Monday, 7 June 2021

Zagreb Beyond the City: County Tourist Board Director Ivana Alilovic Interview

 June 7, 2021 - Despite the pandemic, there have been a lot of new initiatives from tourism in Zagreb and the surrounding area in the last 12 months. Meet one of the driving forces behind this - Zagreb County Tourist Board Director, Ivana Alilovic.

1.One of the most interesting new tourism initiatives in 2020 was the launch of the AroundZagreb.hr, which brought the tourism offer of the city and the county together for the first time. Tell us a little about the project, how it started and the results so far. 

The promotion of Zagreb and its surroundings is a project that was planned over 10 months before its release, and we successfully implemented the campaign. This is the first time that our two tourist boards are cooperating in partnership and we are happy that we have created a real destination campaign and that we are working together to promote our capital and its surroundings. The joint cooperation was created as a result of mutual trust and partnership, and with our first cooperation and complementarity we show that even in these extraordinary conditions there is always the possibility to create great projects, because tourism knows no borders.

The friendship between Zagreb and Zagreb County is expressed in these extraordinary circumstances, mutually confirming mutual trust and partnership, which resulted in the destination campaign "Close to the city, close to the heart". In preparation, we followed the trends in the travel market and then we launched a joint campaign in three foreign languages: English, German, Slovenian and, of course, Croatian.

At a time when the health situation is under the magnifying glass everywhere in the world, when it is important to adhere to new rules of social behavior, when we want to return to the basics - family, friends, nature and closest business partners, business and tourist travel trends are changing. This is exactly how the new offer of Zagreb and its surroundings began, which focuses on staying in nature, green city oases and staying outdoors in general, with an emphasis on health, safety and sustainability.

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(Photo credit Robert Klaric)

"Around Zagreb" brings numerous ideas for inspiring trips, creative examples of how to spend, for example, three days in Zagreb and its surroundings, the most interesting gastronomic recommendations and a list of cultural and entertainment events to truly get to know the Croatian capital and the beautiful green ring that surrounds it.

The platform is continuously updated with new materials and suggestions and for now the feedback is excellent.

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2. You have not been in the job that long, but one can already notice a lot more energy in the Zagreb county promotion, including some rather surprising tourism products not promoted before. Truffle hunting close to Zagreb Airport? Really?!? Tell us more. 

Yes, that is true. We started to work actively to promote gastro branding ‘Turopolje and Zagreb County’, although Istria is synonymous for truffles, black truffles can be found in Turopolje and Žumberak area. It is important to point out that in May 2020 we started promoting a new attraction ‘black truffle hunting’ in ‘Turopoljski lug’ and offered visitors a new and innovative tourist product, for which there is a growing interest and interest of tourists. We have also established a value chain of the catering offer in a short period of time, we have started with the promotion and innovative approach to the development of the gastronomic offer with truffles in combination with the autochthonous cuisine of the Zagreb County.

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The fact that there are black truffles in Turopolje is a great potential for our destination. We made a promo video about truffle hunting and you can also taste them in local restaurants.

It is necessary to connect value chains, to create new tourist products in the destination, only in these new times we can be an attractive destination for all of us.

The emphasis is on sustainable, green and above all safe tourism in the green ring of Zagreb. First of all, discover the undiscovered from today, take home the unforgettable memory of truffle hunting.

Croatian Forests’ and the Zagreb County Tourist Board signed an Agreement on Business Cooperation for the Purpose of Promoting truffle and truffle-related tourism.

The agreement was signed with the aim of joint cooperation in promoting truffle growing, research and development of the Center for Mushroom Research, as well as publishing and branding truffle growing in the forest area of Zagreb County.

It is necessary to develop the awareness of the local population and partners, and cooperation with ‘Croatian Forests’ gives us a flywheel because it is necessary to define the market and have support in the use of the forest area of Zagreb County, which is managed by ‘Croatian Forests’ for the purpose of developing the project "truffle hunting" and similar projects or events for the purpose of promoting truffle farming. I believe that we are on the right path for truffles to become a brand and a motive for coming to Zagreb County.

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(Photo credit Sveta Nedjelja Tourist Board)

3. How hard is it to attract tourists in the city to come and discover the county, and what are your main strategies to entice them?

Since the beginning of the crisis, I emphasize that special focus and demand will be on continental and rural tourism. But just as continental destinations, despite all the challenges, need to impose and position themselves. This is exactly what we did with the platform and the "Odmor nikad bliže" campaign. The goal is, of course, to position the entire Zagreb green ring towards Zagreb as much as possible as an ideal weekend destination close to the city bustle. Judging by all the market research and data from the eVisitor system, it can be seen that we have hit the niche well with our campaign. We wanted to position ourselves and send a message that guests in our county can stay in a green, rural and protected environment. And all just half an hour from Zagreb. At the moment when everything stopped, it was necessary to react and position ourselves, so we decided to start the campaign and we did not hesitate in that segment, it turned out to be a complete success. We need to keep up with innovative trends such as the digital revolution, ever-higher environmental standards and the sustainable development of local communities. It is necessary the development of eno-gastronomy, cultural tourism which is promoted as one of the motives for coming to the destination. I emphasize that authenticity, security and nature are the key trends in tourism.

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(Zagreb County Tourist Board Director Ivana Alilovic, left, has been tirelessly promoting the authentic local products on offer in the region)

4. I was certainly surprised at the wealth of tourism options just outside the city, all of which can be enjoyed during a day trip. Give us a little flavour of what awaits with five of your most recommended things to see and do. 

I would definitely first suggest a visit to our web platform “Odmor nikad bliže”/Vacation in Zagreb County “which aims to inform readers about tourist products of Zagreb County such as wine roads, holiday homes, gastronomic offers and micro destinations that are located in the county and tell the reader that the holiday was never closer.

I always recommend going to Samobor, with its preserved old town and numerous cultural sights, is a lure for excursionists not only because of its charm but also because of the beautiful green surroundings. Mountains and hills, vineyards, forests, streams, picturesque villages, old forts, caves, irresistible local food and a fine drop - all this awaits you in a geographically small, but crowded area near Zagreb, which is our flagship of tourism.

Between Samobor and Zagreb is Sveta Nedelja, which is deservedly on the list of the most visited destinations. We suggest a tour of the lakes Rakitje, Orešje, Kerestinec and Strmec. It is your choice whether to indulge in fishing, recreation or just enjoying the preserved nature, in the company of many birds that like to gather here. Along Lake Kerestinec, the view will surely attract you to the neglected medieval castle of Erdödy, the scene of a turbulent history. A return to the 21st century offers a tourist tour of the world-famous electric car factory Rimac Automobili, which sends its innovations to the world from the Holy Sunday plant.

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Among the most visited destinations in Zagreb County is Ivanić-Grad, known for the gastronomic festival Bučijada or wine festival Škrletovo, a pleasure for the taste buds, and not far from the center is the unique Naftalan, a spa built on the only European source of medicinal oil, which also offers excellent wellness services.

Traditionally, the most visited destination is located in Turopolje, a quiet, mostly lowland rural area with an abundance of untouched nature, rich cultural heritage and an interesting past. Its center is Velika Gorica, the largest city in Zagreb County, and the best starting point for research.

At the foot of Plešivica is the town of Jastrebarsko, and on the Plešivica hills you will often see hawks in the air, which were bred for hunting in the Middle Ages and the town was named after them. A place with a long history for hundreds of years, it is the natural center of this area and the starting point for excursions around the area and one of our most visited destinations.

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(Photo credit Tibor Grujic Marivo)

5. You also ran a great campaign before Christmas on buying local authentic products. Tell us a little about that, and which products were a hit?

We had a campaign called “Christmas magic in your home” with which we wanted to raise awareness of the importance of buying local products at this time of pandemic. Each destination has its own authentic story and its own local products and souvenirs. Zagreb County is rich in craftsmen. It is full of hardworking people who turn the natural resources of their homeland into unique, local products. One of the goals of the Zagreb County Tourist Board is to raise the world about the importance of buying from local producers and helping producers in branding and promoting products that we can be proud of.

The dedicated work of small craftsmen, artists and manufactories from our area should be especially emphasized because these products deserve all the attention. Combining traditional and modern, their creativity refreshes the heritage and enriches the entire offer of their region. I think this year hit were fabulous 'strukli with truffles' and the Zagreb County truffle praline.

We are very proud of the intangible cultural heritage of Zagreb County. The most popular dessert, ‘Samoborska kremšnita’, is now legally protected as an autochthonous Samobor - Croatian brand.

Also, autochthonous gastronomic product of the Zagreb County ‘Rudarska greblica’ has been approved a protected designation of geographical origin at the European level. With this label, ‘Rudarska greblica’ becomes the 29th Croatian product with a protected name in the European Union and the first protected gastronomic product in the Zagreb County.

This is a great compliment to the originality and preservation of our tradition, especially when today we have the first recognition for the ‘Rudarska greblica’ to which the European Union has established intellectual property rights. The Zagreb area has contributed to the Croatian and, as of today, European list of protected geographical indications, which emphasizes the relationship between a particular geographical region and product name, where the special quality, reputation or other characteristics of the product can mainly be attributed to its geographical origin.

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6. The pandemic is hanging over everything. How do you even prepare for a tourist season with such uncertainty? What kind of season are you expecting?

In these difficult, uncertain and challenging times it is hard to anticipate results and expectations but what we know for sure is that the main criteria will be the epidemiological situation. So, the success of the tourist season and tourist results is subordinated to the epidemiological situation.

The trend of staying in nature and turning to rural areas will continue this year as well. People's habits have changed and staying in nature, excursions and escape from mass tourism will surely mark this year as well. We can say that the results of surveys conducted by some sales platforms in tourism are now the most relevant for assessing and planning activities in the tourism sector. According to indicators, from 60 to almost 80% of guests are ready to go on vacation this year as soon as the epidemiological situation with Covid-19 allows. So, there is still an unquenchable hunger for travel. A stronger opening is to be expected only in the 2nd quarter of 2021, which strengthens our assessment of the reorientation of our activities to domestic tourism. The trend is to stay in nature, excursions and escapes will surely mark this year as well. Zagreb County will remain the most attractive weekend destination and I am sure that this year we will record increased interest in our destinations in the ‘Zagreb Green Ring’. The emphasis will be on safety and hygiene, new markets, and purpose travel and going to near destinations. Zagreb County will remain the most attractive weekend destination and we will certainly record increased interest in all destinations of the ‘Zagreb Green Ring’ this year as well.

In March 2021 Zagreb County announced a million-worthy competition for grant support to entrepreneurs in tourism. Grants are awarded for the renovation and equipping of accommodation units and the development and improvement of additional facilities such as swimming pools, wellness and other recreational, sports and entertainment facilities. The pandemic will pass, tourists will come again and that is why we support entrepreneurs to add value to their accommodation facilities.

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(Photo credit Ivanic Grad Tourist Board)

7. Where do you see the potential for tourism growth for Zagreb county?

This ‘new time’ requires a personalized, honest and thorough approach to the guest, who wants to experience the local community in an authentic way based on experience. The focus is on a new meaning in sustainable coexistence with local communities, nature, culture and history of these areas. Since our destinations abound in many additional facilities from wine roads, cultural routes, untouched nature of Žumberak which offers you detoxification from the hustle and bustle of the capital, intangible cultural heritage with the stamp of Europe you can taste, truffle hunting, castles, promenades, educational trails… We are yet a year-round and attractive destination. The trend of interest in holiday homes on the continent is constantly growing. We definitely need to raise the quality of accommodation because there is a great demand for holiday homes in rural accommodation and that is why this tender is a complete success because we will raise the quality and strengthen the content and very soon, we will have concrete progress.

We are aware of the potential that our destination has. For example, we have a strong scene with domestic distilleries engaged in the artisanal production of gin, which is in a big positive trend with craft breweries. Also, special attention is needed to health tourism as one of the fastest growing tourist products, given that in Ivanić-Grad there is a “Special Hospital Naftalan” where work was done on the reconstruction and extension. With cycling and bike trails, a green story and all of the above, we can conclude that we have great potential, which we must turn into quality resources.

It is of great importance to us to unite Zagreb County tourist boards for the purpose of networking, intensive cooperation and joint action of Zagreb County tourist boards and relevant stakeholders with the aim of intensive promotion of the ‘Zagreb Green Ring’ region and existing tourist products and programs. Our goal is certainly integrated quality management of the Zagreb County tourist destination product, which will reduce the gap between the level of quality that tourists expect and the level of quality that the destination is able to provide and deliver, improving the quality and content of Zagreb County tourism product, increasing tourist satisfaction and tourist spending in Zagreb County and the benefits for entrepreneurship in tourism. 

Also, Zagreb County Tourist Board is the organizer of the photo competition for the selection of the most beautiful photographs of the Zagreb County, called "Photo Zagreb County". The purpose of the competition is to show the cultural and historical sights and traditions of Zagreb County, a story or experience from one of the events, active vacation in nature or rural areas, which will further promote the visit and research of Zagreb County.

Our vision is to create the identity of the destination, and in order to realize that vision, the process must be alive for all visitors and tourists who come to the destination. With our photo competition we want to see a unique experience, based on the feeling and experience of the destination, and through the lens of each of us to highlight the unique attributes of a particular destination with what makes it different from the others, authentic. In this way, we want to influence the preservation and promotion of identity and tradition and the image of the destination in general.

8. And finally, tell us about your favorite place and favorite thing to do in Zagreb county? 

The whole county is attractive as a tourist destination, each part of it has its own peculiarities and similaritie. Since we are located in the wine-growing region of 'Bregovita Hrvatska', it is certainly a great pleasure to visit our valuable winemakers. Check-out coopers collection Golub family, which is designed as a permanent exhibition at the ground floor of the old house.

Feel the spirit of old times and visit Mlinareva Iža, the original miller's house where the miller's family once lived. The sacral heritage consists of numerous churches and chapels of the Jaska region that attract the attention of every passer-by. Jastrebarsko is an ideal destination for lovers of active tourism and nature. Explore every corner by bike, on foot or by air because there are many opportunities: bike trails and routes (Jaska Bike), hiking, horseback riding, orienteering, motocross, and for those looking for adrenaline - paragliding from Japetić or Plešivica.

I would definitely recommend tasting local products in Zagreb County.

In a relatively short period of time, three good news came from Samobor, after the ‘Rudarska greblica’, Samobor kremšnita’ and the ‘Samobor češnofka’ became a protected product. Protection at national level is an important first step towards gaining the status it deserves on the European gastronomic map. The diligent hands of the people of this region write the history of taste, and it is up to us to taste them and experience this original story with all our senses.

To learn more about the magic of Zagreb beyond the city, visit the Zagreb County Tourist Board website

Monday, 24 May 2021

Zagreb County Bistra Community Becomes Living Ecomuseum

May 24, 2021 – Preserving the traditions, crafts and heritage of a fascinating corner of Zagreb County, the entire Bistra community has dedicated itself to becoming a living, breathing ecomuseum.

One of the best ways Croatia preserves its heritage is to keep it in use. Diocletian's Palace in Split and the multiple Roman remains in Pula are not preserved behind glass. People live in and among these monuments. They are very much part of the social fabric of today.

Now, one municipality in Zagreb County is about to embrace such notions across its whole territory. The entire Bistra community, located less than 5 km north of the edges of Zagreb City, will become a living, breathing ecomuseum.

reScreenshot_136.png© Udruga Ekomuzej Bistra

What is an ecomusem?

While sustainability is an aspect of the ecomuseum concept, an ecomuseum is not strictly about ecological strategies. Instead, it is more about designating a territory - in this case, the Bistra community - as an ever-evolving social and cultural museum.

Whereas a normal museum might be a building, exhibits and guides, an ecomuseum is a place, its heritage, the people who live there … and the skills and memory they have which define the area.

reUdruga_Ekomuzej_Bistra.jpg© Lovro Bauer (Fabrika arhitekti d.o.o.)

Old school building in Poljanica Bistranska

Central to the Bistra community ecomuseum project is the renovation of a special old school building in Poljanica Bistranska. It is a significant and nationally protected work of industrial architecture from 1878. Within Zagreb County, it is one of the few preserved school buildings from that period. Back in the days when it was a school, it held a garden and orchard where school children grew fruits and vegetables to eat and distribute to the poor.

reEkomuzej_Bistra_-_photoby_Lina_Malek_4.jpg© Lina Malek / Udruga Ekomuzej Bistra.

The building is in the process of undergoing a HRK 11,979,150 renovation, largely funded by the European Union from the European Structural and Investment Funds. Upon completion, the building will showcase examples of how the Bistra community have lived through the ages. Additionally, it will have a permanent exhibition called Bistra 1209 (when Bistra is first mentioned). Traditional culture, life and customs of the Bistra community will be displayed. For example, wedding customs, folklore, traditional decoration of people and space, agriculture, produce, superstitions and beliefs.

reEkomuzej_Bistra_-_photoby_Lina_Malek_6.jpg© Lina Malek / Udruga Ekomuzej Bistra.

Ecomuseum in the Bistra community

Outside of the building, more aspects of the Bistra community to be protected under the ecomuseum project include, buildings, industry and arts & crafts. For instance, over 200 traditional wooden hut structures have been identified in the area. Some are incredibly picturesque and still very much in use.

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Within the region's key arts & crafts, the production of jewelry will be preserved. The making of kraluš – a type of neck jewelry using multicolored glass beads – is traditional in this part of northwestern Croatia. Within the canon of this recognised, regional skill, the Bistra community has two inclusions unique to them - bistranski kraluš and kravatlin.

Within the section of industry, the area's traditional production of wood charcoal in vuglenice (charcoal pits) is included. A centuries-old practice, it was once highly significant to the economic sustainability of the highland and forest regions of Croatia.

reUdruga_Ekomuzej_Bistra2.jpg© Lovro Bauer (Fabrika arhitekti d.o.o.)

The completion of work on the old school building of Bistra community ecomuseum is expected by September 2023. But, the development of the area itself as an ecomuseum is a project that is happening now and will never end. Like Bistra's beloved Medvednica Nature Reserve or it's famous Oršić Castle in Gornja Bistra, you can go discover and enjoy them today.

Both the author and Total Croatia News would like to extend their thanks to the following for providing the assets and information necessary for this article: Zagreb County Tourist Board, Klementina Batina and Lina Malek of Udruga Ekomuzej Bistra.

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Zagreb County Horse Riding Trail Covering Nearly 100 Kilometres Presented

April the 27th, 2021 - Zagreb County horse riding is a perfect way to see some of the beautiful rolling green hills and other areas of the countryside in the City of Zagreb's vicinity, and a brand new almost 100 kilometre trail for precisely that has been presented.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, strengthening continental and rural Croatian tourism through 85 kilometres of trails for experienced horse riders, as well as for for beginners is part of a plan that will enrich the tourist offer of Zagreb County.

The beautiful nature located a mere stone's throw from the capital will now be able to be enjoyed by keen and experienced horse riders and all those who want to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, as was explained the mayor of Orle, Ervin Vujica, who emphasised the fact that the Zagreb County horse riding opportunities are very close to the heart of the capital and that the municipality of Orle is now set to become the first in this part of Croatia with marked trails of this type.

On Sunday, May the 2nd, 2021, the grand opening of the first and longest trail (23 kilometres) will be held, realised in cooperation with the Miklin Equestrian Centre, which has existed and been in operation for about 30 years now.

“Our equestrian centre has been gathering lovers of these noble animals for many years and it provides them with the experience of riding in almost untouched nature. We're looking forward to embarking on this new project in cooperation with the Municipality. When creating the Zagreb County horse riding trails, we rode more than 203 kilometres and chose 85 kilometres of different trails, each of which carries a special experience, some are intended for experienced riders and some are for beginners, and the natural environment is diverse,'' explained the owner of the Equestrian Centre, Ivan Miklin.

Vujica explained that the focus of the Zagreb County horse riding trails lies primarily on rural development, which means in the near future, the opening of accommodation facilities for all visitors and providing the highest quality gastronomic offer from local family farms will take place. 

He also added that this is one in a series of development projects in the municipality of Orle to contribute to the tourist offer of the entire county. One of the initiators of the project, Zeljko Matejcic, pointed out that these Zagreb County horse riding trails located in the municipality of Orle will attract horse lovers from all over Croatia, as well as from the rest of Europe.

For more, make sure to follow our travel page. For all you need to know about Zagreb in 2021, bookmark Zagreb in a Page.

Friday, 9 April 2021

Croatia Rally 2021: Everything is Ready for the International Racing Spectacle!

April 9, 2021 - Everything is ready for the Croatia Rally 2021, and the best rally crews in the world have already started testing the Croatian asphalt.

Today's most famous rally drivers will collect points for the World Rally Championship (WRC) from April 22 to 25 at the Croatia Rally. Croatia is the third stage in this year's WRC calendar, and it will be driven on the local roads of Zagreb, Karlovac, and Krapina-Zagorje counties, and the City of Zagreb, reports GP1.

At today's press conference, a detailed plan of all upcoming activities as part of the sports spectacle in Croatia for the first time was presented. The plan was presented by Daniel Šaškin, President of the Croatia Rally Organizing Committee, Davorin Štetner, President of the Croatian Car and Karting Association, Slaven Dedić, Director of Croatia Rally, and Željko Štefanić, director of the Croatia Rally competition. Support was also given by Tomislav Družak, State Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, and Milan Pavelić, Head of the Zagreb City Office for Sports and Youth. WRC Director-General Jona Siebel also addressed the audience with a video message. The press conference was attended by Krešimir Šamija, Director of the Sports Directorate at the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.

"After years of preparation and thousands of hours of work, we have only 13 days left until the start of the World Rally Championship in Croatia. We are extremely proud and excited that today's best drivers will race on our roads and that we have succeeded in our intention to make Croatia part of a top rally story that is watched by almost a billion spectators around the world every year. It is a great success that would not have happened without our partners and sponsors' strong support, whom I thank from the bottom of my heart. It should be mentioned more than a thousand people will work hard to organize the largest sporting event in our country after many years. The eyes of the entire automotive world will be fixed on our country these few weeks, and I am sure that we will justify the trust of the FIA and the WRC Promoter," said Daniel Šaškin.

The best crews in the world can expect a total of 300 kilometers of speed tests, which are characterized by narrow and winding roads with numerous passes. The Croatian stage of the World Rally Championship is characteristic because it is the first completely asphalt rally this season. Numerous changes to the asphalt surface will require teams to adjust vehicle settings and find optimal tires.

"By organizing this spectacle in challenging conditions, we will show that Croatia is a responsible partner for the world's biggest events. With the strong support of primarily the City of Zagreb and other local government units, the Croatian police, firefighters, and other institutions, and of course, many Croatian automotive clubs, we are ready for the final step of the organization itself. In April 1906, 115 years ago, the First Croatian Automobile Club was founded - the predecessor of the Croatian Car and Karting Association, and we will mark this great anniversary during the WRC race. The most important people in world sports led by FIA President Jean Todt have announced their arrival in Croatia. Croatia is expecting incredible media promotion at the international level because hundreds of the world's strongest media report on the event," added Davorin Štetner.

A total of 68 crews have been confirmed for the Croatia Rally, and Croatia will have as many as seven representatives - Niko Pulić, Viliam Prodan, Martin Ravenščak, Krešimir Ravenščak, Ivica Siladić, Mateo Butorac, and Željko Magličić. It should be noted that Pulić is registered to compete in the elite WRC class, while other local representatives will drive in Rally4 vehicles with front-wheel drive.

Experts point out that among the favorites to win the Croatia Rally is Belgian Thierry Neuville, who is the best on asphalt. He will fight for the trophy with rally legend and seven-time world champion Sébastien Ogier. His performance was confirmed by Estonian Ott Tänak, who is currently fifth in the overall standings. The biggest surprise this season, the young 20-year-old Finn Kalle Rovanperä, leads in the overall standings after 4th place in Monte Carlo and 2nd at home in Finland.

-You can follow all information and news on the official website rally-croatia.com and the official channels on Facebook and Instagram.

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Croatia Rally 2021: WRC Stars Coming to Zagreb, Karlovac, and Krapina-Zagorje Counties!

March 23, 2021 - We're less than a month away until the start of the Croatia Rally 2021, the third race of the World Rally Championship.

HRT reports that this year, there will be more than 300 km of special stages at the Croatia Rally. Due to the epidemiological situation, the Super Special speed test will not be held at the Zagreb Fair. Still, the itinerary remains attractive and challenging enough for the best drivers in the world. The best crews and speedsters in the world will thus race in Croatia, particularly in the area of Zagreb and Zagreb, Karlovac, and Krapina-Zagorje counties.

The competition will begin with a ceremonial start in front of the National and University Library in Zagreb on April 22. It will last until April 25, when crews are expected to finish at Zagreb's St. Mark's Square.

"We hoped until the last moment and believed that we would be able to organize races at the Fair. But the epidemiological situation did not go our way. These are tests that would gather a larger number of people in a small space, and part would be driven inside the pavilion, so it would be difficult or impossible to maintain the prescribed epidemiological distance. The health of all participants is our number one priority, and we decided to shorten the itinerary. The rest of the competition will be held according to the schedule," said the Croatia Rally president of the Organizing Committee, Daniel Šaškin.

Despite the shortened route, Croatia Rally remains the first competition with more than 300 km of speed tests after the Rally Catalunya - Costa Daruda 2019. FIA ​​and WRC delegates were satisfied with what was seen in Croatia during last week's inspection. They believe holding the rally in a big city like Zagreb is a big plus, where, in addition to service, there will also be locations for the ceremonial start and finish. They also rated the speed tests as attractive and challenging.

"What makes us happy are the applications, and it is already clear that all WRC stars will be driving in Croatia, who will be fighting for important championship points on our tracks. Conceptually, after shortening the Croatia Rally route, it did not change significantly. The only location that will not be driven is at the Fair, near the service parking lot, and all other locations outside Zagreb will remain as planned. Friday and Saturday are reserved for expressways in the Samobor hills, Žumberak, and the Karlovac area. On Sunday, they will drive across Sljeme and in the vicinity of Kumrovec," said rally director Slaven Dedić.

Croatia Rally will score points for WRC, WRC-2, WRC-3, and Junior WRC. There will be a big fight in all classes, and currently leading in the strongest category is 20-year-old Finn Kalle Rovanperä, a Toyota driver. Second place is held by Belgian Thierry Neuville from Hyundai, while third is the seven-time world champion, Frenchman Sebastien Ogier from Toyota.

It is expected that the teams in Croatia will present the latest evolutions of cars for the first time because, in the first two competitions of the season, they did not need the maximum potential of competition vehicles due to wet and snowy conditions. The organizers still hope that the spectacle will not pass without spectators.

"In Estonia last year, the authorities allowed the holding of WRC competitions with the public in specially designated zones. I believe that something similar could be organized in Croatia. We have 150 kilometers of tracks, which potentially offer views from the road's left and right sides. There is no shortage of room to keep the epidemiological distance, and we have prepared special COVID protocols. They will have to be adhered to by all participants, officials, and spectators if allowed to come. For those who will not be able to be by the track, there are broadcasts on Croatian Radio and Television that I believe will have a large audience," concluded Šaškin.

You can read more about Croatia Rally 2021 HERE.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 20 March 2021

HSS and SDP to Run Together in May Local Election in Zagreb County

ZAGREB, 20 March 2021 - The Zagreb County branches of the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) and Social Democratic Party (SDP) said on Saturday they would run together in local elections May this year. 

Social Democrat Mihael Zmajlović will run for Zagreb County head, the HSS Zagreb County branch, and the current deputy county head, Hrvoje Frankić, will run for his deputy.

The two coalition candidates strongly criticized current county head Stjepan Kožić, who was elected as an HSS candidate four years ago. In the first year of his term, he left the HSS, formed his own party, and formed a coalition with the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

Zmajlović and Frankić promised they would not let such a scenario happen again.

Zmajlović said that voters would say in the May 16 election what they think about Kožić's post-election coalition and shady deals with HDZ members who had ended up as indictees of the USKOK anti-corruption office.

The two candidates said their vision of Zagreb County's development was based on a modern, efficient, and transparent administration guaranteeing development and high living standards, available health and education services, and transport connectivity.

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

 

 

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

PM Plenković Satisfied With Good Cooperation Between Ivanić-Grad, County and Government

ZAGREB, 9 March, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković visited Ivanić-Grad on Tuesday, underscoring good cooperation with local and Zagreb County governments.

Speaking to the press after meeting with Mayor Javor Bojan Leš and County Prefect Stjepan Kožić, Plenković said that the investments made by the county and the town complemented government efforts to keep jobs.

"The funds for this purpose have so far affected 57,000 workers as HRK 512 million has been disbursed for job retention," the prime minister said.

€51 million from EU for county development projects

Plenković said that during the term of his government €51 million worth of projects had been agreed with the EU for this county, contributing to its development. He noted that following the reform of the local and regional government funding law, this county had received 28 percent more revenues in 2020 than in 2017.

Zagreb County has established itself among the five most developed counties in Croatia, Plenković said, praising Ivanić-Grad for investing in school infrastructure, sports halls and health tourism.

Mayor Leš highlighted the investment in the Naftalan medical rehabilitation centre and expressed his satisfaction with the collaboration with the government on public sewage system construction.

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

Friday, 5 March 2021

Zagreb County Grants HRK 70,000 to Enhance Accommodation

March 5, 2021 - To help tourism entrepreneurs add value to their facilities, Zagreb County grants HRK 70,000 to enhance accommodation in the area.

Jutarnji List reports that the coronavirus pandemic changed the habits of travel enthusiasts last year. Departures to other countries were very limited and, in some cases, almost impossible, which is why tourists explored their own country instead. This trend has not bypassed Croatia either, where domestic guests have replaced foreign tourists. They know this well in Zagreb County, which last year launched two campaigns - "Holidays Closer than Ever Before" and "Around Zagreb" to attract locals. The mentioned actions certainly paid off because there was an 11 percent increase in domestic guests at accommodation facilities. Ivana Alilović, director of the Zagreb County Tourist Board, states that this trend will have an upward trajectory this year.

"People's habits have changed and staying in nature, excursions, and escaping from mass tourism will surely mark this year as well. According to indicators of sales platforms in tourism, 60 to almost 80 percent of guests are ready to go on vacation as soon as the epidemic situation allows it, which shows an unquenchable hunger for travel. A stronger opening is expected, however, only in the second quarter of 2021, and this strengthens our assessment of the reorientation of our activities to domestic tourism," says Alilović and states that Zagreb County will certainly remain the most attractive weekend destination in Croatia.

That the trend of domestic excursions will continue is also shown by the research of the tourist platform Booking.com, which last year conducted a survey among travelers from 28 countries (including Croatia) about the future of travel. According to their data, 55 percent of travelers from Croatia will continue to plan travel within their own country soon. Half of the respondents said they plan to explore a new destination within their region.

These data indicate a further growth in local travel, which means that domestic renters will have to fight for their share of domicile tourists. Namely, the research conducted by National Geographic last year on the impact of the pandemic on tourism shows that travelers will increasingly insist on a responsible way of traveling and health and environmental protection and at the same time choose destinations more carefully depending on quality. That is why domestic renters and tourist facilities must adapt to the new mindset of tourists.

"New times require a personalized, honest, and thorough approach to the guest who wants to experience the local community authentically based on experience. The focus is also on sustainable coexistence with local communities, nature, culture, and the history of these areas," says Alilović.

The Zagreb County Tourist Board director also points out that the interest in holiday homes is constantly growing, and that is why it is necessary to raise the quality of accommodation and strengthen the content. To help its renters, Zagreb County has announced a tender worth one million kuna for entrepreneurs in tourism.

"The pandemic will pass, tourists will come again, and that is why we support entrepreneurs in adding value to their accommodation facilities. Tourism in Zagreb County has great potential, and in addition to new hotels, there are more and more rural holiday homes that have proven to be a complete success," said Prefect Stjepan Kožić.

The tender is open until April 1 this year, and the beneficiaries can be family farms, companies, institutions, cooperatives and crafts, and small businesses engaged in tourism who want to increase the standard and quality of service and offer in existing hotels, camps, and other catering facilities. Grants are awarded for renovating and equipping accommodation units and developing and improving additional facilities such as swimming pools, wellness, and other recreational, sports, and entertainment facilities. Costs related to works, equipment, and services for the applied project can be co-financed. The maximum amount of support that an individual beneficiary can receive is up to HRK 70,000 or up to 60 percent of eligible costs. It is important to point out that the investment must be at least HRK 75,000. 

The public call, instructions for applicants, and the application form can be found here, and more information can be obtained at the phone number 01 / 6009-425 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Friday, 26 February 2021

Zagreb, Karlovac, Sisak Counties Sign Letter of Intent for Common Development

ZAGREB, 26 February, 2021 - Zagreb, Karlovac and Sisak-Moslavina counties have, by signing a letter of intent on Thursday night, shown interest in common development and in that regard, a development agreement is being prepared for signing for about ten projects valued at €50 million and more, the Karlovac County administration said.

On Thursday evening the three county prefects and heads of their development agencies met with Veterans' Affairs Minister Tomo Medved and Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds Nataša Tramišak, and during the meeting it was said that the Regional Development Act enables strategic objectives to be achieved faster through common areas of cooperation and by financing joint projects from EU and national sources.

Tramišak described the development agreement as a "tool to achieve strategic development" and one of the preconditions is to select with the ministry about 10 strategic projects, each with an individual value of €50 million or more, that will require the support of several ministries and guarantee the development of the counties.

Medved offered his full support to the efforts for a joint development agreement between the three counties to be signed because that will enable an equal regional development and broader support from the government and relevant ministries for individual projects.

County prefects Martina Furdek Hajdin, Ivo Žinić and Stjepan Kožić agreed that the problems encountered by all three counties are very similar, from floods to a poor demographic situation and sparsely settled rural areas that cannot compete with developed European regions.

Žinić believes that development would benefit from projects for transport infrastructure and religious, health and conference tourism, while Kožić believes that the urgent repairs in the aftermath of the earthquakes are a priority as that would prevent migration. Kožić also believes that one of the most urgent priorities is broadband Internet.

Furdek Hajdin cited agriculture and tourism as possible projects for cooperation.

"It is up to us how we will prioritise the development of our counties, and European funds will contribute towards achieving the set objectives in the National Development Strategy until 2030. In that regard, the support of the government and its ministries is of exceptional importance," Furdek Hajdin said.

Friday, 19 February 2021

Samoborska Cesnofka Becomes Protected Product After Kremsnita and Greblica

February 19, 2021 – In a relatively short period, more good news came from Samobor, both for the citizens of this tradition-rich town and its surroundings and for all local cuisine lovers. Namely, after the Rudarska greblica and samoborska kremsnita, samoborska cesnofka also became a protected product. Enough reason to visit this charming medieval town in Zagreb County this weekend?

Samoborska češnofka, a favorite Samobor garlic sausage, received national protection of geographical origin from the Ministry of Agriculture. This transitional protection at the national level is an essential first step towards gaining the status it deserves on the European gastronomic map.

Tradition of more than a hundred years

When the European Commission decides to protect it on the EU level, samoborska cesnofka will be protected from unauthorized use and misuse throughout the European Union market, just like Rudarska greblica now, a local specialty from Samobor area. However, Samoborska kremšnita entered the Croatian Register of Protected Cultural Heritage.

Samoborska češnofka, named after its main ingredient – a decoction of garlic (in Croatian – češnjak), has been produced for over a hundred years in a specific way from pork, beef, and lard, and a decoction of fresh garlic and dry wine, with each butcher adding its own flair to this recipe. It is eaten with greens, beets, potatoes, and goes best with traditional Samobor cornbread, which will be the next autochtonous Samobor product to get its protection.

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The members of the Ethno Fletno Association are working on protecting Samobor cornbread, usually eaten with Samoborska cesnjofka, but also other home-made dishes. / Screenshot Televizija Zapad

A few years ago, the City of Samobor even launched the Češnofka Festival, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was not held last year. This year, it will be held if the epidemiological situation allows it. And not only that. On the occasion of protecting samoborska češnofka, the Deputy Mayor of Samobor, Željko Stanec, announced a center for various Samobor tradition guardians.

Samobor gastronomic delicacies available in the "to go" offer

The diligent hands of the people of this region write the history of taste worth experiencing. Although the restaurants are still closed, all the flavors of the Samobor region are available in the "to go" offer in the "K Gabreku 1929 "cellar, the favorite Kavana Livadić, and "U prolazu" confectionery for the well-known kremšnite in Samobor.

Therefore, you can spend this 'almost' spring weekend in Samobor, 30 minutes away from Zagreb's capital, with protected indigenous flavors. This charming town along the Slovenian border dates back to 1242 and the charter by which King Bela IV confirmed the status of a free royal trading post.

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Samobor / Zagreb County Tourist Board

Also, Samobor Square is one of the few where all buildings are protected monuments of the first category. Right next to the main square, in the Filipec family tasting room, you can taste another Samobor gastronomic icon – bremet, the most famous liqueur in the Zagreb region. Samobor bermet is an aromatized red wine made from selected varieties of Portuguese and Frankovka grapes with wormwood and southern fruit. The secret recipe dates back to the time before Napoleon.

Zagreb people's favorite excursion destination

This urban pearl of Zagreb County, with its preserved old town, but also with numerous cultural sights, has always attracted excursionists and tourists.

A walk through Samobor comes across the Samobor Museum, the former dock of the composer Ferdo Livadić and a gathering place for cultural greats of that time. The Old Samobor Town ruins, a former castle that watches over the town in the lowlands, hide its turbulent history.

From 1268 until recently, this building was owned by many different families. It used to flourish with life, and now there is only one beautiful monument left to the destructive ravages of time. Over the centuries, numerous nobles and kings were the lords of Samobor-grad, from the Czech king Otokar, who built it in 1268, to Arpadović, Frankopan, Erdody, Matija Korvin, and many other blue blood families.

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Ruins of Samobor Old Town / R. Klarić, Zagreb County Tourist Board

As the owners changed, so did this castle. In 1902, the Old Town ended up in Samobor's ownership for 5,293 crowns. Since then, attempts have been made to rebuild it, but no attempt has borne fruit. But maybe even better, because the castle in this form has some magic that it might not have if it wasn't in this state. There is a spirit of the time in it. It hides among the walls and swims among the surrounding trees. This place truly breathes some unique energy. The fort is located in a forest not far from the center of Samobor.

Oh, and did you know that Samobor's Old Town was almost fatal for Jackie Chan, who nearly perished here while shooting the famous film God's Armor?

Oldest mine, nature park, mountain peaks, and educational trails

Only five kilometers away from Samobor, in the Rude village, you can visit the Mine of St. Barbara, one of Europe's oldest copper and iron mines. This small settlement gave rise to the mentioned first protected gastronomic product of the Zagreb County – a crispy salt pie Rudarska greblica, once a modest snack of local miners.

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Rudarska greblica / Josip Škof, Zagreb County Tourist Board

Outside Samobor, with a walk in the fresh air, unforgettable views uphill of the Samobor Hills, a protected Nature Park together with Žumberak, await to be discovered. There are many marked trails, and they will satisfy both beginner walkers and ambitious climbers. Although none of them is higher than 1000 meters, the peaks Oštrc, Japetić, and Okić are key places in Croatian mountaineering.

The first trip under the Croatian Mountaineering Association's auspices was organized in 1875 to Oštrc, and the ascent of the writer Dragojla Jarnević on the steep side of Okić in 1843 was Croatian's first recorded alpine venture.

You can add an educational note to the trip by visiting the Budinjak Eco Center and the Educational Trail of Princes, a prehistoric site with a site of old burial mounds, or the Ethno House under Okić. In this rural household, time stood still more than a century ago.

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Welcome to Samobor / Josip Škof, Zagreb County Tourist Board

Source: Zagreb County Tourist Board

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