by Marlon Madden
The northern parish of St James is currently the preferred location for individuals taking advantage of the 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp initiative.
Moreover, an analysis of the scheme by leading real estate agency Terra Caribbean, showed that 41.4 per cent of those taking advantage of the scheme, budgeted between US$2,500 and US$5,000 for rent and have shown preference for renting a house (46 per cent).
Locations by descending order of most preferred were St James (36 per cent), St Peter (29 per cent), Christ Church (22 per cent), St Michael (eight per cent), St Thomas and St Philip (two per cent each) and St George (one per cent).
The research showed that 30.7 per cent of the visiting workers budgeted between US$1,250 and US$2,500 for rent; 20 per cent had between US$5,000 and US$10,000, while 4.9 per cent were budgeting up to US$1,250; 1.6 per cent between US$10,000 and $15,000, and a tiny portion, 0.4 per cent, budgeted US$25,000 or more for rent.
Of the preferred property type for rent, 34 per cent said apartments while 20 per cent preferred townhouses.
According to the data, as of November 2020, applications for the welcome stamp totalled 1,918, of which about 78 per cent or 1,495 have been approved.
Sixty-seven per cent of the applications were from individuals and 33 per cent for families.
“When factoring in family members, the 1,918 applications represent a total of 3,200 individuals.
“At this point some 450 successful applications have been processed and paid in full, therefore those individuals or families have likely arrived on island or should be arriving shortly,” said the five-page report.
It pointed out that applicants have come from as far as South Africa, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
About 70 per cent, however, were from Barbados’ key tourist source markets of the UK, USA and Canada.
The property preference of the applicants to the special visa programme, which was introduced in July, was based on “actual Welcome Stamp rental enquiries and transactions which the Terra Group has been involved in”, according to the document.
About 65 per cent of inquiries preferred the west coast.
Almost half, 46 per cent, of applicants indicated that they would be travelling with pets.
One of the surprising findings of the results, said the document, was that 76 per cent of the respondents were first-time visitors to the island.
“This points to tremendous confidence in the programme and in Barbados as a remote-working destination and importantly the opportunity to showcase the island to a new audience,” said Chief Operating Officer of Terra Caribbean Hayden Hutton.
“Unsurprisingly, over 75 of the ‘Welcome Stamp Bajans’ surveyed are under 45 years of age. This is quite typical of the digital nomad demographic,” he added.
When asked about their primary reason for choosing Barbados, 40 per cent indicated it was for a new adventure, 32 per cent said the quality of life, 12 per cent said health
and safety, while climate and other accounted for eight per cent each.
They identified high speed internet, comfort, the time zone, friendliness of the people and a welcoming environment as some of the more positive attributes.
Ninety-six per cent of the Welcome Stamp applicants said the process was very easy or easy while 92 per cent said they would give an overall high mark for Barbados’ suitability as a remote-working location.
The survey concluded that by all accounts, officials have consistently delivered on the promise of a prompt response to all applications and exceptional service along the way.
“This is Barbados at its best – leading innovation and delivering when it counts,” the report noted.
“From an impact perspective, this is likely the most activity we have seen in the mid to long-term rental market in history, including consideration of the Ross University School of Medicine Campus in 2018,” said Hutton, who added that the overall economic benefits will be substantial and pay dividends for many years to come.