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Home / Travel / All you need is WiFi: How Covid-19 could bring in the era of the digital nomad

All you need is WiFi: How Covid-19 could bring in the era of the digital nomad

From Barbados to Estonia, several countries are launching visa regimes aimed at wooing digital nomads to revive their tourism-dependent economies, chasing the sort of people who mix work with travel and can set up shop any place with an internet connection.

travel Updated: Aug 06, 2020 13:19 IST
Saumya Sharma
Saumya Sharma
Hindustan Times, Delhi
Interest in “digital nomadism” is set to spike in coming years as Covid-19 boosts remote working. (Representational Image)
Interest in “digital nomadism” is set to spike in coming years as Covid-19 boosts remote working. (Representational Image) (Unsplash)

Digital nomads are defined as professionals who live in a nomadic manner and work remotely, usually operating out of coffee shops, co-working spaces and even, while staycationing in another country. All you need in a lifestyle like this, is a constant internet connection and a laptop or smartphone. Most people choose to become digital nomads for positive reasons, including financial independence and a career that allows one to work from anywhere. The downside, however, is that these set of professionals might feel lonely or easily burnt out when they’re constantly connected to the digital ecosystem - a pattern several professionals have been battling with in the last 5 months we’ve been adapting to work from home.

The term Digital Nomad was first-heard in the book by the same name, written by Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners in 1997, however, there’s no evidence to prove that the term was coined here first or pre-existed. Digital nomads are known to adapt to a minimal lifestyle and may also sell a number of possessions in order to travel lighter and be able to move around easily, without baggages, figuratively and literally.

In the pandemic and post-pandemic world, when travel is looking different as per the forecasts and is expected to serve different purposes for everyone, the term “digital nomadism” has been doing the rounds again. Countries, especially those whose economies are heavily-dependent on tourism, are competing for a new generation of remote workers in a bid to ride out the pandemic and make up for lost visitors, by offering sunny beaches, cheap living and low infection rates.

A blog called digitalnomads.com reported in 2017 that Bangkok was a digital nomad hub as it only costs $280 per week to live here.

From Barbados to Estonia, several countries are launching visa regimes aimed at wooing digital nomads to revive their tourism-dependent economies, chasing the sort of people who mix work with travel and can set up shop any place with an internet connection.

Work from Paradise, as Barbados’ 12-month Welcome Stamp Visa boasts, launched in July allowing remote workers to relocate to the Caribbean island for one year.

“Our new... (visa) allows you to ... work from one of the world’s most beloved tourism destinations,” the country’s Prime Minster Mia Mottley wrote in a welcome message on the page.

Even before the pandemic, numbers were growing, with more than 7 million people in the United States calling themselves digital nomads in 2019, up from about 5 million in 2018, according to research from the firm.

Countries launching the new visa regimes hope that luring some of them could help stimulate local economies hit by the new coronavirus and make up for some of the lost tourism.

Digital Nomad Visa

Estonia launched a Digital Nomad Visa last week in an endeavour to boost the country’s credentials as an innovation hub. “The main aim of the programme is to promote Estonia,” Annus told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, explaining the scheme was one of the first in the world to target remote-working employees, as well as freelancers and contractors. The more known Estonia is, the more our companies can export our e-services and more and more people are interested in investing ... and of course ... the more tourists we shall have.”

In Georgia, which also announced plans for a digital nomad visa last month, economy minister Natia Turnava said she hoped to shore up the country’s real estate and hospitality sectors.

“Georgia has an image of a safe country in terms of epidemiological standpoint and we want to use this chance,” the local media reported her saying.

Barbados and the North Atlantic British territory of Bermuda - which launched a Work from Bermuda one-year residential certificate this week - also flaunted their virus credentials.

“No need to be trapped in your apartment in a densely populated city with the accompanying restrictions and high risk of infection,” Bermuda’s premier David Burt wrote online.

“Come spend the year with us working or coding on the water,” they added.

In Bermuda’s Work from Bermuda Certificate Program, visitors only have to show valid healthcare insurance, and pay an online fee of $263. This will allow them to come and work in the country, and leave as often as they like for a year-long period.

Estonia is asking that applicants prove they earn at least 3,504 euro ($4,100) a month, while those moving to the Barbados have to pay a $2,000 fee.

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