Croatian National Tourist Board and DNA Croatia join forces
February 23, 2022 – The Croatian National Tourist Board has partnered with the Digital Nomad Association Croatia. Good news, and it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room.
Croatia’s digital nomad story is accelerating and the energy is real. Johannes Voelkner, owner of the first and largest digital nomad business travel club, is in the country to finalize the venue for his next NomadBase conference May 9-15 (as announced exclusively on TCN), Saltwater Nomads – in partnership with TCN, Zagreb Tourist Board, Dubrovnik Tourist Board and the City of Dubrovnik – will shortly announce two fantastic nomadic conferences for May and June, and DNA Croatia‘s work to bring the community together and connect initiatives across the country is more than impressive (read more in Cohesion, Unity and Planning at the 2022 Croatian Digital Nomads Reflection Day). My recent meeting with the Minister of Tourism and Sports, Nikolina Brnjac, emphasized the DN opportunity. And next week will be 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 engine of the Croatian digital nomad license and president of DNA Croatia, the legend that is Jan de Jong:
With some 2,000 digital nomads coming to Croatia every month, we are slowly but surely becoming a DN hotspot in Europe.
This year, we have many amazing initiatives planned for digital nomads across the country. Therefore, the timing to start working with CNTB could not be better. Thank you Kristjan Stanicic for your support.
Pozdrav in Zagreba,
I knew the announcement was coming, and I smiled when I saw Jan’s message – even more so when I checked my messages an hour later. If I had seen this, what did I think of it? Did I know? was I involved? A good opportunity to finally address the elephant in the room, the ongoing proceedings against me by the Croatian National Tourist Board. If you’re not in the know, the TCN series, Diary of a Croatian Trial is truly an entertaining read, and 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, for this excellent initiative with DNA Croatia (there’s a reason why I don’t often congratulate them), but the good initiatives deserve recognition.
There have been a lot of egos in the Croatian digital nomad story (and I’m not excluding mine from the story), but things are calming down as key stakeholders put community and collaboration ahead of their private interests and agendas. TCN has been writing about the nomadic opportunity for Croatia since May 2019 and is the biggest outlet on the subject, and the national tourist board would be a natural partner under normal circumstances. Oh, Croatia.
I actually presented the nomadic pilot opportunity 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 he could not support, because there was a tax publish. And she was right, as it was. So what…
A few weeks later, Jan de Jong called me and asked for some tourism advice for a conference he was speaking at. I sent him a few articles to read, and he called me back an hour later raving about this concept called digital nomad tourism. It could be amazing for Croatia. Here is Jan, presenting the concept at the May 2020 conference.
And the rest is history, because Jan did what I certainly couldn’t. This private initiative, which gained 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 tax law to help nomads on the permit. the national tourist board was free to push the initiative, which it did thanks to its terrible and very inefficient Croatia, your new office countryside. How inefficient you can read shortly on TCN. To think what DNA Croatia would have done with that budget…
Things got a little weird then. Weird Items started appearing on portals that had never written about me before. A full article about the Zagreb Digital Nomad Week opener managed to sway me completely away from the event and without any mention of TCN, as four of the five speakers even had a photo in the article. I wasn’t quite airbrushed, because my baldness ended up in 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 I came across – not even when the latter two won 4 international awards at Conventa 2021 in Ljubljana, despite the national tourist office being present at the same conference. And yet, for a project in which I was not involved, the red carpet has been rolled out. A sponsored article and the global head of public relations at the press conference to launch a private initiative of which I was not part.
I didn’t mind and expected nothing less from an organization suing me, but it was bad for Croatia that those I worked with seemed to be tarnished by association. Or so it seemed to me. There were several times when I was told that I couldn’t come to a meeting “because of the trial”. 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 (to bring 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 before there seems to have been reluctance. I therefore sincerely congratulate Director Stanicic for this initiative, and I hope that all funds will be transferred to DNA Croatia, so that they are not wasted as they have been with Croatia, your new office (more on this soon).
Would I like to work again with the national tourist office? Clearly not until there’s a change of director (and I’m hearing encouraging noises about it), but depending on who the new director is, I’d consider making an appointment if I see he might finally be there have a new direction and a good strategy.
For more news and reports on digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section.