Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Wednesday Column - Croatia Business 5: The Banking System

The number of recent changes in the names of High Street Banks suggests that the Croatian banking system is going through a period of rapid change. Statistics tend to confirm this. In September 2o03 there were 20 foreign owned banks, 21 private Croatian owned banks and 2 state owned banks. Back in 1999 the numbers were 13, 30 and 10 respectively. For a nation that generally seems to resist the pressure to privatise, Croatia seems to have embraced the principle of foreign and independently owned banks, and I suppose that, by now, the number of foreign owned banks may be larger than the number of locally owned banks, state or private. Going from 10 state owned banks to just 2, over 4 years, shows that it can be done! Perhaps of more significance is the fact that the 20 foreign banks in existence, in September 2003, owned 90.8% of the total banking assets, compared with 39.9% in 1999. In general it seems to be the Austrian banks that are the most active, both on the acquisition trail, and in investing in a range of Croatian businesses.

The Croatian National Bank is wholly owned by the state. In principle, it operates independently but is responsible to Parliament. It has a very demanding job which includes, on top of the normal banking operations, maintaining the stability of prices and formulating and implementing foreign exchange and monetary policy. It has achieved these aims with some success over recent years, keeping inflation low and the exchange rate steady. External debt and the country’s balance of payments have proved more difficult to manage but are not part of its direct remit.

The legal framework for the banking system was largely brought in line with EU models by a law passed in 2002. Croatian banks do not seem quite as obsessed with money laundering regulations as their Western European partners so let's hope it strikes a more sensible balance when it addresses this issue. Practically it’s relatively easy for individuals to open a bank account though there’s a bit more paperwork for businesses. That’s where simplicity stops.

It is difficult to make payments in a different currency from the one your account is nominated in, so most companies have an account for each currency. It’s also sometimes difficult to make payments overseas due to foreign exchange rules. If operating from a company, be prepared for a grilling by Fina (the state owned audit body) and to withhold 15% on payments for services to foreigners. Cheques are not widely used, instead you have something like a bank giro credit, similar to the old Irish method. Credit cards are reasonably ubiquitous but not so widely accepted as in the UK, but there are more than enough ATM’s - just as well for a country where cash still remains King. Mortgages are generally not available, loans are hard to get unless you're a very large company, and leasing is slowly developing but mostly restricted to traditional assets with a reasonable resale value.

The Croatian banking system is reminiscent of the UK banking system some 5 to 10 years ago, in terms of organisation and technology. Internet banking is coming in, mostly via the foreign owned banks, but only very slowly. The lack of queuing systems in most banks is a constant source of stress – remember the days you had to try and pick which queue was going to move the fastest and always failed? And there’s rarely a chance to conduct your business privately - usually at the counter in full view. Despite that, there’s a reasonably efficient, if sometimes officious service, but little sign yet of banks proactively competing for business.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Tuesday Column - Croatia Tourism 5: Klapa Music

One of the real delights of Croatia is its Klapa music. Simply put, it’s multi part harmony singing, nearly always by men, and, in its purest form, without any musical accompaniment. Deep bass, baritone and tenor voices tend to dominate, in contrast with the generally higher pitch of the better known and vaguely comparable US barber shop quartets. Quite often, in a restaurant frequented by locals, a table of 12 can strike an opening note and then sing in perfect harmony, each in a different key. The songs are normally stirring national songs with “Dalmatia”, “love” and “the sea” featuring very often in the lyrics. Even without understanding all the words, just the mood it can create can be enough to bring tears to your eyes, those of the grown men singing, and have you touching your chest in salute. Guitars and mandolins sometimes appear from nowhere, and soon you have a unique evening’s entertainment in your favourite restaurant or occasionally in someone’s house. The spontaneous renditions are the best but there are also plenty of organised concerts in the summer.

For the historians and fact lovers amongst you, the word Klapa means “a group of people” and the genre traces its roots to choral singing. It’s a form of “a capella” music which is an Italian phrase for “from the chapel” and, given the influence of Italy on Croatia in the past, perhaps the Croatian word grew from the same root as the Italian phrase.

If you want to experience it for yourself, ask around the local restaurants and see if the staff will let you in on the secret of when the local groups' are likely to be about – they often rehearse in the backrooms. Failing that, in July and August, the summer festivals are bound to have plenty of Klapa on the Bill, so go to the local tourist office and get the programme of events. Even if you’re in a small town with no real Summer Festival (and it has to be quite small for that!) there’s a good chance that there will be a few open air Klapa concerts about. As a last resort, go and buy a CD. “Songs of Croatia: Klapa Singing from the Dalmatian Coast”, by Klapa Kambi/Klapa Jelsa, seems to be reasonably widely available in the UK and there are plenty of Klapa CD’s at the Bye Bye Shop at Zagreb Airport. Not the same as the live experience but a good place to start.

2006 looks like being a big year for Klapa, with the Croatian Heritage Foundation in Zagreb organising a calendar of events intended to feature expatriate Croatian Klapa singers, together with local groups. Provisional plans are for the tour to start on 24th June in Zagreb and work its way south to Omis by 2nd July. Sounds like its not to be missed.


Apologies for the quality of today's photo – there’s generally a mad rush to the front when the singing starts and the politicians and military always seem to get there first!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Monday Column - Croatia, Destinations 5: Livno and Kupres

This Monday we are straying outside strictly Croatian territory to have a brief look at two towns in Bosnia that are just a short drive away from Split – Livno and Kupres. On Friday I suggested they were an hour and two hours drive from Split respectively. I think two and four hours might be more realistic. Looking at the map, it should be somewhere in between but we have always gone there with our good friend Zdeslav, who knows so many people along the way, that we have never managed to get directly to either town without having at least three coffees en route. That’s one of the reasons we have such good memories of our visits – the locals that we met may not have been very rich but they always rolled out the red carpet for us.

Both towns are in the Croat part of Bosnia and Hercegovina and you will therefore find a high percentage of Croats amongst the population. Both towns, especially Kupres, suffered quite badly during the Homeland War, and we had some friendly but insightful discussions, with some of the residents, on how post war politics and diplomacy were perceived by those living with it. You may still see some evidence of the war – roofless buildings and a few bullet holes for example - but there seems little question that life has long since returned back to as near normality as possible. That being said, there are no signs of overt tourism as yet and I can’t help wondering just how long these two unspoilt and beautiful destinations will remain a secret.


Livno is on the borders of Dalmatia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, 90 kilometres from Split, and on the route from Split to Kupres. It’s famous for its cheese, and the fact that King Tomislav, the first King of Croatia, who died around 928AD, was crowned in the nearby fields of Duvno. The town itself is in need of rejuvenation but the countryside all around, featured in today’s photo, is beautiful - rolling hills, streams and old stone houses. The nearby plain of Livno is a hot spot for thermals and therefore a favoured site for gliding and hang gliding. One of the family’s we visited took us for a short walk to the nearby spring where they get their water and claim that it’s solely responsible for their good health in their nineties.


Kupres is one of the highest settlements in the region, at 1200 metres above sea level, and is covered in snow for 5 months of the year. That makes it a great spot for gentle skiing, away from the crowds, in winter, and an idyllic retreat, to the cooler mountain air, in the summer. As a ski resort, it’s hardly developed but does have a number of hotels ready to welcome you. There are four runs totalling 14 kilometres in length, 2 T Bar lifts, one double chair lift, and a number of farmers offering tractor tows.

In the summer, its vaguely reminiscent of the foothills of the Pyrenees with the clinking of cow bells, rolling pastures, striking houses and flower covered gardens. On the first Sunday in July there is a Festival, loosely translated as the "Grass Cutting Festival” when the men of the town, sometimes in traditional costume, have competitions to see who can cut the hay fastest with their scythes. The scene reminded us a little of a wild west fair, with lambs roasting on a spit all around, and scores of stalls offering anything from home made honey to hand carved furniture. There weren’t too many western Europeans around when we attended last year, but its obviously a huge draw for locals and Dalmatians alike, and a lot of fun.

More Information

There’s much more to these two towns than we are able to report in a small space and the tourist boards are only just starting to develop their websites with some pages remaining untranslated into English.

www.hbzup.com is the official site of the the Herzegbosnian Canton (effectively the Croat part of BIH) but we found http://www.bhtourism.ba/ to be more informative. In particular, their page of frequently asked questions will allay any fears you might have about the effect that the war has had on the region, together with practicalities for visitors. In either or both sites you will find most of the information you need about accommodation, activities and places to go.

We have our eye on this area as one of the next hot spots, especially for those who want to discover one of the few last places that has escaped mass tourism for decades, and probably for some inspired entrepreneur who can formulate an ideal two week August Package for families wanting both beaches, on the Adriatic, and a bit of adventure, inland.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Friday Column - Croatia, The Week In Review 4

It’s Friday again and time to review what the last week has delivered and what next week has in store. In Monday’s Destinations Column we looked at Croatia’s capital city, Zagreb, a great place for a weekend break. Tuesday’s Tourism posting was about renting a holiday apartment in Croatia – what to expect and how to get the best deal. Private shipyards were the subject of Wednesday’s business column, in part two of a review of Croatia’s shipbuilding industry. It’s a growing sector with two companies aiming at the superyacht industry but the government has it’s work cut out to make its new legislation on yacht chartering less confusing and off putting. Finally, in Thursday’s Lifestyle column, we looked at the retail environment and what you can expect when you go shopping in Croatia.

Next week we’ll be covering the following areas:

Monday – Croatia Destinations 5: Bosnia - Livno and Kupres
We’re straying off Croatian territory next week to look at two lovely villages in Bosnia, just one and two hours drive away from Split respectively

Tuesday – Croatia Tourism 5: Croatian Music - Klapa
The origins and features of a very special sound

Wednesday - Croatia Business 5: The Banking System
An overview

Thursday – Croatia Lifestyle 5: Eating Out In Croatia
What to expect in a Croatian Restaurant

Friday – Croatia The Week in Review 5:
News, sport, comment and links of the week

Thanks to everybody who has visited the site this week. All constructive feedback is welcome and your comments will help to ensure that the site is as informative and entertaining as possible.

News and Views

1. World Bank Funding
The World Bank approved a US $ 30 million Agricultural Acquis Cohesion Project for Croatia. The project will help Croatia to make the most of the agricultural sector in its journey of accession to the European Union. Croatia joined the World Bank in 1993 since when it has received 41 grants totaling US $ 43 million. The World Bank reports that all completed projects to date have had satisfactory ratings and overall portfolio performance in recent years has been above the regional average

2. Zagreb Boat Show
The 15th International Sport and Boat Show is being held in Zagreb between 22nd and 26th February. The show is now being dwarfed by the Split Boat Show and it doesn’t have any boats on the water, but it’s worth a visit if you’re in Zagreb at the time. Have a look at the Zagreb Fair website first to see what’s on offer - http://www.zv.hr/ and click on the Nautica Exhibition.


This weeks sports news has been dominated by the Winter Olympics with Janica Kostelic winning the Gold Medal in the Combined Skiing and the Silver Medal in the Giant Slalom. This makes her the first female skier ever to have won 6 winter Olympic medals, an achievement that is all the more remarkable as she was not well during the competition.

Websites Of The Week

The websites in our Links section are reviewed every week, as we find new sites of interest. My personal blogspot remains as the first link this week, so that those that want to, can find out a little more about me. The second link, the Croatian tourist board, stays for its fourth week, as it’s a great reference point for most destinations. The third and new link of the week is The Croatian Language School in London. Not only is it great to know that it is possible to learn Croatian properly in England, but the site has some very interesting newsletters including two interviews with the Croatian Ambassador in London. The school offers a range of courses, including immersion courses held in Croatia. As a former pupil myself, I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a head start in the language before they go to Croatia.

The View From Here

Weather wise it’s been very mixed. On Sunday we were out on the terrace basking in the warm sun, but for most of this week it has been raining. The main wind from the south is called the Jugo and it’s been vying for position with the main wind from the north, the Bora. The Bora is a biting wind that can blow for days and the Jugo brings warm humid air. We’ve also been told that the Jugo brings headaches and strange behaviour and that, some time ago, it was a good enough excuse in court to get the defendant off even the most serious of crimes. Today’s photo was taken in November 2004 when one of the worst Bora’s in Croatian history blew for 3 days. Most of the country suffered from fallen trees, debris and worse, but the police and the army had it all cleared up within a couple of days, and the relative lack of damage is a testimony to Croatian construction skills.

I have another Croatian lesson tonight and my teacher is threatening to introduce me to another grammar case with yet more different endings, when I’ve barely mastered nominative, genitive, locative and accusative. Just to illustrate the complications, proper names also change ending. The Croatian equivalent of John is Ivan and the Croatian equivalent of Jane is Ivana…but, in the accusative, Ivan changes to Ivana. So if I want to say I love John, I say “volim Ivana” which might cause some consternation to an eavesdropping English person who hasn’t got past nominative masculine and feminine yet. No offence to my Croatian teacher who is great – if anyone can get me through this challenge, she can!

Enjoy your weekend and please let me know what you think of this week’s postings.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Thursday Column - Croatia Lifestyle 4: Shopping

In today’s posting we have a look at the type and variety of shops available in Croatia and what sort of shopping experience you can expect. It is based on our detailed knowledge of the area around Split and our travels around Croatia. We are indebted to four friends who live locally and seem to have antennae highly tuned to the best deals around and ears equally well tuned to the chink of cash registers as soon as a new store opens.

In looking at the Split area, in detail, we are covering a radius of about 30 miles around Split town and believe this area is typical of other similar regions such as Sibenik, Dubrovnik and Zadar. We have less experience of inland towns though we have managed to spend plenty of money in Zagreb, the capital. As far as the islands are concerned, many of the bigger towns are as well served as those on the mainland but lack the larger superstores that are found in mainland town suburbs. That makes furniture shopping a bit more expensive and time consuming if you’re equipping an island property.

Croatia seems to be following the general trend of huge out of town superstores that slowly result in the failure of the local butchers, bakers and corner shops. Within half an hour’s drive of Split there’s a large Getro, Ipercoop, Mercator, Kerum, Kaufland and Metro all designed along Tesco type lines, though Metro is for trade buyers only. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Metro, the newest store in town, has the largest stock, the best range and the cheapest prices. My favourite is Ipercoop at Kastel Sucurac, in the big Emmezete centre, with a large furniture store next door and Bricostore (an upmarket French Homebase) just a five minute walk away. Compared with three years ago, you can find almost everything you need now, in one store or another. Baked beans are a recent addition to Kaufland, Mercator has good orange marmalade, rather than the ubiquitous, not so good, “mixed fruit marmalade” and smoked salmon is now readily available. We still rely on England for tea, bacon, marmite, cheddar cheese and sausages but our list used to be much longer. You won’t find a lot of good “ready meals” but, for us, that’s no great loss. As far as prices are concerned, there’s not much difference on meat and fish but everything else seems at least 20% cheaper. Wine, beer and local spirits will save you even more. My favourite drink, Prosec, a cross between sherry and fortified desert wine, is a snip at about £3.50 a litre, good local Brandy, called Stock, is about £8 per litre and a decent bottle or red plonk is about £2 though you can splash out on Zlatan Plavac at a cost of around £10, and enjoy a really good Croatian red wine.

Fruit and vegetables in the large stores are of reasonable quality but tend to consist mainly of foreign imports and we like to buy Croatian where we can. You’ll do better at the local market in this respect but you need to find a vendor you can trust and will not charge you tourist prices. Croatian eggs and tomatoes are special but remember it’s only the English who buy eggs by the dozen. Home brews and home made olive oil can also be found on the market stalls but these vary greatly in quality and price. Good Croatian extra virgin olive oil is about £7 per litre at the supermarket. In the bigger towns such as Split, Trogir, Zadar and Sibenik, you’ll also find buzzing fish markets but it’s best to get there early.

The Superstores have also taken over the furniture and white goods market from the smaller shops and some of the deals are amazing, as is the quantity of stocks they hold. Pevec, in the Split Industrial Area, has acres of space devoted to wine stills, garden tools and equipment, fridges and freezers and a lot more besides. We bought two very good quality three seater leather sofas from Emmezete, next to Ipercoop, for less than £700 and you’ll find similar deals in all the Superstores. Fridges, freezers and washing machines are all very reasonably priced. The Friday papers often have inserts aimed at weekend shoppers highlighting the bargains of the weekend but there’s normally a special area in each store for heavily discounted items.

Most of the food based superstores also have a wide variety of reasonably priced clothing though the Croatian shape does not make for the best fit for those of us with more voluptuous bodies. The bigger markets also have plenty of clothes stalls and the main towns such as Split, Sibenik, Zadar, and of course Zagreb, have plenty of designer shops at higher prices. Apart from casual wear, I’ve found clothes prices not to be that different from the UK, and the choice more limited. If anything, shoes seem more expensive though there are always bargains to be had.

Bags, jewellery, hats and other luxury items are about the same price as the UK, in the shops, and vary in price in the markets. There are plenty of small boutiques where you need to be prepared to barter a little to get a good price.

And of course there’s more to Croatian shopping than Superstores and markets. The medium sized towns and villages have large supermarkets where you can buy most things, though the quality of fruit and vegetables can be very mixed and some shops are much better maintained and presented than others. Then there are the small bakeries, corner shops and butchers. Few of the owners and staff few seem to speak much English which means a whole new vocabulary to request one of the many different types of bread, an unrecognisable cut of meat, or to describe a vegetable who’s Croatian name you haven’t discovered yet. We like to patronise these shops, particularly where the staff are friendly and helpful, and in the hope that the Croatian version of traditional high streets, with good local shops and traditional skills, doesn’t go the same way as in the UK.

So what’s the shopping experience like I hear you ask? Mixed is the answer. Until recently, the policy on returns was quite severe and the burden of proof of defect was heavily on the buyer. That’s now gone full circle with a new law that says the buyer has up to six months to go back with a defect and the onus is on the seller to disprove it. Queuing in the Superstores reminds me very much of the Ikea experience. In Emmezete, for example, you have to get a ticket and go to the warehouse for the larger items. You may have to wait a long time and then find your item is out of stock. Queues in the food superstores are normally quite well managed and the staff very helpful, mostly speaking English. You have to get used to paying deposits on some glass bottles (those with no writing stamped on them) plastic bags are free, parking is normally good, you often have to have your receipt stamped by a security man as you leave, and staff usually have to weigh and price the fruit and vegetables before you go to the check out. I find the smaller supermarkets more difficult and less easy to navigate around and the small butcher shops quite daunting as the butcher’s knife is normally poised over the meat I'm looking at before I’ve had a chance to find out if it’s the one I want. This experience is only capped by the first encounter with a new market lady who would probably sell you the whole stall, roof included, if you let her.

On the whole though, the shopping experience is a good one and getting better all the time as Croatia gets more used to the obscure tastes of foreigners and becomes a little more adventurous itself. Herbs and spices used to be quite limited, and still are in the smaller towns, but you can find most of them now if you look hard enough. There’s still nothing to beat the taste of fresh, home grown, produce and the markets and roadside stalls are always full of the best of it.

Finally, a few Croatian specialities that are worth looking out for:-

Prsut – locally produced smoke ham
Livno and Pag Cheese
Fresh fish – our favourite is Orada
Travarica or Rakija – herb flavoured liqueur similar to Grapa
Orahovac – walnut flavoured brandy
Black Risotto – flavoured with the ink of the cuttlefish
Easter Cake – a little like Brioche
Bacalar – dry salted cod used to make fish stew
Pašticada – slices of beef stewed in a rich sauce

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Wednesday Column - Croatia Business 4:Shipbuilding Part Two

In last week’s Wednesday Business Column we looked at the state owned shipyards. Part Two focuses on the smaller privately owned yards. The biggest of these yards is Heliyachts International, based in Pula, in the northern peninsula of Istria. Heliyachts are setting the standard in the private sector. They delivered their first boat in 1998, a 33 metre classic cruising ketch, and then set out to equip the yard to cater for the building of custom made sailing and motor boats between 20 and 50 metres. The up to date workshops are spread over 1000 square metres and Heliyachts has a 200 ton travel lift. They’re currently working on a 50 metre steel motor yacht, due for delivery in 2007, and a number of refits. For more information on Heliyachts, have a look at its high tech website, http://www.heliyachts.com/.

NCP Sibenik, http://www.ncp-rbs.com/, is a relatively new entrant into the industry, having taken over an old naval repair yard in 2004. Sibenik is ideally situated, about half way along the Croatian coast line, and there are big plans to improve the area. NCP currently concentrates on refits but would like to get into the new build market. Its facilities include a 900 ton Syncrolift, a 50 ton Wise Hoist, a 1500 ton floating dock and three engine test stands for engines up to 5150 kilowatts.

Nauta Lamjana is another new entrant into the market, concentrating on refits, and has recently taken over a commercial ship repair and oil rig builder on the island of Ugljan. The web site appears to be under reconstruction at the moment - http://www.nauta-lamjana.hr/

The site of Brodogradilište Cres has been involved in the shipbuilding industry for over 100 years. A 1000 ton floating dock was installed in 1984, making a turning point in the yards history, enabling it to cope with much larger boats. It also has a 100 ton travel lift. The yard is authorised to carry out repairs on steel ships up to 12,000 tons, wooden and fibre glass ships of any size, and to build wooden ships of up to 15 metres in length. The yard is located in Cres town on Cres island, the largest of Croatia’s islands. Their informative website can be found at http://www.brodogradiliste-cres.hr/

Shipyard Leda, http://www.shipyard-leda.hr/, formerly known as Inkobrod, is based on Korcula island and specialises in naval architecture. It has a 100 ton crane, manufactures sections for larger shipyards, has acquired a reputation in modifications to eg hatches and ramps, and builds and refits smaller boats.

The shipyard at Betina, Murter, has a 240 ton crane, good facilities and has established a serious reputation in refurbishment and refit. The website is http://www.shipyard-betina.com/, but at the time of writing the information was limited and some of the links between pages were broken.

Brodogradilište Punat, http://www.shipyard-punat.com/, has a 100 ton travel lift, three slipways (160, 450 and 600 tons) and offers a range of refit and repair services.

I believe this to be a reasonably complete list of the main players in the market, based on local knowledge, supplemented by what I have gleaned from the net. If I have left anyone out, please let me know. There is a big gap for a directory of nautical services/shipyards in Croatia and the internet resources in this respect leave something to be desired. We’ve had to build up our database from scratch over a number of years though it’s good to see that The Croatian Chamber of Commerce are now trying to pull some of this information together.

Complete or not, the Croatians obviously have a firm foothold in various sectors of the shipbuilding and ship repair industry and this part of the economy looks set to grow. Heliyachts and NCP are clearly pitching their services at the superyacht industry and lets hope they get a bit more help from the government than they have in the past year. No sooner had Croatia come back onto the map as a desirable destination for large yachts, than the government effectively killed the interest with mystifying new laws. Generously, these new laws were designed to prevent the black charter industry, cynically they were nationalistic and protective, practically they may have frightened off what could have been, and still could be, an important source of income, as well as a lot of goodwill from genuine exceptions that don’t quite fit into the hard line, and some would say unworkable, legislation. As far as Heliyachts and NCP are concerned, let’s hope that superyachts feel welcome again in Croatia soon.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Tuesday Column - Croatia Tourism 4: Holiday Apartments

Almost everyone with a spare plot of land in Croatia seems to be cashing in on the burgeoning tourist industry and building an apartment to let. A few buildings have already been knocked down because they didn’t have planning permission and facilities and standards vary greatly. Don't set too much store by the number of stars an owner awards themself! Booking through an established travel agency is probably safer but you’ll pay more and miss out on the chance to find that special apartment in a superb location. If you book direct with an owner then you are taking a measured risk. Most private owners aren’t equipped to take deposits easily and tend to rely on passing trade to fill their accommodation in the summer. Those that have taken advance bookings in the past have, quite often, been let down by visitors finding something better en route. Do therefore make sure that the owner knows you are definitely coming so he isn’t tempted to take the bird in hand. Croatians though, on the whole, are a very honourable race and there are an increasing number of Brits who have properties to let along the coastline and on the islands.

If you wait to find accommodation until you arrive at your destination, you may end up with the perfect choice but could be left high and dry in the height of summer. However, in my view, this is the best option if you are reasonably flexible. The supply outstrips demand and you can do a much better deal face to face, especially if you are staying for over three days in the same place. Be aware that many owners just won’t consider lets of less than three days, whatever price you offer.

Most main tourist destinations have tourist offices that may have some favoured apartments, you’ll see plenty of signs along the roadside and there’s normally a coven of matriarchs with placards, hovering around arriving ferries at the larger towns. My advice is to pick your destination, get there in the morning or early afternoon if possible, and just walk around till you find your favourite spot. There’s bound to be a few apartments to choose from and you can inspect as many as you like before making a choice.

Before committing, check everything works and make sure that there’s air conditioning, if you need it, or some form of heating in the cooler months. Also make sure there are no night clubs near by if you want a good nights sleep. You normally won’t be asked to pay until the end, normally in cash, but expect to leave your passports with the owner.

We’ve stayed in plenty of apartments around Croatia, always had plenty of choice and never had a bad experience, though some have been better than others. Generally the apartments are fully self catering with clean bedding and towels provided, and sometimes changed on a regular basis. You’ll normally get a lot more space for your money than you would in a hotel – up to three bedrooms for €40 a nightin July, though prices are on the up and vary according to the month. Obviously, if you’re travelling with young children, or a large family, you may want to exchange the additional choice and value for money for the peace of mind of a confirmed apartment booked with a reputable company that specialises in Croatia.

Finally, note that the tourist season is still very short and the majority of apartments are not available outside July and August. So don’t expect to find this type of accommodation in the smaller towns in spring and autumn.

Monday Column - Croatia Destinations 4: Zagreb

Zagreb is not really the place for a summer holiday. Most of its 800,000 residents will be by the sea and it gets quite hot and sticky. However it’s a great place for a weekend break in spring or autumn. In winter the temperature can dip well below freezing with an average temperature of 1° C

Zagreb is 170 kilometres from the Adriatic, in north east Croatia. The city centre itself is quite compact and consists of three districts. The magnificent Cathedral is the focal point of Kaptol, in the north east. Gradec, immediately west of Kaptol is the centre of Parliament. These two areas are surrounded by woods. South of Kaptol and Gradec is the larger business area with a number of grand squares and parks. On the outskirts of town, south of the Sava River, is “New Zagreb” with a large exhibition area and several business parks.

The central square, Trg Bana Josip Jelačića links all three city centre areas and is the place to go whenever there’s a celebration, whether it be a national holiday or the return of a triumphant sports team. It’s a lively square with trams running backwards and forwards and plenty of cafes, hotels and shops. It’s probably not the best place to eat though as there’s not a lot of choice and it can be pricey. You’re better off heading to Kaptol which may remind you a little of the Latin Quarter in Paris, with plenty of bistros, bars and restaurants. Just north of Trg Bana Josip Jelačića is Dolac, home to the lively market that does a bustling trade every day of the week.

The best way to see the city is to follow one of the walks. You can “do it yourself” by picking up the City Walks brochure at a number of outlets, including Zagreb airport or the tourist office in Trg Bana Jelačića. Alternatively, join one of the organised tours, either on foot or by bus, which start every day at either 10.00am or 4.00 pm outside the tourist office. The bus tours are weekends only in the winter. Try not to miss the four squares that run north to south in the west part of the business area and include the impressive National Theatre Building (see Thursday’s photo).

Hotels in the centre can be quite expensive and we’ve generally stayed in Karlovac, about 40 minutes drive from Zagreb, or in the hotel Laguna, just south of the town centre, http://www.hotel-laguna.hr/. It’s not the most salubrious area, situated by the football ground, but its reasonably priced, has all the essentials including free parking, some cosy restaurants nearby, and is only a twenty minute walk into town. If you want something a bit more upmarket, there are plenty to choose from. The Dubrovnik Hotel, http://www.hotel-dubrovnik.htnet.hr/ is on Trg Bana Josip Jelačića and the Sheraton is also fairly central, www.sheraton.com/zagreb.

Zagreb has 10 theatres, 21 museums, 14 galleries and 12 art collections and is a regular venue for exhibitions, conferences and fairs. Look at the tourist board website for full details – http://www.zagreb-touristinfo.hr/ - but do check out the Mimara Museum which houses more than 3,750 works of art in a lovely building, the Academy of Fine Arts and the Strossmayer Gallery. If parks are more your thing, the Botanical Gardens are in the centre of town and Maksimir Park, also the home of Zagreb’s Zoo, claims to be the largest and most beautiful park in south east Europe.

Just north of Zagreb is Medvednica, a forested protected nature park with many miles of hiking paths and a ski centre at the highest peak, Sljeme. Further out are some fascinating old towns and the spectacular Plitvice National Park with its many lakes.

How to Get There

By Air

Zagreb Airport is 17 kilometers from the city centre and the trip is about half an hour by car. There’s a coach that will take you half way into town, as far as the bus station, where you’ll have to change to a bus or tram. Tram number 6 will take you to the central square.

By Train

The train station is at the southern end of town, Trg Kralja Tomislav 12.

By Road

There’s now a motorway linking Zagreb to southern Croatia. The main international roads are, Trieste-Ljubljana-Zagreb,Graz-Maribor-Zagreb, Klagenfurt-Ljubljana-Zagreb and Budapest-Varazdin-Zagreb.

See the Monday Column, posted on 30th January 2006 for more information on planes, trains, coaches and buses.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Friday Column - Croatia, The Week In Review 3

Croatia Online

The week seems to have flown by and we’ve covered some meaty subjects. In Monday’s Destinations Column we looked at what the island of Brac had to offer and you’ll see, from the variety of villages and towns, that we’ve only scratched the surface. Once we’ve been to some of the other islands, and covered more mainland destinations, we’ll return to Bol, Pučisca, Milna, Sumartin, Supetar, and the other gems on Brac, in more detail. Tuesday’s Tourism posting was about beaches in Croatia - read on for the website of the week which we featured in this posting. The state owned shipbuilding industry was the subject of Wednesday’s business column. It’s clearly a great success story for Croatia but obviously has some challenges to face to prepare itself for EU rules and regulations and to reduce its heavy reliance on state subsidies. Finally, in Thursday’s Lifestyle column, we looked at what you can expect from Croatia in the way of newspapers, television, radio and theatre. Theatre is another subject for a more detailed future posting and I’ll be sharing with you some of my experiences of working with The National Theatre in Zagreb - a real insight into the workings of state owned, non profit making, organisations.

Next week we’ll be covering the following areas:

Monday – Destinations 4: Zagreb
The capital city and a much overlooked off season destination.

Tuesday – Tourism 4: Holiday Apartments
The current state of “development” and tips for holidaymakers choosing an apartment

Wednesday - Business 4: The Shipbuilding Industry Part Two
The young but growing private sector

Thursday – Lifestyle 4: Shopping
How good is Croatian retail therapy?

Friday – The Week in Review 4:
News, sport, comment and links of the week

We’ve had visitors and comments from as far afield as the US, Canada, Sweden, Columbia, Hungary and, of course, Croatia and England, in this, our third week of postings. One visitor was looking for information on how to deal with Fina – the state owned organisation which checks all company books periodically. Unfortunately, unlike many similar organisations, Fina don’t seem to have English language web pages so we’ve added this to the list of subjects to cover in a future Wednesday Business Column posting. Thanks to everybody who has visited and especially to those who have left comments. All constructive feedback is welcome and your comments will help to ensure that the site is as informative and entertaining as possible.

News and Comment

1. Recycling
Any reforming government, in a transitional country, is likely to come in for its share of criticism but we’d like to start this week’s news by giving the Croatian government a pat on the back for its new recycling laws. The main provisions provide for supermarkets and other locations to reimburse anyone who brings back glass bottles, or large plastic bottles, at around 5 pence per item. This is on top of the normal deposits for returnable bottles. Although the likes of Coca-Cola, and some of the larger supermarkets, have been whingeing about the cost, the effect on the ground has been that scores of teenagers have been cleaning up the beaches and earning a little extra pocket money. The beaches normally get a spring clean before the season starts but have historically been a little neglected during the winter so well done PM Sanader!

2. Possible Privatisation of the State Owned Ferry Company
It seems it’s not only the shipbuilding industry facing the challenges of privatisation (see Wednesday’s Business Column) but the same prospect might be in store for Jadrolinija, the state owned ferry company, which could face privatisation in five years time. The proposal sparked off a heated debate in Parliament this week and I have some sympathy with the dissenters. With so many inhabited islands, a regular, albeit subsidised, ferry service is an essential feature of island life. Were it to become a strictly commercial operation you can picture the islanders being flooded with tourists in the summer and stranded in the winter and I wonder if this sort of service can ever be run along strictly capitalist lines without destroying the fabric of the country’s way of life, or certainly that of the islanders. Perhaps the Croatian government, could learn a few lessons from the privatisation of British Rail and the UK Post Office, unless it plans to close down some of the “non feasible” islands!?

3. EU Progress
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso visited Zagreb this week, with the enlargement EU expansion commissioner Olli Rehn and the chief EU negotiator Michael Leigh. Barroso urged Croatia to help other Balkan states advance towards EU membership, as well as pushing forward with its own reforms.

4. The Islands
PM Ivo Sanader said last week that the state would not be selling off the family silver but would prefer to lease islands rather than see them sold. Any private seller would first offer an island to the state at the market price. If the state did not respond within 30 days, the island could be sold on the open market. Croatia has 1,185 islands, of which 756 are small and uninhabited or partially inhabited. The government suggests that any state protection program of islands would be devised to help determine which islands are of importance to the state. However I wonder just how practical it would be for the government to make a decision in thirty days or whether a response by the deadline might lock the seller into protracted, and possibly costly, negotiations.

Business News

GlaxoSmithKline PLC announced that it had agreed to buy Pliva Research Institute from Pliva for up to $50 million in cash. The deal is expected to be concluded in April, subject to regulatory approvals


1. Tennis
Croatia won their first round tie of the Davis Cup, against Austria, with relative ease, and will play Argentina in the next round.

2. Skiing – 2006 Winter Olympics
Ivica Kostelic won an Olympic silver medal in the combination in Sestriere, just behind Ted Ligety from America. Austria's Rainer Shoenfelder was third.

3. Sport in Politics
The government has proposed a new law on sport which will set objectives for eight years and set up a national council for sport, with members nominated by parliament. PM Ivo Sanader suggested sports clubs and associations were 700 million kuna in debt (about £64 million) and that the whole premier soccer league could collapse if the law was not passed.


The Croatian National Theatre (HNK), in Rijeka, marked its hundredth anniversary with a premiere of Amilcare Ponchielli's La Gioconda. Have a look at their web site, http://www.hnk-zajc.hr/, to find out more about the theatre.

Websites Of The Week

The websites in our Links section are reviewed every week, as we find new sites of interest. My personal blogspot remains as the first link this week, so that those that want to, can find out a little more about me. This week, I’ve posted the English version of an article I wrote for a Croatian nautical magazine, on the subject of keeping the Adriatic clean. Some of you may find it a little technical in places, for light Friday reading, but it's an important cause. The second link, the Croatian tourist board, stays for its third week, as it’s a great reference point for most destinations. The third and new link of the week is all about Croatia’s beaches. Not only did it save me a lot of work in attempting to draft an informative Monday posting on beaches, but it really does do justice to the vast number and huge variety of one of Croatia’s best natural assets.

The View From Here

This new section of Friday’s Week In Review Column attempts to give you just a small taste of what’s made an impact on my week. The weather is normally a big feature!

…and it's grey, raining and cold. Central heating is not very common in Croatian houses and our cumbersome prehistoric storage heater (designed to take advantage of cheap rate electricity) is struggling to cope. I know that England is suffering from the after effects of some bad American weather but you can take comfort that it’s not so different here and unlikely to change for the next few days.

Croatia Online takes up a big chunk of my week but I’m pleased to say that I’ve just finished another chapter of my Cruising Companion on the Dalmatian Coast. This week’s Croatian lessons have also progressed well, if only to reveal that Dalmatians tell the time completely differently from their northern cousins in Zagreb and Istria. Not only is there a complex language to learn but some very different dialects and words.

Enjoy your weekend and your central heating!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Thursday Column - Croatia Lifestyle 3: Newspapers, TV, Radio and Theatre

Today’s posting is mostly for ex pats who want to know what newspapers they can get in Croatia and for holidaymakers who can’t do without television. Of course you can get almost anything over the net these days and ADSL is slowly rolling out over Croatia but, for those that prefer traditional media, read on.


In summer, you’ll find foreign newspapers in most villages of any size, in bookshops and on stands. In winter, you’ll need to head for the nearest town. We get our papers in the English bookshop, on the Riva in Split, or at Split airport. At any time of the year the papers will be two days old before they’re available and it will cost you about £3 for a Telegraph. One of the nice touches of the British Airways flights, between Split and London, is that same day newspapers are available free in departures. There are no local newspapers in English yet, though I’d like to be a part of making that happen once the numbers justify it. If you’re learning Croatian, and want to try your luck with one of the local papers, then Slobodna Dalmacija is a good place to start - plenty of local news and not too highbrow.


We have a friend in Zagreb who is the leading distributor of English magazines in Croatia and is doing his best to get the prices down to a realistic level. For more details see http://www.angcro.com/. Again you’ll probably have to go to the larger bookshops to find them but the availability is slowly increasing. There was an English magazine, published every two months, called Croatia Times, which had a great mix of news. Unfortunately it just faded away about a year ago and I guess it may have been ahead of its time. Of course you can always subscribe and get your magazine posted to you. Croatia normally qualifies for Europe rates but it will take 7 to 10 days to arrive.


Croatia is almost as far advanced as western Europe on the availability of satellite TV though only the bigger hotels tend to offer the full range. Private satellite dishes are conspicuous almost everywhere you go with old stone houses, and even some historic monuments, failing to escape the aesthetic degradation. However, English speakers can easily do without satellite as long as they can get their daily dose of news from another source. Croatia is a country with a population of 4.5 million and has a language which is not widely spoken elsewhere. Producing a lot of Croatian films, TV dramas and high budget soaps is not really an option. Most local TV is therefore a mixture of news, documentaries and games orientated shows in Croatian and foreign soaps, films and drama series. Invariably the foreign content is subtitled so you will get the original version and a chance to improve your Croatian. Fortunately for us, the vast majority of films and TV dramas are in English though a Mexican soap is very popular early evening viewing and there are occasional French, Italian and German produced emissions. From eight o’clock to midnight you will normally have a good choice of films, detective and crime series all in English. Most of the films are quite recent and Desperate Housewives and Lost are the current favourite soaps. In the afternoon you can also see the likes of Oprah and some low budget US sitcoms.

If you want to know what’s on for the week you can buy a local TV guide, but better still, get Slobodna Dalmacija on Thursday and keep the TV section. They used to give the film titles in English, where applicable, but you now have to look at the pictures and do some elementary translation to make an informed choice.

The local TV network has four channels: HRT 1 and 2 are government owned; Nova and RTL are independent to a large degree. Reception varies and we couldn’t get Nova when we lived on Ciovo island. If you’re in a good reception spot, you may also be able to tune into a couple of other local channels, including the shopping channel!

Our favourite local programme is the 7.30 news on HRT1 and, notably, the weather forecast just after eight. Fortunately for us there are plenty of pictures so we can at least get the gist of what is happening. The weather is a constant source of fascination and, as everywhere, a great topic of conversation with our neighbours. More seriously, if you’re contemplating a long drive, it’s a good idea to check the weather as the occasional strong winter Bora winds can result in road closures, particularly over bridges, in some areas.


Local radio has a great mix of music – Croatian and International – and not much in the way of advertising, particularly, in the winter. Our favourite is Radio Riva, based in Split, with a frequency of about 98 FM. On Saturday morning it features an English DJ, Kevin Halsey.In the summer, a number of local stations will become active and you will normally get traffic and weather reports in English every hour which are worth listening to. The police are obliged to announce where they will be carrying out speeding or spot checks each day which can be useful to know! The World Service is of course available but still needs a lot of tweaking to get a good signal at certain times of the day.


There are cinemas around but don’t expect the luxury of UK cinemas. We’ve not tried them out yet and suspect, from what we’ve heard, that they’re more for the teenage brigade.


Split, Rijeka, Zadar, Dubrovnik and Zagreb all have National Theatres. Most of the buildings are spectacular and, apart from the summer, with the more eclectic festival offerings, these theatres tend to provide “high brow” entertainment – a repertory style mix of ballet, opera and traditional plays. A new theatre has just opened up in Zagreb, dedicated to English speaking productions and there are a small number of independent theatres around. None of them have big budgets or a big enough audience to import large foreign productions so it may be a while before Mamma Mia! tours Croatia!


I hope today’s posting has given you a feel for what you can expect from Croatia in the way of “home entertainment”. We’ll be watching out for interesting events at the theatres and other venues and keeping you posted in the Friday, Week in Review, column. Today's photo is of the Zagreb National Theatre

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Wednesday Column - Croatia Business 3: Shipbuilding Part One

Croatia has a long history of shipbuilding, much of it with Russia as its most important trading partner. The major part of the industry is state owned and that’s the area we’ll be looking at this week. Next week we’ll take a look at the growing private sector.

Background To The State Sector

The shipbuilding industry is very important to Croatia, accounting for some 15% of exports and about 1.6% of a global market that is dominated by China, Japan and Korea. However, the industry is still very heavily supported by the state, with subsidies accounting for a massive 10% of any ship’s contract price. Only one of the shipyards is solvent and accumulated losses to date, for all the yards, are in excess of €719 million. The industry is scheduled for privatisation over the next 5 years, and will need to make some radical changes to meet EU entry criteria.

Competition is fierce, but not always fair, with many governments, like Croatia, continuing to subsidise their national industry. Technology is an increasingly key factor in competitiveness, and the European Industry has also suffered from the appreciation of the euro against the dollar and, to a lesser extent, against the Japanese yen and Korean won.

On the positive side, the Croatian order book is looking good, the workforce is highly skilled and the industry prides itself on “tailor made” projects. If it can strengthen its position in this niche, take advantage of latest technology, become generally more productive, and move away from the intensely competitive tanker sector, there is a good chance of achieving greater profitability. The private sector may well encourage the industry as a whole to sharpen up its act, as it puts Croatia on the map in other areas and competes in an open market.


In 1997, the controlling organisation for the state owned ship building industry became known as Hrvatska Brodogradnja – Jadranbrod, loosely translated as the Croatian Shipbuilding Corporation. This was a result of a merger between Hrvatska Brodogradnja d.o.o. (Croatian Shipbuilding Company Ltd) and Jadranbrod (Association of Croatian Shipbuilding Industry). Although the main shipyards were established in the mid nineteenth and early twentieth century, Hrvatska Brodogradnja d.o.o, had only existed, in that form, since 1994 though Jadranbrod had been established for over 45 years as a professional association co-ordinating and assisting individual shipyards to present a stronger and more competitive national industry. Membership was “more or less compulsory” for the state owned yards.

There are five major shipyards within the new organisation:

Uljanik Shipyard in Pula
3. May Shipyard in Rijeka
Kraljevica Shipyard in Kraljevica
Brodosplit Shipyard in Split
Brodotrogir Shipyard in Trogir

There is a sixth shipyard, V Lenac in Rijeka, which is currently going through bankruptcy proceedings.

Croatia has been a member of the Association of European Shipbuilders and Repairers (AWES) since 2002, and is an observer (but not a member) of the Organisation of Economic Development’s Council Working Party on Shipbuilding, which aims to reduce the competitive distortion in the industry caused by government aid.

Some More Statistics

The European Shipbuilding Industry, of which Croatia is a part, is responsible for around 20% of the world’s capacity.

AWES includes 14 countries – Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom. The annual report for 2003/2004 suggests the following:-

Croatia’s order book is booming and, despite the size of the country, Croatia is 4th highest of the group with 1,515,688 gross tons of orders out of a total of nearly 10,000,000 tons.
Again, on a tonnage basis, completions in 2003 placed Croatia 7th on the list.
Of a total Croatian shipbuilding workforce of 11,883, new builds accounted for 9,702 workers.

Looking at the national picture, Croatia has delivered some 1,000 ships to 70 different countries in the nearly 50 years that the industry has been properly established. 20% of these ships have been delivered to Russia.

Although the industry itself only employs 12,000 people, it is estimated that a further 35,000 jobs are directly linked to the industry.


Anecdotal evidence suggests that the workforce is skilled but technology may be lagging behind some competitors. There have also been suggestions in the media that the industry is over manned though this may not be something that a minority government wants to tackle whilst fighting an 18% unemployment rate. Similarly I’d guess that, in the immediate future, privatisation is a difficult option. However, the EU is quite clear about what reforms are necessary to meet their criteria – effectively state support is allowed in areas such as research, innovation and environmental protection, in order to get the industry fit for fair and unsubsidised competition, but not direct subsidy. This could be one of the most difficult areas of EU negotiation for Croatia so we’ll be watching progress with interest.

AWES 2004-2004 Annual Report


The state shipbuilding industry is an important and complex area which I'm sure we'll be returning to in future postings. Next week, in part two of the shipbuilding industry, we'll be having a look at some of the private shipyards including Heli Yacht (see photo), Nauta Lamjana, Betina and NCP Sibenik.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Tuesday Column - Croatia Tourism 3: Croatian Beaches

Just as I was about to dip into my vast library of tourist literature on Croatia, and hunt through the thousands of photos we have taken, on our travels around the mainland and islands, I found a great web site that has saved me a lot of work.

http://www.croatia-beaches.com/ tells you pretty well everything you need to know about the subject and is, so far, top of the list for Friday’s choice of website of the week. It has a “top ten” of beaches and classifications by category, eg naturism, sandy, family, water sports and diving. There’s much more to the site than that and it’s an ideal place to start if you want to pick a Croatian destination based on specific beach requirements.

Today’s column will therefore focus on the general essentials of what you need to know about Croatia’s beaches and we’ll leave you to browse http://www.croatia-beaches.com/ for the specifics.

Background to Beach Tourism

Beaches in the popular tourist destinations are, once more, packed in July and August. In the past few years, Croatia has attracted an increasing number of Western European visitors but the Germans have been holidaying here for years, as have the Eastern Europeans. Many of Croatia’s city dwellers have summer houses by the sea and that adds to the congestion. There are still plenty of package style holiday complexes, providing the classic beach holiday, but smaller hotels are popping up in less developed destinations and, if you look hard enough, you can still find quiet peaceful bays away from the crowds. Istria, Makarska, Biograd and Dubrovnik are still popular package holiday destinations. Ciovo Island, near Trogir, with its many small beaches, is a good example of an area popular with those who prefer self catering apartments. The island of Solta epitomises the less developed destination, still not too far away from an international airport. If a beach holiday is your thing then Croatia can provide you with a wide variety of choices and caters for almost everything apart from surfing.

Climate and Conditions

The Mediterranean Climate ensures that the sea is warm enough for swimming, certainly from mid July to mid September, mostly in June, early July and late September, and sometimes in May and October. Crystal clear is a well worn description of the Adriatic Sea, but it’s apt and there are few places in Europe where sea visibility is so good. The summer seas are also generally very safe, with not much in the way of currents or waves, apart from the wind and chop that may accompany a sudden summer storm. The beaches normally slope gradually into the sea, there are next to no sightings of sharks or jelly fish, and the main swimming areas are normally roped off and out of bounds to passing boats.

Types of Beach

The majority of the beaches are pebble or shingle though there are some good sandy beaches and plenty of concrete and rocky ones. Zlatni Rat, near Bol, on Brac Island, is arguably the most well known of Croatia’s beaches. Shaped like a lizzard’s tongue, the long pebble peninsula changes shape with the tide and currents, and is popular with wind surfers. The islands of Pag, Rab and Ugljan seem to have more than their fair share of sandy beaches, and even a big city like Split has plenty of attractive beaches within a short walk of the city centre.

You’ll find most water sports on offer on a number of beaches. The Istrian peninsula has some huge resorts offering as many choices as you could imagine. Bol is the number one destination for windsurfing, closely followed by Viganj on the Peljesac Peninsula, and there are diving centres in most destinations of any size, with plenty of shipwrecks to visit. Naturist beaches have been around for a while and spa resorts are slowly growing in numbers. Mljet Island, near Dubrovnik, has brack water lakes and is, so far, completely unspoilt.


There are a few Blue Flag beaches and most beaches have toilets, showers and at least one restaurant or café. Some have lifeguards in the summer, some have sun beds and umbrellas. Those of any size have parking facilities but very few, so far, choose to charge for them. This seems particularly generous when trippers bring a packed lunch to a beach where all the facilities are provided by an individual who’s only source of revenue is from his bar or restaurant.

Top Ten Beach Tips

1. Keep Croatia clean – there could be more bins around but please dispose of your rubbish conscientiously
2. Fires – a few areas have been scorched by summer fires so be careful with cigarettes, matches and barbecues
3. Jelly Shoes – take some plastic shoes wherever you go as you’re never far from a beach and it can be quite painful without them
4. Sun – use plenty of sunscreen and follow the latest guidance
5. Keep your eyes open – some of the quietest and nicest swimming spots we’ve found are right by the roadside, down steps to little boat piers. Look out for a couple of local cars parked by the roadside. Better still, hire a boat, travel to a nearby island and find a deserted cove
6. Dogs – not very welcome on beaches, or in the water, at the height of the summer season
7. Shade – some beaches have plenty of pine trees and some have no shade at all
8. Boats – if you’re swimming outside a roped off area, keep an eye out for boats. They’re supposed to watch out for you but you are a lot harder to spot
9. River swims – try heading along the banks of the Cetina river, by Omis, in the height of the summer. It’s cooler and less crowded.
10. Dress – topless is fairly common but the Croatians will be happy if you cover yourself up a little inside bars and restaurants


I guess the majority of Croatians forget just how lucky they are in this respect, with most coastal settlements being just a very short walk from the nearest beach. They've certainly no chance of forgetting how important the beaches are to tourism and we can tell the season by the level and type of activity occurring on the waterfront. Even in early February, some of the advance planners are extending the beaches a little and smartening up their restaurants. Perhaps this year, the 12 week season might start a little earlier and finish a little later?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Monday Column - Croatia Destinations 3: Brac Part One - The Island

Today’s posting is an introduction to the island as a whole. We’ll be following up on specific features, towns and villages, in more detail, in future postings.


Brac is Croatia’s third largest island, just a 40 minute ferry ride from Split, and, with some of the highest sunshine hours in the region, it’s a very popular tourist destination. Despite its proximity to the mainland, many settlements still retain their island character, but the recent press hype has led to many foreigners investing in property which may lead to a change in ambience. Apart from the major tourist destination of Bol with it’s famous beach, most of the interest is on the north coastline, and at the east and west extremities. Milna, to the west, has two marinas. Pucisca, on the north coast, is a traditional quarrying settlement, with street lights made out of the local white stone, famous for its use in the construction of the White House in America. Pucisca is one of our favourite places - it has a good town harbour and the thriving quarrying industry generates enough wealth to leave the villagers indifferent to tourism. It therefore has a life all year round and, in the summer, is not overwhelmed by the burgeoning tourism industry. Also on the north coast, Supetar is a busy ferry and tourist port, Sutivan is a similar size but a little quieter, Splitska is typical of a classic small Dalmatian island village and Postira is a run down package holiday centre. Povlja is a small settlement built around a long bay and has an English harbour master, and Sumartin, on the east coast, is a quiet fishing village. There are also some treasures as you head inland: Skrip, founded by the Illyrians, is the oldest settlement on the island and home to the museum of Brac. And of course there are plenty of relatively deserted beaches and bays.

Vital Statistics

Area: 395 square kilometres
Length: 40 kilometres
Average Width: 13 kilometres
Highest Peak: Vidova Gora at 778 metres
Population: 14,000
Settlements: 22, plus 5 abandoned villages
Annual Sunshine hours: 2700

Getting There

Supetar is the main ferry port, with up to 14 ferries a day, depending on the season, linking it to Split. Alternatively you can get the ferry from Sumartin, at the other end of the island, to Makarska on the mainland (3 to 5 services per day). From Bol you can get a ferry to Jelsa, on Hvar, or direct to Split (up to 4 services a day). Brac allegedly has an international airport but we’ve not known it to be much used in recent years and suspect it is mainly for private jets. The nearest airport is therefore Split. Local buses service the main settlements and ferry ports, and the various tourist offices should be able to find you a reasonable local taxi service if you need one.


Ferries: http://www.jadrolinija.hr/
Tourist Information Brac: http://www.otok-brac.info/


We’ll be looking, in more detail, at the various destinations on Brac in future weeks but hopefully today’s posting has given you a good idea of what the island has to offer. As for searching for a property on Brac, there’s no shortage of estate agents willing to help you but, if you want your money to go a little further, try one of the less discovered islands or mainland villages.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Friday Column - Croatia, The Week In Review 2

Croatia Online

Today is the end of the second week of structured content on this site. On Monday we looked at one of our favourite destinations, Trogir. Tuesday’s tourism column focused on nautical tourism. On Wednesday, the Business Column gave a picture of foreign investment in Croatia and yesterday, in the Lifestyle column, we had a look at how Croatia accommodates dog and other pet owners. Nautical Tourism and Foreign Investment are big subjects that we’ll be expanding upon in future postings.

Next week we’ll be covering the following areas:

Monday – Destinations 3: The Island of Brac Part One
One of the most popular of the larger Croatian islands.

Tuesday – Tourism 3: Croatian Beaches
An overview of the variety of beaches and those that cater for special interests.

Wednesday - Business 3: The Shipbuilding Industry Part One

Thursday – Lifestyle 3: Media Entertainment
A look at television, radio, cinema, publications, etc

Friday – The Week in Review 3:
News, sport, comment and links of the week


1. Air Travel
We mentioned Wizzair in a previous posting and said they were now flying from Luton to Zagreb. From 1st May to 29th October they will be flying between Luton and Split three days a week.

2. EU Progress
The European Commission have recommended that Turkey and Croatia should start detailed accession discussions in the area of Science and Research. This is the least complex of all the possible chapters and the one with the least amount of common legislation. Education and culture is likely to be next. Croatia may not be too pleased to be linked so closely with Turkey in the talks, nor may it like the suggestion, from some quarters, that accession talks are likely to take a decade or more.

3. Superyachts in Croatia
A yachting tourism conference was held in Opatija, north Croatia, between 3rd and 5th February, consisting of around 50 delegates from the relevant government departments, and International Yachting Associations and Marinas. The main topic was Croatia’s new laws on chartering which effectively require all charter boats operating in Croatian waters to be registered under the Croatian Flag. The president of the European Commission for Professional Yachting, Thierry Voisin, felt that this expressly prevented Superyachts from visiting Croatia, even though the desire to do so was strong. Mario Babic, Assistant Minister for the Department of Sea, Transport, Tourism and Development said that the Croatian Government was considering the possibility of an amendment for Superyachts but a proposal would first have to come from the Croatian Chamber of Commerce.

4. Foreign Trade Deficit
Text of report in English by Croatian news agency HINA Zagreb, 5 February:

With imports outpacing exports, Croatia ended last year with a foreign trade deficit of USD 9.7 billion, and an import-export ratio of 47.5 per cent, according to preliminary figures supplied by the National Bureau of Statistics. Last year's exports totalled USD 8.8 billion, a 9.8 per cent increase from 2004, while imports rose by 11.8 per cent to USD 1.9 billion. As a result, the foreign trade deficit increased by USD 1.1 billion or 13.7 per cent from 2004. The overall foreign trade deficit of USD 9.7 billion thus exceeded the overall value of exports by USD 929 million. In 2004, exports calculated in US dollars rose by 29.7 per cent and imports by 16.7, and the import-export ratio was 48.4 per cent. Calculated in the domestic currency, the kuna, imports increased by 10.4 per cent to KN 110.4 billion, and last year's trade deficit reached KN 57.9 billion. The end of last year, however, saw more favourable trends in foreign trade, with an import-export ratio of 54.1 per cent in December.


Ivan Ljubicic won the Zagreb Indoor tournament and Croatia play Austria in the first round of the Davis Cup, starting on Saturday.

Websites Of The Week

The websites in our Links section are reviewed every week, as we find new sites of interest. My personal blogspot remains as the first link this week, so that those that want to, can find out a little more about me. The second link, the Croatian tourist board, stays for another week. The third and new link of the week, is a little tongue in cheek – a Eurovision Song Contest Site - specifically an article that suggests it’s more a forum for the Croatian National Tourist Board to get its message out than a musical contest! By the way, did you know that Croatia won the first ever Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2003 with the song "Ti si moja prva ljubav" (you are my first love), sung by Dino Jelusic, with a total of 134 points.


I hope you have enjoyed this week’s content and thanks to those who have left their comments or contacted me directly. We’ll be launching the site properly in a few weeks time so any early comment will help to get the format right and ensure a balanced and informative site. Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Thursday Column - Croatia Lifestyle 2: Dogs and Other Pets in Croatia

The most important question for dog owners thinking of moving to Croatia, or taking their dog with them on holiday, is “can they go back to England without having to be quarantined?” The answer is now yes as Croatia joined the pet passport scheme last year. Look at the Defra website – http://www.defra.gov.uk/ - for all the details of what you need to do. Suffice to say that Croatian vets seem well geared up to cope with the scheme and have been routinely inoculating against rabies and other diseases for a number of years. You do need to plan in advance though, to meet the various time limits, but if you get confused by all the rules, the telephone helpline, listed on the website, is very good. Getting your dog into Croatia involves less paperwork (usually none). The Germans have been driving to Croatia with their dogs for years.

Whether your dog will enjoy Croatia is another question. Is it dog friendly? The answer is yes and no. Unsurprisingly, Croatians aren’t as soppy about their dogs as we are. Outside the main cities, dogs in the house is a rarity and you’ll see most of them tied up on fairly long chains outside the house. Presumably this is for security reasons but since they can only get at you within the limits of the length of the chain, this function is of limited use. There are normally a number of strays about, particularly in the spring, which can be a nuisance, but they tend to get rounded up before the start of the tourist season. This is one good reason for making sure your dog can’t get out on its own. The other good reason, which applies to cats as well, is that many small holders leave poison about to ward off mice, rats and other pests and we’ve heard of a few incidents of pet poisoning.

Increasingly, particularly in the big cities such as Zagreb, dogs are kept as pets, in similar style to the UK, and you’ll see an increasing number of pedigrees around. This comes with other problems as Croatia is not yet a nation of pooper scoopers so the parks and green spaces can be a bit of a nightmare in densely built areas. So far, in our three years here, we’ve seen nobody but us clean up after their dog though there are regulations that say you should.

Walks? Plenty of them but mostly along roads and beaches. In the season, dogs on beaches tends to be frowned upon so be prepared to get challenged. Similarly, I don’t think the Croatian’s are used to seeing too many well trained dogs, and, more often, have experiences of being frightened by strays or guard dogs, so if they see your dog off the lead, they may either take avoiding action or suggest you put the lead on. Nice long rural walks are few and far between though I’ve found a couple of mini woods near us, which are lovely and cool in the heat of the summer. We’ve also discovered a 45 minute trail around the olive groves nearby but I’m not giving that one away on the net as it’s one of the most peaceful spots we know and has beautiful views over the Adriatic. There are also the mountain hikes, upwards from the coast, but, since the paths have all been adapted to ensure that rescue teams can use them, they are covered in large jagged stones which can be a bit rough on paws.

Dog friendly hotels and restaurants? It is rare to see dogs in restaurants but we have managed to get into most places with Rosie, our Springer Spaniel. It’s more difficult in the towns than the villages and it seems that there are generally rules against it. If we ask in a new place, the answer is generally no if we want to sit inside, although the owner makes exceptions if he wants to. Now, Rosie just tends to slip discretely under the table and once they see she is no problem they can turn a blind eye. Of course, in the warmer months, outside eating is the norm so there’s no debate. We’ve rarely had a problem with hotels though there are some that say no. Most people offering apartments will make a personal judgement based on potential income versus possible dog damage.

Food, supplies and accessories? It’s not really a problem to find pet food in the main supermarkets though there are relatively fewer pet shops than in the UK. If you want specialist food such as Eukanuba, you’ll normally have to go to the nearest main town like Split.

Vets? We’ve been very impressed by the standard of veterinary care in Croatia and were offered the vet’s mobile phone number on our first routine visit. It’s also a lot cheaper than in the UK.

Kennels? We haven’t found any yet and this may be a good opportunity for an ex pat niche business. Families tend to stay together in Croatia and there always seems to be someone to feed their dogs if they go away. We rely on friends.

Other Pets

If you’re soft on cats, your heart strings will be tugged by the breeding rate of strays that congregate around the bins. Cats are kept, occasionally, as pets but the strays don’t get an awful lot of sympathy from the locals. We know, from friends, that cat flaps have yet to be made widely available which is an indication of how cats are viewed. If you’re bringing a cat with you, the biggest problem will be trying to keep it away from any poison that’s left out, while it adapts to its new territory.

Exotic birds in small cages is another source of angst for animal lovers, though within the confines of their space, they tend to be well looked after.

If you leave your door open in the autumn, in rural areas, the lovely brown harvest mice will find you. They may be lovely to look at but they’re a nightmare to find and leave a trail of mini destruction behind them, so try and get them out humanely before they breed.


Our dog Rosie loves it here and has left her mark around Croatia. If she was to complain, I’d suspect it would be about the heat in August. However she loves to swim and has realised that a quick dunk in the water, even in November, is the fastest way to cool down after a run around. In this photo you can see her multi tasking – having a snack, catching up on the news and empathising with the Croatians about the ex pat invasion.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Wednesday Column - Croatia Business 2: A Picture of Foreign Investment In Croatia

I went to a very instructive seminar in London a year or so ago, on the tourism trade in Croatia. A large international hotel group elaborated on their perception of risk and their various stages of participation to reflect that risk. If country risk was perceived to be low, they would invest in a new local company, with bricks and mortar, and run it themselves; if the risk was perceived to be high they would take on a management contract, at a fee, to run a local hotel or chain. There were various stages in between, but, at the time, this group perceived Croatia to be in the highest risk group. Maybe one of the geographical areas with the most undeveloped potential, but certainly not worth, in their eyes, the risk of substantial capital investment.

It may be unfair to say that UK companies aren’t the best at adapting to different cultures and climates and have a low risk tolerance. However, it is true to say that the UK features very low on the list of foreign direct investment into Croatia. There are clearly some good reasons for this – other European markets are closer and more transparent, the Croatian population is less than 5,000,000, it’s a transitional country evolving rapidly, and the bureaucracies and murkiness of the old regime are still in evidence. However, in general, I’d suggest that it’s more a question of “overlooking” Croatia as a potential market, rather than doing some thorough research and then discounting it. RMC, the concrete group, did invest here in a big way and we’ll be looking at their story in a future column, but a great amount of anecdotal evidence tends to suggest that UK interest in Croatia is, at the moment, mostly limited to finding local agents or reps, forming strategic alliances, or the result of individuals deciding to live in Croatia, and starting up in estate agency, tourism, catering or other services.

For a rounded picture, it’s impossible not to refer to a few statistics. Croatia’s total GDP in 2004 was 207,282 million kunas, that’s about £19,192 million. Direct Foreign Investment in the same period was about £676 million, about 3.5% of GDP. This is not the place for a detailed comparison with other countries, and last week’s business overview gave a summary of the general business climate. However the intuitive conclusions are:

1) that Croatia could benefit from much more foreign investment
2) sensible foreign investors, with good local advice and the proper market research, might achieve a much better return than they could hope to get in the much more developed countries of western Europe
3) an investment in business in Croatia may not only open the doors to Croatian customers, but also to neighbouring Bosnian, Serbian, Montenegrin and Macedonian ones. Slovenia is also a neighbour and perceives itself to be the gateway to the whole area, being already in the EU. However it is a very small country with a culture, and position in the area, somewhat similar to that of Switzerland in Western Europe.
4) It is possible to limit exposure and risk, in a number of ways, and the Croatian government is doing its best to encourage foreign investment, with incentives and a transparent and favourable tax regime

Certainly some countries seem to have the knack of making it work and it is interesting to look at the leaders and the ones who are moving up the table. Austria is top of the list, averaging around 25% of the total over the past three years. The Austrian banks must be playing a large role in this, either by ownership of several banks in Croatia, or by funding other activities. Surprisingly, the much larger Germany has averaged only 17.2% and has reduced to 13.2% in the first three quarters of 2005, though this may be seasonally affected.

Hungary’s three year average is 8.85% but has achieved a remarkable climb in the first three quarters of 2005 to gain a share of 21.69%. The US is third, on average, but seems to have invested nothing, to date, in 2005 and Sweden has made the top 10 in 2005 though was off the scale previously. Italy, Holland and Luxembourg are consistently in the middle rankings. As for the UK, its average places it 9th on the list at 2.36% but is in 10th place for the first three quarters of 2005 at 1.99%.

What does this tell us? Well, reading behind the statistics a little and paying attention to the deals being done at the moment, it suggests that Austria has a fairly tight grip and Hungary is intent on increasing its share, whilst other countries continue to look opportunistically at certain businesses and sectors. Germany is certainly big in the Telecoms sector, Austria in banking and finance, and Hungary already has a slice of the national oil company INA. Slovenia, France, Germany and Italy have all set up a number of large retail stores over the past few years.

Surprisingly Hotels and Motels account for only 3.92% of the total foreign investment over the last three years. Unsurprisingly this percentage has increased to 9.21% in 2005. Estate agency and property development/sales have only made the top 10 in 2005 but look set to rise in position.

If you are looking to invest in Croatia then the normal rules of common sense and proper research apply. The business climate is quite different from Western Europe and there’s no substitute for finding a local partner that you can trust and will help you acclimatise. The British Embassy is also much more proactive than it was a few years ago and there are regular Trade Missions. We took part in one two years ago and found it very useful. There are also a growing number of business clubs and networks that can help, though most of the larger businesses have their head offices in Zagreb and hence, that’s where the networks meet. I’m trying to encourage some of the UK business organisations to participate more actively though I suspect UK interest may have to grow a little before it becomes worthwhile to them.


As with every subject tackled so far on Croatia Online, this one deserves much more coverage. The writing of it has already led to a note of a number of more detailed topics for the future, and I’m sure readers will be interested in the details of clubs, websites and associations that might help. However, I’m also, on a small scale, a foreign investor looking to make a modest return. Good networks, gleaned over three hard years at the front end, in a number of fields, has a value which I’m not quite ready to start releasing just yet!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Tuesday Column - Croatia Tourism 2: Nautical Tourism

Those who have sailed Croatia will tell you that it has one of the most spectacular coastlines in Europe. Crystal clear water, 1,185 islands and islets, breathtaking scenery and under development set it apart from most of the competition.

The essence of Croatia is its beauty, simplicity and relative tranquillity. It’s the “back to how it was” scenario that most of us crave. The Mediterranean climate, azure seas, picturesque bays, green olive groves, stark mountain backdrop and plethora of islands and islets provide a spectacular cruising environment. The coastline and islands are dotted with fishing villages and small towns, apparently untouched in twenty years. Almost every settlement is bursting with ancient relics and beautiful architecture. The food is plain, but good, the people are hospitable, friendly and straightforward, and it’s safe and relatively easy to get to. Although Croatia has become more popular in the last few years, it’s one of the few places where you can still avoid the crowds.

Nautical Tourism Infrastructure

As for the nautical tourism infrastructure, the marina industry suffers a little from having been ahead of its time in the early days of development, when yachts were smaller and expectations lower. The tourist board marina brochure list 43 marinas. Of these, 38 were officially categorised as at 31st March 2004 but only 4 were given category I status, denoting that they were “marinas of the highest standard”. 21 of the listed marinas form the ACI network and are owned by the state. These marinas are well managed but will need to rethink their layouts and facilities if they want to accommodate bigger yachts on a regular basis. Given other government priorities and the need for Croatia to balance its books before entering the EU, it is hard to see the necessary funding being made available for the major revamp needed, particularly in the short term.

Marina Kastela, the newest marina development, lies between Trogir and Split and aims to be the first to fully cater for Superyachts as well as everything else. Special berths, three phase power supplies, fuel, pump out stations and superior facilities are all part of the design plan. The marina is open for business now with further facilities on stream by 2007. For more details look at http://www.marina-kastela.com/ or email info@marina-kastela.hr.

John Nash of Marina Facility Solutions, (“MFS”), has been based in Croatia since 2002 and represent a number of, mostly British, marine equipment manufacturers. MFS was one of the first British company’s to see Croatia’s potential within the international marina industry but recognises that there are a few challenges to face. “Croatia is a seafaring nation and the overall standard of skills and knowledge is high. The coastline is spectacular and immensely varied and the Adriatic is well charted and buoyed”.
John believes that the existing marinas have been well planned in terms of location and facilities but, at the time they were at the concept stage, larger boats and high rollers, were not a big consideration. Like many people I talked to, John is anxious that Croatia should learn from the mistakes of other countries and preserve its unique natural beauties. The disposal of marine waste is a particular issue at the moment. “I sincerely hope that the Croatian government can find the time to focus on an overall nautical tourism strategy that maximises the potential whilst preserving and safeguarding the environment for future generations.” John can be contacted via the MFS website at http://www.marinafacilitysolutions.com/.

For more detailed information on specific marina facilities, ACI have a good website, http://www.aci-club.hr/, with plans of all their marinas, approach notes and weather information. For a comprehensive list of marinas and links to their websites, go to the Croatia Tourist Board website, http://www.croatia.hr/. Click on the “nautics” section, find “marines” and a blank search will give you a full list with links.

Away from the marinas, there are a good smattering of ports on the mainland and the larger islands that will give an enthusiastic and professional reception to nautical visitors. Dubrovnik, Cavtat, Hvar, Trogir, Korcula and Vis are all very popular with larger boats. Each has something different to offer and the bustle of the towns can be swapped for the sanctuary of a small deserted bay in a matter of minutes. To get away from it all, in smaller ports, try Jelsa and Vrboska on Hvar, and many of the smaller islands. You’re never very far from a quiet anchorage or port.

Some Statistics

In the calendar year 2003, 52,513 navigation licences were issued to foreign vessels visiting Croatian waters. This increased by 1.8% in 2004, according to the latest statistics available. Yachts flying the British flag rank a lowly 10th on the league table of nautical visitors, with only Hungary, Scandinavia and Switzerland lagging behind.

Statistics on the official charter industry for the first nine months of 2004 show a total of 1,925 vessels chartered, of which 629 (33%) flew a foreign flag and 72 (4%) flew a British flag.

Finally, the statistics on nautical ports, covering all recognised ports, marinas and anchorages, for the same nine months show the following:-
Total moorings available - 15,407,
189,492 recorded moorings by vessels in transit, 76% of which were by vessels registered under a foreign flag.
Profits from moorings by vessels in transit totalled 64,768,000 kuna (about £6 million) for the period, a 28 % increase on the same period of the previous year.

Other Related Sectors For Future Coverage In The Business Column

Of course there’s more to the nautical tourism industry than marinas and berths – charter companies, boat building, boat repairs, boat equipment and services, marina equipment supplies and crew supply to name but a few. Hard data is not that easy to find and the ancillary services have yet to be classified into a directory that would make life a lot easier for visitors and probably generate some more cash for the industry. We’ll be looking, in more detail, in the business column, at each separate area as the weeks progress, but here’s a quick summary.

There are charter companies operating from almost every marina and I’d guess, very roughly, that the split is about 50:50 between Croatian charter companies and foreign ones. The laws have changed recently on chartering, effectively requiring any boat engaged in carrying passengers for money to be registered under the Croatian flag. This has caused a bit of an upheaval within the industry but most of the foreign companies seem to be intent on staying. It’s also caused some problems for the superyacht industry, multiple boat ownership and some charitable organisations since, if the boat is not registered under the Croatian flag, there is a limitation on the number of passengers that can be carried whilst the boat is in Croatian waters. This limit is just over 2 times the official maximum capacity. The rules are being reviewed and hopefully some sensible exceptions will be made without allowing the black charter industry, at whom the regulations were aimed, to flout them.

Boat Building
There are a number of good, Croatian made boats at reasonable prices. We have a small Dalmatinka, a fishing boat with a 2 berth cabin. It’s 22 years old but still working well. It's a big industry sector and worth a column of its own very soon.

Boat Repairs and Services
There are plenty of engine, boat and sail repairers around. It’s just a question of finding them. Some are operating from garages, with no signage, and some are a lot bigger. The easiest way to find them is ask the local harbour master or marina manager.

Marina Equipment Supplies
We’ve already mentioned Marina Facility Solutions, who supply a complete range of marina products, including water and electricity pedestals, pump-out systems, fire fighting equipment, lifts and cranes, pontoons, security systems and marina software. Italian manufacturers are represented by a number of local agents as are foreign manufacturers from elsewhere. Some products are manufactured locally but Croatia has a way to go before it can offer the same choice and quality as foreign manufacturers.

Boat Shows

The Zagreb show, in February each year, was, until recently, the only show around. It has now been somewhat dwarfed by the Split Boat Show which takes place in early April. The Split Show has grown exponentially in a short space of time, particularly in terms of the space it occupies. It’s a good place to get a real feel for the industry and a great excuse for an off season trip. For more information, look at http://www.croatiaboatshow.com/. Another boat show has sprung up in Biograd na moru, about half way between Split and Zadar. It takes place in early October and though it’s still a small show (and suffered from appalling weather last year) it’s worth a visit if you are in the area. Details can be found at www.marinakornati.com.

Nautical Tourism is another big topic which we’ll endeavour to chunk down in future weeks. The Tuesday tourism column will be geared to those that want to sail the Adriatic, and the Wednesday Business column will cover the various business activities of the sector in more detail as the weeks progress.