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

Sunday, 24 April 2022

From Dubrovnik to Primosten to Zagreb: All Nomad Roads Lead to Bansko

April 24, 2022 - A new type of tourism is emerging which is connecting the countries of South-East Europe, with all roads leading to Bansko in Bulgaria. 

One of the main differences I have noticed over 20 years living in Croatia is the perception of the term 'the Balkans' by locals and tourists. Many Croats will get very irate at the mere mention of their country being part of the Balkans, an association which is considered primitive and laced with conflict, as opposed to the supposedly more civilised lifestyle of Central and Western Europe. For many tourists, however, the Balkans is a place of undiscovered fascination, with many not quite sure exactly where each country is in the Balkans. The concept that it is a mysterious melting pot of intrigue, culture, history and ethnicity makes it one of the most exciting tourism destinations in this increasingly sanitised tourism world. 

And with exceptional prices, great lifestyle and a ton of authentic experiences, it is quietly becoming a magnet for the remote work revolution. Rather than just focusing on an individual country, as happens elsewhere, South-East Europe is home to some of the most progressive countries in Europe for digital nomads, and their combined offer is attracting increased attention from the global digital nomad community.

Croatia might have attracted many of the global headlines when it introduced only the second digital nomad visa/permit in Europe back in January 2021, but plenty of other countries in the region are also making significant strides. Belgrade in Serbia is emerging as one of the top nomad hubs in Eastern Europe, Montenegro has announced its own digital nomad visa, and Bulgaria is home to arguably the most important and well-established nomad festival of all - Bansko Nomad Fest. Add to this the considerable networking and collaboration which is going on behind the scenes (as witnesses in conferences such as last September's Budva Cross Border Coworking Conference in Montenegro), and it is clear that this is a region which is only going to become more attractive to digital nomads in the future. 

July and August are considered the peak tourist season in the region, but it is clear that this new type of tourism is starting to shift the thinking in terms of season as well. Nomads are typically price-sensitive and so usually looking for temporary homes away from peak season prices, and the Balkan region is emerging as an excellent choice for lifestyle and affordability in the shoulder season months. With winter over and the swimming season in full swing, countries like Croatia from late April to the end of June are increasingly attractive to the digital nomad mindset - especially as the nomad communities and offer continue to grow in those countries. And with distances between the countries relatively small, there is an opportunity to take in a multitude of experiences in a relatively short space of time. 

In terms of content, Croatia continues to lead the way in the region, and nomads considering a new region to check out over the next few months would be well-advised to check out Croatia and the Balkan region, which will be attracting a number of digital nomads with various excellent conferences over the next couple of months. Most are repeats of 2021, and Spring and early Summer are slowly turning into an attractive nomad destination option. 


Following the award-winning Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program a year ago, the Pearl of the Adriatic will be hosting Work. Place. Culture. from May 5-7, bringing remote professionals and destinations from around the world will together to inspire a global workforce who have greater location flexibility than ever before, and the destinations which are reinventing to support them through policy, infrastructure and community. You can learn more about Work. Place. Culture. on the official website.


Croatia's reputation as an emerging nomad destination received a boost in March, when the world's first nomad business and travel club chose the idyllic coastal town of Primosten as the local for only its third-ever conference and meetup. The Nomadbase conference will take place just two days after the Dubrovnik event, from May 9-15. More information on the official Nomadbase website


While a lot of nomad interest in Croatia is understandably focused on its spectacular Adriatic coast, the Croatian nomad destination which has been making all the waves has been much further inland. A year ago, the capital city of Zagreb rarely featured in any nomad discussion. By October, however, all that had changed, and Zagreb was named the 5th most-liked nomad city in the world (and first in Europe) in the extensive and influential 2021 NomadList survey.

The most high-profile nomad event in Zagreb last year was the inaugural Zagreb Digital Nomad Week and Ambassador program, which took place in June, one of the few global nomad events to take place that summer. You can check out the atmosphere in the video below. Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2022 has been announced for June 13-19 this year (information as it is posted on the official website), just before the INMusic Festival in the Croatian capital, and just a few days before one of the top nomad events in the European calendar...  

... Bankso Nomad Fest. 

Billed as a celebration of the location independent lifestyle and nomad mindset, for one week hundreds of nomads, remote workers and freelancers will take over a beautiful village in Bulgaria for an amazing mix of presentations, workshops, sports, mindfulness and nature. The famous Bulgarian ski resort is becoming extremely well-known as one of the top coworking spaces in Europe for its affordable pricing and dynamic year-round community.  

This year's Bansko Nomad Fest will take place from June 26 to July 3 (book your ticket here), the perfect end to a nomadic few months in South-East Europe, experiencing Croatia in Spring with its growing community and numerous conferences. The collaboration of the regional community is intensifying, and one thing is for sure - there will be even more reasons to pencil in Croatia, Bansko and other regional attractions for a digital nomad visit from April to June 2023. 

For more news and features about digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

Thursday, 21 April 2022

Medical Tourism, the Hidden Gem in Croatia's Remote Work Revolution

One of the joys of living and writing about Croatia over the last 20 years has been the constant stream of new discoveries. When I first bought my house back in 2002 on Hvar, there was very little in the English-speaking media about Croatia apart from the aftermath of war and the fabled coast of former Yugoslavia.

I myself knew little about my new home island (having only heard its name 2 days before I arrived and agreed my purchase), but it was not long before I got to learn just what a treasure I had stumbled upon. Named by Conde Nast in 1997 as one of the top 10 most beautiful islands in the world, few had bothered to delve any deeper into the island beyond the beach and the nightlife, and when I started my first blog, Total Hvar, back in 2011, I began to discover a real bunch of treasures. For here was an island which boasted the oldest public theatre in Europe, had more UNESCO heritage than any island in the world, several outstanding grape varieties found only in the island's excellent wines, and even (it seems) the oldest olive tree in the country dating back some 2,500 years. The more I researched, the more I learned, and the more even locals followed the blog so that they could learn more about the island of their birth from this curious foreigner. 

But it wasn't just Hvar. As I became more established as a writer based in Croatia and curious about the Croatia away from the beach, the more interesting the inbox became. Did I know about... would I like to attend... come and see this unique festival... Over the years, the invitations have been constant, inspiring, and often unique - it has been genuinely a privilege to learn - and write about - such interesting topics as rarely get reported on outside the Croatian language. 

And one thing I have learned over the years here was that Croatia would always be the most surprising when I least expected it. And so it proved a few years ago, when a chap called Ognjen Bagatin asked me to come to his polyclinic. He was a long-term fan of my blog and had something to show me that he thought I would find interesting. 

Croatia's medical tourism industry. 

An industry I had not even heard about in my 15 years living in the country, but within an hour of Ognjen's time and a subsequent tour of three Zagreb facilities, I realised that here was an incredible gem that was already competing on the world stage in terms of excellence and affordability, and was - once again - a Croatian tourism story untold. After a tour of Bagatin Clinic, St Catherine's Specialty Hospital, and Svjetlost Eye Clinic, I was hooked and wrote the first of many articles on medical tourism in Croatia and its potential - Health Tourism is Coming Home: Why Zagreb is the Next Big Medical Tourism Destination.


(Ognjen Bagatin with his Berlin award)

And it seems that my introductory medical tourism facilities were rather impressive on the world stage. A couple of years later, I was in Berlin at the International Medical Travel Journal awards, as Bagatin won best international cosmetic surgery in the world. St Catherine's (among MANY other things) was the first facility in Europe to partner with Mayo Clinic on its innovative OneOme pharmacogenetic test, and a host of global celebrities were heading to Zagreb to fix their eyes at Svjetlost, including Ivana Trump.


(Ivana Trump with much better vision after a visit to Svjetlost - Photo credit:

And yet, as impressive as the Zagreb medical tourism offer appeared to be, the really exciting centre of Croatia's medical tourism industry appeared to be on the coast close to Rijeka, in the region of Kvarner. Hvar (another amazing thing I learned about my adopted island) was the home of organised health tourism in Europe, dating back to 1868, but Opatija and the Crikvenica riviera were not far behind, and they had built on their impressive history by offering a quite phenomenal range of leading medical tourism services. One clinic in Rijeka was treating a staggering 60,000 (mostly Italian) dental patients a year. The key factors being high quality and low price. 

Just how much of a saving, and just how much of an impact that successful medical tourism can have, is encapsulated in Carl's Story, one of the best Croatian tourism promotion stories I have ever come across - and a story which transformed Carl's mouth, self-confidence and future, while saving him tens of thousands of dollars. You can read the story here


For me, the epicentre of Croatian medical tourism excellence pivoted around the annual Crikvenica International Health Tourism conference, which brought together the best of the country's health tourism experts, as well as some truly world-class speakers and examples of best practice, including Sherine Azli, CEO of the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council, whose interview with TCN had me on a flight to Kuala Lumpur the following year to collect a media award for medical tourism

Having attended the 2018 and 2019 conferences in Crikvenica, the 2021 conference opened my eyes to a new synergy for Croatian tourism, and one which had not been discussed before - digital nomads and remote workers. One of the key target markets for the industry was the 1.2 million Croatian diaspora in the United States, and with the Cleveland Clinic CEO himself a Croat, word of Croatian medical excellence was an easy story to tell. It was a good strategy, and the work done by ACAP (Association of Croatian American Professionals) was commendable. 

But by 2021 - at least in my opinion - the market had changed considerably, and one of Croatia's most untapped tourism potentials revealed itself. Listening to the ACAP presentation on efforts to promote to the 1.2 million diaspora made a lot of sense, but the world had changed since the 2019 conference. And rather than working hard to persuade a niche market to board a plane from halfway across the world, a new, much bigger market presented itself, with the additional benefit that they were already here. 

Digital nomads. 

Croatia is becoming one of the hottest nomad destinations in Europe, as more and more people are choosing to spend time working remotely from Croatia. They are attracted by the lifestyle, climate, nature, gastronomy, safety, spoken English, great WiFi, affordability and accessibility. All great reasons to come and spend a month or twelve. 

But very few foreigners know of the excellence and affordability of Croatia's medical tourism offer. From dental services and cosmetic surgery, to eye surgery and physiotherapy, the best of the best in Croatia compares with the very best in the world in numerous cases, but at a fraction of the price. 

And with the increased flexibility and mobility of the workforce, it has never been easier to plan for affordable medical procedures - and the recuperation time in idyllic nature, climate and lifestyle as might be necessary. 

Croatia, your safe, affordable, lifestyle destination where your medical needs can be addressed for a fraction of the price back home. It is perhaps not classic tourism, but it is tourism which is sustainable, lucrative, and for the future. The stars are aligning on this latest tourism gift. It remains to be seen if Croatia will take advantage. 

To learn more about medical tourism in Croatia, check out the dedicated Total Croatia guide.   

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

The Story Continues: Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2022 Announced

MAY 20 UPDATE - Zagreb Digital Nomad Week has been postponed until Autumn 2022 - More details and finalised dates coming shortly. 

April 20, 2022 - As Croatia continues to develop its digital nomad story, the return of Zagreb Digital Nomad Week is announced. 

It has been quite a journey. 

Two years ago, few people in Croatia had heard about digital nomads, and perhaps even less nomads considered Croatia as a nomad destination. 

Croatia's early adoption of a digital nomad visa/permit and the associated global media interest at the height of the pandemic changed all that, and suddenly Croatia became one of the most talked-about nomad destinations in Europe. 

One year ago, few people would have used Zagreb and digital nomads in the same sentence, as most of the destination interest was on the coast. 

And yet, six months ago, in October 2021, Zagreb was named as the 5th most-liked city in the world in the influential and comprehensive NomadList 2021 survey of its members. Not only fifth in the world, but also the first in Europe!


(Zagreb Digital Nomad Week won two awards at Conventa 2021 in Ljubljana)

A key component of last year's Zagreb nomad calendar was the award-winning Zagreb Digital Nomad Week and Ambassador program, which put the Croatian capital firmly on the global nomad map. At a time when travel was restricted due to the pandemic, Zagreb Digital Nomad Week was one of the first live conferences to be held, with many speakers and participants visibly joyful at the opportunity to meet in person. Seven themes over seven days in seven locations all over the city, the true potential of Zagreb as a nomad destination was revealed. And the visitors were impressed. As keynote speaker Dean Kuchel from Israel noted in his video interview below, the only thing missing in Zagreb for digital nomads was more digital nomads. 

And those nomads are coming... 

And with a good crowd expected in June for the return of Zagreb Digital Nomad Week! The 2022 edition will take place from June 13-19, continuing the partnership between Zagreb Tourist Board, Saltwater Nomads, the Digital Nomad Association Croatia, and Total Croatia News, building on the considerable success of 2021. To get a flavour of last year's event, check out the conference overview video below, as well as the Jolly Wrap Up event in December.

Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2022, which conveniently takes place just before the legendary INMusic Festival (this year featuring The Killers) promises to be even better than last year. WIth both Zagreb as a nomad destination, and the conference itself firmly established, coupled with the ease of travel compared to a year ago, this year's event is already attracting some exciting global names as keynote speakers, with many more live attendees expected to contribute to the vibe.  

And with a lively social plan incorporating Zagreb's growing nomad community to complement a stimulating week of presentations and panels all over the city, why are you not bookmarking Zagreb for your travels in June?

More details on Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2022 will be released this week. To follow the latest and register your interest, check out the official event website which will be fully updated shortly as well as other news and features on digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

Friday, 15 April 2022

Work.Place.Culture. Conference: TCN Interviews Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Franković

April 15, 2022 - In less than a month, Dubrovnik will be in the spotlight in the world of remote work, with the Work.Place.Culture conference convening nomads from around the world to share their wisdom and insights on the future of remote work in the Pearl of the Adriatic. Ahead of the big event, TCN interviewed the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Franković, whose government has been instrumental in making Dubrovnik a mecca for digital nomads in recent years.

Back in July 2020, the city and tourist board of Dubrovnik agreed to a proposal from Saltwater Nomads and Total Croatia News to put it on the map for digital nomads. Following Croatia’s first Digital Nomads conference in October 2020, the city was presented with a program for 2021 that would help attract digital nomads to visit, and stay, in the city. Tanja Polegubic, the founder of Saltwater, proposed a unique event - a digital nomad in residence program. A competition to select 10 nomads from around the world, who would then live in Dubrovnik for a month and collaborate on a plan to make the city more attractive to the digital nomad community. The program was promoted through Total Croatia News and drew global interest. The event came to life in April 2021 with the digital nomads in residence arriving in the city. Over four weeks, the Saltwater program team facilitated a series of workshops involving the visiting nomads, the city, the tourist board, and the local community.


The Digital Nomads-in-Residence program confirmed Dubrovnik as a destination that seeks to position itself beyond conventional tourism during the summer months, but also as a city that can offer more throughout the year and attract different types of visitors. (Photo: Mario Romulić)

This year, and to continue to show that Dubrovnik is on the way to being a hotspot for digital nomads, Saltwater Nomads, the City of Dubrovnik, the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, the Digital Nomads Association Croatia (DNA Croatia), the Croatian National Tourist Board and Total Croatia News will hold the first Work.Place.Culture. conference from May 5 to 7 in Dubrovnik. Work.Place.Culture is the conference which brings work from anywhere to absolutely everywhere. Join remote professionals and destinations from around the world as they inspire a global workforce that has greater location flexibility than ever before, and the destinations which are reinventing to support them through policy, infrastructure, and community.


Additionally, as part of the Work.Place.Culture Conference, the Dubrovnik Tourist Board is launching its official workation program pilot, in conjunction with Saltwater and Sun Gardens Dubrovnik. The winning team will enjoy a 1-week stay (between 1 and 9 May 2022) at the 5 Star Sun Gardens Dubrovnik and have the chance to partake in a specialty workshop – strategy planning, team building, wellbeing, and leadership are among the options available. The all-star team will also present at the Work. Place. Culture. Conference on 5-7 May 2022. Today is the last day to participate. Click HERE to apply.

In recent days, Total Croatia News has presented some of the top panelists who will be in Dubrovnik to share their rich wisdom and knowledge about remote work, in order to present not only the advantages of betting on Dubrovnik as a destination for nomads but also to offer a guide to those interested towards a balanced nomadic lifestyle.

On this occasion, we spoke with the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Franković. Nowhere suffered more in Croatian tourism in 2020 than its most famous destination - Dubrovnik. Located in the far south of the country, it is heavily reliant on flight and cruise ship tourism for the bulk of its tourism business. Unlike more northern destinations in Croatia which were more accessible by car, Dubrovnik was forced to rethink its tourism strategy to deal with the current pandemic realities.


Zrinka Raguz, Mato Franković, and Jelka Tepsić from the City of Dubrovnik administration. (Photo: Grgo Jelavic/PIXSELL)

Rather than sit back and hope for the best, Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Franković took the initiative to position the Pearl of the Adriatic as a prime destination in the emerging digital nomad tourism opportunity. Dubrovnik hosted Croatia's first-ever digital nomad conference in October 2020, Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads, an event organized by Saltwater Nomads with support from TCN, and then the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program between April and May 2021.

Mayor Franković shared with us his thoughts on the Work.Place.Culture conference, Dubrovnik as a digital nomad-friendly destination, the city's initiatives to make Dubrovnik a year-round destination, the 2022 season, and more.

It is almost two years since we met in your office to discuss a new opportunity for Dubrovnik - digital nomad tourism. A lot has happened in your city in this field since then. Tell us about that from your perspective?

Back in October 2020, the City of Dubrovnik hosted the first Croatian conference for digital nomads "Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads". In April and May 2021, the program "Dubrovnik Digital Nomads in Residence" followed, the first of its kind in the world, as part of which Dubrovnik hosted ten digital nomads from different parts of the world for a month, and whose experience helped create the future strategies for this type of tourism, creating a better environment for future nomads who will choose Dubrovnik as their place of work.

Since last year, we have also been actively working on animating the stakeholders of the tourism sector to get involved in projects related to digital nomads, to create a register of offers intended for this specific group of visitors. I think we can conclude that we are on the right track to affirming Dubrovnik as a Digital Nomad Friendly destination.

Last year's Dubrovnik Nomads-in-Residence program was the first of its kind in the world, and it offered a completely different perspective and strategy. What were your main takeaways?

During their one-month stay in Dubrovnik, digital nomads got involved in the life of the community, and based on personal experiences through workshops they made proposals and suggestions on what they wanted from the destination where they live and work, and also gave recommendations for creating a better environment for this form of tourism.

This was an excellent experience because they were able to see all the advantages and disadvantages in a specific place and, based on their own experience, give recommendations for improving the living conditions of digital nomads in Dubrovnik. The proposals referred to the need for organized accommodation for longer stays, organized space for coworking, coliving, and greater involvement in community life. They also expressed the opinion that visitors should be directed to visit other sights outside the historic center, which was also extremely interesting for them.

Dubrovnik seems to be keen to build on these early initiatives, and you have implemented - and are implementing - a range of initiatives to better position your city on the remote work map. Can you give us an overview of initiatives in progress?

Yes, several initiatives are underway. We have already mentioned that we are working on animating the tourism sector to be involved in projects related to digital nomads - from private accommodation to restaurants and shops, transportation, based on which we create a register of offers for digital nomads. The register is constantly updated.

Very soon, a new website called will be promoted, as well as accompanying content and materials, which proves that our city is a leader in creating content to attract and improve the quality of digital nomads. The Digital Nomad Check Point is planned at the TIC Pile of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, where digital nomads would be able to purchase a special Digital Nomad Card through registration, which includes a number of benefits and all the information that can make it easier for them to find and organize a longer stay in Dubrovnik.

In the past period, we have constantly had projects and programs intended for digital nomads and we are trying to work in this direction throughout the whole year.

Also in early May, the second conference for digital nomads called "Work.Place.Culture" will follow.


(Photo: Grgo Jelavic/PIXSELL)

And so to Dubrovnik 2022, and the new conference - Work. Place. Culture. which takes place from May 5-7. Tell us a little about that, and who the conference is aimed at?

It is a conference that will bring together about 100 participants from around the world, with distinguished lecturers and workshop leaders, aimed at telecommuting professionals and decision-makers, destinations, companies, and service providers in the sector.

The goal is to strengthen the position of Dubrovnik as a Digital Nomad Friendly destination and a direct promotional effect for the city of Dubrovnik and the whole of Croatia to attract more and more people working remotely and looking for new destinations to live and work.

In addition to a digital nomad focus, extending to matters related to all remote professionals means Dubrovnik can continue to gain global media attention as it addresses sustainable tourism and how it relates to issues relevant to multiple industries and policy-setters, globally.

The public-private partnership has been excellent in Dubrovnik, and the city is certainly among the most cited now as a nomad destination. Where do you see Dubrovnik in 5 years in the remote work story?

We see Dubrovnik as an established destination for the year-round stay of digital nomads, especially in that part of the year that is not the peak of the season, and when Dubrovnik really has a lot to offer, from cultural to many other events. We certainly consider this type of tourism to be an important segment in the further development of sustainable tourism and we believe that by persistent work in this direction we will succeed in achieving the set goal.

The transition from over-tourism to sustainable tourism is a long journey, but one on which you have embarked. What other initiatives are in place to encourage that trend?

There are a number of initiatives through our Respect the City project.

Determined to turn Dubrovnik into a leader in sustainable tourism in the Mediterranean area, in 2017 the City of Dubrovnik started to develop the strategic project Respect the City. We began tackling the difficult challenge before us through different measures of relieving traffic congestion and implementing smart city solutions. In a relatively short period of time, we began managing our destination, and are now heading toward sustainable tourism, to the great satisfaction of visitors and citizens alike.

Since a significant portion of problems with over-tourism is related to cruise ships and daily visitors, City reached out to CLIA, the world's largest cruise industry trade association. In cooperation and in common interest City managed to make adjustments in the short term and started to work toward a long-term solution which basically means meticulous planning of cruise arrivals/departures daily, weekly, and annually.


(Photo: Grgo Jelavic/PIXSELL)

Dubrovnik integrated smart city solutions: a web platform predicting the number of visitors in the Old Town on a given day, smart parking, a Dubrovnik Card application for visitors, web cameras on city roads, car-sharing project.

The action plan includes also mid and long-term measures, some of the mid-term are sustainable urban mobility plans and urban development studies, Dubrovnik electric boat trams, and long-term plans include olicentric urban development, new roads, and tunnel investments.

How do you view the 2022 season, and what can we expect from the Pearl of the Adriatic this year?

The City of Dubrovnik and its partners, primarily the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Dubrovnik Airport, and the Port Authority, are continuously working to promote the destination through marketing activities directed at our traditional emitting markets. Since the beginning of the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, we have been managing the destination and all processes in a sustainable way, and that is the reason why the 2021 season was also successful.

The 2022 season brings some new challenges. None of us can influence the intensity and course of the war in Ukraine, but we have undertaken the necessary preliminary work, all in our power, to make the coming season a success. These spring scenes of the streets of our city filled with visitors, that we have witnessed in recent days, are certainly encouraging. It is ungrateful to predict anything in these conditions, but I believe that if the war in Ukraine does not escalate, we could achieve the figures from 2017 or 80 percent of the results in 2019. In general, in 2022, Dubrovnik will continue to build its path of destination of sustainability and excellence for each of our guests.


(Photo: Mario Romulić)

Today is the last day to register your team to participate in a luxury workation in Dubrovnik, and you can do so through this LINK!

You can download the full programme of the Work.Place.Culture Conference in Dubrovnik here.

Work. Place. Culture. is a collaboration between the City of Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Saltwater Nomads and TCN, with support from the Digital Nomad Association Croatia and Dubrovacka Bastina. Zagreb Digital Nomad Week is a partnership between Zagreb Tourist Board, Saltwater Nomads, and TCN. 

To learn more about magnificent Dubrovnik, check out the Total Croatia Dubrovnik in a Page guide, in partnership with Sun Gardens Dubrovnik.  

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

Thursday, 7 April 2022

Destination Dubrovnik: Meet Yvette Pelgrom from Lifebook Company

April 7, 2022 -  With just over a month to go until the innovative Work. Place. Culture. remote work conference in Dubrovnik, TCN continues its look at the list of high-class international speakers who will be sharing their wisdom in the Pearl of the Adriatic. Up next, we talk with Yvette Pelgrom, a globally accredited High Performance & Leadership Coach, Trainer and Psychotherapist, who empowers individuals and groups worldwide to heal, transform and redesign their lives.

A busy season for Croatia's digital nomad story is about to begin. Last year's highlights included the introduction of the digital nomad permit on January 1, 2021, and destinations such as Zagreb and Dubrovnik attracted global interest with award-winning events such as Zagreb Digital Nomad Week and Dubrovnik Nomads-in-Residence project.

Both Zagreb and Dubrovnik will continue their push to position themselves in the market in 2022, with Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2022 set to take place in June, and a news conference before that in Dubrovnik, as previously reported on TCN: Work. Place. Culture.


Total Croatia News continues to present the elite lineup for the Work. Place. Culture., this time with Yvette Pelgrom. With her business, digital marketing and psychology background combined, Yve has built and scaled million dollar business programs and teams across EdTech companies like LinkedIn, TEDx and Mindvalley. On top, she's a globally accredited High Performance & Leadership Coach, Trainer and Psychotherapist, who empowers individuals and groups worldwide to heal, transform and redesign their lives.

For our readers not familiar with you, can you give us a quick introduction to yourself and the Lifebook Company and explain how and why it started. 

My name is Yvette Pelgrom but I love for anyone to simply say Yve/Ivy/Yves (unless I did something wrong) - much more human. I feel fortunate to have been raised trilingual and live & work across Europe, Africa and Asia. 

I founded Kynd in 2019 for which I facilitate coachings, interactive workshops, host deep-dive holistic retreats, lead meditation & movement events and get to 'keynote speak' for audiences up to 1.1K people (which absolutely still makes me feel uncomfortable. I'm -100% not made for the spotlight but +100% to help others thrive greatly). In addition, I love my job as Director of Lifebook Leaders at the Lifebook Company. This brilliant company gives hundreds of individuals globally the education, tools and accountability to design their extraordinary life across 12 categories. Here I get to run strategic program development and certify top-notch Leaders to positively impact millions of lives. And meanwhile, how fantastic is it that I constantly get reminded to intentionally design and live my life!


Aligned with the latter, currently my roots are in Amsterdam yet I'm roaming around Europe these months for work while I am transitioning to settle down majorly in Lisbon, Portugal. It feels time for some slower living alongside the ocean and with loved friends while still enjoying my typical nomadic bursts here and there for work and adventure.

Looking at the testimonials on the website, it seems you are really changing people's lives. Who are your typical clients and what are they looking for when they approach you?

I work with both individuals (especially women, leaders and entrepreneurs) and companies (eager to boost employee wellbeing and high performance). Ultimately, all our behavior has a logic and a background. Based on this psychotherapeutic holistic approach, I deep dive with clients to understand their behavioral- and emotional origins, help rewire their brain's neural pathways and guide them in adopting healthy and positive habits. 

Growth with my clients is accomplished through solving and expanding. Through solving, clients take charge of self sabotaging patterns like imposter syndrome, love attachment patterns, struggles in boundary setting, self care et cetera. Through expanding, they become proactively intentional on all life's aspects - designing their ideal health, social, love, career and all the way to living their best, thriving quality of life. Besides one-on-one work, I absolutely love hosting individuals at beautiful, unconventional retreats as well as training teams (e.g. TedX, Google, LinkedIn) around personal development and wellbeing. Common topics are around (lack of) focus and (mental) health, and so I also deal with high performers who excel at delivery but do so at a high price, such as loneliness, stress, (self)disconnect, burnout). In the end, I'm known to bring like-minded people together to truly connect and throw in high energy, humor and vulnerability!


The themes of wellbeing and life design are becoming more prominent in this crazy world. What trends are you seeing, and how do you expect this to develop over the next few years?

Trends of burnouts, paralysis and conquests on 'what truly matters'

These covid years definitely evoked changes in all areas of life. It disrupted people's routines, for many resulting in sadly less human connection, more screen time, less movement, worse food choices, breakups, job losses, financial hits, company breakdowns, etc. 

I've seen many fall - hard. Confronting and tough? Yes. Beautiful and vital? Double yes. I admire that the previous normalised way of working and living is being challenged at a global scale: there seems to now be a trend of reflections around 'what truly matters?'. This came to life fastly with the consequences of a results-driven, male-oriented society, such as burnouts and specifically, hormonal imbalances amongst women who are to carry the same workload as men but go through hormonal cycles with less testosterone to carry out.


New movement towards simplicity, mindfulness and purpose

I expect people to live increasingly more consciously aligned to their desires. Why grind when you can love life while working smart? I adore the increased attention of 'awakened' people to now proactively live up to their inward realisations by creating desired outward life experiences and lifestyle. Think of optimising quality of life by moving towards more nature, moving with dear friends to live near each other, building a better work-life balance and spending more time with loved ones for deeper connections. People are starting to prioritise well-being more and companies pick this up too, seeing their talent is their #1 priority and employee wellbeing significantly impacting business performance. 

And so to Dubrovnik, where you will be an ambassador in May. Tell us why you applied and what you are hoping to get out of the experience.

I'm grateful to have been invited to host morning sessions at the Dubrovnik conference and as keynote speaker in Zagreb. And meanwhile, indeed so excited to have been selected as an ambassador for beautiful Dubrovnik! My entire life I lived and worked across continents - Europe, Asia and Africa. One golden nugget I figured is that the greatest experiences happen when surrounding myself with kind hearted, like-minded people in environments with great energy and serenity simultaneously. These settings allowed me to enjoy life moments to the fullest before they became memories. Given that Dubrovnik offers an idyllic combination of city buzz, serene ocean feels, beautiful nature sceneries and a blend of lovely locals and like-minded digital nomads - an absolute gift to experience May and June here. Plus, in contrast to my partly Dutch roots (go-go-go mode!), I am very excited to experience the more laid-back intentional lifestyle with the locals and who knows, get enamoured by the local cuisine. 

You will be running morning wellness workshops on the idyllic island of Lokrum. Tell us more. 

"How you start your morning defines the tone of your day". As part of optimal wellbeing and high performance, your mental-, physical- and emotional health is vital. In fact, your health is your biggest wealth. Your energy should thrive first in order to succeed in any other area in life. During my morning workshops, participants experience tweaks to integrate into their daily mornings as high performance habits to set themselves up for happiness, energy and laserfocus for the rest of the day. These practices are neuroscientifically proven to increase focus, productivity, positivity, confidence, clarity, energy etc. What will we do? Come, experience and enjoy!


You will also be joining us at Zagreb Digital Nomad Week in June, so your commitment to Croatia is impressive. Tell us about your relationship until now and your impressions on the progress it is making on its remote work journey. 

Excited to speak in Zagreb! It looks to be a phenomenal two months in May and June given all activities lined up, with a fantastic like-minded community while exploring mesmerising Croatia! From what I've seen, I'm impressed on how Croatia provides such attention to creating an inspiring space to remote work, connect and live like a local rather than contribute to overtourism. From a 12 month digital nomad visa all the way to bringing them together in these conferences to learn and laugh with each other.

You can learn more about Yvette and connect through all her networks on Linktree and on LinkedIn.

You can download the full programme of the Work.Place.Culture Conference in Dubrovnik here.

Work. Place. Culture. is a collaboration between the City of Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Saltwater Nomads and TCN, with support from the Digital Nomad Association Croatia and Dubrovacka Bastina. Zagreb Digital Nomad Week is a partnership between Zagreb Tourist Board, Saltwater Nomads, and TCN. 

To learn more about magnificent Dubrovnik, check out the Total Croatia Dubrovnik in a Page guide, in partnership with Sun Gardens Dubrovnik.  

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

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

Destination Dubrovnik: Meet Mandy Fransz from Make the Leap Digital

April 5, 2022 -  With just over a month to go until the innovative Work. Place. Culture. remote work conference in Dubrovnik, TCN continues its look at the list of high-class international speakers who will be sharing their wisdom in the Pearl of the Adriatic. Below, a familiar face and recognized as one of the US LinkedIn Top Voices 2022, Mandy Fransz returns to share about remote work, LinkedIn, and entrepreneurship.

A busy season for Croatia's digital nomad story is about to begin. Last year's highlights included the introduction of the digital nomad permit on January 1, 2021, and destinations such as Zagreb and Dubrovnik attracted global interest with award-winning events such as Zagreb Digital Nomad Week and Dubrovnik Nomads-in-Residence project.

Both Zagreb and Dubrovnik will continue their push to position themselves in the market in 2022, with Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2022 set to take place in June, and a news conference before that in Dubrovnik, as previously reported on TCN: Work. Place. Culture.

Total Croatia News continues to present the elite lineup for the Work. Place. Culture., this time with Mandy Fransz. A former LinkedIn™ employee, Mandy had a front-row seat in witnessing the world’s largest professional network grow to currently nearly 800 million members in over 200 countries while generating +$320K in revenue in less than 12 months. She founded Make the Leap Digital from a tropical co-working space in Bali and since then she has worked, lived, and traveled around the world while helping clients around the world through digital courses, consulting, speaking, and interactive workshops. In 2019, she was nominated as one of the most inspiring and ambitious women entrepreneurs in The Netherlands and she has been featured in top (inter)national publications such as Thrive Global, VIVA400, & LINDA.

Another digital nomad event in Croatia, another appearance by Mandy Fransz. Tell us firstly about your relationship with Croatia.

Thank you for having me again! Excited to be back in Croatia -- last year, I was invited as one of the keynote speakers at Zagreb Digital Nomad Week and since then it has been one of my favorite remote work destinations worldwide. From the food, culture, and work-friendly cafes & co-working spaces in Zagreb to working remotely from the beautiful coast in Split while exploring islands with cobblestone streets and emerald green waters such as Brač and Hvar island. I am excited to see what this new remote work adventure will bring!


Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich

You were one of the keynote speakers at Zagreb Digital Nomad Week. How was that for you, and how do you see Croatia's progress in the DN sector since then?

It was an honor to be one of the keynote speakers at the Zagreb Digital Nomad Week last year, a well-deserved award-winning event! I hosted a workshop about "How To Build Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn" and a keynote "The Rise of Remote Work" sharing my top insights and lessons learned since I quit my corporate job to work remotely back in 2018 while building an online community of 25K+ social media followers and +75K group members inside the Remote Workers on LinkedIn group. The entire city was transformed into the event venue, which was a perfect way to attend a wide range of activities, keynotes, and workshops while exploring the city -- also, one of the event highlights was the fun and insightful themed city walking tours in the evenings! (make sure to join the Ghosts and Dragons Tour by Secret Zagreb while you're there!).

I believe Croatia has done a fantastic job in taking the digital nomad and remote work lifestyle to the next level with ambassadors and initiators such as Digital Nomad Association, Total Croatia News, and Saltwater Nomads -- I am excited to see the momentum grow with the exciting events and conferences lined up for 2022.


Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich

The Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador program was a successful postscript to ZDNW, and now you will be working as a similar ambassador for Dubrovnik in May. Why did you take the role, and what do you expect it to involve?

I learned about the Ambassador Program while attending ZDNW last year, and immediately knew I'd apply if I'd have the chance -- I believe that it's a great initiative to explore a new destination while bringing together the digital nomad community by organizing local events and collaborating with different stakeholders to make a positive impact on the remote work lifestyle in Croatia. Additionally, I hope to discover the work-friendly cafes and co-working spaces, experience the food and culture, and explore the beautiful Dalmatian coast during the evenings and weekends.

Work. Place. Culture. takes place from May 5-7. Tell us about it, why people should come, and your role in it. 

Tanja Polegubic from Saltwater Nomads asked me if I would be keen to return to Croatia this year for another exciting event focused on remote work and digital nomads. Since my last visit, Dubrovnik has been high on my list as I've heard many great stories from fellow digital nomads and expats -- so when I heard about the Work. Place. Culture conference taking place from May 5 - 7 I immediately said yes! 


Looking at the event program, I am positive that this is going to be another world-class event filled with activities, workshops, and keynote speeches across beautiful venues from "netwalking" the fortress walls, a Game of Thrones Tour, and a Sunset cruise dinner on a "Karaka". I am honored (and a bit nervous haha!) to open the conference with my keynote and I'm excited to meet a few of my industry peers in-person, such as those I've been honored to be featured in the 2022 US LinkedIn Top Voices: Remote Work, and to reconnect with last year's speakers and attendees, many of which turned into friends.

You have built your business on LinkedIn, where you used to work, and there are 5 speakers of the Top 10 2022 LinkedIn Top Voices: Remote Work speaking in Dubrovnik. Tell us about the relationship between LinkedIn and the remote work revolution. 

I worked for LinkedIn's EMEA headquarters in Dublin, Ireland as my first full-time job upon graduation. However, I've always had an interest in the digital nomad lifestyle, hence, in 2018 I decided to quit my comfortable 9-to-5 corporate job to "explore the world of remote work". While working at the world's largest professional network with currently +810 million members across the globe, I realized that the demand of the global workforce was shifting -- many research and studies showed that (especially millennials and Generation Z) more and more people were craving the freedom and flexibility to work from wherever they feel the happiest and most productive.


I decided to share my remote work journey on LinkedIn, and I was asked to manage a small community on LinkedIn focused on digital nomads and remote workers. In the past three years, we've grown from ~2,000 members to currently +75,000 engaged members which clearly showcases the remote work revolution! Many of our members were forced to "work from home" due to the pandemic, and now desire to work remotely forever.

What are you looking forward to most from your time in Dubrovnik, and what are you hoping to get from the conference and ambassadorship?

As mentioned before, I'm excited to (finally!) meet a few of my industry peers in person and to reconnect with last year's event attendees-turned-friends -- and, of course, I really look forward to the exciting line-up of keynotes, workshops, and activities (in case you don't know what a Karaka is, Google it now, please!). Finally, I'm thrilled to explore Dubrovnik and the Dalmatia region and I look forward to contributing to the digital nomad lifestyle and community in Dubrovnik as an ambassador. 


Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich

And finally, what's next for Mandy Fransz?

I am currently working remotely from beautiful Portugal while launching my signature, online group program for early-stage entrepreneurs who are ready to kickstart and grow their online personal brand and business so they, too, can enjoy the freedom and flexibility that they deserve before I'll head to Croatia for the events and ambassador program. After that, I'm excited to see what serendipitous opportunities will cross my path!


Feel free to visit Mandy's website or reach out to her via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for inquiries, or follow her on Instagram or LinkedIn for valuable tips and inspiration about LinkedIn, remote work, and (online) entrepreneurship.

You can download the full programme of the Work.Place.Culture Conference in Dubrovnik here.

Work. Place. Culture. is a collaboration between the City of Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Saltwater Nomads and TCN, with support from the Digital Nomad Association Croatia and Dubrovacka Bastina. Zagreb Digital Nomad Week is a partnership between Zagreb Tourist Board, Saltwater Nomads, and TCN. 

To learn more about magnificent Dubrovnik, check out the Total Croatia Dubrovnik in a Page guide, in partnership with Sun Gardens Dubrovnik.  

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

Friday, 1 April 2022

Destination Dubrovnik: Top 100 Global HR Influencer Aaron McEwan on Future of Work

April 2, 2022 - With just over a month to go until the innovative Work. Place. Culture. remote work conference in Dubrovnik, TCN continues its look at the list of high-class international speakers who will be sharing their wisdom in the Pearl of the Adriatic. Next up, a real heavyweight in the remote work world, Aaron McEwan from Australia. 

For a country where change is traditionally quite slow and bureaucratic, Dubrovnik's digital nomad journey has been nothing short of breathtaking. It is not even two years since we first pitched the concept of digital nomads to a very receptive Dubrovnik Mayor, Mato Frankovic. Work started the next day, followed by Croatia's first-ever digital nomad conference in October 2020, and the award-winning Dubrovnik Nomads-in-Residence program the following April.   

And now this. To have speakers of the calibre of Aaron McKewan addressing the latest Dubrovnik remote work conference, Work. Place. Culture. (a collaboration between the City of Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Saltwater Nomads, and TCN) is a sign of just how far Dubrovnik has come in its journey and standing. 

Aaron certainly knows his stuff. As VP, Research & Advisory for Gartner’s HR Practice for Gartner a $4.1 billion company and member of the S&P 500, he provides strategic advice to some of the biggest companies on the planet about the future of work. Recently named as a Top 100 Global HR Influencer and one of 5 HR Leaders to Follow in 2022, Aaron is clearly a voice worth listening to on the subject of the future of work. 

That voice will be addressing Dubrovnik at the WPC conference from May 5-7. Aaron kindly found some time to answer some questions ahead of the conference:



1. With the radical changes to the workplace in the last two years, the relationship between employee and employer is changing. How would you characterise that change, and how do you expect that relationship to develop? 

Historically, pandemics have reshaped society, not just work. So I think we are seeing people’s relationship to work changing in very fundamental ways. For example 65% of employees globally told us that the pandemic made them rethink the place that work should have in their life. Employees today don't want to be seen as workers, they want to be seen as human beings. They want much more autonomy over not just where they work, but how they work, who they work with, what they work on.


2. We also hear a lot about talent shortage in this new and flexible reality. What strategies are companies employing to successfully entice the best talent to work for them? 

The most obvious is what we call radical flexibility, where companies are offering things like round the world plane tickets and encouraging employees to work from wherever suits them. But we are also seeing the rise of compressed work hours like four day weeks, cooking and gardening lessons, child care support, access to personal career and life coaches, opportunities to learn new languages and instruments. The common thread is that it’s about giving employees more flexibility, more autonomy and helping them to be healthier and better people, not just workers.


3. As As VP, Research & Advisory for Gartner’s HR Practice and a  Top 100 Global HR Influencer and one of 5 HR Leaders to Follow in 2022, you are at the cutting edge of the discussion. How willing are you finding global companies are to completely reinvent their modus operandi to meet the new reality? 

Unfortunately it’s still the exception, not the norm. Many executives want a return to the status quo where everyone works out of an office. These leaders simply aren’t grasping the seismic changes that are underway and the incredible opportunity that they have to attract and engage the best and brightest talent in the world. Those companies that push for a return to the old ways of working will find themselves on the wrong side of history and will likely face a “Kodak” moment that threatens their very existence.

4. The freedom of working from anywhere versus the human contact with colleagues in the office. What are the best strategies companies are implementing to balance this? 

This is where hybrid approaches are so important. Companies that get this right, match the work that needs to be done to the time and location that best suits that particular task or activity. They encourage collaboration in multiple settings to drive innovation. Some synchronous activities like brain storming, creative problem solving might work better when you bring people together in the office (though virtual collaboration is also very effective and much more time and cost efficient). Bonding and connection might be better done in a more social setting like a bar or restaurant or an engaging natural environment like the beach or forest. Asynchronous tasks that require deep thought, concentration, attention to detail, etc. like writing and designing might be better done alone in a quiet environment like a home office. In fact it turns out that asynchronous work accounts for about 49% of team innovation.


5. Destinations and countries have an opportunity to attract remote workers in this new reality. What innovative concepts are you seeing in this regard? And what could countries such as Croatia do to make it more attractive, in addition to the introduction of the digital nomad permit? 

Yes, as the pandemic subsides people’s desire for adventure and travel will continue to rise. As with any product or service, you need to make the product attractive so countries like Croatia have much to offer – history, natural beauty, friendly people, etc. But the real secret to attracting and retaining customers is in personalizing the experience and reducing the effort that the customer needs to put in. A digital nomad passport is a great start because it means you don’t need to deal with immigration or change jobs every three months to meet the conditions of a working holiday visa. But the real opportunity lies in understanding the various personas of those who want to work differently so that you can deliver a personalized experience and remove the barriers to making that experience not just memorable but effortless. For example, what type of experience would a young single woman want to have vs. an older male with a partner and children? What about someone with a disability or mobility issues, neurodiversity? LGBTI? What about someone with lots of disposable income vs. those on a tight budget? Some might want to travel extensively and move around. Others may wish to “live” in a location and immerse themselves like a local. How do you make those different experiences possible?  And how do you make the whole thing effortless? Simplify your tax and immigration laws, invest in infrastructure and public transport, provide cheap, high speed internet everywhere, embrace the sharing economy, invest in great schools and centers of learning, facilitate communities that offer advice, support and guidance.   

6. There has been a considerable brain drain and emigration from countries such as Croatia in recent years in search of better economic opportunity. Do you sense that the flexibility of the new reality may reverse that trend, and are you seeing any examples of that? 

Yes, as the adoption of hybrid and remote work gathers pace, we are seeing people move out of the large cities, particularly those with very high real estate prices, to less expensive and more “livable” coastal and regional locations. So smaller cities that have accessible beaches and reasonable housing costs that also offer decent infrastructure and thriving cultural precincts are becoming increasingly popular places to live whilst working remotely.  


7. Your three best pieces of advice for a company looking to attract the best talent? 

Treat employees like humans, embrace radical flexibility and offer meaningful and impactful work that they can be proud of.  

8. And so to the Dubrovnik Work. Place. Culture. conference. Why does it appeal to you, what will you be speaking about, and what do you hope to get from your time in Dubrovnik? 

Despite having a young family now and permanent roots in Australia, I’m still a digital nomad at heart. I love travel, I love adventure and I love the experience of living in foreign cities. I also cherish any opportunity to humanize work and inspire people to seize control of their own careers.   


9. You obviously follow global trends in remote work. How do you assess Croatia's efforts so far, and what does it need to do to move things forward? 

Croatia was a digital nomad first mover and it’s a gorgeous and great place to work. Future success will be about broadening the current definition of a digital nomad so it appeals to a broader market of adventure and hungry knowledge workers and to make it an effortless place to live and work.  

About Aaron McEwan:

Aaron McEwan is a behavioral scientist, psychologist and futurist and was recently named a Top 100 Global HR Influencer and one of 5 HR Leaders to Follow in 2022. As VP, Research & Advisory for Gartner’s HR Practice, Aaron provides strategic advice to the world’s leading companies on the future of work and talent and helps leaders manage their most critical relationships across the c-suite and board. Alongside his current role, Aaron is a Fellow of the Australian Human Resources Institute, serves on the national committee for the Australian Psychological Society’s Interest Group in Coaching Psychology and is an Associate of Macquarie University’s Centre for Workforce Futures. He has lectured at Sydney Business School, University of Wollongong, University of NSW, University of Queensland, Griffith University and the Australian College of Applied Psychology and was a member of Innovation Nation, a cross-industry initiative sponsored by the Office of the Prime Minister to elevate Australia’s reputation for entrepreneurship and innovation.

You can follow Aaron McKewan on LinkedIn.

To learn more about the services of Gartner, visit the official website.

For more information about the Work. Place. Culture. conference in Dubrovnik from May 5-7, check out the event website to reserve your ticket. 

For more news and features about digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Jan de Jong on Nomads, Visas & Dubrovnik 'Work. Place. Culture." Conference

March 29, 2022 - A lot has happened in Croatia over the last 2 years in the Croatian digital nomad story. Ahead of the new Work. Place. Culture. conference in Dubrovnik, TCN catches up with one of the instigators of change - Split-based entrepreneur, Jan de Jong. 

A busy season for Croatia's digital nomad story is about to begin. Last year's highlights included the introduction of the digital nomad permit on January 1, 2021, and destinations such as Zagreb and Dubrovnik attracted global interest with award-winning events such as Zagreb Digital Nomad Week and Dubrovnik Nomads-in-Residence project. 

Both Zagreb and Dubrovnik will continue their push to position themselves in the market in 2022, with Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2022 set to take place in June, and a new conference before that in Dubrovnik, as previously reported on TCN - Work. Place. Culture

No self-respecting nomad conference would be complete without the participation of the nation's favourite Dutchman, Jan de Jong, whose pioneering efforts in instigating the nomad permit, as well as the co-founding of the Digital Nomad Association Croatia have been key to Croatia's rapid rise as a popular nomad destination. In the first of a series of interviews ahead of the conference, TCN caught up with Jan to reflect on a crazy couple of years, as well as looking forward to what is coming next.  


1. Two years ago, the term 'digital nomad' was almost unheard of in Croatia, and today Croatia is one of the most cited countries in Europe on the topic. As the initiator of the Croatian digital nomad permit (only the second in Europe) and co-founder of the Digital Nomad Association Croatia, you have played a significant role in that. Reflect on that journey briefly for us.

Over the past 15 years that I have lived in Croatia, I have started several businesses and initiatives. I have to admit that even building a big business doesn’t give me the same fulfillment and satisfaction as I am getting from what we are doing by putting Croatia on the world map as a digital nomad hotspot. It’s a joy to be surrounded by amazing people with different backgrounds who all want to turn Croatia into their temporary home. I strongly believe that our efforts can help turn Croatia into a more sustainable, year-round destination and that the young and smart remote work professionals can leave a positive impact on our youngest generation in Croatia.


(With DNA Croatia co-founders, Karmela Tancabel and Tanja Polegubic)

2. While the visa/permit was a headline attraction, the reality is that few nomads (by definition) stay in the same place for a year, and the bigger challenge is to showcase Croatia as an attractive remote work destination for 1-6 months. You co-founded the world's first Digital Nomad Association, DNA Croatia. Tell us about that, and about the excellent work it has performed in recent months connecting initiatives and building community.

Together with my co-founders of DNA Croatia, Tanja & Karmela, we are making strong efforts daily to unite and serve digital nomads in Croatia. However, truth to be told, we can’t make the impact we want to make by ourselves. That’s why we were very excited to bring Michael Freer on board as the director of DNA Croatia last November. With Michael's experience and full-time dedication, we have been able to demonstrate what DNA Croatia is capable of doing. Michael spearheaded several national and international campaigns, including community-building initiatives with a team of 8 volunteers in 8 different cities/towns across Croatia and organizing and participating in conferences in London and The Hague – promoting Croatia abroad as a digital nomad welcoming destination. I am also very proud of the support we are offering to Ukrainian remote work professionals who wish to apply for the digital nomad permit. All in all, more and more stakeholders find their way to DNA Croatia, which means that we are slowly but surely becoming the kind of NGO we want to be, which is to be the “go-to” organization for the digital nomad eco-system in Croatia. Many more developments are about to take place, including the opening up our DNA Croatia contact center. We will make a phone number available for when digital nomads have any questions during their stay in Croatia. Soon more about this.

3. One of the comments I hear a lot from visiting nomads is the level of public-private partnership in Croatia, something that hardly exists elsewhere. You had to negotiate with 5 ministries for the permit, for example, the cities of Zagreb and Dubrovnik have been very supportive of nomad events such as Zagreb Digital Nomad Week and Dubrovnik Nomads-in-Residence, and DNA Croatia recently agreed a partnership with the Croatian National Tourist Board. Tell us about the importance of this in moving the Croatian story forward. 

The first step is always to acknowledge either the problem, challenge and/or opportunity. If we as a country, region, city, but also as citizens - acknowledge that depending on strong seasonal tourism is a problem and that bringing digital nomads to Croatia – year-round, is an opportunity – only then we can get everybody on board in pursuing our goals. And none of the stakeholders can do this by themselves without support from the other stakeholders. If Croatia wants to become a top destination globally for remote work professionals, we will need to start collaboration between the government, municipalities, national, regional and local tourist boards, private sector – and I hope that DNA Croatia can have a coordinating role in all of this.


4. This is Croatia, and even though things are moving very quickly, it is impossible to please everyone. The permit is not perfect (although it was named the best in the world by one nomad portal), and several permit holders would like to extend their stay beyond the one-year maximum. How likely is that to happen, and what changes to the permit are being worked on?

Yes, there are several changes to the permit we would like to see in the future, including the possibility to renew the permit after 12 months and some changes to tax laws. Right now, digital nomads are exempt from paying income tax on the income they have as a digital nomad, however – officially taxes on other income, such as dividend, crypto gains, rental income, etc. are not exempt. Even though the Croatian tax authorities will most likely not go after such taxes, we would like to see this changed in the law.

The ministries are informed about our wish to see some of those additional changes, however – unfortunately I don’t expect to see any of such changes happen this year, simply because it is not high enough on the priority list.

5. You are heading once more to Dubrovnik on May 5-7 for the Work. Place. Culture. conference. The city has been at the forefront of Croatia's digital nomad revolution, hosting the first-ever digital nomad conference in Croatia, as well as the award-winning Dubrovnik Nomads-in-Residence program. Tell us a little about Dubrovnik's journey so far. 

Dubrovnik was perhaps more than other cities suffering from mass tourism during the season. They were the first to acknowledge this problem and to acknowledge the opportunities that can come from hosting digital nomads year-round. And once you have a city and tourist board that understands this, you can accomplish anything you want, which is exactly what Dubrovnik is doing right now – by demonstrating real leadership when it comes to turning the city into a digital nomad welcoming destination. As a founding member of DNA Croatia, I can only say that I like what I am seeing in Dubrovnik and I hope that this serves as an example and inspiration to other cities and regions.


6. Who is the conference aimed at, why should people come, and what will be your role?

The targeted audience of this conference is not just digital nomads, but is actually more focused on the remote work professionals in general. I think there is also a lot to learn here for employers, because the way people live and work has significantly changed over the past few years. Before, we spoke a lot about work/life balance. Nowadays you more often hear about work/life integration. This is a new way of working, for both employees, freelancers and for employers. In my opinion, as a remote work professional and employer myself – I believe that the content of this conference couldn’t be more relevant.

7. Where would you like to see Croatia in 5 years in the remote workspace, and how do we get there?

I hope that in 5 years from now, when remote work professionals speak about “working from anywhere” – that they speak and think about Croatia as the place to be. Croatia should be known for being an affordable, authentic lifestyle destination – with all required infrastructure available for working remotely, including a thriving community.

How do we get there? Content, content, content!

  • Content in terms of authentic experiences and things to do, 12 months a year.
  • Content in terms of conferences aimed at digital nomads worldwide.
  • Content in terms of user-generated blogs, vlogs, posts, stories, tweets – and local, regional and national promoted content


8. Although you are primarily known as the Croatian Nomad Visa Guy, this is actually only a small part of what you do. One of your current missions is to help revitalise Croatia's agriculture. Explain what you are trying to achieve, how it is going, and where people can follow the story. 

Being a Dutch entrepreneur in Croatia, I wanted to be the bridge between the Netherlands and Croatia – in a way that I would like to bring more of the Dutch agriculture technology to my new home country. In the past, Croatia used to produce enough food to feed an entire region. Today, Croatia is a food importing nation. That is why, together with my friend Jerko Trogrlic, I co-founded the company CROP. It is our mission to make sure that Croatia becomes less dependent on importing food, and ultimately to help turn Croatia into a food exporting nation again, like it used to be.

Currently we are working hard, together with our Dutch partners, on developing the first project, which is a 6-hectare greenhouse for growing cherry tomatoes. With a strong focus on sustainability, we plan on using geothermal heat for heating our greenhouse and solar energy for our grow lights. An estimated investment of 18 - 20 million EURO, which would create some 60 new full-time jobs in an area that desperately needs new jobs.

You can follow Jan de Jong on LinkedIn.

For more information about Work. Place. Culture. in Dubrovnik from May 5-7, visit the official website.

For more news and features about digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

Friday, 25 March 2022

Croatia Through the Eyes of a Digital Nomad: A Feast and a Festival with Oysters & Wine

March 25, 2022 - The Feast of St. Joseph meets the Festival of Oysters on Pelješac for a fun day of food, wine, and Dalmatian music.

Two years ago this month I arrived in Split, with a mission to visit to the Ston oyster festival and the town’s famous walls on top of my list. Foodies know the tradition that you should only eat wild oysters during the months that contain the letter "r" in the name – from September to April – and this time of year is peak season for fresh oysters. Even the ancient Romans who inhabited these parts followed this opinion to get their favorite aphrodisiac. 

02CBurkhardt_2294.jpegThe local oysters found in Mali Ston are called European Oysters, or Ostrea Edulis.

The festival returns

But alas, covid-19 cancelled the festival two years ago and my plans have been on hold, until now. A trip to Bistrina for the annual oyster festival in Mali Ston was a chance to both taste the shellfish this area is famous for and wash it down with vino that puts the Pelješac peninsula on any wine-lover’s radar. The funny thing is, I grew up on the Atlantic Ocean and I adore all seafood, except oysters. I was willing to give them a try in Croatia based on the reputation, but I was hoping there would be more.

03CBurkhardt_2288.jpegFarming and harvesting oysters in Mali Ston dates back to the Roman days of the Republic of Ragusa (1358-1808) and was a source of wealth that exceeded salt.

I joked with a friend that my favorite part of the festival was carrying my wine glass around on my neck, which was a first for me. It looked ridiculous but it was convenient for hands-free slurping of oysters and also more wine, lol. When it came to tasting, the best food tip I received all day was to simply squeeze lemon on the oysters and then suck them off the shell. I can’t say I tasted anything, except for the lemon juice, but it was fun.

Father’s Day

Not accidentally, the festival coincides with the Feast of St. Joseph every March 19, also called Saint Joseph’s Day. It has to do with the Feast falling during lent and abstinence from meat. This is Father’s Day in Croatia and named after Jesus’s dad. Christian heritage here believes he’s the patron saint of Croatian people and a protector of families and carpenters/workers.

04CBurkhardt_2280.jpegChowing down with fellow Cromads.

Cultivation techniques

Walking around Bistrina, I noticed clusters of plastic markers throughout the bay. Farmers use a system with cages and a technique of suspending oysters in the water to help them grow. To indicate how seriously people take this business, a nearby mariculture laboratory—part of the University of Dubrovnik—conducts research, testing, and quality checks on the oysters and the mussels from these beds. 

08CBurkhardt_2389.jpegPlastic markers in the bay indicate where the oyster beds are. Minerals and phytoplankton in the salty water contribute to the high-quality of the shellfish.

Cultivation dates back to the 14th century and peaked in the 1980s with 3,000 tons of mussels and two million oysters produced annually. 

05CBurkhardt_2268.jpegLocal musicians play favorite Dalmatian tunes.

Natural sea salt, high-quality freshwater, and favorable environmental conditions are the secret sauce for producing exceptional shellfish in this area, and the corresponding wealth. Rumor has it that Roman aristocrats from the days of the Ragusan Republic were even paid in oysters instead of money. So, would they eat their money??

06CBurkhardt_2324.jpegThe author keeps her wine glass close to sip and slurp.

Ston saltworks

A different system exists over at Ston with an equally impressive history: the saltworks. Salt pans look like a grid dividing the surface of the water. Traditional production methods to extract salt using the sun and wind have remained the same for centuries and everything is still done by hand. Again, healthy environmental conditions are perfect for creating a superior product.

09CBurkhardt_2419.jpegSalt has been a source of wealth in Ston for centuries, also since the Republic of Ragusa ran things here. These saltworks are the largest in Europe.

As with the shellfish, Ston’s “white gold” dates back to the Middle Ages as a white-hot commodity. In fact, salt sparked wars and influenced trade routes. Wowza! 

Rich history

The day turned out to be much more than hitting up a festival. Ston and Mali Ston have a rich history of tradition, labor, and economics in shellfish and salt, and there’s the famous Pelješac wine. The walls of Ston are another highlight as one of the largest preserved fortification systems in the world, but that’s another story. And let’s not forget the Feast and Father’s Day.

010CBurkhardt_2428.jpegGates are opened to let water flood into the salt pans. When the water evaporates, the salt is left behind. This process is repeated over and over and the salt is harvested once a year.

I love piecing together the cultural connections in this region. It’s one of the reasons I love to travel, for authentic experiences and learning about places that are so different from my home. As a bonus, I got to spend the day with adventurous new friends and digital nomads. The trip was organized by the Cromads travel club.

07CBurkhardt_2379.jpegDining on the Bistrina Bay with a beautiful view of the clear blue water.

Story and photographs ©2022, Cyndie Burkhardt.

Learn more at TCN’s Digital Nomads channel.

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