The coronavirus outbreak has raised the appeal of remote work, and if Thailand wants to attract the highest-paid digital employees to help build the economy, it must legalize the practice.
People in some regions of the world are abandoning their offices to work from home, cafes, and beaches, or wherever an internet connection is available.
As a result, many of them will or already are digital nomads, persons who live a wandering lifestyle while working from a remote place. Some work for their employers on long-term contracts, while others work on a freelance basis. These employees, many of whom are from rich countries, are flocking to vacation destinations.
Thailand’s government and corporate sector have invested in infrastructure such as stable high-speed internet, co-working spaces, and digital commerce promotion systems in order to entice digital nomads to stay and work in major cities like Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and Phuket.
Digital nomads have contributed to the local economy in Chiang Mai, according to research issued in 2019 by the Faculty of Economics at Chiang Mai University’s Chiang Mai Entrepreneurship Association (CMEA).
Because of its digital and commercial infrastructure, affordable housing and working space, and burgeoning digital nomad communities, Chiang Mai has become a favored destination for digital nomads since 2017.
Each spent 35,000 baht per month on expenses, 200,000 baht per year on tourism activities, 15,000 baht per month on lodging, and 5,000-10,000 baht per month on meals, according to the survey.
Thai visa and work permit rules, on the other hand, are said to be a disincentive that can push digital nomads away. According to the article, a digital nomad must pay an agent 60,000 baht to obtain a visa.
Because there are no restrictions for digital nomads, they exist in a gray area. Short-term visas are required for digital nomads working for organizations that do not have a presence in Thailand.
Because short-term visas, such as tourist visas, seldom allow holders to work or earn an income while in Thailand, digital nomads do not pay taxes or have social rights.
Bangkok was ranked poorly in a recent study report by WorkMotion, a human resources platform for hiring remote employees, due to a lack of employment compliance.
The capital city was ranked 68th out of 80 global cities in a research released earlier this month, with Melbourne, Montreal, Sydney, and Wellington taking the top four slots.