Croatian National Tourist Board, DNA Croatia Join Forces

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Croatia’s digital nomad story is gathering pace, and the energy is real. Johannes Voelkner, owner of the first and largest digital nomad business travel club is in the country finalising the location for his next NomadBase conference from May 9-15 (as exclusively announced on TCN), Saltwater Nomads – in partnership with TCN, Zagreb Tourist Board, Dubrovnik Tourist Board, and the City of Dubrovnik – will shortly announce two fantastic nomad conferences for May and June, and the work of DNA Croatia to bring together the community and connect initiatives all over the country is beyond impressive (read more in Cohesion, Unity & Planning at Croatian Digital Nomad Reflection Day 2022). My recent meeting with Minister of Tourism and Sports, Nikolina Brnjac, had a large focus on the DN opportunity. And next week sees the 2nd Split Winter Tourism Roundtable, with 2 of the 5 presentations dedicated to the DN opportunity. 


And then, last week, this LinkedIn post from the driving force of the Croatian digital nomad permit and President of DNA Croatia, the legend that is Jan de Jong:

With some 2.000 digital nomads coming to Croatia every single month – we are slowly but surely becoming a DN-hotspot in Europe.

For that reason – the Digital Nomad Association Croatia is excited to start working more closely together with the Croatian National Tourist Board on promoting Croatia internationally.

This year we have some many amazing initiatives planned for digital nomads all across the country. Therefore – the timing to start working together with CNTB couldn’t be better. Thank you Kristjan Stanicic for your support.

Pozdrav iz Zagreba,

Jan de Jong


I knew the announcement was coming, and I smiled when I saw Jan’s post – even more so when I checked my messages one hour later. Had I seen this, what did I think? Did I know about it? Was I involved? A good opportunity to finally address the elephant in the room, the ongoing lawsuits against me by the Croatian National Tourist Board. If you are not up to speed, the TCN series, Diary of a Croatian Lawsuit really is an entertaining read, and one which will go all the way to the European court in Strasbourg in 2063 if necessary – check it out here.  

So it may seem strange of me to congratulate the Croatian National Tourist Board and its director, Kristjan Stanicic, on this excellent initiative with DNA Croatia (there is a reason I don’t congratulate them often), but good initiatives deserve to be recognised. 

There has been a lot of ego in the Croatian digital nomad story (and I don’t exclude my own from the story), but things are settling down, as key stakeholders are putting community and collaboration ahead of their private interests and agendas.  TCN has been writing about the nomad opportunity for Croatia since May, 2019 and is the biggest media on the topic, and the national tourist board would be a natural partner in normal circumstances. Ah, Croatia. 

I actually presented the nomad opportunity for a pilot in Trogir to two senior members of the national tourist board in February, 2020. One didn’t seem to understand the opportunity, the other did but said they could not support, as there was a tax issue. And she was right, as things stood then. And then…

 A few weeks later, Jan de Jong called me and asked for some advice on tourism for a conference he was speaking at. I send him some articles to read, and he called me back an hour later raving about this concept called digital nomad tourism. This could be amazing for Croatia. Here is Jan, introducing the concept at the conference in May, 2020. 

And the rest is history, as Jan did what I certainly could not. This private initiative, which enlisted the support of Prime Minister Plenkovic and five ministries, resulted in Europe’s second digital nomad visa/permit less than 8 months later. And with changes in the tax legislation to help nomads on the permit. the national tourist board was free to push the initiative, which it did through its terrible and highly ineffective Croatia, Your New Office campaign. Just how ineffective you can read shortly on TCN. To think what DNA Croatia would have done with that budget… 

Things then got a little strange. Bizarre articles started appearing on portals which had never written about me before. A comprehensive article about the opening of Zagreb Digital Nomad Week managed to completely airbrush me from the event and with no mention of TCN whatsoever, as four out of the five speakers even had a photo in the article. I was not quite airbrushed out, as my bald patch made it into the corner of one of the photos

Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads, Zagreb Digital Nomad Week & Ambassador Program, Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence, not even a mention that I came across – not even when the last two picked up 4 international awards at Conventa 2021 in Ljubljana, despite the national tourist board being present at the same conference. And yet, for a project I was not involved in – the red carpet rolled out. A sponsored article and the head of global PR at the press conference launch of a private initiative I was not part of. 

I didn’t mind, nor did I expect, anything less from an organisation suing me, but it felt wrong for Croatia that those whom I worked seemed to be tarnished by association. Or so it seemed to me. There have been several occasions where I have been told I cannot come to a meeting ‘because of the lawsuit.’ I don’t mind, but it was clearly an issue for some. 

Although I am not part of DNA Croatia, I work closely with them (on bringing NomadBase to Croatia, for example), and for me, the best news about this Croatian National Tourist Board/DNA Croatia partnership is that two natural partners can finally work together, where previously there seems to have been a reluctance. So I do sincerely congratulate Director Stanicic on this initiative, and I hope that all funds will be transferred to DNA Croatia, so that they are not wasted as they were with Croatia, Your New Office (more on that soon). 

Would I want to work with the national tourist board again? Clearly not until there is a change of director (and I am hearing encouraging noises on that score), but depending on who the new director is, I would consider making an appointment if I can see that there might finally be a new direction and proper strategy.

Until then… 

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




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