President of the Barbados Economic Society (BES) Simon Naitram has described Government’s 12-Month Barbados Welcome Stamp initiative as a step in the right direction.
But he raised concern that it was too restrictive and would not create much trickle-down effect.
“I do think it is a good first step. I think it is a step in the right direction. You are creating a longer lasting more embedded type of tourists,” said Naitram.
“My concern with it is the high level of restrictions that have been imposed on this remote visa. That will almost effectively ensure that it is only rich people who come.”
The new work visa is targeting individuals from around the world who earn at least $100,000 (US$50,000) annually, to come to Bridgetown and work remotely for up to a year.
The individual is to also be the holder of a valid health insurance for the period for which the Stamp was granted.
The fee for the grant of a Stamp is $4,000 for individuals and $6,000 for a family.
Insisting that it would only attract the “rich”, Naitram suggested that the programme could be tweaked to encourage more community type tourism.
He said: “When rich people come they stay in high-end hotels, in high-end villas and eat at high-end restaurants. They don’t embed themselves in the heart of the Barbadian economy and broadly spread the benefits. You end up with the same people who benefit from our existing tourism industry benefitting from this again and it is not the average Barbadian broadly.
“But I do think this is a good direction. We can continue to think about how we push it further in that direction in terms of a life-style model of tourism.”