Digital Nomads

Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence Picks Up 2 Awards at Conventa 2021 in Ljubljana

By 29 August 2021
Tanja Polegubic, middle, Saltwater Nomads CEO made 4 trips to the podium for awards for its Zagreb and Dubrovnik projects
Tanja Polegubic, middle, Saltwater Nomads CEO made 4 trips to the podium for awards for its Zagreb and Dubrovnik projects

August 29, 2021 - 13 months after an initial meeting with the Mayor of Dubrovnik, the Pearl of the Adriatic's digital nomad initiatives pick up two awards in Ljubljana at Conventa 2021. 

It is just over a year since Mato Frankovic, the Mayor of Dubrovnik, gave me 30 minutes to present some new ideas for Dubrovnik tourism at the height of the pandemic. 

Having had many such meetings over the years, I was not overly optimistic about the outcome of the meeting, beyond probably warm words of support. But some 30 minutes later, we had reached agreement to explore the digital nomad potential of Dubrovnik, and work started the next day. Was this really Croatia?


In partnership with Ana Hrnic, DIrector of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Deputy Mayor Jelka Tepsic, and Tanja Polegubic, of Saltwater Nomads, work began. A planned event three months later had to be postponed due to the pandemic, but it was replaced with Croatia's first-ever digital nomad conference, Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads. Coverage went around the world, including a mention in the Washington Post. 

The following April brought the world's first Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence project, where 10 nomads from all over the world with different backgrounds and skill sets, came to the city for 4 weeks as guest of Dubrovnik, to not only experience digital nomad life in Dubrovnik, but to co-create strategies with the city, tourist board and community to make the destination a more welcoming place for the remote work revolution.  The ten motivated guests gelled perfectly and came up with  several excellent initiatives, which the Mayor committed to implementing during the final presenation

Word of the project has spread beyond Croatia's borders, the latest example being in Ljubljana on Friday night, as the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program scooped two awards at Conventa 2021 Best Event Awards in the Slovenian capital. 


(Photos by Zoltan Nagy)

The Conventa Crossover Best Event Awards have been held annually since 2018, and follows on directly from the Conventa Events Trade Show. It brings together Event and Live Marketing leaders and awards events on their innovation, creativity, legacy, execution, results and sustainability. There are 4 categories (B2B, B2C, B2I and Crossover) plus an audience award, creativity, sustainability and best agency. The event every year brings together leading speakers, workshops and in 2021, over 300 MICE professionals.

Both Saltwater Nomads projects, Zagreb Digital Nomad Week and Dubrovnik  Digital Nomads-in-Residence made the final six in the Crossover section, along with Travelling with ICare (Italy), World of Synergy Confluence (Slovenia), 'Promotion of Entrepreneurship' by Komunikacijski Labatorij for the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, and Photomath Press Event (Croatia). Zagreb Digital Nomad Week was named the winner, with Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence coming third, while DNIR took first prize in all categories for the Audience vote.

You can learn more about the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence project here

Each entrant was required to submit a project video (see above), as well as a 60-second live pitch on stage, which Tanja Polegubic performed with aplomb. Here are her some of Tanja's thoughts:

The appeal was certainly that we worked with digital nomads. Everyone is working from home, and could relate and quickly grasp that a destination would suit these needs.

I started the pitch with a strong statement - every year, millions of people come to Dubrovnik from around the world and are wowed by what they see. Most only stay about 3 days. Ron - who was one of our selected DN-I-Rs, was one of those millions. Someone like Ron never thought about staying longer. Even though he could work from anywhere…How might we work on a solution to transform his experience and get Ron - and others like him - to consider working from Dubrovnik, be it a month or a year?


 In addition to this, the human connections endure. This is an example of a transformative event - and the longterm plan which was produced will live on. Winning the audience Award meant the world- this meant, after all the presentations, this was the one the audience of event professionals - and online-  connected with the most! The feedback from people who came up to me after the pitches and online was really positive.

I am happy i did the partners and participants justice with sharing the story and impact of the Dubrovnik DNIR program.


I have to acknowledge and applaud the leadership and trust and Dubrovnik Tourist Board and the CIty of Dubrovnik  showed in us by taking on these projects. Beyond the success for the tourist boards, providing great outcomes for the city -  the broader events industry in Europe recognises this is a viable segment in tourism and the value of these programs.Winning these awards demonstrates this is a sustainable model Croatia can develop to engage this audience.

The Saltwater Nomads CEO made four trips to the awards podium in total, collecting another two awards for Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, a collaboration between Saltwater Nomads, Total Croatia News and the Zagreb Tourist Board. You can read more about that here

A successful night, as well as a pointer to how successful public/private tourism partnerships can work in Croatia to develop niche sectors. Both Dubrovnik and Zagreb responded superbly to the initiatives. 

To learn more about Dubrovnik, check out the TC Dubrovnik in a Page guide

For the latest news and features on digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section