October 27, 2020 – The recent Mate Rimac promo video on living and working in Croatia is an excellent cornerstone for a new direction for a country which needs to reinvent its tourism strategy.
Things are a different than how they used to be.
It used to be the case that you worked hard all year, then you had time off and took a 2-week holiday in the sun.
The distinction was clear. Most of the time you were working (an incredible 50 weeks a year, say some of my American friends as they wondered at the Dalmatian lifestyle of waiting tourism to happen and then for the olives to ripen). And then a much shorter time – 2-4 weeks usually – was vacation time, where work was a distant memory.
Then came the onset of technology – emails, SMS messages from the office. It was no longer a guarantee that a holiday was an opportunity to switch off completely from the office.
And then came the next stage of development, one which is evolving right before our very eyes – the rise of the remote working opportunity.
It is now much more common for people to take work with them on holiday and for those holidays to be longer. If you can work for a few hours a day in the hotel while the family is off at the beach, then join them later, that is a much better option than being stuck in the office back home.
The biggest change, however, has come with more companies allowing staff to work from home, or elsewhere. This has led to an increase in digital nomads, and one pre-pandemic prediction had as many as one billion remote workers by 2035, a number which perhaps looks conservative given recent events.
As long as they are in touch with their office during working hours, an increasing number of people can now work from anywhere, thereby offering a huge range of new opportunities, as well as a type of tourism in which Croatia sells but does not really promote effectively.
Rather than the 50-week/2-week work/holiday dynamic of yesteryear, this relationship is now a lot more blurred, and tourism (lifestyle living) mixes with work a lot more these days.
Why not spend a month in another country, working for the office back home by day, then enjoy the local exotic delights by night and at the weekend? It is not classical tourism, which is a lot more rigid, and the flexibility of work location allows these remote workers to spend longer in a country than they would on that beach holiday, experience more, and – crucially for the local economy – spend more.
Not tourism as we know it, but a much better type of tourism – lower impact, more sustainable, bigger spend, and one where word of mouth will bring others to follow.
I wrote recently about the recent Mate Rimac promo video, Working and Living in Croatia, calling it the best promo video I had seen for some time in Croatia. Quite when Rimac has the time for such side projects is a different matter, given that his day job is revolutionising the global car industry, but his video captured two of Croatia’s greatest selling points, which are currently being undersold.
Safety and Lifestyle.
And, to show how the boundaries between work and tourism have become so blurred, his video was not aimed at tourists, rather at showing what a great place Croatia is to live and work. A place that he personally loves, and that people from some 35 countries have moved to in his company alone.
Listening to the impressions of outsiders is always instructive, for they often see things that locals take for granted. As I have written before, one of my friends runs a successful luxury tour agency, and he recounted the moment when he discovered the secret of selling Dalmatia to rich clients.
“I was having lunch in this olive grove with a group from New York,” he explained. “There was a lemon tree, and one of the group walked over and picked a lemon from the tree. He was mesmerised. Later he told me that this was the highlight of the trip. Picking a lemon from a tree, something that he would never be able to do back home. It taught me that the simplest authentic Dalmatian experiences are also the most highly prized. Easy to arrange, and people are willing to pay.”
Rimac’s video is insightful, as it focuses on the view of Croatia and what it has to offer, almost exclusively through the eyes of his international team. The South African who wonders at the safety of the country, having seen two 16-year-old girls walking home alone at 2am, for example – something that would never happen at home. But the message of lifestyle, lifestyle, lifestyle shines through the video, as does too that work v life balance.
There is a lot of discussion of the digital nomad visa for Croatia at the moment, which looks like it will be available in early 2021, offering Croatia’s lifestyle to a new mobile global market for 12 months at a time. And while the early feedback is that this would be very welcome, Croatia’s lifestyle tourism based on people working here on a temporary basic is already a very well-established thing. Even with restrictions of maximum stays of 90 days for non-EU residents, there are hundreds of digital nomads currently in Croatia (if not more), people who have come to sample the Croatian vibe over an extended period. And with stays of one to three months, their net spend is usually more than the average tourist coming for a week or two.
As the Rimac promo video points out, these remote workers are attracted to Croatia for the same things as his foreign staff – safety and lifestyle, as well as the range of fantastic authentic experiences that Croatia offers to see and do. Croatia, Your Safe, Authentic, Lifestyle Destination. It has more of a message and focus than Croatia, Full of Life, doesn’t it?
Rimac raves about the lifestyle, as well as the emerging startup scene in Croatia. His focus is living and working in Croatia. All the points in the video are relevant to tourism as well, and never has work and play been as aligned as now, or Croatia looked more attractive place to live and work. Either for a fabulous company such as Rimac full-time, or for yourself with your online business, for a month, two or more. The new tourism normal for many.
Croatia is one of the safest countries in Europe to visit. It also has the best lifestyle in Europe. Add in all the extraordinary authentic experiences, great English, good infrastructure, accessibility, affordability, natural beauty, and much more, it should not be hard to attract even more remote workers looking for an authentic lifestyle experience after they finish their online working chores of the day.
It is a relatively new kind of tourism, but one which could dwarf the current (and non-sustainable) accidental tourism approach. Longer stays, more community involvement, less location pressure on peak season beaches, more revenue – there are many advantages that this new type of tourism could bring over the existing mess.
And if our tourism chiefs are looking for some ideas, I am sure that young Rimac could find some time for a coffee.
00:12 Why is Rimac based in Croatia
01:39 Overview and location
02:08 What Croatia offers
03:31 Food culture
04:10 Prices and standard of living
05:07 Getting here: documentation
05:40 Finding a job for your partner
05:46 Accommodation and commuting
06:47 Croatian culture
07:12 Croatian women
08:25 Christmas market in Zagreb
09:12 Traveling and activities in Croatia
10:18 Working in Rimac
12:36 Growing startup culture
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