Digital nomads: tourists or emerging professionals? Article by Carmina Crusafon

During the first months of the pandemic, digital nomads they were the protagonists of numerous news. These professionals work remotely from anywhere in the world. Have become a very attractive group for governments and cities. Hence, it is a good time to analyze who they really are, if they should be considered as a new kind of tourists Or better a rising professional profile. Let’s see what the data tells us.

Who are they and what do they do?

According to various studies, digital nomads are young people between 26 and 36 years old who choose a place to work remotely. They choose cities that have good weather, good internet connection, affordable accommodation, and a high level of security. They also seek to be able to work without the ties of traditional offices and are users of the new spaces known as ‘coworking’ and of the activities of the so-called ‘social clubs’. All this with the aim of living new experiences.

The destinations they choose keep changing according to the time of year. To see which are the most requested, there is a portal called Nomadlist that offers these profiles a comparison between the most attractive cities. In mid October, the first five positions are occupied by Lisbon, Porto, Budapest, Canggu and Ericeira. That is, three of the five most preferred are Portuguese towns. Among the Spanish cities Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Barcelona stand out, which are among the 25 with the highest demand.

A whole vocabulary has been created in English related to these types of professionals. They are said to seek to live in ‘colivings’, residences that offer them comforts and good locations. They work in the new professional spaces called ‘coworkings’. And they combine what has been called ‘workation’, which is the sum between work (‘work’) and vacations (‘vacation’). A motto has even been defined to describe their lifestyle: ‘move your desk, change your life’. It would be something like ‘move your desk and your life will change’.

Tourists or professionals?

The number of digital nomads has been growing in the last three years and the pandemic has also favored it. For example, in the United States it went from 7.3 million in 2019 to 10.9 million in 2020. These professionals move all over the world. Some consider them a new class of tourists and others classify them as an emerging professional category. What is certain is that they have become a very interesting market niche for the hotel and restaurant sector in many cities.

There are different actions to promote tourism in search of this type of traveler. The case of the Canary Islands is a good example. His Department of Tourism has undertaken different campaigns to attract this type of professionals so that establish their residence on some of their islands, being Gran Canaria, Tenerife or Lanzarote the most attractive destinations. Also the ’empty Spain’ has initiated a set of actions in search of this group because it sees in them the opportunity to attract new residents and thus reactivate the economy of this area.

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Visas and other incentives

Another additional factor is to offer an economic and fiscal regime favorable to your lifestyle. Several European countries are offering special visas for digital nomads. The programs of Estonia, Germany, Portugal or Croatia stand out. In the Spanish case, the new startup law provides for special actions to attract these professionals and facilitate their residency. Apart from the bureaucracy of the paperwork, tax and tax advantages are decisive elements for choice. The advantages of Estonia are difficult to find in other European destinations. Hence, it is not only about offering good weather and gastronomy, but attractive taxation is also an essential factor in attracting these professionals. It’s not just about selling sun and sand, but money is still a deciding factor. Let us take note in the case of our country.

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