Tuesday, 22 November 2022

Diary of a Croatian Lawsuit: Full Transcript of November 17 Hearing

Novmeber 23, 2022 - The full transcript of last week's court case between the Croatian National Tourist Board and TCN CEO Paul Bradbury.

There is a small, but growing trend in my LinkedIn inbox - messages from lawyers, international lawyers. No, I am not in trouble again, but it seems that my ongoing lawsuits with the Croatian National Tourist Board, which I am documenting in Diary of a Croatian Lawsuit, are being followed by international legal entities, who are finding the whole process rather fascinating.  Here is one such email from a couple of days ago:

  • Hello. As a lawyer working for the Council of Europe, I enjoy following your coverage of your court case.

You can read the latest report on last week's court appearance in Diary of a Croatian Lawsuit: Irish Newspapers and Belgian Radio, but below please find the whole transcript of the hearing, ably translated by Lauren Simmonds. 

Business number: 64 Pn-2010/20-22 - The minutes from 17.11.2022 during the main hearing held at the Municipal Civil Court in Zagreb

Those present from the court: Ela Misura Stopfer (judge), Renata Loncar (minute taker)

Plaintiff: Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ/CNTB)

Defendant: Paul David Raymond Bradbury

Subject at hand: Damages

The judge starts the main discussion at 09:00 and announces the subject of the discussion.
The discussion is public.

It has been established that the following are present:
For the plaintiff: Zoran Vukic, lawyer (with power of attorney)
For the defendant: Vanja Juric, lawyer (with power of attorney)

It has been established that witnesses Kresimir Macan, the identity of whom was determined by inspection of his ID card, and Zoran Pejovic, the identity of whom was determined by inspection of his residence permit were present.

It has been noted that Dora Nikolla also joined as a court interpreter, who submitted a copy of the decision on their appointment to the file, and submitted the original for inspection.

The plaintiff presents as in the lawsuit, they stand by their [previous] claim and all previous allegations.

The defendant stands by their answer to the lawsuit and all previous allegations.

The court is set to determine: A solution

Evidence will be presented by hearing [the testimonies of the] witnesses who have appeared.


Witness: Kresimir Macan

My profession involves communications in general, and I have been known to forward information related to tourism to the defendant. I have read the article in question and I remember it as well as I possibly could with regard to the passage of time [since then]. This is the period in which Croatia suddenly opened up to tourism after the coronavirus [pandemic]. They did not want to communicate this clearly, I guess it was because of Croatia then holding the [rotating] presidency of the European Union (EU). However, word got out and people started making inquiries. It is true that at that time, tourism in the Republic of Croatia was advertised to certain, but not all, markets, and that the focus was on destinations to which people could travel by car/road. The defendant criticised the above, considering that some other markets could have also been taken into account, which I consider to be logical. It is also true that there were signs in the Irish media that citizens of that country could not come to the Republic of Croatia, and in general there were quite a lot of confusing publications in foreign media. I believe that the confusion occurred due to the time lag between the moment when we (Croatia) opened up to tourism and the moment when the CNTB started to communicate this to the outside world.

To answer the question put forth by the lawyer of the plaintiff, I state that the CNTB announced that it was carrying out targeted activities towards these markets, and if it had communicated regularly, I would not be testifying here today. During that period, I was involved with the [topic of] coronavirus, and at that time I was not yet involved with tourism.

When asked whether I knew that on June the 12th, 2020 the CNTB's campaign was already underway, I state that I do not know. I know that such publications could be found in the Irish media, but now I don't remember exactly which media it was, everything is on the portal. There were more [such] publications, but I don't remember the exact number.

In response to the question of whether the CNTB commented on such publications in foreign media, I state that the defendant corrected all these statements since he was receiving questions and providing answers to them, and the CNTB was not doing its job proactively at that time. I know this fact because I personally received inquiries and Paul told me that he [also] received a lot of inquiries on this topic, even though I was involved with coronavirus at that time, I also started becoming involved with tourism when Croatia started losing money.

From the 19th of May, 2020, you could not get any information from the CNTB, the only information [available] was provided by the Ministry of the Interior (MUP) and the defendant. I have known the defendant for ten years. I sometimes have business cooperation with him. I do not know whether or not the defendant would offer commercial business cooperation in 2020 to the plaintiff. At that time, I did not offer the plaintiff any business cooperation, but the plaintiff falsely accused us and spread gossip that we had indeed asked for it (in reference to business cooperations).

I do not know whether the defendant had any business cooperation with the plaintiff before that. Foreign tourists addressed the defendant with questions because he was the main source of information in English, he systematically published information about the conditions of arrival and stay in the Republic of Croatia during the pandemic and, as a private entrepreneur, he was more rapid in terms of communication. I don't know what the share of Irish and English tourists is in the Croatian market. I don't know how they got here, I know that they came to Dubrovnik by plane. Nobody was flying then because of coronavirus.

In response to the question put forth by the defandant's lawyer, I state to the that there was no Viber (platform) community for tourism at that time, while there was such a community related to information related to the coronavirus, and it was an official state one. Later, my agency did one at the request of Paul, who was getting a lot of inquiries and was no longer able to answer them all. This happened because no one, with the exception of MUP, responded to any inquiries via e-mail, and due to the large number of inquiries, we opened such a community, which was later visited by 220,000 people. We had to come up with our own material because there was no official material to use. That viber community was founded on Tuesday, May the 21st, 2020.

In response to the question put forth by the plaintiff's lawyer, I state that the Viber channel was offered to the Ministry of Tourism (CNTB) for free, it was not offered for sale, and it was offered to them because business had expanded so much that we could no longer do it all alone. We did not have a conversation with the CNTB about that Viber channel, the minister claimed he would get back to us.

I have nothing more to say, there are no more questions.

Witness: Zoran Pejovic

I know what is written in the article in question, my statements were also published in it, and I know what Paul stated and published in that article, and I believe that it is all correct. Namely, I was opening a hotel on Hvar at the time, and inquiries were constantly coming from tourists and journalists, because no one knew whether it was possible to come to Croatia or not, all because of the pandemic. I believe that it is very necessary to communicate this information to the public and to foreign tourists and travel agencies, because there was uncertainty. At that time, I cooperated with the defendant via his portal Total Croatia News in such a way that I wrote information, and he mostly corrected the incorrect publications coming out in foreign media. Namely, we wanted the tourism market in Croatia to continue despite the pandemic, and for it to remain in people's memory so that when the market opens, they have that (the Croatian) market in mind.

In response to the question put forth by the plaintiff's lawyer, I state that I have been working with the plaintiff for about 10 years, that is, we have known each other for that long. He certainly did not pay me for any business services, and it is possible that we did some promotion through social media. I don't know how many times it was published in foreign media that citizens of Ireland and Belgium were unable to travel to the Republic of Croatia. I don't know how many Irish and Belgian tourists came to the Republic of Croatia before 2020. I know that these are airline destinations. I don't know if there were flights from those countries to Croatia from April onwards in 2020. I don't know in what percentage the success of the Croatian tourist market was measured in during the 2020 [tourist] season in regards to its rank in comparison to other competitive tourist countries.

To the specific question of whether the defendant worked within the tourism sector, I state that he worked as a tourist journalist, which in my opinion is in the tourism sector. I don't know how long he has been writing about tourism. As far as I know, he has been writing about tourism for 10 years. I don't know how many followers he has.

In response to the question put forth by the plaintiff's lawyer, I state that my statements have been faithfully transmitted in the article in question. When I said that there is no organised work on promotion and that promotion should be done more strongly, I was referring to the fact that tourist boards in countries mostly engage in destination marketing in tourism. I didn't rely too much on the work of the tourist boards, but since in this situation the state was the one that passed certain bans (coronavirus restrictions), I was of the belief that the CNTB should have been the one to communicate it, which did not happen. The plaintiff did not file a lawsuit against me. They neither asked me to publish any corrections nor withdraw my statement.

In response to the question put forth by the plaintiff's lawyer, I state that the target markets for 2020 were Belgium and Ireland, but by the 13th of May 2020, Croatia could not be reached by plane from those countries, and I do not know exactly when the flights began running again. I don't know if it was possible to come to Croatia by car, I don't think it was possible to cross the border.

I have nothing more to say, there are no more questions.

Evidence will be presented by a hearing of the defendant - Defendant: Paul David Raymond Bradbury

The first case of coronavirus in Croatia appeared in March 2020, and my portal Total Croatia News had written about coronavirus two months before that. In March, we already had a map showcasing the possibilities of entering and travelling to Croatia, and since March we had daily reports with all the necessary information, and we were the first portal in Croatia that informed [people] about this information.

Even on the 7th of May, 2020, the Ministry of Tourism didn't have any information about the possibility of movement and the possibility of travelling to the Republic of Croatia, although all other countries already had such information [on offer to the public], Croatia was the only country in the world that did not have it. It was impossible to deliver information to foreign tourists, even on the website of the CNTB, one piece - and a weak piece at that - of information was published with reference to a Narodne Novine (Official Gazette) number.

I wrote an article about it and just two days after the publication of that article we had a lot more information about it being offered on the websites of the CNTB and the [Tourism] Ministry. During those two months of the absence of such information, everyone asked us for information, and my mailbox/inbox was full, and we were in charge of providing information to such an extent that CNN published my website on its list of links for obtaining information for each country. For other countries, the official websites for their tourist boards were linked.

On May the 13th, 2020, the Republic of Croatia opened up [its borders] a bit, but it was not yet known who could come here and how, and on May the 15th, 2020, Kresimir Macan called me and said we should go to the Croatian border and see the situation on the spot so that we could publish the information. Chaos greeted us at the border and we saw two Slovenian citizens who wanted to go to the Adriatic, but since they did not have a certificate of accommodation, their entry into Croatia was forbidden. At that time, we worked closely with MUP and apart from them, we were the only ones who knew what the situation was, so we decided to create a viber community where people who had crossed the border could share their experiences, and I published that information with the fact that only MUP was helping in providing information.

In view of all this, I also followed the publications by [various] European media, and one day I came across an article in the Irish Times entitled "The Irish can't go to the Republic of Croatia", which was not true. I wrote about it and sent an email to the editor of the Irish Times, and within an hour that title was removed and the article was corrected. In addition to that, a man from Belgium sent a similar article published in the Belgian media via the Viber group, which was then also corrected and changed.

Given that I managed to do it, and the CNTB, which has 70 employees, failed to do it, I believe that I have the right to have my opinion and the right to express it, and I did so. By the way, that Viber community won seven awards and people said that we were the ones doing the work of the CNTB, I did that work exclusively on a voluntary basis, and now the CNTB is the only one filing a lawsuit against me, which is something that is not clear to me.

Regarding the information that a campaign was published by the CNTB for seven markets for which Croatia is a destination that can be reached by car, I read that on June the 1st, 2020. That was published by the CNTB and I criticised it because I thought we should have included the market(s) of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Switzerland.

In response to the question put forth by the lawyer of the plaintiff as to whether I have inspected the Irish media in printed form, in which it is written that Irish people could not enter the Republic of Croatia, I state that it is difficult for me to obtain printed media from Ireland.

In response to the question of whether or not I had any insight into Irish television or radio before the 12th of June, 2020, I state that the only way of monitoring foreign media that we deal with is online.

To the question of how many publications in the Irish media of that content I came across before June the 12th, 2020, I state that I have read a lot of them, and the publication that I remember is the one that ran in the Irish Times that I testified about. I can't say exactly how many Irish media published such articles, nor can I state the dates on which they were published, at that time I was working 18 hours a day and followed a lot of media, so I don't remember.

To the question of how long such information was being published in the Irish media, I answer that the information [of that kind] was brief in the Irish Times because I contacted them, and if I hadn't, it would probably have been there much longer. Specifically, I only contacted the Irish Times, while a Belgian citizen from the Viber community contacted the Belgian media. I personally saw the publication [in question] in the Belgian media, and that Belgian citizen sent the link to me. I don't know exactly which Belgian media it is, but if necessary I can go through my emails and find out. I assume it was shortly after the announcement in the Irish Times because I was writing about that announcement when I got the information about this one. The publication in the Belgian media was in French and I speak French. That Belgian citizen's name is Didier. That gentleman could have driven a car from Belgium to Hvar since he could not get a flight there. I don't know what the exact address of the Belgian media is, Didier sent them a correction.

To the question put forth by the plaintiff's lawyer as to whether the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia had permission from their countries to enter the Republic of Croatia during the months of May, June and July, I state that this caused issues for me because this information changed very quickly and it was difficult to find out at any given moment in time. There was a period when the Serbian borders were closed and the Hungarian borders remained open, so through the Viber community, we advised Serbian citizens to come to Croatia via Hungary. I don't know if Swiss citizens had permission to enter Croatia from April to July 2020. In July, the situation changed, Americans could not fly via Frankfurt, so Switzerland allowed travel via Zurich. I don't know what the share of travellers from Belgium and Ireland was before 2020, nor do I know what the share of travellers from Switzerland was. I know that Serbia was one of the most attractive markets for Croatia for tourism.

Regarding business cooperation with the plaintiff, I state that I occasionally wrote articles for them in the period from 2016 to 2018, and in 2019 and 2020 I offered them cooperation, so for three projects I was at a meeting [with them] in March 2020 - the project regarding digital nomads in the Republic of Croatia, religious tourism and the Olympic Games Festival of traditional Dalmatian Games. I offered the Minister of Tourism our Viber platform for information about the coronavirus and travel, I thought it would be stronger if it was official, but he did not get back to us. I did not offer him business cooperation under market conditions. I don't remember if it was before June the 12th, 2020. The 2020 [tourist] season ended well in Croatia compared to other competitor countries.

In response to the question put forth by the lawyer of the plaintiff, I state that in the press release of the tourist board dated June the 1st, 2020, it was stated that Croatia was opening its borders to seven markets - Slovenia, Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, Germany and Hungary, while there were no other campaigns ever since the 1st of March, 2020, when all activities of the CNTB were stopped due to the [public health] crisis, and even though the borders were opened on the 13th of May, 2020, only on the 1st of June, 2020 was there a new campaign which meant three weeks of nothing.

I have nothing more to say, there are no more questions.

The parties unanimously state that they have no further evidentiary proposals, and they propose to close the main hearing.

No further evidence will be taken.

The file and the documentation attached to the file have been read.

The plaintiff proposes the court accept the claim in its entirety, with compensation for the costs of the litigation according to the bill of costs which they have submitted.

The defendant proposes the court reject the claim of the plaintiff, with compensation for the costs of the litigation according to the bill of costs which they have submitted.

The main discussion has been closed.

The hearing for the publication and delivery of the verdict is scheduled for: January the 13th, 2023 at 09:50 - Room 219/II. 

To follow Diary of a Croatian Lawsuit into its fourth calendar year, follow the dedicated TCN section.


What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.



Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Paul Bradbury in Lider: Egypt, USA Already Requesting Total Croatia Replica Sites

May 25, 2021 - TCN CEO Paul Bradbury was interviewed by Lider Media last week. The full interview went online yesterday - an English verstion of the original interview.

In the highest peak of pandemic you launched a new project - Total Croatia portal, which represents tips&tricks welcome door to Croatia. Although it mainly refers to tourism offer, there are some information for people who want to live, work, study here. And it is not only ‘milk and honey’ (you mention corruption index and system flaws). Have you faced some disagreement with your objectiveness?

The new Total Croatia national tourism portal (www.total-croatia.com) is the culmination of 10 years of my experience writing about tourism in your country. I have tried many things in my time here, but what I feel is really lacking is a quality website written objectively based on personal experience of someone who has lived and travelled extensively in Croatia for 18 years.

The article about my experiences of living in Croatia (Croatian version here) is absolutely an extension of promoting tourism in this country. The future of work is changing, and there are MANY people who are considering Croatia as a new remote home, due to its safety, authentic experiences and lifestyle. What is missing – at least in my opinion – is detailed information and experiences about what living here is really like for a foreigner. Saying everything is perfect would be irresponsible. Pointing out the good, the bad, and the ugly, with a conclusion that it is a great place to be, despite its flaws, is an honest and positive message. Especially when you serve them the information in their own language.

It has certainly resonated. After our Croatian travel update, it is the most popular article on the Total Croatia website. The Polish version has already been viewed more than 10,000 times, for example. I think there is huge demand for this kind of information. If you give people great info, they will make a decision and come. If you give them nothing, then of course they will not come.

Is this the right time for tourism projects? How did you monetize your online publishing projects, how do you live from it and feed your employees?

It is absolutely the best time for such a tourism project. People are desperate to travel, and the hunger to travel is heightened. Feed them quality information and that interest may not manifest itself in travel next week, but the feeling and interest will remain.

Just look at the US market and Croatia. When we brought ABC News to Dubrovnik last year, which resulted in 6 feature stories including one on Good Morning America watched by 12.5 million people, people were skeptical about promoting international travel to the American market. My eye was always on 2021 and beyond. And look at the flight news recently. After almost no direct flights to Croatia from the USA, now suddenly we have United and Delta from New York to Dubrovnik, as well as Pragusa announcing direct flights from New York and LA.

Promoting tourism does not need to be solely aimed at results tomorrow. Sometimes a longer-term plan can also provide dividends.

And I have to say that I am hugely encouraged by the massive interest from some of the bigger names in the Croatian tourism private sector. We have confirmed destination partners already for many key destinations, such as Hilton for Zagreb, Sun Gardens for Dubrovnik, Falkensteiner Punta Skala for Zadar, and Suncani Hvar for Hvar Town. We will also announce several other big names in the coming days.

This portal is also about promoting authentic tourism and the little guy. If any Croatian tourism business run by your viewers wants to work with us, we will offer a discount off our rates for any interested registered by May 15. If interested, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Lider/Destination/Sector, eg Lider/Trogir/Restaurant

How much did you invest in your business in Croatia and have you brought some start capital from UK?

I started Total Hvar back in 2011 with 100 euro in my bank account. I invested no capital from the UK. My total investment in the new Total Croatia portal has been 5,000 euro. 

How big is your global audience on both of your projects? Can you compare it with Croatia Tourist Board reach?

You can check these things online.

Google Analytics tells me that we have up to 620,000 unique visitors a month for TCN, with 78% international traffic. The main sources are USA, UK, Germany, Canada, Australia, Poland, France, Italy, Austria and Norway. The new TC site is obviously must smaller, but in time it will be much more popular than TCN, as it is based on searches for the info that people are seeking. And we are already ranking very well on all keywords. Soon after we moved our Croatian Travel Update from TCN to TC, we were getting 1,200 Google searches a day for that page alone.

Croatians mainly recognize you through your battles with this institution. This battle recently brought your case in Croatian Parliament, where Marijana Puljak demanded that membership in CTB has to be voluntarily. Could you write more about some other par fiscal institutions such as HGK and HOK, so you could help speed up the same process?

I am very grateful to Marijana for raising my case, as well as Vanja Juric for helping with my legal defence against the SLAPP lawsuits from the Croatian National Tourist Board. Both are magnificent humans, and people like them give me hope for a better Croatia.

But, haha, no I don't plan to write that much about other institutions. It seems to be an expensive hobby... And I said all I needed to say about HGK a few years ago in Welcome to Uhljebistan: the Croatian Chamber of Economy, Beyond Useless.

The lawsuits which led to finalising the Total Croatia project actually set me free. My intention is to focus mostly on TC, before taking the concept in other countries. We have already had offers to replicate it in the USA and Egypt. And we only launched a few days ago.

In which phase are currently your court cases with HTZ? Did you have to pay some slander fees already?

There are two court cases. In the first, I am being sued for 50,000 kuna for defamation. My alleged crime was being quoted in an article written by someone else on a portal that is not mine. There was no request to remove the article. Neither the author, nor the portal has been sued. The article is still online

The first hearing should have been on May 3 at 09:40, but 3 days before, the HTZ law firm asked for it to be delayed, as their lawyer asked for a delay as he had another case at the same time. Even though there are apparently 50 lawyers in the firm, nobody else must have been available. We replied that we wanted to proceed, but the court ruled that the case would be delayed until May 31.

The second case was actually heard first, in early April. Another 50,000 for my satirical use of the HTZ logo, Croatia, Full of Life. The hearing lasted 3 minutes and was adjourned until July because their lawyer filed a last-minute motion which not even my lawyer saw prior to the hearing. Apparently, he had been in hospital for a week, hence the late deposition. All of the other alleged 49 lawyers in the firm must have been busy.

You wrote many articles about tourism system gaps. Could you point out three key weak links and how to strengthen them as soon as possible?

No strategy, poor information, little understanding of modern tourism trends and needs.

All three are easy to fix. Make a strategy, provide quality information, and engage people who understand modern tourism trends and needs.

Do you share the opinion that Croatia needs more big foreign investments and position in luxury tourism?

Croatia has almost no position in the luxury tourism market. Last month, the Croatian media picked up on a story I did on Charlize Theron saying the happiest time of her life was on holiday in Hvar and Dubrovnik. 

I know one of the people who worked on her trip. She was looking for a hotel of Aman quality, and ended up going to one apparently. Not in Croatia, as Aman is one of many quality brands that are in places like Montenegro (and check out the number of top hotel names in Rwanda, for example), but not Croatia.

Yes, we do need to massively improve the luxury tourism offer to match the destination. Everyone talks about exclusive Hvar, for example. But it was only two years ago that it got its first 5-star hotel. Now compare how many 5-star hotels there are on Croatian islands versus Greek islands.

Can we take Hvar for example? There is a disorder in the mix of three totally different products – luxury yachting, party life and family tourism. Can those three products live in peace or should it be just one product to promote globally?

Actually, I think things on Hvar are changing finally, and very much for the better. Things are slowly being repivoted in Hvar Town away from the party and towards higher-quality tourism. Suncani Hvar Hotels and the Hvar Tourist Board have never worked better together in the last 10 years, and the merging of the island tourist boards into one marketing entity can only be a good thing.

But also, watch out for Stari Grad, which is quietly emerging as a really top quality and authentic destination. It has a huge future, and it will open up higher-class tourism to central Hvar. I am actually very optimistic about the future of tourism on my adopted island.

You know many foreign entrepreneurs living and investing in Croatia. Do they share your opinion that entrepreneurship is a ‘dirty’ word in Croatia, as you often say? 

One of the best things I saw at a presentation was from an Australian-Croatian returnee, who showed the definition of an entrepreneur in Australia and Croatia. There were like chalk and cheese.

To be honest, I love hanging out with entrepreneurs. They tend to be very positive people who are more interested in doing things than complaining. Croatia needs more entrepreneurial mindset to move forward.

You obviously don’t have very nice experience in cooperation with Croatian institutions. How about private sector? How would you compare Croatian with western entrepreneurial mindset? (example)

Actually, I would like to correct you there a little if I may. I have a very poor experience with SOME Croatian institutions, but outstanding experiences with others. The cooperation with MUP last summer with our Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community (which won the International Grand Prix award for crisis communication from HUOJ)  was outstanding. What they did to help the tourism season was unreal. Full respect to MUP and many thanks to Marina Mandic for an outstanding cooperation.

Just because I am critical of HTZ does not mean the same is true of every tourism board, some of whom I work with, some not. I have never worked with TZ Rogoznica, for example, but I think they do an excellent job. Our cooperation with Dubrovnik on the digital nomads projects has been the best I have experienced with any city or tourist board here. And I am very excited by the partnership with Zagreb Tourist Board for Zagreb Digital Nomad Week from June 21-27.

But there are also great tourist boards in smaller destinations. I am really enjoying working with Ludbreg on some innovative projects you will hear about soon, and TZ Stari Grad on Hvar is doing wonders on a small budget.

After so many people offered you donations for court defence, you came up with an idea of crowdfunding campaign for tourism promotion which would be much more effective than present. Do you thing this idea could be feasible in Croatia?

Perhaps, but you don't need money always to promote tourism. You need passion.

ABC News and Good Morning America watched by 12.5 million people, delivered for zero kuna by Kresimir Macan, Nikolina Vicelic and our Viber commmunity.

Jan de Jong and the digital nomad permit. Zero kuna.

Mate Rimac and his fantastic living and working in Croatia video.

Nenad Bakic and his viral Twitter videos. Zero kuna.

And many thousands of others who promote Croatia. What do they all have in common? Passion, and an understanding of the methods required to communicate and share in the 21st century. The Croatian Ministry of Tourism was still advertising its fax machine number as the primary means of communication this time last year until I politely pointed out that we had moved on a generation.

You worked as a humanitarian aid worker in Somalia, Georgia, Rwanda, Siberia. How that experience changed you and how do you look at it from Hvar’s deep shade today?

It gave me a different perspective for sure. Although they are very different cases, it is hard for me sometimes not to compare Croatia with Rwanda, where I worked in 1994 in emergency relief 2 weeks after the genocide finished.

800,000, or 12% of the population, murdered in just 100 days, two tribes against each other, one of the poorest countries in the world. Today, plastic bags are illegal in the country, emergency blood gets delivered by drone anywhere in the country, and where luxury hotels such as One & Only opened (also in Montenegro, but not in Croatia).

A poor country which no history of football success, or any Rwandese national in the English Premier League, and yet they are the first tourism country to partner with a Premier League football club. You can read about their partnership with Arsenal here in Lessons from Rwanda: Promoting Tourism Through Football, African-Style.

And Croatia, the land of Modric? Ah, Hrvatska...

More and more foreigners buy real estate in Croatia and find it as a cozy place to live. Do you believe there can be a coexistence of Croatian and foreign mindset ten years from now?

Yes, I believe that very strongly. The Mighty State of Uhljebistan is starting to wobble, and the twin viruses of transparency and technology will be too strong, I think. I am always optimistic, but about this, I am very optimistic.

You can visit the new Total Croatia portal here.


Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Total Croatia Tourism Portal Officially Launched in 15 Languages!

May 4, 2021 - The Total Croatia tourism portal has officially launched in 15 languages! 

The Total Croatia tourism portal (which you can visit HERE) was presented on Monday in Dubrovnik, with more than 130 subpages that bring together key information about Croatian destinations in 15 languages, including English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Japanese, Chinese but also Croatian. Eminent tourist companies in the country have already recognized its value.

The portal was presented as a new web platform with various information about Croatia at a hybrid press conference (live and online) by its founder Paul Bradbury, a Briton who has lived in Croatia and has promoted Croatia for years, and communication experts Krešimir Macan and Nikolina Vicelić, who also called the portal a "national tourist portal."


According to Bradbury, the portal is part of the Total Croatia News (TCN) family, within which it has been publishing articles, news, and all things about Croatia for about 18 years. He pointed out that many want to visit Croatia, for which they need accurate and quality information.

Thanks to Total Croatia, everyone planning a holiday in Croatia will be able to easily and in one place find all the necessary and useful information - in their own language - on this new Croatian tourist portal which, together with the award-winning Viber community Total Croatia Travel Info, represents a kind of virtual reception of Croatia, said Paul Bradbury.

According to Bradbury, journalists and writers such as Marc Rowlands, a former journalist of the English Guardian and Time Out Croatia, Morana Zibar, stars of the HTV quiz Potjera and gastro blogger, Nikola Pezić, anthropologist, translator, and founder of Eat Istria and many others write for the portal. This unique project has already been recognized by eminent companies such as Sunčani Hvar, Hilton Hotels in Zagreb, Falkensteiner Hotels and Residences, Punta Skala, Savills Real Estate from Dubrovnik, Adriatic Weddings Croatia, Algebra, and talks are currently underway with other interested tourism companies and small businesses in some destinations.


The goal of the new portal is that by properly planning keywords and using other Google tools, information published on Total Croatia becomes the first choice for visitors planning a vacation in Croatia, as it is the best-ranked website about Croatian tourism on Google in foreign languages.

At Monday's press conference, Bradbury pointed out that the portal offers the best and timely tourist information about Croatia and answers questions that visitors coming to Croatia want to know more about in their own language.

"We create exciting content about Croatia that we observe through the eyes of visitors, using local knowledge and advice," Bradbury said.

"Many have wanted to come to Croatia for a long time as digital nomads and as tourists, and during a pandemic, but they lack real information in their languages. Now it is offered on a new portal in which we were guided by innovation and communication. The most important thing is to give tourists what they want. Among other things, it is certainly destination information in their languages, which we prepare in collaboration with the local population," Bradbury said.


Bradbury mentioned Romanian tourists, adding that he "does not know if the Croatian National Tourist Board has ever had information for them in Romanian." He also referred to the weak public-private cooperation in tourism in Croatia and mentioned some exceptions of good practice, such as those in Dubrovnik and Zagreb, where he encountered cooperation with tourist boards and city administrations.

He added that they do not need anything from the Croatian Tourist Board and cooperate with many hoteliers and destinations, noting that a "new wave of tourism" is expected in Croatia.

Krešimir Macan, the communication expert of Manjgura and Mediacor and this year's HUOJ International Grand Prix Crisis Communication Award winner, stressed the importance of using new digital communication tools in the tourism industry, especially during the current coronavirus crisis.


"Last year, the whole world faced the challenges of COVID-19 for the first time, but, regardless of the pandemic, the world did not stop, and all tourists who wanted to visit Croatia found a way to come. The Viber community Total Croatia Travel Info was an invaluable source of data for all guests who received all the necessary and accurate information and answers to questions in their own language and in real-time, regardless of whether they came from New York, Toronto, or Budapest. With exceptional experience working with the Viber community, Total Croatia is an additional step forward. We will meet everyone who is thinking of coming to Croatia using modern digital communication tools. Paul is creating the platform that 21st-century tourism needs!" Macan said.

Total Croatia offers a different view of Croatian beauties viewed from someone that loves Croatia, Paul Bradbury, who 18 years ago replaced cold Manchester with sunny Hvar. He has won numerous tourist awards such as the Marco Polo Fiet Award for International Promotion of Croatia for 2014, Marco Polo FIJET Award for the promotion of Advent in Zagreb in 2017, Medical Travel Media Awards for the best online article in Kuala Lumpur in 2019, and the International Medical Travel Journalist of the Year award from the Medical Travel Media Awards in Kuala Lumpur in 2020.

Bradbury also wrote two tourist guides, Hvar: An Insider’s Guide and Split: An Insider’s Guide. Paul often writes or is quoted in numerous English media and is an occasional columnist for the Index.hr portal. He founded the news portal www.total-croatia-news.com, which is often the starting point for many international media that have visited Croatia, such as The New York Times, Sunday Times, Travel & Leisure, and many others. Last year, the invaluable promotion of Croatia and Dubrovnik was brought by the American television channel ABC, whose reports on Croatia, as the only EU country to receive American tourists in the summer of 2020, were watched by millions of Americans. The first contact for the ABC team regarding their visit to Dubrovnik immediately after the first wave of the pandemic was the Viber community Total Croatia Travel Info. 

Source: Index.hr

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

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Croatian Media Compares Paul Bradbury Lawsuit to Kafka's 'The Trial'

As the articles surrounding the Paul Bradbury lawsuit launched by the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) continue being published in the Croatian media, one portal even brings the likes of Franz Kafka into the mix.

As Express/Emir Imamovic Pirke writes, had Franz Kafka been born exactly 100 years later, and not in 1883, and if he'd been born in Zagreb instead of Prague, he would be less than forty years old today, and he'd have started writing his most famous novel only in 2014.

His (would-have-been) Croatian publication "The Trial" wouldn't have had just under 300 pages in the Croatian case, and readers would have to either go to the library in a car or have his book delivered with a vehicle of some sort.

"Someone must have slandered Josef K." is the first part of the first sentence of "The Trial,", a famous book which is still relevant to this very day. The situation surrounding the Paul Bradbury lawsuit must ring true to the feelings brought about by Josed K these days. He doesn't know who is going to judge him, nor does he really have a clue as to why.

"Ha! What have I done... My lawyer Vanja Juric is trying to understand that herself. The thing is that I've been writing in Croatia for a decade now and nothing about the Croatian National Tourist Board surprises me anymore. Honestly, all of this is quite hilarious to me, but I was shocked when I received the lawsuit,'' Paul Bradbury told N1 when commenting on the lawsuit filed against him by the Croatian National Tourist Board, who allegedly did so because they felt offended because he'd played around with the slogan ''Croatia full of life "on Facebook, turning it instead into “Croatia full of uhljebs”.

If, then, the move on social media was defaming or slandering the Croatian National Tourist Board, then Bradbury is a slanderer who must now defend himself against such an accusation in a Croatian court of law, even though he expressed what has become very much a majority opinion with a bit of satire. Most people, however, cannot be prosecuted, so the British blogger and promoter of Croatian tourism will, sooner or later, have to face slander at his own expense because he can't be punished for this otherwise. Namely, his guilt in this case must first actually be invented.

Almost two decades ago, Paul Bradbury sold his house in the UK and, thanks to a TV commercial, decided to come and live here in Croatia. What caught his eye was a video with the usual depiction of the natural beauty of the country and that old slogan about the Mediterranean as it allegedly used to be, and it was produced and paid for by no less than the Croatian National Tourist Board.

Yes, that very same Croatian National Tourist Board that has since created the very bizarre Paul Bradbury lawsuit all because of a Facebook post.

"The crazy Englishman/Ludi Englez", as Bradbury is affectionately referred to in Jelsa, didn't realise his Croatian dream by converting pound sterling from the sale of that house in Britain into euros and merely buying a Hvar property with them, then sticking that familiar old blue ''Apartments'' sign somewhere near the door - much more than that was done.

In his now long time spent discovering a country that advertises its own tourist offer as if the whole world is still using dial-up, he first launched the portal Total Hvar, then Total Split, Total Inland Dalmatia, Total Zagreb and Total Dubrovnik, and finally Total Croatia News, which has since been declared the most influential local medium in the English language. In addition, Bradbury is considered the most influential Croatian blogger and a very sharp critic of the Croatian National Tourist Board, considering it to be cumbersome, expensive and passive, and aldo claiming that its abolition wouldn't negatively affect the tourism industry in any way.

There are, for example, county, city and local offices of the Croatian National Tourist Board that have purposes for themselves and themselves only, as well as those without which a good part of the independent cultural scene on the coast would find it even more difficult to survive than today, just as there are employees whose only obligation is to come to work, and there are those who aren't lazy at all and often find themselves engaged in tasks which go far beyond those prescribed by their employment contract.

However, the naturalised British journalist won't go to court because of his lack of a distinction between any of the above, but because of the excess fears of certain individuals whose dire inefficiency is inversely proportional to the opposite effects of Bradbury's hard work, and because the deep urge for self-preservation has become stronger than the interests of the body itself.

Recalling the events which take place in the aforementioned, famed publication, in the Croatian Trial, had Kafka been born in a different time and place - the Croatian National Tourist Board vs. Paul Bradbury - the prosecutor, ie the Croatian National Tourist Board, is actually performing a Kafkaesque play in which they turns their own guilt for the success of the independent initiator of tourist portals around, but not because the accused is wrong - quite on the contrary - because he's essentially right.

After all, could the Croatian National Tourist Board have launched the Total Croatia News portal? After the success of the Total Hvar or Total Split platform, could the Croatian National Tourist Board not simply purchase both the name and the concept from the author and then go on to further develop them? Couldn't someone, given that Paul Bradbury has already dotted all of the i's and crossed all of the t's, have had the bright idea to hire him the way production companies are hired to create videos of pretty panoramic shots of the islands and close-ups of wine glasses that would bring British tourists with deep pockets flocking to Brela during summer?

Why, after all, does the Croatian National Tourist Board not use resources it has within reach to develop its own network of sites made in foreign languages ​​- media that will offer better content than that of Paul Bradbury, whose Croatian mixes an English accent with a Hvar dialect? As simple as the answers are to each of these questions - each of them would imply effort being made. The very notion of that would mean that the entire local administrative apparatus would end up working against itself.

Namely, it all rests on the fact that nothing changes at any cost, so that, when it is shown that changes are both possible and necessary, instead of autocorrection and moving forward, it starts the Kafkaesque process of removing evidence that would not exist if Bradbury hadn't managed to find empty space to profit from tourism in a country that otherwise lives from tourism almost entirely. Oh, and of course, from EU funds, loans and... And... That's mostly it.

For more on the Paul Bradbury lawsuit (both of them), click here and here.

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Highlights of the Week: 5 Top Events in Croatia from April 12-18, 2021

April 18, 2021 – Apart from the news about TCN's CEO Paul Bradbury being sued by the Croatian National Tourist Board, this week has been full of many other exciting yet inspiring news stories. Here are TCN's five biggest events in Croatia from April 12 to 18, 2021.

With the worsening epidemiological situation and tightening measures in four Croatian counties on Monday, the week didn't start very promising nor positive. However, a lot can happen in seven days, and we list five top news stories from Croatia.

Highlights of the week: Croatian National Tourist Board sues Paul Bradbury

Croatian media have been flooded this week with the news about the two lawsuits against TCN's CEO Paul Bradbury, submitted by the Croatian National Tourist Board because of Bradbury's criticisms of their work.


Source: Telegram.hr

Namely, CNTB filed two lawsuits against Bradbury, one for a Facebook joke he posted and the other for statements he said in an article on the Croatian portal Index. There was simply no stopping talking about these controversial lawsuits that appalled and disappointed the public this week. Read all the details about the first and second lawsuits in our articles.

Highlights of the week: Rimac Automobili presented a new incredible campus

On the list of people who promote Croatia in the best possible way, Mate Rimac takes one of the leading spots. His company Rimac Automobili never ceases to surprise with the novelties, such as the latest news about constructing the impressive new campus with numerous facilities.


Source: Rimac Automobili

See the impressive video and photos of the forthcoming Rimac campus that stunned the whole of Croatia this week.

Highlights of the week: Many fantastic flight news for Croatia

Although all travel is currently questionable due to the epidemiological situation, hope is still restored by numerous information about flights to and from Croatia published this week.

Thus, for example, Israeli El Al and Arkia flights to Croatia continue, as well as Austrian flights, Polish LOT, Finnair, and Eurowings.


Split airport by Romulić and Stojčić

And even though Croatia will have to wait a bit longer for introducing direct flights from the USA, from this week, the travelers can get from Sarajevo to Chicago by Eastern Airlines.

Highlights of the week: Croatia women's handball national team won HEP Croatia Cup

Croatian athletes do not stop surprising us positively from week to week!

After defeating the current world champions, the Netherlands, the Croatia women's senior national team also defeated the former world champions Brazil and won the HEP Croatia Cup in Poreč.


Source: Hrvatski rukometni savez

Highlights of the week: Klepetan returned to Malena again!

And to sweeten this week, the most famous Croatian love story got its happy follow-up. For the 19th consecutive year, the white stork Klepetan has returned from the south to the nest of his beloved Malena, continuing one of the most beautiful animal love stories in the world!

Spring may not have returned in the form we know, given that this week's temperatures in Croatia are more like autumn's, but it seems like the natural world is very much following its course.

To follow all news from Croatia, subscribe to our newsletter.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

We Don't Know Why We Pay the Tourist Board, But Certainly Not to Sue Bloggers

April 13, 2021 - If the Croatian National Tourist Board starts suing all those who are dissatisfied with their work, the courts will soon be overwhelmed by tens of thousands of lawsuits, Marko Repecki comments.

Although many, even some critics of the existing CNTB, believe that there should be one such system that will deal with the promotion of Croatian tourism in the world, the existing method of financing is problematic, and no less problematic is that the money raised is spent on lawsuits against its critics. 

The Croatian National Tourist Board, which lives off one of the more bizarre parafiscal levies, has sued Paul Bradbury, founder of Total Croatia News, for criticizing their work. Bradbury has been writing about Croatian tourism for years and is quite critical of the CNTB's work.

Like other state organizations and institutions, the CNTB does not submit criticism, although it is financed with taxpayers' money, so they are asking Bradbury for a total of HRK 100,000 through two lawsuits.

One lawsuit refers to statements he made to the Index.hr portal in which he criticized the CNTB for insufficiently following what is written about Croatia in foreign media and for not reacting to incorrect information. The second lawsuit refers to Bradbury's cover photo on Facebook, which read "Croatia full of uhljebs", in which the team from the CNTB obviously recognized themselves, although he did not mention them anywhere. But that was enough to cause them mental pain.

If the CNTB starts suing all those who are dissatisfied with their work, the courts will soon be overwhelmed with tens of thousands of lawsuits. Namely, most of those who pay membership fees to the CNTB, which are practically all companies registered in Croatia, except for a few industries, are not only dissatisfied with their work, but it is not clear to them why they have to pay them, because they have nothing to do with tourism.

Membership fees range from a few hundred kunas a year, when it comes to micro-entrepreneurs, to tens of thousands of kunas for larger companies, which often turns out to be the amount of the annual net salary of one worker. The membership fee is paid according to income, not according to profit, so there are situations where tens of thousands of kunas in membership fees are paid by companies that are in losses.

And of course, for a company to pay a membership fee, it does not have to have anything to do with tourism. There is an example of the wood industry, which really has nothing to do with tourism, and which pays about 60 thousand kunas in tourist membership fees. 

The CNTB system consists of over 300 local tourist boards - one in almost every village. Then there is the CNTB at the state level and nearly 20 other offices around the world, from China, South Korea all the way to Los Angeles in the US. There is no system for measuring their results, or the public does not know about them, so we do not know how many tourists were brought by the CNTB office in Los Angeles, what they actually do, and what their results are.

Although many, even some critics of the existing CNTB, believe that there should be one such system that will deal with the promotion of Croatian tourism in the world, the existing method of financing is problematic, and no less problematic is that the money raised is spent on lawsuits against its critics. 

The Index article in question is still online - you can read it here.

Monday, 13 July 2020

TCN's Paul Bradbury Talks CROMADS, Croatia 2.0 at TEDx Koprivnica Library

July 13, 2020 - TEDx Koprivnica Library was held in a new setting, but the feeling is the same: great speakers, creatives, and thinkers inspired the full house. 

Drava.info writes about the first edition of the TEDx Koprivnica Library held in ENTER, the creative industry incubator, which welcomed five remarkable speakers. 

Melita Pavlek is a local Koprivnica woman, who shared her advice on how to live a happier and simpler life if we just learned some lessons from our pets: how to live in a moment, how to pay more attention and catch non-verbal cues, how to be curious and how to rest and be active on your own terms. 

Kristina Čunović told the crowd about her project bringing together incarcerated parents with their children through reading. The parent participating gets to record a story that then gets delivered to their child, who gets to experience their parent reading a story to them. A simple idea, which helped strengthen family bonds in over 600 families in Croatia.

Paul Bradbury wants to inspire Croatian politicians and bureaucrats to change the country we live in, and he's certainly succeeded in inspiring the audience to change the way THEY see Croatia. In his 20 years in Croatia, he's gotten to know the best and the worst of our country, and he spoke about the fantastic lifestyle in Croatia: it's safe, it's in the EU, the infrastructure is good, the food and the wine are excellent. Foreigners don't understand why people would want to leave this country. He admitted that he fully appreciated how Croatia works only after hearing about the phenomenon of uhljeb. He presented the concept of Cromads, his solution for the development of Croatia, focusing on people who work from home, and want to move to a place that has the best lifestyle in Europe, and he thinks it's Croatia. He feels like that is the real opportunity for Croatian development and not tourism. 

Karla Čurin told her story of overcoming barriers to achieve her goals, as she's been struggling with the severe hearing loss her whole life. She found herself in the graphic design and application building, and she developed Oaza, a mobile app that helps people suffering from depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. 

The Boljar Brothers, Hrvoje and Domagoj, spoke about their brand MIRET, the eco-friendly sneakers. They're the pioneers in being eco-friendly in an industry which is among the leading producers of waste in the world today, as 23 billion sneakers get made each year, and most of what they're made of can't be recycled. They use recyclable materials to manufacture their sneakers, which don't damage the environment, and they look great too! 

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Webpower's Jan de Jong, TCN's Paul Bradbury on Positivity in Croatia at Business Cafe Online

May 12, 2020 - A look at Croatia, the land of opportunity through the eyes of two foreigners who have been living and working in Croatia for 32 years between them. Business Cafe Online this Thursday will feature Webpower Adria CEO and serial entrepreneur Jan de Jong and me. 

It may sound obvious, but not that maybe people to adhere to one of the simple things to ensure you have a happy and stimulating life in Croatia. Simply surround yourself with happy, positive and forward-thinking people. Rather than sit in a cafe surrounded by complainers, or battling with Croatia's vast army of online keyboard warriors, seek out people who want to find solutions to problems, rather than complain about them. 

It may seem obvious as I said, but it took me almost 15 years of living in The Beautiful Croatia to come to this realisation - the final lesson in The 3 Stages of Learning for Foreigners in Croatia: Love, Hate and Nirvana

And I get the chance to hang out with two of the most positive and stimulating forces in my little Croatian bubble on Thursday, May 14, as Business Cafe Online has invited me and perhaps Croatia's finest ambassador of positivity and entrepreneurial opportunity, Dutchman Jan de Jong, to talk about life as a foreigner entrepreneur in this beautiful land. 


Between us, we have been here for a combined 32 years. I arrived in 2002, and Jan has been creating jobs and opportunities with much more success than me since 2006. He is also becoming a regular in the Croatian media with his vision for a better, healthier, and more digital Croatia 2.0. 

Event announcement from Business Cafe Online is below - and the Facebook page is here

Which obstacles do foreign entrepreneurs face when starting and running a business in Croatia?

Is Croatian lifestyle a brand - why should everyone consider moving to Croatia and working from Croatia?

What do foreigners see and locals don't?

And many more interesting topics

In 2019 we started Business Cafe International events besides regular ones going on since 2010.

This time using online platforms we will share two very interesting entrepreneurial journey stories by Paul Bradbury (Total Croatia News) and Jan de Jong (Webpower) .

Here is an interview with Paul Bradbury

You can also read about Jan de Jong here.

Event will be available and streamed free on our

FB page.

YT channel.

Free streaming was provided to you by GreenHypnotic (www.greenhypnotic.com) and Jedem doma (www.jedemdoma.hr)

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Expats in Isolation Top 10 Croatia Experiences: Paul Bradbury from Manchester in Jelsa

April 15, 2020 - As people look for escape from the mental stress brought on by the corona crisis, a new series on TCN with local expats in isolation, looking back at their top 10 Croatia experiences so far. Nex up, TCN owner Paul Bradbury from Manchester in Jelsa. 

I have had a LOT of emails and messages asking if TCN could write about something happier than the constant corona updates. I hear your pain, but with so much (sadly bad) news to report and limited resources due to the crisis, this is not so easy. But then I thought of a nice series which might perhaps pique people's interests, focus on the happy stuff, and even unearth some hidden gems to explore at a later date. 

Having done a very successful series with over 30 submissions from expats around the world on their self-isolation experiences in Croatia compared to what is happening in their home country, and then following that with a series on Croats in the diaspora with their corona viewpoint of their country of residence compared to the Homeland, perhaps a happier and more interesting series would be to look at expats here today and their top 10 experiences in Croatia so far. 

We started in Split with Ionut Copiou from Romania

Next up, me. I almost forgot to contribute to the self-isolation series, so I will write now while I have the time. It was a pleasant journey through 18 years of memories in this magnificent country, and narrowing it down to my top 10 Croatia experiences was not easy, but here they are.

If would like to contribute to this series, contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Top 10. 

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Za Krizen (Behind the Cross) Holy Week Procession in Jelsa on Hvar.

Of all the places I have visited and lived in, I don't think I have ever come across a tradition which is such an integrated part of a community as Za Krizen in Jelsa. The annual procession, which has taken place for over 500 years each Maundy Thursday at 22:00 through the night until 07:00 is a unique and magical experience which I have been fortunate enough to observe for many years now. The procession aside, the whole atmosphere in Jelsa over Easter is one of joy, as the island awakes from its winter slumber, and extended families return to celebrate the religiously important Easter weekend. 

This year's za Krizen was very different, of course, due to the corona crisis, and it was a VERY strange feeling after all these years to find myself the only person on the main square as the procession began.  You can learn more about my first-hand account of this year's procession here, as well as checking out past Za Krizen processions in this dedicated TCN section. The video above shows the final moments of Za Krizen 2020 in Jelsa. 

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Sveti Vlaho (the Feast of St Blaise) in Dubrovnik

When is the best time to visit Dubrovnik? I have been at various times over the years, but nothing came close to the first week of February and the Feast of St Blaise (Sv Vlaho), the much-loved patron saint of the city. Similar to Za Krizen, it is a time when the wider local community comes together in family celebration, the locals reclaim the city from tourists, and with most restaurants closed and their awnings, tables and chairs in storage, the old town is stripped back to its bare stone. Throw in the wonderful traditions of Sveti Vlaho, and you have all the ingredients for an unforgettable experience. Here was mine in February 2017

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The opening party of Rijeka 2020

From traditional gatherings to cultural celebrations of the present day. While corona has decimated the cultural programme of Rijeka 2020 as the European Capital of Culture, the opening party of February 2, 2020 was an event which had everything. It was a privilege to have press access to the main action, as well as my local British expat Martin, who kept me going until 6 am, when I then ended up sleeping in the car, something I have not done for years. You can get more of a flavour of the opening night of Rijeka 2020 in this in-depth TCN feature story.  


(Karin Mimica in among with vines with Slovenian travel legend, Drago Bulc)

ANY excursion organised by Karin Mimica from Gastronaut

If I had to name one person who had introduced me to the lesser-known parts of Croatia in the best possible manner, there would be only one name that came even close - the fabulous Karin Mimica from Gastronaut. There is not a quality restaurateur or winemaker in the country who Karin does not know personally, and her Gastronaut foodie tours for journalists, restaurateurs, winemakers and gourmet lovers are superbly organised, extremely content-rich, executed with precision, and always featuring the very best of the best of the destination. I first went a Gastronaut tour on my own island of Hvar several years ago. Since then, I have been part of the Gastronaut team which has discovered Murter, Krk (twice), Pag, Medjimurje, Ozalj, Koprivnica, Djurdjevac, to name but a few. You can visit a few of those past trips here, and connect with Karin via her Gastronaut page.  

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Festa Days on the uninhabited Kornati island of Zut

Imagine opening a restaurant in the middle of a war on an uninhabited island with no water, electricity or ferry connection. Come back 25 years to witness a Silver Jubilee of that restaurant with five of Croatia's top chefs and five international Michelin Star chefs. 

The incredible story of Restaurant Festa and Festa Days on Zut. It was a privilege to be there.  


Vukovar Remembrance Day Parade and a Weekend in Slavonia

For many years, the subject of Vukovar was a taboo one for me as a foreigner. A very raw, open wound on the Croatian psyche. But the longer I lived here, and the more I began to understand about Croatia, the more I realised that the annual remembrance day was dominated by politics, and there was actually very little information about what happens during the actual parade, especially in English. I decided to go and take part. It was a very powerful and emotional day, but also one which helped me to understand Croatia much better.  

The Vukovar visit was one of several to eastern Croatia last year. A wonderful, wonderful region, with so much to see and do. It was also the location for perhaps our best family weekend away. This is how much family fun you can pack into one weekend in Slavonia in late-October.

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Winning the Marco Polo 2014 FIJET Award at the Association of Croatian Journalists

The last time I won anything prior to December, 2014 was back in 1978 when I won the Under-9 category in the regional chess championships in the county of Surrey in the UK. 

And so it was a huge surprise and honour to win the 2014 FIJET Marco Polo Award at the National Society of Journalists for the best international promotion of Croatia. Thank you, colleagues! 

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The island of Brac beyond Zlatni Rat - Dragon's Cave, Puscica Stonemason School, Olive Oil Museum in Skrip

Living on an island as gorgeous as Hvar, why would you go anywhere else? And I didn't. For years. 

Even though Brac was only 25 minutes away by catamaran, I never really felt the need to go. And then I went. WOW. 

Forget Zlatni Rat beach, Brac has some incredible stuff. Three not to miss which I managed to catch in one weekend are the unbelievable Dragon's Cave (visited by just 1,000 people a year), the incredible stonemason school in Puscica, and the unbelievably authentic olive oil in Skrip. And this is just scratching the surface of the unique treasures of Brac.  

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Lazy afternoons on the Lesic Dimitri Palace terrace with Michael

But if I was to be marooned for eternity in one location in Croatia, it would undoubtedly be on the terrace of one of my favourite places in the world - the waterfront terrace of luxury boutique hotel, Lesic Dimitri Palace, sipping on a glass of something fine and listening to the yarns of owner Michael Unsworth, the gentle Maestral breeze bringing a constant relief from the summer heat. One of the great discoveries of my life a few years ago, and part of the inspiration for Exquisite Korcula, Blueprint for Quality Croatian Tourism as It Should Be

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The Office

There are so many places to include, but it would be remiss of me not to include the birthplace of Total Hvar, and the rock of the whole TCN project for many years. The Office, aka Caffe Splendid on the main square in Jelsa.

"That's where Daddy lives, when he is not home with us," my 3-year-old daughter informed my punica as they walked past one day. Captain Nijazi, I salute you. 

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The Bench and the old library in Jelsa

And as a bonus, of course, the best view in the world - or at least it was until it was evicted - the famous Jelsa Bench. And in the building behind, the former library, where 18 years ago I entered to find an assistant librarian with eyes the colour of the Adriatic. The rest, they say, is history. 

My top 10 Croatia experiences among many top experiences. Here are 30 more from last year alone

Are you an expat in Croatia with a little time on your hands and some fabulous memories and experiences to share? If you would like to participate in this series, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Top 10.

To see the other stories in this series, as well as expat self-isolation stories compared to their home countries, and corona voices in the diaspora, visit the dedicated section

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

A Tour of the Kingdom of Accidental Tourism: Croatian Media Interviews TCN's Paul Bradbury

July 19, 2019 - While Croatia is enjoying - officially at least - another record season, many locals report it has never been quieter in peak season. Why? A look behind the scenes in the Kingdom of Accidental Tourism. 

I have had a LOT of requests recently to comment on the current tourist season in Croatia. Depending on who you believe, it is either another record year, or a total disaster. Having announced record numbers for the first half of the year, the Ministry of Tourism then took its transparent, internationally award-winning eVisitor reporting system offline. Meanwhile, there were many locals complaining of empty destinations and, more importantly - to them at least - empty apartments. 


It was a classic clickbait opportunity to write sensationalist stuff, in order to get those clicks, but TCN has never been that kind of site. Despite what our many critics say, we want the best for Croatia, and constructive criticism is a healthy medicine. Learning best practices from other countries is a good thing, although it is almost never perceived that way in Croatia. 

Rather than have a quote here and a quote there, I decided to accept the kind offer of an interview with the largest news portal in Croatia, Index.hr. Ranked in the top 3,000 websites in the world, they have traffic that only this fat Englishman can dream about. 

The interview was published last night, and this morning it was the number one news story in Croatia. I am not sure if I am allowed to mention the number of hits, but it was a LOT. You can read the article in Croatian on Index here. Many thanks for the exposure - I have never had an inbox as fruity as today. 

And now, for the original English version - with a few more photos and videos. 

1. How long have you lived in Croatia? What was your first impression of Croatia and what did you learn in the meantime about your impression - was it wrong or right?

I came to Jelsa in August 2002 after watching a Croatian National Tourist Board video ad on CNN in Somaliland, where I was working as an aid worker. I arrived in Jelsa in peak season and I had truly found Paradise. It was even more divine in the shoulder seasons. My friends accused me of being a war junkie (my aid work had taken me to jobs in Rwanda, Georgia, Abkhazia and Tajikistan), and so they assumed Croatia in 2002 was one more war zone. They were stunned when they saw the pics and my house was full for the entire summer. I lived in Jelsa permanently for 13 years before moving to Varazdin County a couple of years ago. 
Croatia will always be the most beautiful country I have lived in, and Jelsa is still Paradise, although a little less so for me these days, which has probably more to do with the fact I understand how things work in modern Croatia, once you go deeper than the sun and relaxed lifestyle. 

2. You describe Croatians as "kings of accidental tourism". What do you mean by that?

Not Croatians, but the Croatian tourism chiefs. One of the joys of being a foreigner with an opinion in Croatia is that a criticism of Croatian authorities is perceived as an attack on the Croatian nation. The two are worlds apart. Croatia has the best tourism potential of any country I know, but there is very little content apart from the sun and the sea. And with climate change hard to deny any more, will Croatia be able to guarantee even that? If we abolished the Croatian National Tourist Board and the Ministry of Tourism and made Nikola Tesla the Minister of Tourism, do you think any less people would come for the sea and the beach? At least Tesla is a brand and he wouldn't cost much in salary. 

Let's look at a few sectors of tourism where the Kings excel. In the latest tourist strategy plan from the Ministry of Tourism (2013 - 2020).


By 2020, Croatia will have 30 new golf courses. In the second half of 2019, not only have none been started, but Croatia is being sued for $500 million from the Srd investor. But the Kings are busy - there are three golf tourism conferences this year alone. 

Nautical tourism - 15,000 new berths. I have not checked, but are we close to that number? "Focus on ecology" - as the obsession with cruise ships continues. Numbers, numbers, numbers. But even the numbers are not that good - Austria has more tourists in summer than Croatia the whole year. 

It is 8 years since Anthony Bourdain told the world about our 'world-class wine, world-class cheese, world-class food'. And how have the Kings capitalised on yet one more gift? They are proud that the original Zinfandel comes from Kastela, but the great Dalmatian wine region has no wine road. When I contacted MINT to ask why, they told me there were several wine roads in Dalmatia, including the Wine Road of Biokovo. If you can name a good winery to try on Biokovo, you are a better man than me. 

Game of Thrones Season 8 was probably the most anticipated global TV show in history, and over 100 brands teamed up with HBO to take advantage, with Johnnie Walker even producing a Winter is Coming limited edition White Label. And the home of Kings Landing? Not even a mention on the CNTB Facebook page. Check the CNTB and Dubrovnik tourist board websites. Neither have a GoT section. Now look at Northern Ireland for GoT and New Zealand for Lord of the Rings. When I didn't find any info on the CNTB site, I used their searchbox to search 'Game of Thrones' and got information about Trsat and a fruit festival in Zagorje.

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I informed CNTB about it two months ago and they recognised the problem, but their IT Kings are working on higher priority things. Before the Index article was published yesterday, I checked again, and nothing had changed. But then, miraculously, just hours after publication, we got this:



Not even a fruit festival in Zagorje.

But, in fairness, more of a true reflection of the Game of Thrones promotion by the Kings of Accidental Tourism. 

Remember this time last year? Croatia was the hottest thing on the planet due to the World Cup, the great team performances, incredible fans and THAT shirt. 60 billion impressions. This was a bigger gift than GoT and Bourdain combined. Branding tourism and sport was so obvious, it was just a matter of when the campaign would start. We are still waiting... Meanwhile tiny Rwanda, a tiny country who has never been to the World Cup or had a player in the Premier League has signed a deal with Arsenal, and Visit Rwanda is now seen on the Arsenal shirt 35 million times a day, every day, as just part of the deal. If Rwanda can do it... More info and video in Lessons from Rwanda.

Now take a look at Google Trends and see how Croatia took full advantage.

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Medical tourism experts agree that Croatia has the potential to be in the world's top 10 countries for this rapidly expanding industry - I interviewed a number of them here. Medical tourism is in the 2013 - 2020 plan as well, but my mid-2019, we still don't have a medical tourism task force. 

Compare the approach to wine and wine tourism with Croatia and Macedonia. I could go on and on, but fear I have already... Learning from best practices in other countries should be a positive thing, but in Croatia, all criticism is deflected. 

3. What do you think about this season? The first numbers seem to show it's gonna be a (partial) failure...

Officially it is a record year, isn't it? Until we hear otherwise, all we have is the official stats until the end of June. I have never seen Croatia emptier at this time of year. Earlier this month I drove on the motorways through the tolls at Lucko and Dugopolje and crossed both Neum borders. Total waiting time was under 10 minutes for all. When I got to Drvenik, there were just 9 cars in the queue and I sailed 40 mins later. A few years ago, I was 182 in the queue (the ferry holds 30). 

I don't think it is a secret that July is looking very empty, but there is one positive about it all which COULD be a catalyst for positive change. Lots of locals have told me how much they are enjoying the beach. They are as empty as the apartments. And that is how it should be. Shouldn't locals be able to enjoy this paradise without the overcrowded beaches? And the good news is that they can, if we have a complete rethink on the strategy. Rather than obsessing about numbers and how many overnight stays, focus on what Croatia has to offer and build on it. Rather than just criticise, I offer a solution which you can read about in Branding Croatia: 5 Gifts and Trends to Focus On

But in brief, invest in medical tourism, develop gourmet tourism, connect sport - not just through football, but look at the incredible Run Croatia project, for example - build a Nikola Tesla Theatre of Dreams at Smiljan to make it a must visit for the 21 million electric car drivers on Europe's roads by 2030. 

And embrace the digital nomad revolution. There will be 1 billion digital nomads by 2035 according to one estimate. Is there anywhere better than Europe better placed to serve them with the famous Croatian lifestyle and all other things we have? If Croatia got 2% of that market, that would be 20 million people a year - more than the current tourism numbers - living in communities, working online in the offices by day and spending money in Croatia the rest of the time. And for those who think nomads will only come to Zagreb and the coast, here is a recent interview with a woman from Denver who is absolutely loving life in Osijek.

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Medical tourism and digital nomad tourism may not be the classic types of tourism, but they will be. Croatia is perfectly positioned to take full advantage. 

Digitalise and make things easier for people to come. Learn some lessons from Estonia, and even save a ton of cash - the equivalent of 2% of GDP just by putting public administration online.

4. How do you comment on the fact that E-visitor has stopped publishing tourist data?

As I wrote on TCN, it reminded me a little of the time I lived in the Soviet Union.

It is also a classic case of the Kings in action, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. People may not know that Croatia won a UNWTO award for eVisitor, for which congratulations. It was praised for its transparency and digitalisation. And when (presumably) the numbers did not work in their favour, the Kings restricted access. That is the Kingdom of Accidental Tourism for you. You can see the eVisitor video introduced by UNWTO.

5. What is your worst and what is your best experience as a tourist and a journalist in Croatia?

My best experience as a journalist and as a tourist is the same - the people and the unique and fascinating stories they share. Unforgettable nights such as dinner on the Lesic Dimitri terrace in Korcula celebrating 20 years of the Bire winery, or 25 years of Festa on Zut with 5 Masterchefs and 5 Croatian top chefs were fantastic, but it is more the experiences away from the lights.

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Meeting the last gold panner on the Drava (94 years old) and watching him pan, celebrating 40 years of Croatia's oldest agrotourism at Zlatni Klas in Otrovanec, harvesting lavender with celebrity snapper Jadran Lazic, and picking grapes with Andro Tomic on the Pakleni Islands. Unique experiences, fascinating characters. Croatia has them in abundance. And picking olives with my punac, of course!


If you want to learn about content and developing gourmet tourism, Karin Mimica and her Gastronaut are the most incredible, content-rich tours I have been on here, discovering Medjimurje, Koprivnica, Djurdjevac, Krk, Kornati Islands,  Pag, and several more. Incredible knowledge, incredible content. Hire Karin as a consultant to learn how to do it. 12-month high-quality tourism all over the country. 

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As a journalist, it was a great honour to win the FIJET Marco Polo Award in 2014 for the best international promotion of Croatia at the Croatian Society of Journalists, and also to be nominated for an award at the 2019 Malaysian  Healthcare Travel Council awards in Kuala Lumpur this  August.

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Worst tourism experience - trying to go anywhere in peak season in the heat and traffic. I don't miss the hours queueing at Sveti Rok, for example.

Worst journalism experience - being informed last August in a public meeting by Jelsa Mayor Niksa Peronja that he was suing me for reasons I assume I will find out if the Croatian Post Office ever delivers the lawsuit. 

It was interesting to observe how reactions to me changed in Jelsa after that. Lots of private messages of support, but lots of people publicly looking the other way when I passed, in case they were seen to be supporting me. It made me stronger as a person, and I am grateful to Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic who not only acknowledged my open letter to him on TCN, but called me over for a chat in Jelsa a couple of weeks later, shook my hand and told me that he at least would not be suing me. Many thanks, PM - I don't always agree with you or your government's actions, but it was a gesture I greatly appreciated.

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6. Is there one big thing that Croatian tourism should stop doing in order to become better?

Stop trying to be a mass tourism destination and focus on quality. Is it better to have 10,000 guests spending 10 euro a day, 1000 spending a 100, or 100 spending 1000? This obsession with numbers is insane. A shop owner in Dubrovnik old town, who is open from May 1 to October 31 said the two worst months were July and August. So many cruise ships and day trippers enjoying the view, those with money to spend avoiding the crowds. How can that make sense or be good tourism?

7. How do you comment on the fact that Croatians from continental Croatia don't want to work in tourism anymore? And what do you think about bringing tourism workers from the Philipines, Egypt etc.? Is that gonna work?

I completely understand them and would do exactly the same. Why should they work in tourism in seasonal jobs for low pay when they can get a proper job in a real country like Germany or Ireland? As for foreign tourism workers, Croatia reminds me very much of the Ireland my mother grew up in 60 years ago. As the thousands of Croats who now live there today will tell you, a little diversity never killed anyone. I think it could work, but you will have lots of people in Australia complaining about the diluting of the Homeland. As I see it, there are two ways forward - bring in the cheaper foreign labour, or have a complete rethink away from mass tourism along the lines of the 5 things I mentioned above. 

8. Almost everyone agrees that Croatia has too many private apartments for rent and too few hotels. What's your take on that?

Well let's look at it rationally with the tools we have - statistics from the Kings themselves. I requested statistics from CNTB a couple of days ago, and I would like to compliment the CNTB PR department - the most responsive public institution. Here is what they sent me. Some highlights, according to the official stats:


1990 - Number of tourist arrivals - 8,497,000
2018 - Number of tourist arrivals - 19,700,000 
Percentage increase of tourist arrivals from 1990 to 2018 - 131%
1990 - Number of overnights - 52,523,000
2018 - Number of overnights - 106,000,000
Percentage increase of overnights from 1990 to 2018 - 101%
1990 Hotel beds - 142,917
2018 Hotel beds - 130,026
Percentage increase of overnights from 1990 to 2018 - MINUS 9%

1990 Private accommodation beds - 264,092
2010 Private accommodation beds - 428,464
2018 Private accommodation beds - 800,108
Percentage increase of overnights from 1990 to 2018 - 302%
1990 Total beds - 862,680
2018 Total beds - 1,266,785
Percentage increase of beds from 1990 to 2018 - 46%

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So a clear oversupply of apartments and undersupply of hotels. 54 million more overnights than 1990 but 9% fewer hotel beds. In 2017, Minister Cappelli told the world - I was there -  that Four Seasons Hvar would open in 2019 and hailed the project. Here we are in July 2019, and the project not only has no building permit, but it also has still not finalised the access road paperwork. Minister Cappelli is still in a job. There are dozens of similar cases up and down the coast, running into billions of foreign investment, which are stuck. Perhaps this is not the way forward for Croatia. Fine, but then why sell the land to foreigners, block them and then ruin Croatia's reputation as a place of foreign investment?

It is not all bad. There has been rapid and sensible growth in villas with pools for example. And the market will correct itself. I think those with quality accommodation will be just fine, and a lot of people who have nothing special and having taken loans will suffer. If managed well, the correction could lead to more affordable housing for locals, which would be a good thing of course. 

I love Croatia and I want the best for the country, my Croatian wife and our lovely daughters. I see so much positivity and potential if we could just get somebody semi-qualified to run the country. I am amazed at how many foreigners see the same, despite the problems. One Croatian company in Zagreb I know is a global market leader in its field and has staff from 24 countries in its Zagreb office. 

Croatia could be one of the most prosperous countries in the region, but it would need to sever ties with the Kingdom of Accidental Tourism and its other accidental ministries first. 

And as all our beloved keyboard warriors love to complain, so I leave you with a question:

Yesterday was the 1-year anniversary of arguably the most incredible day in the history of Croatia, as 550,000 people were on the streets of Zagreb to welcome home their World Cup heroes. What are the chances of our hundreds of thousands of keyboard warriors going offline for a day and getting 550,000 people on the streets of Zagreb to demand change?

No? I didn't think so.

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