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Croatia as a digital nomad destination: improving through scientific research

Split Tech City

Split Tech City

14.03.2022.

By definition, digital nomads are individuals who make a living working online at various locations of their choice and do not have fixed offices. Colloquially, the term nomad is often related to a whole range of jobs that include remote work.

Nevertheless, nomadism is also associated with various creative industries and activities. For instance, many nomads are engaged in arts, sports, and well-being. They form a “tribe” that identifies itself as a social group characterized by “being foreigners in a host country“.

In numerous expert and academic discussions, it was noticed that this migrant group shares a lot with the long-established segment of backpackers by sharing the motive of wanderlust, which entices them to get to know and explore new worlds, cultures, and customs. On the other hand, they are also financially independent, on well-paid digital and IT jobs, and can afford a “more casual” lifestyle in popular global destinations.

Digital nomads, like other migrant groups – such as expatriates and immigrants – interact with the host country within which they spend a certain amount of time. In such a case, numerous social interactions with the local community and other nomads occur.

Many of these interactions do not always end in positive interpersonal outcomes. This drew the attention of Associate Professor Dario Miočević from the Department of Marketing at the University of Split’s Faculty of Economics, Business, and Tourism:

“For instance, from my experience gained while studying the behavior of digital nomads through social network posts, many interactions end in tensions due to cultural differences or deviant behavior of the local population.

As such, these tensions might ultimately affect how much digital nomads will engage in local culture and community, including consumption of local products and services, exploring the host country’s cultural and historical heritage, using tourist services, etc.”

This issue is precisely the focus of the current research project conducted by Prof. Miočević who previously carried out an exciting research project on a sample of expatriates who work and live in the Middle East. This current research conducted in Croatia is supported by Digital Nomad Association Croatia, as well as numerous relevant groups that exist on various social networks and were very helpful with data collection.

In general, through several studies, Prof. Miočević found that only a part of the expatriates proactively acculturate and adjust themselves to the host community and thus adopt behavioral patterns of the local population in terms of consumer habits – e.g., buying local vs. global brands, tasting authentic local food, visiting local restaurants offering authentic gastronomic specialties and so on.

Following this research, Prof. Miočević has started an ambitious project on digital nomads that is taking place in two phases. The first phase includes an extensive survey conducted on a sample of digital nomads who have visited some of the most popular destinations such as Thailand, Bali, Sri Lanka, Mexico, and Colombia.

This research aims to see some general patterns of interaction of digital nomads with the local community and how it affects the intention to return to the destination, willingness to consume local food and other local products, and willingness to explore host country amenities further.

The second phase focuses on digital nomads who have resided in the Republic of Croatia. Croatia is becoming very popular among the digital nomad community. According to official statistics from the Ministry of Interior, the month-to-month influx of new nomads with approved visas keeps continually increasing.

In addition to the same topics investigated in the first phase, the second phase aims to:

  • craft policy and managerial guidelines on what destinations and managers from various industries could improve to facilitate greater engagement from digital nomads
  • see the conditions that could facilitate revisit intentions (digital nomads’ intentions to come back to Croatia)
  • investigate what works and what doesn’t work for nomads in terms of Croatian offering (food and gastronomy, retail, local apps, cultural and natural heritage, tourist places)

We encourage you to help Prof. Miočević with his research by contributing to the gathering of relevant information. You can do so via this link.

We wish Prof. Miočević a lot of success in his work and we hope that the research he’s working on will contribute to improvements Split and Croatia need to make to become an even better place for digital nomads, as well as other internationals!

Photos by: Bruno Dubravec

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Split Tech City

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