'Beautiful Gift': How Croatia Is Luring Digital Nomads
Labin, Croatia, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 30th May, 2021 ) :Melissa Paul described it as a "beautiful gift" when she became Croatia's first official digital nomad earlier this year, benefiting from a visa scheme that the country hopes will help promote its pandemic-hit travel industry.
"Croatia is gorgeous, it's beautiful living here, affordable compared to other places, has a great climate, good internet access," says the American marketing consultant, who lives among cobblestone streets in Labin, a hilltop town overlooking the Adriatic.
Applicants need to prove they work remotely, have accommodation and health insurance and earn at least 2,200 Euros ($2,700) a month.
Paul is one of about 100 people to have applied since the scheme started in January, more than half of them Americans and British.
The government has so far approved 33 visas and ministers hope the idea will take off once virus-related travel restrictions are lifted.
The crisis has particularly affected southern areas such as Dubrovnik, where visitors arrive mostly by plane.
- 'Very unique' - With the drop-off in tourism, the time was ripe for a fresh idea, and Croatia-based Dutch entrepreneur Jan de Jong was on hand to supply it.
But to be successful with digital nomads, he said, Croatia needed to act quickly and be competitive.
Trade groups think the idea is going to take off in many more countries.
The tourism ministry, which is backing De Jong's idea, sees it as a long-term opportunity to boost the industry rather than a quick fix to the pandemic-related crisis.
- 'Enjoy your life' - Among the early adopters happy to promote the benefits of Croatia is content creator Steve Tsentserensky, who arrived in the country after years of globetrotting.
"It's not like everyone is rushing around," he says. "You work and you can enjoy your life as well." For Melissa Paul, the visa was her last option. She had been living in Croatia since 2014 and was married to a Croatian, but divorce left her with no legal way to remain.
"It allowed me to stay where I love living," she says.
But Paul also stresses that foreigners will bring expertise and knowledge that could help the wider community.
This idea is what motivates entrepreneur De Jong, who hopes the influence of foreign digital workers might help young Croatians, many of whom want to leave their own country.
"They would be bringing their mindset and experience and can really have a positive impact on the mindset, mostly of the young generation," says the Dutch father of four.