Monday, 25 April 2022

Ana Hrnic, Dubrovnik Tourist Board Director, on Nomads, Work. Place. Culture. Conference

April 25, 2022 - Dubrovnik's enthusiastic embracing of the digital nomad revolution continues. Ahead of net month's Work. Place. Culture. conference, an in-depth look at progress with Ana Hrnic, Dubrovnik Tourist Board director. 

Back in October, 2020, Dubrovnik hosted the first-ever digital nomad conference in Croatia, Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads. This was followed in April 2021 with the award-winning Dubrovnik Nomads-in-Residence program, the first of its kind in the world where digital nomads and a destination co-created a strategy for the destination's nomad offer. 

Croatia's most famous tourist destination is continuing its push towards more sustainable tourism and building on its early digital nomad success with a range of new initiatives. Next up, the Work. Place. Culture. conference next month, a collaboration between the City of Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Saltwater Nomads, and Total Croatia News. Ahead of this latest conference, TCN catches up wth Dubrovnik Tourist Board director, Ana Hrnic.  


1. Dubrovnik is Croatia's most famous tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors every year, but it is also emerging as a regional leader in the digital nomad/remote work revolution, which has surprised some. Tell us a little more about the background of that initiative. 

One of our strategic goals is certainly to extend the season. In this context, we have recognized the potential of positioning the city of Dubrovnik as a digital nomad-friendly destination, that digital nomads will choose for their stay, especially in periods outside the main tourist season. We can also say that the Covid crisis prompted us to turn to this fast-growing segment, which we recognized as a great potential.

2. You held the first digital nomad conference in Croatia back in October 2020, followed by the world's first Digital Nomads-in-Residence program a year ago. What were the key takeaways for you, and how did it help you define your future planning?

Dubrovnik Tourist Board and the City of Dubrovnik have been successfully implementing a project aimed at diversifying the tourist offer and intended for digital nomads for two years now. Faced with pandemic challenges and the stagnation of tourism, we decided to focus on the fast-growing digital nomad market. The first event was held in October 2020, entitled "Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads" as part of the European Freelancers Week 2020 and was aimed at presenting Dubrovnik as a year-round destination for digital nomads, which helped the future positioning of our city in this modern world way of doing business. The positive echoes of the conference were the motive for an extremely successful project - a program called "The Dubrovnik digital nomad-in-residence". Through a series of activities, workshops and excursions, the participants explored the city and its surroundings in detail, got familiar with the way of life of the local population, cultural events and other offers. With their experience, they helped create a better atmosphere for future nomads who will choose Dubrovnik as their place of work, but also contribute to the global promotion of the destination.


3. Rather than just tick a box - event completed - Dubrovnik has implemented, and is implementing an impressive set of initiatives based on recommendations. Give us an overview of those.

So far, we have launched a series of activities, inspired by all previous knowledge and experiences from the previous two years. Let's mention just a few - we have organized a coworking space in Lazareti, we are finalizing a special website dedicated to digital nomads and all those who plan or have been staying for a long time in the area of the city of Dubrovnik. We are also launching special profiles on social media, where we will be available for all questions. We have created a special visual identity, as well as other materials and content. Our info office in Pile will be a special DN Checkpoint where all digital nomads will be able to get all the useful information they need. We are also working on a special DN card, which will include various benefits and offers. I also consider it important to emphasize that we have introduced the local community with the needs and expectations of digital nomads, because we can say that before these activities for most people this was a completely new and unexplored topic. There is still a lot of work ahead of us, but I think we are going in the right direction.

4. And so to 2022, and the Work. Place. Culture. conference from May 5-7. What is it, and why should people attend?

From 4 to 7 May, the second conference entitled "Work.Place.Culture" is organized by the Tourist Board of Dubrovnik and the City of Dubrovnik, created by Saltwater Nomads. The conference aims to strengthen the position of Dubrovnik as a globally recognized work environment. It is a conference that will bring together about 100 participants from around the world, with distinguished lecturers and workshop leaders, aimed at professionals working remotely and decision-makers.

5. You have obviously worked hard to position Dubrovnik in the remote work scene. Are you happy with progress so far, and what are the short to medium-term goals?

We are very pleased with what has been done so far, but as I have already mentioned, there is still a lot of work ahead of us. In the short term, the goal is to complete a new website, successfully complete the conference, launch the Dubrovnik DN card ... We will continue to work on animating the stakeholders of the tourism sector to get involved in projects related to digital nomads - from private accommodation to restaurants and shops, and transportation...In the long run, I believe that we will position ourselves as one of the globally most desirable digital nomad destinations.


6. And finally, there is much more to your beautiful city than remote work conferences. What can people expect from Dubrovnik this year?

Every season in Dubrovnik brings something special. Dubrovnik is a magical city, which after two years of pandemics is finally returning to normal. Optimism is felt at every step, and all our visitors will surely have an unforgettable and unique experience when visiting Dubrovnik. Welcome!

Tickets are still available for Work. Place. Culture. - more information about the conference on the official website

Learn more about the Pearl of the Adriatic in the Total Croatia Dubrovnik in a Page guide.

For more news and features on digital nomads in Croatia, check out the dedicated TCN section

Monday, 12 April 2021

Dubrovnik Tourist Board Director Ana Hrnic Shares Concerns Over Season

April the 12th, 2021 - The 2021 summer season is being called into question more and more as spring is now firmly upon us and preparations need to begin. With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic still throwing spanners in the works, it's going to be a difficult season to call. The Dubrovnik Tourist Board director, Ana Hrnic, has spoken openly about her concerns and the situation in Croatia's southernmost city, which relies heavily on air transport.

As Novac writes, once upon a (pre-pandemic) time, th Easter period used to mark the beginning of the tourist pre-season across Croatia. This year, only twelve hotels have been opened down in Dubrovnik, Croatia's tourism Mecca. The Easter holidays attracted about 1,000 tourists, and they were mostly those of us who live in Croatia.

''This year, the announcement of the beginning of the tourist season, despite the situation we're currently in, brings with it certain types of restrictions because neither the catering and hospitality facilities nor their terraces are able to work, Ana Hrnic, the director of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, told HRT.

It isn't just Ana Hrnic with worries on her mind. Until April the 12th, the City of Dubrovnik and the Tourist Board were offering their tourists numerous benefits.

''The Cultural and Historical Museum, the Maritime Museum, the Ethnographic Museum, our two archeological exhibitions in Revelin... we invited all Croatian citizens to come down to Dubrovnik and come and visit those museums for free,'' said Julijana Antic Brautovic, the director of Dubrovnik Museums.

Among the few foreign guests on Stradun were three Turkish sailors.

''I came to buy a yacht. We're in the ACI marina. It's nice, we like Dubrovnik, I've been visiting the historic centre with some friends,'' said a tourist from Istanbul.

Indoor restaurants are the biggest problem

''It's difficult, we can't eat anything anywhere. We have to buy food and then go back and eat on board, it’s very inconvenient,'' noted the Turkish tourist.

''We sail to the islands, they're wonderful, they have excellent conditions for nautical tourism, but in a pandemic it is difficult to imagine anything. It's similar in Turkey, so we must all be responsible,'' said the same tourist from Istanbul.

Dubrovnik's catering and hospitality industry workers are also waiting for the outcome of the situation with a sense of uncertainty.

"Twenty-six of my colleagues couldn't take this anymore. They've permanently closed their premises, one part of them has moved out of the city, some others among them are also planning to leave,'' said Ante Vlasic, the  president of the Dubrovnik Restaurant Association.

International air traffic to Dubrovnik has now thankfully been re-established - for now twice a week from Madrid and Munich, which is an enormous downgrade in comparison to what this wildly popular Dalmatian city is used to. Easyjet flights from Geneva also began running from April the 10th this year.

For more on Dubrovnik, visit Dubrovnik in a Page. For more on travel to and within Croatia, follow our travel section.

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Dubrovnik Tourist Board Director Ana Hrnic on Digital Nomads, Tourism Reset

April 7, 2021 - Applications have now closed for the inaugural Dubrovnik Digital Nomad-in-Residence competition. TCN caught up with Dubrovnik Tourist Board Director, Ana Hrnic, to talk nomads and the future of tourism in the Pearl of the Adriatic.

With just over 2 weeks to go to the start of the Dubrovnik Digital Nomad-in-Residence programme, TCN sat down with Dubrovnik Tourism Board Director, Ana Hrnic, to cover a wide range of issues related to tourism in Croatia's most iconic city, including its future direction. 

The Dubrovnik  Digital Nomad-in-Residence programme is a joint initiative from the City of Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Saltwater Nomads and TCN, funded by Dubrovnik. Saltwater Nomads CEO Tanja Polegubic recently gave an interview to TCN where she went into considerable detail about the programme. 

The judging panel of six has reached agreement, and the ten (VERY international) winners will be announced at a press conference at Lazareti in Dubrovnik on Friday, April 9 at 10:00. 


I caught up with Ana Hrnic, the Dubrovnik Tourist Board director, to talk nomads, but also various other issues regarding tourism in the city and its future direction. 

Being a tourist board director during a pandemic must be extremely stressful. Tell us how 2020 was for tourism in Dubrovnik from your perspective.

I came on the position of Dubrovnik Tourist Board director in February 2020. This would be a professional challenge for me in normal times, not to mention how challenging it was in months that followed. I just managed to meet the team and get familiar with the processes, when the pandemic started. This was a big shock for everyone, and of course for me personally as well. 2020 was I think the most specific year ever. We have had war and many other crises that affected tourism in the past, but this kind of a global impact was something we have never faced before. The year 2020 was very difficult, especially for Dubrovnik as a destination very dependent on international flights.

International air traffic began in mid-June, and intensified in July, when flights began from the UK market, our traditional number one market. Unfortunately, very soon Croatia was included in the red lists of many countries due to the epidemiological situation, so the season was very short for us. The announcements for September were good, but the epidemiological situation prevented us from realizing it.

Until recently, Dubrovnik tourism was known increasingly for cruise ships and over-tourism. 2020 changed all that. How was the feeling last year a) as a resident, and b) as a tourism professional?

Due to the over-tourism effects, a few years ago, Dubrovnik was on the list of destinations to avoid, and our UNESCO status was endangered. And lately, thanks to the measures taken by the city administration through the Respect the City project, Dubrovnik is on the list of destinations that are successfully coping with the trend of over-tourism, which has not bypassed many other famous tourist cities.

Mass tourism is inevitable, even for nominally more exclusive destinations than Dubrovnik. This was certainly due to the fact that flights became quite affordable, so thousands of people were given the opportunity to travel around the world for relatively little money. And there is cruising tourism which is also financially acceptable and accessible to a larger number of people. It should not be seen as something negative, but it should be properly managed. That is why destination management is important, in order to make tourism sustainable in all aspects.

Tourists who came to Dubrovnik last summer had the opportunity to fully enjoy the city without crowds, and experience the destination in a unique way.


Many see 2020 as an enforced opportunity for a complete reset. Is this the case for Dubrovnik tourism? More of the same of a complete reset? What is the vision?

We should focus primarily on quality and sustainability. I see Dubrovnik in the future as a destination of sustainable tourism, and as a destination of top-quality offer and excellence in all segments. I think it is very important to achieve a quality balance between satisfied visitors and satisfied citizens. There is no point in accumulating millions of overnights and arrivals, if our citizens are dissatisfied and if this affects negatively on the quality of our lives. 2020 definitely gave us the opportunity for a certain reset, and I believe we are on a good way.

In the years ahead, I think that nothing will look exactly the same as before and that we will be able to completely change the direction of tourism development towards sustainability. I believe that we will draw some lessons from all this that has happened and create clear visions for the future. We are convinced that the highest quality segments of the offer are the most resilient in crises and we need to work on raising quality in all segments.

Dubrovnik tourism should be tourism that respects above all the citizens of this city, which is sustainable and whose success is not measured solely by the number of overnights. The emphasis in the future must be placed on raising quality in all segments, in order to ultimately use this crisis to reposition Dubrovnik as a destination of excellence and sustainable tourism.

Dubrovnik has been a very early adaptor of the digital nomad opportunity in Croatia. Tell us why you believe it is such a good thing. And why should nomads choose Dubrovnik?

Speaking of digital nomads, in October last year the City of Dubrovnik hosted the event "Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads", and was the leader of this initiative in Croatia. Digital nomads are important for the destination where they live, because of the fact that they are good consumers, but also because of their activities which intensively promote the destination. It should also be emphasized that these are long stays, often in periods outside the main seasonal months. They become ambassadors of their new city, and in this way attract their friends, families and more and more digital nomads. In every aspect, Dubrovnik has the potential to become a prestigious and desirable destination for digital nomads. In order to attract them, it is necessary, in addition to an attractive destination and excellent internet connection, to provide them hospitality, show how safe in all aspects Dubrovnik is, to offer better long-term rental opportunities, greater engagement of the local community, and global promotion.

Dubrovnik has a reputation in some quarters as being expensive with not much to do after exploring the old town, which does not sound attractive to digital nomads, especially those on a budget. How would you answer those claims of being expensive and there being little to do?

The propaganda of Dubrovnik as a too expensive destination is, in my opinion, excessive, and such a sensationalist approach harms the destination. Lower quality destinations have the same prices as Dubrovnik. Coffee on Stradun and a kilo of top-quality fish in a luxury restaurant have their price, which is absolutely justified, and this should come as no surprise. From the prices in always the same restaurants, which are located in the most attractive locations within the city walls, the perception is created that the prices are the same everywhere. In the City, and even within the city walls, there are places with much more moderate prices and quality offer. I do not see Dubrovnik as a destination for sun and beach tourism, but as a destination for experiences. It is special at all times of the year, so it is not necessary to visit it in the months when prices are high. Dubrovnik and its surroundings have so much to offer during the whole year – from different events, festivals, gastronomy, active tourism… This can and will be improved in the future and Dubrovnik will be even more than now recognized as a whole year destination.

This is the first Digital Nomad-in-Residence partnership with a destination in the world as I understand. Tell us what you are expecting from this month, and how exactly will the tourist board and city participate?

We see this project as an excellent opportunity to promote Dubrovnik as a digital nomad-friendly destination. Through the project together with our partners and candidates, we will create a future strategy for positioning Dubrovnik as an attractive digital nomad destination, we will define areas for improvement and hopefully reach global promotion. Our candidates’ feedback on their one-month stay in Dubrovnik will be extremely useful for our future steps.

Tell us a little about the profile of the digital nomads you are hoping will apply. 

We are hoping to have a diverse range of candidates - different nationalities, occupations, skills, age groups, professional experiences… those who will help us promote the destination within the global digital nomad community, and whose experiences will help us develop future strategy.

How will you measure the success of the programme?

We will measure the success of the program by the number of digital nomads staying in Dubrovnik in future period, as well as global promotion and PR we are hoping to achieve. And of course, as I have already mentioned, our candidate’s feedback will be very valuable for us in the development of a future digital nomad-friendly destination strategy.

Applications for the Dubrovnik Digital Nomad-in-Residence programme have now closed, but you can learn more about it here.

For more information about digital nomads in Croatia, visit the TC Digital Nomads in Croatia in a Page. Or follow the latest in the dedicated TCN section