Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2021: 5 key points to remember

June 28, 2021 – After a Zagreb 2021 Digital Nomad Week full of action and reflection, some key points for Zagreb and Croatia.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2021, but I knew it would be inspiring. Sometimes when I write about an opportunity for Croatia from Croatia, it’s hard to get a global perspective. Local viewpoints are not necessarily transferred to the global viewpoint. And although TCN has written extensively on the digital nomadic opportunity for over 2 years now, what were the real feelings of important names in the global nomad community?

I had the chance to find out last week with a series of opening speeches, panel discussions and many informal discussions with various international nomads from all over the world who were in Zagreb. All of the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and for the most part very inspiring. Here are 6 of my Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2021 takeaways.

1. The impact of the digital nomadic permit is much greater than the number of applications

The decision of the Croatian Prime Minister to follow up on the LinkedIn open letter from Dutch entrepreneur Jan de Jong last year, has meant that Croatia has announced that it will be only the second country in Europe to offer such a visa. . The ensuing 12-month permit went into effect on January 1 of this year, and the whole story made headlines around the world – CNN, Washington Post, Euronews and many more. The timing coincided with several other factors. The most important of these was that Croatia remained open to non-EU / EEA citizens during last year’s pandemic, and that it was also in the EU but not in the Schengen area ( which makes it an attractive option for those with a 90-day Schengen visa).

A combination of these factors, I think, has helped raise Croatia’s profile considerably. Many discovered Croatia for the first time, and more and more remote workers made their way to Croatia. Although the number of permit applications is relatively low at the moment (147 in total), the number of digital nomads is increasing. I must have met over 50 digital nomads last week, only 2 of whom had the license. It was pointed out that nomads are by definition nomads and do not necessarily seek to live in a country for 12 months. But the number of people coming for a month, two, three is increasing.


2. Croatia is a leader in public-private partnership to advance digital nomadic tourism opportunities

It was a surprising discovery for me, as Croatia is not known for its public-private partnership initiatives. Talking to Dean Kuchel of Digital Nomad World was particularly enlightening. He had never met a country with such commitment between the public and private sectors, a partnership he called revolutionary.

The main cooperation, of course, was between de Jong, the Prime Minister, 5 government departments and many other parties to issue the DN permit. But the commitment was much deeper than that. Dean was impressed with the participation in the Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2021 of the Banking Section (Raiffeisen Bank Hrvatska), Financial Advisory (KPMG Croatia) and Communication (Hrvatski Telekom). Co-working spaces such as Impact Hub, HUB385 and BIZkosnica. Wine bars such as Bornstein, hotels such as Canopy by Hilton, hostels such as Swanky Mint Hostel and private accommodation in Doma Zagreb. The formation of the Digital Nomad Association Croatia is an important bridge between the authorities and the digital nomad community.


ZDNW was an excellent public-private partnership between Saltwater Nomads, Total Croatia News and the Zagreb Tourist Board (funded by the latter), with the Zagreb County Tourist Board hosting the final day in Samobor and the Zagreb Nature Park. Zumberak. ZDNW followed two other successful public-private partnerships in Dubrovnik, with the Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads conference last October, and the recent Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program, both of which were a partnership between Saltwater Nomads, TCN and the city and tourist office of Dubrovnik.

3. The seeds of collaboration, not competition, have already been sown and are bearing fruit between destinations.

Having written about tourism in Croatia for 10 years, one of the most positive aspects of this whole initiative has been the collaboration between the various tourist offices and other official bodies. Croatia has a very fragmented tourism board structure, and there has been a tendency to view another tourism board as a competitor.

The Zagreb Tourist Board made a great contribution during a panel on the last day of the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program, and the director of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Ana Hrnic, was an excellent panelist on ZDNW. The partnership of Zagreb City and County Tourist Boards is a prime example of how to improve the quality of a destination by working together. At ZDNW there were representatives from Zadar, Split, Osijek and Istria, all interested in moving this story forward … together. Zagreb as a digital nomadic destination will be all the stronger if there are other communities in other destinations in Croatia. The concept of a Croatian digital nomadic trail was discussed in Dubrovnik. By working together to develop this, different stakeholders can produce an incredible end product.

What particularly encouraged me was the number of local people who ended the week much more enlightened about the digital nomad movement. The concept of WiFi and a bed was enough to be relatively widespread a year ago. It is changing rapidly.


4. Community development is the key to success.

In an interview before ZDNW, keynote speaker and Future of Work explorer Albert Cañigueral spoke about the importance of having a digital nomad community in place:

The phrase “content is king, context is king” is widely used in marketing. In the DN universe, I would translate people (the community) is king and location is queen. Our experience was just breathtaking because of the community of NDs who were selected to participate, partners of some NDs who decided to be part of the adventure, locals who joined the workshops and other moments, the team professional who animated the whole program and also the support of the town hall (in full local elections!).

Perhaps Dean Kuchel’s simple mantra explained it better. I travel alone, but I never travel alone.

The strength of community is probably the deciding factor for many people as to their next destination.

5. The positive mindset of the digital nomad community will have a very positive effect on the mindset of the next generation of Croatia.

You couldn’t help but be positive last week. So much energy, so many inspiring people. People who care about the community and the world around them. People will have new ideas, a fresh outlook on life. As these communities grow and more digital nomads come to explore Croatia, the safe and authentic lifestyle destination, this energy will reverberate in the mindset of the locals. After decades of emigration and no opportunity, an influx of new ideas and people coming to the country rather than running away will be a long-term positive.


6. Zagreb is a truly exciting destination for digital nomads, with most of the essentials already in place.

I was really curious what our visiting digital nomads would think of Zagreb. I think it’s become a very cool city and I think it has a lot to offer, but how does it compare internationally and what is it missing? Dean Kuchel of Digital Nomad World delivered his verdict:

“Zagreb lacks more digital nomads. It has perfect weather, a vibrant nightlife. Everyone speaks English, everyone is nice to you and easy to get around. Internet is fantastic, thank you. It has been very useful for work. I don’t think anything is really missing. He ticks all the boxes. He has a good city life, nature, access to the sea. Please stay the same . ”

A great week, an important step for the future of Croatia and many exciting possibilities for the future.

For more information on Zagreb Digital Nomadic Week, check out Saltwater nomads.

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

About Andrew Miller

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