Ponta do Sol, in Madeira, hosts what is the first Digital Nomadic Village in Portugal. A pilot project that aims to “create a community of digital nomads”, as the mentor of the idea, Gonçalo Hall, explains to ZAP, also a digital nomad who considers that “Portugal has everything to be the leader”.
The pandemic is giving visibility to the phenomenon of digital nomads, people who work remotely while taking the opportunity to travel and see other places.
To feed this movement, the digital nomad Gonçalo Hall has advanced, in partnership with Startup Madeira and the Regional Government of Madeira, with the project of a Vila Nómada Digital in Ponta do Sol, Madeiran municipality.
There are 60 digital nomads (and another 4200 interested)
Vila Nómada Digital officially started this February and the idea is to “create a community of digital nomads” in an “incredible site”, a “beautiful” village and where the “Internet is very good”, as Gonçalo Hall points out to ZAP.
The project will also end up bringing “a new source of income for local businesses ”, as“ nomads consume much more and for much longer ”than regular tourists, he adds.
It is in this context that the involvement of the Regional Government and the business incubator Startup Madeira is justified.
THE public investment is of the order of 15 thousand euros, according to Gonçalo Hall, but support for the project also includes the granting of the John dos Passos Cultural Center, where digital nomads can work, with free Internet.
“Sometimes, people think it’s a lie that we are offering the space work ”, says the project’s mentor, stressing that“ they usually charge between 150 to 200 euros ”.
Currently, already there are 60 digital nomads installed in Ponta do Sol. Around 250 are living in the whole island. They are mainly foreigners, but there are also some Portuguese who live abroad, according to Gonçalo Hall.
Were it not for the pandemic and the fact that the borders are closed, there would be many more, since there are 4,200 people registered who are interested to stay at Vila Nómada Digital in Madeira.
The project also established partnerships with local accommodation spaces to have “competitive prices” for nomads. But, at this time, “the number of houses on the market is not enough in Ponta do Sol for so many people”, so people have spread across the island, which ends up benefiting the Archipelago as a whole.
Gonçalo Hall and the Regional Government of Madeira are already studying the implantation of another Digital Nomadic Village on the island, probably in Porto Santo.
“Portugal has everything to be the leader in this market”
However, Gonçalo Hall says that it has been “Contacted by several countries” to develop similar projects, but “interestingly, my own country is not one of them”, he laments in declarations to ZAP.
For the digital nomad, this is a “unique opportunity”, because “nomads are very fond of Portugal, for everything, for culture, for time”, he considers.
As an example, Gonçalo Hall notes that on the website Nomadlist.com which includes the ranking of the preferred locations of digital nomads, “Number 1 is almost always Lisbon” and “Ericeira reached number 3 last year”.
At this point, Lisboa actually appears first, the Porto is 10th, the Ericeira is 20th and the Funchal is 45.º. Lagos (86.º) e Thin tip (88.ª) also appear in the list of the 100 most popular places, with Braga comes in 124th place.
Thus, Gonçalo Hall believes that “Portugal has everything to be the leader” of this “new and much more sustainable market” and which, moreover, promotes an “economic impact much more interesting for local economies than mass tourism”. But “a serious strategy is missing”, he stresses.
“The nomad visa was very helpful”
In the post-pandemic, Hall expects a visitor “explosion”s, mainly from North Americans and British who are the “two big markets” of this sector.
About 40% of the 4,200 enrolled in the project are from the USA and the UK and “many people wanted to travel now” to Madeira, but “right now, it’s impossible”, he says.
And if Portugal had a “Specific visa” for digital nomads, as already happens in countries like Croatia and Greece, the limitations of the pandemic could even be overcome.
“The nomad visa was very helpful”, Hall points out, considering that it would facilitate bureaucratic issues, namely for the “legalization” of these remote workers.
The issue of visa renewal it is one of the great difficulties of digital nomads and that Gonçalo Hall himself lived in the skin after going through places like Bali (Thailand), Vietnam, Malaysia, Budapest (Hungary) and Las Palmas (Spain).
“Bali offers a 30-day visa for tourists and then we have to leave and return” and the people can become “illegal” to work from these countries, note.
“The Thai Government has already made some apprehensions and sent people to prison, for one night, because they are working in coworking that they prohibited ”, he adds.
Hall points out that the Regional Government is “receptive” to implementing this type of special visa, but stresses that the issue will have to pass through the central government, where it has not yet found receptivity in this regard.
Being a digital nomad even with children
The phenomenon of digital nomads is usually associated with younger people, but Manuel Manero contradicts this idea. This Marketing professional, trainer and author, confirms to ZAP that “there are many people who live this lifestyle, even having children”.
He himself is the father of two girls, aged 12 and 4, and yet he remains “Part-time nomad”, coordinating trips with academic periods.
Of course with children, “the logistics are much more demanding”, but it would be “nonsense not to know this world where we live”, he stresses.
Manero is a kind of “activist” of digital nomadism and, therefore, is an advocate of this “way of being in life” that goes through “Traveling slowly and not running”, which allows “to know the places and the cultures”.
The author of the book “Entrepreneur as a digital nomad” started in this life 5 years ago after having had “Two business failures” and following a “thirst” to “know the world”.
Whoever dreams of being a digital nomad recommends that they “draw life very well before doing it”, because “Costs money”. “Worse than being a nomad is being a nomad without any resources”, he analyzes, stressing the importance of “making a plan for 90 days or 6 months or a year”.
“Take advantage of remote work to be more free”
The pandemic has thrown many people into the teleworking regime and it is already beginning to speculate what the job market will be like when the covid-19 goes down in history.
It is in this context that the Portuguese Digital Nomadic Collective aims to “empower people who are having teleworking experiences” and “inspire and help businesses to implement flexibility at work ”, as the founder of this group, Diogo Reffóios Cunha, explains to ZAP.
The communications manager and former Big Brother competitor points out that Colectivo brings together a “series of people who are already used to having this flexibility” to share “projects and experiences”. Thus, the idea is to “inspire others to take advantage of remote work to be more free“.
Diogo Reffóios Cunha attests that confinement led many companies to a learning process, where they had to “organize” in terms of the “form of communication between teams” and hierarchies, “who is responsible for what”. Basically, “they had to learn to work remotely“, it says.
The Collective intervenes in this area, but also in order to promote a change in mentalities. For Diogo Reffóios Cunha, companies that are organized according to rigid schedules instead of “objectives” are “Managed by fear”.
These companies have “a the mode of operation similar to that of the agricultural and livestock industries that put animals inside a cabin ”to“ fill them with feed and grow quickly ”, he adds.
A “retrograde” reality, as Diogo Reffóios Cunha says, and that is in countercyclical with the new management paradigms that defend freedom and flexibility of employees as drivers of productivity. To this, the communications manager and other digital nomadism activists add the “dream of traveling and working at the same time”.
Susana Valente, ZAP //