Of all the industries that have been impacted by the onset of this global pandemic, the tourism and hospitality industries are the most affected with almost hundreds of thousands of layoffs happening by the summer of 2020. Even though a lot of places like Japan and North East India have expressed their views on opening up a rewards program for their tourists, Maldives is the first country to actually launch such a program as of December 1st.
The Maldives Immigration body’s initiative, “Maldives Border Miles”, gives loyalty points to their visitors. It’s no secret that the Maldives is an expensive destination so when loyalty points offer an extra few days’ stay or an upgrade to better rooms at certain resorts it becomes clear how tempting it may be to return to the island as a frequent leisure destination rather than treating it as a once in a lifetime luxury.
Most resorts are adopting this loyalty rewards program as a “workation” offer. So, they are offering premier, luxury villas and suits to their long staying guests so that they can set up their workspaces and offices. This is garnering much traction from the digital nomad community and only time will tell if the island nation becomes a digital nomad hotspot.
The Vakkaru Resort in Maldives, located on the Baa Atoll biosphere reserve, is offering its guests a “work well” package that, as the name suggests, pairs working with wellness. The long staying guests at this resort will be given a “Vacay PA” as a part of their package and that will handle various mundane tasks for the guest. The personal assistants will print out documents, arrange meetings and even shift the office space to something they call an “Ocean Office” if the guest fancies a scenic view when they look up from their PC screens.
If a whole team is put up at this resort, the package allows them a “Beach Boardroom” setting where tables and chairs will be set up on the beach. The team can have their meetings barefoot, in their beach linens and feel the cool waves under their feet. If this does not entice a digital nomad then we do not know what will!
Maldives is moving ahead with the times. They are creating industry leading value for people who do not keep work and travel mutually exclusive.
Off the eastern coast of India is Sri Lanka, another tiny island making big moves. Adorned with beautiful blue oceans, dense forests, mountains and magical waterfalls, this beautiful island offers a so much to explore before even diving into its rich and ancient history. Deemed the “world’s best island” by Lonely Planet, Sri Lanka has all the parameters that will make it ideal as a digital nomad hub for the year 2021.
Sri Lanka, despite being so beautiful and culturally rich, has had its ups and downs in terms of tourism. The Easter attacks of 2019, and of course, COVID 19 have seen its tourism take big hits. For the time being, any nomads in the country may be able to enjoy the peace and comfort of being one of the only foreigners in their cafe of choice, but that may be short lived.
Sri Lanka has something for everyone. Be it natural parks, deep sea diving or wildlife safaris, Sri Lanka can consistently give you a new experience every day for far longer than most people’s visas will allow them to stay. So after the 9 to 5 duties, anyone can unwind and relax at their place of choice or even just take a stroll along the picturesque beaches.
Budget and expenses seem to be one of the most important deciding factors for digital nomads to pick their next home and rest assured that Sri Lanka is one of the most affordable places that anyone can work from. If you’ve ever known someone that has tried working out of Sri Lanka you’ve probably heard that they spent about only $25 every day including food, activities and lodging.
Sri Lanka does have some network connectivity issues. The Wi-Fi connections are not always fast and steady but to make up for that, they offer some brilliant mobile data packages. You will be spoilt for choice when picking up a SIM and they cost less than $20 every month. Then you can have fairly good internet speeds throughout the island, wherever you choose to go. That being said, there are some places in Sri Lanka with a steady internet connectivity and are coming up as possible digital nomad hotspots.
Colombo is hands down the best location for a digital nomad. The scenic beauty teamed with trendy cafes, infrastructure and good connectivity makes it an ideal hotspot. A lot of other locations like Negombo, Nuwara Eliya and Ella have scattered bars, cafes and libraries with amazing amenities.
Maldives and Sri Lanka are in great company in the Indian Ocean. Just off the east coast of Africa, Mauritius, is also opening its doors to digital nomads working remotely.
It’s easy to miss the azure skies and oceans and the beautiful island life and culture of Mauritius but if you’ve ever been, it’s safe to say the island misses you too! Mauritius has commenced a one year premium visa program for digital nomads so that they can live and work near the beautiful Mauritian beaches. The main criteria for the applicants of the program are:
- Applicants should not enter the Mauritius Labour market;
- The main place of business and source of income and profits should be outside Mauritius;
- Proof of sufficient travel and health insurance
- Documentary evidence to support application such as purpose of visit, accommodation etc.
The people of Mauritius are very friendly welcoming and come from a diverse patchwork of backgrounds with ancestry from India, Madagascar, East Africa, China and France. After work you can try out the innumerable activities like snorkelling, paragliding at cetera or have a quiet soiree with your co-nomads and the islanders.
Top it all off, Mauritius is one of the safest countries for traveling as far as COVID-19 concerns. The coronavirus infection rate is not just low but the government has worked smartly for its overall abatement. So if you are thinking of shifting base to a quieter and serene environment then Mauritius is your destination!