With the relentless advancements in technology constantly churning out new and better innovations, the future job market will look markedly different from the one we know today. Able to transcend borders with ease, digital technology continues to change the way people work, compelling countries to compete for the best and the brightest talents to drive their business strategies and innovations. In the future of work, the most highly sought-after individuals will be in a position to demand that the countries competing for their talent offer an attractive work-life balance.

This already changing landscape has been driven forward by the Covid-19 pandemic which spurred the trend of “working from anywhere” and the “workation” phenomenon among global talents as social distancing regulations forced staff to work remotely.

In line with Thailand’s increased efforts to propel the country’s economic transition towards greater adoption of Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies, the Thai cabinet in mid-September agreed in principle to improve the incentives it is offering to attract international talents with a focus on highly-skilled specialists and globetrotting professionals.

The plan, which is under the cabinet’s consideration, includes offering 10-year long-term resident visas to eligible persons and their families together with privileges such as work permits that are available automatically upon visa approval. The targeted talents will be eligible to pay personal income tax in Thailand at the same progressive rate as Thai nationals, while also being exempt from tax on income from foreign countries. In addition, they will be afforded property ownership rights and the right to pay personal income tax at a fixed rate on income derived from local sources.

The long-stay visa for highly-skilled professionals is aimed at attracting those who will enter Thailand to work in targeted industries, as identified by a law enacted in 2017 which focuses on enhancing the competitiveness of those targeted industries. Such industries include: 1) agriculture and biotechnology; 2) aviation and logistics; 3) affluent and wellness tourism; 4) next-generation automotive; 5) bio-fuels and biochemicals; 6) medical and comprehensive healthcare; 7) intelligent electronics; 8) circular economy; 9) automation and robotics; 10) digital; 11) food for the future; 12) defense; and 13) human resources development and R&D.

The second group of targeted talents are the so-called ‘digital nomads’, and employees under corporate retirement programs who are seeking a location for working remotely while enriching their life experience and creativity through travelling.

Thailand is well-positioned to benefit from the growing population of digital nomads worldwide. Meeting their needs of a “location-independent and technology-enabled” lifestyle, Thailand is equipped with high-quality digital infrastructure while also offering attractive travel opportunities through its famed tourism destinations. Thailand’s initiative of easing its long-term stay visa rule is in line with a study by Airbnb1, released in May 2021, which found that people are looking for new places to travel, partly driven by the Covid-19 pandemic which has forced them to move away from urban areas. More importantly, the study which was based on the Airbnb platform, showed that travelers were staying longer in those places. Average stays of at least 28 nights recorded in Q1 2021 were double the 14 nights typically booked in 2019. The study also showed that 47% of visitors say relationship with the locals matter when planning their travel, against only 27% who placed no importance on such relationships.

The Holidu2 travel website ranked Bangkok as the best city out of 147 countries worldwide for a workation, while Phuket came in at 10th place. These rankings take into consideration factors such as the speed and availability of wi-fi, facilities for international entrepreneurs, the cost of living and tourist attractions.

1 https://news.airbnb.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2021/05/Airbnb-Report-on-Travel-Living.pdf
2 https://www.holidu.co.uk/magazine/the-best-cities-for-a-workation

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