Around 18 months ago, few people had ever mentioned the words ‘Dubrovnik’ and ‘digital nomads’ in the same sentence. How times change… Croatia’s first-ever dedicated conference for nomads, Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads, followed by the award-winning Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program, changed all that, and the city has been quietly implementing its strategy to attract more remote workers.
A sign of the progress Dubrovnik has made in the global DN story will be reflected in the very global attendee list next week as Dubrovnik’s latest conference in the sector, Work. Place. Culture, which takes place from May 5-7.
In addition to leading remote companies eager to join – including VP People at Remote.com, CEO Butter and our keynote speakers (Gartner, RoRemote, Growmotely, Make The Leap Digital) and presenters from the ABC Travel Network, The Remote Life Podcast, a number of destinations at various stages of their own DN journeys will be heading to Dubrovnik (either remotely or in person) to take place in a conference which will bring together a diverse and collaborative community of remote work professionals for 3 days of presentations, networking and socialising. Confirmed attendees include 3 leaders in digital nomad hubs: Bansko, Estonia and Sun & Co Coliving Spain. The conference will also feature initiatives from destinations looking to position themselves to the DN market – such as Scotland, Mostar, BiH, Venice, Central Istria, Croatia and Tirana, Albania.
Just as Dubrovnik hsa been pioneering in its efforts, so too Croatia is an early mover on certain initiatives. Only the second country in Europe after Estonia to initiate a digital nomad visa, Croatia was the first in the world to found a Digital Nomad Association. The initiative has beeen well received elsewhere, and there will be representatives of no less than 4 DNAs at the conference.
TCN reached out to some of the conference participants and destinations ahead of Work. Place. Culture. conference (you can see the programme and buy ticktets here).
DNA Croatia – one of the many achievements in the early Croatian DN story was the founding of the world’s first Digital Nomad Association. Why do you think countries need such an association, and what have you achieved so far?
Michael Freer, DNA Croatia
For countries like Croatia, an association can complement public efforts in trying to promote the country as a destination. It also has the luxury of working with both private and public bodies, without necessarily having to go through the red tape that public bodies do, nor have to focus on digital nomads as a customer like the private sector has to. Finally it can act as a neutral friend of digital nomads, looking to support, connect and inspire them before, during and after their experience in that country.
On the other hand, you have DNA America, which is very much about supporting DNs from the US outside of the US, rather than attracting DNs to the US (although this could also be part of their later mission). In this way they can also connect the community, and act as a digital nomad embassy providing US specific support around certain subjects like taxation or immigration when needed.
Whether a sending or receiving DNA, they are both vital for the ecosystem and building that momentum, vision and representation of DNs worldwide.
In terms of our achievements, we’re right at the beginning of our journey, and have learnt a lot and gained so much experience in the last 18 months as an association. We think DNA Croatia, along with those we collaborate with, like TCN and Saltwater, to name but a few, have to be proud of how Croatia is perceived outside of Croatia. We’ve created and most definitely earned an impressive global reputation.
On a more local scale, we think it’s an achievement to see all of us collaborators working together, from all three sectors, pushing forward with the same vision – to make the whole of Croatia a digital-nomad friendly and slow travel destination all year round.
DNA Croatia, DNA Italy – two countries and neighbours with a rich history and much in common on the Mediterranean. How can we synergise to develop a Mediterranean Nomad Trail for the benefit of all?
Giovanni Filippi, DNA Italy
Digital nomadism is a global, transversal and conscious movement, in exponential growth and continuous evolution, involving people of all ages, with very different personal, professional and cultural backgrounds. People free to live and work anywhere generally choose to move to those destinations where the quality of life is better, especially seaside, in close contact with nature and with a favorable climate.
The Mediterranean coasts would be an ideal destination for many of them: encouraging synergies between the various Mediterranean countries in order to attract digital nomads represents an opportunity for Europe to foster cohesion among its members and attract people with skills useful to improve the economies of its territories.
The Associations of Italy and Croatia, and of all the others that want to be involved, could start to collaborate in the organization of a series of online and offline activities involving digital nomads and local communities to let them encounter and interact with each other, co-designing together territorial and extraterritorial events and projects that can be collected in a Mediterranean Nomad Trail.
Bulgaria is home to one of Europe’s most dynamic nomad destinations and festivals in Bansko. How is the scene developing nationwide, and how can we integrate it more into a Balkan Nomad Trail?
Martina Mihneva, DNA Bulgaria
Digital Nomads Association of Bulgaria (https://www.linkedin.com/company/digitalnomads-bulgaria/) was officially established in February 2022 with the aim to work together with the Bulgarian government and create the right environment for the digital nomads who are choosing to spend part of their life in Bulgaria. We want to create the needed regulatory conditions that will make Bulgaria easily accessible for digital nomads from all around the world and to offer these people the right places for co-working and co-living, entertainment and learning about Bulgarian culture in several locations on the territory of Bulgaria.
Currently, we are working on creating a proposal to the government for a Digital Nomad Visa that will ease the process of getting permission to stay for a year in Bulgaria for digital nomads and their families. Also, we are creating an online platform that will gather the digital nomads community in Bulgaria, will include all the information needed for a digital nomad to plan a stay in Bulgaria, do the needed paperworks and will offer complete information for accommodation and co-living spaces, co-working spaces, tourist destinations and events. We are planning to create weekly meetings for digital nomads where they can meet and know each other, exchange ideas and make plans for cooperation, share stories from their journey as a digital nomad, as well as present different destinations and cultures they have visited.
DNA USA – the first digital nomad association outside Europe! Tell us why you founded it, who are your members, and what your vision is for the association?
Erkan Munishi, DNA USA
The Americans are the largest group of digital nomads in the world and the pandemic has given a different perspective to everyone in the US and around the globe on their freedom and priorities when it comes to working remotely. The Digital Nomad Association USA (DNA USA) was founded with the goal of bringing the American digital nomads together to support each other, and sharing their stories and skills with many other Americans who are hoping to go remote. It is the only digital nomad association that is both origin-based and destination-based. We also promote destinations within the United States that cater to digital nomads and we work on growing the number of destinations that improve their infrastructure focusing on creating a better work and life environment for remote workers.
Croatia may be attracting a lot of the nomad headlines in the region, but once can definitely feel the emergence of a Balkan Nomad Trail. How is the scene in Mostar, and where does Mostar fit into this new Balkan Trail?
Ana Bogdanovic, INTERA Technology Park, Mostar
Mostar and Herzegovina have a lot to offer to digital nomads. Less than hour far from the border with Croatia, Mostar should be the next stop for digital nomads. Geographical position, beauty of nature, hospitality of people, gastronomy, safety, low living costs and great coworking space are some of the advantages of this area. When you add development of web platform for digital nomads and educational programs for key stakeholders which we plan to implement in the next few months, Mostar imposes oneself as an obvious digital nomad destination.
Scotland – with sterotypes of noamds on laptops at the beach, Scotland can appear at first to be a little off the beaten path when it comes to the nomad lifestyle. What kinds of nomads are coming to stay, and what are the main Scottish competitive advantages?
Jemma Reid, JR Event Sales
Scotland, with its rugged landscapes, dark skies and temperamental weather, may appear off the beaten path when it comes to the typical digital nomad / workcation lifestyle. However there is a fantastic opportunity to work with and engage with likeminded people that work internationally within the food and drink sector, to consider Scotland as a workcation destination. A place to escape, a place to think, a place to taste and experience exceptional food and drink – a new place to work. We are really looking forward to attending the conference to hear from those looking for a new adventure, scenery like no other, peace, tranquillity and ensuring Scotland can be considered as the new go to place to be a remote working/ workcation destination.
And a final word from Ukraine, which will also be represented at the conference:
Orest Zub, Ukraine
Ukraine will emerge from this war stronger and more progressive than before. The entire world has united around Ukraine embracing us into the global community. It is not the war between Ukraine and Russia only. It is a war between good and bad, between light and evil. Rarely in history the red line was so clearly visible… Currently we stand for ideal liberal values many of which have been forgotten in the West. So once the war is over we are waiting everyone who wants to join rebuilding Ukraine 🙂
Looking to attend the Work. Place. Culture. conference? More details here.
For more news and features about digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section.