Imitation & Flattery, as Benidorm Copies Dubrovnik Digital Nomad-in-Residence Program

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I have been writing about digital nomad tourism for about 2 years now. I am far from being an expert, but the more I learn, the more I see that the letter ‘C’ is important.

C for Community

C for Creativity

C for Co-Creation

C for Cooperation

C for Collaboration

C for Cool thinking out of the box

But definitely NOT

C for Copying someone else’s Concept and posting it as your own without any Credit

As one of the organisers of the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence Program, the first of its kind in the world, I am taking a breather after an intense month of co-creative ideas between our 10 resident nomads, the City of Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik Tourist board, local community, and programme organisers. The final product and recommendations are outstanding, and we will be exploring them in detail in the coming weeks. The city has already committed to implementing some key findings, and the reaction to the first story on the program’s findings has been really encouraging. Read more in Beyond the Walls: 4 Weeks in Dubrovnik Not Enough, Say DNIR Digital Nomads


The collaboration between the 10 nomads we chose was exceptional. Several were experts in related fields such as skilled migration and the future of work. They were attracted to Dubrovnik, which they knew was far from a polished nomad destination, by the innovative programme and dynamic concepts. None of which I can take credit for – full credit to Saltwater Nomads and their program team for coming up with the entire Digital Nomads-in-Residence concept – I was just the guy who wrote the words. 

In a post-program interview with one of the nomads who is an expert on the future of work, I asked him for his reflections on the 4 weeks. He had been attracted by the innovative program, was blown away by the quality of the delivery, the destination, and the design-thinking workshops. The concept was excellent, one that the Saltwater team could export to numerous destinations.

And then… this. 


I would not go as far as accusing the Benidorm Tourist Board of cutting and pasting the Saltwater concept in its entirety and posting is as their own. For starters, Saltwater Nomads knows how to spell ‘Applications’ – see above. 

But there are some striking resemblences, not only in the concept, but also the terms and conditions. Consider the following:

The Benidorm conditions:  benidorm-dubrovnik-copy_7.JPG

Eligibility for Dubrovnik 6 weeks earlier.  benidorm-dubrovnik-copy_6.JPG

A sample from the Benidorm FAQs:


Well done for managing to change the words Spain and Spanish without any spelling mistakes this time.  benidorm-dubrovnik-copy_1.JPG

etc. etc. 

My favourite, however, was the video announcing the winners:


Dubrovnik 6 weeks earlier.


Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they say. Nikola Tesla, who was born not far from Dubrovnik, in the village of Smiljan in modern-day Croatia, had some thoughts on the matter in my favourite quote of his.

I don’t care that they stole my idea, I care that they don’t have any of their own. 

Growing up in Manchester in the 1980s, Benidorm was synonymous with the trashiest tourism for Brits. Lager Louts Central. If stealing someone else’s ideas is part of the official stratgy of the local tourist board, one begins to wonder about Benidorm… 

The irony, of course, is that the whole concept of digital nomad tourism is about community and collaboration. Starting a competition based on stealing someone else’s ideas is hardly the best approach, especially if you are the official tourist board. 

Not cool, Benidorm. If you wanted to Contact, Compensate or Collaborate (there goes the big C again), you can find them at Saltwater Nomads. 

Me personally? A little selfishly, I am thrilled about Benidorm stealing the concept. My job is to write about the program, as well as producing a report on its global impact. Imagine that Saltwater and TCN, in partnership with the City of Dubrovnik and Dubrovnik Tourist Board, deliver Croatia’s first-ever digital nomad conference in October 2020, and then the world’s first Digital Nomad-in-Residence program in April, 2021. Only to find the concept stolen and used internationally, without credit or permission, just 6 weeks later. I will add that to the report on reach, with a little note saying that perhaps our concepts were not so crazy. 

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



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