Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Wondering If You Can Enter Croatia? Check in an Instant with TCTI Chatbot

July 29, 2020 - The situation regarding travel to Croatia is changing at what feels like a daily rate, and to help us answer some of the frequently asked questions, the Total Croatia Travel Info Viber Community has enlisted a modern kind of assistant: a chatbot

The team behind the Total Croatia Travel Info Viber community is working hard to help all of our members with answers to any of their questions, but obviously, as can be expected, some of the questions keep getting repeated. Some of the tactics we use are frequently repeating some of the most informative articles, our Biggest Travel Update, Answers to FAQ article, Where to get tested in Croatia, and other articles that get updated daily. 

But, now we have additional help: a chatbot. You can easily access it by clicking the very friendly-looking robot icon when you're in the community (see screenshot below), or by clicking on this link.


That will wake the bot up, and it's there to answer (almost) any and all questions you might have regarding the possibility of entry into Croatia during the corona summer season of 2020. You will be able to ask about the required forms, latest updates, flights to Croatia, and general COVID-19 situation in Croatia. If you click on the COVID-19 button, you will be given the latest COVID-19 numbers in Croatia, the overview of the epidemiological measures valid in Croatia, as well as the location of the closest epidemiologist, should you need one - based on your phone's location!


If you, for instance, select that you want the information about traveling to Croatia (which is, obviously, something most of our user are interested about), you will get to choose your specific situation: 


and you will be given a brief and informative answer, as well as a link to an article where you will be able to read more details. 


If you, however, still need more help, after checking with our friendly and tireless bot and after reading our key articles on the topic, the community members will be more than happy to assist you with any additional questions you might have! 


For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages!

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.

Saturday, 25 July 2020

How a Viber Community Helped a Slovenian American Couple Wed in Istria Yesterday

July 25, 2020 - Getting married during a pandemic - how the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community helped American Joshua and Slovenian Noemi marry in Umag. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has been littered with personal stories of tragedy, death, loss and separation. Enough misery to last a lifetime.

But there have also been some stories with happier endings, or reunification and a cementing of loving relationships, sometimes in the form of marriage. 

A marriage such as that of Noemi and Joshua in Umag yesterday, for example.  

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I have never met either of them, although I have corresponded with Noemi at length via Viber messenger, but theirs is the one love story that I have followed with interest this year, right up until its happy conclusion and the exchange of rings in Istria yesterday. 

I first became aware of the couple's plight shortly after co-founding the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community a couple of months ago. An early contributor was a Slovenian lady named Noemi Jugovac from Buje, whose life plans were seriously threatened by the corona crisis, as she had been planning to marry her love, Joshua Shaquille Johnson from Philadelphia, in a ceremony in Umag on July 24. 

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It quickly became obvious that Noemi was going to stop at nothing to find a way to get her American beau into Croatia for the big day, as she devoured every piece of advice and every update, asking for clarifications.  

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The big day itself, of course, was destined to be a much more muted affair due to corona, with just 6 people planned in attendance. But if Noemi could not get her man to Croatia, there would be no wedding at all.  

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Finally, thanks to the help of Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community co-founder Kresimir Macan, as well as great feedback from other community members who had made the journey from the USA via airports in Frankfurt, Zurich, Amsterdam, Paris and Copenhagen, Noemi and Joshua were confident enough to book the ticket and be reunited a few days before their wedding. after some two years apart.  

The flight was set for Sunday, July 12, some 12 days before their big day. 

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And then, late on Friday, July 10, less than 48 hours before Joshua was due to fly - disaster! Croatia suddenly - and almost immediately - changed the rules for all non-EU/EEA/UK citizens and residents. From midnight on Friday night, less than 48 hours before he was due to depart, a sudden restriction that could potentially scupper their plans. There was no way to get a test done in time and get the results. The alternative was to arrive and have 14-days self-isolation, thereby missing the wedding.  

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I will never forget that next morning as had given several staff the day off and was looking forward to a quiet Saturday, with slow, weekend traffic on the Viber community. I could not have been more wrong. The announcement was made on a Friday night and implemented at midnight, but then it was the weekend and much harder to reach officials and offices to find out what the situation was. The community was full of panicked messages from airports from Kiev to New York CIty, as passengers with all the documentation for travel painstakingly prepared found themselves with a last minute spanner in the works. Would they be allowed to travel at all?  

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Thanks to the information and help obtained through the Viber community, the couple received clear instructions on what to do and what the procedures are, and within a month of contacting the team with Total Croatia Travel Info, Joshua finally arrived in Croatia. Immediately upon arrival, he went for testing to the Hrvatski zavod za javno zdravstvo, and after it was determined that the test was negative, he was released from self-isolation after waiting for the results overnight. He was then free to proceed to his fiancee's house in Buje, and from there the big day. 

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The wedding took place yesterday, a very small affair with Noemi's parents and the best man in attendance, and there will be a much bigger party when all this is over.  

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We wish the happy couple all the best in their new union, a love which corona could not stop, despite its best efforts. 

The wedding has already attracted the attention of the Croatian media, and it was featured last night on the national news, with both Noemi and Joshua speaking to the cameras in English.  

About the Total Croatia Travel Info Viber community

The Total Croatia Travel Info Viber community is intended for foreigners who, despite the situation with COVID-19, want to visit Croatia. Up-to-date and verified information on travel, borders and flights to Croatia is exchanged in one place through the community, and thanks to automatic translation, messages can be read in 24 languages. Communication in the community is two-way and members receive real-time information that interests them about coming to Croatia and exchange experiences with each other.

Founded in May on the initiative of Paul Bradbury, founder of the Total Croatia News portal and communication expert Krešimir Macan, this Viber community today has more than 5,000 members. It achieves more than 150,000 views on a monthly basis and, depending on the day, between 300 and 500 messages are exchanged in the community on a daily basis. Thanks to the adequate informative support, advice and experiences of other members, the community regularly receives thanks from all those who arrived in Croatia safely through Total Croatia Travel Info.

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community (you will need to download the app).

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages

Sunday, 24 May 2020

10 Things I Learned Starting the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber Community

 May 24, 2020 - TCN launched the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community 5 days ago. It has been quite a ride. 10 things I learned since we started. 

Last weekend, I called PR guru and champion of orange shoe fashion, Kresimir Macan, suggesting he take me in his Porsche to the main border with Slovenia at Bregana. With information so hard to find, a little first-hand reporting might be useful. MUP were extremely responsive by email with the media permission and very helpful at the border. You can see the realities of life on the Croatian-Slovenian border on May 17 here

"We have that really good Viber account, for corona updates. Why doesn't the Ministry of Tourism have the same for the latest travel advice?"

"Why don't you make your own Viber community?" asked Macan. 

"I wouldn't know where to start."

Two days later... 


I have known Kreso for 6 years. And I have known many who have worked for him. They are some of the brightest minds who go on to do incredible things in the public and private sector. So when he suggested I come to the office and have a chat with his two interns, I knew it would not be just a chat. 

After we got over the initial embarrassment that I did not know how to download Viber to my desktop (thanks, kids!), we - or rather they - got to work. In precisely 22 minutes, we were live with my Viber community Total Croatia Travel INFO (and you can join too - but you need to download the app). 

Nobody has helped me more in the last 5 years than Macan. He is a controversial chap and a polarising figure (he is the erstwhile Communications Director for current Prime Minister Plelnkovic), but he is a master of his craft. I sat and watched, and within an hour, we had an infographic with the relevant info that people needed to know.  


Ann thanks to the generosity of our Viber community, that infographic is now available in 12 languages. There is also a consolidated Croatia travel master article which is updated daily. You can bookmark it here

It has been quite a ride. 10 random things I learned from the Total Croatia Travel INFO community that I did not know last week. (Let me put a MASSIVE disclaimer here that you should check all info independently with official sources to be 100% sure - all the info looks very credible, but please check before you travel)

1. You can apparently fly from the UK to Croatia before June 15, just not directly.


2. Hungarians REALLY want to come to Croatia

And you are very welcome! About 30% of the chat in the community has been in the Hungarian language. Thanks to the Viber auto-translate feature, we are able to understand and answer their questions where we can, or direct them to the relevant official contact.


To help things along, our little Viber community created a Hungarian version of the infographic. 

Many thanks to our community member Mariann Markai for volunteering a Hungarian translation of our May 21 update

And this cool new feature from Google allows you to be fully updated with the latest in any language you choose. For our Hungarian guests, wecome to Croatia and have a great stay.

3. It seems you can fly from the USA to Croatia if you have the right passport and circumstances


I have no more info on that, but you can always join our Viber community and request more details. You can join here.

4. Different countries have different corona info requirements.

In Croatia, the focus has been on how many cases (zero yesterday) and how many deaths (99 in total). But potential tourists have been asking lots of questions about how many people have been tested in Croatia. You can see full details of that and how Croatia compares on many corona stats here

5. There is a big need for a clear explanation on quarantine rules and test requirements entering Croatia (none) and returning to the home country. 

6. There is a big need for a clear explanation on the border crossing experience.

Who can, who can't, under which conditions. Are all borders open etc. This was my experience at the Slovenian border on Sunday, May 17

7. Flight information IS out there, and new flights are being announced.



Source the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community via Avioradar.

You can keep up with the latest flight announcements on the TCN latest flights page.

8. While the official information by Croatian authorities has improved MASSIVELY, it is still failing both tourists and the tourist businesses they represent. Sadly. 

Here's why. And I really hope for all of us that this will change as quickly as tomorrow

9. Community is strong and the quickest way to get the very latest. Build a strong community which respects others and helps out where it can, and there is no need for anything else regarding travel info. Or anything else. 

10. I am too old for all this, but I see a massive future for my kids. It has been an incredible few days, and I think we made Croatian travel info a little easier to find. 

Join us! Contribute your knowledge, ask your questions, and our community will try to get them answered, or send you to the right place to ask. You can join here (you will need to download the Viber app). Why Viber? I am advised that it is the best platform to allow unlimited numbers in groups and communities. Smart. 

For the latest travel info from Croatia, bookmark this article, which will be updated daily. 


Tuesday, 19 May 2020

TCN Launches Viber Community 'Total Croatia Travel INFO' for Latest Updates

May 19, 2020 - With so much confusion on the current travel situation AFTER CROATIA OPENED BORDERS TO TOURISTS FROM EU, TCN launches a Viber community called Total Croatia Travel INFO to keep people updated with the latest info.. All you need to follow our latest updates is to download Viber application to your mobile or desktop. Join us!

My daughters are laughing at me again.

And I will confess I do look a little ridiculous.

And old. 


As the Kings of Accidental Tourism continue their strategy of waiting for tourism to happen, as our heroic minister spouts catching corona-era slogans such as Croatia Breathes Tourism, more and more people are getting confused by the lack of information officially. Simple questions such as who can cross the border, what is the procedure, where to find information about bus travel etc. A million questions. 

Six days after the Deputy Minister of Tourism invited me to send the ministry questions so that a useful info page could be produced for tourists, I am still waiting for answers.

So, time for a change of course. I have spoken to various people who are connected to the latest information, and we have all the contact details of the relevant ministries. So we have decided to launch a Viber community, Total Croatia Travel INFO, where we will be posting the latest information that we have. 

We are also opening the community up to questions, so if you have any questions, you can post them in the group. If we know the answer, we will provide it to for you. If not, we will give you the contact details of the relevant ministry or official body you need to speak to. 

Please send this link to your friends and family interested in coming to Croatia so they also can join the community.

This idea all happened very quickly after Kreso Macan took me to the Slovenian border on Sunday. 48 hours later, and I find myself in the Manjgura conference room with two VERY smart young interns learning how to build a Viber community.  

I am officially old, and I can see that I will be needing my daughters' help a lot this summer. 

Join the group, help make the information better. The group is called Total Croatia Travel INFO and it was created this morning, and it is still waiting for Verified Account status. But you can find an invitation to the group here. Please check you have Viber installed on your mobiile or desktop and here is the invitation to our Croatian travel info community. Please distribute to everybody interested.

Click here for the TCN latest Croatia Coronavirus Travel, Tourism, Flights & Borders Update.

This is the first step in the Battle of Big Data and Technology v Uhljebistan. 

Thanks for your support. Together we can make Croatia a better place.