Monday, 13 July 2020

Tourists Choosing Mljet and Peljesac Over Dubrovnik, Caterers Struggling to Cover Basic Costs

July 13, 2020 -  Dubrovnik, the 'Pearl of the Adriatic' and Croatia's tourism star, is struggling to resume tourism post-lockdown.

The forecasts for the tourist season in Dubrovnik at the beginning of spring were not so bad, and probably much better than the actual outcome. It seemed then as if the coronavirus would disappear with the heat, tourists would travel, and most stakeholders in tourism were hopeful that the situation would improve significantly for the better. At the time, Dubrovnik unofficially said that they hoped for a turnover of at least 30 percent compared to last year. But that did not happen, reports Dubrovnik Daily.

Croatia is still recording new cases of infection, and according to the eVisitor guest check-in and check-out system, on July 5, 2020, 2,145 guests stayed in Dubrovnik, which is only 13 percent of the total number of guests last year on the same date, when 24 824 overnight stays were realized. According to the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Dubrovnik's hotel accommodation currently has the largest number of guests from Germany, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, while Germans, French and Poles mostly stay in private accommodation.

Dubrovnik caterers also hoped for a better situation at the beginning of the season. The president of the Dubrovnik Association of Caterers and the owner of the Otto tavern, Ante Vlasic, says that the current income they generate will not be enough to cover basic expenses. For that, as he says, at least 20 percent of the turnover should be realized compared to last season, but much less is realized.

"Most of my colleagues generate turnover and revenue of up to 10 percent compared to last year. This roughly coincides with the number of guests coming to Dubrovnik, about which we regularly receive information from the Dubrovnik Tourist Board. Maybe that percentage is even slightly lower because we lost daily excursionists, for example, from BiH and Montenegro, and cruise guests," said Vlasic.

According to him, no one prepared for the new situation, especially because last season was a record, and a reduction in VAT was even announced for this one, which would be an additional relief for caterers.

"People have made big investments that will not pay off for them now. We expected the situation to change significantly from June, but that did not happen. For example, my store operated in June at a rate of five percent of revenue compared to June last year. The least damage is caused by catering establishments that work all year round and which mainly serve drinks, some of them work at 30 percent of the usual traffic, and some at 50 percent, which is much more, but such are only two or three bars in Dubrovnik," said Vlasic, adding that he hopes that'll change after July 15, when, according to the announcements, more planes should land in Dubrovnik. Vlasic believes that it is necessary to carry out activities that would attract guests because there are many positive examples in Europe.

"Greek Mykonos is almost full, Italy is filling up very quickly, as is the French coast, Provence, and they were in a much worse situation than ours when it comes to the epidemiological picture and the situation around the coronavirus pandemic," says Vlasic.

Compared to restaurants, coffee bars that are open all year round and frequented by the local population are somewhat better. One of them is the cafe bar 'Antika' in Lapad Bay, owned by Zlatko Begusic, otherwise the president of the Association of Craftspeople Dubrovnik.

"Traditionally, we have a lot of local people from the City who come to have a drink, but the traffic is not even close to last season, let's say it is 50 percent lower. Cafes earn less than last year, but will survive, especially those outside the city, in Gruz or Lapad. Also, last year I had six waiters because there was such a need, now I have three," said Begusic.

Private landlords are rightly particularly concerned, because, for most of them, winter means investments and preparations for the season in which everything invested should return. But that didn’t happen this year. Slavica Grkes, vice president of the professional group of travel agencies at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce and owner of the Dominium travel agency, says that the drop in their agency's turnover by July 1 is 94.67 percent. And when it comes to renting, there are some new trends.

"As far as renting is concerned, we record more reservations on Mljet and Peljesac than in Dubrovnik, and those related to Dubrovnik are mostly last-minute overnight stays for units that have parking. We are selling the cheapest and most luxurious accommodation we have to offer," said Grkes.

When it comes to prices, Grkes claims that almost everyone has lowered them, some even up to 60 percent, and some have decided not to rent their housing units for tourist purposes.

"We closed about 20 percent of the accommodation units for tourist rentals because the owners decided to rent those units for a longer period of time or not rent them at all, for fear of being infected with COVID. We hope for the arrival of planes, a better epidemiological picture, but also an extension of the measures. Everyone has mostly written off this season, but I sincerely hope and cannot come to terms with the fact that everything we have been building for years will disappear," said Grkes.

Although for many years they criticized cruise guests and the crowds in the City attributed to them, it has now been shown that they are also a very important factor in Dubrovnik tourism, which suffers losses due to the absence of cruise ships.

Thus, revenues from cruisers this year, compared to last year, are lower by 96 percent, and the Port of Dubrovnik, according to the data provided, is expected to record a decline in revenues when it comes to yachts (96 percent less revenue), lines (94 percent less revenue) and ship’s storage (63 percent less revenue).

In the port of Gruz, 362 ships that would bring about 550 thousand passengers were canceled, and nine of them were realized, with 3,532 passengers. For comparison, last year, there were 486 boat trips that brought over 768 thousand guests.

From January to May 2020, Dubrovnik-Neretva County had the most cruises in Croatia, 73.3 percent of them. The port of Dubrovnik had the most visits by foreign cruise ships, followed by Korcula, Split, Sibenik and Zadar.

In addition to the Dubrovnik Port Authority, Dubrovnik Airport also recorded losses, as did other airports around the world. According to the report of the 'European Airport Council' ACI-Europe, from January 1 to June 28, 2020, European airports lost 748 million passengers, while Croatian airports realized almost 800 thousand passengers in the first half of the year, while last year alone in June it was 1.6 million.

In the first seven days of July, 7,800 passengers and 272 aircraft landings took off at Dubrovnik Airport, which is an increase compared to the previous week by 78 percent in the number of passengers and 39 percent in the number of operations, said ZL Dubrovnik.

This may be good news in the new situation in which car destinations profit somewhat more than air destinations, including Dubrovnik. Therefore, it is not surprising that all hopes are placed on flights that could be the only ones to save this year's tourist season, reports the Dubrovnik daily.

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Monday, 15 June 2020

Think Green on Peljesac: Divers Remove Over 400 Bags of Waste Near Trstenik

As Morski writes on the 14th of June, 2020, the Think Green ecological action on Peljesac close to Trstenik came to an end after a couple of days of demanding work. There were nineteen clean up actions in a row and the main organisers of it all, as well as the holders of the Think Green project, are as follows: Diving Club Roniti se Mora, National Geographic Croatia, Mares, Hrvatske Vode, Jamnica, Garmin, ESET NOD32, Zagrebačke pekarne Klara, Pivovara Medvedgrad, Edivo, Grgić Vina, Konoba Vitaceae, Fast Food Z, Bezek, DC Blue Planet, OPG Branko Džajić, D'Oro Grill, Caffe bar Felix, Stijena, Pizzeria Riva, Poljanić, Septem pontes, Pons, Postir and Scubalife.

The seabed in Trstenik and Zaglavak on Peljesac was cleaned up by as many as 40 divers and several volunteers, who were joined by the locals from Trstenik. Incredibly, over 400 bags of plastic waste, dozens of car tyres and batteries, parts from boats, a plastic pipe which was over two metres in length, one hundred metres of steel cables, old pots and chairs were taken out of the sea, which were then properly disposed of by the employees of the Bilan utility company. Approximately five tonnes of waste was collected in bags in total.

Diving parachutes, hooks and even boats were used to extract large debris. Mines and other explosives were found under the water, as well as a significant amount of medical waste lying around on the beach. After such actions, no one expects the seabed to be completely cleaned, but the educational effect is immeasurable.

Several tonnes of removed waste and garbage aren't negligible, but the real goal of such eco-actions is not only the cleaning and removal of the waste itself but also educating of local citizens, encouraging more responsible behaviour and pointing out the growing danger of pollution. The real goal is raise general awareness and as such, reduce pollution overall. This action on Peljesac achieved both goals in the right way.

Perhaps the biggest undertaking of this particular action on Peljesac was done on Zaglavak beach, which was covered with garbage, which mostly comes up from Albania, carried by the currents of the Adriatic sea.

For more, follow Total Eco Croatia.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Coronavirus Shuts Down Chinese Factory Supplying Croatia Peljesac Bridge

The Pelješki most (Pelješac Bridge) might be the first victim of the coronavirus in Croatia. The Chinese factory which is building the steel structures for the bridge is temporarily closing. Fortunately, the virus has not yet reached Croatia.

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Coronavirus Closes Chinese Steel Structure Factory

The virus has paralyzed China, and that now includes the factory where steel structures are being made for the Pelješki most, according to Vibor Vlainić/Dnevnik on February 13, 2020. This does not mean that work on the bridge will cease in Croatia, but the question remains what will happen when the time comes to install these new structures.

Will the steel structures arrive in Croatia on time? Hrvatske autoceste (Croatian Roads) indicated that the contractor has not asked for an extension. The bridge is scheduled to open on July 31, 2021.

"The contractor (China Road and Bridge Corporation) has taken all the necessary measures, first and foremost, to prevent a potential (coronavirus) health threat to the construction site. They have implemented protective measures at the site and these measures are being enacted according to clear guidelines," HAC reported.

However, Hrvatske autoceste will not be able to send supervisory engineers to the factory in China due to the rapid spread of the infection in that country.

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EU Heath Ministers Meeting: Croatia Will Not Close Borders

Due to the danger of the virus, a meeting of health ministers of all EU member states was held in Brussels at the invitation of the Croatian Presidency.

Although several countries have imposed entry restrictions on passengers who have been in China; Croatia has not yet followed suit. Two Chinese tourists have reported to Croatian hospitals with upper respiratory infections this past month: one in Pula and one in Split. Both tested negative for the coronavirus.

"We are not claiming to be absolutely certain (in our approach) but are taking caution. Everyone is asking about closing the Croatian borders, but that is not presently a realistic option. If the situation escalates; of course, we will consider additional factors. That is the most constructive approach for this situation, because emergency situations require extraordinary measures," explained Health Minister Vili Beroš.

At the meeting, several countries requested that each passenger coming from a country with confirmed coronavirus cases list each person with whom they have been in contact upon their entry to the European Union. But they eventually arrived at a compromise.

"It is certain that any person would be able to list all the contacts they have had, but it is expected that someone would answer whether they have had contact with people who have showed signs of illness, cough or fever or have been ill," Beroš added.

Daily updates on the coronavirus can be found here. An archive of Total Croatia News articles on the coronavirus can be accessed here.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Aminess Grand Azur Hotel in Orebic Awarded Travelife Gold Certificate for Sustainability

November 12, 2019 - Aminess Grand Azur Hotel in Orebic has received the prestigious Travelife Gold certification, one of the most esteemed awards for sustainable tourism businesses, which confirms that the hotel adheres to the strictest ethical and environmental standards in its operations.

HRTurizam writes that Travelife is an international certification system that promotes sustainability within the tourism industry, which is an essential segment of tourism, helping to preserve the unique natural and cultural features of the destination.

Protecting the environment, animals and biodiversity, local culture and heritage, relationships with the community and employees, and support for the local economy are just a few of the standards that have been successfully met by the Aminess Grand Azur Hotel according to the Travelife Gold certification.

"We are proud that the Aminess Grand Azur Hotel meets the highest standards of sustainable development. The Travelife Gold certification is the result of our continued and dedicated work in this area, which we plan to continue to pursue in the future. This certificate is also a confirmation of our past accomplishments and efforts to make our guests as comfortable as possible,” said Marina Brcic, Aminess Grand Azura director.

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In each of the 185 guest rooms and suites, guests of the Aminess Grand Azur Hotel can expect a panoramic view of the sea, Peljesac, and the nearby Korcula. The hotel offers two refurbished outdoor pools with freshwater and a sun terrace, and restaurants serve Mediterranean cuisine prepared with homemade olive oil, along with a selection of local red wines.

In addition to the Aminess Grand Azur Hotel in Orebic, the Aminess Lume Hotel in Korcula is also the proud owner of the Travelife Gold certificate this year, while the Aminess Maestral Hotel in Novigrad has held the certificate since 2013.

Travelife has approximately 1500 members in more than 50 countries around the world and is recognized and promoted by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council's umbrella institution for tourism sustainability, GSTC.

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

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

VIDEO: Peljesac Bridge Rises Above Sea as Construction Continues

As Morski writes on the 29th of October, 2019, a whole fifteen months from the beginning of the construction of the foundations of the future Peljesac bridge that will finally connect not only the territory of the Republic of Croatia into a single entity, but join that of the European Union itself, the very first contours rise above the sea.

Peljesac bridge seemed like a very far off saga just several years ago, and after Croatia joined the EU it was entitled to access to EU funds, a huge proportion of which are going towards financing the construction of this highly anticipated bridge which will connect, as stated, not only the territory of the country but the territory of the EU, removing the need to cross borders in and out of neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina at Neum when entering or exiting the extreme south of Dalmatia.

Despite the fact that a Chinese company is building the bridge, and the EU was not entirely pleased with the idea, there can be no doubt that the speed at which the Chinese work will see the bridge completed on time.

The Chinese company China Road and Bridge Corporation requested permission to work 24 hours per day, installed floodlights to allow them to do so and as such have now successfully placed 139 pilots at the bridge's base and then prepared the very first load-bearing columns for the rest of the bridge's upcoming construction.

While the tireless and classically hardworking Chinese are working on what is a capital project on Peljesac bridge, a project of strategic importance to Croatia, more steel structures are being prepared at the two factories over in China, and they're expected to arrive in Croatia to be used on the much anticipated southern Dalmatian bridge in early 2020.

The deadline for completion of the bridge is July 2021, have a quick look and see how it looks today in the video below.

Follow our lifestyle page for more.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

After University, Man Returns to Pelješac to Continue Family Tradition

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marta Duic writes on the 30th of July, 2019, the Mikulić family from Pelješac entered this tourist season with a bit of a novelty on offer - glamping. With their campsite and their boutique winery in Mokalo and the Adriatic Hotel in Orebić, this investment was a logical next step.

"From classic tents, we've switched over to mega luxury and I don't think we've made a mistake in doing so. This is a unique offer not only in the county, but throughout the region," proclaimed Antonio Mikulić.

Mikulić explained that their Adriatic Hotel is the only one in all of Pelješac that operates for 365 days per year, it used to be a parish church, then it was a school, then it was a shop and an apartment building. He notes that none of the six rooms are the same, and thanks to their beautiful design, they're reminiscent of the old sailboats, which they're named after: Stipan, Paulina, Isac, Jacob, Mimbelli, and Pelag. Done in the eye-catching style of a luxury boat lounge, there is also an a la carte restaurant named Stari Kapetan, the terrace of which is a replica of a seventeenth-century ship.

"Our boutique winery is an upgrade the offer of our family-run hotel and campsite, accounting for about 25 percent of this business. Since we live in Orebić, the tourist centre of Pelješac, our market is right there on our doorstep and there's almost no guest who visits our winery who doesn't end up buying our olive oil or our family-branded wine. Although we sell almost everything we produce, we participate in fairs throughout the year, organise presentations, and send off our wines to be judged,'' added Mikulić.

This is a local Pelješac family which has always cultivated vineyards and produced wine. According to Mikulić, his grandfather Josip also worked in the highest quality wine, Plavac, which is cultivated in the family's vineyards in Pelješac to this very day, and in his honour, the wine bears the name Don Josip.

"As a kid, I went with my grandfather to the vineyards and to the cellar, and after graduating from university in Zagreb, I decided to return to Pelješac and devote myself to the job I love the most. We started producing wine in a serious way back in 2014, when we equipped the winery with modern technology and all of the equipment.

Since the guests of the family hotel responded excellently to the first bottles of wine, in March last year, we decided to open our boutique winery on the slopes of Postup (village in Pelješac), where we also do tastings and try to tell the story of the beauty of this peninsula, the weight that Pelješac carries, and premium wines,'' explained Mikulić. They annually produce about 15,000 bottles of Plavac Mali and about six thousand bottles of Pošip.

The Pošip wine is bought from subcontractors from the nearby island of Korcula, and about 80 percent of the Plavac comes from their vineyards that cover 2.5 hectares in the best positions on the slopes of Postup, while another 20 percent is purchased from subcontractors, winemakers who have vineyards next to theirs. In addition to the peninsula, these wines are present in family-run small hotels and in better restaurants, they can be found in Split and Zagreb for sale, and can also be purchased online.

Given that their main priority is high quality and that a good deal of wine is sold to wineries, as well as in the restaurant of the family's hotel and camp, they're not focused on exporting.

"The tasting room looks like an old Dalmatian tavern and is especially interesting to foreign guests, and often they stay longer than planned in the relaxed atmosphere. In the few years that we've been open, we have had guests from almost all European countries, as well as from all over the world.

The most numerous are guests from Germany, Austria, the USA and the Scandinavian countries. These modern guests want to get to know the place they've come to, they want to taste authentic food and wines, and they are especially interested in Plavac which is our indigenous variety, and best results are known to be provided on Pelješac.

We also worked hard on the winery last winter, we made a bank and an archive of wines, so we've rounded it all together with a diverse offer for all guests - from the winery, the beach bar, the beach restaurant, the glamping, the camp, the apartments, the rooms, the hotel, and the restaurant right in the centre of Orebić,'' concluded Mikulić.

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

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Dalmatia as It Once Was: Orebic on Peljesac in 1972 (VIDEO)

July 26, 2019 - Continuing our look at the Adriatic coast as It Once Was almost 50 years ago, a visit to Orebic on Peljesac. 

Tourism has changed the Croatian coast considerably in the last 50 years. Some destinations have changed beyond recognition, such as Dubrovnik, where the mass tourism of cruise ships and buses and buses of day trips are filling the old town as never before - a far cry from 50 years ago

Other destinations, such as Korcula, seem hardly to have changed at all

The paths that Korcula and Dubrovnik have chosen for their tourism are very different, something I looked at recently in Is Korcula Really a Mini Dubrovnik? Please May It Never Be

One man who has been instrumental in lifting the quality of Korculan tourism is Brit Michael Unsworth, who arrived in Orebic across the water back in 1972 chasing a local girl. They have been happliy married ever since, and Michael found a second love - Korcula and Orebic. He is the man behind Lesic Dimitri Palace, arguably the best 5-star boutique hotel on the coast, and his Michelin-recommended restaurant has been the catalyst for Korculan hospitality to up its game, and with considerable success. 

So this one's for you, Michael, to thank you for all you have done. A trip down memory lane to the Orebic you arrived to back in 1972. 

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Sun Lounger Under Palm on Pelješac Beach 3X More Expensive?

According to a report from Poslovni Dnevnik on the 16th of July, 2019, the media in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina reported on some news about a Bosnian tourist visiting Croatia who experienced a somewhat strange situation on the Pelješac peninsula, more precisely in Trpanj: to rent a sun lounger, you'll pay a reasonable 25 kuna, but if you want to put that sun lounger under a palm tree for some shade from the sun's harsh rays, then it costs three times more - you'll pay 75 kuna.

This story does seem a little odd, so Morski.hr tried to find out what was going on and whether or not the story truly is correct.

Trpanj's mayor, Jakša Franković, believes this is a pure fabrication because he just doesn't believe this is possible.

"I think it's just something someone made up, it's almost impossible, because the municipal council has issued two concessions for the rental of sun loungers, one to ''Plavi obrt za morski ribolov'' who own 36 of the sun loungers placed at that location in Trpanj, and ''Hotel Faraon d.o.o. Trpanj'', which owns 20 sun loungers on that same beach. They rent out sun loungers, not shade, and that's what they've been approved for. If this really is true, I'd like this to be sent to our e-mail address or to that of the Trpanj Tourist Board. If the guest used the sun lounger after having paid three times more for it for the above reasons, then I'd like to see that receipt,'' said Mayor Franković.

"If this honestly is true, then it's a kind of bad marketing trick, and the market punishes such unsuccessful jokes, and they can't know if everyone is joking or if they aren't. Mr. Jakov Begović (one of the concessionaires, op.a.) is otherwise inclined to making jokes. Recently, he wrote in front of his facility, ''Govorimo sve jezike osim vašeg'' (We speak all languages ​​except yours). In my opinion, that's also one of those bad jokes that can also be misunderstood,'' added the mayor.

The owner: We're not charging for shade, we're charging for sun loungers next to the palm tree.

Jakov Begović, the owner of the otherwise well-known facility in Trpanj, told Morski.hr that he saw no issue with this.

"I don't see anything controversial about it, and it's not about shade, but because the sun lounger is standing next to the palm tree," he said.

"There are two palm trees and a table is placed next to them, and it's called a palmset. If the gentleman from Bosnia was used to seeing parasols advertised for rent for protection from the sun, then he wouldn't be upset about it. If people want to, people can rent sun loungers and then lie beneath them and use the shade of the chair!'' he concluded, clearly irritated.

Follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

Monday, 8 July 2019

Pelješac Bridge Construction Finally Surfaces!

After the Chinese company CRBC started working on the new Pelješac bridge in July last year, and after all of the 148 permanent (+ 2 test) pillars have been installed at their sites, in the last couple of days the construction of the bridge has finally surfaced!

Večernji list brings the story and a gallery of photos by Hrvatske ceste (Croatian roads), of how it's possible to see the structure of the bridge above the sea level, as the work on the foundation slabs has started, and those are the first sections of the bridge that will be above water.

It took less than a year to reach that benchmark, and it takes a lot of human and machine power to be able to work that fast. Currently there are more than 20 vessels working on the site, although the biggest one, the Xong Cheng 1 crane, left the bay in May. Currently there are 385 workers on the site, 44 of which are Croats and 341 are Chinese nationals working in Croatia (and recently there have been some problems with their work permits, so the company had to pay a hefty fine).

The foundation slabs connect the pillars that belong to the same group, thus allowing for better stability of the bridge, as well as to protect it against any boats potentially hitting the pillars - as they are at water level and visible. Once they're completed, the piers of the bridge get attached to the slabs. There's more work to be done, as Croatian roads reports, on the pillars of the bridge, pouring concrete and finalising the structure at the seabed.

It is expected that Pelješac bridge will be completely finished in two years. And whether it's going to be fully operational then depends on some other factors, which have almost nothing to do with the bridge itself, rather they almost perfectly tell the tale of Croatia.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

One Man and His Dog: Outdoors Croatia Explores St. Ilija on Peljesac (VIDEO)

July 7, 2019 - Looking to escape the crowds and explore the Great Outdoors? The one man and dog team from Outdoors Croatia have the answer on Peljesac. 

If you are an active outdoor person looking for a place to research what Croatia has to offer, there is only one recommendation I would make - the YouTube channel of Outdoors Croatia, which has done more to highlight the potential of Croatia as an active tourism destination than any other I have come across.

And rather than focusing just on the popular spots, the one man and one dog team have explored literally every corner of Croatia, while taking exceptional footage of each activity along the way. I, for one, have learned of a number of new destinations and hidden gems through their excellent videos. 

This week's video comes from Peljesac, as our dynamic duo first kayak to the peninsula, then hike to the tallest peak of the peninsula, Sv. Ilija, which stands majestically some 961 metres above sea level. 

Views from the top include the gorgeous island of Korcula and its archipelago.

Feast your eyes on yet another stunning part of this beautiful country awaiting your hiking boots. 

You can follow the latest from Outdoor Croatia on their YouTube channel.

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