Business Tourism

Maldives a Destination for the Digital Nomads ?

Before we talk more into this. The simple answer is NO!

Moving on who are these Digital Nomads?

“A Digital Nomad is someone who is working (remotely) online. Another word for it is ‘Location Independent Entrepreneur’.”

These are people who use the internet to earn a living and, more generally, conduct their lives in a nomadic manner. Thus the name a “digital nomad”.

Presently some of the most popular destinations for this group of people (Digital Nomads) are places like Bali (Indonesia) and Chiang Mai (Thailand: 6,000 to 7,000 is a rough estimate of their numbers). Why is this? Maybe it’s because of the following reasons:

  • Perfect weather and beautiful beaches
  • Great and cheap service
  • English is spoken almost everywhere
  • Low cost of travel
  • Good digital infrastructures (fast, reliable internet at cafes, restaurants and hotels)
  • Cheap accommodation
  • Nightlife
  • Friendly locals
  • Safe and peaceful environment

How do the digital nomads help the locals? Before we go into that let’s gauge how much an average digital nomad makes. Its estimated that they earn somewhere around USD 1,600 to USD 20,000 per month. Some work full-time and others 15 hours a week. It too varies depending on the type of work they do and how much they earn.

So back to the question of how do they help the cost city/island/country. Although they are called digital nomads not all of them are constantly moving locations. A lot of them stay in one host country for months or even a year or two. Most likely they don’t even pay any tax to the host country as they are just staying as tourists. They don’t have a working visa. The pattern of spending for these digital nomads also resembles that of a foreign expatriate. They spend on accommodation, food, transport, entertainment and even a gym and so on. The major differentiator between an expat and a digital nomad is the digital nomads work from cafes or co-working spaces.

Obviously, the digital nomads don’t spend as much as the short-term tourists, but they contribute significantly to the local economy of the host countries.

In theory, the digital nomads are working without a work permit and it’s also hard to monitor the activities (as they are not registered to work) they are almost never taxed. However, there have been some cases where the digital nomads offer jobs to locals and this creates a small economy-within-an-economy.

How can the Maldives take advantage of this? The Maldives lacks experienced people in most of today’s digital world/economy. If we can find a way for the digital nomads to work alongside the Maldivians, this might be a good opportunity to share experience and knowledge-transfer for our younger generation.

Mostly interaction between the digital nomads and the locals are fairly limited. This is due to the fact that the digital nomads work online on the internet and when needed can hire on the internet or amongst each other.

If we are able to encourage and develop ways to attract the digital nomads to the Maldives this will benefit the local economy. This can be achieved by offering cheaper accommodation options for long-term stay, introduce co-working spaces and develop infrastructures for such.

In addition to the above, if we offer the digital nomads a long-term visa, this will be more attractive. As a way to attract this group of people (at the initial stage) maybe we should consider a tax free option for the digital nomads. Maybe give tax exempt for the digital nomads who employe local Maldivians.

On the long run, this might help to create more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) via these digital nomads, employment and most importantly knowledge transfer.

At the present Maldives is NOT a preferred destination for the digital nomads, though a lot of digital nomads might fancy the idea. This may be mainly due to the high cost of accommodation and travel. Though we have a lot of coffee shops we don’t have proper public space to work, like co-working spaces.

Full details are available at the link below:

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Source URL: Medium

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