Travel to Croatia is increasing, up nearly 20 percent over last year just counting visitors from North America. Showcased by the popular HBO series “Game of Thrones,” Croatia has seen a surge in tourism, one that they hope to continue by joining the European Union.
Last year, visitors from the United States and Canada reached 237,826, up 17.8 percent over 2011. Recovering from a multi-year recession, Croatia believes being part of the EU will give tourism an additional boost but will be a member on their own terms.
Croatia, the home of Dalmatian dogs, will not be a member of the Schengen area that allows members easy access in and out of the country. Instead they will continue checking passports of all entering or exiting the country.Known for its lovely islands and beautiful people, Croatia will not adopt the euro as national currency, choosing instead to keep the colorful Kuna as legal tender.
The French air traffic controller union is on strike and will soon be followed by those of nine other European nations, the BBC reports.
The strike is being launched in protest against European Union plans to form regional blocs for air traffic control. It says this will be more efficient than the current national system and will reduce flight distances. The unions say it reduces national sovereignty and is a step towards privatization. They also say it would adversely affect their working conditions and flight safety.
Flights to and from France are already being affected, with easyJet, Ryanair, British Airways and Lufthansa the hardest hit. Tomorrow, air traffic controllers in the following countries will go on strike: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and Slovakia.
France will remain on strike tomorrow. RTÉ News reports that France’s civil aviation authority has requested that airlines cancel half their scheduled flights to Paris, Lyon, Nice, Marseilles, Toulouse and Bordeaux.
UPDATE: While it was widely reported in the international press that UK air traffic controllers would go on strike today, June 12, Gadling was contacted by NATS, the UK’s air navigation service provider, that they will not be going on strike. They have clarified their position in a press release.
It’s getting to be that time of year again. People are heading to the beaches, especially around the Mediterranean.
Now choosing one has been made easier by a new interactive website by the European Environment Agency. The agency has released its 2012 figures for water quality of 23,511 “bathing waters.” The website has them broken down by country and region. While most are beaches, popular inland swimming areas such as lakes are also included.
Some countries do better than others. Cyprus may be in economic doldrums, but 100% of their beaches have clean water. Slovenia, the subject of an upcoming series here on Gadling, gets equally high praise for its narrow strip of shoreline.
Scientists examined samples of water over several months in 2012, looking for evidence of pollution. It turns out 93 percent of sites had at least the minimum standard set by the European Union. The worst countries were Belgium, with 12 percent substandard swimming areas, and The Netherlands, with 7 percent.
It’s an old tradition here in Europe: sit down for a meal and at the center of the table is a little bottle of olive oil for using on your bread and other food. In the finer restaurants you’ll often get a dipping bowl too.
Now the Guardian reports that the European Union has banned serving olive oil in anything but sealed, throwaway containers. The EU says this is to stop fraud, claiming some restaurants substitute cheaper olive oil than what they advertise, a bit like how some bars put cheaper brands into their top-shelf liquor bottles. In fact, few restaurants actually advertise which olive oil they’re serving.
The new move is also supposed to improve hygiene, although of course it will increase the amount of trash restaurants produce.
Several newspapers are lambasting the move, saying it’s pointless meddling by a bloated bureaucracy that should be tackling the economic meltdown. The move has already passed, however.
So the next time you go to Europe, your authentic local meal will be a little less authentic.
The erection of a giant statue of Alexander the Great in the Macedonian capital of Skopje is the latest round in an ongoing controversy with neighboring Greece.
The statue, erected on Tuesday as part of an ambitious urban development plan called Skopje 2014, drew criticism from some Greek politicians and nervous mutterings from European diplomats. They say it’s deliberate provocation because Greece objects to the name Macedonia. Using this name, some say, implies a claim over the Greek province of Macedonia, where Alexander the Great was actually born. Of course neither country existed at the time, the land being divided up into a patchwork of ancient city-states. When history is used as a propaganda tool, historic accuracy goes out the window.
Macedonia, officially the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, broke off from Yugoslavia in 1991 and has been in a row with Greece about its name ever since. This isn’t some minor squabbling. Greece successfully blocked Macedonia’s entry into NATO and is stonewalling the country’s attempts to join the European Union. With Macedonia being one of the poorest countries in Europe, this argument over a name is costing them a lot.
[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]