Chiang Mai University Digital Nomad Economic Impact Study


Short-term and extended care facilities in the Chiang Mai area providing first-class service at surprisingly affordable prices.

A Local Initiative

The study is tentatively titled: The Growth of Chiang Mai as the World’s Largest Digital Nomad Hub: Implications for the Tourism Sector


It has been estimated that by 2035, there may be as many as 1 billion Digital Nomads globally. At the present time, Chiang Mai is considered to have the largest concentration of Digital Nomads in the world.

The mission of the Supply Chain Economics Research Centre (SCERC) at Chiang Mai University is to conduct high impact research on supply chains using rigorous economics methods focusing on theoretical work (e.g., New Institutional Economics and Supply Chain Management), analytical methods (e.g., Game Theory) and empirical studies (e.g., Econometrics and Multivariate statistics). The substantive area of expertise at SCERC has been the tourism sector and the present research proposes to contribute to this research.

Within the broader range of tourist typologies, there has recently emerged a new, distinct and rapidly growing demographic – Digital Nomads. The term Digital Nomad refers to a person who leverages internet technology to work while traveling. Most Digital Nomads are business owners or freelance contractors, with a few “satellite employees” who are able to fit the requirements. Digital Nomads tend to stay for longer periods in one place than regular tourists and they exhibit a range of consumer purchasing behaviors that are distinct from more traditional tourists. As such, the economic impact from this cohort is worthy of serious academic inquiry.

With a focus on the Chiang Mai municipal region as the primary geographic locus of study, this research will investigate [1] the many motivations that spur Digital Nomads to pursue this life/work practice, [2] the myriad factors that draw them to Chiang Mai, [3] the typical spending habits of Digital Nomads vis-a-vis those of the broader tourist population (including lodging, transport, food, extracurriculars, etc.), [4] alternative estimates for projected revenue accruing from Digital Nomads in coming years based upon estimated numbers as well as different policy considerations, [5] the social, political and economic implications this has for other potential Digital Nomad Hubs, and, along these lines [6] a possible set of best practices for the sustainable growth of Digital Nomad Hubs globally.

Project Description

The proposed research will gather pertinent data concerning the outgrowth of Chiang Mai as a Digital Nomad Hub within the broader context of the Tourism Industry more generally and with specific focus on local and regional impact. To this end, appropriate survey and interview data will be collected and a literature review will be conducted.

From this, a Digital Nomad Profile Matrix with various typologies will be established. Comparative data will be collected from alternate Digital Nomad Hubs. Key regional stakeholders will be interviewed. Future revenue projections will be estimated based upon various alternative policy scenarios. Finally, a set of policies and practices will be recommended.
This research will be conducted over a 4 to 6-month period beginning in March, 2016.


Stated below (given the present legal parameters regarding Digital Nomads in the Kingdom) is the privacy caveat pertaining to this research:

When you participate in this survey, you can be assured that we will protect your privacy. This means that:

  1. Your personally identifiable information that you provide to us (e-mail, if provided) will be treated as confidential information.
  2. In addition to keeping your personal information confidential, we will never sell, share, rent or otherwise intentionally transfer your information to any of our personal contacts, such as our clients, other market research companies, direct marketing companies or anyone else.
  3. We will never sell your personally identifiable data (e-mail, if provided) to anyone. That is not what we do. We are not telemarketers or direct marketers. We are a group of researchers interested in trends and behaviors of a growing segment of tourists that should be dealt with and accommodated uniquely in accordance with their specific behaviors.