Digital Nomads – An Emerging Travel Market for Sri Lanka Tourism
The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the world and our lives significantly and nowhere is this more apparent than in the global tourism industry and in offices worldwide. Tourist destinations worldwide suffered tremendously and the Travel & Tourism sector which contributed 10.4% to global GDP in 2019 dropped to 5.5% in 2020 with nearly 62 million jobs lost across the sector globally (WTTC report). Corporate and other workspaces on the other hand were able to adapt quite quickly to pandemic regulations and literally overnight, applications such as Zoom became mainstream and jobs that require constant time in structured office spaces were allowed to be done remotely with the help of the latest technology.
Digital Nomad Lifestyle – The Perfect Mix of Work & Travel
The culmination of these two shifts in tourism and in workplace attitudes, has given rise to a generation of professionals, who are seeking to pursue their passion for travel whilst keeping their professional commitments. This group of travelers are choosing to work remotely not from the confines of their homes but from exotic destinations all over the world. Major tourist destinations on the other hand who were looking to resurrect their flailing industry, have found a fantastic opportunity to attract visitors who not only want to come to their country but are willing to stay long-term.
Whilst remote working has been a privilege for professionals in certain fields, Digital Nomads are professionals working across the spectrum from Banking and IT to Advertising and HR. Technological advancements have effectively removed logistical barriers enabling workers to perform their tasks and attend meetings from anywhere in the world.
A New Opportunity for Economic Recovery
Many countries that were heavily dependent on tourism, such as Sri Lanka, have been quick to open their borders to this growing segment of tourists. They’ve assisted in local economic recovery by making it easier for these professionals to arrive, live and work from their country and one of the main enablers for Digital Nomads is their Visa category. Whilst historically many pioneering Digital Nomads worked with a Tourist Visa, this is considered illegal in most countries. The pandemic has also made it increasingly difficult to “country hop” safely, therefore making “long stays” much more desirable. The ‘Digital Nomad Visa’ is a specially designed visa which caters to the needs of this growing market, whilst also allowing countries to attract Digital Nomads and any professional freelance workers to stay long term, therefore helping to make up for some of the shortfall in their local economy.
Sri Lanka – The Perfect Destination for Digital Nomads
The main attraction in the Digital Nomad lifestyle is the ability to escape the stresses of modern city life, enjoy the things one would experience during a designated ‘holiday’ whilst also meeting work commitments comfortably.
Each year visitors have flocked in their thousands to Sri Lanka, to enjoy the island’s natural scenic beauty, indulge in mouthwatering cuisine, experience the laidback lifestyle that is lived in Sri Lanka’s rural countryside, visit awe-inspiring archeological sites and immerse in unique cultural experiences. All of this packed into a relatively small island with good tourism infrastructure, good national internet coverage and affordable and safe accommodation options, gives Sri Lanka an added advantage in attracting international tourists looking to combine work and play, in an exotic location, which will keep them interested and entertained for a long period of time.
How to Attract Digital Nomads to your Hotel or Guest-house
Travelers who come to Sri Lanka to combine work with travel will most likely prefer to live and work from tourist hubs such as the popular beaches in Sri Lanka’s coastal belt, iconic regions such as Ella, Sigiriya and Arugambay etc. Digital Nomads will often seek out properties which have:
- A good internet connection
- Back-up power if needed
- Spacious and comfortable working arrangements with good quality seating & workstation
- Enticing remote working conditions – scenic, outdoors, comfortable
- Safe environment
- Friendly service
- Affordable pricing with attractive ‘long-term stay’ rates
- Access to transportation
Digital Nomads are not just “Long Stayers” they have specific needs based on their work commitments, therefore they need to be treated differently. Operators interested in capitalising on this new market should ensure they tailor any marketing material to the specific needs of the audience, highlighting the features and benefits available to them.