Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Checking in with Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence – Alyssa Isogawa Interview

May 12, 2021 – The Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence (DNiR) program is in full swing. Today we are catching up with Alyssa Isogawa to get her view of the program and living in Dubrovnik.

What ties a young Californian of Japanese descent to Croatia? Well, water polo, of course. Alyssa Isogawa is anything but typical. This charming Californian from Huntington Beach spends her days working on her e-commerce brand Deep End she started at the age of 19. Her brand sells clothing, among other things, for water polo players. She also enjoys playing her guitar, dancing, and revelling in all things tied to the sea and water. She is a proud vegan and loves to meet new people.

Why did Alyssa Apply?

An interesting detail about Alyssa's introduction video is her love of water polo. Many think of this sport as exotic or uncommon. Not Croatians and certainly Dubrovnik locals. Water polo is a beautiful, albeit physically demanding sport enjoyed by many around the world. It is especially popular around the Mediterranean and in some central European countries. Croatia is one of the most successful countries in the history of the sport and Dubrovnik is one of the most important European water polo centres. It comes as no surprise Alyssa knew about Dubrovnik way before the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program. As an aspiring digital nomad, she wasted no time applying to the program. After the initial selection process, Alyssa Isogawa is now enjoying her time in Dubrovnik, exploring the city and learning about local culture.

Her experiences will be a valuable asset to the program as DNiR is all about envisioning ways in which Dubrovnik could improve its offer for people like her. It was designed by Saltwater Nomads in partnership with Total Croatia News. The program is a collaboration between the City of Dubrovnik and the global digital nomad community it hosts, all done with great help from the Dubrovnik Tourist Board as well. The DNiR program is bound to produce interesting and valuable results that could have a real impact on the local community.

This is one of the things high on Alyssa’s list as well. She enjoys the connection with the new culture and is looking forward to making new friends. In our interview below she states:

“Everyone here has been super friendly. I just walk down the street and people want to talk to me, which is so weird coming from LA…”

“Everyone here is just so willing to help you, wants to talk to you… and make sure to let you know that Croatia is an amazing place.”

Of course, not everything is perfect. There are areas that need improvement.

“I love Croatia so much, I love the people, and the only thing that has been super difficult is being a vegan here. Yeah, I would have to say I’ve had to ease up on my vegan-ness…”

Check out our video interview below and find out what Alyssa likes and dislikes about her Dubrovnik experience.

Learn more about the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program.

Saltwater Nomads' Tanja Polegubic on Dubrovnik Digital Nomad-in-Residence Program

Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Frankovic on Digital Nomads, US Flights, 2021 Season

For the latest digital nomad news from Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section.

The winner announcement video:

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2021 Announced by Saltwater Nomads/Zagreb Tourist Board

May 11, 2021 - The digital nomad buzz in Croatia is about to get even louder, with the announcement of the Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2021 & the Digital Nomad Ambassador Project.

The future of work is evolving, and Croatia is in a great position to take advantage of the new reality with its unbeatable combination of safety, authentic experiences, and lifestyle. 

The global pandemic has highlighted even more the lifestyle and opportunities for digital nomads around the world, and Croatia has been one of the quickest countries to seize the opportunity. Thanks to the efforts of Dutch entrepreneur, Jan de Jong, and his team, the Croatian digital nomad permit became a reality on January 1, 2021. A number of permits from as far away as Guatemala have so far been approved. 


And the digital nomad eco-system is developing nicely in Croatia, an eco-system which will be strengthened by a new project announced today and funded by the Zagreb Tourist Board, in cooperation with Saltwater Nomads, the Digital Nomad Association, and Total Croatia News. Welcome to the Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2021 & the Digital Nomad Ambassador Project.

The first part of this innovative project, Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2021, will take place from June 21-27, at various partner locations around the Croatian capital.

Seven themes for 7 days, with one day focused on the following: cyber security, online presence, remote careers, tax & finance, future of work, wellbeing and exploring Zagreb.


The week will showcase the whole city, with events being held in hotels, hotels, coworking spaces, bars, cafes, and parks, with each evening featuring a different theme. 

Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2021 is aimed at current and even “wannabe” digital nomads and remote workers. Croatia’s new legislation has really put it on the map for the global remote workforce - the organisers expect to see a diverse group of professionals coming to Croatia in years to come, with Zagreb as a top choice.

You can see an overview of the program here, with a detailed look at the daily activity here

Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2021 will kick off at Canopy by Hilton on June 21, before moving to other partner locations, including Swanky Mint Hostel, HUB385, Bizkoshnica and Impact Hub. 


A second component of the initiative is the Digital Nomad Ambassador Project, which will see one lucky nomad in residence as a guest of Zagreb for a month, starting on July 1 until December 31. This will allow nomads to experience the magic and diversity of this vibrant city, with its changing seasonal experiences over a six-month period.

The Ambassador project is expected to be another way Zagreb demonstrates its warmth and the winners will show the diverse, year-round offer and lifestyle you can enjoy here - whether you come alone, as a couple or even family. There’s a lot happening and with a regular work schedule, one month is just a taste of life in Zagreb.

Applications for the Ambassador project are now open on the Saltwater Nomads website

Zagreb Tourist Board has worked hard to diversify its tourism in the wake of the double blow of the pandemic and devastating earthquake. Its partnership with the county tourist board in the Around Zagreb project has been a big success, opening up new tourism possibilities to visitors to the city. This digital nomad strategy is an extension of that strategy. 

For more about digital nomad tourism in Zagreb, visit the Zagreb Tourist Board dedicated page.

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


Saturday, 20 February 2021

Health Insurance for Digital Nomads in Croatia is Now Enabled

February 20, 2021 – Digital nomads in Croatia have the right to health care, as the issue of health insurance for digital nomads in Croatia is now regulated.

As HRturizam reports, on Thursday, the Government sent amendments to the Law on Compulsory Health Insurance and Health Care of Foreigners in the Republic of Croatia to the parliamentary procedure. They are harmonized with the Aliens Act to regulate the manner of exercising the right to health care for digital nomads. The amendments thus enable the realization of the health care right for digital nomads.

By the official definition, a digital nomad is a third-country national who is employed or doing business through communication technology for a company or their own company that is not registered in Croatia and does not do business or provide services to employers in Croatia and has been granted temporary residence in Croatia.

As Health Minister Vili Beroš explained, a digital nomad is not obliged to apply for compulsory health insurance. Still, they are obliged to bear the costs of using health care in a health institution, i.e., with a private practice health worker or other health care provider in Croatia.

By amending the Law on Foreigners, Croatia has introduced the concept of digital nomads who now have preferential tax treatment. Legal changes regulate the tax exemption for receipts of digital nomads – foreigners who work online from Croatia for other countries' employers.

The new Law on Foreigners for Digital Nomads prescribes a tax exemption for their income based on the status thus acquired. All this to facilitate their decision to choose Croatia as a place of residence and work.

This way of regulating their stay in Croatia assumes that digital nomads will spend their earnings here while living in our country and thus positively impact the domestic economy.

Temporary residence is granted for up to one year (possibly shorter). However, the temporary stay cannot be extended. A request for re-regulation of the digital nomad's stay may be submitted six months after the digital nomad's temporary stay expiration.

As Jan de Jong, the initiator of the introduction of visas for digital nomads, has repeatedly pointed out, when a digital nomad would spend at least 10,000 kunas a month on living in Croatia, which is more than realistic, for about 50,000 potential digital nomads (as many as there are in Bali), that would mean a revenue of about 500 million kunas a month into the Croatian economy.

At the moment, the publication of the online system for electronic submission of applications for digital nomads is still pending and will be done soon. But before that, the Ministry of the Interior announced the procedure for obtaining visas for digital nomads.

To read more about digital nomads in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Washington Post: Croatia Attracting Digital Nomads During the Pandemic

December 9, 2020 – One of the leading American daily newspaper, the Washington Post, published an article about Croatia attracting digital nomads from the USA while the rest of Europe banned all travel.

The Washington Post wrote about digital nomads who spent several months in Croatia and Dubrovnik during the coronavirus pandemic, said Ina Rodin, the Croatian National Tourist Board director in the United States.

The article states that many Americans decided to travel thanks to the first direct airline between Croatia and the United States, namely between Dubrovnik and Philadelphia, introduced in June 2019. According to the Croatian National Tourist Board, Americans were the second most numerous guests in Dubrovnik last year, with almost 160,000 arrivals and more than 442,000 overnight stays, writes the Washington Post.

Sarah Morlock, a freelance writer and social media manager from Indiana, who worked remotely and spent October and November in Dubrovnik with her partner, shared her experience with readers. She pointed out that when choosing a place to stay, she is looking for historic cities with preserved nature and a good internet connection, and in that sense, Dubrovnik has fulfilled all her expectations.

Binational couples attracted too

Apart from digital nomads, Croatia is also attractive for binational couples who, due to the coronavirus pandemic and limited travel opportunities, organized their meeting in Croatia.

One of the couples who did so was Justin Leung from the USA and Katja Lau from Germany. They were supposed to meet in San Francisco, but the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown thwarted their plans. Therefore, they decided to find a place that welcomed both Americans and Germans and thus chose to meet in Croatia, where they spent one month.

The Washington Post points out that Dubrovnik is trying to attract digital nomads, so a project to introduce ultra-fast broadband Internet was presented in February. Also, a virtual conference "Dubrovnik for digital nomads" was held in October to encourage them to choose Dubrovnik for their remote office.

Washington Post covers this topic right when the introduction of the digital nomad visa in Croatia is increasingly likely. Namely, TCN reported a new update about digital nomad visas in Croatia today, as the Croatian Digital Nomad Association has officially been founded.

At the beginning of 2021, Croatia will introduce a digital nomad visa, which will make it the second country in Europe and the fifth in the world to welcome digital nomads from all over the world.

Saturday, 22 August 2020

5 Reasons Why the Croatian Digital Nomad Visa Should Exist

August 22, 2020 - The Digital Nomad Visa has become a hot topic of late. It is especially relevant right now, during the pandemic when a large number of people are working from home. Jan de Jong, a Dutch entrepreneuer in Croatia spoke to Lider and provided 5 reasons why the Digital Nomad Visa (DNV) should be implemented.

1. Projections claim that by the year 2035, there will be a billion digital nomads in the world - highly skilled individuals who are paid above average or very well, who determine their work locations themselves.

2. A visa for digital nomads would bring people from all over the world to Croatia throughout all 12 months of the year, which would enable Croatia to become a year-round tourist destination.

3. According to a survey conducted by Karoli Hindriks, nine out of ten digital nomads may choose to come to your country if you establish special visas for them.

4. A state-of-the-art and mobile workforce are ready to temporarily settle in your country and strengthen the economy with their consumer power, skills, and knowledge. The first countries to open up to them will reap huge benefits.

5. Digital nomads become a huge marketing machine to promote the country when they start writing blogs, recording bets, tweeting, and posting on social networks about Croatia and thus attract more people.

As Jan previously stated, digital nomads would be important for Croatia in terms of marketing, because they would share their experiences, videos, and photos with their friends, and also on social networks, which would be free promotion. Plus, this would be a great way to start 2021.

Read more about the challenges and opportunities for developing the digital nomad sector in Tanja Polegubic's excellent 10 Ways Croatia Will Be At The Forefront of Countries with a Digital Nomad Visa (DNV).

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.


Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Croatian Bureaucracy 2.0: Progress with the Digital Nomad Visa

August 18, 2020 - Croatian bureaucracy 2.0 can be very efficient, it seems, as the campaign to introduce the Croatian digital nomad visa passes an important milestone. 

Among other things, it is the speed with which things are happening that is giving me hope for the future of Croatia. 

A common-sense idea, put in the public arena, then quietly pursued behind the scenes. 

Let's move away from the pointless slogan of Croatia, Full of Life, to something which embraces which sets Croatia apart from the rest - its safety, lifestyle and authentic experiences. Croatia, Your Safe, Authentic Lifestyle Destination. 

A destination which is a haven for an increasing number of digital nomads and remote workers, who present a fantastic opportunity for Croatia to completely diversify its tourism approach and become one of the leading markets in Europe for this rapidly expanding - and highly lucrative - new type of tourism, based on its position as the lifestyle capital of Europe. 

Nomads are already coming to Croatia - and loving what they find. But without the support of Croatian bureaucracy 2.0, that love affair is restricted to the (typically) 90-day stay that many foreigners are allowed to stay at a time. 

A digital nomad visa, first championed in Estonia and now also by the Bahamas and the Republic of Georgia, would change that, allowing wealth-creating remote workers to earn online in their countries, and spend their lifestyle money in Croatia. With more and more people looking to go home to lifestyle around the world, and with Croatia boasting the best lifestyle in Europe - as well as safety, English spoken, accessibility, affordability, excellent food, wine and natural beauty, and plenty to do, the possibilities for Croatia are enticing indeed. 

One recent - and very enthusiastic - convert to the digital nomad initiative is Split-based Dutch entrepreneur, Jan de Jong, who has been particularly vocal in calling for a digital nomad visa - and his progress has been impressive. Here is a timeline, which has been documented every step of the way by TCN:

May 5, 2020 - Digital Nomads Enter Croatian Tourism Conference Strategy Debate for 1st Time 

May 11, 2020 - Digital Nomad Tourism Featured for 1st Time in Croatian Media

July 11, 2020 - Estonia on the Adriatic? Dutchman Asks PM for Croatian Digital Nomad Visa

July 28, 2020 - Split-Based Dutch Entrepreneur Jan de Jong: Croatia Should Introduce Visas for Digital Nomads

August 15, 2020 - Croatian Digital Nomad Visa One Step Closer? Ministry Meeting Confirmed

That meeting in the Ministry of the Interior took place yesterday, and de Jong posted a summary of it on his LinkedIn page shorted after the meeting:

Ladies & gentlemen, we did it! We are entering round 2!

After my open letter to our Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, who from his end engaged his colleague - Deputy Prime Minister Davor Božinović - I can share with you all that I got full support from MUP to proceed with operational meetings on the subject of introducing a digital nomad visa in Croatia!

Full of excitement and with high hopes for Croatia - today I had the pleasure of meeting with Zoran Ničeno, Zvonimir Vrbljanin & Anita Mandic from the Croatian Ministry of Interior (MUP)

Seeing their smiles through their masks ?(which we had to wear during our meeting) when presenting this digital nomad opportunity, confirmed their full understanding of what this visa could bring to Croatia: Year-round tourism.

I could not be happier with the outcome of our first meeting as Zoran Ničeno has committed himself to right away start forming a task force, including people from other ministries, for our next operational meeting - which shall be scheduled on short notice.

Today was a great day as the story continues.

Thank you all for your support, your kind and warm messages and for liking & sharing this post.

Follow me on #LinkedIn to stay up to date.

#LivingTheCroatianDream #digitalnomads #Croatia

TCN will continue to follow this story and update you on progress. The growing awareness of the potential of digital nomad tourism is encouraging to see, as is the government's willingness to look at new ideas in a such a responsive way. 

To be continued... 

Read more about the challenges and opportunities for developing the digital nomad sector in Tanja Polegubic's excellent 10 Ways Croatia Will Be At The Forefront of Countries with a Digital Nomad Visa (DNV).

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.

Sunday, 16 August 2020

10 Ways Croatia Will Be At The Forefront of Countries with a Digital Nomad Visa (DNV)

August 16, 2020 - As the discussion about a digital nomad visa (DNV) in Croatia gains traction, one of Croatia's digital nomad pioneers offers her thoughts on the exciting possibilities.  

Repopulating regional areas. Stopping the brain drain and youth exodus. A restaurant, apartment or tour company open year-round. The digital nomad visa can do all this for Croatia.

Yet - this ‘fix’ isn’t simply an extension of tourism, making Croatia (or any destination offering this) a 365 destination. The introduction of a Digital Nomad Visa now enters migration policy. It will transform society, business and the environment - possibly in an overwhelming rush.

Is Croatia ready?

Like most countries scrambling to reinvent their tourism-based economies, Croatia also now has a digital nomad visa on the table. “Digital Nomads will save, boost and finance Croatia… - especially in ‘off season’”. This is the catch cry. Yet, as more countries also move to digital nomad friendly status, how will we differentiate? How will we get it right - especially with a legacy ‘Smash and Grab’ mass tourism model? Now, instead of the tourist, there will be a transition period with the ‘new’ types of visitor coming here to work and live longer than a short stay holiday. This matter is a mix of migration policy and a year-round tourism offer - going beyond filling apartments from October to May.

Croatia will never be the same. The potential benefits are great. The negatives can be mitigated. Here’s how.

Being at the coalface - that is, running a cowork space and digital nomad services on Croatia’s coast with Saltwater, I should be happy about the introduction of a Digital Nomad Visa.

It’s Croatia - I’m wary. Here’s why.

As a start, here are the top 10 things a digital nomad visa - without proper planning and consultation - will bring, but can be mitigated in advance.

1. The New Cruise Ship Crowds - Coming To a Cafe Near You

The divisive cruise ship crowds we have been ‘spared’ from due to COVI19 mean we have (generally) clearer streets and - in one city, the absence of almost 1 million “just looking, congesting streets and not spending” visitors.

We all know which city.

The current crowds at least shop, stay and dine. A digital nomad visa - without a well-informed strategy, will mean cafes - especially specialty coffee cafes - will be new congestion points. This should be frightening for a cafe culture like Croatia has - and which the Tourism Board identified as one of the ‘charms’, or Unique Selling Points (USPs), about us.

How do we know this? Let’s look at a few examples from popular digital nomad/remote work spots around the world:

dnv-croatia (2).png

  • In a small cafe in Cambodia, six millennials occupy the cafe’s largest table, sipping a pearl ice tea for 6 hours, slowing the business POS internet. Gone is the local vibe.
  • In Madrid, people get kicked out of cafes if they simply open up a laptop. An already famed digital nomad destination, cafes in Spain however, are prepared. Signage. Minimum spends. Simple stuff. This nomad’s experience in Spain is one of thousands.
  • In LA, one of Split’s local specialty coffee providers 4 Coffee Soul Food saw coffee shops full of only people staring at screens, not communicating with each other. 4 Coffee is a hole in the wall - it doesn’t even have seating, yet attracts a cult following and crowd outside.

The number of would-be customers avoid cafes full of computer users. I already see it in Split. I’m one of them walking by... not just because I have an office - I too need to work when on the go. Coffee here is a ritual. One which is about to be transformed, ubiquitously.

Like the ‘Starbucks Office’ at the rise of the Gig Economy (they had good wifi and presence), cafes will be the default go-to for incoming nomads. 5 ways a cafe business can prepare, are:

    1. Limit the hours a guest can sit and work (restaurants do this).
    2. If it’s a peak time - state and have your laptop usage policy in clear sight.
    3. Have designated ‘laptop’ seats or areas custom for computer users.
    4. Insist on a minimum spend.
    5. Charge. Yes - charge. Corkage, cakeage… why not computer usage? Especially if it is a laptop-friendly area.

From a policy standpoint, governments should assist cafes with this education and equipment transitions. These will be the first points of call - central to digital nomadism is community. Cafes bring a blend of the cowork vibe, but introduction to Croatia’s ethos.

The right moves here are great for the business, for digital nomads - and you and I, who want to continue to enjoy our coffee.

2. Rents will rise… The owner sees a Cash Cow

Berlin put a cap on their rentals because of its digital nomad allure. It is still difficult to find an apartment. Certain countries impose taxes if a renting period passes a time threshold (investment versus residential property status). The beauty here is, there are a number of examples to draw from and address this one. 

As a long-stay accommodation finder, I am already seeing renegade landlord spikes. When a digital nomad ‘extends’ their stay, the pricing is based on the assumption ‘foreign earners’ are more affluent.

Rent rises also impact locals. This is already evident with tourist hotspots. Nothing about this point is ‘news’. This point however needs a considered strategy in how to protect digital nomads AND locals, to avoid the reputation fallout from this.

3. Up Your Offer - Croatia’s USPs.

Croatia needs to get clearer on its offer in comparison to current and emerging ‘hotspots’. Other Mediterranean countries (namely, Spain and Portugal) are hubs for digital nomads. The ‘Balkans’ however, is shaping up as the one to watch, with more trepidation about travelling to Asia, digital nomads consider us the start of a nomadic path to the ‘cheaper part of Europe’.

How do we compare to other Mediterranean hotspots? It’s not us on price.

It’s not us on infrastructure (lack of affordable hubs and city support).

It’s not us on readiness - i.e. educating councils and businesses and locals - ‘hosts’ - on digital nomad etiquette, providing multilingual information, etc. The list is very, very long.

It is us on active experiences, nature, gastronomy, geography, English and digital proficiency of Croatia’s youth. Supporting the sustainable minded businesses who offer these things will elevate the offer to digital nomads. This needs to be implemented into the USPs in the “Digital Nomad Visa” brochure. And the businesses who offer this supported with education and incentives.

Further, a digital nomad visa in itself is an opportunity for local youth to not only get work - but exposure and mentoring from an international audience.

Then there are the things digital nomads actually need, especially in the COVID19 era. And Croatia is NOT ready on these… and will miss the opportunity.

Current providers know these things. It’s not some council worker or travel blogger.

Their needs can only be addressed by smart consultation - a steering committee. This steering committee should consist of current and future cowork space providers, returning youth with NGOs such as Culture Hub Croatia, the hospitality sector, travel agencies, local councils already successfully implementing digital nomad friendly services. And digital nomads.

4. Neglecting regional areas

Ireland’s first Gigabyte town - for the layman, a REALLY fast internet speed town, is in Skibbereen, a rural area. Its population is about 2,000. On a recent “Recovery of the Coworking Sector” online conference hosted by EdgeRyders, the Irish contingent, who were the most prominent in the group, related the country’s approach to create even more rural hubs as a direct result of COVID19. Repopulating rural areas, working for a company based in Dublin.

This alone is one approach to stop the already high rents in tourism hotspots. Other approaches are having more regionally focused requirements for digital nomads.

Take Australia’s migration policies, boats aside.

One of Australia’s youth working visas, for those who wish to extend their stays, stipulates they must do 3 months of specified work. This includes fruit picking, fishing and now bushfire recovery work. Labour shortages. Desire to stay in a country. Two birds. One stone.

Also in Australia, for citizenship and residency requests, priority is given to anyone taking residency in non-metropolitan areas - acting like an ‘express lane’ to getting your required permit - and, repopulating regional and rural areas.

5. Ireland… and other places the Youth and Brain Drain Professionals Go

Dublin is a pertinent example due to its headquarter status in Europe for many global businesses. Add to that, a lot of remote work suitable jobs. And a lot of youth from Croatia.

These tides are turning. This coming week, I am off to a small coastal town. The mayor is offering central office space for peppercorn rent, ie. 1 kuna. There are already 4 young tech workers who have returned from Dublin due to COVID19. Comparing rent in Dublin to what is likely a family-owned property is a no-brainer. Even if just temporary. Companies in Dublin are offering remote work as a perk to attract and retain talent. Traditionally, Portugal is the preferred location (refer to their golden visa and Lisbon’s startup initiative from 2008, it is no wonder).

“Why not Croatia?” asked the recently returned tech guy. So am I. Are you?

Any savvy digital nomad knows returning to a family-owned property - if only for a short time, will save living costs in larger cities, and the flow on effects are immense.

  1. The youth exodus and brain drain would now be by choice not necessity and the upcoming young generation will see, first hand, remote work opportunities in action.
  2. Colleagues. Friends. Homeswaps.

The opportunities are exciting and endless with a program which supports what is effectively a global network of ambassadors who can bring guests to their hometowns. Digital nomads invite friends and family to join them. This in some cases triples how many visitors 1 digital nomad brings. And I consider we all know the power of human contact ‘spread’ and numbers by now.

A digital nomad visa - while great for a non-citizen, should also recognise returning remote working Croatian nationals, and their role in encouraging their network of remote workers to visit. This means creating hubs - i.e. city supported venues - for locals to work, and therefore an environment ideal for digital nomads.

It is after all, the local culture people want to experience. This is hard if there’s no one there. And when we don’t have the infrastructure or open-mindedness of decision-makers.

6. Local Opportunities - Capacity Building

Integral to offering a DNV are the opportunities for locals. And not just as service workers. Upskilling. Bringing their remote work jobs and experience here are lawyers, marketing professionals, coaches, software developers, serial entrepreneurs. Many with an interest in local community engagement and volunteering. 

Adding programs to participate in mentoring and volunteering (like the fruit picking example in Australia above) are key. In this instance, it could be coding camps.

Lectures. Training. Otherwise, the disparity in wages and skills will only widen. This is an opportunity to create lasting impact, and a sustainable model.

Integrating a ‘return of service’ component (volunteer or otherwise) can be part of a DNV to differentiate the offer from other digital nomad hotspots. The Australian example brings 3 months of specified work if looking to extend. Crafting the right balance of options, which bring benefit to Croatia and the digital nomad is possible.

And, surprisingly easy to implement.7.

7. Full transparency and digitalisation from the start

Ease. Online. Multilingualism. 

No paper.

No pečat (stamp).

Only a seamless, local-made (why not while we’re at it) informative platform to make applying and maintaining a visa world-class.

There are many examples to base it on. This one will do.

 dnv-croatia (1).png

8. Local Council Education and support

In 2018, the European Creative Hubs Network held their finale event in Brussels, after a 2-year pilot project looking at this sector and with the motto “strength in numbers”. There were many takeaways, but among them - the triad of collaboration between the local council, remote worker and business were key.

Local councils require two things to start to assist the implementation of a Digital Nomad Visa in Croatia. The first is information and education. The next is how to deliver this.

As an example, knowing a digital nomad will invite friends and family, the digital nomad sitting in a small cafe, say in Vodice, appears small. However, their network is wide. How can the local council support this visitor? Through user case scenarios, local councils can understand who digital nomads are, what they need - and what the city already has and can offer.

Abandoned school buildings, empty hostels, out of work taxi drivers. The infrastructure is there. It is not a great deal of imagination required, but a city can provide a complete offer to digital nomads with the right planning.

9. Tenancy Protection

Rent has been noted, but this point is so key - it needs to be added as its own point. Longstay renters have notoriously been ‘promised’ year-long rentals, only to be kicked out on 1 May, and facing a high priced rental market as the tourism season begins.

As the provider of a coworking space, rental protection does not exist. My first space was flooded - which the landlady saw no problem with, and in fact wanted to raise the rent by 1000 euro. My second space had a police station visit in the first week, and one in the final week when it was finally time to exit. I do not recommend opening a coworking space in Croatia - as things stand. I also know other spaces are at the mercy of increased rents, when due to lack of being a strong digital nomad destination, the arrivals into Croatia are unpredictable (COVID19 aside), we have no Gateway city market, and if in a tourist area, commercial property prices in good locations make the entry barriers very cost-prohibitive. Our current space is a building with limited working hours, so it is impossible to work to a digital nomad time zone.

I am looking at alternatives, and pleased to report I am working with boutique hotels and a progressive-minded young couple with a hostel in Split.

There is a culture of landlords again seeing a “Cash Cow” and breaking 3-year terms (my first space was occupied for 1 year, and the rental agreement was 3. The piece of paper, clearly worthless).

In order for this sector to survive and accommodate digital nomads - tenancy protection needs to be stronger. Digital nomads are ‘community’ minded, and with the increasing virtual lifestyle we need, In Real Life (IRL) meetups will be among the most valuable experiences to offer.

If we aren’t supported in this area, a Digital Nomad Visa will disappoint arrivals and not be the ‘saving grace’ Croatia thinks it brings. “Help” - is what I am really saying.

10. Taxes, Legal and Insurances

Many visas have a list of requirements, from proof of enough funds to health insurance. Coming to a new country brings significant costs to a visitor. Add unfamiliarity with a system - this will prove even more of a struggle, particularly with accessing information. Concise, clear information and access to official assistance is required to ensure digital nomads are clear on their requirements. Can the current system cope? The all too familiar “I went to the counter two days in a row and got conflicting information” is not acceptable and potentially damaging to a digital nomad’s finances, immigration status and health.

With COVID19 especially, healthcare eligibility and requirements is another factor which needs clear communication.

The above-mentioned steering committee to develop a digital nomad visa requires professionals in this field to contribute to shaping a Digital Nomad Visa.

While these seem like onerous tasks - the benefits of bringing in digital nomads to Croatia far outweigh the initial ‘setup’ and maintenance required. The number of unemployed youth about to hit the HZZO after the ‘season’ could instead have the opportunity to be part of this delivery - and shaping their country, gaining experience and ensuring a prosperous future.

To end, last night sitting around a table on Ciovo, a Slavonian Croatian family now living in Stuttgart asked what I did. I explained I was born in Australia but run a coworking space. The husband, Ronald - looked at his wife and said they could finally return. She could bring her insurance job and they could even spend 6 months in Dubrovnik - together, as he has business lined up there. And he had read about “neki Nizozemac” (some Dutch guy) talking about digital nomads. Their son of 13 was with them. The wife wondered if the company would allow it. I suggested she propose a 1-3 month trial, after which she could return. Proposing a trial is a common practice in case you are considering a remote work location.

I returned to Split wondering - is this the start of a return wave? I hope so.

If you are business, local council, current or future digital nomad - and have any questions or comments about improving your business or town or what a digital nomad visa should have, please share them via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject DNV. 

Monday, 3 August 2020

Barbados, Estonia & Georgia: Time for Croatia to Follow Digital Nomad Visa Route?

August 3, 2020 - Tourism is changing, and Croatia is in pole position to take advantage. Is it time for the digital nomad visa?

Imagine you came on holiday to a beautiful country like Croatia. You dipped your toes into the azure waters of the Adriatic, sent your Instagram photos back to your friends, who would surely be on the next plane. And, as you sipped on a cold beer, contemplating which of the 1,185 idyllic islands you would explore next with your remote working lifestyle, the perfect picture becomes tinged with sadness. 

For you are not the right type of foreigner, and your access to this paradise is time-limited. 

Never mind that you are spending heavily in the bars and restaurants. 

Never mind that your Instagram posts are bringing your high-spending friends to this Adriatic heaven - for a while at least - so that they too can enjoy, spend and inspire their friends to travel. 

All things must come to an end, for foreigners can only visit for a finite time, and then they must return whence they came. For this is Croatian bureaucracy, baby. 

Croatia is blessed with the most beautiful country in Europe, bar none. It has developed the best lifestyle in Europe, bar none. 

If it could only be blessed with common sense, the future is incredibly bright. 

Estonia has done it. 

Barbados has done it.

Georgia has done it. 

And they are all set to - or already are - benefit big time. 

A simple vision. 

A simple piece of legislation. 

The digital nomad visa. 

More and more people - wealth-creating people - are working in the same global office. It is called the Internet. There are only two variables in the office - connectivity (3G, 4G, 5G) and time zones. Apart from that, the office can be almost anywhere in the world. 

When people leave the office, they go home. Some go home to their friends and family in the village of their birth, but a growing number come home to  - and spend money in - a home which is based on lifestyle. 

Leave the office and have a swim in the Adriatic before dinner, that kind of thing. 

If Croatia has the best lifestyle in Europe, and more and more wealth- (and job) creating entrepreneurs working remotely are looking for lifestyle opportunities, has Croatia ever had a better opportunity to redefine its tourism on sustainability and a future direction based on safety, healthy living, lifestyle and authentic experiences?

A simple match made in heaven. 

So what is needed to make this work? A tiny compromise from the infamous Croatian bureaucracy. 

A digital nomad visa 

Rather than restrict a wealth-creating foreign entrepreneur with his beach time, why not encourage them to come, relax, enjoy the lifestyle, inspire the mindset... and spend? 

Estonia - with the highest number of unicorns per capita in the world - has led the way. Georgia has done it. Barbados has done it. 

Lonely Planet is featuring the cool new countries who have done it

Why not Croatia, and let's make Dubrovnik, the digital nomad visa lifestyle capital of Europe. 

Is it so hard?  

One successful Dutch entrepreneur living in Split, Jad de Jong, doesn't think so. He recently wrote to Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, asking the Croatian leader to introduce a digital nomad visa. 

After all, as a tourism country that has no interest in limiting tourist time at the beach, why would we want to restrict tourist enjoyment of the lifestyle?

For more on the digtial nomad debate in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section


Monday, 11 May 2020

Digital Nomad Tourism Featured for 1st Time in Croatian Media

May 11, 2020 - Digital nomad tourism is an obvious tourism strategy of the future. Thanks to Dutch entrepreneur Jan de Jong in Split, it made its first appearance in the Croatian media today.

Did you feel that?

It is not quite the strength of the famous Adriatic bura, but it is a wind of change. 

What a week!


First of all, the Ministry of Tourism decided to upgrade from an email-free ministry, with the humble facsimile at the core of its communications strategy on its homepage...  


... to a totally faxless ministry, replaced by not one but FOUR email options. 

Prior to that, some even more progressive news in the digital era - the concept of digital nomad tourism as a strategy for the development was muted for the first time at a national Croatian tourism conference, SMART Tourism 5.0. 

Dutch entrepreneur Jan de Jong, who has already created hundreds of Croatian jobs in internet marketing since moving to Split in 2006, was the man behind the initiative after reading some articles on TCN. You can see him put forward his arguments for Croatia as a digital nomad tourism destination in the conference video clip aboe. 

De Jong's arguments resonated with many, and today another milestone for the digital nomad tourism initiative, as de Jong featured in a full-page interview with Vecernji List. The first - but certainly not the last - time that digital nomad tourism has featured in the Croatian national media. 

It is almost a year since TCN started writing about the potential of digital nomad tourism in Croatia in Branding Croatia: 5 Gifts and Trends to Focus On.

On June 19, 2019, I wrote an article called How Croatia is Becoming Increasingly Attractive for the Digital Nomad Lifestyle.

In it, I wrote about the daily routine of a Russian-Ukrainian couple in Munich, and their daily routine in Jelsa from April 1 - June 30:

Let me give you an example from a meeting I had yesterday with a very nice Ukrainian and Russian couple in their early 40s here on Hvar. They live in Munich and he works for an IT company, where the boss has decided that his staff would be happier and more productive if he let them work remotely 10 months a year, with only 1-2 months required in the office. The boss himself only spends 6 months in the office and has arranged things whereby he can spend the other half in the warmth of Asia. 

The couple I met last night decided that they wanted to use the opportunity to travel and to experience life in different countries and integrate into communities. The wife came with her family to Jelsa 19 years ago on holiday, and the memories were warm enough for them to decide to put Jelsa into their plan, and so they have been here for 3 months, from April to June, with plans to do exactly the same next year. From Jelsa, they will move to Sicily for 2-3 months and then onto Portugal or Spain. And after the required stop in Munich, it will be back to Jelsa next April. 

The working day is just like any other for someone working online. Deadlines, phone calls, emails, contact with bosses and colleagues. But all this is done remotely. What is different is that each morning starts with a swim before work and a swim after work. They shop in the market, drink coffee in the cafes, and eat in the restaurants. They are even learning Croatian, as they want to get the most out of the community experience. Friends and family come to visit, and they too visit the market, cafes and restaurants. The couple also has many friends with a similar lifestyle, who will be following the places they stay in and consider them for their own digital nomad experience. 

There will be one BILLION digital nomads by 2035, according to some estimates, and there is nowhere in Europe better placed to host them than Croatia, which offers a unique combination of safety, accessibliity, affordability, tourism, great food and wine, good English, good Internet, and a fabulous lifestyle.  

This is a sustainable tourism which will not devastate the coast or succumb to overtourism. A tourism which will suit different people with different needs. As everyone is emigrating from Osijek, for example, meet the digital nomad from Denver who thinks Osijek is one of the best places to be on the planet

To learn more about digtial nomad tourism, check out the Total Croatia guide

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

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.  

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