PETALING JAYA: Malaysia has joined the list of countries that issue visas for digital nomads, which aims to foster the mobility of digital professionals within the local tourism industry. This decision was also adopted by Thailand, Estonia, Malta, Croatia, Mexico, Spain and Portugal.
The visa for these travelers is part of the DE Rantau program promoted by the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation Sdn Bhd (MDEC), which started on October 1.
Digital nomads are those who lead nomadic lives while using technology and the internet to work remotely. These people typically do their work in rented premises, hotels, cafes, public libraries, co-working spaces, or RVs/RVs, using Wi-Fi, smartphones, or hotspots mobiles to access the Internet.
While some are perpetual travelers, others are only nomads for a short time. In Malaysia, the program is open to local and foreign digital nomads or remote workers to cultivate a healthy digital ecosystem.
DE Rantau was reported to have received over 2,000 applications within 18 days of the program’s launch and in its first phase, locations such as Penang, Langkawi, Kedah and Kuala Lumpur were named digital nomad hubs.
It was also reported that the program is expected to generate revenue of RM70 billion by 2025 and growth within the digital economy.
Senior researcher at the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research, Dr Shankaran Nambiar, said harnessing the digital nomad sector could be a catalyst for the country to become a hub for the digital economy, especially with the Malaysia’s 5G rollout plan, adding that the move could also facilitate the progress of Industrial Revolution 4.0.
He said digital nomads are a new class of worker that emerged after Covid-19 changed working styles and employees needed to be more flexible to work from home.
“Having more digital nomads in the country would transform Malaysia’s image in the digital world.
“This means that we would be considered a preferred destination for remote workers.
“The program would also increase the diversity of talent within the digital sector, which would help grow the industry in our country.”
He also said the influx of digital nomads into the country would potentially generate growth opportunities in the tourism industry while boosting the economy through their spending, adding that he expects higher demand for “Small Office Home Office” developments, first in digital hubs and later nationwide.
Meanwhile, World Trade Center Kuala Lumpur Group Managing Director Datuk Seri Dr Irmohizam Ibrahim said while the move to facilitate digital nomads will propel Malaysia as a digital economy hub, there are still many to do to raise awareness of local talent and improve infrastructure.
Irmohizam, who is also the conference and exhibition chairman of the World Trade Centers Association headquartered in New York, and a member of the advisory board of the same association, said: “We need to diversify, especially in terms of platforms. form and exposure to prepare the younger generation to face the challenges of globalization and get involved with digital nomads or the digital economy.
“Our infrastructure needs to be upgraded and 5G implementation accelerated so people can enjoy faster internet services.”