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Quest Means Business
Croatia Opens for Tourists; Summer Travelers Navigate Europe's Patchwork Rules; Climate Change, Post-Pandemic Recovery on G7 Agenda; Ryanair CEO Urges Countries To Adopt Green Certificate; Croatia Tourism Sharply Lower Than Pre-Pandemic; The Great Bubble Barrier. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired June 11, 2021 - 15:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: We are live in Dubrovnik this evening for a special hour of QUEST MEANS BUSINESS on the re-opening of travel and
tourism in Europe.
The main events we'll be talking about airlines are venting their fury over summer travel restrictions. On this program you'll hear Ryanair's chief
executive tell me he has no confidence in Boris Johnson.
But the show goes on, and Europe is opening its doors to vaccinating U.S. visitors who are now here in Dubrovnik.
Meanwhile, Croatia's Prime Minister tells me tonight he won't compromise safety by re-opening for tourists.
Yes, we are live in Dubrovnik. It is Friday, it's the 11th of June. I'm Richard Quest. And in Croatia, I mean business.
Good evening from Dubrovnik. We are here because this is one of Europe's top tourist hot spots, particularly Croatia and this city, and its re-
opening is well underway. We're here because Croatia flung its doors open, decided to grant opening and admittance and entrance to anybody pretty much
who has either been vaccinated, fully vaccinated, or a negative COVID test or has recently actually recovered from it.
And CROATIA wants the travelers back. The international travelers particularly, so hoping to restart the economy. That is why we have chosen
to be here in Dubrovnik.
Europe is on the brink of its crunch point with the European Digital Pass about to go continent-wide, the patchwork, rules and regulations,
restrictions will all be brought together on July the 4th. And at the G7, there's hope for transatlantic travel. You'll see us having a go at the
various different things you can do here.
It is light at the end of the tunnel, arguably, for politicians and for CEOs, for holidaymakers eager to holiday and for the millions of people in
Europe who depend on tourism.
But how do you get to Dubrovnik? Well, there are the cruise ships. But most people come by air. It's one of those destinations where the low-cost
carriers are crucial to the tourism industry. And the airline executives at this week's Airlines for Europe, A4E Summit were not mincing their words.
On this program, you're going to hear from three of the top ones. You're going to hear from Ryanair's Michael O'Leary, AirFrance KLM's Ben Smith;
EasyJet's Johan Lundgren. When you listen to what they say, Michael O'Leary sums it up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL O'LEARY, CEO, RYANAIR: No, I have no confidence in Johnson -- Boris Johnson. Management in shambles. The Irish government, despite the fact
that we're an island off the edge of Europe are literally, you know, are making stuff up as they go along.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: You're going to hear more from Michael and Johan and Ben later in the program. Also, the Prime Minister of Croatia will be with us, as indeed
will the Mayor of Dubrovnik.
First though, let's get an overview of the situation. The businesses are desperate for the travelers to return. We know there is a vast pent up
demand for people to go on the first proper vacation in well more than a year. Now, it has to become a reality. Here is CNN's Anna Stewart.
ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Parasols are poised in Portugal's Algarve. The canals are cruise ready in Venice.
The summer season looms and the travel and tourism sectors are hoping for a break.
The International Air Transport Association says Europe's aviation market will be the hardest hit this year due to its reliance on international
travel, with losses of $22.2 billion expected, and demand predicted to be down by about 66 percent compared to 2019.
The E.U. has now launched a Digital Health Pass for travel. It is already being used in some countries and will be available in all member states by
July. E.U. citizens can travel within the bloc with proof of a negative COVID-19 test, recovery from previous infection, or vaccination.
STEWART (voice-over): For non-E.U. citizens, the picture is more complex. Spain welcomes fully vaccinated travelers without any testing requirements
from anywhere other than Brazil, India, and South Africa. France requires arrivals from the U.K., North America, and most of Asia and Africa to
provide a negative test regardless of their vaccination status.
The continent is essentially a patchwork of different rules and restrictions.
JOHAN LUNDGREN, CEO, EASYJET: I'm super excited. You know, it is a big day because the travel ban has actually been lifted today.
STEWART (voice-over): The U.K. removed its travel ban in May and lifted quarantine requirements for a handful of countries such as Portugal, only
to reverse that decision less than three weeks later on account of COVID cases rising and new variants emerging.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a very confusing decision.
STEWART (voice-over): The confusion of what rules are, where, and if or when they may change could make Europe's summer season a washout.
Anna Stewart, CNN, London.
QUEST: You heard that the CEO of EasyJet, Johan Lundgren, welcoming the re- opening of the U.K., however, of course, when Portugal was then removed from the green list to the amber list, Johan Lundgren's view sharply
Now, he says, the United Kingdom, along with others are making it up as they go along, and it's a mess.
LUNDGREN: The concerns and the frustrations I have is something I share with many people. Actually, I share it with millions of people because
customers alike you know, thought, when the traffic light system was introduced as we did as operators as well, that it did provide a stable
framework on how international travel could restart.
But the problem has been that the government has been -- not been transparent under what criteria that the different countries should be and
in what part is green, amber, and red.
So, they have made this up as they go along and the decision to put Portugal from green to amber is not borne by any data or science at all.
The cases of infections is rising higher and more in U.K., as an example, and the levels and the concerns about the delta variant is not hardly
existent in Portugal at all.
And that view and point is out as well. It's not only about Portugal. I mean, the number of cases in Malta, you know, 10 cases per 100,000.
Balearics, 33 cases per 100,000. That is significantly below where U.K. is. Those should have been on the green list.
So, they do make this up as they go along, unfortunately.
QUEST: Are you more optimistic about Mainland Europe, the Digital Green Pass, the Digital Pass comes in continent-wide as of July the 1st. Some
countries are already using it. The idea of removing restrictions intra- E.U., are you encouraged or not?
LUNDGREN: Yes, I am. I think that, as you pointed out, I mean, the COVID -- the digital COVID certificate now is being used by seven countries, and I
think that the remainder of the member states will have that up and running by end of July, and they are very consistent in their approach that they
want to restart travel in a safe way and that is exactly what is taking place right now.
And I think also that they have been very clear in certain cases. Holland is a good case where they have pointed out that, look, here are the
thresholds on how you are being defined as a low-risk country, as an example. So, operators and people know what to expect and can follow and
track the development on how these infections are developing.
So, I'm absolutely very, very positive and commend them for the work they're doing.
QUEST: Turning to EasyJet, do you now believe you are okay financially, even if it's a bad summer or not as good a summer as you had hoped? Do you
think -- will you have to raise more money?
LUNDGREN: Well, first of all, we have raised over 5.5 billion pounds since the start of the crisis. We had at the half year result. We announced that
we have 2.9 billion pounds of liquidity, and we raised that from a wide variety of sources. We are going to manage through the situation whatever
gets thrown at us as well.
But now, it's most important that we are really making sure that the governments are using data to unwind the restrictions that are in place.
I'm very glad to see that that is taking place outside the U.K. The U.K. is isolating itself from the rest of the world and that is simply not good
enough, but we've got to work through whatever gets thrown at us and we are going to manage this situation.
QUEST: That's Johan Lundgren of EasyJet.
Here in Croatia, the decision to reopen, to admit non-E.U. tourists was taken by the Prime Minister. COVID appears to be under control. There was a
brutal second wave that took place in the country in April. The average number of cases today at the moment is just about 162.
At the moment, roughly 16 percent of the country is fully vaccinated, but to hear the Prime Minister speak, it is near 50 percent if you take into
account those who have either had COVID and who have certain immunity or those who have had the first jab.
And so tourism has returned. The first cruise ship, the MSC Orchestra of Italy arrived this morning, and to much fanfare and hullabaloo and
disgorged its several thousand passengers into the town, the old town.
Visitation has been way down. Tourism is 20 percent of GDP, nearly 90,000 jobs are involved in it.
I walked through Dubrovnik's old town this morning to meet the various people who had been either on the ships or had been talking -- who have
been coming to the country and what a glorious time it was.
Now, a conundrum, all of this, for the Prime Minister of Croatia. The Prime Minister had to decide whether or not to reopen, how to reopen, what
restrictions would be put in place for re-opening. And so I asked the Prime Minister whether the country was re-opening too fast.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREJ PLENKOVIC, CROATIAN PRIME MINISTER: I think, throughout the pandemic, we had a very balanced approach towards the restrictive measures.
Croatia is one of those rare countries that never had a police curfew. We never had a complete lockdown. Perhaps with the exception of the first
month last year in the spring of 2020. But later on, I think we managed to balance the health security of our citizens and the economy and the
So therefore, the flows of social life remained relatively orderly, I would say.
QUEST: Your critics say you're taking too many risks opening up the tourism industry. I know it's a major part of the economy, and I know that you had
a disastrous year last year, and the economy is suffering as a result. But the critics say, it's too fast, too much, and it could come back to bite.
PLENKOVIC: Well, we shall see that. We had a drop of the GDP of eight percent in 2020. This was contrary to everything that my government has
done through the first mandate. We were the country that had a steady growth of around three percent. That ratio was going down rapidly.
We never had a budgetary deficit. We had either a budgetary surplus or a balanced budget.
What we stood for during the pandemic in economic terms as a government, we stood by our workers. We stood by our employers. We spent really more than
10 billion kunas towards the workers, and we paid salaries for I think almost 700,000 people. This was crucial to sustain this crisis.
QUEST: So I asked numerous people from taxi drivers to waiters to people on the street, I asked, I am seeing the Prime Minister, what would you ask
him? And they all sort of said the economy, the economy, the economy. The economy is not good. You need a good tourism season this year, and it's
risky to have it.
This is a real conundrum for you, but everyone says the economy is not strong.
PLENKOVIC: It is always the economy. I think we've solved all the political issues in Croatia quite a while ago. We are in E.U., we are in NATO, we
have stable institutions. Democracy functions.
So the economy is, in my view, from two aspects, important. One, to go towards a strong recovery and resilience, this is how we procured and
basically insured 9.6 billion euros from the E.U. next generation for the next 10 years. This is an extra fund. Plus, the usual financial perspective
for seven years, which is over 12 billion.
We ensured for Croatia 25 billion euros for next seven years. This is a huge amount of money and a huge injection to our economy. Tourism, right,
in the best days, it is around 19 to 20 percent of the GDP. Last year, we were in the 50 percent of the record-breaking season, which was 2019.
Now, we want to go above what was last year and this is the idea. If we manage to keep this 2021 tourist season at the level of between 60 to 70
percent of 2019, then we would be very well off. And therefore, we are preparing in all the epidemiological terms, in the opening, in the
airlines, in the security, we have a brand saying to the Croatian Airline, to the Croatian hotels, Croatian restoration, safe stay in Croatia.
PLENKOVIC: This is the key word for our economy this summer.
QUEST: There has been a lot of complaints within Europe, there was poor coordination of policy during the first year, during 2020. Are you
satisfied with the coordination with your fellow E.U. partners on the re- opening and the recovery?
PLENKOVIC: On the recovery, absolutely. That was the key element of our policies. We agreed not only for the next budget, we agreed for the
unprecedented E.U. next generation, 750 billion euros, which will be made available to all the member states. And on that point of view, I think it's
a huge helping hand in the moment where we all need it.
When it comes to the coordination against the pandemic, I think one, on vaccination, we had a very, very good coordination, there is a lot of
solidarity, there are enough vaccines being distributed.
QUEST: You had a terrible coordination.
PLENKOVIC: No. No, no. No, that's not true.
QUEST: It was a fiasco. The initial rollout of vaccination across the E.U. was a fiasco.
PLENKOVIC: No, the problem was the delay with AstraZeneca. Nobody knew that AstraZeneca was not going to deliver what they've promised in the
agreements, and that is why there was a bit of delay, but now things are going really smoothly.
In Croatia, anybody who wants to be vaccinated can do it this week basically. And it's the same elsewhere. So I think now, after the first
couple of months when the production cycle, distribution cycle, the raw material cycle was set up adequately, it's much easier. So, this is how I
see it today.
QUEST: The Prime Minister of Croatia talking to me earlier in the week on the re-opening.
You might know Dubrovnik even though you've never been here. All right, I am one of the four people in the world who has not watched yet "Game of
Thrones." I have managed to download it to watch it on the plane, but if you are a "Game of Thrones" devotee, a lover, well, tourism here got a
massive boost with HBO's "Game of Thrones" because the old town was the setting for King's landing.
I've been to these places on this trip. We've seen where it all took place. And now, of course, "Game of Thrones" tourism is a massive business with
people, now particularly to that pier and to see the amphitheater where various things took place. Now, I just have got to watch the series.
But I will talk about all of this with the Mayor of Dubrovnik who will be joining me shortly, and he may be delighted with the re-opening and the
number of tourists who are coming, but I want to know from the Mayor how he is going to prevent massive over tourism, which has been one of the big
Oh, yes, they have this wonderful thing as well, which I'll tell you about.
G7 leaders are getting the Royal treatment. We'll be at the G7 in Cornwall to show you who, what, where, and why, the latest from the seven.
And a Dubrovnik tradition. It is called a maskeron. I don't know why they do it, but people seem to want to try and stand on these pieces of stone
and see if you can, and hold on without anything to hold on to. It's a local tradition. Yes, a little bit strange.
After the break, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
QUEST: G7 is underway in Cornwall in southwest England. It is the opportunity for President Biden and his first family photo, if you will,
for the G7. There are two new faces besides the President. Mario Draghi, of course now, the Prime Minister of Italy, an old hand in these things, and
Yoshihide Suga, the Prime Minister of Japan and there of course, Her Majesty, the Queen.
Well, they had dinner with the Queen. They were all in the Eden Project at the Biodome, and on the agenda, the climate change and the post-pandemic
recovery was being discussed.
Kaitlan Collins is in Falmouth. She has the Falmouth waters behind her. I have the Adriatic with me here.
So, Kaitlan, the way in which they interacted today, very different, obviously, than with President Trump. But can President Biden convince them
he means business?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think that is still an unanswered question, Richard, and I think that so much of this has to do
with more than just the diplomatic speak and the elbow bumping and the warm embraces that we've seen as the summit has gotten underway today, because
yes, you are right, that is a big change from when Donald Trump was in office, and you're kind of seeing these other leaders breathe a sigh of
relief. They don't even seem to be hiding it.
Several of them have said as much publicly including the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, she was saying earlier that she was glad to be working with
the Biden administration, saying that their presence was something that had been in absence over the last four years.
But even from allies who seem to get along with former President Trump, Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying that he believed that the Biden
administration was a breath of fresh air, given all the things they wanted to coordinate on. But I think the question that still remains unanswered is
just what substance here changes? Because you're not seeing Biden change a ton of the policies.
Yes, he did get back into the Paris Agreement. Yes, he does want to negotiate the Iran Nuclear Deal. And those conversations are underway right
now, but when it comes to trade, when it comes to China, he still has a lot of those positions that aren't too far from the ones that the previous
President held, or at least, they haven't changed when it comes to actual policy.
So I think that is what remains to be seen as these meetings are going to go on tonight and tomorrow.
QUEST: I will talk more with you as we get -- I feel almost obliged to apologize, Kaitlan, for the poor weather in my country. At least it's not
teeming down with rain. But I suspect -- I believe that they had hoped that Cornwall would have the best of it in June.
So try and get some sunshine, wonderful part of the world, and some Cornish clotted cream, which will clog the arteries, if nothing else.
QUEST: Thank you, Kaitlan Collins who is in England.
COLLINS: I am told the weather's going to pick up tomorrow so we'll be waiting to see.
QUEST: I hope so. Fingers crossed. I've got the Adriatic where it's been beautiful here. Thank you, Kaitlan. Kaitlan Collins in Falmouth.
The G7 is discussing re-opening transatlantic travel. It's high on the agenda for the U.S.-U.K., and the U.S.-E.U.
It's a reality in one way for countries like France, Croatia, Spain, and Italy, because those countries have already said to Americans, come on
over. America has not replied in kind. There's no reciprocity to allow fully vaccinated Europeans to go westbound and that's something that needs
But for Ben Smith, the CEO of AirFrance KLM, at the moment the fact Americans can visit is worth celebrating.
BEN SMITH, CEO, AIRFRANCE KLM: So, we have an extensive program that we put in place. So, today, if you're American or you live in the United States,
you can fly into Paris and then make a connection to another European country or city. And you need a PCR test as well as a vaccination and you
can enter via France. And depending on the specific country, they may or may not need something additional.
But here in France, you need a vaccination, PCR test, you can come to France across the Atlantic.
QUEST: What needs to change to make the whole thing easier? And I'm not talking about, you know, how we can play fast and loose with rules and
risks, but in your view, what needs to change?
SMITH: I think what needs to change, I think we have a very good example that we've seen here. If you get a vaccination, there is an app that's
available now in France. You can enter your vaccination confirmation on this app, and you can use it in all different, you know, venues.
Yesterday I was at Alongos (ph) and the app was accepted. You just flash your app and you can enter because they had a condition that you had to be
vaccinated. So having something easy to use would be a first step, and then universally accepted, obviously, is the next step.
And as you saw in Europe, they are hoping to introduce this early July, and that I think would be a very, very big step. But I used it for the first
time yesterday, and I was really impressed how quick it was.
QUEST: I understand it's almost like changing the aircraft engine while the plane is flying, the complexity of this. But is there room for optimism
that you can have a good summer as an airline in 2021?
SMITH: I am much more optimistic today than I would have been, say, four to eight weeks ago. You follow this industry closely. It is changing every
single day. The fact that Americans can cross the Atlantic and come into France relatively easy is a big, big change for us. And every day it seems
to be getting a little easier and a little more clear for customers where they can go despite the fact that it is ever-changing.
QUEST: Your competitors say the European legacy carriers have been drinking at the fountain of state money like an alcoholic at a pub.
SMITH: I think we have been hit, long-haul carriers, in a way that could never have been imagined. I think if you are a European-only carrier, the
effect is very different. It's much less. So, I don't think that's a fair comparison.
And the aid that has been given to us, we're very thankful to both the Dutch and the French states, is to ensure that these critical businesses
that form part of the transportation infrastructure in both countries stay in place. I mean, this is a -- we are big, big contributors to the
economies here. This is not a question of looking for an aid for us to do business. We're not looking to change the level playing field here. This is
to survive with an impact -- due to an impact that had nothing to do with mismanagement, nothing to do with a bad strategy.
It's something that all of our long-haul competitors have had to face.
QUEST: That is Ben Smith of AirFrance KLM.
Later in the program, Michael O'Leary responds to that, calling the legacy carriers state aid junkies of European aviation.
"Ship ahoy," as they say. We've got the cruise lines. The harbor here is full of mega yachts. The ultra-wealthy have been sailing in their mega
yachts to Dubrovnik, that big blue one at the back is called Queen Miri. It'll cost you nearly 1.5 million euros at least, maybe two million a week.
A sure sign of tourism recovering. The Mayor of Dubrovnik who is with me after the break.
QUEST: CEO of Ryanair, Michael O'Leary says he has no confidence in Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister. And he describes the patchwork quilt
of European restrictions and regulations as bizarre. He's referring of course, the fact that on July the 1st Europe reopens with the new digital
pass. Some countries like Croatia are already using it.
But it goes continent wide from July the 1st and that's the real reopening of the summer season. Michael O'Leary says if they get it right, all will
MICHAEL O'LEARY, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, RYANAIR: The green surge is now available in many E.U. countries. They're not waiting until the 1st of
July. So, there's a big movement of people across the continent of Europe mainly to the tourist destinations. The real problems are economies like
the U.K. and Ireland where they've -- the U.K. originally went go and stop, they are -- so has gone stopped in gold and stop again.
They -- Portugal on a green list, keep it off with no change in the epidemiological statistics, (INAUDIBLE) should be on the green list is
still a number list. And in Ireland, we have the bizarre situation that classrooms have already been vaccinated. Parents go to the U.K. without
getting your negative PCR on the way back. So, we need all of these European countries to sign up for the digital green search before the 1stf
So that when the school holidays come around, people can travel around the E.U. safely, particularly, and with vaccinations in place.
QUEST: If we look at the ability to rescue summer 2021, it's getting more difficult even though Spain, for example is open to the rest of the world.
France is now open, but people don't want to take that risk of booking a ticket to have the rules change. I mean, I'm in Croatia today. And just the
sheer number of tests and papers and regulations. Always aware, Michael, that if I fail in any one aspect, I can be completely screwed.
O'LEARY: That's true. But, you know, we're at the end, if you like of the regulations that have applied for, you know, pre vaccination. You know, I
think the E.U. ditch a green search which will certainly allow vaccinated plasters to move freely across the European Union for the key travel months
of July, August and September is a great step forward.
O'LEARY: In Ryanair, we've seen a huge surge of bookings from people traveling in late June through July, August when the students are on
holiday. So I think that was a very strong and dramatic recovery. It really only starts on the 1st of July. And we are continuing to campaign and lobby
hard for the U.K. and the Irish government to get on the program.
QUEST: As you do that, let's look at Ryanair, the -- you've rebuilt the network. I assume as the rules change, you will rebuild capacity. At what
point do you make money?
O'LEARY: We look at on an annualized basis, Richard. At the moment we're guiding in the next year, but your finishes in March of 2021. We're
counting for somewhere between 80 to 120 million passengers. And 80 million passengers, we lose a small amount of money at 120 million passengers we
make a small amount of money. So the breakeven is somewhere around 100 million.
We think it's a realistic prospect if the digital search is effective of recovering our traffic from the 1st of July onwards, we might operate in
about 70 percent through July, August, September up to about 90 percent of pre COVID for the second half of the year. That might be just enough to get
to break even for this year.
QUEST: The state aid of which you're also fuming minor victory in the Netherlands. But overall, the trend is the money is not going to be paid
O'LEARY: Again, that's the problem with the state aid is the money's already been wasted. I mean, the money has already been lost, it will never
be repaid. So it's just another state subsidy. I wouldn't call, you know, a victory over the European Commission in the European courts a minor
victory. And we've so far had victories in cases against KLM, SAS and yesterday we have another win in a session on the Condor.
So 550 million given to -- lump by the German government into Condor. It's important that we take those cases. Europe is great for talking about a
level playing field. But when it comes to the airlines, the Germans just dosh on limited --
QUEST: I asked Ben Smith this at Air France-KLM. He said, look Michael makes his points, but he's not running along a long haul airline where the
costs have been disproportionately hit by the pandemic.
O'LEARY: (INAUDIBLE) of Air France's traffic is short haul. Most of their losses occur on the short haul of monopoly routes within France and with
KLM. You know, this long haul is just a -- is a smokescreen. You know, why is Alitalia receiving 3-1/2 billion. It has never made money in 75 years.
And yet the Italian government wants to loan but another 3-1/2 billion. TAP unfortunately carries less than 14 million passengers a year.
But this government wants to give that thing 3-1/2 billion. And Ben Smith in Air France-KLM are receiving something like 10, 13 billion. BPA is not
receiving state data. It has the same long haul operations as Air France. And the France -- the problem is in Europe, we have a couple of large state
aid junkies, Lufthansa, Air France-KLM, Alitalia. And we're never going to properly reform air travel within Europe.
If every time there's a crisis, these guys get another rejection of taxpayer subsidies to unfairly compete with airlines like Ryanair, who have
to, you know, survive on our own -- what we get from shareholders and what we get from customers.
QUEST: Needless to say, others don't agree particularly the CEOs of those other airlines, as we heard during the course of the airlines for Europe
debate. Michael O'Leary there with his strong views.
Now before the pandemic, Croatia welcomed millions of tourists. And over tourism -- I know that seems strange. But over tourism was a big problem
here in Dubrovnik. So much so that the mayor had to take action to prevent overcrowding. These were the sorts of scenes you saw Stradun and you saw in
the old town. When COVID hit the numbers, of course, dropped dramatically. 5.5 million for Croatia visitors in 2020, less than a third year before.
I wanted to see for myself exactly what the situation was at the beginning of the reopening. And so what did I do? I went for a walk in Old Town.
QUEST: This is Stradun, the main thoroughfare through Old Town Dubrovnik. I have walked along here in the past cheek to jowl shoulder to shoulder with
other tourists that have discord from cruise lines or arrived on low cost flights. Now Croatia has reopened after the long pandemic and already
tourist numbers are building up but nothing like what they used to be. And if you ask the locals and the tourists who are here, everyone says this is
so much more pleasant.
QUEST: It's a delightful experience a chance to properly enjoy the place. However, the businesses here, of course, were closed most of last year and
lost a huge amounts of money. And now, how do you balance the needs of the local economy and the tourism industry with the wish to recreate what this
place was all about? That is the test.
The challenge and the test for this man, he is Mato Frankovic. He is the mayor of Dubrovnik. He joins me now. Good to see you, Mr. Mayor. Thank you.
MATO FRANKOVIC, MAYOR OF DUBROVNIK: Good to see you as well. Thank you for your invitation.
QUEST: Let's -- we're going to deal with over tourism in a second. But let's first of all talk about the reopening. You are part of the national
policy. You're welcoming tourists from other parts of the world. And it's going reasonably well as far as I can see. Is it too soon?
FRANKOVIC: It's not to soon. Dubrovnik is COVID free. We have just five positive cases. We have 90 --more than 90 percent tourist workers
vaccinated. More than 50 percent population is vaccinated and we are going in very good direction.
QUEST: So basically, you're saying if you're vaccinated, or you have a negative test, or you've recently had COVID? You can come here?
QUEST: You saw the gist of it.
FRANKOVIC: Absolutely. And you're welcome to come here. Yes.
QUEST: So the digital green passes, how important for you?
FRANKOVIC: Very important. Why? Because the tourists that are coming here. They know the rules. Just have the digital passport and you're free to come
and welcome to come.
QUEST: United Airlines starts flying nonstop from New York at the beginning of next month.
QUEST: It'll be the second carrier. Delta Airlines is also flying. Both airlines have got very good numbers at the moment. How significant is the
U.S. going to be here?
FRANKOVIC: It's going to be definitely our first market for the first month, definitely first reopening months. But of course that we are hoping
and praying that the British will come soon as well.
QUEST: Oh. Because you need the British but when the British come so well over tourism, now today, you guys we were talking on the program. The MSC
orchestra arrived and disgorged a couple of thousand people for all of four hours to have a look and take some pictures this evening. We had another
cruise ship that just went round the harbor. Listen to what a sailor told me earlier in the week when we went out on the water about the future.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DADO BUTIGAN, DUBROVNIK SKIPPER: The blessing this weekend like really enjoying our city, our privacy that we can really appreciate what we have,
like the old town that we cherish each other that we can spend some time with our family and everything. But again, it's a curse because like we are
depending on it. We are like most people in the Veronica are living on a -- on a tourism. We just need to gather our minds together and see some other
solution that it's not only depending on tourism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Mr. Mayor, how you're going to prevent the bad old days from returning?
FRANKOVIC: Let me just say one thing to you. December 6th, 1991. Absolutely the same boards were said by UNESCO observers when Dubrovnik was bombed.
That we cannot give out the opportunity of putting Dubrovnik in sustainable tourism and we failed then. We will not fail again. This is our goal.
Dubrovnik is going to be a manager of sustainable tourism.
QUEST: I hear the good words. But if you take for example, the cruise ships, all right, you limit them to 200 from 5000. But you've got to Airbnb
is up the wazoo. You've got thousands of people waiting to come here. How do you restrict the numbers in a fair and equitable way?
FRANKOVIC: By planning. We have all the tools. We implemented all the tools from the over tourism 2017 became almost two sustainable tourism back in
2019. And in 2023, when the things will come better, believe me, we can bet, Dubrovnik is going to be a town with sustainable tourism. Town which
has the only one main figure and that is citizen of the Dubrovnik.
QUEST: Good to see you. We're both vaccinated. It's a pleasure to shake your hands, sir. I'll be back to see if you're right.
FRANKOVIC: See you in 2023.
QUEST: Have you ever tried to jump on the masker on Maskeron and hold on?
FRANKOVIC: Absolutely. Many times. I succeed.
QUEST: Oh, come on. So the mayor says. After the break I'll show you a local tradition. It's extremely weird. I'm not sure why they do it. But
they do. You jump on a piece of rock coming out of a wall and you try and hold on. That's (INAUDIBLE) I believe
QUEST: (INAUDIBLE) this week I'm here along the Adriatic where the waters are absolutely crystal clear, cool and warming up but beautiful for a swim,
which I enjoyed this afternoon. Appropriate as we celebrate World Oceans Day this week. And so, we have a series of reports lined up to do just that
about the blue planet. CNN's Call to Earth you're well aware is our initiative in which we look at the various things that people like you are
doing to help preserve this planet in a sustainable and enjoyable way.
So tonight's report comes from the Netherlands. It is a simple but effective way of removing trash from old waterways.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): I think for me, the ocean of water has always been fascinating. To see plastic in our oceans and how it's damaging
our environment. That hurts obviously. So I was thinking about all sorts of mechanical ways of how we can live more in tune with environment rather
than to exploit it.
FRANCIS ZOET, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, THE GREAT BUBBLE BARRIER: According to the World Economic Forum, eight million tons of plastic waste are being
leaked into our oceans every year. That's the equivalent of an entire garbage truck being dumped every three minutes. And the source of the
problem the world cities.
If you see some of the rivers in the Netherlands, but also in Spain, in Indonesia, you can tell that this problem in the oceans it's being created
by us. And if we can stop it closer to home, it also becomes more visible.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Here in Amsterdam, as simple solution has been found that could stop up to 86 percent of plastic waste ever reaching
the oceans. A barrier made of bubbles.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the way the bubble barrier works is basically just a cube that we placed diagonally on the bottom of the waterway. The tube has
a lot of tiny holds, we pump air through it, and the air bubbles will rise to what's the surface. And then so we bring plastic which is in suspension
toward the surface and then at the surface together with the natural flow of the river, we also bring plastic that's already at the surface towards
one side of the river which is our second component of the bubble barrier system. Which is where we retain the waste until it's removed and taken for
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the simplicity of the system is what is really appealing. A theory is just a tube and a catchment system. If you want to
do anything in rivers, ship traffic is going to be dominant, that's an economic driver, we won't be able to stop that. So, we would have to find a
solution, which would be, you know, not hindering all the other existing activities, and of course, also decreases.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The bubble barrier does exactly that. While it provides no impediment to water traffic and marine life can pass through
freely, it also catches plastic waste of all sizes. Anything from one millimeter scraps of micro plastic to windsurfing boards and abandoned
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So with every bubble barrier system that we're implementing, we're trying to work together with the city and, you know,
local NGOs to evaluate what the bubble barrier is catching to implement new policies and additional measures on land and upstream so that, collectively
in the future, we can work towards less plastic entering in the water in the first place.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our next step is a bubble barrier within Europe or actually multiple within Europe. And we of course, want to move to Asia,
because we think we can make a lot of impact there. And that's what we're going for right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bubble barrier is one part of the approach, it's not going to be our silver bullet to just solve the whole plastic pollution
problem. But we think it's a significant and very important tool to really, you know, have a pragmatic approach of saying, we know we have plastic in
our oceans, we know rivers and canals are major pathways. We can stop this today to tackle this problem in a more integrated approach that we look at
how are things being produced. How are things being collected. How are they being processed and recycled.
QUEST: Gosh. Having swum in the sea today and gaining even greater appreciations of the cleanliness and the work of people like that are
doing, it is inspiring. And we will continue to follow such inspiring works here at CNN, along with your help and cooperation. And you tell me what you
are doing and use the #calltoearth.
QUEST: Over its thousand-year history, there have been some very strange legends here in Dubrovnik. You've heard me talk about one of them with the
mayor. Why do people want to stand on a little small stone ledge in Old Town and hold on for dear life?
QUEST: This is the Maskeron. It is an ornament that was a sign of wealth over water pipes that has given rise to a sort of trick and a trend here in
Dubrovnik. The idea is to stand on here and hold yourself. Oh. Nearly. Apparently, legend has it. The love of your life will fall for you. It's
not as easy as it looks. Because you can't -- you can't grab on and you hold yourself if you can. When in doubt, get somebody else to have a go.
Excuse me. Oh, close. Oh. You want to keep going, don't you? He knows the trick. Oh,
he knows the trick. The trick, of course is you take a run at it. Oh, yes. You can take a run at it and I still barely managed to do it. We'll take a
profitable moment from Dubrovnik after the break.
QUEST: I can keep tonight's profitable moment really simple. Europe is reopening. July the 1st is the big date that we should keep our eye on when
the digital green pass. There was real optimism by airline CEOs this week. If they get it right, governments, airlines tourism industry, there are
promises to be a good summer ahead for all. And that's something for us all to celebrate with if they get it right.
I think they will. I'm more optimistic too. So much optimistic that I'm taking my two weeks holiday now. First holiday for the best part of 18
months. And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight. I'm Richard Quest live in Dubrovnik. Whatever you're up to in the weeks ahead.