As published on loopcayman.com, Sunday 16 August, 2020.
The Cayman Islands might just be the next Caribbean country in line to embrace the regional trend of extended stay visa programmes.
Cayman is exploring the implementation of a “Global Citizen Program” "designed to attract higher net worth guests," said Tourism minister, Moses Kirkconnell in his presentation at the Chamber of Commerce Virtual Economic Forum this past Friday.
"We are pursuing the opportunity to welcome business executives, entrepreneurs and students who can work remotely in a stunning and worry-free environment as they work and manage their business from offshore. This will allow a productive work environment and a luxurious island lifestyle."
Cayman now joins a number of its island neighbors in pursuing this opportunity as a more secure alternative income stream, given the free fall of the tourism sector. The benefit of this type of program is that it offers significant economic benefits with less health risk to the population. It is also a good fit to the new norm in travel, that makes it very difficult to travel for short periods of time, given rules around testing and quarantines.
It is also in keeping with the new trend of working from home since the onset of the pandemic and would not displace jobs in the host country.
The first mover on this concept was Barbados, unveiling its Barbados Welcome Stamp proposal in early July.
“You don’t need to work in Europe, or the US or Latin America if you can come here and work for a couple months at a time; go back and come back. But in order for those things to truly resonate, what does it mean? It means that what we offer has to be world-class and what we continue to offer is world-class,” said Barbados' Prime Minister, Mia Mottley.
On Friday, Marlon Johnson, Bahamas' Ministry of Finance’s acting financial secretary said that the government has, "given approval to the concept of The Bahamas’ Extended Stay Visa Programme for persons wishing to work or study from [the] nation for a year as part of wider COVID-19 economic recovery strategy."
And on August 1, Bermuda's One Year Work from Bermuda Certificate program took effect, allowing non-Bermudians to relocate to the island for research, study or work. The cost of the certificate is $263.
On the resort level, regional all-inclusive resorts brand, Playa Hotels & Resorts has created a Work & Learn From Paradise program, providing an extended, upgraded stay with reduced rates at select Playa properties, including properties in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, through December 22.
The work virtually from abroad concept is also a win for companies. According to Forbes, "once a culture of collaborative teams is firmly in place, the technology is now good enough to enable it to do as well as—or better than—working in offices, and at much lower cost."