Saturday, 2 October 2021

Nimrod Dean Kuchel Reflects on Month as Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador

October 2, 2021 - A bundle of positive energy flew from Zagreb to Podgorica, as Nimrod Dean Kuchel, the Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador for September, departed for his latest adventure. He caught up with TCN before he left to reflect on his month in the Croatian capital. 

It is hard not to be infected by the boundless enthusiasm of Israeli digital nomad Nimrod Dean Kuchel. Two of his main mantras are very simple, but sum up his lifestyle very well. Say yes! to everything. And while he travels solo, he never travels alone. 

Kuchel said yes firstly to being a keynote speaker at Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, an initiative of the Zagreb Tourist Board, Saltwater Nomads, and Total Croatia News. You can see his very entertaining presentation below.  

 

And then he said yes when asked if he would be applying to be a Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador for a month, the second component of the project. 

Arriving at the beginning of September and taking up residence at Doma Zagreb Aparthotel, Kuchel told me of his intention to work hard to build up the Zagreb community during his stay. 

He seems to have been everywhere in the city, and the events that he held during his time attracted good crowds and networking opportunities.  

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Last night's farewell event, a Zagreb Meet-Up and Pitch night at Canopy by Hilton, a favourite co-working space during his stay, brought together around 50 locals, expats and digital nomads for a social evening with various speakers contributing their travel and digital nomad stories, before several of the audience also took the stand in the ensuing Open Mic session. 

Shortly before his departure, Kuchel posted the following farewell to his Zagreb friends, old and new.  

You are looking at a construction site - and together we are building a community.

On my last night here, I was honoured by a large group of locals, expats and digital nomads for a night of stories, and new friendships - with tears in my eyes I said my goodbyes, although I know - we will meet again.

More than countries and beautiful landscape - I travel for people, that's the agenda I came to Zagreb with, that's the legacy I hope I leave behind.

My stay in Zagreb is coming to an end today, but I will forever stay an ambassador and advocate of the city, country, and the people.

Thank you Tanja Polegubic Jan de Jong Paul Bradbury Zagreb Tourist Board Andrej Karić every person who made my stay here so special.

Andrae Smith - enjoy Croatia, you are in good hands!

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South African Andrae Smith is the Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador for November, and she introduced herself last night. There will be a TCN interview with Andrae tomorrow. 

Dean kindly invited the project stakeholders for a thank you breakfast this morning, after which he found the time to share some of his parting thoughts on his month in Zagreb, which you can watch in the interview below.  

You can connect with Nimrod Dean Kuchel via LinkedIn

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

Saturday, 2 October 2021

Could Digital Nomad Concepts Solve Croatian Winter Tourism Problem?

October 2, 2021 - Community,  events, co-living - how concepts for digital nomads can be utilised to improve Croatian winter tourism problem.

Let me start by explaining the background to my perspective on Croatian winter tourism.

Having lived full-time for 13 years on the island of Hvar, I have seen the realities of the seasonality of Croatian tourism closer than most. An idyllic island to live on for sure, but with locals too busy with the season to fully enjoy the summer months, only to then encounter the long and beautiful winter with everything closed and nowhere to go. With so much more to offer than just the sun, sea and the beach, it has always been a mystery to me why Croatia has not been able to develop year-round tourism. 

As a local resident in the winter with every restaurant in the town closed for 5 months of the year, the announcement of ANY event and chance to go and socialise was gratefully accepted by many locals. Something different to break up the daily routine of visits to the cafe, working in the field and walking along the coast. I used to watch the few tourists that did come in the winter months - a time when Hvar, for me at least, was even more beautiful than in the summer - and how lost they looked. With so few places open, it was hard to find a place to eat, things to do, people to meet. 

And it was not just Hvar. Dalmatian coastal towns in winter are a shadow of their summer selves in terms of life. It is the classic chicken and egg story. Lots of businesses want tourists all year, but they could not afford to stay open in the hope that they would show up. Lots of tourists would like to come in the offseason - Sandinavians escape a harsh winter, for example - but there were very poor air connections. And for those who did manage to visit, there was simply no focal point or events to attend, or ways to connect with other tourists. 

But if there was better connectivity, a decent programme with a selection of restaurants and other hospitality services available all year, as well as focal points to meet both locals and other travellers, could some of Croatia's coastal destinations extend their season, even function 12 months a year?

I believe that they could, and I think that various initiatives from the digital nomad community are giving some useful pointers as to how we can address this Croatian winter tourism problem.

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In the winter of 2019, Split-based Saltwater Nomads, one of the first co-working spaces in the city, was having good business from nomads walking in to use their services. But nomads want not only a place to work but a social life as well. Saltwater Nomads teamed up with local restaurants Zinfandel and Brasserie on 7 to offer a weekly concept called Nomad Table. For a fixed price for a 3-course meal, Nomad Table was advertised through nomad and expat social media platforms. It was a total hit, fully booked each week and was becoming an established part of the Split offseason tourism scene, until a certain pandemic disrupted things.

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Last night as the hotel Canopy by Hilton in Zagreb, September's Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador, Israeli Nimrod Dean Kuchel, held a Zagreb Meet-Up and Pitch night. it was a simple social evening, open to all and promoted via TCN and some nomad social media groups. A promise of 5 speakers talking about their travel/digital nomad experiences followed by a social evening of chat and networking. 

Around 50 people showed up, a mix of local, expat and nomad. The advertised 5 speakers soon turned into 10, as people in the audience also wanted to share their stories. New friendships were made, new events discovered, with several heading out to Ivanic-Grad today for the Bucijada pumpkin festival. A simple concept with a broad appeal. 

Earlier this week, TCN brought you the story of the first so-called Croatian digital nomad village, Digital Nomad Valley Zadar. This is the first creative use for digital nomad purposes of the plentiful tourism accommodation that is largely unused in the winter months. The concept is simple - offer people a spectacular location, with plenty of facilities including a community and good co-working space, and provide events and things to do. 

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Launched three days ago, Digital Nomad Valley Zadar already has 25 nomads who have signed up to stay when it opens its doors in 8 days on October 10. 

A weekly nomad table in Split, a drinks night with travel stories in Zagreb, and a creative use of a campsite and hotel in the offseason. Nothing revolutionary, and nothing too complicated to organise or replicate. But all a hit, and with applications beyond just digital nomads. 

As I can vouch from my time on Hvar, the benefits of successful Croatian winter tourism would not just be for the tourism sector, but for the population as a whole. If some tourism traffic enabled a few more restaurants to be open, or for some other businesses to be open all year, and if those tourist arrivals meant the addition of events in the winter months, not only would money be coming into the economy, but the quality of life for local people would also improve. 

But how to deal with that chicken and the egg? 

I would try a pilot project in a destination that has the potential to be a year-round destination with plenty of content apart from the sun and the sea.

A destination like Split. 

Ten restaurants, 2-3 hotels, a couple of tour agencies for starters. Use the creative ideas above and adapt them to winter tourism. Perhaps a focus on active tourism or maybe gourmet tourism. Wine tours are not so dependent on the season, for example. Engaging some good winemakers and restaurateurs to come up with a gourmet extravaganza could be a real hit. 

The islands are fabulous to visit at any time of year. Organised tourism in Europe began on Hvar with a focus on its temperate winter climate with the founding of the Hvar Health Society. Get the winemakers, a couple of restaurants, and the activity tourism specialists onboard for each island to offer a limited but quality product that will bring the island to life for its visitors. 

Talk to the airlines. A longer season is in their interests, and if they can have first-mover advantage in making that happen, perhaps that is an additional incentive. With Ryanair now flying to multiple destinations through the winter from Zagreb, would it be too hard/expensive to see what can be done for Split?

A concerted effort and a focused strategy to provide a rich and targeted tourism offer for the pilot programme should not be hard to conceive for a country with over 20% of its GDP coming from tourism, and the rewards from a successful pilot could be substantial, both in terms of quality of life and revenue. If a few progressive entrepreneurs from the private sector can organise things on a small scale as in the examples above, what could be achieved from an official concerted campaign?

For more news and views on Croatian tourism, follow the dedicated TCN section

 

Monday, 27 September 2021

DN Ambassador Dean Kuchel Hosting Zagreb Meet-Up and Pitch Night at Canopy by Hilton

September 27, 2021 - Outgoing Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Nimrod Dean Kuchel invites you to his final event, a Zagreb Meet-Up and Pitch Night at Canopy by Hilton. 

From the moment he landed at Zagreb Airport and even before he took up residence as the Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador for September, Israeli Nimrod Dean Kuchel has been working tirelessly to tell the remote work community about the joys of the Croatian capital. 

Accepting an invitation to speak at the inaugural Zagreb Digital Nomad Week back in June, Kuchel's engaging presentation on building community was one of the highlights of a thought-provoking week (you can see his presentation below). 

The conclusions of an experienced digital nomad who has travelled the world to over 100 countries in 7 years )and with an online DN community of 24,000 people) were encouraging indeed. In a brief interview at the end of that week, he declared that Zagreb ticked all the boxes for digital nomads, and that the only thing missing in Zagreb was more digital nomads. 

Just over two months later, Dean was back, this time as the official Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador for September. Over welcome drinks, he declared his intention to do as much as he could to unite and grow the community during his time in Zagreb. 

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The Digital Nomads Croatia Facebook group hosted an Ask Me Anything (AMA) evening with Dean a couple of weeks, ago at Bustan, which was a well-attended event by locals and digital nomads in the city. Dean has been busy exploring all the co-working spaces in the city, as well as aspects of its social life I will never know about, and is now organising one last event before he hands over the ambassador baton to South African Andrae Smith, who takes up residence at Doma Zagreb Aparthotel on October 1.  

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Dean is organising a Zagreb Meet-Up and Pitch Night from 18:00 on Friday, October 1, an opportunity to network and make new friends. The highlight of the evening will be 5 live speakers, sharing travel and digital nomad stories from around the world. 

The event will be held where part of Zagreb's digital nomad story began. Canopy by Hilton Zagreb hosted the opening day of Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, and it has since proved to be a hit with visiting nomads. The combination of excellent Internet, services within the hotel, nearby gym and various food options in the  Branimir Centre where it is located, has proved to be a winning combination. 

The Zagreb Meet-Up and Pitch Night will take place in the hotel's ReUnion restaurant on the ground floor. The Canopy by Hilton Zagreb team has kindly offered a welcome drink to people attending. Food and drink will be available throughout the evening, at your own cost. 

You can find more information on the Facebook event page. If you would like to attend, please inform Dean via the event page, so that he can have an idea of numbers. The invitation is open to all - here is Dean's message:

Hi friends,

It was super-awesome to meet you all on our last meet-up!

So a minute before I leave town onto my next adventure, let's meet once again, share a drink, meet new friends, and listen to 5 stories from around the world.

Our mini "Pitch-Night" will include 5 short stories of digital nomads and world travellers, followed by the usual networking event.

The location is the ReUnion restaurant in Canopy by Hilton (Branimir Centre), but please block your calendar - Friday, October 1st, happy-hour time, from 18:00.

Smash that "GOING" button, and I will see you Friday.

Love & WiFi,
Dean

*Want to share your story with the world? send me a message.

This meet-up is with the support of Digital Nomads Croatia Association, Saltwater Nomads, Total Croatia News, and the Zagreb Tourist Board - thank for all your efforts to make Zagreb feel like home to us, digital nomads.

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

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Digital Nomad Valley Zadar: Interview with Co-Founder Mario Mrksa

September 29, 2021 - The first so-called Croatian digital nomad village, Digital Nomad Valley Zadar, will open its doors at th Falkensteiner Borik resort in Zadar next month. An interview with one of the co-founders, Mario Mrksa.

As TCN reported earlier today, a new offer for the digital nomad scene in Croatia will launch next month. We caught up with one of the co-founders of Digital Nomad Valley Zadar, Mario Mrksa, to get a little more detail behind the headlines. 

1. Many people in Croatia are just coming to terms with the term 'digital nomads' and now you are introducing the concept of a 'Croatian digital nomad village'. Can you firstly explain exactly what a digital nomad village is?

A digital nomad village is something that was first coined in Madeira, when Startup Madeira, alongside Goncalo Hall introduced a small town in the island called Ponta do Sol as the first official digital nomad village. It is a concept of a curated digital nomad community, where a specially created coworking space represents the base and the soul of the “village”. The idea is to gather digital nomads in a specific area in order to create a strong community, which will then get stronger on its own, as the members of the community will invite their friends and help make the community even better. We took a lot of inspiration from that project and we started thinking about how we could do something similar in Croatia. Somehow naturally, we saw a big opportunity to do the project in Premium Camping Zadar. We simply got attracted to everything that resort had to offer and knew that it would be a perfect place for the pilot project in Croatia and were extremely happy to hear that they are also very interested in participating in the project. As it is located in Borik, which is just an area in Zadar, we called the project Digital Nomad Valley Zadar.

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2. How did you come up with the idea?

Our company is in the midterm accommodation rental business, and we have observed a steady increase in the popularity of Croatia as a destination for digital nomads - even before the pandemic. This trend was accelerated by Jan de Jong who publicly spoke on Linkedin about digital nomads and what Croatia should do to attract them. His initiative for a Croatian digital nomad visa has been a huge catalyst, as well as attracting global attention.

I have never been a digital nomad per se, but I lived a nomadic lifestyle when I moved to Southeast Asia for 5 months over 4 years ago. One thing I knew about this lifestyle is that nobody likes to be lonely, and that digital nomads depend a lot on community. Sometimes it happens naturally (like in Bali or Chiang Mai), but sometimes it takes a bit of effort to create a community for a certain destination (Ponta do Sol in Madeira).

We have noticed that Croatia is on top of many digital nomads’ lists of places to visit, but often when they go here, they don’t have any idea where to go or what to do. They often join the Digital Nomads Croatia Facebook group and ask for advice from other nomads. We wanted to create the first curated digital nomad community in Croatia, by giving them an opportunity to live right next to each other, and work together in a coworking office that is specially created for them.

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3. This is the first time we have heard of a Croatian digital nomad village. Where is it, what is it, what is on offer, and what are the costs?

The village is located in Borik, Zadar. It consists of Falkensteiner Premium Camping Zadar and the Falkensteiner Funimation resort, which are 5 minutes apart on foot, and about 45 minutes' walk from Zadar Old Town.

Those who join the program will get accommodation, access to an exclusive coworking office as well as a local host who will manage events and activities for participants.

Premium Camping Zadar is where the nomads will stay. It consists of mobile homes with a range from 1-3 bedrooms. Nomads will be able to take the whole unit or just an individual bedroom. Each mobile home has WiFi with at least 32/32 speed, AC, an equipped kitchen, terrace, and each bedroom has a separate bathroom. Nomads will also have an option to rent a pitch if they decide to come with a campervan. There is also a grocery store within the resort to buy essentials and a bigger store nearby the resort. 

Hotel Funimation is where the coworking office will be. It's an area of around 90m2 which will be built into an exclusive co-working space for the participants of this program. There, they will also have WiFi available at the minimum speed of 32/32 mbps.

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In addition to the resident nomads, a local host will live among them who will take care of them and manage the events that will be organized for the participants. Some of these events will also be open to the public. Firstly, we will organize events and activities, but as soon as the first nomads start joining, we expect that many of them would want to organize activities, so the list of daily activities should grow on its own. It's a concept we've seen in Madeira, and we believe that it's a great and sustainable model. The local host will also help nomads with any questions they might have. especially for those that are coming straight from another country. 

Although each unit is self-catering, nomads will also be able to choose from a variety of catering options from just breakfast to all three big meals included. This will be charged separately. Participants will also receive a 20% discount for the resort SPA facility, and we will also organise free entrance to some events and facilities. We will also partner with local bars and restaurants in Zadar who are willing to provide a discount for the participants of this project.

The minimum duration of stay will be 2 weeks and the prices depend on the type of mobile home and duration of stay, but it would range from €500 to €1300 per month. We believe that the prices are very DN-friendly as access to coworking space and local-host support is included in the price.

Both Premium Camping and Funimation operate within Covid19 health regulations.

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4. Who is this village aimed at, and how many people are you hoping to attract? 

The village is aimed at digital nomads and remote workers who want to come to Croatia and connect with other people within the community. However, we don’t have any restrictions, and anyone that wants to participate in the community can apply. That means that freelancers and locals can also participate. We believe this project will attract many people, but our goal is to gather around 30 people with a nomadic lifestyle in the first month.

5. Madeira had the first DN village in Europe earlier this year. Are there many others? What lessons have you learned from the Madeira initiative?

Madeira is definitely the project which received the most media attention, and what they did there was amazing. I recently visited Madeira and Ponta do Sol, and the presence of the community is very strong. The project itself did not only bring many nomads to Ponta do Sol, but to the whole island of Madeira, which is, by the way, an amazing island to live in.

One of the key impacts it has brought is that there are now a couple of towns with actual communities around the island, and all of them have a different set of activities and events. For example, everyone knows about the digital nomad sunset party in Ponta do Sol, and even tourists have heard of it and now the whole island wants to go there every Friday to enjoy good music and great people. Goncalo Hall was the project manager of that project, and now he is doing similar projects in a couple of other places which is amazing. On the other hand, a small village in Bulgaria called Bansko has already done something similar 5 years ago already, and every true nomad has heard of that place, even though it’s just a small village next to a ski resort. But the place has become so popular that now there are a couple of coworking spaces for digital nomads in this small town, as well as an annual digital nomad festival.

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6. Why Zadar? 

The vision is to have more places like this in Croatia, and we would like to see such initiatives happening in smaller cities and towns as digital nomads can greatly impact their economy. But for the pilot project, we wanted to focus on a bigger and more recognizable city. Zadar seemed to be the perfect option as it has a lot of access to the sun, is well connected with the rest of the country, is surrounded by islands and already distinguished businesses for foreigners. And we also have a strong and enthusiastic partner in Falkensteiner.

7. Who are the partners in this project?

This project is part of an initiative called Work Remotely Croatia by grabAhome. The partner for this project is Falkensteiner H&R, while the project is being supported by the Digital Nomad Association and Zadar Tourist Board. The core idea is to offer exclusive accommodation and co-working space for participants in this project, but we also plan to organize events and activities where we would like to involve more partners in the project.

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8. When do you expect to launch?

We will be accepting the first participants on October 10.

9. There has been a lot of hype about digital nomads in Croatia, but still a low take-up of the actual permit, although there has been a significant increase in the number of DNs coming to Croatia for periods shorter than a year. How do you see Croatia's current position on the DN scene globally?

I believe that the specially regulated permit for digital nomads was a great way to show that the country is already thinking about digital nomads and it’s the reason why many are considering staying here for a year. By talking to many digital nomads, Croatia seems to be very high on the list for many nomads that want to travel around Europe. But the community is the number one priority for most nomads, and Croatia still has a long way to go in this respect. It takes time to form a strong community, which is why I started running (alongside 2 partners) the Digital Nomad Croatia Facebook group and why we started with this project.

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10. How do you see the DN scene in Croatia 12 months from now? 

DNs currently represent a small niche in Croatian tourism, and I believe that a couple of individuals can create a big difference and have a large impact on this community. We can already see the impact that Total Croatia News and Jan de Jong have brought. So, the way I see it is that we will see many more great individuals in the next 12 months that will do the same, and the more of these individuals we have, the local community and government will see the impact and start focusing more on this niche. As we know, summer represents the majority of Croatian tourism, and with remote workers and slow travelers, we can create a much more sustainable tourism in Croatia. Consequently, I believe that Croatia will do many great things in the next 12 months and will be on top of the list to live in for DNs.

You can learn more about Digital Nomad Village Zadar on the official website.

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

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

City of Dubrovnik Invites Economic Entities to Develop New Offers for Digital Nomads

September 22, 2021 - The city of Dubrovnik has been positioning itself as one of the best-prepared destinations to receive digital nomads, after the success of the In-Residence project. Now, it has invited economic entities and other city services to present new offers for digital nomads and thus continue their arrival.

The City of Dubrovnik, through the Administrative Department for Tourism, Economy, and the Sea, announces a Public Invitation for the participation of economic entities in shaping the offer of Dubrovnik as a destination for digital nomads, reports HrTurizam. The Call invites all interested parties to express their interest through new offers for digital nomads that include accommodation, catering, transport, trade, and other social and service activities in tourism, which would attract digital nomads to choose the City as their place of residence.

Namely, by amending the legislation on 1 January 2021, the Republic of Croatia introduced visas that regulate the temporary stay of the so-called digital nomads. It has thus become only the fifth country in the world to regulate the market, which currently covers 4.8 million people, and which could house 17 million people in the future. The initiative of the Government of the Republic of Croatia was launched due to the fact that more and more people in the world work exclusively online, and the further increase in interest in this specific way of life was additionally influenced by the COVID-19 virus pandemic.

With its geographical location, natural and cultural heritage, and safe environment for a comfortable life, Dubrovnik certainly has the prospect of becoming one of the most desirable destinations for digital nomads, with numerous benefits for the local population. In order to diversify the tourist offer and strive to become a year-round destination, the City of Dubrovnik recognized digital nomads as one of its tourist niches, which is why in 2020 it organized a special conference to discuss digital nomads and implemented the project "Dubrovnik Digital Nomad In-Residence”, which was a success and attracted the attention of the international public.

For positioning on this market, with excellent communication technologies developed by the City of Dubrovnik, it is necessary to adapt, monitor trends and market requirements of this segment of tourism. In this context, it is important to involve employers in shaping the new offers for digital nomads that will attract them and ultimately reap the benefits for the entire community.

Applicants are required to provide information about their company or trade and a statement of intent to participate in this project with the benefits that registered digital nomads can use with them.

Applications are accepted by e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. until September 30, 2021.

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

Monday, 20 September 2021

Stari Grad Through the Lens of a Croatian Digital Nomad Permit Holder

September 6, 2021 - Digital nomads give back to communities in various ways. The sixth in a new series on TCN, following the lens of Steve Tsentserensky, one of the early recipients of the Croatian digital nomad permit. Where better to continue than gorgeous Stari Grad on Hvar?

One of the discussions in Croatia these days surrounds digital nomads. What EXACTLY does Croatia get from digital nomads, especially if they do not have to pay income tax locally with the 12-month permit?

It is a classic Croatian tourism short-term mindset, which has become sadly familiar over the decade I have been writing about the subject. 

For me, there are three key wins for Croatia - and they all cost nothing.

1. Permit holders may not pay tax, but they are spending on rent, food, drink, entertainment once they leave their virtual office. Think of them as long-stay tourists if you will. I never heard of anyone here complaining about tourists spending here.

2. The mindset. This, to me, is one of the most exciting aspects of the digital nomad era. People with fresh ideas, different experiences, stimulating lifestyles. If they are moving to Croatia because it is so great, perhaps Croatia has something to offer, rather than the sad path of emigration. 

3. The fabulous free promo from digital nomads, clearly in love with this beautiful country. They decided to come, love what they find, and want to tell the world how amazing Croatia is - through blogs, Instagram posts and various other forms of social media. Kind of like the national tourist board's job if you like. Only better. 

This series will focus on the last point, the fantastic free promotion of Croatia by these longer term visitors. TCN is thoroughly enjoying our working partnership with one of the early recipients of the digital nomad permit. Steve Tsentserensky from Ohio. Steve first came to my attention with this fabulous video of Zagreb.

We are big fans of Steve's work, and we met recently over a beer or three in Zagreb. Steve will be travelling around the country over the next 12 months (actually, we think a little longer) documenting Croatia through his lens. We thought it would make a nice feature on the site, as well as showing how just one nomad with the permit is spreading the word about this beautiful country, so that others may see and come. 

And so continues our new series - Croatia through the lens of a Croatian digital nomad permit holder, this time in Stari Grad on Hvar.

You can follow Steve on Instagram, where he picked up over 2,000 new followers recently, after his CNBC News video about the Croatian digital nomad lifestyle went viral. Check it out above..

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Friday, 17 September 2021

Initiatives Converge as Zagreb Digital Nomad Community Strengthens

September 17, 2021 - A stimulating evening with current Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Nimrod Dean Kuchel, as various initiatives converge to strengthen the Zagreb Digital Nomad community. 

It is a term which was almost completey unknown in Croatia about 18 months ago. But the pace of progress of the digital nomad concept taking root is unusually quick for a country famed for its relaxed and laid-back lifestyle. 

Having followed and written about the sector for over a couple of years now, it is interesting to follow the different perspectives of those involved on how they see things, as we as observing how various initiatives are converging to build a community. 

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(credits Zoltan Nagy/Saltwater Nomads)

One of the most interesting observations in recent weeks - to me at least - was this comment from one of the recent Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence, currently living on Hvar. 'Digitalni Nomadi' is now a term ordinary people throughout Dalmatia now understand. 

There have been various initiatives in recent times to push the digital nomad scene in Croatia, some working in tandem, others independently. Last night, several converged in what was a significant night for the growing Zagreb digital nomad community.

A social evening, organised by the largest DN social media group, Digital Nomads Croatia, hosted its monthly gathering in the centre of the city, at Bustan Bar. The bar is part of a complex of a converted hostel, which also is home to the first 24/7 co-working space, Myspace. 

Special guest was Dean Kuchel, September's Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador, Nimrod Dean Kuchel, part of the Zagreb Digital Nomad Week project by Saltwater Nomads, the Zagreb Tourist Board, and TCN. 

And among those in the audience was Dutch entrepreneur Jan de Jong, whose initiative to introduce a Croatian digital nomad visa has brought global attention on Croatia as a DN hot spot. 

Kuchel was a very entertaining and enthusiastic keynote speaker during Zagreb Digital Nomad Week (you can see his presentation above), with a focus on building community. One of his mantras is that he travels solo, but never alone. On a mission to visit all the countries in the world (and currently on 101), the presence of an awaiting community is a big draw for him to visit a destination. When asked about his impressions of Zagreb in the short interview below, he answered that Zagreb ticked all the DN boxes, and the only thing missing for nomads in Zagreb was more digital nomads.

He has been very active in promoting Zagreb ever since. Firstly, through the 24,000-strong DN community he runs, and more recently by applying to be a Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador. When we met for a welcome drink shortly after his arrival at the beginning of the month, he stated that his aim was to work to develop the community during his stay. 

Last night's event, of which the centrepiece was Kuchel's AMA (Ask Me Anything) session about his DN lifestyle was both popular and lively. New friendships and networks were developed, ideas traded, and various actors in the digital nomad sector met for the first time. 

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There is a growing momentum with the Zagreb digital nomad story, which seems to be surprising visiting nomads with the quality of the lifestyle, WiFi and spoken English, among many other positives. The growing of a cohesive community and support from international ambassadors such as Kuchel can only accelerate that process. 

An Israeli bar/co-work owner, an Israeli DN ambassador, and a Dutch entrepreneur - all invested in developing Zagreb and Croatia in this exciting new direction, in partnership with great local partners. It is encouraging to see. 

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Kuchel posted his feelings about his Zagreb exprience on social media this week:

Two weeks into my Zagreb visit, I understand why Jan de Jong made Croatia his home.

I was invited to #zagreb by the board of tourism to experience the city as a digital nomad and remote professional.

What I found is a capital city, and a country, taking actions to welcome digital nomads.

Excellent connectivity and speeds everywhere, plenty of co-working spaces, and a one-of-a-kind Digital Nomad visa, so you know no-one is kicking you out after 90 days. Bliss!

Nice people, festive culture, perfect weather, and excellent cost-of-living to quality-of-life ratio - are also included.

Say YES! Go Explore Zagreb. I am there as well, and I'm loving it.Pro tip: bring your mom, she'll thank you.

#remotework #digitalnomads #sayyes #worldtravel

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Read more - Zagreb, Split Attracting More Digital Nomads than Prague, Krakow, Budapest

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

Saturday, 11 September 2021

Dean Kuchel to Hold AMA Session for Digital Nomads in Zagreb

September 11, 2021 - This month's Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador, Nimrod Dean Kuchel, will be holding an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session for Digital Nomads in Zagreb at the Digital Nomads Croatia group gathering next week.

Having lived in Croatia full-time for 18 years, it is always refreshing to hear the first impressions of new arrivals, as time tends to take the edge of one's own impressions of a destination you have lived in for years.

As such, TCN's coverage and advocacy for the digital nomad opportunity in Croatia has been refreshing indeed. Not only have I met some fascinating and stimulating characters with a global perspective (many barely half my age), but the overwhelmingly positive comments about what they are finding on their visits to Croatia is a nice confirmation that we have something very special here. Something which, if developed properly, can repivot Croatia into a fabulous new direction. 

The whole digital nomad buzz is still pretty new here, but it has already attracted global attention. TCN started writing about the potential about May 2019, and there were others before us, but the topic only really started to enter the mainstream media on May 11, 2020 after Split-based Dutch entrepreneur Jan de Jong penned an open letter on LinkedIn to Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, asking him to introduce what would have been only the fifth digital nomad visa in the world at the time (and the second in Europe after Estonia). 

A lot has happened since then, with a lot of people contributing to the story in their various ways. De Jong kept pushing, five ministries coordinated, the law was changed, and on January 1, 2021, the Croatian digital nomad permit came into being. The media coverage was huge, and I can't remember a positive story about Croatia during my time here which got as much free global publicity, with the very notable exception of the World Cup. 

But while de Jong was focused on the visa, there was plenty happening on the ground. Facebook communities catering to digital nomads in Croatia started to pop up, some dedicated to individual cities such as Split, Dubrovnik and Zagreb, as well as Digital Nomads Croatia, which now has a following of 6,700. Saltwater Nomads, in partnership with TCN, and the City of Dubrovnik and Zagreb and Dubrovnik tourist boards, held a number of events which helped to promote Croatia as a DN destination, winning several awards and precious international column inches. These included the first-ever DN conference in Croatia, Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads, the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence Program, and Zagreb Digital Nomad Week & Digital Nomad Ambassador Project. 

And the nomads are coming, as TCN reported recently in some very encouraging statistics extrapolated from NomadList. Read more in Zagreb, Split Attracting More Digital Nomads than Prague, Krakow, Budapest.

One of the stars of Zagreb Digital Nomad Week was Nimrod Dean Kuchel of Digital Nomad World, whose online community numbers an impressive 24,000. This allows Kuchel to travel under the mantra of 'I travel alone, but I never travel solo.' - wherever he travels, he knows that he will bee able to connect either with his own community or one established in the destination. His presentation on the importance of building community was one of the highlights of the conference, and Kuchel was clearly impressed with the potential of Zagreb as a DN destination, as you can see from the short video interview on Lake Jarun, above. 

So much so, in fact, that he decided to return and is currently residing at Doma Zagreb Aparthotel, as the third Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador. 

And he has been busy 'not travelling alone' by catching up with several of his own community, as well as integrating well within the existing community. To have such a fantastic promoter of the digital nomad lifestyle in Zagreb for a month, actively willing to help with his knowledge and experience of community building is a great asset. Young Kuchel has wasted no time in getting involved in the Zagreb scene, and he will be a special guest at the Digital Nomads Croatia gathering at Bustan Bar in the city centre on September 16, where he will be holding a special AMA (Ask Me Anything) session about the digital nomad lifestyle, both in and out of Croatia. 

Dean is a great speaker and a very entertaining guy, and it is great to see nomads seeing the Croatian opportunity from afar and willingly doing their bit to spread the word. Things are starting...

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More details on the event page.

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

Saturday, 11 September 2021

Strong Croatian Lineup at Budva Cross Border Coworking Conference in October

September 11, 2021 - The digital nomad buzz is buzzing around the Balkans, and the focus will be on Budva next month with a strong Croatian and international lineup at the Budva Cross Border Coworking Conference starting on October 4. 

It is not just Croatia which is banging the digital nomad drum in the region. Belgrade and Tirana area also proving very popular destinations in this emerging tourism opportunity, and there are initiatives underway to introduce a digtial nomad visa in both Montenegro and Bosnia and Hercegovina. A stronger region, with good cross-border cooperation, will only enhance the attractiveness of each individual country's offer.

So it is great to see initiatives of colloboration rather than competition taking place, including the Budva Cross Border Coworking Conference in the picturesque Montenegrin resort of Budva from October 4-6. The two-day conference has a great lineup of expert speakers from the regon and beyond, and is introduced as follows on the official website:

From Monday, 4th October, until Wednesday, 6th October 2021, regional and global experts will gather on the Montenegrin coast, and in a series of lectures and panel discussions will deal with current topics and with their experience contribute to a better understanding of this popular trend. Participants in the conference will discuss the concept and perspectives of digital nomads, the potential of the Western Balkans, the experience of digital nomads who have stayed in the region, as well as the packages the coworking spaces that make up the Code Hub network in Mostar, Nikšić, Tuzla, and Zadar will provide to this target group in the coming period. The two-day conference will also discuss the regional coworking scene, the impact of the global pandemic on the sector, the challenges faced by coworking managers over the past 18 months, but also the benefits of distance working, and the prospects for developing new coworking communities.

Several of the driving forces of the Croatian digital nomad scene will be presenting and networking at the conference, sharing their knowledge and encouraging others to take the next steps forward. They include Jan de Jong, the Split-based Dutch entrepreneur, whose open letter on LinkedIn to Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic set the ball rolling for the introduction of the Croatian digital nomad permit from January 1 this year. De Jong has been supporting local initiatives in neighbouring countries, including Montenegro, 

Tanja Polegubic, CEO of Saltwater Nomads, and the architect of three major events in the nascent Croatian DN scene, will also be speaking. Polegubic was behind the first-ever digital nomad conference in Croatia, Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads. This was followed by two award-winning events, the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence Program, and Zagreb Digital Nomad Week & Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Project.

One of the co-organisers and sponsors of the two Dubrovnik events was the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, and Ana Hrnic, Dubrovnik Tourist Board director, will be presenting a best practice example from the region on the city's approach to the digital nomad market. 

An increasingly popular name on the DN conference scene is American Steve Tsentserensky, the 7th successful applicant for the DN permit. Tsentserensky is also doing a great job spreading the message of the wonderful and affordable Croatian lifestyle, including a viral article on CNBC News about the cost of living as a DN in Croatia. The accompanying video above has already racked in over 230,000 views. 

Tomislav Capan is a technical consultant, AWS cloud architect, and software engineer, with over 15 years experience, as well as a community events organiser, occasional speaker, and remote work advocate.

There are also a number of excellent speakers from other countries, as well a lively programme. To learn more about both, visit the official website

The conference is organized within project 2CODE, co-financed by ERDF and IPA II funds of the European Union. Register for free here.

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Zagreb, Split Attracting More Digital Nomads than Prague, Krakow, Budapest

September 7, 2021 - Finding accurate data about the number of digital nomads visiting individual countries is a hard task, but some solid data extrapolated from Nomad List shows some very encouraging trends for Croatia's emerging digital nomad story.

The first statistic I came across when I started writing about the digital nomad opportunity in Croatia over two years ago was that there would be one billion digital nomads in the world by 2035. This was before the major shift in work patterns brought on by the pandemic, and looking back, I think it referred to remote workers (people working remotely, including at home), rather than digital nomads (those who up sticks and move around, usually to other countries). If the number was a billion before the pandemic, I wonder what it is now. 

That vague number has been followed by other vague numbers. Just how many digital nomads are out there, and how many are actually travelling during the pandemic? And where to?

There are, of course, some ways to track some data. The number of applications and approvals for the Croatian digital nomad permit, for example. But this only tells part of the story (the number of people outside the EU who want to commit to living 12 months in Croatia and go through the bureaucratic process during a pandemic). Much more popular (and evident from the various dedicated forums and social media groups dedicated to the subject) is a stay of 1 - 3 months. Finding out accurate data on those numbers is a much harder task, as nomads rarely register themselves as such and so are not easily tracked. 

One of the most interesting things I learned about the changing patters of tourism back in May was that in the first 4 months of 2021, more than 25% of AirBnB bookings were for 28 days or more. A good number of those would be worcations, I am sure, with many a digital nomad included therein.

One thing is clear. The future of remote work has arrived, and the trend to live and travel on the road is only going to grow. And once the pandemic is over, and this trend is more mainstream, then it will become a sizable part of some national economies. As I and others have been advocating for some time now,  this represents a great opportunity for Croatia. The  recent CNBC news feature by American Steve Tsentserensky showcases the financial and lifestyle attractiveness of life in Dalmatia, while showing how a regular nomad pumps US$17,000 into the Croatian economy in 12 months, while also promoting the country for free (the video above has been viewed more than 200,000 times already).

Tsentserensky is one of the 86 approved Croatian digital nomad permit holders, following his successful application after reading about it on TCN. But if less than 100 visas have been issued so far, does that mean that no digital nomads are visiting Croatia?

Far from it!

Nomad List, arguably the leading global digital nomad resource, compiles extensive data on more than 300 DN destinations around the world, including estimated statistics of visitors to a destination by month, year and weighted monthly average.  These statistics can be extrapolated from the site. Before we continue, a word on how the data is calculated:

Values shown are estimated visits by traveling remote workers based on the total amount of trips logged by Nomad List members. Visits to a place are only counted once per year per user, even if they visit more in that year. Not all nomads are on Nomad List, and not all Nomad List members log their trips. So the data is only indicative.

But while the numbers may be indicative, the method of calculation is the same across the board for all destinations. This allows us to see how Croatian destinations are performing against other more established destinations. And the results are MORE than a little encouraging, both in the numbers and rising trends for Croatian destinations. 

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The first piece of good news is that Zagreb is currently ranked 25th as a global digital nomad destination, with an overall ranking of 4.09/5 from 234 reviews, quite an achievement for the Croatian capital, which started its digital nomad campaign with Zagreb Digital Nomad Week back in June. There are three other Croatian cities in the top 200 - Dubrovnik (125), Split (162) and Osijek (165 - no traffic data currently available).  This is a higher number than established Canary Islands DN hot spots such as Las Palmas and Tenerife, and almost on a par with the likes of Porto. 

And when it comes to Central and Eastern Europe, both Split and Dubrovnik are proving more popular than Prague, Krakow and Budapest (the latter admittedly more affected than most by the lockdown). 

Even more encouraging for all three destinations is the rise of the 12-month average number of digital nomads compared to a year ago, with the trend for all Croatian destinations heading the same way. While Zagreb averaged 367 visitors a month when the visa was announced a year ago, that number today is 634. Split was 550 and today is 834, and Dubrovnik too is rising - from 150 to 334. 

Both Zagreb and Split had an estimated 1,200 DN visits in July (Dubrovnik has the same in August), according to the NomadList data. 

Data from two other destinations caught my eye. The Georgian capital , Tbilisi, is among the most popular places in Europe, with a marked rise in visits. Apart from being a great destination (I lived there back in 1995), it also has a visa and is very competitive on price.

And Madeira also has an interesting digital nomad story, having achieved global interest this Spring with the launch of the world's first digital nomad village. While that provided a huge spike of interest, this seems to have dropped off a little, and its monthly average numbers are similar to Split, which has yet to do anything major in terms of digital nomad promotion. 

These numbers, while encouraging, are still small. There are many challenges along the way, not least the pandemic and getting Croatia's message out there. But the data suggests that the foundations are solid, and a dividend from the huge free PR from the digital nomad permit story is already bearing some tiny fruit. A very solid base on which to build. 

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

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