“The Croatian digital nomad permit is a great thing,” said Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador for September, Dean Kuchel, “but the next thing I want to see is a digital nomad passport for the region. I want to be able to travel around the Balkans with my digital nomad passort.”
That passport may not be here just yet, but Kuchel grabbed his usual one and headed to the airport after an action-packed month in Zagreb. Destination Montenegro and the inaugural CBCC 2021, which kicked off in glorious sunshine in Budva today. He was one of a sizable contingent from Croatia making the journey to Montenegro to share his expertise at the conference.
CBCC 2021, which is part of the EU-funded 2CODE project, an extension of the original CODE project, with 5 partners in 4 cities (Tuzla, Mostar, Budva and Zadar) and 3 countries, was introduced as follows on the official webite:
From Monday, 4th October, until Wednesday, 6th October 2021, regional and global experts will gather on the Montenegrin coast, and in a series of lectures and panel discussions will deal with current topics and with their experience contribute to a better understanding of this popular trend. Participants in the conference will discuss the concept and perspectives of digital nomads, the potential of the Western Balkans, the experience of digital nomads who have stayed in the region, as well as the packages the coworking spaces that make up the Code Hub network in Mostar, Nikšić, Tuzla, and Zadar will provide to this target group in the coming period. The two-day conference will also discuss the regional coworking scene, the impact of the global pandemic on the sector, the challenges faced by coworking managers over the past 18 months, but also the benefits of distance working, and the prospects for developing new coworking communities.
While I could not make the event personally due to work commitments, it was encouraging to see so many stakeholders and early movers from the Croatian digital nomad scene contributing to what sounded like a very absorbing day. Having been involved in three of the more prominent DN events in the last 12 months – the first-ever DN conference in Croatia (Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads), the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program, and Zagreb Digital Nomad Week & Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador program.
No less than four of those Dubrovnik DNs in residence were there – they came for a month in April for the Dubrovnik programme, but is seems they can’t keep away – or telling the wider DN community about how great Croatia is.
Jan de Jong, the godfather of the Croatian digital nomad permit and co-founder of the Croatian Digital Nomad Association, was also present. Viewed as an inspirational leader in a DN region growing in strength, de Jong talked of the great interest in Croatia, as well the importance of collaboration within the region. De Jong is actively helping digital nomad initiatives – including visas – in neighbouring countries.
Tanja Polegubic of Saltwater Nomads and architect of the Zagreb and Dubrovnik events (as well as also a co-founder of Digital Nomad Association Croatia, opened her presentation with this article from The Times a month ago. A photo of Dubrovnik chosen to lead on an article on digital nomad visas. This shows that this region is in the spotlight, with Dubrovnik only a short distance from all the other hubs. This creates an opportunity to make a ‘nomad trail.’
Polegubic presented Zadar and thee coastal regions in general, on the issues and potential solutions, stressing the need to amplify. As the Croatian city taking part in 2CODE, Zadar has made some great progress and is leading the way with many initiatives. It was one of the early movers in the region, opening COIN in 2015. It has since gone on to deliver this know-how to these other hubs. All the coworking spaces are public. Plus there is more to come, including a fab lab.
It has hosted smart city conferences, hackathons and bootcamps. The hotel sector moving into this, with Falkensteiner part of Digital Nomad Valley Zadar, the first so-called digtal nomad village in Croatia.
Recently, Croatia’s first unicorn, infobip, moved its acquired SHIFT conference to Zadar. It is a rising star.
It has been fantastic to see how enthusiastically the city and tourist board of Dubrovnik have grasped and embraced the digital nomad opportunity, and how willing they were to contribute their knowledge and experiences to the region after the two projects with Saltwater Nomads and TCN. Deputy Mayor Jelka Tepsic and Dubrovnik Tourist Board director Ana Hrnic presented their journey so far, including thee roadmap and implementation phase, and a best practice example.
It was very encouraging to learn that some of the quick win recommendations have already been implemented, including three co-working spaces in different parts of the city – Lazareti (Center), Red History Museum (Gruz) and Sunset Beach (Lapad).
No regional digital nomad event would be complete, it seems, without the presence of Zagreb-based Steve Tsentserenky. Mr. T. was the seventh recipient of the Croatian digital nomad permit, and has become one of its most effective ambassadors. His article about the digital nomad lifestyle in Split on CNBC News was the top story of the day, and the accompanying video above has racked up over 275,000 views.
Not all the heroes making big contributions in the Croatian digital nomad story were in front of the camera. A big thank you also to Nick Hathaway, whose heroics at Zagreb Digital Nomad Week delivered live streaming in 7 locations all over the city in 7 days, despite several logistical challenges, was immense. Nick has already uploaded a vlog on Day 1, which you can see above.
There is plenty in store on Day 2 – and you can see the full programme here.
For more news and features on digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section.