Significant, serious and positive interest has been shown in Barbados’ 12-Month Welcome Stamp Programme, since it was announced by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley.
Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams, gave this assessment during a press conference to provide an update on the programme recently, in the Ministry’s conference room.
Minister Abrahams disclosed that 1,079 applications were processed during the period July 18 to August 22, since the passing of the Remote Employment Act 2020. Of the applications received, 764 were individuals and 315 were family bundles.
He noted that “the five leading countries seeking entry under this programme are the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Nigeria and India. The USA, Great Britain and Canada account for 788 applications, which equates to approximately 73 per cent of total applications”.
Sixty persons have been refused out of the 1,079 applications received. Mr. Abrahams stated that the reason for refusal was based on “the fact that they were seeking employment in Barbados”, and, “or derogatory reports” had been received from the Joint Regional Communication Centre (JRCC), which indicated “an association with narcotics or other undesirable activities”.
The Home Affairs Minister pointed out that the final refusal of an application rests with him, and a person who the JRCC would have reported as being charged for driving under the influence is not someone they would automatically turn away.
He stressed: “We’re trying to exclude people who are a threat to national security; that is the major exclusionary condition.”
Also present at the press conference were Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Lisa Cummins, and Deputy Chief Immigration Officer, Margaret Inniss.
Senator Cummins said the programme, which was being spearheaded by the Ministry of Tourism, specifically the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., was one of the new ways in which Government was seeking to diversify its tourism product and attract a new type of visitor.
She noted that there was an emergence of competing programmes being offered since Prime Minister Mottley introduced the Welcome Stamp Programme, and it was necessary to ensure that the ‘Brand Barbados’ is able to distinguish itself from other competing products.
Senator Cummins said to ensure that Barbados’ product offering stands out as a “guaranteed high quality world class product”, a key business principle would be utilised, which would be “to make sure that we keep the product fresh; we keep it effective; we’re able to deliver what we’re selling; and we’re able to offer people what we have promised them”.
The Deputy Chief Immigration Officer revealed that there were 12 persons on the island who had already been approved under the programme, and to her knowledge, none of those individuals had tested positive for COVID-19.
The Welcome Stamp Programme is intended to help fill the gap left by decreased tourist arrivals and to generate foreign exchange.