Close to 5000 long-term visitors have taken advantage of the Barbados Welcome Stamp Programme which Minister of Tourism and International Transport Senator Lisa Cummins says has been raking in millions into Barbados.
She said up to the end of June 2021, approximately 4 800 global citizens have chosen to work and live in Barbados, boosting the country’s economy by $8 million dollars in fees generated via the programme.
Speaking in the Senate Chamber today on the Remote Employment Amendment Bill, 2021 which has been passed, Cummins said many of the non-nationals who have been living and working in Barbados over the past year have requested that they be given the opportunity to extend their stay beyond the July 30 original deadline.
The amendment bill allowed for the extension of the existing legislation governing the welcome stamp in place since last July. The Remote Employment Act 2020-2023 allows for the welcome stamp to be renewed, the fees to be paid and for the renewal of the stamp itself for those persons who have been here for the past year.
She said: “Here it is we have a welcome stamper on a long-stay visa who is renting a home on average between US$1 500 to US$3000 monthly, in some instances, even much higher because the minimum threshold for them to be able to sustain themselves is $100 000 a year . You have welcome stampers that I have met who have decided that they are purchasing real estate in Barbados.
“I know many of them who have purchased homes in places like Royal Westmoreland, Apes Hill and in the premier districts in Barbados at the higher end of the real estate market. And so we have translated what would have been a short-stay visitor from $150 to the $300 a day that I mentioned, to someone who is investing millions in a single transaction. We have persons whose children are going to schools, who are paying school fees here in Barbados because they are on a welcome stamp. They are renting cars, or they are purchasing cars.”
Senator Cummins indicated that despite Barbados experiencing the effects of the eruption at the La Soufriere Volcano, the freak storm, and Hurricane Elsa, those visitors here under the welcome stamp programme did not leave the island.
“They have been among those that have been bombarding us to say we have seen this little island go through all kinds of things. When we left where we were and we came to Barbados we did not anticipate any of these things either, aside from COVID-19. But we are so proud of the choice that we made because of the way Barbados has handled it.
“We have had an airport closure where many of the welcome stamp visitors were either meant to travel in or their families meant to travel out and they stayed here and they were comfortable despite the challenges that were being faced.”
The minister admitted that there have been unfortunate incidents involving welcome stamp visitors but authorities have intervened to take the necessary steps to find solutions. (AH)