Monday, 16 May 2022

Hotel Valkane Construction in Pula Causes Issues for Local Government

May the 16th, 2022 - The announced construction of the five-star Hotel Valkane, with the investor being a Serbian media mogul, has caused quite the reaction among locals in Pula, with the local self-government unit there now torn between giving it the green light and saying a resounding no.

As Morski writes, the construction of a 5-star, 7-storey hotel on a popular promenade by the sea has raised a real storm in Pula and shaken up the city government. Does the city need another huge hotel or not, and is the lungomare (the city's promenade) really the right location for that? The reactions are as strong as they are mixed.

Hotel Valkane's investor, otherwise a Serbian billionaire and media mogul, wants to build the aforementioned hotel which would be worth half a billion kuna. The mayor has given the idea a thumbs up, but Pula locals are allegedly less than thrilled about the idea.

''We sincerely hope that Hotel Valkane will be completed within the next three to four years. There's no talk of deforestation, causing damage to the promenade or anything of high value. On the contrary, the ''hole'' that was once used should be returned to function,'' said Zoran Kostic, the project manager of "Hotel Valkane".

Pula's city councilors are generally not opposed to the idea of the construction of Hotel Valkane, except for those from the political party Mozemo (We Can!)

''Mozemo! has already initiated the third changes to the urban development plan of the promande, which can remove the hotel or reduce its size,'' the president of the Pula City Council Dusica Radojcic told HRT.

Most of Pula's local residents are allegedly not happy at all about the construction of this massive hotel

''It's not that it shouldn't be built, but maybe not in this place, maybe we'd rather build a sports centre or something like that here, use it a little better, build a better stadium, than build another hotel here. It's just a little too big, that hotel, in my opinion the two floors above should not protrude over everything as they would do,'' are just some of the comments of Pula's residents.

Despite the apparent dissatisfaction of the local residents he represents, Pula's mayor sees no issue...

''This is an excellent development project, the first five-star hotel that will be environmentally sustainable, one that won't touch any of the trees in the forest and has all the predispositions to be a new development point in the City of Pula and preserve the space we're in,'' said Mayor Filip Zoricic.

Mozemo is currently insisting on a referendum on building Hotel Valkane. They've warned that the entire part of the Pula coast has been privatised in a murky way and are as such calling on state institutions to do their jobs and investigate this matter more deeply.

With Pula's residents and Mozemo apparently vehemently against the hotel's construction, but with the mayor and the city government willing to give it a green light, will a referendum be held in which Pula's citizens might say no to the hotel, or will the investor get a location and construction permit and start building it? Time will tell for Hotel Valkane's fate.

For more, check out our business section.

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Pula Airport to be Connected to 30 European Cities This Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 7 May 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more, check out our travel section.

Saturday, 19 December 2020

Pula Tourist Board: Planned Revenues in 2021 20% Higher than 2020

December 19, 2020 - At the Pula Tourist Board's assembly, the rebalance of the financial and activity plan for this year and the plans for 2021 was adopted. 

Glas Istre reports that with COVID-19 and all measures in June, the first rebalance was passed, assuming only 15 percent of last year's overnight stays in the peak season. But tourism traffic started already in June, and in ten months, 935 thousand overnight stays were realized, which is 41 percent of last year's figures.

Compared to the previous year, the highest percentage of overnight stays was realized by weekenders (96 percent), followed by nautical tourism (65 percent), rooms and apartments owned by legal entities (49 percent), private accommodation (48 percent), and campsites (41 percent). The biggest losers are hostels, recording only eight percent, tourist apartments (18 percent), and hotels with 23 percent of last year's traffic.

According to the new supplementary budget, revenues amount to HRK 5.512 million, 72 percent more than planned in May but 43 percent less than the original plan for this year. Total expenditures now amount to around HRK 4,822 million, 15 percent more than the first supplementary budget. More activities were realized than planned in the spring without the need for borrowing credit - summer concerts and parties in cooperation with the City, Pula Half Marathon, EU project Pula Fortification System, Advent 2019, Pula Carnival, Irrigation Verudela Art Park, and other smaller activities.

The plan for 2021 envisages revenues of around HRK 6.635 million. Still, the director of the Tourist Board, Sanja Cinkopan Korotaj, says that it is challenging to plan anything because there are several unknowns - including the amount for tourist tax and membership fees for small renters, how many companies will ask for refunds in the final accounts and reducing membership fees. But they decided to look optimistically, and the planned revenues are 20 percent higher than this year.

A team of experts from Arena Hospitality Group, Uniline agency, and Pula Tourist Board has been formed, preparing promotional actions for next year and when the pandemic in Europe calms down. "We will be ready to react quickly," says the Pula Tourist Board.

Together with the tourist boards of southern Istria, they will create the operational plan of southern Istria for 2021-2027, and other activities will be organized on a smaller scale than last year - there will be Visualia, Pula Half Marathon, Days of Antiquity, Pula Dances, Advent, summer concerts and entertainment. With the cluster of Southern Istria, projects have been prepared for the Association Fund tenders at the Croatian National Tourist Board to develop the destination for animal friends and trail lovers.

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Saturday, 9 November 2019

Advent in Pula Gears Up For Festive Season With Changes

As Glas Istre/Borka Petrovic writes on the 8th of November, 2019, the biggest news of this year's "December in Pula" program is the ice skating rink that will move from King Tomislav Square on Veruda to the very city centre. Mayor Boris Miletić justified the moving of the skating rink by claiming that it better adheres to the wishes of local kids and their parents, but also to the desire to bring all activities together in one place and stimulate additional liveliness in the city centre.

The installation of the ice skating rink, measuring 30 times 20 metres, will begin next week, more precisely on November the 13th, and the opening is planned for November the 29th. The rink will be open until January the 6th, 2020.

Traditionally, the first and last day of the ice skating rink's operation will be free of charge for everyone, as well as for all previously announced organised visits of preschool and school institutions.

Because of the ice skating rink of the rink and the turning of Giardini into a pedestrian zone, many changes in traffic regulations and public transport will be introduced in Pula.

Thus, for all traffic, as was the situation with previous years, Giardini will be turned into a pedestrian zone, Laginjina (at the intersection with Smareglinas street and Anticova street) will be closed from November the 13th onwards, and this year, Zagrebačka will be closed at the intersection with Dobricheva ulica, while Zadarska street (from the intersection with Istarska street to the intersection with Dobricheva street) will adopt a one-way system in the direction of Istarska street.

Carrarina is turning into a two-way impasse with the possibility of a semi-circular turn, and the taxi station will be relocated to the site of the current bus stop on Istarska street. All this was explained by Mayor Giordano Škuflić.

Igor Skatar, the director of Pulapromet, explained that the Pula city bus lines that otherwise operated along those sections would be diverted to the nearest surrounding stations, using mostly stops at the city library, Pula Arena and the market, and that changes to these routes would be available to the public on the company's website. The bus times will not change.

Pulaparking director Branislav Bojanić also stated that there will be free parking throughout the month of December.

''After November the 15th, we will be more tolerant of drivers and will allow delays of five or ten minutes until things are settled. But one thing we won't tolerate in December is improper parking and we will be rigorous there,'' Bojanić stressed.

The director of the Pula Film Festival Public Institution, Gordana Restović, emphasised that with the nearby ice rink, the entire site will be surrounded by amenities - as usual, eighteen cottages with various facilities will be located there, as will two stages, a gastro corner and the magic forest for toddlers, and in cooperation with the Visualia Festival, this pedestrian zone will be further enriched by the installation of the "Passage of Wishes" (Prolaz želja), that is, light arches that will extend as far as 50 metres along Giardini street.

As usual, a large stage and more than twenty concerts will be available to enjoy on Portarata, and the traditional New Year's Eve celebrations will be held at the Forum.

Make sure to follow our dedicated travel page for more.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Cultural and Creative Potential: EC Proclaims Pula Best in Croatia

The City of Pula is one of beautiful Istria's most popular gems, and it seems that this is being recognised not only by tourist stakeholders here in Croatia, but by the European Commission (EC) itself. Far from being the typical ''sunshine and sea'' destination, although it does have that too, this gorgeous Istrian city has caught the eye of the EC for its potential in culture and creativity.

Potential is a word everyone loves to throw around here in Croatia, because we all love to talk and not really do a great deal (read more about that here), but seeing the country finally begin to expand from being the ''sunshine and sea'' destination that it has unfortunately clung to the label of for so many years is encouraging indeed, and Pula is taking the lead.

As Glas Istre writes on the 31st of October, 2019, in terms of its cultural and creative potential, the City of Pula is the best city of up to 250,000 inhabitants in all of Croatia, according to a European Commission study based on numerous quantitative and, to a lesser extent, qualitative indicators.

In its category, Pula surpassed Osijek, Split and especially Rijeka, which is at the very bottom of the list, although it won the title of European Capital of Culture 2020.

In this category, 87 cities were rated and the best result was earned by Bern with an index of 46.9. Beautiful Pula finished 27th with an index of 25.6, Osijek came 62nd with an index of 19, Split came 71st with an index of 17.7 and Rijeka, to say it is set to be the capital of culture next year, came a rather surprising 76th place, with an index of 15.9.

In competition with cities with over one million inhabitants and in the overall competition, the French capital of Paris was ranked first with an index of 66, the best city from 500,000 to one million inhabitants was Copenhagen with an index of 46.8. In that group, Zagreb finished 32nd with an index of 21, meaning Pula even managed to outrank Zagreb.

Zurich is the top city with a population of 250,000 to 500,000 with an index of 49.3.

Indicators such as the number of cinemas, theatres and museums, the number of overnight stays generated by foreign tourists, the number of cinema-goers and museum visitors, content satisfaction, the percentage of employees in the arts, culture, entertainment, media and communication fields, the number of patents, the number of job openings in new media and communication(s) companies, and the number of graduates in arts and humanities courses were taken into account.

In addition to all of the above, the percentage born abroad of the total population and the percentage of population who unreservedly agreed with the statement that "the presence of foreigners is good for this city" and "foreigners living in this city are well integrated'' and so on was also deemed positive.

A total of 190 cities were rated.

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

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Noah Ball on Outlook and Dimensions Festival: We'd Love to Return to Pula

As we recently reported, the wildly popular Outlook and Dimensions festivals which have traditionally taken place in the Istrian city of Pula have announced their move much further south, more precisely to the historic Dalmatian city of Šibenik.

After an entire decade in Pula, the festival will head further down south, take place at three separate locations, and even the actual dates will alter, meaning that the festival will no longer be held at the end of August, as has become the norm over the last ten years in Pula.

As Glas Istre/Zoran Angeleski writes on the 12th of October, 2019, the Outlook and Dimensions festivals' main man, Noah Ball, says that although he'd love to return to Pula one day in the future, unfortunately running the Outlook and Dimensions festivals at Fort Punta Christo has created multiple challenges over the years in which it has been present in the city every summer.

''Electricity and water are just two of several challenges. There are many areas of festival activity that have significant costs associated with them. Organising music events is a very risky business, which does not bring much benefit with it.

In recent years, the decline in the value of the British currency against the euro/kuna has had the greatest impact on our business; the pound has fallen by almost twenty percent. This has greatly affected our company and made our business unsustainable within the model by which we've run it for many years.

We would love to return to Pula one day, but in order to do so we need to consider changing the format of the event and seeking as much support as possible to make the festivals sustainable,'' explained Ball.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more information on festivals of all kinds across not only Istria but the whole of the Republic of Croatia.

Friday, 28 June 2019

Pula Airport Making Excellent Progress, Experiencing Growth in 2019

As Glas Istre/Duska Palibrk writes on the 27th of June, 2019, Pula Airport is experiencing some excellent growth and progression this year, which can be owed to intense cooperation between Pula Airport, the Istria County Tourist Board and local people working in the hotel and tourism industry.

''As of yesterday, when compared to last year, we recorded sixteen percent more passengers. The biggest increase we had was in April, by about sixty percent, in May, there was an increase of 35 percent.

That's exactly what we were working hard on throughout last year along with the Istria County Tourist Board and the hotel industry, boosting the pre-season and the season. Of course, we're not expecting such growth in July and August, but again in October, we'd like thirty percent more passengers. This year, we set a goal of 770,000 passengers. Yes, that would be a new record,'' Pula Airport's director Svemir Radmilo stated.

The low-cost airline company easyJet has opened up two new seasonal lines for Pula, Geneva, and Amsterdam. 

Flights from Geneva arrive at Pula Airport on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the very first of which landed last night, and from Amsterdam, flights arrive on Tuesdays and Sundays, and it will continue on like that until the end of August.

According to the flight schedule, the flight from Geneva to Pula arrives at 20:00 and returns back at 21:15. The seasonal line between Pula Airport and Amsterdam opened on Croatian Statehood Day (June the 25th), landing on Pula Airport's runway ten minutes ahead of schedule, at 19:30. On the first flight from Amsterdam there were 110 passengers, and upon departure from Pula Airport, there were 94.

EasyJet has thus become the number one carrier at Pula Airport. This year will see a total of twelve lines and about 150,000 passengers will arrive thanks to the ''wings'' of this popular low-cost carrier.

In addition to Geneva and Amsterdam, the aforementioned air company will connect Pula Airport with ten more European destinations. Until the end of August, EasyJet will fly to Pula Airpott from Paris on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from Milan on Mondays and Fridays, from Berlin (Schönefeld) and Basel on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and from Bristol in the UK on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Until October the 13th, on Wednesdays and Sundays, there will be a direct Liverpool-Pula line, on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays until October the 20th, there will be a direct route between Pula Airport and Berlin (Tegel),, and until Thursday the 26th of October, Thursdays and Sundays will see a direct connection between Pula Airport and the British capital of London (Southend and Gatwick).

As far as flights are concerned, the director of the Pula Airport says that only the month of October has a question mark over its head, especially with regard to the UK, as the 31st of October is meant to be the country's new EU exit date. However, whether or not that means anything at all, as it hasn't so far with any previous planned exit dates - remains to be seen.

"We were concerned about Brexit during the pre-season, too, and nothing happened, so far, we haven't felt a bigger drop in the number of passengers, everything that comes from the United Kingdom is very full, all flights so far have been over 90 percent filled and we hope to continue this trend,'' said the director of Pula Airport, which can now proudly boast of more than seventy direct flights to Europe, of which 70 percent are with "low-cost'' airlines.

It isn't just EasyJet has just opened new lines for Pula Airport. Laudamotion has connected Pula and Stuttgart this season, Voltea has been connecting Pula Airport and Bordeaux since earlier this month, Jet2 connects Pula with Birmingham, and TUI UK connects it with Doncaster.

Asked how much Pula is recognised among Croatian travellers, as well as those from within Croatia's closer region, as the starting place to get to all of the aforementioned European destinations, Svemir Radmilo says he sees more and more Italian and Slovenian registrations parked at the airport, there are also those from Zagreb, Rijeka, Karlovac, and some remain parked there for days at a time.

''We're a tourist destination, people work during the summer season, seventy percent of people in Istria are working in tourism and they're not travelling during this time of year. The number of Croatian passengers using Pula Airport to travel abroad is greatest in April, September and October, but they make up only ten percent of our passengers. All the rest are international travellers who're coming to visit Croatia, ninety percent of them remain in Istria, others continue to other destinations. There are also those who fly to Dubrovnik, rent a car, and go in the opposite direction, towards Pula,'' concluded Svemir Radmilo.

Make sure to follow our dedicated travel page for much more.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

42 Percent More Tourists in Pula Than This Time Last Year!

Pula is one of Istria's more heavily fequented gems, attracting tourists from across Europe and the rest of the world for its mixture of culture, heritage and history, as well as its ease of access to other parts of beautiful Istria in the northern Adriatic, as well as its connections to nearby Italy and Slovenia.

As Borka Pertrovic/Glas Istre writes on the 23rd of June, 2019, more than 11,500 tourists are currently staying in the Istrian city of Pula, which, compared to this time last year, has seen an increase in tourists of as much as 42 percent, as was announced by the Tourist Board of the City of Pula.

Just how crowded with tourists Pula currently is could be witnessed easily on Saturday, during a somewhat cloudy time, when the first drops of rain saw all of the tourists leave the beaches and head into the city creating crowds both in terms of road traffic and within the city itself.

Most of the guests, as we now know, come from other European countries, including Germany (3,378), Croatia (1,404), the United Kingdom (1,020), Austria (979), Slovenia (797) and Italy (622), and they're mostly accommodated in smaller renting facilities in which there are currently 4,793 tourists, and they're from other parts of Croatia as well as from abroad. There are also 1,913 such guests staying in Pula's hotels, 1,765 in various tourist resorts and apartments, while the smallest number of them are located in camps - a total of 1,693.

The pre-season, from the beginning of the year to the 15th of June, there were 2.5 percent more tourists, which is as has been stated from Pula's tourist board, satisfactory, especially considering that May was an extremely rainy month and that Easter fell later this year than it did last year.

Make sure to follow our dedicated travel page for much more on tourism and travel in Croatia, in Pula and beyond.

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