Destinations have the chance to speed up recovery by attracting highly paid remote workers as the work-from-home movement looks like it is here to stay. In the absence of traditional business travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic, destinations could recover these losses by attracting this new kind of digitally-focused business traveller.
The Covid-19 pandemic has shown how employees can effectively work from home- and has left questions around if office attendance should be mandatory. Consumer appetite to return to the office full-time is low. According to a Verdict community survey*, 22% of respondents ‘never’ want to return to the office again. 9% wish to return monthly and 14% only when management asks. This shows the shift in attitudes towards enduring a long commute and a standard office day.
Specialist visas are the key to attracting digital nomads
With an estimated 4.8 million digital nomad workers at present, alongside 17 million individuals aspiring to be digital nomads according to MBO Partners, there is a large opportunity for destinations to take advantage. Remote workers grounded by the Covid-19 pandemic will have the urge to travel and would have been able to save over the past year whilst they have been unable to do so.
Specialist digital nomad visas are an easy tactic to attract this kind of traveller. Usually, exempting the individual from paying income taxes for the duration of the visa will attract working travellers from countries with high taxation rates and leave a higher amount of disposable income to spend on tourism amenities at the destination. Many digital nomad visas also require a certain minimum income level, which is usually much higher than the average income level for many nations. For example, Dominica has recently introduced a visa that requires a minimum yearly income of $50,000 to ensure that these new business travellers will spend big and help to boost its economy. This is important for destinations that have suffered from a lack of visitation and inbound spending over the past year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Requirements of the visa also often include a minimum coverage on medical insurance, further affirming that they are financially independent and will not be an economic burden.
Destinations must adapt to this kind of traveller
Digital nomad destinations are frequently remote islands, boasting an idyllic workspace complete with sandy beaches and a different way of living. For example, the Caribbean has multiple destinations which actively attract this kind of traveller. However, remote island destinations may suffer regarding connecting travellers to the internet. Poor connection facilities could be an obstacle for digital nomads as the premise of this concept relies on a strong and reliable internet connection. To ensure increased nomadic visitation, destinations should invest highly in technology and adequate networks to ensure uptake on nomad visas and encourage long-term visits.
The number of medium-to-long-term holiday rentals must also be adapted for these travellers. Hotels suited for holidaymakers will incur too large of a cost for the traveller, who will want to spend at least one month at a destination. Governments and tourism officials should be encouraging locals and other stakeholders to make use of Airbnb and other medium-to-long-term accommodation providers and companies as this will help to grow capacity for longer-term stays, attracting more high-value tourists in the process.
*Verdict community survey live as of 22/3/21 with 1,562 respondents.