Yes, remote workers have finally got a break with Indonesia’s announcement of a visa specifically for the digital nomad crowd. In the post-Covid world, with world office and work habits going through such profound changes, the option for a digital nomad visa, where remote workers could work in a south East Asian resort location rather than a dank office, will be very appealing. Indonesia, particularly Bali, will be huge beneficiaries by coming up with a targeted remote work visa first.
Thailand, on the other hand, has the Smart Visa, but remains very targeted with quite onerous conditions to obtain them. Otherwise, it is very difficult for a working person to come to Thailand, mid to long term, and enjoy an alternative work life. Will Thai immigration follow suit and come up with a competitive product? History would suggest they are reluctant to allow foreigners to stay in Thailand long term without income guarantees and lots of paperwork.
As the world begins to re-open following the Covid-19 pandemic, Indonesia has ramped up efforts to attract higher-spending visitors, including remote workers. Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno says Indonesia is launching a 5 year “digital nomad” visa, as well as focusing on “spiritual holidays, sporting events and ecological tourism”.
He believes these efforts will attract 3.6 million overseas visitors to the country’s islands, now that the world is re-opening. The Minister says reviving tourism in this way should create more than a million Indonesian jobs.
“We’re moving it to serenity, spirituality, and sustainability. This way we’re getting better quality and better impact to the local economy.”
Indonesia has now dropped most of its entry restrictions, with fully-vaccinated travellers able to enter the country without any testing or quarantine requirements. Covid-19 numbers continue to remain low and booster vaccine doses continue to be administered. In April of this year, tourist numbers increased by 500% to 111,000. This is the highest monthly figure for Indonesia since the start of the pandemic.
With international companies such as Twitter and Airbnb allowing their employees to work from anywhere in the world, officials in Indonesia hope that the increase in flights and more streamlined visa processing will attract more remote workers to the archipelago. According to Uno, a recent survey of digital nomads found that 95% favour Indonesia – Bali, in particular – as a base.
The Indonesian government has been considering the introduction of a digital nomad visa since early 2021. However, recurring Covid-19 outbreaks, resulting in flight suspensions and border closures, meant the plan was delayed. Uno says the new digital nomad visa will allow foreign workers to stay in the country for up to 5 years without paying taxes, provided their income is not earned in Indonesia.
“Now with the pandemic handled and all the ministries getting involved and cooperating from the health side to the immigration office, we believe that this is an opportune time to relaunch this idea.”
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