PETALING JAYA: Greg Hung (pix), a South African Canadian, has been travelling across Asia for several years now, while keeping a busy work schedule at the same time.
He is one of a growing number of people known as “digital nomads”, who have made full use of modern technology to hold down successful careers while feeding a desire to traverse the globe.
Hung picked up video production after college and eventually grew it into a business.
He then travelled to Taiwan where he learned Mandarin and expanded his business at the same time. His desire to travel eventually took him to Chiang Mai in Thailand where he continued to pursue his video production business.
Efficient internet connection across most parts of the world now has made it possible for people like Hung to visit new places every day without having to compromise on their careers.
Granted, not every person has this option. Only those who have a choice to work remotely, such as freelancers, website developers or e-commerce business owners get to move to a new country every few weeks or months.
Some have even taken the opportunity to contribute to their host countries by getting involved in social activities, such as helping out at soup kitchens.
Hung made his first trip to Malaysia in 2013. “Many of us like it here because the locals speak English. There is a variety of food, accommodation is affordable and comfortable and co-work spaces are easily available,” he told theSun.
In fact, Malaysia has become a popular stopover, especially for digital nomads from the United States and Europe.
The new lifestyle has also spawned new businesses. One is self-storage units for rent to travellers, which are listed on the Storage Cafe website.
A recent survey by Storage Cafe revealed that George Town in Penang has made it to the list of “The 10 Best Destinations for Digital Nomads”, an achievement that the state’s Tourism, Culture, Arts and Heritage Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin was quick to share on his Facebook page.
Digital Nomad Malaysia, a platform inspired to educate and encourage people to take up the lifestyle, said it has seen a 300% increase in viewership since the first movement control order was imposed in March last year.
Co-founder Fiey Saifuddin said Langkawi has also become a hotspot for these travellers, many of whom are attracted by the nature, clean beaches and warm weather of the island.
“Our unique culture and good food also help to draw digital nomads to Malaysia,” she said.
Fiey sees them as a potential target market to drive the travel sector in the country.
“The government and the local communities can work together to drive this segment of the travel sector to help revive the tourism business,” she added.
She said Malaysia could take a leaf out of the Estonian playbook by offering “digital citizenship” to digital nomads.
Many countries have also begun to offer “digital nomad visas” to enable these travellers to stay and work while they are in the country.
Hung believes there is a pent-up demand for travel among digital nomads.