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. 


(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

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Croatia Digital Nomad Permit Application FAQ by Saltwater/45 Degrees Sailing

March 10, 2021 - A great addition to the information resources for one of the hottest new topics right now - the Croatia digital nomad permit application FAQ by Saltwater Nomads and 45 Degrees Sailing.

And so it starts... 

It is almost exactly 21 months (at least to my knowledge) since the concept of attracting quality remote workers to Croatia was introduced at the MBA Croatia conference, How to be Globally Competitive from Croatia.

Seeds were sown, a Dutchman wrote an open letter to a Prime Minister, legislation was changed, and the digital nomad 12-month permit (permit rather than visa is the current parlance) became a legal thing on January 1, 2021. A few weeks later we tracked down the first successful applicant, an American in Istria - Meet Melissa Paul, Owner of Croatia's First Digital Nomad Visa.

The online application form went live on the Ministry of Interior website on March 1, and over 25 people have applied so far.

Today, the Croatian National Tourist Board launched its campaign to welcome digital nomads, Croatia, Your New Office.

Things have been going at a whirlwind pace, and it has sometimes been difficult to find confirmed and accurate information. 

One person who has been a trailblazing pioneer in the early days of the digital nomad story in Croatia is Tanja Polegubic, who runs Saltwater Nomads. 

TCN and Saltwater partnered with the City of Dubrovnik and the Dubrovnik Tourist Board back in October, as Tanja organised Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads, the first-ever digital nomad conference in Croatia. She was assisted by an army of volunteers, including Nick  Hathaway from 45 Degrees Sailing. And Tanja and Nick have teamed up again today, releasing a very useful Croatia Digital Nomad Permit Application FAQ on YouTube.

Join us for Croatia's Digital Nomad Permit Application FAQ with Tanja Polegubić from Saltwater and the Digital Nomad Association. We cover the top 6 most frequently asked questions for filling out the digital nomad permit application for Croatia. Application form details and application requirements can be known to change. For most up-to-date information please visit the official website This is our own personal advice based on our experience and understanding. It is not the advice of any official Croatian government source.

Tanja is also a founding member of the Digital Nomad Association, together with Jan de Jong and Karmela Tancabel, whose website is due to go live later this month. 


TCN is teaming up again with Saltwater, the City of Dubrovnik, and Dubrovnik and National Tourist boards with the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence competition, with applications closing on March 31

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

Sunday, 7 March 2021

Americans in Croatia: From Short Hvar Stay to Digital Nomad Visa Success

March 7, 2021 - Americans in Croatia are very welcome guests, and many would come for long if it was possible. It is now, if you are a remote worker. Meet Jessica Romano from San Francisco, officially the first approved digital nomad on Hvar. Congrats and welcome!

"As you probably know, Paul, Americans in Croatia can only stay for a limited time. We LOVE Jelsa, and your apartment is really great, and we would rent it through the winter if we could stay. I read on TCN about this digital nomad visa? Is it coming soon? Do you think I could get one?"


Americans in Croatia - from a temporary stay in Jelsa to a 12-month permit.

That was back in early November when Jess and Thibaud rented our Panorama Penthouse Jelsa apartment for a couple of months. Some nice and unexpected income so late in the year. And there would be more rental income out of season if they were allowed to stay longer. Currently, Americans in Croatia can only stay 90 days at one time. 

So there we were, in a situation where we both wanted to engage with Croatian bureaucracy (my favourite hobby) to get a result for Jess. She and Thibaud are amazingly thoughtful and respectful guests, even baking cookies for my punica, which makes me a little bit cooler in my punica's eyes by association.  


I helped where I could, as did several others. It seems that Jess and Thibaud have been a hit in the Jelsa community, helping several people, as well as bringing a little colour and fresh perspective to the long Dalmatian winter. 

And yesterday, some great news, as Jess informed me that she heard back from the authorities at MUP and has been approved for a 12-month stay. 

Great news and congrats. Jess kindly took the time to tell me more about, winter in Jelsa, and what the visa means for her. 


Firstly, how are you enjoying winter on Hvar? Has the reality been a little different to what you were expecting? In what way? 

I’ve been enjoying it - Hvar is beautiful year-round! I didn’t have many expectations heading into the season, especially as Covid-19 dragged on into 2021. Due to pandemic restrictions, most restaurants and cafes were closed, and people haven’t been out very much. Since this is my first winter season on the island, I don’t have a point of comparison; generally, the slow pace and absence of crowds has been great. The weather and temperature has been mostly mild, but I was surprised by 1-2 week-long rainy stints. We are familiar with jugo and bura by now. I told friends here that I’ve felt quite tired during jugo, and they said that I’m officially a local now. Alas, those cloudy periods make the sunny days even more wonderful. It can get quite warm when the sun is out - if you haven’t looked at the calendar, you might think it’s summer at times! I’ve spent a lot of time outdoors - hiking, walking, rock climbing & running - and recently bought a car to explore the island. I feel as though you could live on Hvar for years and not discover all of the unique villages, ruins, beaches and trails here. Even though most wineries are closed in the winter, some offer tastings by appointment, and I’ve stopped by local producers to pick up bottles to enjoy at home.


You recently became a TV celebrity - tell us about that experience. You did a great job promoting the digital nomad lifestyle to a domestic audience. I think a lot more people here now understand it better. 

Who thought we’d ever be on Croatian TV?! Wow, what a fun experience. We were delighted when the Puls team reached out to feature us in their digital nomad series, and were especially excited to share our positive experiences in Croatia. We shot the film over a few days - at our apartment, in Jelsa & Hvar town, and near Zavala. Filming the reportage is a lovely memory for us, as was spending time with the producers, Maja and Jura. They are a joy to work with and made us feel very comfortable in front of the camera. The reportage captured moments of our everyday life. It also showed that digital nomads can benefit from living in Croatia and that likewise, Croatia can benefit from digital nomads integrating into the community. We are so grateful to the people of Hvar (and Croatia, as a country) for embracing us.


An American on Hvar. That can only happen for a finite length of time, normally, but you had good news come recently - your application for the digital nomad visa has been approved. Congrats! Tell us more. 

Puno hvala! It’s exciting to be one of the first people to receive approval for Croatia’s new digital nomad visa. It is rather incredible that Croatia created and approved the digital nomad visa in such a short period of time.


Tell us about the process and what you needed exactly? 

Since I had already obtained a temporary residence permit and some of the requirements overlap, the change was relatively simple. I applied shortly after the visa was announced in January and submitted my paperwork through the Hvar police station. Shout out to Ivana for helping us through the process! The digital nomad visa is new for everyone, the MUP and applicants alike, so it felt like we were all learning together. I provided proof of employment (on official company letterhead), proof of health insurance (foreign and travel), proof of income (pay stubs), the completed application form, a copy of my passport and a small photo for the ID. I paid a fee - if I recall correctly, it was 600kn plus 70kn in stamps. I signed a document to request the revocation of my temporary residence permit in order to apply for the new visa. The MUP provided me with a document stating that I was legally in Croatia while ‘between’ visas. The whole process took 4-6 weeks. Big thanks to all of our friends and acquaintances who advised me through the process, including you(!) and Jan de Jong.


What exactly does it mean for you and your lifestyle to now be able to stay in Croatia for 12 months?

Being able to stay in Croatia for an extended period of time means two big things for me. Firstly, I have more options on the table regarding where I want to live and work. Secondly, it actually provides some stability as we all enter a post-pandemic world. Like many people, my life shifted in 2020 - there were circumstances I couldn’t control but there were choices I could control. One of those choices was to relocate to Europe. My original intent was to stay for a few months and then travel around the continent but I wanted to stay in Croatia. After my tourist visa expired after 90 days, I applied for and was granted a temporary residence permit. The digital nomad visa provides a longer-term solution for staying in Croatia and removes the stress and uncertainty of having to re-apply for extended temporary residence. Now I don’t have to worry about leaving Croatia for a year and can focus on my life and work here. Something I didn’t fully realize before landing in Croatia is that it takes several months to settle into a new place. Getting comfortable with the environment, people, way of life - it all takes time. Having the option to stay for a year gives me the opportunity to more deeply explore the culture and what it would be like to live in Croatia long-term. I wouldn’t be surprised if other digital nomads choose to lay down roots in Croatia - either through starting businesses, buying property or becoming part of the community - because they have the chance to spend sufficient time here before making those decisions.


What message do you have for fellow international remote workers about life in Croatia off-season. What are the pros and cons?

Croatia is an excellent option for digital nomads all year-round. It’s worth noting that my perspective is based on spending the majority of my time on Hvar - which is a place that I’ve grown to love and can recommend highly! But from what I know, there are many awesome destinations within the country, and there’s somewhere for everyone. Big cities, tiny villages, and everything in between - as well as over 1000 islands (though not all of them are inhabitable). The landscape varies vastly across the country, from mountains to farmland to (a very long) coastline. I was slightly concerned about being able to find a high-speed internet connection, but it’s not been a problem. Most Croatians I’ve met are willing to speak English, so there is no language barrier in terms of being able to get around and communicate generally. Every location has its perks and quirks - as long as you are determined and have an open mind, you’ll be able to make it work. There’s heightened energy and tangible efforts around making Croatia a premier destination for digital nomads, making it a great place to be right now.

Here is the great feature on Jess and Thibaud which aired on Croatian primetime  TV on HRT Puls. 

If you want to learn more about their story, they gave a great interview on TCN back in December, when the digital nomad opportunity was still not officially in place. Read Digital Nomad Life in Croatia: Jess and Thibaud, from San Francisco to Jelsa.

That means that there are now at least two Americans in Croatia with the digital nomad visa. Meet the first-ever recipient of the visa - Meet Melissa Paul, Owner of Croatia's First Digital Nomad Visa.


Are you a digital nomad who would like to spend 4 weeks as a guest of the City of Dubrovnik? Learn more in Dubrovnik Launches World's First Digital Nomad-in-Residence Competition.

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

How many Americans in Croatia are there? We are looking to do a series on Americans in Croatia, so if you are here and would like to be featured, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Americans in Croatia.

Saturday, 6 March 2021

From Phylloxera to Apartmentisation, the Road to Nomad Land

March 6, 2021 - It is always a pleasure to publish the thoughts of Zoran Pejovic, one of Croatia's most respected tourism professionals. A word of warning to those rushing into the digital nomad tourism opportunity, looking back at the examples of phylloxera and apartmentisation. 

At the end of the nineteenth century, the good people of Dalmatia got the word that the big wine-producing countries, France, and Spain primarily, lost almost all their vineyards due to the small but mighty pest called phylloxera. They rushed and dug all their olive groves, fruit orchards, and gardens and planted vines, hectares and hectares of vine, thousands of hectares. What followed was several years of amazing growth. The prices were going up and it seemed that the panacea for all the hardships of the hardworking people of the Adriatic coastline was in hand. Well, we know now that it was a terribly bad idea. Some people knew it at the time as well, but their voices could not be heard, as people did not want to hear it. Phylloxera reached our fine shores as well and wiped out all those thousands of hectares of the recently planted vineyards which led to a great famine and mass emigration to the Americas and elsewhere. In the meantime, French and Italian and Spanish growers “vaccinated” their vines by grafting them on the resilient American roots, and their life and wine production resumed. Ours almost came to a halt. 

At the start of the twenty-first century, the good people of Dalmatia got the word that many of the countries that we saw as our competitors in the tourism industry disappeared from the map, mainly due to the geopolitical turmoil, wars being waged in the vicinity or some other factors that made them unsafe to travel. So, we rushed and turned all our houses, apartments, and garages into summer rentals. What followed was several years of amazing growth. The prices were going up and it seemed that the panacea for all the hardships of the hardworking people of the Adriatic coastline was in hand. Well, we know now that it was a terribly bad idea. Some people knew it at the time as well, but their voices could not be heard, as people did not want to hear it. Coronavirus reached our fine shores and wiped out our touristic output by 75%. The apartments for the major part are sitting empty and will probably do so second season in a row, and people are looking for the best emigration options.

The latest panacea on the shelves of the pharmacy of our lives is called “digital nomads”. Apparently, the big cities of the world are not the most pleasant places to be in and live in right now, and people are going to rush to our fine shores and set their IT shops and office, sip wine on the balconies of those empty apartments and leave us their money. People are digging trenches and bringing optic fibers to their houses on the islands, believing that with the high-speed internet connection and the unbearable blueness of our seas and skies it will be impossible to resist the call to join the movement of digital nomadry. While in essence a good idea, and a good PR stunt, albeit not nearly as good as the one from Dubai or some Caribbean islands, and one that I support in terms of legislation and easing of the bureaucratic burdens, I cannot help but feel like we are doing the same things all over again.

We keep looking for new trends and perhaps new directions, without ever establishing a clear identity. The digital nomad program cannot be our identity. It can perhaps be one of the trends or one of the directions we take, but it must stem from the strong, well-built, and easy-to-understand industry identity. We will not be able to build the identity until we understand the progression of economic value, from commodities to experiences and transformations. You simply cannot skip the steps and expect that the entire thing does not falter like a house of cards at the first sign of trouble. We have learned how to commoditize sea and sun, and that to a point only. How those commodities make goods that deliver services that set the stage for experiences that guide transformation is still to be understood for the vast majority of those who pertain to play the part in this industry of people aggregation, travel, tourism, hospitality, leisure, and all connected industry spin-offs. This is obviously not a problem of those who promote this program, which to reiterate once again, I fully support, but of those who keep looking for simple solutions to the complex problems. This a general human characteristic, but sometimes it feels we excel at it a bit more than the others. This will be short-lived solution, until next one surfaces and then we will all rush to root out our vines and plant the lavender. Oh, wait, that has already happened as well!

You can read more of Zoran's writings on TCN here.

For more about the digital nomad scene in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section.

Friday, 5 March 2021

Dubrovnik Launches World's First Digital Nomad-in-Residence Competition

March 5, 2021 - Just a few months after hosting Croatia's first-ever digital nomad conference, Dubrovnik launches the world's first digital nomad-in-residence competition. Come help shape the remote work strategy of Kings Landing!

Few places in Croatia have been as badly affected by the pandemic economically as Dubrovnik, Croatia's best-known and most iconic city, also known as the Pearl of the Adriatic. Heavily dependent on flights and cruise ships for the bulk of its tourism, COVID-19 wiped out those markets, leaving a city almost devoid of tourism and looking at ways to adjust to the new normal. 


I first met Mayor Mato Frankovic in July last year, when I pitched the idea of reorientating part of the city's tourism around lifestyle, catering to the growing number of remote workers around the world, who were looking to experience lifestyle when they leave their remote offices each day. After a hard day's work, how better to relax than with a coffee on Stradun or a stroll around those magnificent old city walls?


The digital nomad story in Croatia was just starting to get some traction. Dutch entrepreneur Jan de Jong had just sent his open letter to Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, asking him to introduce a digital nomad visa for Croatia. Some 44 days after that, Plenkovic tweeted a photo with Split's favourite Dutchman announcing his intention to do just that. The tax code and Foreigner's Act were amended, and from January 1, 2021, the legal framework was in place to welcome digital nomads for 12-month stays. Soon after, an American in Istria became the first bearer of the new visa. Meet Melissa Paul, Owner of Croatia's First Digital Nomad Visa.


(Jan de Jong, the driving force behind Croatia's digital nomad visa, Mayor Mato Frankovic, and TCN's Paul Bradbury at the Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads conference in October 2020)

Dubrovnik's engagement with the concept of developing a strategy for digital nomads led to the first dedicated conference in Croatia back in October. Organised by local remote work specialists, Saltwater Nomads, the Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads conference reached a global audience, including a citation in The Washington Post. Coupled with Croatia's more accommodating approach to tourists durig the pandemic, the message was clear - Croatia's lifestyle and natural beauty were very appealing. The perfect base for remote workers looking for a little extra.

Dubrovnik's beauty and lifestyle got an extra boost in August, as ABC News spent a week covering the topic of Americans travelling during corona times, and the feature above on Good Morning America was watched by 12.5 million people. 

Keen to build on the strong foundations of the October conference, the City of Dubrovnik and Dubrovnik Tourist Board have been working closely with Saltwater Nomads to develop a strategy to enable the city to better serve its remote working visitors, as well as better positioning Dubrovnik in the market. 

As part of that strategy, Saltwater owner, Tanja Polegubic, a Croatian returnee from Australia who has been serving digital nomads since setting up Saltwater in 2017, has come up with what we believe is the world's first digital nomad-in-residence contest, bringing digital nomads from all over the world for four weeks in Dubrovnik to work with the city to help it deliver a better understanding of the needs of its remote working guests, as well as using their know-how to help Dubrovnik build a better brand and presence in this rapidly expanding sector. 


(Competition organiser and remote working pioneer in Croatia Tanja Polegubic also organised Croatia's first digital nomad conference in Dubrovnik in October. Jan de Jong was a keynote speaker. Both are founding members of the Digital Nomad Association for Croatia). 

The conference was one of my personal and Professional highlights of 2020," Tanja told TCN. "It’s been really wonderful to see new businesses spring up - and mention the conference and the news of The permit. The DN-I-R residency program will be reaching out to these “early adopters” to be involved. Our approach is co-creation. We will pair the digital nomads to Match global Trends with the local community - I’m really excited about what we’re going to roll out!

The digital nomad-in-residence (DN-I-R) contest will give 10 lucky winners a complimentary 4-week stay as guests of the city, with various meals, tours, workshops and other activities also included. From the Saltwater contest information:

Using a co-creation model, the Saltwater program team will bring together residents and the 10 digital nomads selected as DN-I-Rs. Over a four-week period, the digital nomads will attend design thinking workshops to create a strategic direction for the city, especially as it adjusts to a more sustainable direction and manages the impact of COVID19. 

The competition even allows companies to nominate a star employee - as long as they also agree to terms and conditions if selected. As many digital nomads are couples travelling in Croatia, if a winner has a partner - they can apply and if one is selected can share the free accommodation.

The project, which commences on April 23, will enable the 10 lucky winners to collaborate, upskill, and contribute to the development of Dubrovnik's digital nomad strategy, with the aim of enhancing Dubrovnik's standing in the digital nomad community. Dubrovnik has a reputation of being expensive, which it certainly can be, with a perception among some that there is little to do outside the city walls, which is certainly not true. The exchange of minds and experiences will help to dispel some of these myths. 

DN-I-Rs will receive professional development training, participate in workshops and present their findings on shaping Dubrovnik as a Digital Nomad Friendly city. This will be presented at a finale event at the end of the programme. The Digital Nomad Association (DNA) Croatia will also be involved - with an event incorporated into the end of the programme.


Mayor of Dubrovnik Mato Frankovic is looking forward to working with the city new international digital ambassadors: 

Dubrovnik really has everything one could wish for a comfortable life, but also excellent working conditions, and the City of Dubrovnik is constantly working to improve the quality of life and stay in this city. Digital nomads are very welcome. I believe that the conference we held in Dubrovnik last October clearly conveyed that message. With these further activities we want to emphasize this even more, and we see that in the international community Dubrovnik is already recognized as a desirable destination for digital nomads. The digital nomad story has the support of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, which is reflected in the fact that visas for nomads were introduced, as announced.

I wish all competitors the best of luck, and the winners of this competition will certainly gain wonderful experiences in Dubrovnik and, I am sure, be the ambassadors of Dubrovnik in the world.

An innovative approach to a new tourism strategy, so why not get involved? If you are a digital nomad and would like to be a guest of Dubrovnik and assist in shaping its digital nomad service for future guests, now is your once-in-a-lifetime chance! 

Applications are open from midday today until March 31. More details on the programme and the application requirements and procedure can be found on the Saltwater website

Learn more about the magic of Dubrovnik in our fully updated Total Croatia 2021 Dubrovnik in a Page guide.

For the latest news about digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section.

Monday, 1 March 2021

Croatian Digital Nomad Online Application Form Launched

March 1, 2021 - An important milestone as the Croatia digital nomad online application form is launched in English and Croatia by the Ministry of Interior.

The next phase of the digital nomad story in Croatia is complete, as the Croatian digital nomad online application form has been added to the official website of the Ministry of the Interior. 

Visitors to Croatia last year will be very familiar with the website, as it was also the place where the hugely successful Enter Croatia form was hosted, which helped speed up border crossing times considerably. 

As with the Enter Croatia form, there are bound to be some initial teething problems, which will hopefully be quickly ironed out as they were with Enter Croatia back in May. 

The launch of the online application option is the latest in a very swift (at least by Croatian standards) introduction of the digital nomad visa for Croatia. 

It was only on July 11 last year that Dutch entrepreneur Jan de Jong wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic requesting that Croatia introduce the visa. On August 25, following a meeting with de Jong, Plenkovic tweeted his decision to introduce the visa, and proposed changes in legistlation were put before Parliament the very next day. 

Changes to the tax code and the Aliens Act at the end of last year provided the legal conditions for digital nomads to regulate their stay for a 12-month period, provided the appropriate conditions were met. 

An American in Istria became the first digital nomad to successfully apply in late January - you can read her first interview here: Meet Melissa Paul, Owner of Croatia's First Digital Nomad Visa.

We will bring you more on the process shortly, but for now you can check out the Croatian digital nomad online application form here.

For the updated requirements to apply, check out Croatia Publishes Updated Digital Nomad Visa Requirements.

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

And for a taste of digital nomad life in Croatia, watch how this couple from San Francisco is adapting to winter life on Hvar. 

Friday, 26 February 2021

Croatian TV Showcases the American Digital Nomad Hvar Lifestyle in Jelsa

February 26, 2021 - What happens when you blend American digital nomads with the Hvar lifestyle? As HRT Plus reported last night, it is something close to heaven. 

It is rather a strange feeling watching your home on national television with someone else living in it, but what a lovely report from Maja Zrnic for HRT Puls which went out on primetime television last night. 

With all this talk of digital nomads, what is the reality like, and how is the Hvar lifestyle for digital nomads from the USA in Jelsa during winter, for example. 

A few weeks ago, we published a really great interview with Jess and Thibaud, who have been in Jelsa for a few months and are in the process of applying for the digital nomad visa. You can read the interview in Digital Nomad Life in Croatia: Jess and Thibaud, from San Francisco to Jelsa

Soon after, Maja contacted me and said that was interested in doing a TV story on the couple. Introductions were made, new friendships forged, and Maja captured the Hvar lifestyle through foreign eyes in this ten-minuted feature, which aired last night. It is almost all in English with Croatian subtitles.   

And yes, I did feel a little homesick, not only for the Panorama Penthouse Jelsa apartment that was our home before we moved to Varazdin. But also a little nostalgic for those magical winter months on Hvar.

Maja did a really great job bringing out the Hvar lifestyle in the piece, and it offers a glimpse of how community life can slowly be enriched with the arrival of international digital nomads, who work through their laptops by day (or, in some cases due to time zones, by night) while fully integrating with the local community once work is finished. 

Read more about digital nomad life on Hvar in Hvar Digital Nomad Life with Kids: an Emerging Lifestyle.

For more news on digital nomad topics in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

How Can Hotels Truly Serve Digital Nomads in Croatia?

February 26, 2021 - Digital nomad hotel offers are on the rise in Croatia. Tanja Polegubic of Saltwater Nomads and organiser of Croatia's first dedicated conference, Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads with some great advice on what hotels can do to truly serve digital nomads.

Pivots are increasingly common in the COVID19 era. Hotels are no exception.

In Croatia, especially the tourism sector, a lot of businesses are looking at catering to Digital Nomads. It’s no wonder hotels are here, too. And yet — they have polar pros and cons.

However, there are ways hotels can adjust immediately, and over time to create the best offer possible. These points are covered at the end of the article:

  • Injecting Soul.
  • Food. (Part1and2).
  • Upgrades.
  • HappyHour.
  • Learningandengaging.

Why are hotels now doing this?

  • Croatia has introduced a digital nomad permit, allowing tax-free stays for 1 year.
  • It’s a great place… and can have a year-round offer - filling many empty coastal hotels closed in the “off-season”.
  • Digital nomads are looking for long-term stays.


CAPTION: Soo and Chris —2020 Saltwater members were recruited to model for Marvie Hotel Split’s longstay deals for digital nomads in Croatia

The backstory.

What were hotels doing before COVID?

Many hotels already had ‘business centres’ or small areas for people to work in rooms or common areas. This isn’t a cowork, or a hub concept, it was a place to plug in. Maybe print things. End of story. 

What was interesting by 2019 was the rise of coworking - gaining the attention of hotels. And entire hotel chains were moving into this direction. I recall reading in May 2019 about Accor group launching over 1200 spaces in Europe with Wojo as a coworking partner.

Later that year, (still pre-COVID), our business, Saltwater, partnered with Davina at Residence Stine and soon to open Heritage Hotel Fermai. They immediately said ‘yes’ to longstay packages for remote workers, and jointly offered the Breakfast Room (a glass garden oasis in the heart of Varoš in Split) as a coworking space.


CAPTION: July 2020, our coworking partnership with Residence Stine’s indoor-outdoor glass garden 

We launched in COVID19, and I recall the first member ordering breakfast on his first day, as he logged on to read emails. I was concerned it would seem a bit odd —but for 8 euro (and no dishes to wash) it was actually a bonus, and an efficient start to the day.

Due to COVID19, and Summer not being the ‘season’ for digital nomads in Split (expensive rentals), that was that. Until Jan de Jong came in and the digital nomad visa permit was born. Remote work was truly mainstream. Globally.

You know the rest.


The first I heard of a global pivot was a partnership announced in July 2020 between Wythe Hotel Brooklyn and Industrious —one of the most respected cowork chains now that WeWork… well, didn’t work! The Wythe Hotel converted entire suites into offices. I was at the Wythe in 2013, and this is a hotel with a rooftop looking out on Manhattan, with a lot of events, including business speakers. The Australian American Association actually held events there, which is what brought me there for a talk by the Australian (and female) co-founder of Van Leeuwen ice creams. I digress… but it clearly demonstrates this is a space which knew back then how to get in non-hotel guests — which is something Croatia does not do well.

This will hopefully change.


I read the first stories of hotels starting to offer long-stay options in Croatia toward the end of October last year.

There were a few glaring issues here.

These were places in ghost towns, with probably a very stark hotel restaurant, and at a time when apartment accommodation would be much cheaper - and come with a kitchen.

While it was good to see a shift to accept a remote work audience, it was, for the most part, a misinformed approach. Retrofitting a guest with specific needs to an unsuitable space, and, no community vibe. I’d be interested to see the reviews and data on those places.

What could they do better?

Know these aren’t spaces built for long stay, but work to their strengths, and make adjustments as needed, after testing. 

This is a transitional period. Some, like the Wythe Hotel, will need to convert floors into offices if they are to attract this audience. Or at least create a new space from unused conference halls. Hot tip: not the dark, basement room. Just because it is empty - does not make it a good place to sit and work for 8 hours.

This is a common mistake.

There is something about a coworking space, when done right, will make you actually enjoy going to work. It’s the decor, sure. Location, and if lucky, a very short commute.

Above all, it’s the people.


A recent digital nomad member we hosted at Saltwater is a specialist in distributed teams. We were chatting by the watercooler one day — and he said something which really struck me, (even if I have to paraphrase).

Everyone is feeling so isolated, working from home right now.

When the ‘off-sites’ start happening — workers don’t want a sterile hotel vibe, and to once again, “isolate” in their hotel rooms and the ‘polished’ pool feel and staff. They want connection. They want the shared house style option, where they can do things like prepare a meal together.

Connect — and join local gatherings. 

It’s not rocket science. It’s what we do every day, to ensure members get value. So here’s a quick checklist:


  • Inject some soul. Hold events for non-guests. There are hotels with a health and wellness angle such as Marvie in Split, or weekly live music nights at family-owned Hotel Park Hvar. I visited waterfront Hotel Split in Podstrana last week — which have an existing artist-in-residence program, where a local artist comes in for a few days, and the works are displayed around the hotel and for sale. Events, such as the Wythe Hotel program, will bring the community vibe you need. And you can make it easier, by offering it to the public to hold events, to take the load off your staff.

Opening up doors to non-guests — especially ones who live in your region, not just conference bookings by international M.I.C.E. arrivals, not only advertises your hotel to a wider audience, it will show the local commitment you make, which is valued by digital nomads. And the locals will become ambassadors will get to know, and ultimately be the ones to recommend your venue.

  • Food — part 1. Self Catering.

Living in a room with no kitchen for a month, with makeshift Mr Bean style sandwich making, isn’t appealing to everyone. Most hotels only have a tiny bar fridge. And the costs of constantly ordering in or dining out (to your wallet and health) is a challenge for hotels to overcome. Consider adding larger fridges and simple food preparation options in rooms: a cutting board, cutlery, plates, bowl and tea towels. And a system for collection and cleaning. Kind of like a DIY room service.

  • Opening a meals area — eg. if your pool or a bar area is closed in winter, a small kitchenette is ideal, and maybe already installed or can be relocated. Common meal prep areas are…common, for digital nomads.

Put yourself in people’s shoes: if you had to stay somewhere for a month, making a sandwich, smoothie or salad could make you feel more at home.

  • Food — Part 2. Group meals.

Give guests the chance to meet each other. Things like a weekly group-contributed barbecue outdoors is easy, and perhaps already at your venue. Or hold a set dinnertime and menu on certain days. Ensure there is a host joining the group from the hotel (not just a server!) or from your local community, and bring in ways for people to get to know each other; speed networking, a local speaker, open mic, etc.

  • Upgrades.

Consider — in time, adding kitchen fitouts in some rooms, or the outdoor barbecue example. A lot of hotels are trying to retro-fit digital nomads into their spaces. Sorry. You weren’t designed for long-stay — some things just do not work as your space is currently designed. Remote work is here to stay — an ergonomic chair in rooms (or on the menu) is now a necessity.

  • Massage and Happy Hours.

This tip was from Kashlee Kucheran of Travel off Path a keynote speaker at our Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads conference. Hotels in Mexico and the Dominican Republic were serving the remote working crowd in the peak of COVID by modifying their offer with long-stay pricing. The good ones offered services professionals usually might use — eg. a chiropractor or midday massage. Holding after-work happy hours. If you don’t have the in-house staff, invite local providers in to do this. Call your drinks rep to sponsor the event. Anything. Give something more than the room key.

  • Learn. Ask questions. Jump on expat and digital nomad online groups. They’re on Facebook, LinkedIn, Slack…And offer something in return for people’s insights — like a discount. They may not stay a month, but a weekend getaway is appealing. And once they’re in, you’ll learn more about what can work.

A very long stay in a hotel may not be for everyone. If you are landing in a new place and want to get your bearings, some of the longstay deals hotels in Croatia are now offering are a real luxury way to start your digital nomad experience in Croatia. You might use it as a base to find your long-term rental, or just want to live it up for a month with room service, with somewhere like Dubrovnik as your office for the month.

I’m excited to see all these changes in Croatia, and happy to be working with the hotels who have been early adopters, reached out to us at Saltwater and seen how they can welcome this audience, and build the digital nomad community in places across Croatia.

It’s an interesting time for this sector in particular, and hotels are certainly an important part of elevating a city’s status.

If you found this interesting — and would like to learn more about how Saltwater can work with your hotel (through referring your long-stay accommodation package to our members or how to put in a coworking space), visit our website or reach out on LinkedIn.

This piece is modified from Tanja Polegubic’s blog on Medium. Reprinted with permission.

More on digital nomads:

Meet Melissa Paul, Owner of Croatia's First Digital Nomad Visa.

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

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Marvie Living & Coworking: Split 4-star Hotel Launches Year-Round Offer for Digital Nomads

February 23, 2021 - Marvie Living & Coworking - a 4-star hotel located in Split launches an attractive year-round, long-term stay offer for digital nomads!

Marvie Hotel & Health opened its doors four years ago in one of the coziest seaside neighborhoods in the city of Split, Croatia. In recent years, the hotel has been trending among international guests due to its excellent location, comfortable rooms, the spectacular panoramic views of the nearby archipelago enjoyed from its rooftop pool, as well as the hotel’s wide array of health services provided in close collaboration with partners. Marvie has now taken a further step, becoming the first Croatian hotel to create an offer completely tailored to the needs of remote workers, widely known as digital nomads.


While embracing modern trends and following the belief that a global world that knows no boundaries can blend living, remote working, and traveling, Marvie has now launched an attractive, new offer, described by the name Marvie Living & Coworking and represented by the Long-term Stay Package.


Damira Kalajzic

An affordable long-term stay option, 28 days or longer, is now available at Marvie’s all year round, even during the summer season - and with a 50% discount. In addition, guests interested in long-term stays in Split, Croatia, now have the option of contacting Marvie Hotel & Health via a 15-minute free Zoom or Google Meets chat.


With the aim of creating a stimulating and productive living and working environment for hotel guests who are looking for long-term accommodation in Croatia, Marvie Hotel, within its Long-term Stay Package, offers Deluxe rooms with sea views, work desk, coworking space with 200 Mbps high-speed Internet, a projector and flipchart, as well as unlimited access to an indoor pool, jacuzzi, sauna, gym and relax zone.


Marvie’s coworking space, which will be complete with ergonomic chairs and new desks in March, is open to both hotel guests and all other digital nomads in town. Other hotel spaces, which include Mareo Bar, Da’Mar restaurant, the lobby, as well as the rooftop poolside, can be used as alternative working spaces, where guests can work or exchange ideas and knowledge.


“Our mission is to actively participate and contribute to the design of a brand-new tourist product, which is changing the paradigm of traveling, remote working, and living. We are thrilled to witness more and more institutions begin to recognize the potential of this trend, as well as the founding of Digital Nomad Association Croatia, whose founders we are in contact with and who have helped us create a new product”, said Diana Rubić, general manager of Marvie Hotel & Health.  


Damira Kalajzic

Marvie Hotel & Health is also popular for its health services such as dermatological treatments, non-invasive methods for facial and body rejuvenation, physical medicine and rehabilitation, dental services, and more. With the aim of providing opportunities for a longer stay and affordable prices, Marvie’s has also launched two carefully created 14-day health packages - The Physiotherapy and Nutrition Package. Marvie_Living_Coworking_wellness_photo.jpg

Digital nomads now have the opportunity to live in a sea-view 4-star hotel in Split at affordable prices and enjoy the many benefits that only Marvie Hotel & Health can offer in one place.

For more information on the prices and benefits of the Long-term Stay Package visit Marvie’s website, as well as a new blog section where you will be able to find topics related to digital nomads and Split with its surroundings - an ideal destination for working and living. 

You can read more in English at  the link: and follow Marvie's blog:

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

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Hvar Digital Nomad Life with Kids: an Emerging Lifestyle

February 23, 2021 - After a long absence, one of the writing stars of the early days of Total Hvar is back - Ivana Zupan on Hvar digital nomad life with kids, an emerging lifestyle.

Three years ago, after living on Hvar for 10 years full time, I decided that I had to leave. Coming and going to the island was a great way to cope with its many downsides, and it allowed me to enjoy all the good there was. I was able to take my vacation during the summer months, for example. What a no-go for many islanders...

Back then, being a mother of an unschooler, I came to realise that without a like-minded community, I will not be able to keep my lifestyle, so I opted for city life to see if this would work out. We were lucky to find a great community in Bratislava. Our home-schooling study group - DOBROdruzstvo is the warmest, coolest and most amazing place for kids. Its fundamental sense for creating and nurturing relationships between people, building responsibility in our children’s own education, and emphasis on cooperation and solution finding is something which means a lot to me and to my daughter. I feel blessed and grateful for being a part of it for the last year and a half. The study group has a base in Bratislava, with a nice 'school' building and an outdoor space. Allowing the kids to come together and interact in a respectful environment. So it was, until recently.

In today’s world, there is probably not a country, where COVID measures would not affect our lives. There are different approaches with different results, some countries tend to be more strict than others, and the effects of such measures have been much debated. Slovakia is one of the countries where measures can be easily described as a Nazi-like experimentation camp. Forced COVID-testing once per week, or you are not allowed to go to work, to the bank, to the post office, send your kids to school etc. Not to mention, that masks are mandatory outdoors.

When this testing-madness was introduced back in October last year, I felt so angry as I was watching democracy in my homeland taking this huge slap in the face. More so that people were being obedient and supported it by attending the mass-testing. Very few of us found the strength to rebel against this blackmailing approach. Not an easy task in such a suffocating atmosphere, I must admit. I managed to stay sane by focusing on keeping our little homeschooling community going. Feeling that by continuing to create something new, while the old system was crashing down was the best I can do, given the circumstances.


(A haven for kids to play hide and seek. Photo: Mgr. Daniela Bohata) 

Now we are back on Hvar. For two months now. I decided not to play along with the once-per-week-COVID-testing-or-you-are-not-allowed-to-live game. Back to unschooling. Looking for a small community with a few kids to join forces with other parents. Spending a lot of time outdoors with the kids. We are rediscovering the island and its hidden gems – like the Cliffbase in Sv. Nedjelja, where Katarina is slowly creating a digital nomad community. I hear there are still a few spots available.

The weekend trip to Cliffbase left me amazed about what a dedicated man can create at the end of the world. A wine cellar literally carved by hand in these huge rocks, just to name one. Miro Štec spent the last 20 years building this place. A lot of love and hard work went in.


(A sunset at the Cliffbase in Sv. Nedjelja on Hvar. Photo: Mgr. Daniela Bohata)

I am not a climber, but I imagine it must be a heaven for them too. Not to mention I wanted to be 10 again to be able to play there at all those big rocks and hidden caves. Swimming in February, sharing food and stories with other mums. The flow there was simply perfect.


{The steep path was a bit of a challenge for us, mothers, but the good old-fashioned cooperation helped, and we managed. Photo: Mgr. Daniela Bohata)

Daniela, the author of the beautiful photos came all the way from Makarska and now we are thinking about repaying her the visit and might be exploring Biokovo the next weekend. Let’s see how that one goes. In the meantime, you can find more about her work as a tour guide on her website.

If last year taught me something, it was not to plan that much. A huge lesson for me - the organised one. But, slowly, I am getting used to it - not knowing how this will progress, I am enjoying what I can while I can. So, here it is, a call to all digital nomads with kids out there. If on Hvar, get in touch.

If you are digital nomads with kids and planning on a stay on Hvar and would like to contact Ivana, email us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Hvar kids.

People from all over the world are already enjoying the Hvar digital nomad lifestyle.  Read more in Digital Nomad Life in Croatia: Jess and Thibaud, from San Francisco to Jelsa.

The Croatian government has now published guidelines on how to apply for the Croatian digital nomad visa.

Meet Melissa Paul, Owner of Croatia's First Digital Nomad Visa.

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