Researchers estimate that there will be 1 billion digital nomads in the world by 2035; the number is estimated to have been around 4 million before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Digital nomads are people who work online using the internet while traveling from one country to another. They typically stay a period of 3 months minimum and 1 year maximum.
Whether this lifestyle will be the future of work or not, it is obvious that it is more than a trend, it is here to stay and the numbers are skyrocketing from one day to the next.
Why there are more digital nomads than ever?
How is it possible for the number of digital nomads to increase this much? The factors that contributed to that are many and the first as mentioned above is the pandemic.
The pandemic made remote work a necessity for social distancing, and it proved to be a really popular lifestyle, as about 32% of employees stated in a study that they never want to go back to the office. It is quite understandable, as remote work gives you more control over your time, more time for your family, more to experience and the freedom to do your work from anywhere in the world.
The second factor would be the technological advancement that allowed more jobs to be done online. For example, platforms where people teach languages online, or freelancing platforms that help connect businesses or individuals to talents, plus the fact that many jobs in nature can be done online, all these increased the number of digital employees around the world.
Anyone with any qualifications can find a job that he can do on the internet; anything from coding to being a virtual assistant, writing content or taking photos and uploading them online can earn you money online. This of course besides the ability to invest online or run a startup with a remote team, in which cases travelling while working isn’t an issue, as long as your destination has an internet connection.
Which leads us to a third factor, the spread of internet coverage across the world, reaching further and further areas; as well as portable routers and satellite internet technologies, all contributed to the rise in digital nomads.
Also, other factors include the slow – but steady- lifting of travel restrictions around the world, which made it possible for more people to take on digital nomadism. Not only that, but the fact that many countries welcomed nomads with open arms… and specialized visas.
Many countries around the world from Estonia to Romania to Greece to Costa Rica reaching all the way to Indonesia and even Caribbean islands like Antigua and Barbuda, to major hubs like Dubai…and the list goes on, are doing all that they can to attract digital nomads.
The range of offers covers specialized visas that allow them to stay longer than a tourist visa would, paying for their accommodation, giving them tax breaks or tax exemptions, dedicating islands and villages to them and even improving infrastructure and services to accommodate all their needs.
While all the above factors seem like a natural result of advances and/or the pandemic, the last factor, that is the efforts some countries are putting to attract nomads is quite intentional, which poses the question, why are countries doing all of this to attract digital nomads? What’s in it for them?
The answer is quite simple, digital nomads are good for the economy.
Here are 4 reasons why
1. They revive tourism
One of the sectors affected the most by the pandemic was the tourism sector and all the jobs under its umbrella. Digital nomadism creates a type of diversity in the industry, as unlike your average tourist, digital nomads stay for longer periods and they also come back more frequently.
The existence of strong digital nomad communities, which is essential for this lifestyle, means recommendations go a long way, thus attracting more nomads to the destinations. Digital nomads seek advice, ratings or feedback about a destination before they decide on it, and they usually ask fellow nomads. This means more jobs for locals in hospitality, restaurants, adventure, rentals and many other sectors.
2. Nomads spend locally
One of the main points of living the lifestyle of digital nomadism is to experience; this includes experiencing life as a local, buying local food, drinking local coffee, buying local clothes and products, and travelling around the country to get as many experiences as possible. Studies show that digital nomads spend more than 35% of their income locally in their destinations.
This spending also brings foreign currency to their destination, thus bolstering the economy.
3. They boost cultural development and local talent
Imagine as a country that you host hundreds of digital nomads who have a wide array of expertise in different sectors, they come from different backgrounds and industries.
Their lifestyle depends on having high work ethic and being self-motivated, they meet and network and exchange ideas among themselves, with and around your locals…what can result from that? They build innovative hubs in your country and bring diverse business and entrepreneurial ideas to your community; and where ideas are born, investments come and the economy flourishes.
4. They bring better services and infrastructure
This is more of a benefit for the local community that reflects on the economy in both short and long terms. Countries that want to attract digital nomads have to offer more than the natural beauty and tourism possibilities; they have to offer services that enable digital nomads to do their work.
These services can include anything from strong internet coverage, co-working spaces, water, electricity, activities, shops…etc. All these services benefit the local community as well, and sponsors long term development of the towns and their residents.
In what other ways you think digital nomadism benefit their destinations?