Friday, 19 February 2021

People also ask Google: What is Croatia Famous For?

February 19, 2021 – What is Croatia Famous For?

People outside of the country really want to know more about Croatia. They search for answers online.

Here, we'll try to answer the popular search terms “What is Croatia famous for?” and “What is Croatia known for?”

Most of the people looking for answers to these questions have never been to Croatia. They may have been prompted to ask because they're planning to visit Croatia, they want to come to Croatia, or because they heard about Croatia on the news or from a friend.

What Croatia is known for depends on your perspective. People who live in the country sometimes have a very different view of what Croatia is famous for than the rest of the world. And, after visiting Croatia, people very often leave with a very different opinion of what Croatia is known for than before they came. That's because Croatia is a wonderful country, full of surprises and secrets to discover. And, it's because internet searches don't reveal everything. Luckily, you have Total Croatia News to do that for you.

What is Croatia known for?

1) Holidays


Croatia is best known globally as a tourist destination. Catching sight of pictures of the country online is enough to make almost anyone want to come. If you've heard about it from a friend, seen the country used in a TV show like Game of Thrones or Succession, or watched a travel show, your mind will be made up. Following such prompts, it's common for Croatia to move to first place on your bucket list. If it's not already, it should be, There are lots of reasons why Croatia is best known for holidays (vacations).

a) Islands


What is Croatia famous for? Islands © Mljet National Park

Within Croatia's tourist offer, its most famous aspect is its islands. Croatia has over a thousand islands - 1246 when you include islets. 48 Croatian islands are inhabited year-round, but many more come to life over the warmer months. Sailing in Croatia is one of the best ways to see the islands, and if you're looking for a place for sailing in the Mediterranean, Croatia is the best choice because of its wealth of islands. These days, existing images of Croatia's islands have been joined by a lot more aerial photography and, when people see these, they instantly fall in love.

b) Beaches

What is Croatia famous for? Its holidays are famous for their beaches © Szabolcs Emich

Croatia has 5835 kilometres of coastline on the Adriatic Sea - 1,777.3 kilometres of coast on the mainland, and a further 4,058 kilometres of coast around its islands and islets. The Croatian coast is the most indented of the entire Mediterranean. This repeated advance and retreat into the Adriatic forms a landscape littered with exciting, spectacular peninsulas, quiet, hidden bays, and some of the best beaches in the world. There are so many beaches in Croatia, you can find a spot to suit everyone. On the island of Pag and in the Zadar region, you'll find beaches full of young people where the party never stops. Elsewhere, romantic and elegant seafood restaurants hug the shoreline. Beach bars can range from ultra-luxurious to basic and cheap. The beaches themselves can be popular and full of people, facilities, excitement and water sports, or they can be remote, idyllic, and near-deserted, accessible only by boat. Sand, pebble, and stone all line the perfectly crystal-clear seas which are the common feature shared by all.

c) Dubrovnik

What is Croatia famous for? Dubrovnik © Ivan Ivanković

As a backdrop to Game Of Thrones and movies from franchises like Star Wars and James Bond, Dubrovnik is known all over the world. Everybody wants to see it in person, and that's why it's an essential stop-off for so many huge cruise ships in warmer months. But, Dubrovnik's fame did not begin with the invention of film and television. The city was an autonomous city-state for long periods of time in history, and Dubrovnik was known all over Europe – the famous walls which surround the city of Dubrovnik are a testament to a desire to maintain its independent standing for centuries while living in the shadow of expanding, ambitious empires.

d) Heritage

What is Croatia famous for? Heritage. Pula amphitheatre is one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world

The walled city of Dubrovnik is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Croatia's rich architectural and ancient heritage. Diocletian's Palace in Split is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and still the living, breathing centre of life in the city (that people still live within it and it is not preserved in aspic is one of its most charming features and no small reason for its excellent preservation).

Having existed on the line of European defence against the Ottoman empire, Croatia also has many incredible fortresses and castles. The fortresses of Sibenik are well worth seeing if you're visiting Sibenik-Knin County and its excellent coast. A small number of Croatia's best castles exist on the coast, Rijeka's Trsat and Nova Kraljevica Castle is nearby Bakar being two of them. Most of Croatia's best and prettiest castles are actually located in its continental regions which, compared to the coast, remain largely undiscovered by most international tourists.

Many spectacular castles in the country's continental regions are, for these parts, what is Croatia famous for

Pula amphitheatre (sometimes referred to as Pula Arena) is one of the largest and best-preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world. A spectacular sight year-round, like Diocletian's Palace, it remains a living part of the city's life, famously hosting an international film festival, concerts by orchestras, opera stars, and famous rock and pop musicians. Over recent years, it has also played a part in the city's music festivals.

e) Music Festivals

What is Croatia famous for? Music festivals © Khris Cowley

There is a very good reason why the city of Pula leapt massively up the list of most-researched online Croatian destinations over the last decade. It played host to two of the country's most famous international music festivals. Though the music at some of these can be quite niche, the global attention they have brought to the country is simply massive. Clever modern branding and marketing by the experienced international operators who host their festivals in Croatia mean that millions of young people all over the world have seen videos, photos and reviews of Croatia music festivals, each of them set within a spectacular backdrop of seaside Croatia.

f) Plitvice Lakes and natural heritage

What is Croatia Famous For? Plitvice Lakes, national parks and natural heritage

Known for its chain of 16 terraced lakes and gushing waterfalls, Plitvice Lakes is the oldest, biggest and most famous National Park in Croatia. Everybody wants to see it. And many do. But that's not the be-all and end-all of Croatia's stunning natural beauty. Within the country's diverse topography, you'll find 7 further National Parks and 12 Nature Parks which can be mountain terrain, an archipelago of islands, or vibrant wetlands.

2) Football

What is Croatia famous for? Football. Seen here, Luka Modric at the 2018 World Cup © Светлана Бекетова

The glittering international careers of Croatian footballers Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić, Ivan Perišić, Mario Mandžukić, and others have in recent years advertised Croatia as a factory of top-flight footballing talent. They helped put Croatia football on the map with fans of European football. Football fans in Croatia have a very different perception of just how famous Croatian football is to everyone else in the world. If you talk to a Croatian fan about football, it's almost guaranteed that they will remind you of a time (perhaps before either of you were born) when their local or national team beat your local or national team in football. 99% of people will have no idea what they are talking about. The past occasions which prompt this parochial pride pale into insignificance against the Croatian National Football Team's achievement in reaching the World Cup Final of 2018. This monumental occasion brought the eyes of the world on Croatia, extending way beyond the vision of regular football fans. Subsequently, the internet exploded with people asking “Where is Croatia?”

Sports in general are what is Croatia known for


Croatians are enthusiastic about sports and engage in a wide number of them. The difference in perception between how Croats view the fame this gets them and the reality within the rest of the world is simply huge. Rowing, basketball, wrestling, mixed martial arts, tennis, handball, boxing, waterpolo, ice hockey, skiing and volleyball are just some of the sports in which Croatia has enthusiastically supported individuals and local and national teams. Some of these are regarded as minority sports even in other countries that also pursue them. Croatians don't understand this part. If you say to a Croatian “What is handball? I never heard of that,” they will look at you like you are crazy or of below-average intelligence.

3) Zagreb

What is Croatia famous for? Its capital city Zagreb is becoming increasingly better known

Over relatively recent years, the Croatian capital has skyrocketed in terms of fame and visitor numbers. Tens of thousands of people from all over the world now come to visit Zagreb each year. Its massive new success can be partly attributed to the rising popularity of international tourism in some areas of Asia (and Zagreb being used as a setting for some television programmes made in some Asian countries) and the massive success of Zagreb's Advent which, after consecutively attaining the title of Best European Christmas Market three times in a row, has become famous throughout the continent and further still. Zagreb's fame is not however restricted to tourism. Zagreb is known for its incredible Austro-Hungarian architecture, its Upper Town (Gornji Grad) and the buildings there, an array of museums and city centre parks and as home to world-famous education and scientific institutions, like to Ruder Boskovic Institute and the Faculty of Economics, University of Zagreb.

4) Olive oil

What is Croatia famous for? Olive oil

Croatian olive oil is the best in the world. Don't just take out word for it! Even the experts say so. In 2020, leading guide Flos Olei voted Istria in northwest Croatia as the world's best olive oil growing region for a sixth consecutive year. Olive oil production is an ancient endeavour in Croatia, and over hundreds of years, the trees have matured, and the growers learned everything there is to know. Olive oil is made throughout a much wider area of Croatia than just Istria, and local differences in climate, variety, and soil all impact the flavour of the oils produced. Croatian has no less than five different olive oils protected at a European level under the designation of their place of origin. These and many other Croatian olive oils are distinct and are among the best you're ever likely to try.

5) There was a war here

What is Croatia famous for? A relatively recent war left its mark on the country © Modzzak

Under rights granted to the republics of the former Yugoslavia and with a strong mandate from the Croatian people, gained across two national referendums, Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Yugoslavia was a multi-ethnic country, with each republic containing a mixture of different ethnicities and indeed many families which themselves were the product of mixed ethnicities. Ethnic tensions and the rise of strong nationalist political voices in each of the former republics and within certain regions of these countries lead to a situation where war became inevitable. The worst of the fighting was suffered within Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina and the part of southern Serbia which is now Kosovo. The Croatian War of Independence (known locally as the Homeland War) lasted from 1991 – 1995. The Yugoslav wars of which it was a major part is regarded as the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War II. In many cases, this war pitted neighbouring houses or neighbouring villages against each other and sometimes members of the same family could be found on opposing sides. The war left huge damage on the country and its infrastructure, some of which is still visible. Worse still, it had a much greater physical and psychological impact on the population. Some people in Croatia today would rather not talk about the war and would prefer to instead talk about the country's present and future. For other people in Croatia, the war remains something of an obsession. If you are curious about the Croatian War of Independence, it is not advisable to bring it up in conversation when you visit the country unless you know the person you are speaking with extremely well. It is a sensitive subject for many and can unnecessarily provoke strong emotions and painful memories. There are many resources online where you can instead read all about the war, there are good documentary series about it on Youtube and there are several museums in Croatia where you can go and learn more, in Vukovar, Karlovac and in Zagreb.

6) Wine

What is Croatia famous for? Its wine is some of the best you'll ever try © Plenković

Croatia is not really that famous for wine. Well, not as famous as it should be because Croatia makes some of the greatest wine on the planet. Croatian wine is only really famous to those who have tried it after visiting – you'll never forget it! A growing cabal of Croatian wine enthusiasts are trying their best internationally to spread the word about Croatian wine. However, there isn't really that much space in Croatia to make all the wine it needs to supply its homegrown demands and a greatly increased export market. Therefore, export prices of Croatian wine are quite high and even when it does reach foreign shores, these prices ensure its appreciation only by a select few. There's a popular saying locally that goes something like this “We have enough for ourselves and our guests”. Nevertheless, Croatian wine is frequently awarded at the most prestigious international competitions and expos. White wine, red wine, sparkling wine, cuvee (mixed) and rose wine are all made here and Croatia truly excels at making each. You can find different kinds of grape grown and wine produced in the different regions of Croatia. The best way to learn about Croatian wine is to ask someone who really knows about wine or simply come to Croatia to try it. Or, perhaps better still, don't do that and then there will be more for those of us who live here. Cheers!

7) Croatian produce

Drniš prsut
is protected at a European level, one of 32 products currently protected in this way and therefore what is Croatia famous for © Tourist Board of Drniš

To date, 32 agricultural and food products from Croatia have attained protection at a European level. These range from different prosciuttos, olive oils and Dalmatian bacon, to pastries and pastas, honey, cheese, turkeys, lamb, cabbages, mandarins, salt, sausages, potatoes and something called Meso 'z tiblice (which took a friend from the region where it's made three days to fully research so he could explain it to me at the levels necessary to write an informed article about it – so, you can research that one online). While some prosciutto, bacon, sausages, olive oil and wine do make it out of Croatia, much of these are snaffled up by a discerning few of those-in-the-know. The rest, you will only really be able to try if you visit. And, there are many other items of Croatian produce which are known which you can also try while here


What is Croatia known for? Truffles © Donatella Paukovic

By weight, one of the most expensive delicacies in the world, truffles are a famous part of the cuisine within some regions of Croatia. They feature heavily in the menu of Istria, which is well known as a region in which both white and black truffles are found and then added to food, oils or other products. Truth be told, this isn't a black and white issue - there are a great number of different types of truffle and they can be found over many different regions in Croatia, including around Zagreb and in Zagreb County. But, you'll need to see a man about a dog if you want to find them yourself.


What is Croatia known for? Vegeta

Having celebrated its 60th birthday in 2019, the cooking condiment Vegeta is exported and known in many other countries, particularly Croatia's close neighbours. It is popularly put into soups and stews to give them more flavour. Among its ingredients are small pieces of dehydrated vegetables like carrot, parsnip, onion, celery, plus spices, salt and herbs like parsley.


What is Croatia known for? Chocolate is a big export© Alexander Stein

Though making chocolate is only around a century old in Croatia, Croatian chocolate has grown to become one of its leading manufactured food exports. Some of the most popular bars may be a little heavy on sugar and low on cocoa for more discerning tastes. But, lots of others really like it.


What is Croatia famous for? Its beer is becoming more famous internationally © The Garden Brewery

The exploding growth of the Croatian craft ale scene over the last 10 years is something that is likely to have passed you by, unless you're a regular visitor to the country, a beer buff or both. Most of the producers are quite small and production not great enough to make a big splash on international markets. However, even within a craft-flooded current market, Croatian beer is becoming more widely known – in one poll, the Zagreb-based Garden Brewery was in 2020 voted Europe's Best Brewery for the second consecutive year

8) Innovation

What is Croatia famous for? Pioneers, inventors and innovation. Nikola Tesla was born here

From the parachute, fingerprinting, the retractable pen and the tungsten filament electric light-bulb to the torpedo, modern seismology, the World Health Oganisation and the cravat (a necktie, and the precursor to the tie worn by many today), Croatia has gifted many innovations to the world. The list of pioneers - scientists, artists, researchers and inventors - who were born here throughout history is long. And, although innovation is not currently regarded as experiencing a golden period in Croatia, there are still some Croatian innovators whose impact is felt globally, such as electric hypercar maker Mate Rimac.

9) Being poor

What is Croatia famous for? Being poor. Yikes!

The minimum wage in Croatia is among the lowest in Europe. Croatian language media is constantly filled with stories about corruption. There is a huge state apparatus in which key (if not most) positions are regarded to be politically or personally-motivated appointments. This leads to a lack of opportunity for Croatia's highly educated young people. Many emigrate for better pay and better opportunities. This leads to a brain drain and affects the country's demographics considerably (if it usually the best educated, the ablest and the youngest Croatian adults who emigrate). Many of those who stay are influenced by the stories of widespread corruption and lack of opportunity and are therefore lethargic in their work, leading to a lack of productivity. A considerable part of the Croatian economy is based on tourism which remains largely seasonal.

10) People want to live in Croatia

What is Croatia famous for? People want to come and live here. No, really.

Yes, despite many younger Croatians leaving or dreaming of leaving and despite the low wages, many people who are not from Croatia dream about living here. Of course, it's an all too familiar scenario that you go on holiday somewhere and while sitting at a seafood restaurant in sight of a glorious sunset, having had a few too many glasses of the local wine, you fall in love with Miguel or however the waiter is called who served it and Miguel's homeland. But, with Croatia, this is actually no passing fancy, no idle holiday dream. People do decide to move here. And not just for the sunset and Miguel (nobody in Croatia is called Miguel - Ed).

Croatia may be known for being poor, but it also has one of the best lifestyles in Europe. That it's cafe terraces are usually full to capacity tells you something about the work to living ratio. Croatians are not just spectators of sport, many enjoy a healthy lifestyle. This informs everything from their pastimes to their diet. There are great facilities for exercise and sport, wonderful nature close by whichever part of the country you're in. You can escape into somewhere wonderful and unknown at a moment's notice. The country is well connected internally by brilliant roads and motorways, reliable intercity buses and an international train network. The tourism industry ensures that multiple airports across Croatia can connect you to almost anywhere you want to go, and major international airports in Belgrade and Budapest, just a couple of hours away, fly to some extremely exotic locations. There are a wealth of fascinating neighbour countries on your doorstep to explore on a day trip or weekend and superfast broadband is being rolled out over the entire country. This is perhaps one of the reasons Croatia has been heralded as one of the world's best options for Digital Nomads. In a few years, when we ask what is Croatia famous far, they could be one of the answers.

What is Croatia famous for, but only after you've visited

Some things you experience when you visit Croatia come as a complete surprise. Most would simply never be aware of them until they visit. They are usually top of the list of things you want to do when you come back to Croatia.


fritaja_sparoge_1-maja-danica-pecanic_1600x900ntbbbbb.jpgGastronomy is only one of the things what is Croatia known for only after you've visited © Maja Danica Pecanic / Croatian National Tourist Board

Despite a few famous TV chefs having visited and filmed in Croatia over the years, Croatian gastronomy remains largely unknown to almost everyone who's never been to Croatia. That's a shame because you can find some fine food here. Croatia has increased its Michelin-starred and Michelin-recommended restaurants tenfold over recent years. But, perhaps the bigger story is the traditional cuisine which varies greatly within the countries different regions. From the gut-busting barbecue grills and the classic Mediterranean fare of Dalmatia to the pasta, asparagus and truffles of Istria to the sausages and paprika-rich stews of Slavonia and the best smoked and preserved meats of the region, there's an untold amount of secret Croatian gastronomy to discover.


restaurant-3815076_1280.jpgWhat is Croatia known for? Well, to locals, it's famous for coffee - not just a drink, it's a ritual

Croatians are passionate about coffee and about going for coffee. It's a beloved ritual here. Going for coffee in Croatia is often about much more than having coffee. It's an integral part of socialising, catching up and sometimes being seen. It doesn't always involve coffee either. Sometimes, you'll be invited for coffee, only to end up ordering beer. It's not about the coffee. Although, the standard of coffee in Croatia, and the places where you drink it, is usually really good.

The misapprehension: What is Croatia known for (if you are a Croatian living in Croatia)

Handball, music

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Sunday, 22 November 2020

Slavonia v Montenegro, Split-Dalmatia v Malta: Comparing Croatian Bureaucracy

November 22, 2020 - Viktor Simunic, an enterprising independent young councillor in Zagorje has been comparing Croatian bureaucracy with countries of a similar size. Houston, we have a problem. 

I don't think I am divulging any State secrets when I write that Croatia has a very bloated bureaucracy. In an age of economic downturn and belt-tightening, savings in bureaucratic efficiency would be an obvious place to start. Indeed, this excellent recent big data analysis a few months ago showed how Croatia could save 1.29 billion kuna (170 million euro) a year simply by merging municipalities. A move that would also improve efficiency. 

A move that will almost certainly not happen because... well, this is Croatia. 


A popular comparison to explain the absurdity of Croatia's bureaucratic overreach and jobs for the cousins  - and one I have used before - is comparing the number of people it takes to run New York City, which is twice the size of Croatia. Obviously, running a big city and a country are very different, but what takes 51 city councillors in New York to look after the needs of a population twice the size of Croatia - a task left to a heroic 8,354 councillors in Croatia. 

And while the picture above makes a point, it is obviously not a true comparison of like versus like, which is why I found the analysis I came across today to be rather interesting. I have never come across Viktor Simunic before, but his Facebook profile states that he was born in 1991 (thereby answering the all-important 'Di Si Bio u 1991?' question), was the youngest mayoral candidate in Krapinsko- Zagorje County, and is currently an independent town councillor in Oroslavje. And he has been busy researching and coming up with data comparing Croatian bureaucracy with different places.  

comparing-croatian-bureaucracy (2).jpg

When I first learned the extent of Croatia's bureaucracy, I assumed that it was an ex-Yugoslav thing (which it is in part), except that it seems that Croatia rapidly expanded its bureaucracy after independence, and it is now much more bureaucratic than its neighbours and former fellow republics. 

Simunic has been doing a little research comparing Croatian bureaucracy to other places, then posting his findings on Facebook. His latest was a look at the number of people it takes to run Slavonia compared to Montenegro, which he visited recently at his own cost in order to gather the information.  Slavonia's official population of 805,988 has been sharply reduced since the 2011 census, with estimates that the current number is closer to 700,000, a little more than the whole population of Montenegro. 

Administratively, it is in a different hemisphere, with a total of 132 local self-government units (compared to 24 in Montenegro), 5 counties, 132 local leaders and 1,764 councillors (compared to 25 local leaders in Montenegro, and 829 councillors). The annual cost of paying the Slavonian administration is a cool 21.5 million kuna a year, compared to just 3.5 million kuna in Montenegro. 

Quite a potential saving. 

comparing-croatian-bureaucracy (6).jpg

Another former Yugoslav republic, and a larger one - Serbia - appears to be much more efficient in administering its 7 million inhabitants, with just 174 local self-administration units compared to Croatia's 576. Salaries in Serbia are lower than Croatia in general, but who would have expected that the average salary of a mayor of a village in Zagorje (average population 996) would be less than the Mayor of Belgrade, population 1.4 million?

comparing-croatian-bureaucracy (4).jpg

Slovenian is another former-Yugoslav republic, which is about half the population of Croatia and with higher salaries. Administratively it needs much less than that half to run the local administrations, both in terms of money spent and political representatives. 

comparing-croatian-bureaucracy (3).jpg

Simunic also made did some research comparing Croatian bureaucracy with other parts of Europe. The populations of Malta and Split-Dalmatia County are quite similar, Malta being slightly larger. While Malta has slightly more local self-government units (68 v 56), it needs considerably less paid help to run them 860 officials at an annual cost of 16.3 million kuna, compared to Split-Dalmatia County's 1,728 officials which cost 34.2 million kuna. 

comparing-croatian-bureaucracy (1).jpg

Is the grass greener in Ireland, as so many Croatians who emigrated there hoped it would be? It would seem that - at least administratively - it is. Just 2,057 local politicians required to look after the 4.9 million inhabitants, compared to 9,575 in Croatia. 

Or, to put it a little clearer, one councillor per 5-10,000 inhabtiants, compared to the Croatian ratio of just 1 - 500.  

comparing-croatian-bureaucracy (5).jpg

And the final model to compare for now - Denmark, with a larger population of 5.8 million. Just 5 regions, 103 local self-administration units, 98 municipalities, and 2,432 councillors, of which 33% are women. 

Winter is coming, as are the cutbacks. Will common sense prevail in The Beautiful Croatia? Some easy and sensible savings from a bloated and inefficient bureaucracy, already costed out in the report above? In a country where there are 319 local tourist boards but nobody available to answer tourist emails, don't bet on it. 

You can follow the research of Viktor Simunic on Facebook

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Zagreb Residents Plant Mini Garden in Centre of City, Receive Penalty

September the 2nd, 2020 - Croatia hasn't earned the names 'ab(p)surdistan' and 'uhjlebistan' without a very good reason. There are numerous laws in this little country which simply boggle the mind, and one of the most ridiculous and petty stories yet is the one which involves some Zagreb residents being penalised for planting some seeds in the city.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 1st of September, 2020, back at the end of July, Martina Zivkovic and Boris Novkovic, Zagreb residents who live in the very heart of the city, more precisely on Preradoviceva, were notified by the municipal police that they were to be penalised for having planted a mini garden on a green area in front of their building back during lockdown in April.

Shocked by the sheer, unbounded idiocy of the notice, both of the Zagreb residents refused to pay the 350 kuna that was being demanded within three days, and recently they received an official fine. They have to pay a fine of 700 kuna each and another 200 kuna for the costs of the insane so-called proceedings. These poor people now have to pay 900 kuna because they planted several small plants to make this central city street look a little more pleasant during the misery and anxiety of lockdown, writes Telegram.

The communal police punished them according to Article 95, paragraph 1, item 10 of the Decision on communal order, according to which it is forbidden to undertake unauthorised interventions such as planting plants on public green areas. The reasoning of the decision states that "when determining the amount of the fine, all circumstances that affect the amount of the fine were taken into account, and the imposed fine is considered appropriate to the gravity of the violation and its consequences." 

Having a hard time wrapping your head around the level of patheticness of that? Yes. Us too. Neither of these Zagreb residents is giving up on the matter and are clearly not going to accept being bullied. Martina Zivkovic and Boris Novkovic both announced for Telegram that they would appeal these penalties to the Misdemeanor Court.

In the wake of a global pandemic and in the very heart of a city which was rocked by a devastating earthquake in March this year, one might think that the communal services would have more important things to attend to than punishing residents for planting a tiny little garden in an attempt to make life a little brighter during what was a horrendous time for every Zagreb resident. Sadly, virus or no virus, uhljebistan is alive and well.

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Thursday, 18 June 2020

What Happens When Israel, Sweden & Croatia Compare Notes on AI Strategy?

June 18, 2020 - Senior representatives from Croatia, Israel and Sweden gathered in Zagreb at a CroAI conference on the reaction to the EU white paper on AI strategy. There are few finer examples of the competence of the current Croatian administration. 

Just over a year ago, MBA Croatia organised a Croatia 2.0 conference in Zagreb called How to Be Globally Competitive from Croatia. You can read a full account of the conference in Celebrating Croatian Global Excellence and Opportunity at 1st MBA Croatia Conference.


It was an excellent conference, full of stimulating ideas and experiences from other countries. Speakers and panelists came from Latvia, North Macedonia, Nigeria, Malta, as well as the Israeli Ambassador Ilan Mor, who gave a great account of how a small country not much bigger than Croatia managed to become almost self-sufficient, as well as one of the leading tech countries in the world - necessity is the mother of invention. 

The organisers decided to stream the conference live and to make it available online, so that it could reach an international audience, who could learn about the considerable successes of private business in Croatia in the fields of IT and innovation. 

But someone objected to the fact that the conference was in English. With just a few foreigners in the room, why could it not be in Croatian?

I did not recognise the person objecting (you can see the objection above), but knew it was some government official who was attending the conference. 

It was only later that I learned that the person objecting was a Deputy Minister of the Economy. I was a little surprised, but then nothing really surprises me in Croatia these days. Until... 


... last month when I was invited to a CroAI conference on the Croatia AI community's reaction to the recent EU white paper on AI strategy. I was hugely surprised to find not only that our English-shy deputy minister was the official government panelist next to the Swedish and Israeli ambassadors and the president of CroAI, but that he was actually leading the EU's AI efforts currently due to Croatia holding the EU Presidency.  


I know very little about AI (but that is about to change), and it was fascinating to listen to the Swedish and Israeli ambassadors presenting their countries and AI efforts and successes. Israeli Ambassador Ilan Mor is a titan, and one of the most effective ambassadors in Zagreb currently. Proud of his country and passionate about his mission, I have heard him speak at several conferences in the last year or so, and  my thoughts were echoed by two attendees at this CroAI conference afterwards:

"If only we had someone like Ilan pushing Croatia's agenda - what progress we could make."

After his impressive presentation, during which he said that Israel was lagging behind in AI research (third behind China and the US) and was planning to increase its current 4.9% of GDP spent on R&D, came the video. Check out what Israeli AI is giving the world. 


Next up, Sweden, and another great presentation from the new Swedish ambassador, who I heard speak for the first time. She did very well, and had this outstanding video to showcase Swedish excellence. Sweden, too, is lagging behind. They too, plan on increasing their R&D budget from the current 3.6%.

And then came the Croatian 'presentation'.

There was no video. In fact, there was nothing of substance at all (you can see the entire conference below and judge for yourselves). And, the more the empty words continued, the more I looked around the room. Shining examples of excellence from Israel and Sweden yes, but SO many bright and talented young Croatian entrepreneurs doing outstanding things. All they are looking for - just like the medical tourism industry in Croatia - is for legislation and financial support. And then for the government to get out of the way and let them grow the industry and fill the government coffers with the revenues made. 


I can't recall a situation where Croatia's weakness and poor leadership was so clearly shown, while its private sector looked so competent than at that CroAI conference. And I wondered indeed what might we achieve if someone like the Israeli ambassador was fighting their corner. I decided to ask the Deputy Minister some questions. You can see the exchange above. 

My questions were:

What percentage of GDP does Croatia spend on R&D?

Does Croatia have a video like Israel and Sweden? If yes, can we see it? If no, why not?

Which official website do I visit to learn more about the government's AI strategy and progress reports?

You can watch the answers and judge for yourselves. 

Only 13 sleeps until Germany takes control of the EU. 

Are you interested in a better Croatia for your children? If you would like to get involved in creating Croatia 2.0, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject AI conference. The CROMADS website goes live next month, but you can follow CROMADS on Facebook already

CROMADS: Why You Should Move to Croatia, With or Without Uhljebistan

Friday, 5 June 2020

Makarska Promotes Mozambique as #CroatiaLongDistanceLove Goes Global

June 5, 2020 - Summer is coming in the Kingdom of Accidental Tourism. A very nice gesture from the Makarska Tourist Board director to promote Mozambique.

One of the big positives of the corona era has been seeing the number of people volunteering their time and expertise to help others. I genuinely think the world became a little bit of a nicer place (readers from the USA, look away now), and that the sense of community has been strengthened as a result.

And what a lovely gesture from the Makarska Tourist Board director to promote Mozambique tourism rather than her own destination at this time of crisis.  

It could be that the director got a little confused by the message of a recent insipid campaign by the Croatian National Tourist Board called #CroatiaLongDistanceLove. Perhaps the director misunderstood the point of the campaign and thought that we were supposed to be showing love from Croatia by supporting destinations a long distance from Croatia. 

Or perhaps she was just being nice. 

Life and tourism promotion in the Kingdom of Accidental Tourism can look a little unconventional at times. 

Take golf. For many years - until I asked why and it was removed - the Croatian National Tourist Board was promoting an 18-hole golf course in the centre of Zagreb.

croatia-long-distance-love (1).png

Yes, really. 


croatia-long-distance-love (3).png

And Game of Thrones fans were advised to check out an exhibition of old fruits in Zagorje, rather than learn anything about Kings Landing by the official Croatian National Tourist Board. 

croatia-long-distance-love (1).JPG

And who can forget the epic slogan - Croatia will waste your time. Plastered all over the Croatia National Tourist Board social media during an official campaign.  

croatia-long-distance-love (2).jpg

Full of genius, and obviously too clever for the number of people who didn't quite get it.

Croatia will not waste your time, but (with some very notable exceptions - and you can see who in our Virtual Croatia series), the Croatian tourist board is a complete waste of time. It should be abolished by Act of Parliament, along with the Ministry of Tourism and the tourism sector of the Croatian Chamber of Economy. And the tourist structure should be rebuilt, using those talented directors who somehow function in this dysfunctional system, qualified experts and AI. 

It really is not that hard. 

And if the Makarska Tourist Board needs photos of Makarska beaches, may I recommend Makarska Riviera Beaches, run by the legend that is Vice Rudan. A private initiative, naturally.

For more examples of genius from the Mighty State of Uhljebistan, visit our dedicated shrine of appreciation

Do you want a better Croatia for your children? Would you like to get involved in our #CROMADS Croatia 2.0 movement. If yes, contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Makarska 2.0? Together we can make Croatia a better place. 

CROMADS: Why You Should Move to Croatia, With or Without Uhljebistan

CROMADS: Zašto biste se trebali preseliti u Hrvatsku, s ili bez Uhljebistana

Saturday, 23 May 2020

319 Tourists Boards But Nobody to Answer Urgent Tourist Travel Questions to Croatia

May 23, 2020 - After weeks of incompetence, the Kings of Accidental Tourism seemed to have finally got some coherent information and an efficient system to answer tourist travel questions. But what happens when you contact the email address?

The Minister of Tourism is apparently not very happy with me. I am apparently making his life very uncomfortable at the most inconvenient time. No, I am not talking about the tourist season, but rather the upcoming elections. 

I am glad if I make him unhappy (although it is nothing personal, I have never met the guy), even more so if I make him uncomfortable. For finally, it seems, he has started to do his job. Kind of.

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

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.


The minister has been the minister now for 4 years. The only memorable thing I can remember of his term so far are him saying 'This is not accidental tourism' when he catches my eye at press conferences, and for his award-winning pandemic tourism slogan, Croatia Breathes Tourism. 


Oh yes, apart from that incredible moment in Vinkovci at Days of Croatian Tourism last October when he announced - to thunderous applause from the party faithful:

"Croatia is the best tourism destination in Europe."

No facts to back up the claim. No numbers. Which is odd because The Capp loves his numbers. 40 million tourists, a record year. This is not accidental tourism. 3 billion overnights. This is not accidental tourism. That kind of thing. 

He also has a fondness of some other numbers, as our colleagues at informed the nation recently - fax numbers. 


Four years into his reign in the Kingdom of Numbers, Numbers, Numbers, our esteemed minister decided to upgrade from the fax number (the year is 2020) on its homepage - email is a concept the Ministry of Tourism was just hearing about, to a sudden change of communications strategy just over 2 weeks ago. Out with the fax and in with 4 emails. I am not sure what brought on so much bold and dynamic change after four years of blissful fax heaven. 

I could go on at length about all the other changes that have happened after the Croatian media covered my story, but I want to get to the point of this article, which is to explain to tourist businesses now that many tourists will not come to Croatia this year because they cannot get any information on the situation. 

On paper, after weeks of ineptitude, it seemed that there was finally a coherent message. TCN has been doing travel updates throughout the crisis (and you can bookmark our daily update here, now available in 12 languages), and we recently started a Viber community called Total Croatia Travel INFO

The Viber community concept is completely out of my comfort zone and I will return to it in a minute, but one of the recurring comments from community members has been the lack of response from the official central email tourists are encouraged to send questions. 

tourist-travel-questions (2).JPG

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A few examples. 

This comes at a time that we have 319 tourist boards in a time of nothing happening, and 75% are too busy to open an email with an offer of a free destination article form an award-winning travel writer. That is not 75% who did not respond, that is 75% that did not even open the email. Of those that did, 68% were too busy to click on the link.

This is not just another Uhljebistan story. This is an issue which will cost many jobs and closed businesses in the next few weeks. Croatia's private tourism providers are on their knees. The next two weeks are crucial, and while Greece is doing INCREDIBLE PR and clear communication, life in the Kingdom of Accidental Tourism goes on as before. 


As we explored recently in Jebote! As Greece Restarts Tourism, Croatia Lauds Conference Success, in a Pandemic, our heroic Ministry website was reporting on a meeting with truck drivers, while the national tourist board director was congratulating himself on Croatia being the 34th best conference tourism country in the world, and number 1 in the region. 

"After various world associations held 114 conventions in Croatia in 2018, even more conventions were held in 2019, 123, and Croatia went up four places in the ICCA rankings, to the 34th place globally by the number of conventions held. That is the highest position Croatia has taken to date, which also confirms its status as the leading conference destination in the region," said HTZ director Kristjan Stancic.

He thinks this is great news for Croatia's conference tourism, which is on an upward trajectory, as well as for Zagreb, which has taken the 48th place in the ICCA rankings for conference cities, jumping up by 20 places compared to 2018.

Conference tourism on an upward trajectory in the Zoom and Corona Age. Clearly, the gurus of the Kingdom of Accidental Tourism are ahead of their time. 

While The Capp was coming out with his breathtaking corona-era slogans, and a 17-year strategic plan was put out to tender to the cousins, nobody was answering the emails. 

And so the tourists - who LOVE Croatia and contribute 20% of its GDP - are looking elsewhere. 

With only 319 local tourist boards, 20 regional tourists boards, 1 national tourist board, a ministry of tourism AND a dedicated tourism body within the fabulous Croatian Chamber of Economy, who could possibly find the manpower to answer questions from tourists?

Surely everyone knows that in the Kingdom of Accidental Tourism, tourists simply come. 

I decided to try. As an experiment. 

Last weekend, I called PR guru and champion of orange shoe fashion, Kresimir Macan, suggesting he take me in his Porsche to the main border with Slovenia at Bregana. With information so hard to find, a little first-hand reporting might be useful. MUP were extremely responsive by email with the media permission and very helpful at the border. You can see the realities of life on the Croatian-Slovenian border on May 17 here

"We have that really good Viber account, for corona updates. Why doesn't the Ministry of Tourism have the same for latest travel advice?"

"Why don't you make your own Viber community?" asked Macan. 

"I wouldn't know where to start."

Two days later... 


I have known Kreso for 6 years. And I have known many who have worked for him. They are some of the brightest minds who go on to do incredible things in the public and private sector. So when he suggested I come to the office and have a chat with his two interns, I knew it would not be just a chat. 

After we got over the initial embarrassment that I did not know how to download Viber to my desktop (thanks, kids!), we - or rather they - got to work. In precisely 22 minutes, we were live with my Viber community Total Croatia Travel INFO (and you can join too - but you need to download the app). 

Nobody has helped me more in the last 5 years than Macan. He is a controversial chap and a polarising figure (he is the erstwhile Communications Director for current Prime Minister Plelnkovic), but he is a master of his craft. I sat and watched, and within an hour, we had an infographic with the relevant info that people needed to know.  


An infographic that was available in multiple languages thanks to the generosity of the Viber community we had created, as people volunteered their time to help others. 

I built a master travel info article, which I pinned to the top of the Viber community, so all could see. I update it daily. 

Meanwhile our travel update page, which links to all the relevant official pages, is now available in multiple languages - the translation is not perfect, but then it never is when the budget is zero:

Um diesen Text auf Deutsch zu lesen, klicken Sie auf (article in German)

Pour lire ce texte en français, cliquez sur (article in French)

Para leer este texto en español, haga clic en (article in Spanish)

Per leggere questo articolo in italiano (article in Italian)

Om deze tekst in het Nederlands te lezen, klik op (article in Dutch)

Chcete-li číst tento text v češtině, klikněte na (article in Czech)

Aby przeczytać ten tekst po polsku, kliknij (article in Polish)

Да бисте прочитали овај текст на српском, кликните на (article in Serbia)

Чтобы прочитать этот текст на русском языке, нажмите на (article in Russian)

Če želite prebrati to besedilo v slovenščini, kliknite na (article in Slovenian)

Pentru a citi acest text în limba română, faceți clic pe (article in Romanian)

For å lese denne teksten på norsk, klikk på (article in Norwegian)

A szöveg magyar nyelvű elolvasásához kattintson a gombra (article in Hungarian)

We had LOTS of engagement in on our little Viber community. We decided to invest some time to answer the questions in real time. For free. This is a community after all. 

The community is growing quickly and is VERY helpful, with people sharing experiences (including no response to emails by the Kings), and I have learned a lot. 


(Answering tourist questions in real time, making their choice to come to Croatia on holiday an easier one. Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community - you will need to download the app).

This is what Macan, two interns and a fat Irishman have managed to do as a part-time extra to our working days since Tuesday. 

Meanwhile, in the Kingdom of Accidental Tourism, the minister is breathing tourism, the national tourist board director is feeling pleased with the upward trajectory of his conference tourism strategy, and business after business is going out of business. 

Because nobody has time to answer the emails. 

To learn more about the brilliance of the Kingdom of Uhljebistan, follow the dedicated TCN section

Friday, 22 May 2020

CROMADS: Zašto biste se trebali preseliti u Hrvatsku, s ili bez Uhljebistana

22. svibnja 2020. - Dok tisuće napuštaju hrvatsku, zašto biste se vi preselili u Hrvatsku - da, zaista! Zaboravite na Uhljebistan, zaboravite na turizam, ovo su CROMADS.

Svi ćemo se zauvijek sjećati ovih posljednjih nekoliko mjeseci. Toliko nesigurnosti, toliko promjena, toliko vremena da razmislimo o prošlosti i budućnosti. Mislim da smo se svi promijenili barem malo zahvaljujući koroni. Ili smo se promijenili mnogo.

Meni je ovih posljednjih nekoliko mjeseci prošlo kao u magli. Nikad nisam više radio u životu, i tih sat vremena koje sam sam provodio uz Jadran svaku večer nakon što sam cijeli dan pisao o smrtima i bolesti pomoglo me održati normalnim. I dalo mi je jasnoću.

Sada vidim svijet drukčije nego što sam ga vidio prije godinu dana, posebno kad se radi o Hrvatskoj. I ništa mi nije jasnije od toga kako je ova seizmička promjena u našim životima Hrvatsku postavila u savršen položaj da preokrene svoje opadanje broja stanovnika, stvori bogatstvo i pomakne ovu zemlju prema naprijed.

S ili bez Uhljebistana.

Nekad sam mislio da je moguće reformirati sustav ovdje, a moji hrvatski prijatelji smijali su se mojoj naivnosti. I bili su u pravu. Ali, posljednja me godina natjerala da shvatim da je sav trud uložen u nastojanja da se popravi Uhljebistan i provedu reforme zapravo posve uzaludan. Energija je to koja se može bolje usmjeriti u novim, pozitivnim smjerovima, kao što je moj novi koncept - CROMADS (skraćenica od Croatia i nomads, nomadi; nomadi u Hrvatskoj).

Potpuna nesposobnost Ministarstva turizma, koju predvodi ministar-heroj sa svojim sloganima za vrijeme doba korone poput "Hrvatska diše turizam", dok istovremeno nisu u stanju objaviti bilo kakve korisne savjete za putovanja u Hrvatskoj, pokazuje - još jednom - da zaista nema nade. Pa, draže mi je, umjesto da nastojim popraviti Kraljevstvo slučajnog turizma, ismijavati ih i igrnorirati, na kraju ih učiniti besmislenima i nebitnima.


Pokrenuli smo zajednicu na Viberu, nazvanu Total Croatia Travel INFO prije nekoliko dana, saznati više i priključiti se možete ovdje. Prošlo je 8 dana otkad me zamjenik ministra turizma pozvao dapošaljem pitanja Ministarstvu, na koja će oni odgovoriti pa ću ja stvoriti stranicu koja će pomoći onima koji stvaraju 20 % hrvatskog BNP-a - turistima. I 8 dana kasnije dobio sam tišinu. Shvatio sam da ne odgovaraju medijima, stoga je za turiste još manja šansa da će dobiti odgovor, pa smo pokrenuli Viber community s namjerom da sve podatke stavimo na jedno mjesto  (ako vas to zanima, pospremite link na ovaj naš članak u kojem je sve objašnjeno). Dopuštamo pitanja (i bilo ih je MNOGO), te odgovaramo koliko možemo, a one na čija pitanja ne možemo odgovoriti upućujemo na prave adrese e-maila. Reakcije su uglavnom vrlo pozitivne i posebno mi se svidio ovaj komentar koji sam primio od Bonaca Experience - hvala vam! Pridružite nam se (trebat će vam aplikacija Viber).

Jedan od ključeva uživanja u boljem životu u Hrvatskoj je toliko jednostavan, a s druge strane toliko teško ostvariv


Stanje duha.


Prije par godina, u [i]fičru[/i] napravljenom za britansko veleposlanstvo u Zagrebu, objasnio sam sve što bi strani investitor trebao znati o Dalmaciji u jednoj rečenici, za koju mi je trebalo 12 godina da je shvatim, ali čim je shvatite i prihvatite, život u Dalmaciji postane gotovo savršen. A ako je ne možete prihvatiti odmah, ili ćete je prihvatiti u budućnosti ili će vam se život pretvoriti u frustraciju. A rečenica je...

Nemojte pokušavati promijeniti Dalmaciju, ali očekujte da će Dalmacija promijeniti vas.

Stanje duha važno je i kad se obraćate Moćnoj Državi Uhljebistan. Umjesto da se nervirate i osjećate frustriranima, kako sam se ja osjećao godinana, ovih dana se osjećam kao stanovnik Osla koji mnogo pije i puši dok se obraća Norveškoj i životu u njoj. Ovo je divna zemlja, ali, čovječe, cigarete i piće su zaista skupi. Ali, njegovo je razmišljanje da su pivo od preko 10 eura, te porez na cigarete i alkohol vrijedni plaćanja da bi se živjelo u Norveškoj.

Tako nekako ja doživljavam Uhljebistan. Umjesto da sam deprimiran i frustriran, prihvaćam da je jedna od negativnih stvari oko života ovdje - slično kao cijena piva i cigareta u Norveškoj - činjenica da moram plaćati porez na uhljebe kako bi mogao živjeti u jednoj od najljepših zemalja u Europi, koje imaju jedan od najboljih stilova života.

I znate što? Čim se ubacite u taj način razmišljanja, samo malo toga "nemojte pokušavati mijenjati Dalmaciju, ali očekujte da će Dalmacija promijeniti vas", sva negativnost nestaje. Okružite se sa što je više moguće pozitivnih i dinamičnih ljudi ovdje, koncentrirajte se na stvaranje Hrvatske 2.0 i bolje budućnosti za našu djecu. Faks uređaji Uhljebistana 2.0 su na izdisaju, postaju svakim danom sve manje relevantni.

A sada, razgovarajmo o CROMADS (Kromadima), i zašto su oni hrvatska budućnost - i to posebno sjajna budućnost!

Radi se o konceptu koji sam prvi put predstavio na Business Cafe Online događaju prošli tjedan, gdje sam bio jedan od gostiju uz legendu Jana de Jonga. Ništa vezano za Cromade nije posebno komplicirano, niti je skupo implementirati taj koncept. Zahtijeva promjenu samo jedne jedine stvari.

Stanja duha.

Cromads - za početak.

Da bih taj koncept najbolje objasnio, trebate zaboraviti na Hrvatsku u kojoj turizam ostvaruje 20 % BDP-a, pritom polagano uništavajući njenu obalu. Trebate zaboraviti i na Uhljebistan za sada. Vratit ćemo ideje Moćne Države Uhljebistana nešto kasnije, kada dođemo do tri različita scenarija - Cromads koji žive s, bez ili uz naše uhljebske prijatelje.

Koncentrirajmo se na to što je Hrvatska bez Uhljebistana: sigurna, prirodom prekrasna zemlja u EU, cjenovno prihvatljiva i lako dostupna, sa sjajnom lokalnom hranom i vinom, stvarima koje treba vidjeti i doživjeti, infrastrukturom i internetom. I životnim stilom kojem cijeli svijet zavidi. Sjajna zemlja za provesti život. Zapamtite ovu misao.

Živimo u svakim danom sve više digitalnom svijetu, i činjenica je da nas mnogo (a uskoro će nas biti većina!) radi u istom uredu.

Taj se ured zove internet.

Samo su dvije varijable u našem globalnom uredu - povezivost (3G, 4G ili 5G) i vremenske zone. Osim toga, slobodni smo šetati svojim uredom i odabrati radno mjesto koje nam najbolje odgovara.

Kad odemo iz ureda, odlazimo doma.

Kad sam prvi put pričao Business Cafeu, prije godinu dana u Zagrebu, trebalo mi je 90 kilometara da dođem do njih iz Varaždina, 180 kilometara za cijeli put.

Prošli sam mjesec primio svoj mjesečni izvještaj od Google Mapsa, u kojem me obavještavaju koliko sam zemalja obišao i kilometara prošao u travnju 2020.

Hodao sam 100 kilometara, a vozio se samo 65! Dakle, taj put da do Business Cafea prošle godine bio je trostruko duži od ukupne vožnje koju sam obavio u travnju 2020.

A opet, sjedio sam u Jelsi u krevetu s čašom vina, drugi sam se put pojavio na Business Cafeu, ali ovaj put me gledalo mnogo više ljudi nego što bi se moglo ugurati u sobu u Zagrebu.

Vlasnica BC-a, Kristina, mogla je biti u Dublinu, Dubaiju ili Durbanu. Prošle godine, morala je biti fizički u Zagrebu, ali to se promijenilo. I kako online školovanje postaje sve uvjerljivije, stupovi koji nas vezuju za određenu lokaciju sve više postaju uklonjeni. Naravno, neki od nas htjet će ostati u mjestu gdje su odrasli, blizu svojih obitelji. Ali mnogi će poželjeti napustiti ured i domom zvati neku lifestyle destinaciju.

Mjesto poput Hrvatske.

Zamislite, dug dan u uredu i zatvorite računalo i tražite što će vas opustiti. Ugodno kupanje u Jadranu prije večere, možda? Šetnja kroz mjesta koja je zaštitio UNESCO, poput Splita, Trogira ili Dubrovnika? Ili planinarenje ili šetnja kroz prekrasnu zemlju čijih je 10 % teritorija posvećeno nacionalnim parkovima ili parkovima prirode?

Izbor je vaš. Destinacija je sigurna, cjenovno prihvatljiva, lako dostupna, većina govori engleski jezik, hrana i vino su izvrsni, ima mnogo toga što biste trebali vidjeti i doživjeti. A jesam li spomenuo taj stil života?

Prije pandemije korone, globalna su predviđanja bila da će na svijetu biti cijela milijarda digitalnih nomada do 2035. godine. Događaji posljednjih nekoliko mjeseci samo su ubrzali taj trend, pretpostavljam.

Za razliku od turista, digitalne nomade privlači stil života. To znači i duži ostanak, više integracije u zajednicu, prilika da se uključe u život, potaknu i nešto u nju vrate. Kad ovdje govorim o lokalnim nomadima, lokalne me oči blijedo gledaju jer pogrešno misle da govorim isključivo o blogerima i influencerima koji se bave Splitom i Dubrovnikom.

A onda im ispričam o Julie iz Denvera, pa budu šokirani. U vrijeme masovnog bježanja iz Slavonije, postoji žena koja ne samo da se preselila u Osijek na nekoliko mjeseci, nego je time bila oduševljena. Sigurno, pristupačno, prekrasno, sjajno lokalno stanovništvo i priroda, govori se engleski jezik. Čemu bi čovjek mogao prigovoriti?

Ne tjera li vas to na razmišljanje, što ako?

Zašto ne biste cijeli dan radili u uredu, a zatim prešli u svoj lifestyle raj - otprilike bilo gdje u Hrvatskoj?

A nisam još ni spomenuo hranu. Ni vino.

Sjajnu lokalno proizvedenu hranu, sa sastojcima koji nisu dostupni kroz cijelu godinu u nekom bezukusnom obliku, nego samo kad im je sezona. A okus i svježina je fantastična. Kao što je i 130 autohtonih sorti vina, uključujući originalni zinfandel.

Kako bi bilo kad bi moja hrana putovala onoliko koliko ja putujem? Sjajni lokalni proizvodi. Lokalna ekonomija.

Posao u globalnom uredu, dom u glavnom gradu stila života Europe: gdje da se prijavim? Vrijeme je da porazgovaramo o slonu u našoj dnevnoj sobi.

Ovo su scenariji za Cromade:

Scenarij 1: Uhljebistan u potpunosti ignorira priliku s digitalnim nomadima.

Židot ide dalje, kako je i prije išao. Nešto mudrog marketinga privuče nešto više digitalnih nomada nego što ih je i do sad dolazilo. A oni ZAISTA dolaze. Bez reformi pravila o imigraciji, njihov će boravak biti ograničen na tri mjeseca u većini slučajeva. Ali, digitalni nomadi su pokretna družina, doći će na tri mjeseca, trošit će u barovima, restoranima, dućanima. Svi ti neizravni porezi bit će samo naznaka onoga što bi moglo biti. Solidan prihod.

Scenarij 2: Uhljebistan odlučuje uključiti se. 

Budući da je većina uobičajenih pritoka novca presušila, Uhljebistan odlučuje da se treba uključiti. Učinimo jednostavnijim da digitalni nomadi ostanu duže, na taj način nama će doći više novca. Nekima se životni stil toliko svidi da će pokrenuti svoje tvrtke, zaposliti lokalno stanovništvo, a svi će oni zajedno plaćati ogromne poreze Moćnoj Državi Uhljebistanu. 

Scenarij 3:  Vive La Revolution!

Stvari u Hrvatskoj postaju dovoljno loše da se ljudi odluče pobuniti. Nacija koja može na ulice Zagreba dovesti 550.000 ljudi koji slave svoje nogometne junake sa Svjetskog prvenstva i koja može Olivera sa stilom ispratiti u Vela Luku pokreće protest sa sličnom strašću. To završava tako da Uhljebistan biva ukinut.

Što nam ostaje? Globalni ured, zaposlenici iz cijelog svijeta koji sudjeluju u lokalnom gospodarstvu, inspiriraju način razmišljanja u sljedećoj generaciji lokalnog stanovništva. A kako više nema Uhljebistana, progresivno oporezivanje približava te tvrtke i njihove potencijalne zaposlenike.

I dok se nadamo scenariju 3, realniji je scenario 1 - što je i dalje OK!

Radite u globalnom uredu, uživajte u glavnom gradu stila života Europe, s ili bez Uhljebistana.

Zaboravite na pronalaženje onih 20 milijuna turista koji polako uništavaju obalu.

Kupujte lokalno, radite digitalno, mijenjajte način razmišljanja. Hrvatska je zaista fantastično mjesto za život. Mjesto u kojem bi lokalno stanovništvo zaista uživalo na svojoj obali, samo kad bi si to mogli priuštiti. 

Friday, 22 May 2020

Jebote! As Greece Restarts Tourism, Croatia Lauds Conference Success, in a Pandemic

May 22, 2020 - A tale of two realities - what are Greece and Croatia telling the world about restarting tourism? Jebote!

Back in 2014, I wrote an article for a Canadian news portal comparing the progress of two Nikki Beach resorts, one in Greece and one in Croatia. The Greek resort, whose investors purchase the real estate in 2006, were due to open on August 1, 2014. Which they did. Investors for the Croatian resort bought the land in 2007, and at time of writing (July 29, 2014), they still not own the land 100%, some 7 years after purchase. At time of writing today, May 22, 2020, they still do not won the land, some 13 years later. You can read the original article here


My article became the top news story in Croatia's leading newspaper, Jutarnji List, the following day. Their two-page feature included a quote from the then Minister of Tourism, Darko Lorencin. 

I invite the Croatian media to take a look at the comparison between Greece and Croatia once more, but this time for another topic - the official response to restarting tourism, a key part of the economy for both countries (20% of GDP in Croatia's case). 

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Firstly, Go Greece! The news is everywhere (here in The Guardian, for example): Greece has a coherent plan for its tourism restart. 

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And here is Greece again, on the homepage of the BBC.

Not only a plan, but a really good plan - marvel at the transparency, communication and level of detail in this


Well done, Greece - may you have a successful salvage of the rest of the season. 

So coherent is the Greek message that it made it onto this VERY useful timeframe of international travel reopening

Of Croatia, there was not a mention. Both countries are in the EU, so must adhere to the same rules. 

Meanwhile, over in the Kingdom of Accidental Tourism, I do encourage you to check out the Ministry of Tourism website in English, for it really is a quite sensational read at the moment. Here was the homepage yesterday morning (small background reminder - we are in the middle of the COVID-19 era):

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Yes, you read that right. In the middle of a global pandemic, with shares of Zoom going through the roof at a time when people are questioning whether the concept of conference tourism will even exist, the Kings of Accidental Tourism are less concerned with restarting tourism and doing what they can to help those thousands of tourism businesses which depend on tourism, and more concerned with self-congratulation. Click on the article, because it gets better:

"After various world associations held 114 conventions in Croatia in 2018, even more conventions were held in 2019, 123, and Croatia went up four places in the ICCA rankings, to the 34th place globally by the number of conventions held. That is the highest position Croatia has taken to date, which also confirms its status as the leading conference destination in the region," said HTZ director Kristjan Stancic.

He thinks this is great news for Croatia's conference tourism, which is on an upward trajectory, as well as for Zagreb, which has taken the 48th place in the ICCA rankings for conference cities, jumping up by 20 places compared to 2018.

I would be really interested to see the official projections for the 2020 'upward trajectory' for conference tourism in the corona era. 

And what is the current top story of the day at the Ministry of Tourism, as Greece grabs all the global headlines in the travel industry?

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I kid you not. 

But this really is great progress. 


Croatian Minister of Tourism Gari Cappelli, owner of perhaps the finest tourism slogan in a pandemic ever - Croatia Breathes Tourism - has been in the job four years. 

And he has certainly been busy preparing for the restart of tourism. 

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After an article from Croatia's leading news portal, made the headlines 2 weeks ago, within two hours, he had managed to abolish the fax machine from the Ministry of Tourism website altogether.

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In the same article, it came to light that according to the Ministry of Tourism, not only was there no COVID-19 information on its website, but there was seemingly no corona information at all.


This is how the homepage looked on May 6, 2020. 

I got some hope when a dedicated COVID-19 section appeared, about the same time that the fax machine disappeared.

With no useful travel info. 


My hopes were raised once more when the Deputy Minister of Tourism asked me to send questions to create a dedicated info page for the ministry and also to be shared by TCN. 

10 days later - no information page, no answer to my questions from the Ministry of Tourism. Thankfully, the Ministry of the Interior was a lot more forthcoming, and you can find some useful info here

So there you have it. Croatia v Greece - who wants your tourist dollar more?

And if you are planning a large conference, come to the Kingdom of Accidental Tourism. Our conference tourism is on an upward trajectory, baby. Hop on board before you miss out on the ride. 

For more on the brilliance within the corridors of power in the Mighty State of Uhljebistan, check out our dedicated section

Thursday, 21 May 2020

CROMADS: Why You Should Move to Croatia, With or Without Uhljebistan

May 20, 2020 - With thousands emigrating, why you should move to Croatia - yes really! Forget Uhljebistan, forget tourism, meet CROMADS.

These last few months will be remembered forever by us all. So much uncertainty, so much change, so much time for reflection on the past and the future. I think most of us changed a little thanks to corona. Or maybe changed a lot. 

For me, the last few months have been a blur. I have never worked harder in my life, and that precious hour alone by the Adriatic after reporting on death all day helped keep me sane. And gave me clarity. 

I now see the world very differently than I did a year ago, especially when it comes to Croatia. And nothing was clearer to me than how this seismic change in our daily lives has positioned Croatia perfectly to reverse its population decline, generate wealth, and move this country forward.

With or without Uhljebistan.

I used to think it was possible to reform the system here, and my Croatian friends would laugh at my naivety. And they were right. But this last year has made me realise that all that effort in trying to improve Uhljebistan and bring reform is wasted effort. Effort which can be better directed into new, positive directions such as my new CROMADS concept. 

The complete ineptitude of the Ministry of Tourism, led by our heroic minister with his corona-era slogans such as Croatia Breathes Tourism, while being completely incapable of publishing any useful travel advice whatsoever, shows - once again - that there really is no hope. Rather than try and improve the Kingdom of Accidental Tourism, it is better to mock it and ignore it, then to render it meaningless and irrelevant. 


We launched a Viber Community called Total Croatia Travel INFO less than 48 hours ago (you can learn more and join here). It is now 8 days since the Deputy Minister of Tourism invited me to send questions to the ministry which they would answer so that a helpful information page could be created to help the people who generate 20% of Croatia's GDP - the tourists. Eight days later - silence. I realised that if they are not replying to the media, then there is not much hope for tourists, and so we started the Viber community as a way to put information into one place (bookmark this link to our master article if interested), We are allowing questions (and there have been MANY), and we are answering what we can and directing people to the correct email address where we do not have the information. Feedback has been broadly very positive, and I really liked this comment from Bonaca Experience - thank you! Join us (you will need to download the Viber app).

One of the keys to enjoying a better life in Croatia is something so simple, and yet so hard to get right. 



A couple of years ago, in the above feature for the British Embassy in Zagreb, I explained everything a foreign investor needed to know about Dalmatia in a sentence, a sentence that had taken me 12 years to figure out, but if one can understand and embrace its meaning, life in Dalmatia is close to perfect. And if you can't embrace it initially, you either will at some point in the future or face a life of frustration. And the sentence is...

Do not try and change Dalmatia, but expect Dalmatia to change you. 

And mindset is also important when one approaches the Mighty State of Uhljebistan. Rather than get frustrated by it as I did for years, I approach it these days as a Norwegian resident of Oslo who drinks and smokes a lot approaches life in Norway. It is a great country to live in, but man, the fags and booze are expensive. But, he reasons over a 10 euro beer, the cigarette and alcohol tax is worth paying to live in Norway. 

I feel the same way about Uhljebistan. Rather than being depressed and frustrated, I accept that one of the downsides of life here - as with expensive beer and cigarettes in Norway - is that I have to pay an 'Uhljeb tax' in order to live in the most beautiful country in Europe, and one with the very best lifestyle. 

And you know what? As soon as you get into that mindset - a little like Do not try and change Dalmatia, but expect Dalmatia to change you - all the negativity goes away. Surround yourself with the many positive and dynamic people here and focus on creating Croatia 2.0 and a better future for our children. The fax machines of Uhljebistan 2.0 are on borrowed time and increasingly irrelevant. 

Now let's talk CROMADS, and why this is the future of Croatia - and a very bright future indeed. 

It is a concept I presented first with Business Cafe Online last week, where I was a guest with the legend that is Jan de Jong. There is nothing terribly complicated about CROMADS, nor does it cost much to implement. In fact, it requires only one thing to change. 


Let's begin with CROMADS. 

In order to explain it best, I need you to forget that Croatia is a  tourism country with 20% of its GDP slowly destroying its coast. And I need you to forget about Uhljebistan for now. We will bring in the Mighty State of Uhljebistan later, with three scenarios - CROMADS with, without and coexisting with our uhljebby friends. 

Let's focus on what Croatia is without Uhljebistan: a safe, naturally beautiful country in the EU, affordable and accessible, with great local food and wine, things to do and see, good infrastructure and Internet. And a a lifestyle that is the envy of the world. A great place to live. Hold that thought. 

We live in an increasingly digitalised world, and it is a fact of life that a large minority (and possibly soon to be the majority) of us all work in the same office. 

It is called the Internet. 

There are only two real variables to our global office  - connectivity (3G, 4G or 5G) and time zones. Apart from that we are free to roam our office and choose a seat and view that suits us. 

When we leave the office, we go home. 

I first spoke at Business Cafe a year ago in Zagreb. In order to get there, I drove from Varazdin, 90km each way. Round trip of 180km. 

Last week I got my monthly report from Google Maps to tell me how many countries I had visited in April 2020, and how many kilomotres I had travelled. 

I had walked 100 kilometres and driven just 65 km. So that drive to Business Cafe last year was three times the distance I drove for the entire month of April.

And here I was, sitting in bed in Jelsa with a glass of wine, making my second appearance at Business Cafe, but this time with a lot more people than could fit in the room in Zagreb. 

BC owner Kristina could have been in Dublin, Dubai or Durban. Last year, she had to physically be in Zagreb, but no longer. And with online schooling looking increasingly likely sooner rather than later, suddenly the pillars which chain ourselves to our locations are removed. Sure, some will want to stay in the place where they grew up, close to family. But there will be many who would love to leave the office and go home to an amazing lifestyle destination. 

Somewhere like Croatia. 

Imagine a long day in the office and you close down and look to de-stress. A swim in the Adriatic before dinner perhaps?  A little stroll through a UNESCO World Heritage Site such as the old towns of Split, Trogir and Dubrovnik? Or perhaps a hike in a stunning country which has 10% of its surface given over to national and nature parks?

The choice is yours. The destination is safe, affordable, accessible, English is widely-spoken, great food and wine, lots to see and do. Did I mention the lifestyle?

Before the corona pandemic, the prediction was one BILLION digital nomads by 2035. The events of the last few months has probably accelerated that number's arrival. 

Unlike a tourist, a digital nomad usually comes for the lifestyle.  Which means a longer stay, more integration in the community, a chance to engage, inspire and put something back. When I talk digital nomads here, local eyes glaze over, as they falsely assume that I am talking exclusively about bloggers and influencers in Split and Dubrovnik. 

And then when I tell them about Julie from Denver, they are shocked. In an age of mass emigration from Slavonia, here was a woman who not only moved to Osijek for several months, but absolutely loved it. Safe, affordable, beautiful, great locals and nature, English spoken. What was not to like?

Doesn't it make you think? What if?

Why not work all day in the office, then come home to your lifestyle paradise - pretty much anywhere in Croatia. 

I haven't told you about the food.

Or the wine. 

Great locally produced food, with ingredients which are not available all year in some bland format, but only in season. And the taste and freshness is magnificent. As are the 130 indigenous grape varieties of Croatia, including the original Zinfandel. 

What if my food also travelled about as much as I did? Great fresh local produce. A local economy. 

A job in the global office, a home in the lifestyle capital of Europe, where do I sign up? It is time to talk to the elephant in the room. 

There are three scenarios with CROMADS:

Scenario 1: Uhljebistan ignores the digital nomad opportunity completely.

Life goes on before. Some clever marketing brings in more digital nomads than are currently coming. And they ARE coming. Without reform of the immigration rules, stays will be limited to three months in many cases. But digital nomads are a mobile bunch. They will come for 3 months, spend in the bars, restaurants, shops. Those indirect taxes will be a little taster of what might have been. A good solid income. 

Scenario 2: Uhljebistan decides to engage. 

With its usual cashflow channels drying up, Uhljebistan decides to engage. Let's make it easier for digital nomads to stay longer, and there is more money for us. Some love the lifestyle so much that they start businesses, employ locals, all of whom pay a hefty tribute to the Mighty State of Uhljebistan. 

Scenario 3:  Vive La Revolution!

Things are bad enough in Croatia that the people rise up. The nation that can get 550,000 people on the streets of Zagreb to celebrate its World Cup heroes and send off beloved singer Oliver in style to Vela Luka starts to protest with similar passion. And Uhljebistan is overthrown. 

What are we left with? A global office, employees from all over the globe contributing to the local economy, inspiring the mindset of the local next generation. And with no more Uhljebistan, a progressive tax incentive to bring those businesses closer to their employees. 

And while we hope for Scenario 3, the reality is probably Scenario 1, which is still ok. 

Work in the office, relax in the lifestyle capital of Europe, with or without Uhljebistan. 

Forget trying to find those 20 million tourists which are slowly devastating the coast.

Buy local, go digital, change mindset. Croatia really is the most amazing place to live. A place where the locals would be able to enjoy their coast at an affordable price. 

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Croatian Tourist Board SPAMGate: Update and Can I Transparently Publish the Results?

May 19, 2020 - An update to TCN's mailshot to Croatia's 319 tourists boards, and am I allowed to publish the results transparently? 

My recent article What Happens When 319 Croatian Tourist Boards Get a Free Offer in a Pandemic? was an experiment in how effective a new strategy would be in making Croatia a better place. Big Data versus the Mighty State of Uhljebistan. 

Results were encouraging, and then published THIS. And suddenly my little experiment became a national discussion. 

I wanted to give you a little update, for while we can all laugh (a tragic laugh) at the indifference and ineptitude, there are some very positive things that have come out of this. 

1. Some excellent submissions - you can see the ones we have done already (and the ones we will do when I get some time - next one today hopefully) here 

2. Some tourist boards are coming together. One tourist board on Brac sent me the materials and after a discussion, we agreed to do one big one for the whole island. All Brac tourist boards have now sent me the info. A similar story for inland Dalmatia. 

3. One tourist board director actually picked up the phone and called me to thank me for the initiative, but his new video would only be ready in a week. And a great video it is too - you will see it on Virtual Croatia shortly.

I had several angry emails, from tourist board directors who claimed that they had never received the email, even after checking SPAM. 

As I said in my article, 16 emails did not arrive due to SPAM filters, full mailboxes and disabled accounts. There has been a lot of interest in this, as people want to know how their local tourist board reacted. 

I believe in transparency, it is our best weapon against the Mighty State of Uhljebistan. And I would be happy to make all the data publicly available to help the discussion along. I am not sure what the GDPR etc issues are on that, but if anyone with some knowledge on this could send me an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject GDPR, that would be helpful. 

And the data is golden. In the lead photo, for example, meet the local tourist board who opened the offer on April 30 and unsubcribed. Then suddenly became interested after the Index article.


And for those of you who think local tourism boards do not work on a weekend, look how wrong you are.  

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