Thursday, 6 May 2021

Checking in with Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence – Ron Tardiff Interview

May 6, 2021 - The Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program is well underway with the nomads getting accustomed to their new place of residence and colleagues. We have caught up with one of them, Ron Tardiff.

Ron Tardiff is quite a guy. He is a highly educated marine ecologist with an impressive educational background. He studied at seven educational institutions pursuing marine sciences (BSc), maritime studies (BA), and aquaculture (MSc). Ron dedicates his work and effort to bettering aquaculture and fishing practices. He advocates better regulation based on scientific research. Ron is also actively voicing his concerns regarding overtourism. Being a dedicated marine ecologist, he is well aware of the environmental damages it brings. In his spare time he practices yoga and learns foreign languages.

Getting to Dubrovnik

Aside from being a dedicated ocean advocate, he is an avid traveller. Not only that, but a true digital nomad. With no preferred spot in which to spend his days, Ron has found himself working, studying and living in 10 different countries. COVID-related travel problems prevented him to get back to Europe. While trying to find a solution, the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program caught his eye. Now, he is testing the waters of the Croatian South and sharing his insights with us and the local community.

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Ron is frustrated with the slow pace at which national governments adopt policies related to digital nomads. For him, it seems like the struggle between the comfort of familiar but outdated practices and progress is taking too long. All he wants is a chance to work in different spots, helping local communities in the process. It might be time to listen to what he has to say.

In a quick interview below check out some of his impressions of Dubrovnik, life in Croatia and Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence. Through conversation with Paul Bradbury Ron reveals the reasons he never considered Dubrovnik before as a digital nomad destination. He also says a few words about cooperating with the other nomads. Find out more below.

You can learn more about the program here

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

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

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

The winner announcement video:

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Digital Nomad Campaign Starts With Over 8 Million Impressions

April 28, 2021 - As part of the first wave of the digital nomad campaign, "Croatia, your new office!", over 8 million impressions were achieved from mid-March to mid-April.

As reported by the Croatian National Tourist Board, activities within the digital nomad campaign, which the Croatian National Tourist Board is conducting on the US market, Canada, and the United Kingdom, were carried out on Facebook and Twitter and aimed exclusively at the target group of potential digital nomads, and all information on the conditions of registration and stay of digital nomads in Croatia can be found on the campaign landing page and subpage ‘‘Croatia your new office’’.

"Digital nomads in the current circumstances can contribute to better occupancy of tourist capacities throughout the year, while digital nomadism itself is increasingly becoming a global trend that brings numerous benefits for a number of activities, including the tourism sector. Croatia has the necessary preconditions to become an attractive and desirable destination for digital nomads, and we will continue to carry out the necessary activities to be as successful as possible", said Croatian Tourist Board Director Kristjan Stanicic, adding that the second wave of the promotional campaign is planned for the second half of 2021.

Let's add that the campaign page mostly searches for the conditions and steps that must be met in order to obtain a visa for "digital nomads", but also the content available in certain destinations. The data also show that the most interesting are tourist products such as active holidays, nature, culture, and eno-gastronomy, but also destinations such as Central Dalmatia, Istria, Dubrovnik, and Zagreb.

That Croatia is recognized as an interesting destination for digital nomads is confirmed by numerous publications in renowned foreign media such as GEO, Lonely Planet, The Washington Post, Forbes, The Mirror, and The Independent, which have dedicated their recent articles to the digital nomad campaign in Croatia.

You can learn more about the digital nomad visa through our interview with Melissa Paul, owner of Croatia's first digital nomad visa earlier this year.

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

Friday, 23 April 2021

Kristina Grbavac Talks Taxation of Digital Nomads in Croatia

April 23, 2021 - TCN meets the director of the Taxation Services Department at KPMG Croatia, Kristina Grbavac, to discuss the taxation of digital nomads in Croatia.

Croatian tax and immigration legislation were amended in 2020 to welcome digital nomads to Croatia: a digital nomad visa was introduced and income based on the acquired status of a digital nomad became tax-exempt and relieved of the tax reporting obligation in Croatia.

Even though it might look like all tax matters are covered with this exemption, there are still some open questions to be considered by digital nomads.  

Kristina Grbavac, director of the Taxation Services Department at KPMG Croatia, discusses the taxation of digital nomads in Croatia.

In which country is a digital nomad a tax resident?

The question of tax residency is important because the country of tax residency has the right to tax worldwide income, while another country has the right to tax income sourced in that country only.  

Therefore, digital nomads should first check and regulate their tax (non)residency status in their home country and country from which they are coming to Croatia (if different from their home country).   

Based on the Croatian tax legislation, a tax resident is a physical person who has a permanent residence or habitual abode in Croatia, which amongst other includes the following:

  • owning or holding a home or flat in Croatia for at least 183 days;
  • permanent stay in Croatia for at least 183 days; and
  • other factors like his/her family residing in Croatia, not being tax resident elsewhere, etc.

Since there are no specific provisions in the Croatian legislation on the tax residency of digital nomads, the above rules for tax residency would apply to digital nomads too.

Based on the digital nomad visa, digital nomads can stay in Croatia for a year, which is more than 183 days mentioned above; therefore, due to their stay in Croatia, they might become Croatian tax residents.  

Should a digital nomad be a tax resident of a country with which Croatia has an effective Double Taxation Agreement and at the same time be a Croatian tax resident, the provisions of the relevant Double Taxation Agreement should be reviewed in order to determine the overall residency.

Therefore, there is no unique answer on the tax residency of digital nomads, but to conclude on someone’s tax residency, his/her specific personal facts should be considered.

If digital nomads would become Croatian tax residents, Croatia would have the right to tax their worldwide income.  

Is other income earned by a digital nomad taxable in Croatia?

A digital nomad who only earns income based on which he/she acquired the status of a digital nomad in Croatia, will neither pay tax in Croatia nor will have tax reporting obligations in Croatia.

Furthermore, a digital nomad who would be tax non-resident in Croatia, and his/her only income source in Croatia would be income based on his/her digital nomad status, will also have no tax payment or reporting obligations in Croatia.

However, Croatian tax resident digital nomads who earn other types of income will be taxable in Croatia on these other types of income. Other types of income include all different sorts of income, and the most common examples are dividend income, capital gains, and rental income.  

For example, if a Croatian tax resident digital nomad while staying and working in Croatia as a digital nomad receives dividends from shares in non-Croatian companies (e.g. US or German companies) or rental income for renting an apartment to someone else while he/she is in Croatia, that income should be reported to the Croatian tax authorities and tax paid in Croatia. 

Therefore, digital nomads should carefully consider whether they earn any other types of income that could be taxable in Croatia.

Is a Croatian digital nomad subject to tax in some other country?

Even though a digital nomad's income is tax-exempt in Croatia, it does not mean digital nomads do not have to report their income to their home country or some other country in which they resided before.

Therefore, besides checking their tax status in Croatia, digital nomads should carefully check if they have any tax liabilities in the countries they lived before.

Will the work of a digital nomad in Croatia create any tax risk for his/her own company or his/her employer?

This is the question most individuals who work remotely are not aware of, and most individual travellers think that their mobility impacts their personal taxation only.

However, working abroad might create some tax obligations and risks for employers or companies owned by international travellers.

For example and in a very simplified manner, if a digital nomad in Croatia manages his own company’s business from Croatia, his/her company might become taxable on its profits in Croatia.  

Furthermore, digital nomads who work for their foreign employers from Croatia might create a taxable presence (so-called taxable permanent establishment) in Croatia for their employers. This would depend on various factors, including their job description, activities, authority to conclude contracts or negotiate their terms, etc. 

A taxable permanent establishment is not a term specific for Croatia, but is common in most countries; however, awareness of international travellers on this matter is low and, therefore, many times is the question of the taxable permanent establishment not examined.

Any changes in the tax legislation expected in the future?

Significant changes to the legislation have already been made, which answered the main questions. 

However, the idea behind the digital nomad's initiative was to make the move of digital nomads to Croatia easier, to remove administration obstacles and tax costs that could refrain them from moving to Croatia, and there are still many open questions related to their taxation.

Therefore, it is important to resolve the remaining matters too to allow digital nomads to move to Croatia without being concerned about their taxation.

In the light of that, further changes to the Croatian tax legislation would be expected.

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

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Unlimited Internet for Digital Nomads with Hrvatski Telekom!

April 20, 2021 - Now you can work from any location in Croatia, as unlimited internet for digital nomads with Hrvatski Telekom is now available! 

One of the great benefits that technology provides is that today we do not necessarily have to be tied to a desk, office, or even a country to do the job. A laptop, tablet, or smartphone, and a reliable internet connection make it possible to work anywhere in the world, and Croatia is an excellent choice.

To support the fast-growing community of digital nomads and provide them with quality working conditions, Hrvatski Telekom has prepared an ‘Unlimited Internet’ bundle that is simple to activate. All digital nomads need is to ask for this bundle on the website and it will arrive at their chosen address. This allows the user to easily top up and use the card for a longer stay in Croatia.

The ease of use and the fact that no contractual obligation is required make the ‘Unlimited Internet’ bundle ideal for all digital nomads living life on the move. It can be activated first for one week at the price of 85 kunas. This weekly offer includes seven days of unlimited surfing. The SIM card is activated when you first connect to the internet, and immediately after activation, you can use the unlimited surfing option. For each further reactivated Flat Surf option, users get a 20 kuna discount, so that the price of this option is 60 kunas per week. The maximum single top-up is HRK 2,000, which is enough to cover slightly more than eight months.

The estimation is that there are 4.8 million people in the world who have in some way opted for a digital-nomadic lifestyle, with as many as 17 million people aspiring to it. Having in mind the characteristics of such a lifestyle, mobility, flexibility, creating your own schedule, and choosing the location of work, Hrvatski Telekom wants to provide digital nomads with a fast and stable internet connection at any time and in any place, which is crucial for their work.

“We listen to the market and the needs of our users every day. With the ‘Unlimited Internet’ bundle, we wanted to make work easier for digital nomads who are already in Croatia and for those who consider Croatia as a destination from which to work to show that one of the ten fastest mobile networks in the world makes it not only possible, but also an excellent choice“, said Richard Brešković, Director of Residential Marketing Sector of Hrvatski Telekom.

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

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Meet Dubrovnik's Digital Nomads-in-Residence: Ron Tardiff from USA in Budapest

April 11, 2021 - The 10 winners of the innovative Dubrovnik Digital Nomad-in-Residence (DNiR) competition have been announced. Meet them one by one. Next up Ron Tardiff from the USA, but currently in Budapest.

The DNiR programme, which has been designed by Saltwater Nomads, in partnership with Total Croatia News, the CIty of Dubrovnik and the Dubrovnik Tourist Board (and financed by the latter two), is an innovative direction for the Pearl of the Adriatic, as it looks to diversify its tourism strategy away from overtourism and in the wake of the pandemic. 

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1. You are a DN-i-R winner. Congratulations! How do you feel?

I’m ecstatic and honored to participate in this groundbreaking program! I’m also just really humbled to have the opportunity to work with such an iconic city. 

2. How did you hear about the competition, and why did you decide to apply?

Well, there’s a bit of a back story here. After things fell through trying to get a digital nomad visa to relocate to Portugal (in part because of Covid, in part because of bureaucratic indifference), I ended up stuck in the US with no way to get back to Europe. Having spent most of the last 5 years in Europe, I was pretty desperate to get back. I stumbled upon Total Croatia News and the travel Viber group back in July explaining how Americans could get back into Europe through Croatia. After two weeks in Zadar, I moved on to Budapest where I basically got a digital nomad residency and ended up meeting my girlfriend who will be joining me on this adventure. So, cheers to you, TCN. 

While checking out TCN one day, I read about Jan de Jong’s letter to the government and I’ve been following him on LinkedIn ever since. So, that’s how I found out about the program. Apart from the fairly drab Budapest winter, made more dull by persistent lock-down conditions, I was motivated to apply for a few reasons. 

  1. I have been routinely frustrated by antiquated bureaucracy that makes life hard for digital nomads for no reason. I actually have a Master’s degree from Greece, but there’s no practical way for me to stay there and contribute to the economy as a digital nomad. Nonsense. So basically, I’m on board with anything that helps illustrate the value of digital nomads.
  2. Having travelled extensively, and usually slowly (for weeks or months in one place at a time) I find the whole notion of short-duration, shallow tourism to be pretty silly. And as a marine ecologist, I understand the myriad environmental problems that stem from this kind of mass tourism. It seems the pandemic has given cities like Dubrovnik and Venice a chance to stop, take a breath, and realize that embracing the future of work could be a better path forward for both locals and travelers. I’m also eager to research and write about how rethinking tourism is frankly essential for meeting key sustainability goals like the EU Blue Growth Strategy.
  3. Plus, who could resist a month stay in the city where Game of Thrones was filmed??

3. Which particular skills and ideas will you be bringing to the party?

I’ve been fortunate enough to live, work and study in 10 countries, so I bring a wealth of multi-cultural experience and international perspective. Having dedicated my life to understanding and improving how humans interact with our marine environments, I’m also excited to contribute the sustainability/ecology angle to our co-creation with the city.

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4. What are you must looking forward to about DNIR?

I’m most looking forward to exploring this unique model with a really eclectic group of people. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to experience what Croatia has to offer as my new office and sharing that with the world. I hope at the end of this first iteration, that Dubrovnik and other cities around the world will embrace the potential of hosting Digital Nomads-in-Residence and leveraging the highly diverse skillset they often bring.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to anyone that I can’t wait to be exploring the many sights southern Croatia has to offer! Oh, and as I discovered during my first visit to Croatia, the wine there is phenomenal and I’m already anticipating my first glass by the sea.

5. Let's get you involved in the Dubrovnik community. Who or what would you like to connect with?

I’d love to connect with anyone engaged in Croatia's blue economy. That includes those in marine conservation, research, the aquaculture industry, fishing, etc. I also have an interest in innovation and youth engagement in sustainability, so meeting anyone working along those lines would be fantastic!

Here is Ron's application video:

You can learn more about the programme here

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

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

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

The winner announcement video:

 

 

Friday, 9 April 2021

10 Digital Nomads, 7 Countries: Dubrovnik DN-i-R Winners Announced (VIDEO)

April 9, 2021 - 10 digital nomads from 7 countries have been announced as the winners of the inaugural Dubrovnik Digital Nomad-in-Residence in a video presentation at a press conference in the city. 

They originate from California, Texas, Japan, Finland, Spain, Hungary, the Netherlands, and the UK, but are currently located in several other locations. But they all have one thing in common - on April 23, they will all descend on Dubrovnik, to take up their positions in the world's first Digital Nomad-in-Residence programme (DN-I-R), set to take place in Croatia. 

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The DN-i-R programme, which has been designed by Saltwater Nomads, in partnership with Total Croatia News, the CIty of Dubrovnik and the Dubrovnik Tourist Board (and financed by the latter two), is an innovative direction for the Pearl of the Adriatic, as it looks to diversify its tourism strategy away from overtourism and in the wake of the pandemic. 

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Given the global situation, it was perhaps fitting that the location of the press conference was just outside the UNESCO World Heritage Site and its famous old walls at Lazareti. Completely renovated in 2018, Lazareti is now a spectacular multi-purpose event location. Its origins are as the original quarantine station in Dubrovnik. The Dubrovnik Republic was the first state to introduce quarantine back in 1377. 

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The press conference was given by Deputy Mayor of Dubrovnik, Jelka Tepsic, Dubrovnik Tourist Board Director, Ana Hrnic, Saltwater Nomads CEO, Tanja Polegubic, and TCN CEO, Paul Bradbury. 

The lucky 10 digital nomads were chosen from a very international field of 115 applicants, from 27 countries. You can see who they are with this compilation video above, which was put together from the application video submissions. Over the coming days, TCN will be introducing them individually. They are:

Kelsey Kay Love from Texas (currently in Los Angeles)

Charlie Brown from UK (currently in Zagreb)

Ron Tardiff from USA (currently in Budapest)

Marlee McCormick from Texas

Albert Cañigueral from Spain

Zoltan Nagy from Hungary (currently in Tenerife)

Alyssa Isogawa from USA/Japan (currently in California)

Rob Schubert from the Netherlands (currently in Estonia)

Carolyn Zelikow from USA (currently on Hvar)

Kaisu Koskela from Finland (currently in Gran Canaria)

It was a high-quality field of applications, and there are several ways that other applicants can still be involved. TCN will shortly be announcing giveaways, virtual networking opportunities, and the chance to attend the final event in May. 

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The press conference over, it was down to the hard work. The excellent relationship between city, tourist board and Saltwater Nomads has already delivered the first digital nomad conference in Croatia, Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads in October, 2020. Jelka and Tanja have built up an excellent working relationship, and there is still plenty of organisation ahead, now that the selection process is over.  

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One of the gorgeous Lazareti rooms has been made available to the DN-i-R project as a coworking space, right on the water.  

You can learn more about the programme here

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

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

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

Friday, 26 March 2021

Croatia, Your New Office: British Media Promote New Digital Nomad Campaign

March 26, 2021 - Croatia, your new office, is a new campaign by the Croatian National Tourist Board to attract digital nomads. 

HRTurizam reports that the Croatian National Tourist Board (CNTB) has launched a campaign to position Croatia as an attractive destination for digital nomads.

Thus, the campaign started in the renowned and most widely read British dailies, The Mirror and The Independent, which published articles in which Croatia was presented as a desirable and attractive destination for digital nomads. They are some of the most widely read media publications in the UK, with a total follow-up of more than 50 million readers.

"Croatia is recognized in Great Britain as an attractive destination whose rich natural and cultural heritage the British admire. We are sure that our gastronomy, climate, and nature will inspire many Britons to get to know our country even better as digital nomads and enjoy its benefits," said the director of the Croatian National Tourist Board in the United Kingdom, Darija Reić, adding that these announcements significantly contribute to the general visibility of Croatia as a tourist destination in this important market.

The Independent states that a special visa for digital nomads has been introduced in Croatia this year, making Croatia one of the few countries in the world where formal conditions for the life and work of digital nomads have been created. In the continuation of the article, the journalist writes about the Croatian Tourist Board's promotional campaign, "Croatia, your new office!" launched to promote Croatia as an interesting destination with quality living conditions for digital nomads.

The Mirror says that "Croatia's new remote worker visa allows Brits to come and stay for up to a year," listing the excellent living conditions in Croatia in the status of digital nomads, emphasizing the unique natural beauties of Croatia, such as islands, national parks, interesting cities, and beautiful beaches.

In addition to PR and media activities, the advertising campaign will be conducted through the social networks Facebook and Twitter with a special focus on the markets of the USA, Canada, and the United Kingdom, the CNTB points out.

As a reminder, the Croatian National Tourist Board (CNTB) recently published on its website a special subpage for digital nomads - Croatia, your new office, which contains all important information related to the registration and stay of digital nomads in Croatia.

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

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Just 6 Days Left to Apply: Meet the Dubrovnik DN-i-R Stunning Regional Tours

March 25, 2021 - With just 6 days left to apply for the Dubrovnik DN-i-R (Digital Nomads in Residence) competition, a look at some of the magic that awaits the 10 lucky winners.  

(This article is sponsored by the City of Dubrovnik and Dubrovnik Tourist Board.)

There are just six days to go until applications close for the Dubrovnik DN-i-R competition, the first of its kind in the world. Ten lucky winners, to be announced on TCN on April 5, will be guests of the city of Dubrovnik for four weeks from April 23. The Dubrovnik DN-i-R programme will be the first such cooperation between a destination and resident digital nomads, working together to develop the destination's strategy for its digital nomad offer. 

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The concept, developed and implemented by Saltwater Nomads, is a collaboration with the City of Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik Tourist Board, and the Croatian National Tourist Board, with media support from TCN. 

In addition to the free accommodation, specialised workshops and other activities, Dubrovnik's ten remote-working guests will be taken around the region to explore some of the magic of Dubrovnik, both inside - but especially outside - its city walls. 

I always find it amusing to hear tourists complaining that there is nothing to do in Dubrovnik once you have been around the old town. Nothing could be further from the truth! Add Dubrovnik, the city, to Dubrovnik, the region, and you have a quite sensational offer. And that is before you consider the gems right across international borders, such as the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Mostar in Bosnia and Hercegovina and Kotor in Montenegro.

Considering applying but not yet convinced? Perhaps this official overview of the excursions will help persuade you. You can find out more about the application process here.  

1 - Tour of Dubrovnik Old Town

– sightseeing tour of the Old City of Dubrovnik and the city walls with the local guide – organized by Dubrovnik Tourist Board 

Learn more about Dubrovnik on the official Dubrovnik Tourism Board website.

2  - Korcula

 – a weekend trip to Korcula island (sightseeing tour of the Old City of Korcula – birthplace of Marco Polo; hiking /cycling from town Korcula to Lumbarda, winery visit; visiting other places on the island – Blato, Vela Luka…) – organized by Korcula Tourist Board

Korčula – this central Dalmatian island stretches out parallel to the nearby mainland in a west-east direction. The island is 46.8 km in length, with an average width of 5.3 to 7.8 kilometres and a surface area of 270 km2, making it the sixth-largest island in the Adriatic Sea. It is separated from the Pelješac peninsula by the Pelješac Channel, only 1270 m wide at its narrowest point. The island of Korčula is indented with a series of bays and coves. Exploring the island only adds to its natural beauty: every part of it is worth exploring. Near the city of Korčula is an archipelago of twenty uninhabited islands covered in dense macchia thickets and accessible coastline: on some, the smooth stone slabs along the shore are perfect for sunbathing. The island of Korčula has been inhabited since prehistoric times, with past traces of life being uncovered at many places on the island. The oldest finds were stone knives from the Neolithic age discovered on the islet of Badija near Korčula. The site with the richest Neolithic age finds is Vela spilja (Large Cave) at Vela Luka.

Learn more about the incredible island of Korcula.

 3 - Mljet

 -a weekend trip to Mljet island – one of the 8 national parks of Croatia (active tour of the island – cycling, hiking, kayaking, visit of the national park and 2 saltwater lakes, boatride to the Odysseus cave…) – organized by Mljet Tourist Board

Mljet – the first large island we come upon while sailing the from the southeast in Croatian waters. In historical times, the entire island was inhabited by the Illyrians. The Greeks, on their way to Lumbarda (island of Korčula) and other Adriatic settlements arrived there and stayed due to the water and bad weather. The island was also inhabited by the Romans, who left behind archaeological remnants, the most significant of which is the palace in Polače harbor, as well as the names of the island heights, hills and reefs, unquestionable proof of their residence on the island. Mljet is Croatia’s greenest island with lush Mediterranean vegetation, clear and clean sea, a gentle, sandy shoreline and a wealth of underwater sea life. This island is well known for its southern sorts of white and red wine, which receive a special flavour and aroma from the sun and the specific Mljet soil. The island is also well known for its goat’s cheese and honey which, in the past, was served in the emperor’s courts, and mostly for the warmness with which the islanders greet visitors to their island.

Learn more on the official Mljet Tourist Board website.

 4 - Konavle

– one-day excursion to Konavle area (sightseeing of the town Cavtat, museum in the village Cilipi, Old watermill in village Ljuta and some other sights and villages). – organized by Cavtat Konavle Tourist Board

Konavle is a region with particular natural beauties and contrasts: mountain and valley, green hills and naked stone, the blue and the green or, as called by the inhabitants of Konavle, "Gornja" and "Donja Banda". Fringed by the Konavle mountains in the North, bordered by the Adriatic Sea in the South, it reaches from the entry into the Bay of Kotor to the peninsula of Prevlaka in the East, and in the West, it inclines down to the cosy coves of Obod and Cavtat. The preserved natural, unique and exceptionally precious rural architecture, numerous monuments of the thousand-year-old history of this area, traditions that are hundreds of years old and have been kept through folklore, the distinctive traditional costumes of Konavle and the Konavle embroidery, the harmony of man's life and nature …all this renders Konavle unique and recognisable.

Learn more on the official Cavtat Konavle Tourist Board website.


5 - Primorje

 – one-day excursion to Dubrovnik Primorje area (visit of town Slano, the Rector’s palace, villages up the hills…) – organized by Dubrovacko Primorje Tourist Board

The Coast of Dubrovnik is a gentle region of olive groves and vineyards, with an indented shore and lavish vegetation... Slano is the biggest and most important small town and a community centre. Traditionally, the villages in the immediate hinterland are municipally linked to it, forming a constituent part of the Community of the Dubrovnik Coast. Slano is 30 kilometres from the centre of Dubrovnik. It is situated in a spacious and beautiful bay of the same name, which was a flooded valley, next to the walled shoreline, opposite the island of Šipan and divided by the Koločep Channel. Slano is attractive due to its numerous pebble beaches, lush vegetation and pleasant climate. 

The bay is protected from the wind, so that it is an ideal haven and anchorage for ships, boats and yachts. Its economy is based on tourism with accommodation provided by the hotels “Admiral” and “Osmine”, private pensions, apartments, campsites and other venues; also on agriculture (olives, vines, fruit), fishing and other marine activities.

Learn more on the official Slano Tourist Board website.

The final date for applications is March 31, so there is still time. It is going to be a fantastic 4 weeks in a dream destination. Full details on the competition, rules and application process on the Saltwater Nomads website.

Learn more about the programme in this in-depth interview with its creator, Saltwater Nomads CEO Tanja Polegubic

The Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Frankovic, has been heavily involved in the city's Dubrovnik digital nomad initiative from the start. Mayor Frankovic talks about this, as well as other tourist topics, in this recent TCN interview

Thursday, 18 March 2021

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

March 18, 2021 - There are less than 2 weeks to go until applications for the Dubrovnik Digital Nomad-in-Residence (DN-I-R) competition closes. An in-depth interview with competition creator, Tanja Polegubic of Saltwater Nomads. 

The pandemic has been a strange time for all of us, but it has also brought new directions and opportunities. I would never have expected to have been involved in the organisation of Croatia's first-ever digital nomad conference, Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads

2020 was a great year for the digital nomad sector in Croatia, culminating of course in the introduction of the digital nomad permit on January 1. Now nomads meeting the criteria are able to live for one year in Croatia and work remotely. TCN teamed up with one of the early pioneers in these fairly uncharted waters, Saltwater Nomads. Dubrovnik was the first destination to see the value in what we were offering, we have been working with them ever since. 

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Saltwater CEO, Tanja Polegubic, designed and delivered the October conference, and she is also behind the Dubrovnik Digital Nomad-in-Residence competition, a unique concept which has attracted considerable international attention. And some VERY strong early applications. 

There has also been some confusion about the competition and what we are trying to achieve, and I thought that the best way to explain more would be to get young Tanja to explain in more depth. 

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(Photo by Damira Kalajzic)

It is being billed as the world's first digital nomad-in-residence competition, in partnership with the city and tourist board of Dubrovnik. Can you briefly explain what that means exactly, and what you are trying to achieve?

The notion of a scholar- or artist-in-residence is a globally recognised concept. These residencies are models of collaboration; they bring diversity to an institution, and foster an environment for research, knowledge sharing - and in this case, the goal will be implementation.

The selected DN-I-Rs will participate in design thinking workshops and present their findings on shaping a Digital Nomad Friendly city.

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The first goal in working with Dubrovnik was to build awareness about the city and what it can offer for digital nomads, as it was not previously known for this - but was certainly infamous! This is in motion, with much international media coverage about Croatia’s most famous city. Like most places, it is undergoing a transformation - everyone knows what Dubrovnik looked like before. Digital nomads are only one aspect of this. We are using a co-creation model to look at ways digital nomads fit this new direction.

You are offering 10 lucky winners the chance to spend 4 weeks as guests of Dubrovnikworking with the city to develop their strategy to better serve digital nomads. Who is eligible to apply, and what kind of applicants are you looking for ideally?

Anyone who can be a digital nomad for a month can apply. This might be first-timers, who are perhaps working from home right now - or a seasoned digital nomad travelling the world.

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We are looking for applicants who will bring value to the program. This isn’t a free ride - even though you’ll go on some amazing local area tours, free! We want to see evidence you will commit and can make a contribution. We’re looking for diversity in age and professions. We also need to know what skills you will bring, and we have answers such as “community building, playing the ukulele, history knowledge” so it is really about what an individual brings and looking at how that will fit in a group. We don’t expect people to have experience doing this before,or1 million followers 

If you are asking for a hot tip - I can only say, ensure it reflects your personality - we want to see the real you. Also, do some research on Dubrovnik to inform the reason WHY you are applying.

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(The Lazareti, the original quarantine premises for the Dubrovnik  Republic, which is where the first digital nomad conference in Croatia was held)

The application period is already open and runs until March 31. How has the response been so far? 

The applications we’ve received so far are diverse and strong. As it’s the first time it has been done, this will be the benchmark. There are also COVID19 factors to consider. Not many people are sure of their ability to travel right now. On that note - COVID19 safety is our high priority and we are operating within the prescribed guidelines and in constant consultation with the City about this.

We are confident a high-quality group will emerge.

There will be other opportunities to be involved, so anyone who applies will get this information, first.

Your company, Saltwater Nomads, is providing both the concept and the delivery of the Dubrovnik Nomads-in-Residence programme. Why Dubrovnik?

First Movers

Dubrovnik was the first to recognise and follow through on the idea to welcome digital nomads to an external audience.

Sustainability

Dubrovnik was, according to some reports, the second most overcrowded city in the world. I watched on during the war. I visited for the first time in 2001 as a volunteer at Trsteno Arboretum. I considered it as a destination when I first began researching opening a cowork in 2015. Its history is … epic. It is Croatia’s best-known city, so when it prospers, this can only benefit every other city in Croatia - nomads travel. So, from bringing wider benefits to Croatia, to delivering a more sustainable approach - the why is clear to me.

Action-oriented

Getting things done in Dalmatia can be difficult, drawn out and tiring. There’s a lot of skills atrophy. Complaints, with no action. A brain drain. Anyone with a more open-minded and longterm vision, in this case a city - is where energies should go right now. Local council and institutional support is key.

Dubrovnik has demonstrated it “gets it”, and I forgot for a while what that looked like. I am also pleased to say, other cities are taking progressive steps, and were perhaps limited due to many factors - so I am confident Dubrovnik is just the start.

Keep an eye out for new projects in Zagreb, Bačvice beach Split and an island.

You are known as one of the pioneers of the remote work initiative in Croatia, opening your first co-working space back in 2017, and there has been a lot of buzz regarding the Croatian digital nomad 'visa', or permit. How has the scene changed in Croatia since you started?

I started researching opening a coworking space here in 2015. My father became ill, and ultimately passed away, so I did not come until 2017. Prior to Covid-19, it was a tough run on the coast. You’re too expensive in Summer, and there’s not much to offer in Winter, so no one knows about you and goes to Bali instead. Also, no one knew what I was doing - but my first “walk-in” the first month I opened was from Google. I wasn’t even ready yet, but I took this as a sign I was onto something. In that time, I branched out to do a range of project work, and met a lot of people and discovered the kind of person I would want to do business with - having had no experience in business - and really learning a lot. I am still learning.

The pandemic (and as a result, working from home) has changed everything. Croatia’s new digital nomad permit has turned it into turbo mode. There are more online services due to COVID19. These are progressive steps to making Croatia ideal for digital nomads.

The thing I most expect to change, is a rise in people with Croatian origins also considering Croatia as their office. I already see it, in fact.

What are the biggest challenges for Croatia and its tourism providers in order that they fully take advantage of this opportunity? I am struck, for example, by high levels of enthusiasm to offer 'digital nomad tourism' without necessarily a clear understanding of what that entails.

This is a long-term journey arising out of the pandemic. Digital nomads are just a part of it. While it is great to see enthusiasm, a more informed approach and diversification would be wise. Can digital nomads be one form of moving toward this? I believe so.

I am reading and talking to some of the more visionary thinkers to offer something other than tourism. It is my belief that a digital nomad audience can deliver capacity-building opportunities regular tourism cannot, for example, by knowledge sharing and showing “you can work from anywhere” helps the younger generation see they have options. Also, Croatia is a place which can be a base for different sectors. Again, to touch on Croatians outside Croatia - if the rest of the world is coming here to work, why can’t you - but in this case, actually invest or run a business, which a non-EU national on a digital nomad permit currently cannot.

The biggest challenge, currently, is education. Providers need to know why and how a digital nomad is different to a regular tourist.

For example, this includes longer stays, a desire for more immersion in community and feeling at home.

Longer stays are the best example - it is hard for someone who has previously made 8,000 euro in 1 month to now offer the same apartment for 800 euro. Thus, landlords must decide if they will offer monthly bookings vs nightly. This is currently, and I expect will continue to be, Croatia’s greatest challenge; it impacts a decision on where to stay and will be a deterrent if prices and convenience are not available year-round. Some incentives for more properties to offer this is one way which can help.

Also, knowing what to offer.

A lot of people are working from home - the kitchen table is not always suitable. Nor is slow or unreliable internet. People are travelling with or adopting pets. They are self-catering more. They require everyday household items - such as more coathangers. It really can be that simple. You need to consider utilities pricing, and then things like whether you are registering a nomad as a tourist, or will have a lease - as the taxes differ. There’s a lot of new information and adjustments to be made. Some are quick fixes, some need more investment.

These are areas which can be addressed, and I am confident Croatia offers everything - Lifestyle being number 1.

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(With Digital Nomad Association co-founder, Jan de Jong)

You are also a co-founder of the Digital Nomad Association in Croatia. Tell us a little about that.

Working in a tough town with a tough business to make viable has meant I’ve encountered almost every problem imaginable for digital nomads. I enter the DNA bringing these insights, as I’ve directly been impacted by the same issues a digital nomad, or business serving digital nomads, may face.

Being part of DNA Croatia with Jan and Karmela is one of the greatest things to come out of last year. I learn every day from the different skills my colleagues have, and we each bring a different perspective.

The association is about strength in numbers. Our current focus is heavily administrative, and the next focus is to drive membership, and collectively work toward meeting our five goals which are: representation (eg. to government bodies), community building, education, information and certification (eg. ‘digital nomad friendly’ properties). I also believe we were the first in the world with such an association. We really saw the need to get things right from the start of the permit being launched. How? We bring a range of collective expertise.

There’s entrepreneurial, community work and NGO experience in our founding team. Every day, we hear from and factor in how people in Croatia or digital nomads want to be served. Our aim is to bring all this together.

Each one of us is passionate, has a strong network - and is actively contributing to make Croatia realise its potential. Even in the face of occasional criticism - but from what I see, the ones who criticise are quick to give an opinion, but haven’t done anything to change things.

And finally, what are you hoping the end results will be of the programme, and how will you measure its success?

The expectations are high. Success is a happy City and Tourist Board, number one. Next are the participants. We’re promising a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so it’s a big task.

We’re confident the workshops will be engaging and involve members of the community in a co-creation model. For example, the tourist council is a knowledgeable base of experts to engage, through to tour guides, historians, you name it. The structure of the program will determine who is identified - the first task is to see how the digital nomads experience the City themselves. It then calls for the involvement of relevant local stakeholders. This is built into the co-creation model. Some locals have already reached out, which is wonderful.

Enjoyment

The tour program made my jaw drop (I don’t know how anyone will get any of their regular work done with all there is to do)! The participants are there to enjoy being in Dubrovnik for a month as special guests of the City and Tourist board. It has to be a positive experience, which they will promote, with authenticity.

Sustainability

It is a thrown-around term. Still, our efforts are intended for there to be ongoing benefits beyond the four weeks of the DN-I-R program. Will our findings and recommendations be able to be implemented? Will they benefit incoming digital nomads and locals? Sustainability equals success.

Local buy-in

The City and Tourist Board supports this and recognises its value. During the program, which uses a co-creation model, we continue to look to the City and Tourist Board for guidance on who and how to engage with the community they serve. When a number of new products and services emerge - as a result of this program and other efforts, then it’s a win/win.

Beyond Dubrovnik’s walls

Success is other locations - in the region or beyond, adopting a similar or modified approach - i.e. making the effort to do something to suit a remote working audience. It doesn’t have to be so intensive, but the roadmap is expected to have some universal ‘tweaks’, but of course there will be location-specific things to implement.

Numbers

The moonshot is to be profiled as a best-practice example for cities adopting new strategies to cater to remote workers and demonstrate Croatia has some of the best places to live by more digital nomads coming. We are slow when you compare us to other established Mediterranean countries - so we are making up for it. For a tourist-reliant city to make such a move, this has already drawn the attention of urban planning publications - so already, the world is watching. Success is when they start coming to live and work here.

There is still time to apply, with applications accepted until March 31. Learn more about the competition rules and apply via the official Saltwater entry form.

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

Friday, 12 March 2021

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

March 12, 2021 - With the pandemic affecting its 2020 tourist season more than most of Croatia, Dubrovnik is actively gearing up for new markets and strategies for 2021. TCN caught up with Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Frankovic.

Nowhere suffered more in Croatian tourism last year 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 into a rethink on its tourism strategy to deal with the current pandemic realities. 

Rather than sit back and hope for the best, Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Frankovic has taken 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 last year, Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads, an event organised by Saltwater Nomads with support from TCN. 

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(Applications for the competition close on March 31 - you can learn more about it and apply here).

Inspired by the success of that conference and the global interest it generated, the Dubrovnik Mayor and his team have been working closely with Saltwater Nomads and TCN to develop a strategy to attract remote workers to the city. Last week, the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence competition was launched, the first of its kind in the world.

TCN caught up with the Dubrovnik Mayor to talk more about that, as well as the 2021 season prognosis, rumours of direct flights from New York, Dubrovnik's perception of an expensive destination, and more. 

1. You are one of the most famous destinations in the world, heavily reliant on cruise and flight tourism. What was the full effect of the pandemic on Dubrovnik tourism last year?

The figures are the best thing to look at when it comes to testifying to the situation, and they say that Dubrovnik ended the year with 20 percent of the total number of overnight stays when comparing to 2019. The fact that we depend the most on flights hit us the hardest. On top of that, among the most affected in the entire tourism industry is the cruise industry, which also makes up a significant part of tourism in Dubrovnik.

2. In October, you hosted Croatia's first-ever digital nomad conference. Tell us about the initiative and the opportunity for your city.

Turning Dubrovnik towards digital nomads is part of a serious focus being placed on diversifying our tourist offer and developing new facilities. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected tourism-related economies, and Dubrovnik has felt significant consequences in this regard. At the same time, we have become aware of the fact of just how many people work from home today and how their numbers will only continue to grow over time, and that there are a certain number of people who can do their job from anywhere in the world. Due to this we noticed the possibility of expanding our offer to people who want to stay in a beautiful and comfortable environment, be on a holiday of sorts, and still do their jobs online.

In addition, these are special types of tourists who stay in a destination for longer than average and want to participate in local life by consuming content intended for the local population, not exclusively for tourists. In this sense, the promotion that is realised through the competition we launched is extremely important to us, especially if we know that a large number of influencers are among those individuals.

3. The Dubrovnik Nomad-in-Residence competition is a unique concept. Tell us a little about the type of applicant you are hoping to attract and what your expectations are from the programme. 

We expect the programme to map Dubrovnik out as a desirable destination for digital nomads. We want to get first-hand feedback on what is good for digital nomads in Dubrovnik and what needs to be improved. We also expect that in this way we´ll be able to promote the city as a tourist and destination for digital nomads and we believe that all those who will come to stay here will also become ambassadors of Dubrovnik across the world.

4. If you had to summarise in a sentence why Dubrovnik is a great place for digital nomads, what would you say?

I´d say that Dubrovnik has everything you need for a pleasant time when it comes to both working and staying here - beautiful surroundings and a good internet connection, as well as everything that makes life somewhere more beautiful, from the tradition of living in the Mediterranean to the local customs to the very many sunny days per year.

5. There are perceptions in some quarters that Dubrovnik is very expensive and there is not much to do once you walk through the old town. What would you say to that?

Of course, Dubrovnik has its exclusive facilities and offers, as have all of the world's top destinations. But Dubrovnik has an offer for everyone, from hostels and private accommodation to facilities in attractive and expensive positions, from exclusive restaurants to pleasant city cafes, where Dubrovnik´s locals sit down to drink their favourite coffee.

The historic core itself has so many nooks and crannies that you can go on discovering places for weeks, there are also numerous museums and events. For example, if you are here in winter, you simply have to feel what Christmas in Dubrovnik is like, as well as our thousand-year-long tradition related to the Feast of Sveti Vlaho, the patron saint of Dubrovnik, whom we celebrate on February the 3rd. (You can read more about TCN's impressions of a visit to the Feast of St Blaise a few years ago here).

In the immediate vicinity near the historic centre of the city is the Lokrum reserve, the Arboretum in Trsteno, the lookout on Srdj, the Elafiti islands with their sandy beaches. The advantage of Dubrovnik is its truly phenomenal environment, from Konavle to Peljesac and the island of Korcula, which both offer, for example, excellent indigenous varieties of wine, great local gastronomy and natural features. There is also the island of Mljet where there is a national park with gorgeous lakes. There is also the very close proximity of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, which can also be interesting for day trips.

6. Dubrovnik has had some excellent coverage in the US media over the last year, including 12.5 million viewers on ABC's Good Morning America, and you currently have an ongoing campaign in 73 US airports. How important is the American market to Dubrovnik?

Along with the British, the Americans are our most important guests. That market is extremely important to us and Americans love Dubrovnik a lot. That´s why there is constant investment in terms of promotion over on the American market. The fact that Croatia was the only country open to American tourists in the whole of the European Union last year speaks volumes about how important the US is to us.

7. Direct flights from the States would obviously help. A new story of a direct flight to Dubrovnik from New York surfaced this week, and Philadelphia and Dubrovnik were connected before the pandemic. Can you share any updates?

That was a fantastic announcement and we certainly support such initiatives. However, neither we nor the Dubrovnik Airport have yet had any final confirmation of these flights. If those announcements really come to fruition, it will be great for tourism here and for those Americans who want to come to Dubrovnik.

8. And finally, what is your prognosis for this season? Will the cruise ships return? And are the days of overtourism in your city gone forever?

The good news is that since March the 1st, the bans on cruise ships to Croatian ports was lifted. It should be noted that cruise companies have invested a lot in passenger safety and we certainly have good expectations in that regard, considering that cruisers should start setting off in May.

Of course, the situation in tourism will mostly depend on the further development of the coronavirus pandemic, but the fact is that we ourselves are working hard to ensure the best possible conditions and to facilitate a smooth arrival in Croatia for tourists. In our most important markets, vaccination is progressing very well, so I´m optimistic and expect that we could have higher numbers in June. Dubrovnik is certainly working a lot on health security and that is a very important factor for us.

As far as overtourism is concerned, in the period before the pandemic we continuously worked on measures to combat that issue through the Respect the City project and we really laid down a good foundation for the future, so we have all the predispositions for the development of sustainable tourism. This period we´re going through now has allowed us to prioritise things and continue with the activities of this project because although we now have a large reduction in the number of tourists, we haven´t given up on the direction of sustainable tourism. We can say that we have recognised the pandemic as an opportunity to "reset".

****

The deadline to apply for the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence competition is March 31. You can learn more about the requirements and apply on the Saltwater Nomads website.

The Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence competition is a partnership between the City of Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Croatian National Tourist Board, Saltwater Nomads and Total Croatia News. 

Looking to learn more about Dubrovnik? Check out the fully updated Total Croatia Dubrovnik in a Page guide

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