Friday, 15 April 2022

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


(Photo: Grgo Jelavic/PIXSELL)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


(Photo: Grgo Jelavic/PIXSELL)

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

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

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

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

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


(Photo: Mario Romulić)

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 16 December 2021

City Becomes Majority Owner of Dubrovnik Port Company

ZAGREB, 16 Dec 2021 - The City of Dubrovnik has become the majority owner of the Dubrovnik Port company with a 51.32% stake, mayor Mato Franković said on Thursday, calling this important for the company's future and the management of the city's port area.

The city previously acquired a 48.75% stake in the company and has become the majority owner after the city-owned company UTD Ragusa acquired another 2.75%. At a general shareholders' assembly on 22 November, Dubrovnik Port was authorized to buy 8.99% of its shares from the Atlantska Plovidba shipping company.

The mayor told the press that today was a historic day and decision for the future of Dubrovnik Port and the management of the city's waters.

"In recent years attempts were made to devalue Dubrovnik Port and award the cruise ship terminal project to another company. That would have made the port's future questionable and now we have changed all that."

Franković said that after 15 years the obligations to the government had been fulfilled and that, together with it, a procedure was launched to award a concession for the construction of a cruise ship terminal in the port. He hopes Dubrovnik Port "will soon get a priority concession."

The company's director Željko Raguž said the next step, in order to get the concession, is to amend the urban plan with regard to the city's port.

He said Dubrovnik Port would end 2021 with a profit of over HRK 2 million (€266,000).

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Thursday, 28 October 2021

Mayor Franković Discusses 2021 Dubrovnik Season, Wants to Keep 1-2 Cruisers Per Day

October 28, 2021 - Was the 2021 Dubrovnik season successful? Mayor Mato Franković weighs in on what worked and what needs to happen to maintain tourism in the Adriatic Pearl. 

Dubrovnik cannot say that this was a successful season, said Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Franković at a meeting with Dubrovnik-Neretva County hoteliers. The exchange of experiences from the previous season and the best possible preparations for the challenges that the next year and season will bring were the main topics of this meeting, organized by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce - Dubrovnik County Chamber, reports HRTurizam.

Mayor Franković called this season extremely demanding and especially thanked the members of the Tourist Board and Dubrovnik Airport who worked hard on its preparation even when it seemed that there would be no season.

"In marketing and communication activities, we achieved several flights that were sufficient for the needs of Dubrovnik and the surrounding area, given the open capacity. However, when we look at 44% of overnight stays in the City of Dubrovnik compared to 2019, it is not completely comparable because, for example, Valamar decided to keep most hotels closed, which I consider a bad business decision, but also a bad attitude towards Dubrovnik," Franković said at the meeting. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he added, played a significant role in facilitating the establishment of new air connections with the US and Russia, whose passengers were allowed to obtain one-day visas, which was very important for tourism. He also emphasized that the Croatian Government had allocated more than HRK 500 million for this area to help business people, which ensured that they maintained working.

Commenting on this year's season and the arrival of cruise ships, Franković highlighted how the city and the city economy need cruise ships guests, but with moderation.

“This year, we had the perfect measure, one to two cruisers a day. The city can handle that, and business people can feel it, from restaurants, cafes, guides, museums, walls to bus carriers. So we need cruisers, but not four at a time. So let us continue in this direction," said Franković and pointed out the significant increase in the arrival of private planes and guests of higher spending power.

According to the Dubrovnik mayor, what has been recorded in these few months is good in that it has given business people momentum to survive until the next season. Still, Dubrovnik cannot say how successful this season has been. Therefore, business people should be given support in providing information to the Prime Minister and the Government that the entire Croatian tourism cannot be viewed through the prism of Istria and that Dubrovnik as an air destination is in a much different position.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 17 May 2021

Elections in Dubrovnik: Winners Expected, Exciting Race for Runners Up

May 17, 2021 – Sunday welcomed the Croatian local elections. The elected officials will hold the political power on city and county levels which in many ways affects the everyday lives of Croatian people more than the national parliament or the president. A look at the elections in Dubrovnik. 

Croatian election results are the main topic this Monday. It has been a slow and quiet campaign compared to most previous ones. This is mainly due to the pandemic and the current financial situation. Without all the bells and whistles, there were some results that surprised the general public. Still, the majority of the winners were as expected. For the vast majority of the towns and counties, the election process is not over. Many of them will have to go into second round of voting to find new mayors and county prefects. The top two candidates with the most votes in the first round will go over to the runoffs for a head-to-head election showdown.

Race for Mayor

As reported by Dubrovacki Vjesnik, both Dubrovnik and Dubrovnik-Neretva County will have to go into runoffs in order to elect the mayor of Dubrovnik and the county prefect. On the city and county level in the Dubrovnik area, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) is starting round two from the winning position. Mato Frankovic, reigning mayor of Dubrovnik, won the popular vote in the city with 36,7% of votes. Political veteran, Pero Vican finished behind him with 13,54% of votes. He won second place after a neck and neck battle with the former mayor of Dubrovnik, Andro Vlahusic. Considering the gap in results between Frankovic and Vican, the second round of Dubrovnik's race for mayor should confirm the results of the first one. However, everybody in Dubrovnik knows Pero Vican is not a politician to be underestimated.

Results on the County Level

Current county prefect, HDZ's Nikola Dobroslavic, took the win in the first round of voting with an impressive 40,12% of votes. The runner-up was Most party's Bozo Petrov with 21,11%. Petrov is a young, but already established politician. He is a current member of the Croatian Parliament and the leader of the Most party. He is a considerably younger and less experienced competitor than Dobroslavic. With this in mind, it will be an exciting second round of voting in Dubrovnik-Neretva County. The main dilemma before the voters is whether they want more of the same or are looking for a change.

For more news about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

Croatia Should Welcome Vaccinated UK Tourists without Restrictions, Says Dubrovnik Mayor

March 9, 2021 - Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Franović announced on Monday that Croatia should welcome vaccinated UK tourists without restrictions and all Britons who overcame COVID-19 or have a negative PCR test from May 1, 2021. 

HRTurizam writes that the UK is currently the focus of all tourist destinations.

It is also among the top three countries globally in terms of vaccinating citizens, with only Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) vaccinating more citizens. By Sunday, at least 21 million Britons were given their first dose. About 400,000 citizens are vaccinated every week, which is why all tourist countries are turning directly to the British market, from Greece, the Canary Islands, Turkey, Cyprus, Spain, and many other countries, because it is in British tourists that should travel en masse first due to high vaccination coverage.

The mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Franković, is keeping this in mind. After a recent initiative to enable tourists at Croatian airports to be tested for COVID, he launched a new initiative aimed precisely at tourists from Great Britain.

Namely, Franković sent a proposal to the competent ministries to agree with the United Kingdom for British guests.

All Britons who received two doses of vaccine overcame COVID-19 or have a negative PCR test would be allowed to come to Croatia on vacation without restrictions. May 1.

"The UK market is the most important tourist market in the city of Dubrovnik, and since the UK left the European Union, its guests are considered guests from third countries, and the quarantine obligation is in force upon arrival at the destination. Given that such a measure could seriously jeopardize the season, this proposal was made, following the examples of Cyprus and Portugal that have concluded such agreements," said Franković, adding that leading British media report almost daily on which European Union countries the British are allowed to enter without having to quarantine upon arrival.

The consequences of Dubrovnik's inclusion on the UK red list are most clearly shown by the numbers of arrivals, according to which Dubrovnik ended 2020 with 20% of the total number of overnight stays compared to the number of overnight stays in 2019, concluded Franković.

Both initiatives are focused on air guests because the city of Dubrovnik is extremely dependent on air traffic. Still, they also show the mayor's proactivity and determination to define some things much faster. There is not much time until summer, and everyone is currently targeting the UK market with marketing messages. 

The European Union will present a "digital green pass" on March 17, i.e., to present the framework of the Member States' decision regarding Covid passports and all other open issues regarding opening to tourism. It is also important to point out that according to Minister Brnjac, Croatia is considering a model that would allow tourists to be tested by rapid antigen tests, as well as PCR testing at several points, which will be decided in cooperation with regional tourist boards and the Croatian Institute of Public Health.

On the topic of introducing digital green passports that would enable easier travel, and at the same time provide air destinations with a faster tourist recovery, Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Franković held a meeting with the Director-General of the European Region of Airports Council International Olivier Jankovec and the president of the Air Transport Association at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, Tonči Peović.

Olivier Jankovec informed Mayor Franković that 100 European airports had introduced COVID testing so far. Still, he believes that the full implementation of the system requires urgent harmonization of recognizing rapid antigen tests between the EU member states, allowing easier travel.

On the other hand, Mayor Franković presented the initiatives and protocols proposed by the City of Dubrovnik, which relate to travel from all countries, regardless of whether they are part of the EU or not. The proposal introduces the rules according to the zones 'green', 'orange' and 'red,' and following them; guests would have certain conditions for coming to Croatia. Thus, the goal is not to stop travel but to make it possible for everyone under certain conditions.

Do you believe that Croatia should welcome vaccinated UK tourists without restrictions from May 1 this year?

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

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Sunday, 23 August 2020

Dubrovnik Mayor Reveals 352 Brits Arrived on Six Saturday Flights

August 23, 2020 - Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Frankovic revealed in a live program for N1 television that, despite the coronavirus, six British planes had arrived in the city on Saturday. But how many British tourists did they carry?  

While the news certainly sounds positive at first glance, since the UK placed Croatia on its quarantine list on Thursday, let's take a closer look. 

Namely, if we look at the figures presented by Frankovic, it turns out that 352 British tourists landed in Dubrovnik, which isn't really a figure to brag about. Frankovic, however, stated that this was a positive number, and also emphasized that two more planes would arrive on Saturday night.

A brief analysis of the Croatian Aviation portal shows that 352 British tourists can't be considered good news. In fact, they call those numbers catastrophic.

"The mayor of Dubrovnik praised the media that a significant arrival of British tourists to Dubrovnik was recorded at Dubrovnik Airport on August 22 (after the mandatory self-isolation for all passengers coming from Croatia to the UK came into force). Six direct flights from Great Britain arrived with 352 passengers.

However, seven planes from Great Britain landed at Dubrovnik Airport, while the eighth will land late tonight (Saturday):

  1., London Stansted, 09:22h (B737-800)
  2. EasyJet, London Gatwick, 09:51h (A320)
  3., Birmingham, 09:54h (B737-800)
  4. EasyJet, Edinburgh, 10:11h (A320NEO)
  5., Manchester, 11:55h (B737-800)
  6. British Airways, London Heathrow, 12:00h (A320)
  7. EasyJet, London Gatwick, 20:12h (A320)
  8. EasyJet, Manchester, 20:37h (A320NEO)
  9. EasyJet, London Luton, 22.24h (A319)

As the 352 passengers on Saturday's first six flights from Great Britain to Dubrovnik have been publicly announced, we will only state the following; a total of 1,119 seats were offered on six flights in the direction of Dubrovnik. If only 352 passengers really arrived in Dubrovnik on those flights, the occupancy of the passenger cabin is only around 31%.

Given the number of seats offered and direct flights, the number of arrivals of British tourists is not good, but catastrophic."

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

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Monday, 10 August 2020

Dubrovnik Mayor Asks National Headquarters to Lift Entry Ban on Ships with 200+ Passengers

August 10, 2020 - Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Frankovic has asked the National Civil Protection Headquarters to change the rule banning the entry of ships with more than two hundred passengers into Croatian ports.

Slobodna Dalmacija reports that this is because the global cruise line MSC did not include Dubrovnik in its cruise program.

Namely, representatives of the company have previously expressed interest in including Dubrovnik in the travel program, but the limiting factor for the arrival of larger ships on cruises to Dubrovnik is the rule, according to which ships with more than 200 passengers cannot enter Croatian ports at the moment.

Frankovic briefed Deputy Prime Minister and Head of the National Civil Protection Headquarters Davor Bozinovic and Minister of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure Oleg Butkovic on this very topic.

Following Bozinovic's instructions, Frankovic submitted to the County Institute of Public Health detailed procedures introduced by the MSC for its ships, as well as procedures to be carried out by the Dubrovnik Port Authority and the City of Dubrovnik.

"In the coming days, we expect an official statement from the Institute to the Civil Protection Headquarters and we are convinced that with the approved procedures, ships on cruise trips will be allowed to enter Croatian ports," said Mayor Frankovic.

The prescribed procedures are a challenge for both companies and Port Authorities and the cities where cruise companies enter, but they provide the highest level of health care, and the possibility of spreading the COVID-19 infection is reduced to a minimum, the Dubrovnik City Administration said in a statement.

MSC is one of the world's largest cruise companies and a market leader in Europe.

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

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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Mayor Franković New President of Firefighting Association Dubrovnik

The salaries of Dubrovnik firefighters might soon be raised to match the dangerous conditions of their job