Digital nomadism as a new part of the visitor economy: The case of the “digital nomad capital” Chiang Mai, Thailand

Jan 19th, 2024 | By | Category: RSS Feed

Abstract

Digital nomadism allows individuals to travel worldwide while using various forms of information technology (IT) to work digitally. Places like Chiang Mai, Thailand, and Canggu, Bali/Indonesia, have gained popularity among digital nomads in the past decade. In contributing to the economies of local communities, these nomads, with their unique characteristics, are an interesting, new visitor type. Governments worldwide are starting to recognise the potential of digital nomadism to improve local visitor economies. However, the impacts of digital nomadism on local communities, their culture and economies, are not without challenges and require further understanding. Almost all existing studies on digital nomadism focus on the nomads themselves, while, in this study, we take the perspective of the locals visited by digital nomads. Using the case study of Chiang Mai, the “digital nomad capital”, we answer the following research questions: What are the impacts of digital nomadism on local communities? How do digital nomads compare to other visitor types within the visitor economy of a local community? Our findings reveal diverse socio-cultural, economic and technological impacts and how locals in Chiang Mai evaluate digital nomads differently compared to other types of visitors. This research, grounded in an in-depth case study, contributes to a better understanding of digital nomadism by offering new knowledge about its ambivalent impacts on local communities. We also discuss contributions to the wider literature and implications for policy.

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