About ‘Work.Place.Culture.’ in Dubrovnik from May 5 to 7, Early Bird closes tonight at midnight

April 4, 2022 – Ahead of the upcoming Work.Place.Culture conference in Dubrovnik, organizer Tanja Polegubić of Saltwater Nomads shares more details about an event that continues to make the Pearl of the Adriatic the mecca of remote working. Early bird ticket sales end today at midnight.

All nomad roads lead to Dubrovnik, and you are embarking on your third event in the Pearl of the Adriatic, following Croatia’s first-ever nomad conference in October 2020, and the award-winning Dubrovnik Nomads-in-Residence program. Before arriving at the event, why Dubrovnik (which was not a perceived nomadic destination) and why do you keep coming back?

There’s an Instagram video by Goran Visnjic that shows exactly why I keep coming back – I even go around twice, to double the thrill.

Like everything, people. It’s so easy to work with the Tourist Office and the City; this can be rare in Croatia. Also – the vision to move on from over-tourism. I freely admit that I avoided the city in the height of summer, and this is part of several steps to solving this problem for future generations. I’m really lucky to be able to say that I played a small part in the story of the reinvention of such an iconic destination, as it incorporates sustainable measures into tourism. Also see the video above.

Defining tangible results in an industry where little data is collected (no one registers as a digital nomad) is difficult to quantify. That there has been a shift in perception about Dubrovnik is evident when comparing UK media stories from 2017 (The Times using Dubrovnik as a poster child for overtourism versus The Guardian in 2021 with a headline image of Dubrovnik for an article on digital nomad visas). If not, how can progress be quantified?

In the original town pitch there was a quote from a NomadList user from 2017 saying “nice place to visit, but only for a few days” with very little mention of Dubrovnik – this review was in 2020. Fast forward up to 5 years now, and for example, a Facebook group Dubrovnik Digital Nomads Dubrovnik that I created with nearly 700 members. And we know that the average number of monthly digital nomads in Dubrovnik, according to Nomad List, is in the hundreds – and all charts for Croatia have a steep upward trajectory. Thereafter, the way to see the upside will be in long-term occupancy and related businesses remaining open.

Your last event in the city a year ago, Dubrovnik Nomads-in-Residence, has already won a few international awards. Tell us a bit about the impact he had on the city’s thinking and strategy.

The Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program has really highlighted areas to focus on, and the city and tourist board are implementing them with “quick wins” and longer-term goals. The work and the conference were part of those recommendations – the momentum is strong, and it’s a strategic approach.

And so on until 2022. Saltwater Nomads is once again teaming up with Dubrovnik for another innovative conference called Work. Location. Culture. Tell us about the conference and what it is trying to accomplish.

Following the work from home resulting from the global shutdowns, the biggest change right now is the return to the office for millions of people – so what does something like hybrid look like? If you don’t want to go to a physical office anymore – how do you advocate for this change internally, or as it’s been popularly coined, do you join “The Great Resignation”? This conference brings that thought – and leaders in their field with very similar ideas to share that information. It also allows destinations to open their doors to educate the ready-to-work crowd from anywhere, while learning about expectations and shaping their thinking by crafting a revamped offering – with so many countries now offering a digital nomad visa, having a digital nomad offer for tourism will be part of the furniture. As the name suggests, it brings work and place together – with aspects of culture for both.

Who is it for and why should they come?

Those in HR or remote space. Especially anyone interested in the latest data and trends. It is a very interactive program design, including netwalking on the walls of the old town as part of the program, and several outdoor sessions – from islands in the natural park to replicas of medieval sailing ships. Also, all digital nomads in Croatia who finally want to visit Dubrovnik – it’s a great opportunity to explore the city in good company, and also – all those who plan to work.

The list of speakers is being finalized, but can you give us a teaser?

We have now started sharing who will be joining us, and we have some real “heavyweights”. Aaron McEwan, who was recently interviewed by TCN, will cover Radical Flexibility. We’ve got 3 of LinkedIn’s top 10 voices for remote work coming in person. Plus digital nomads and exciting destination stories, which we’ll also be sharing in the coming weeks.

As one of the pioneers of the coworking revolution in Croatia, co-organizer of the Dubrovnik events, Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, and co-founder of the Digital Nomad Association Croatia, you seem to be at the heart of many work initiatives from a distance to advance Croatia. How do you see the progress and what are the missing key elements that would help accelerate Croatia’s path to becoming a major player in this exciting sector in the future?

Our day of reflection on Croatia’s DNA was a very positive way to start the year, to look back but also to move forward – and the joining of all regions of Croatia is a sign of momentum and of strength.

I would say budget – financial investment, lack. When you look at places like Lisbon paying $10 million to Web Summit per year, per year, for a decade, you realize how much of a different playing field we are. What we have done is remarkable, and the destinations are attractive – there is not a lot of effort to convince people to come – but I can only imagine what could be achieved, and we also know the number and average expenditure of nomads, so there is a case for increasing investment in this area. Read: Public support is lacking in most places. Let’s hope that changes.

Early Bird tickets are available until midnight today and can be reserved through the official website.

You can download the full program of the Work.Place.Culture conference in Dubrovnik here.

To work. Location. Culture. is a collaboration between the City of Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Saltwater Nomads and TCN, with the support of Digital Nomad Association Croatia and Dubrovacka Bastina. Zagreb Digital Nomad Week is a partnership between Zagreb Tourist Board, Saltwater Nomads and TCN.

For more on beautiful Dubrovnik, check out the Total Croatia Dubrovnik in a Page guide, in partnership with Sun Gardens Dubrovnik.

For more news and reports on digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section.

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