PM: Chiang Mai could be digital hub
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PM: Chiang Mai could be digital hub

Northern city is a digital nomad paradse, Srettha says on tour to talk up tourism

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin gives a speech at the opening of a tourism event during his visit to Chiang Mai on Saturday. (Photo: Thai Khu Fah Facebook)
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin gives a speech at the opening of a tourism event during his visit to Chiang Mai on Saturday. (Photo: Thai Khu Fah Facebook)

Chiang Mai has the potential to become a digital startup hub in Southeast Asia, and the government will support the province to achieve that goal, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said during a visit to the northern province on Saturday.

Mr Srettha described Chiang Mai city as an established digital nomad paradise and one of the world’s best creative cities.

“Late last year, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, told me that Thailand was home to more than 300,000 application developers from all over the world, which made it the second largest in Southeast Asia,” said Mr Srettha.

Chiang Mai province is also among the world’s top 10 destinations for digital nomads, with 5,000 of these professionals in the country doing business there, he said.

The cabinet this week approved significant changes to visa rules, including a new Destination Thailand Visa that targets digital nomads, remote workers and freelancers, as well as those who want to learn muay Thai and Thai cuisine. The multiple-entry visa would be valid for five years and could be used for stays of up to 180 days, with the possibility to extend for a further 180 days.

Previously, qualified digital nomads could only work in the country for a total of 60 days before they would have to leave and reapply.

While the government is committed to enhancing the digital knowledge and skills of the country’s workforce, Mr Srettha said, he would like to see an Apple developer academy established in Chiang Mai.

To improve the ecosystem to better serve the development of digital startups, the PM said the government is committed to finding more matching funds for them, allocating money to support new and existing startups, amending laws to enable their development and organising events such as hackathons.

Meanwhile, Mr Srettha told the Ministry of Tourism and Sports to host discussions on how to revive the Baan Tawai handicraft art centre and make it one of the province’s best-known tourist attractions once again.

The centre was hurt by the Covid-19 pandemic and has yet to recover since then.

Centre staff have asked the premier to find new prospective buyers for their work and additional funds to improve the landscape.

Mr Srettha promised them that in the fourth quarter of this year, the government will hold tourism promotion events in Chiang Mai, aimed at attracting more Thai and international tourists to the province.

In other news, Mr Srettha kicked off the government’s new tourism promotion campaign for 55 more cities in the country touted as “ideal destinations” beyond Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Pattaya.

For example, tourists may extend their stay if they are interested in travelling to Lamphun, Lampang and Phrae while they are in Thailand, he said.

The longer they stay in the country, the more they will spend, he said.

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