Zagreb, Split attracts more digital nomads than Prague, Krakow and Budapest
September 7, 2021 – Finding accurate data on the number of digital nomads visiting individual countries is a difficult task, but some solid extrapolated data from Nomad List shows some very encouraging trends for the emerging history of digital nomads in Croatia.
The first statistic I encountered when I started writing about the digital nomadic opportunity in Croatia over two years ago was that there would be one billion digital nomads in the world by 2035. This was before the major shift in working patterns brought on by the pandemic, and in hindsight, I think it referred to remote workers (people working remotely, including from home), rather than digital nomads. (those who move and move, usually to other countries). If the number was one billion before the pandemic, I wonder what it is now.
This vague number was followed by other vague numbers. How many digital nomads are there and how many are actually traveling during the pandemic? And or ?
There are of course ways to track certain data. The number of applications and approvals for the Croatian digital nomad permit, for example. But that only tells part of the story (how many people outside the EU want to commit to living 12 months in Croatia and go through the bureaucratic process during a pandemic). A stay of 1 to 3 months is much more popular (and evident from the various forums and social media groups dedicated to the subject). Finding accurate data on these numbers is a much more difficult task, as nomads rarely register as such and are therefore not easy to follow.
One of the most interesting things I learned about changing tourism trends in May was that in the first 4 months of 2021, over 25% of AirBnB bookings were for 28 days or more. Quite a few of these would be works I’m sure with plenty of digital nomads included.
One thing is clear. The future of remote working has arrived, and the tendency to live and travel on the road is only going to grow. And once the pandemic is over, and this trend is more dominant, then it will become an important part of some national economies. As I and others have been advocating for some time now, this represents a great opportunity for Croatia. American Steve Tsentserensky’s recent CNBC report showcases the financial and lifestyle appeal of living in Dalmatia, while showing how a regular nomad injects US $ 17,000 into the Croatian economy in 12 months, while promoting the country for free (the above video has already been viewed over 200,000 times).
Tsentserensky is one of 86 approved Croatian digital nomad license holders, following his successful application after reading about it on TCN. But if less than 100 visas have been issued so far, does that mean that no digital nomads are visiting Croatia?
Far from there!
List of nomads, arguably the world’s leading resource for digital nomads, compiles detailed data on over 300 DN destinations around the world, including estimated visitor statistics to a destination by month, year, and weighted monthly average. These statistics can be extrapolated from the site. Before we continue, a word about how the data is calculated:
The values displayed are estimated visits of remote workers on the move based on the total number of trips recorded by members of the Nomad list. Visits to a location are only counted once per year per user, even if they visit more that year. Not all nomads are on the nomadic list, and not all nomadic list members record their trips. The data are therefore only indicative.
But if the figures can be indicative, the calculation method is the same for all destinations. This allows us to see how Croatian destinations fare compared to other more established destinations. And the results are MORE than a little encouraging, both in terms of numbers and upward trends for Croatian destinations.
The first good news is that Zagreb is currently ranked 25th as a global destination for digital nomads, with an overall ranking of 4.09 / 5 out of 234 reviews, quite a feat for the Croatian capital, which launched its digital nomad campaign with Zagreb Digital Nomad Week last June. There are three other Croatian cities in the top 200 – Dubrovnik (125), Split (162) and Osijek (165 – no traffic data currently available). That’s a higher number than established hotspots in the Canary Islands DN such as Las Palmas and Tenerife, and almost on par with Porto.
And when it comes to Central and Eastern Europe, Split and Dubrovnik are proving to be more popular than Prague, Krakow and Budapest (the latter admittedly more affected than most by the lockdown).
The increase in the average number of digital nomads over 12 months compared to a year ago is even more encouraging for all three destinations, with the trend being the same for all Croatian destinations. While Zagreb received an average of 367 visitors per month when the visa was announced a year ago, that number is now 634. Split was 550 and today is 834, and Dubrovnik is also on the increase – from 150 to 334.
Zagreb and Split had around 1,200 DN visits in July (Dubrovnik has the same in August), according to data from NomadList.
Data from two other destinations caught my attention. The Georgian capital, Tbilisi, is among the most popular places in Europe, with a marked increase in visits. Besides being a great destination (I lived there in 1995), it also has a visa and its price is very competitive.
And Madeira also has an interesting history of digital nomads, having garnered global interest this spring with the launch of the world’s first digital nomad village. While this has garnered a huge spike in interest, it appears to have dropped a bit and its monthly average numbers are similar to Split, which has yet to do anything major in terms of promoting digital nomads.
These figures, while encouraging, are still low. There are many challenges along the way, including the pandemic and spreading Croatia’s message. But the data suggests the foundations are strong, and a huge free PR dividend from digital nomad license history is already bearing some tiny fruits. A very solid foundation on which to build.
For more news and articles on digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section.