-Homeland War tourism boom. This year, many in Dubrovnik are eager to see the company back at the local airport.

Fight for Tourism Numbers

The main goal for this season, according to Frankovic, is getting the number of fully vaccinated people up as soon as possible. In his words, we might be facing another abrupt end to the tourism season if the vaccination numbers don’t improve. The mayor also said over 47% of the general population has had vaccinations and around 30% of people have antibodies already. This will not suffice, according to him.

As reported on N1’s official website, Frankovic ultimately stated: “By vaccinating we are keeping the economy alive and putting bread on the table of each Croatian family. I am calling upon the moral responsibility of all those involved in the business.”

Quite dramatic from Dubrovnik's mayor as the city enters July and sees the beginning of direct flights from USA. Still, considering the city streets, beaches and restaurants are still half-empty, it comes as no surprise he is getting anxious about Dubrovnik’s tourism and hospitality numbers.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and choose your preferred language.

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

 

Monday, 28 June 2021

Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Frankovic Praised by CLIA's Kelly Craighead

June the 28th, 2021 - Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Frankovic has been praised by the Cruise Line International Association's director Kelly Craighead as Croatia's southernmost city sees cruise tourism make a gradual but steady return to its waters.

As Morski writes, Kelly Craighead sent a letter to Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Frankovic in which, among other things, she thanked him for his engagement because the City of Dubrovnik, despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis, stood firmly by this organisation.

''The coronavirus pandemic has brought some new challenges to everyone, but I'm glad that we've continued our cooperation during this time, which is why I'm sure that we will soon be able to intensify our joint efforts in responsible and sustainable tourism management in this destination,'' said Craighead, noting that sustainability remains very much a priority on the CLIA's list.

''We're really pleased that we managed to restart our operations around the world, including in Dubrovnik,'' she writes, thanking Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Frankovic and his team for their engagement and role they played in restarting the business of cruise companies operating in Croatia, which is the result of lifting the ban on passenger ships operating as international cruises in Croatian ports. The above was Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Frankovic's own initiative.

In her letter, the leader of the umbrella and largest association of the cruise industry, which represents 95% of the total market, states, among other things, that the city administration headed by Mayor Frankovic and Deputy Jelko Tepsic is a longtime partner of CLIA.

''We're proud of the Cooperation Agreement we signed back in July 2019 and everything we have achieved together so far, and the partnership and cooperation between CLIA and the City of Dubrovnik is a model for us successful destination management and engagement with local communities, we aren't going to miss the opportunity make it public,'' wrote Kelly Craighead.

In conclusion, Craighead is pleased that the cruise industry will in part contribute to the economic recovery of Dubrovnik and she thanked Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Frankovic for being a strong advocate of the interests of his city, sustainable tourism and for remaining a friend of the CLIA and the cruise industry as a whole.

For more, follow our lifestyle section.

Friday, 11 June 2021

First Big Dubrovnik Cruise Ship Arrives after Pandemic Break

11 June, 2021 - The very first large Dubrovnik cruise ship with passengers on board since the start of the pandemic arrrived today. This is a pieces of news many people in Dubrovnik have been waiting for for quite some time.

MSC Orchestra arrived to Dubrovnik this morning. It is the first big Dubrovnik cruise ship to bring passengers into the city after a long and costly silent period caused by the pandemic. This 294m long behemoth can house 2550 passengers in its 1275 cabins. It is not new to Dubrovnik as MSC ships are some of the most commonly seen cruise ships in the city's port. With the city’s tourism sector feeding so many local Dubrovnik families, the long awaited arrival of a thousand or so guests at one time is seen as nothing short of a blessing. This is exactly why Dubrovnik’s mayor Mato Frankovic was quick to point out the arrival of the ship and its significance on his social media.

MatoFrankovic_MSCOrchestra.jpg

Source: Mato Frankovic / Facebook

Dubrovnik’s love/hate relationship with modern day cruise ships has been an ongoing state of being for the last couple of decades or so. The cruise ship industry brought to the city a quick way of recuperating large numbers of guests after the Croatian Homeland war of the 1990’s, which left the city’s economy in a total shambles. Soon after the first ships started arriving back to Dubrovnik, it became clear that Croatia's southernmost city is a perfect short stop port for many. Cruise ships brought with them large number of guests and did wonders in prolonging the tourist season.

Of course, it’s not all good news. A large amount of people coming to the city for a short time means crowded streets and traffic jams once again, an old Dubrovnik problem. For many, the experience of Dubrovnik became lessened by the fact the movement along the main areas was at times very difficult. Overcrowding and the strain placed on the infrastructure became a real issue. Dubrovnik’s image of a pleasant destination perfect for longer stays is now under threat.

What’s Next?

With all this being said, it will be very interesting to see how cruise ships are going to fit into Dubrovnik’s tourism picture this year. There will be a few of them, most probably with reduced capacity and sales. This might be a unique opportunity to see whether cruise ships and Dubrovnik can finally settle their differences.

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

Monday, 17 May 2021

Elections in Dubrovnik: Winners Expected, Exciting Race for Runners Up

May 17, 2021 – Sunday welcomed the Croatian local elections. The elected officials will hold the political power on city and county levels which in many ways affects the everyday lives of Croatian people more than the national parliament or the president. A look at the elections in Dubrovnik. 

Croatian election results are the main topic this Monday. It has been a slow and quiet campaign compared to most previous ones. This is mainly due to the pandemic and the current financial situation. Without all the bells and whistles, there were some results that surprised the general public. Still, the majority of the winners were as expected. For the vast majority of the towns and counties, the election process is not over. Many of them will have to go into second round of voting to find new mayors and county prefects. The top two candidates with the most votes in the first round will go over to the runoffs for a head-to-head election showdown.

Race for Mayor

As reported by Dubrovacki Vjesnik, both Dubrovnik and Dubrovnik-Neretva County will have to go into runoffs in order to elect the mayor of Dubrovnik and the county prefect. On the city and county level in the Dubrovnik area, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) is starting round two from the winning position. Mato Frankovic, reigning mayor of Dubrovnik, won the popular vote in the city with 36,7% of votes. Political veteran, Pero Vican finished behind him with 13,54% of votes. He won second place after a neck and neck battle with the former mayor of Dubrovnik, Andro Vlahusic. Considering the gap in results between Frankovic and Vican, the second round of Dubrovnik's race for mayor should confirm the results of the first one. However, everybody in Dubrovnik knows Pero Vican is not a politician to be underestimated.

Results on the County Level

Current county prefect, HDZ's Nikola Dobroslavic, took the win in the first round of voting with an impressive 40,12% of votes. The runner-up was Most party's Bozo Petrov with 21,11%. Petrov is a young, but already established politician. He is a current member of the Croatian Parliament and the leader of the Most party. He is a considerably younger and less experienced competitor than Dobroslavic. With this in mind, it will be an exciting second round of voting in Dubrovnik-Neretva County. The main dilemma before the voters is whether they want more of the same or are looking for a change.

For more news about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 18 March 2021

Opposition Slams Liberalisation of Tourist Guide Market

ZAGREB, 18 March, 2021 - The parliamentary opposition on Thursday strongly criticised the opening of the domestic labour market to tourist guides from other EU countries, saying they often did not have the required qualifications nor could they do as good a job as domestic guides.

Marin Miletić (Bridge) said a bill of amendments to the law on tourism services would allow foreign guides to present Croatia without sufficient education. "Such a presentation will be superficial and disorganised, and the tourist experience incomplete."

Hrvoje Zekanović (Sovereignists) said what guides said was important but that the way they spoke about a locality, whether it was with love, a stand and empathy, was much more important.

Katica Glamuzina (Social Democrats) said the bill did not take into accounts the remarks made by tourist guides and professionals, while her party colleague Boška Ban Vlahek said it destroyed the profession of Croatia's 5,500 guides.

Mato Franković of the ruling HDZ said that although he felt that Croatia should align with European regulations, the bill was not fully worked out regarding tourist guides.

"It's not unimportant who will guide groups in protected localities and how, nor is it enough to pass an exam in a couple of months and guide, for example, the sightseeing of Dubrovnik," he said, announcing amendments for stricter educational requirements for foreign guides.

Marijana Balić (HDZ) said it was important to prevent a potential misinterpretation of Croatian history and that special attention should be paid to localities of special respect such as Vukovar.

Only guides who pass Croatian language exam at protected localities

Tourism Ministry state secretary Tonči Glavina said only licenced guides who pass a Croatian language exam would be able to work in Croatia's 550-plus protected localities.

"That course will be available only in Croatia and the exam will be only in Croatian in front of a commission including our tourist guides," he said, defending the bill.

He said that guides coming with a group, from Germany for example, would be able to guide the group only in a general public area, talking about Split or Šibenik in general, for example, while only licenced guides would be allowed to work in protected localities.

The only change the bill brings is that foreign guides will not have to pass a special exam for Croatia's 21 counties but for regions, or another model will be used, Glavina said.

About 70 foreign guides stay in Croatia annually and they do so for two to three weeks, he said.

The law on tourism services is being amended due to two violations of EU law regarding package travel and the regulation of the profession of tourist guide.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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