July 28, 2020 – Dutch entrepreneur Jan de Jong believes that Croatia should introduce visas for digital nomads as soon as possible, following the example of Estonia.
The coronavirus pandemic brought the world to a halt. Most work was done from home, and meetings and conferences were held via online video platforms.
Even now, many workers around the world are still working remotely, which Split-based Dutch entrepreneur Jan de Jong sees as a massive opportunity for the Croatian economy.
Namely, Dutchman Jan Je Jong moved to Croatia 13 years ago and now calls Split home. He believes that Croatia should introduce visas for digital nomads as soon as possible, following the example of Estonia, which implemented them about a month ago.
“Digital nomads are people who can work remotely, are not tied to one place, and they only need internet access. They choose this way of working while traveling the world. With the coronavirus pandemic forcing many companies to allow telecommuting, the trend has accelerated.
Forecasts say that by 2035, there will be about a billion digital nomads in the world. I believe that digital nomad tourism is a huge opportunity for Croatia because it can turn it into a year-round destination,” explains Jan.
He adds that Estonia was a hit in international media with its move because it was the first country to introduce a visa for digital nomads, thus inviting highly skilled and highly paid teleworkers to their country, where they would ultimately live for a while and spend their salaries.
Their example was quickly followed by countries such as Barbados and Georgia. It would be an excellent promotion for Croatia if they showed leadership in presenting a visa for digital nomads. Time is crucial in this and I suggest that we do not invent a circuit but take the Estonian model and apply it to us. For example, their conditions for obtaining a visa are proof that you can work remotely, you can only work for foreign companies and clients, i.e., non-Estonians, and the minimum monthly income should be 3,500 euros before taxes,” says Jan.
With a visa, digital nomads from all over the world could legally come to Croatia and work for a maximum of one year, but also travel and enjoy the benefits of the state.
“The main advantage for Croatia is year-round tourism and the arrival of highly paid workers who would not take jobs and spend their salaries in Croatia. There are currently 50,000 digital nomads in Bali, which has a similar population as Croatia. If these figures could be achieved in Croatia, assuming that each nomad would spend about ten thousand kuna a month for living, i.e., renting an apartment and a car, groceries, going to the hairdresser and dentist, etc., they could reach 500 million kuna, which goes directly into the budget monthly.
Digital nomads would be important for Croatia in terms of marketing, because they would share their experiences, videos and photos with their friends, but also on social networks, which would be a free promotion,” Jan points out, adding that this would be a great way to start 2021.
He explains that a visa is not required for citizens of the European Union, but that is why it is, for example, for citizens of the USA. Jan adds that digital nomads from America can now legally stay in Croatia for three months on a tourist visa, and they are not officially allowed to work, although many freelancers do so. He points out that if we offer digital nomads the legal basis to stay in the country for a maximum of 12 months and work, perhaps more and more global companies will allow their employees to do just that for a certain period of time.
“Remember my words. Soon this will no longer be so innovative, as I expect many countries to follow the example of Estonia. It would be amazing to see Croatia as a leader in this; let’s not wait for it to become a global standard. This time, Croatia has the opportunity to be among the first. We have opened the borders for tourists, why not open them for highly paid digital nomads as well?” adds Jan.
A few days ago, on LinkedIn, Jan published an open letter to the Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, but he has not yet received a response.
“The support I received is simply amazing. I can say that people in Croatia and abroad liked the idea of visas for digital nomads. So far, I have not received an official response from the Prime Minister’s Office, but my post on LinkedIn is full of messages from people around the world who want to know more about how they can come to Croatia to work and live for a limited period of time.
Everyone is interested in how this can be done, regarding taxes and residence permits. That is why a visa for digital nomads is important, in order to provide answers to all these questions,” concluded Jan.
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