Posted: Jul 20, 2020
For the millions of workers stuck at home through the coronavirus pandemic, the idea of moving to a Caribbean island for a year sounds like a dream.
But now it could become a reality.
Barbados is planning to introduce a 12-month visa that would allow remote workers to swap cramped city apartments for the island’s white sandy beaches, blue sea and year-round sunshine.
The scheme, known as the “Barbados Welcome Stamp”, is due to be launched in August and will be open to anyone earning more than $50,000. The scheme is designed to provide a much-needed boost to the island’s tourist-dependent economy while capitalizing on the shift in work patterns driven by the coronavirus pandemic.
Image: Mia Mottley, Barbados' prime minister, speaks during the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York.
Mia Mottley, Barbados' prime minister, speaks during the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York in 2019. Kevin Hagen / Bloomberg via Getty Images file
“There's nothing like waking up and seeing the sunshine. And there's nothing like being able to work and go for a sea bath and come back and put in the second shift of work,” Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley told NBC News. “You can do all of that, while still being able to do the things that you're doing in London or New York,” she added.
Tourism makes up 40 percent of Barbados' economy, employing 26,000 people according to the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association. Mottley said unemployment had “virtually trebeled” during the pandemic, leading to a 31 percent decline in government revenue.
“Obviously, short-term travel came to a halt in March for us. We will continue to see the decline,” she said.
“We felt that perhaps the better thing for us to do is to open up our travel opportunities for people who wanted to stay longer, and wanted to be able to work from elsewhere, particularly with the technological platforms that afford that opportunity to us now.”
The Barbados Welcome Stamp would give visitors the right to work in the country for up to a year, regardless of where their employer is based. It’s expected to cost $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a family visa — irrespective of how many children that family has. Participants in the scheme will be required to take out health insurance.
By Laura Hendry
July 18, 2020
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