May 25, 2021 – Following the successful conclusion of the Dubrovnik Digital Nomad in Residence (DNIR) program, the focus on remote working moves to Zagreb next month, with Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2021 and Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Project starting June 21. The project is a collaboration between the Zagreb Tourist Office (which funds the project), and Saltwater Nomads and TCN, co-organizers of Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads (the first conference of its kind in Croatia in October 2020), and DNIR, in association with the city of Dubrovnik and the Dubrovnik Tourist Office.
TCN spoke with the director of the Zagreb Tourist Board, Martina Bienenfeld, to discuss the project and the wider opportunity of the digital nomad for the Croatian capital, as well as a range of other topics.
2020 has been a horrible year for global tourism with the pandemic, but Zagreb also had to deal with the devastating earthquake of March 22. Tell us a bit about the challenges of managing the city’s tourism under these circumstances.
I would say last year has been the most difficult for everyone, especially in the travel industry. Sometimes, for all of us living in Zagreb, it seemed like we were in the middle of an American blockbuster movie, one that I certainly wouldn’t want to see again. But we didn’t surrender, so the challenges resulted in new projects, adjusting to the situation and creating a new quality.
I am particularly pleased to see that most of our tourism service providers have adapted as much as possible to the new circumstances and have come up with various innovations and services which have followed the “new normal” very closely. Emphasis must be placed on sustainable tourism through an adequate strategy for the development of the safe and health aspects of the stay in the destination, and more than ever, on the cooperation, support and mutual trust of all tourism stakeholders. .
It is only through coordinated action that we can expect a better and more competitive tourism product and its greater lasting and positive social effects.
I am very fond of Croatian tourism and Zagreb has undoubtedly been the most proactive tourist office in responding to the crisis. The website around Zagreb, campaigns such as “Zagreb Loves You” and; “From the balconies of Zagreb”, in addition to making Advent in Zagreb a success despite the restrictions, Zagreb tourism has remained very visible during a difficult year. Tell us a bit about this strategy.
Thanks for saying that! Yes, we were working under totally different circumstances from previous years which was incredibly difficult, but we didn’t want to surrender. We just had to prepare for ad hoc reactions and possible last minute changes, because times were really uncertain, and they still are. Therefore, in accordance with the recommendations and decisions of the authorities, we have prepared appropriate events and adjusted our online and offline campaigns.
The pandemic, and in Zagreb, unfortunately, the earthquakes have taught us how important it is to react in a very short time, to react quickly to new situations, to follow trends with the help of tools and digital platforms and adapt the tourist offer to new conditions. In this sense, the Zagreb Tourist Office has developed and supported projects that have allowed us to create new outdoor content with an emphasis on ambient and non-invasive events, as well as virtual and interactive content for our potential visitors.
And now Zagreb is one of the leading players in the digital nomadic tourism sector. First tell us why you think the Croatian capital is a great destination?
The bustling Croatian capital Zagreb is fast becoming one of the most popular European destinations for city breaks in this part of the EU. Thanks to an eclectic mix of Central European and Mediterranean lifestyles, it blends the Austro-Hungarian tradition well with the warm flavor of the south. Whether for a weekend or a longer stay, Zagreb will charm visitors with its natural charm, its exceptional cultural heritage, but also with its modern and digital services.
Zagreb is home to a large number of coworking spaces, as well as hotels, hostels and private accommodation with excellent internet connection. Add to that – unspoiled nature in the city center, markets with local and homemade products, beautiful surroundings and proximity to Croatia’s famous coast and national parks – Zagreb is definitely the place to be. ! The journey through Zagreb is always captivating, but the greatest value is its atmosphere and the people who never make you feel alone. Zagreb has a story to tell and especially for digital nomads.
You recently announced the Zagreb Digital Nomad Week and the Zagreb Nomad Ambassador Project. Tell us more.
The last year has changed the way of life for many people… The pandemic that made working from home quite common, has further accelerated digital nomadism and now you have generations of employees who are unrelated to the workplace and who want to enjoy a flexible lifestyle as much as possible. At the beginning of this year, the new law on foreigners entered into force in Croatia, according to which digital nomads can be granted temporary residence for up to one year. Zagreb, as the Croatian capital, did not want to miss this growing opportunity and therefore we are delighted to be able to put the digital nomad opportunity in the spotlight through the Zagreb Digital Nomad Week and the Zagreb Nomad Ambassador Project.
Who is ZDNR week for and what do you hope to accomplish?
Zagreb Digital Nomad Week will take place from June 21-27, with a combination of workshops, presentations, social and tourism activities focused on key themes. I hope ZDNR provides a full and stimulating week for anyone engaged in the digital nomadic lifestyle and puts Zagreb on the list as their next remote workplace.
Local education and participation are essential to the success and development of the digital nomadic tourism opportunity. What are, according to you, the main challenges to involve the local community and tourism providers in this new type of tourism with specific needs?
Even before the emergence of the term digital nomad, we have always had digital nomads. The digital nomad is not a tourist within the meaning of a definition, but a national of another country who is employed and works online for his own company or for another company which is not registered in the Republic of Croatia via. In this sense, I see a challenge in preparing and adapting the accommodation facilities to this type of visitors to our city, as they will certainly need to rent their living space for a longer period. In addition, it is important to inform the local population about the existence of digital nomads in their communities in order to dispel stigma such as “these are people who do not work in Croatia and do not pay taxes, so what? is their advantage for tourism in our country. ” This is why it is important to talk about digital nomads, to publicize their way of life and the benefits they bring to society.
If you had to explain “Why Zagreb” for digital nomads in one sentence, what would that sentence be?
The Croatian capital has the best ranking among all Croatian cities according to www.nomadlist.com – So, come and see why this is so…?
And finally – and unrelatedly – I have to ask you about the thefts. The number of Ryanair announcements in Zagreb is great news for those trying to travel to the capital as tourism, as well as to take advantage of the excellent offer of affordable medical tourism. How important is the arrival of Ryanair to the city’s tourism and do you expect more budget airlines to follow? And last flight question … three airlines announced direct flights from the United States to Dubrovnik this summer. Are we close to a New York – Zagreb route?
The arrival of Ryanair in Zagreb and connecting our city with 12 lines to eight countries (Belgium, Montenegro, France, Italy, Norway, Germany, Sweden, United Kingdom), is important for the development of tourism in the capital of Croatia and across the country. Low-cost airlines connect cities in different countries, so it makes sense to choose Zagreb as a year-round destination for a city vacation. We welcome every new airline that comes to Zagreb and we will be happy to see Ryanir ‘tail’ among the other airlines already landing in our city. This will help strengthen Zagreb’s positioning as a city break destination and further facilitate its accessibility to interested visitors. It is also a great trigger for digital nomads as it makes arriving in Zagreb easier and affordable. As for the national airline, we must not forget that Croatia Airlines was the only one connecting us to Europe and the rest of the world when all other companies stopped flying during the most severe pandemic measures. The profile and the business philosophy of low cost and high line carriers are different and we welcome them all.
As for the NY – Zagreb route, the news of three airlines with direct flights from the United States to Dubrovnik is fantastic not only for Dubrovnik, but also for all of Croatia and Zagreb. Hope this is one more step towards a direct connection to Zagreb, and for now people can come via Dubrovnik – it’s a short 45 minute flight …
For more information on Zagreb Digital Nomad Week and Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Project, visit the Saltwater Nomads website.
For the latest news from the Croatian capital, follow the dedicated TCN Zagreb section.