If you met a digital nomad a few years ago, you probably would’ve thought what an eccentric being they are. Moreover, you may have assumed that this person barely made a living from their lifestyle.
However, today we see digital nomads in a completely different light. This notion is not only becoming normalized, but countries all over the world are also seeing it as a way to attract foreign currencies into their economy. Exactly why? After all these years, we now know that digital nomads can make a respectable living.
Data on the number of digital nomads in the world is scarce because their travels are often seasonal. However, most reports indicate that their numbers are on the rise. As of last year, there were 10.9 million digital nomads in the US, an increase from 7.3 million before the swine flu pandemic hit.
Among US nomads, consulting, coaching, and research are among the most common jobs. Other jobs include sales and marketing and public relations, ICT, and creative services. The digital nomad community also tends to be composed of journalists, designers, and photographers.
The Digital Nomadic Lifestyle Is Not Just a Trend
The quest for more flexibility and autonomy at work is the biggest factor that seems to drive digital nomads to live this lifestyle, according to a research study published in 2019. Aside from professional independence, technological, geographical, and mental freedom are increasingly becoming the pillars that guide the lives of many who choose to embark on this journey.
A digital nomad wants much more than freedom from the cubicle and the commute to the office park. We are looking to be released from the shackles of the 9-to-5 work schedule, throughout the day synchronous communication, and from the outdated belief that productivity is calculated by the number of hours spent at our desks in comparison to the value of our output.
There are those who enjoy traveling. And there are those who want to work in the morning and go on a hike in the afternoon. In the end, however, the incessant desire to escape a current situation is what drives digital nomads to become mobile. We believe this lifestyle is a sustainable one. Clearly, the digital nomad lifestyle is not just a trend, but a new way of living that can bring growth to society.
Capitalize the Digital Nomadic Lifestyle to Boost the Local Economy
Before listing the different ways countries are attracting digital nomads, let’s have a look at some of the benefits related to digital nomads.
1. Digital nomads spend their income in the Host Country’s Economy
A report by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) entitled “Work and Wander: Meet Today’s Digital Nomads” found that 87% of this type of worker has a job that allows them to earn money while traveling ($4,500 per month on average) and thus extends their stay abroad. The average remote worker spends 36% of their salary on travel.
Using technology, they work from anywhere in the world and have no restrictions. ATTA employee statistics show that 17% work as writers, 14% as digital marketers, 8% as bloggers, and 7% as programmers. These occupations are generally associated with higher incomes than the average population due to their technology-based nature. This is why countries should definitely not disregard this benefit and instead focus on attracting more digital nomads who fit these characteristics.
2. Strengthen the Tourism Industry
Tourism has traditionally been a powerful tool to help develop host countries’ economies and gain foreign revenue.
According to research, more than half of the digital nomads (51%) are between the ages of 25 and 34, which means older millennials who are willing to explore the tourist attractions and restaurants of the destination. Most of the time, people who fit into this age category are those passionate about discovering the culture, natural parks, historical sites, etc. of a particular country. In turn, this creates excellent touristic opportunities for countries hosting such tourists.
Increasing tourism through digital nomads helps society grow and fosters a sense of inclusion and openness. The citizens in the community will be able to live in a more integrated way and numerous entrepreneurs and community members will be able to benefit from this.
3. Generate New Jobs
Additionally, promoting travel, restaurants, shopping, consumption, and services, in general, will ensure that native residents are able to reactivate their jobs. As a result, improving the job market for local residents develops into a sustainable model to keep the economy afloat.
By spending money in the host countries, remote workers are already creating new businesses, as they are not competing with residents for jobs. It is also through the continued arrival of these workers, their families and businesses from overseas that economies are given a chance to flourish, a fact that brings enormous benefits to local communities.
As the host country’s economy grows and investment opportunities are created, the diaspora is also more inclined to return. In turn, this will have a positive effect on reducing emigration, as well as reverse the devastating ‘brain drain’ affecting so many countries and remote areas.
4. Attract an Affordable Source of In-Demand Technology Skills
There is an increase of ‘digital nomads’ who work remotely from anywhere because living in more affordable and spacious areas becomes a more appealing option. Digital nomads provide employers with a source of affordable digital talent, and governments are providing more benefits to them as well.
Nomads are tech-savvy individuals as their name suggests. MBO Partners found that 12% of digital nomads work in IT, more than any other profession. In contrast to non-nomads, 71% of nomads say using technology boosts their competitiveness, and more of them describe themselves as early adopters of tech.
The trend towards working remotely is making digital nomads a less expensive source for in-demand tech skills since they are becoming more comfortable with it.
Now that we’ve listed the benefits, let’s dive into (some of) the ways countries manage to attract digital nomads.
What Countries Can Do to Capitalize Digital Nomadism?
Working remotely or digitally nomadic will become commonplace as we continue to work anywhere. With the increase of this lifestyle, a more white-collar culture is preferred.
The government of several countries offered special visas to encourage Americans to migrate. In light of the Covid-19 and their struggling economies, Barbados, Estonia, Bermuda and Georgia opened their doors to American tourists, allowing them to work, pay taxes and contribute to the economy.
As a way of reviving the stagnant economy, state officials are developing programs to bring remote workers to their states. Here are 5 areas that countries should pay more attention to in order to attract more digital nomads and capitalize on their growing number of travels.
1. Pay Attention to How Digital Nomads Choose Where to Travel
A digital nomad who is relocating to live and work for a longer period performs extensive research before making a decision. A thorough analysis includes things like tax issues, health insurance, and how easy it is for you to travel in and out of a destination.
Furthermore, digital nomads must know if they can order materials from giants like Amazon. As well as having a choice of accommodations, knowing the entry requirements, especially the testing and quarantine, and feeling secure about health facilities at the destination play a large role in making a decision about where to relocate.
We have to be mindful of a lot of things when thinking about those who travel as digital nomads. Mapping out all these things will help tremendously as it will create different personas that could become valued citizens in the host country.
2. Offer Great Connectivity Infrastructure
Communications infrastructure plays a crucial role both in attracting new visitors and encouraging existing workers to explore new opportunities. Generally, remote workers require a strong and stable internet connection, so it is vital to plan out the best strategy to take advantage of this new growth opportunity.
Connecting with the global community is now impossible without an internet connection. This facilitates collaboration with other nations on key issues as well as the sharing of knowledge and expertise to further bolster the economic well-being of nations.
Furthermore, it is important to ensure that transportation systems and infrastructure are relevant to digital nomads’ needs. Transport infrastructure is as vital as digital infrastructure. Digital nomads often rely heavily on transportation as a characteristic. Digital nomads may have autonomous transportation, but having good transportation infrastructure in the host and transit countries will undoubtedly improve their remote work experience.
The development of stable digital infrastructure and efficient, reliable transport infrastructure is the key to further prospering local economies through digital nomadism and tourism.
3. Encourage Remote Work Communities Through Hubs
Having a dedicated coworking space is a vital part of the remote working infrastructure.
As well as providing a ready-made business network, they also mitigate the risks of isolation and loneliness for remote workers like digital nomads. Their reduction of commuter trips and carbon emissions also offers positive environmental benefits.
They provide support, innovation, facilities, services, networking, as well as physical space, and all of these things are hard to quantitate and replicate. They are striving to serve and support the local business community in their very best efforts.
As hubs strive to encourage professionals to trade their home offices for open, comfy spaces, they will need to be recognized both for their services and for their environmental impact.
4. Invest in Adequate Accommodation
Hotel chains with special offers to tempt digital nomads are tapping into the boom of remote work following a devastating year for the hospitality industry.
According to InsideHook, high-end hotel chains around the world offer monthly membership subscriptions tailored to digital nomads. Subscribers often receive discounts on food and beverage, fitness and coworking amenities, as well as free-roaming between the multiple properties that the same company manages.
The desire to travel and experience new things is a common trait among digital nomads. Offering as many options as possible is essential. It does not matter whether the extended stay is in an apartment for a month or longer or in an Airbnb. These accommodations always must keep consistency and safety in mind. Providing work-from-home tools for digital nomads is also important.
It is essential that the hospitality sector of a country has a well-established strategy that considers the needs and benefits of each persona. After all, digital nomads are not all alike. Others may prefer to travel in style and luxury, while others may prefer to travel cheap and cosy.
5. Enable Digital Nomad Visa Programmes
Digital nomads aren’t just a lucrative opportunity for hotels. They are also ideal for the whole nations’ tourism departments.
Earlier this year, Estonia announced the introduction of a ‘digital nomad visa’ for non-Europeans able to stay and work for a full year in the country.
Similarly, the Barbados “Welcome Stamp” visa is attracting considerable interest internationally thanks to its development to make Barbados more attractive for digital nomads. As Barbados’ Prime Minister, Mia Amor Mottley, explained, the government is introducing the visa to “give workers the chance to work remotely from paradise in the next 12 months.”
In today’s travel industry, digital nomads are growing in importance. Following the pandemic and its effect on tourism, many cities are rethinking strategies for boosting visitor economies, improving international competitiveness, and repositioning themselves internationally.
Hosting countries have to focus on improving the cost of living by guaranteeing digital nomads excellent work and study opportunities, discounts on accommodation, and more across the digital nomad community’s coworking spaces to reap all the benefits that we can bring. After all, we’re all here to thrive together. So we have to grow as individuals and contribute to the growth and progress of the whole society.