Stories by Kareem Smith
In just two months, Government has raised over $1 million in revenue from the Barbados Welcome Stamp visa as it prepares for a “second wave” of applicants from countries crippled by the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
That disclosure came today from Minister of Tourism Senator Lisa Cummins who said that companies, student groups and other organisations have been taking up the offer en masse.
During a webinar hosted by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), she explained that the offer is even more attractive as some countries grapple with their second and third waves of the virus.
“We have been seeing active engagement on our social media sites in excess of 8 million hits, and we have already hit the $1 million mark in terms of those persons who are actually now beginning to have payments processed into Barbados.
That will translate into individuals and companies and so on. So, we are climbing and we are now putting measures in place to roll out the second wave of the Welcome Stamp initiative,” Cummins disclosed.
“We have been working with all of our partners to ensure that we have all of the infrastructure, resources and facilitation at our disposal, allowing persons to be able to get the economies all around the world going again, and to be able to do so from the safety of a jurisdiction like Barbados.”
The visa is open to applicants worldwide, for a payment of US $2 000 per person, or US $3 000 per family.
To qualify, applicants must earn at least £39 760 (US$50 000) per year, and have health insurance in place.
“We are seeing students and companies have been making contact with us, particularly those companies that are major extraction-based companies whose employees are working remotely and their families are with them and are unable to go home because the countries that they come from are now in their second or third waves [of COVID-19],” the Tourism Minister explained.
“They’ve been in the country that they are based in for a very long time, they want to give people a mental health break, and they are saying ‘would you be willing to let our families come to Barbados and stay there while their relative or primary caregiver is working remotely in another jurisdiction?’ And we are saying ‘absolutely, you can come and we will facilitate that’.
“So, we are seeing the students, digital nomads, and the companies, and we are also seeing a lot of techies expressing an interest in working here as well,” she added.
Senator Cummins also responded to questions about the impact of Governor General Dame Sandra Mason’s Throne Speech, particularly Barbados’ transition to a republic, on visitors’ view of the country.
She said the announcement augurs well for the perception of a contemporary Barbadian society which is pushing toward an image of authenticity.
“We have spoken a lot about the colonial period, the post-colonial period, the independence period and the post-independence period, and now we are in what I call the latest stage of our development as a civilization, and I really would want to ensure that as we speak about issues specific to our colonial past . . . we now have to come to a phase where many of our children, for whom the British Monarchy is a distant part of their consciousness, it probably doesn’t even register for them,” Cummins stressed.
“They do recognize that we have the first female Prime Minister, the second female Governor General, we have strong, powerful and iconic figures that represent Barbados and Caribbean civilization, and they see no reason why they cannot ascend to the highest office.
“And I think that part of our identity is a critical part of our development and our civilization and it actually has to be a part of what we sell as Caribbean authenticity, Barbadian authenticity in this case, to the visitors who come to this country.
“We are a people who have evolved from a past and this is where we are now and this is where we are going and this is what the republic question means for me as a Tourism Minister,” she declared.