Government could soon be introducing a 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp to allow visitors the option of working remotely from the island for a year at a time.
This disclosure was made by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, who explained that the idea was to attract business travellers, as efforts are made to reboot the country’s main industry following its three-month shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We came up with a concept and it is being refined now as ‘12-Month Barbados Welcome Stamp’. This will allow people from the United States, Europe and Latin America to come and do their jobs digitally for a couple of months and then go back home, if they feel they can work better in a more relaxed atmosphere such as next to a beach,” the Prime Minister said at the official reopening of Primo Bar and Bistro, St Lawrence Gap, Christ Church, last night.
“Government is committed to working with you on the promotion of new concepts like the 12-Month Barbados Welcome Stamp, being able to open our borders to persons travelling and making it as hospitable as ever for all of us, and making it available for Barbadians from every walk of life to believe that for special occasions, or just for so, that they can come out and be a part of this wonderful exercise.”
However, she stressed, “in order for those things to truly resonate… it means that what we offer has to be world-class and what we continue to offer is world-class”.
Mottley highlighted the need for Barbados, as a mature tourist destination, to rise to the occasion.
“We must remember the first tourist is a Bajan, and if we can create products people are proud of, if cooks and waiters work with a ‘pep in their step’ and patrons enjoy what they serve, you will spend less and less on advertising, because once you keep these standards up, the repeat factor will continue to pay off for us,” she contended.
The Prime Minister added that following visits to St Lawrence Gap over the past week, tourism officials will also be visiting other areas such as Oistins, Speightstown, Holetown and Baxter’s Road to meet with residents and businesses about enhancing the product offerings there.
“Why? The people who must keep these towns alive are not just those who come from overseas, as we are learning with COVID, but those who live here and who have a responsibility to make sure that this is the best that can be offered in this part of the world,” she explained.
Minister of Tourism and International Transport Kerrie Symmonds spoke of some of the changes he wanted to see in St Lawrence Gap, a traditional tourist hotspot which has lost some of its flair in recent times.
“We can’t be a post-COVID Barbados with the same problems as the pre-COVID Barbados, so we want to fix the Gap to make it as attractive as possible, to make sure the experience is full of excitement, that it is a place we can comfortably come to stay, eat and play – and that is how we want to rebrand it,” he said.
Meantime, Prime Minister Mottley commended the new owners of Primo Bar and Bistro for reopening the restaurant which was abruptly closed by the previous owners in March this year.
“This site says many things. It defines the Barbadian spirit, that we shall not be kept down by this pandemic, and this restaurant is a sign that we plan to enhance the offerings of our nation by blending creativity and capital,” she said.
Mark Maloney, one of the owners of the establishment, said he believed the restaurant business would be a significant contributor to Barbados’ efforts to jumpstart its economy.
“I decided this would be a good investment for Barbados, not only for staff, customers and produce and service providers, but also, very importantly, for the country as a whole,” he said.
“I want the Barbados restaurant sector to bounce back even better than before, and I would like to double the workforce of Primo…. This is the spirit we should be adopting in the post-COVID world.”