Greece could benefit to the tune of 1.6 billion euros a year by competing for a fair share of the estimated 4 million digital nomads around the world, an online conference in Athens has heard.
With teleworking becoming the norm in many economies, competition between countries to attract digital workers – a fast growing, profitable market that offers many benefits to local economies and technological ecosystems – is increasing.
Hosted by the Delphi Economic Forum on February 23, the “Greece: Competing for Global Talent” digital event sought to highlight the extensive reforms taken by the Greek government to attract new types of entrepreneurs – teleworkers in particular – to the country.
The government is “reducing taxes and providing the right incentives for people to come to Greece to invest and start companies,” Alex Patelis, chief economic adviser to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, told the online conference, pointing to the 150 bills prepared by the government that address issues ranging from higher education to the labor market and taxation.
Inviting those who left the country during the financial crisis of the 2010s to return, Patelis said: “We want you back. Open offices, set up companies or move a part of your company to Greece. We have the sun, the technology and we are at your side.”
Opportunities exist throughout the country, not only in Athens, he continued, pointing to the creation of the Pfizer digital hub in Thessaloniki.
Brexit provided another opportunity for Greece to benefit by encouraging companies to geographically diversify some of their operations to Greece, Pantelis added.
With an estimated four million digital nomads around the world, Tourism Minister Haris Theoharis said the pandemic had accelerated the trend.
“Working from home is now part of our daily lives, and many businesses have invested in connectivity and integrating people remotely who are not in the same location,” he said, adding that businesspeople, retirees and also families are looking into establishing their tax base in Greece.
The country’s roll out of 5G will boost connectivity, even in the most remote locations, he said. On top of the government’s tax incentives to attract digital nomads, Greece offers a contemporary and an ancient culture, offering a wealth of opportunities for fun and relaxation for digital nomads.
Were Greece to attract just 100,000 (2.5 percent) of the world’s 4 million digital nomads in a year, the country’s revenue would benefit by 1.6 billion, he added, citing research findings from MIT.
Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that the government’s efforts to promote Covid-19 vaccination certificates “would give impetus to the tourism that we want to be done safely and as soon as possible.”
He said that Greece has “benefited greatly” from the EU’s 750-billion-euro recovery package.
“From the package, the country has at its disposal 32 billion euros in subsidies and loans and an additional 41 billion from the multi-annual financial framework to be utilized in the next three and seven years, respectively, so that we can really bring balanced and substantial growth.”
New services, such as business and student visas, have already been introduced, while the government has embarked on the creation of a “complete, digitized process for attracting workers and digital nomads to Greece,” particularly now that the Brexit process has been completed and people are deciding to leave the UK and look for a job.
This article first appeared in Greece Is (www.greece-is.com), a Kathimerini publishing initiative.