Reconceptualising the potential of digital nomads to transform community based and sustainable tourism

Betre, Helina K.
Digital nomadism is a growing phenomenon within the travel sector in many countries. During the Covid 19 pandemic, numerous destinations have focused on attracting emerging remote workers and digital nomads. Although there is no universal definition for digital nomads, most studies highlight key characteristics, including adeptness with remote technology, mobility, lifestyle and self-fulfilment and identity. Sustainable tourism and community based tourism is a form of tourism that aims to provide tourism service by aligning with sustainability which consists of economic, socio-cultural and environmental pillars. The aim of this study is to determine if there is interaction between the two phenomena as digital nomads are predicted to grow. This research also thrives to determine how digital nomads challenge the host-guest duality norms and how this affects their integration. This research was complex and multilayered. Ergo qualitative research approach was utilised to supply and demand interact with each other. The results suggest that digital nomads have been participating in sustainable tourism accommodations, but also as other forms of long term travellers and short term tourists. Sustainable accommodations within urban cities have experienced them while projects based in more remote communities experienced them as other forms of travellers. The findings suggest that digital nomads and these organisations are connected within three themes: motivation and values; culture and authenticity; and government and partnerships. There is potential for both groups to connect together by building awareness of digital nomads participation towards sustainable tourism establishments and facilitating to grow their participation within destinations. Governments, networks and associations can assist in creating collaboration and knowledge sharing to embrace the new wave of travellers. They also need to reevaluate the definitions of tourists and begin to evaluate their importance of long term travellers beyond economic gains. More research has to be done to understand the role of digital nomads' economic capability, motivation in terms of culture and authenticity, and potential support of sustainability related projects and build better resilience for future tourism crises ​
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