Digital Nomads

Digital Nomads Enter Croatian Tourism Conference Strategy Debate for 1st Time

May 6, 2020 - A milestone for progressive Croatian tourism strategy yesterday, as the enticing prospect of a tourism future with a focus on digital nomads was discussed at a Croatian tourism conference for the first time. 

A seismic event in tourism strategy thinking took place at an online Croatian tourism conference, SMART Tourism 5.0 yesterday, an event which might have gone largely unnoticed at the time, but the seed it planted paves the way for a new generation of thinking in determining Croatia's tourism future. 

For the first time that I can recall - and I follow the industry a lot - the concept of catering to digital nomads as a cornerstone of Croatia's tourism strategy was mooted at a national tourism conference. 

The first panel was hosted by the conference "Is Croatian 365 tourism possible?", with the topic - what tourism will look like in the coming months, what it means for Croatia and what are the potentials of domestic tourism, whether the crisis creates an opportunity for year-round tourism and the activation of less popular destinations and the creative development of new products and local contents. 

Among the panelists was Dutch entrepreneur Jan de Jong, who has been living in Split since 2006, managing to create hundreds of jobs in the online marketing business. A very vocal proponent of positivity and economic opportunity in Croatia at a time when so many are emigrating, de Jong's message at the conference (which you can see in the video below) was of the potential not only of Croatia's agriculture and agrotourism business, but also the tremendous opportunity the country has now for a tourism reset, moving away from cheap mass tourism into a world which meets the modern traveller.  

As de Jong noted, there will be a projected 1 billion digital nomads, or remote workers, in the world by 2035, a date which may have been brought forward by the corona reality. More businesses, including his own, have been forced to adapt to employees working from home, and many have found the experience not only positive in terms of increased productivity, but also employee contentment. 

With the ability of an increasing number of people to work from home or anywhere in the world with good Internet. there is a huge future tourism market - currently untapped - which may not seem obvious to those with their current one-dimensional 'sun and sea' tourism mindset, but one which has the potential to fill Croatia 12 months a year and build up communities, rather than witness the painful emigration we are currently witnessing. 

As de Jong noted in his panel contribution, Croatia has MANY advantages which make it arguably the most attractive destination for digital nomads in Europe - safety, English widely spoken, accessible from the rest of Europe and the world, fantastic nature, great food and wine, a VERY relaxed lifestyle, fabulous tourism, very affordable by EU standards. The list goes on. 

Thanks Jan, I was thrilled to hear you talk so eloquently about the possibilities for developing tourism for digital nomads in Croatia. Digital nomads was one of the five areas I wrote about last July as great opportunities for Croatian tourism to reduce dependence on mass tourism on the coast and the enironmental devastation of the Adriatic. What were the other four? You can find out in Branding Croatia for the Future: 5 Gifts and Trends to Focus On.