If you had the chance to travel to Barbados and work by the beach, would you?
Five months ago, working outside the office, even just temporarily, was a pipe dream for most employees. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit. Businesses remain shuttered around the globe to enforce social distancing, and working remotely has become the new—and, for some, newly permanent—normal. Once encumbered by long and expensive commutes, employees now find themselves untethered from a traditional workplace, taking Zoom meetings from their living rooms instead. According to Global Workplace Analytics, an estimated 25 to 30 percent of the world’s workforce will be working from home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.
But if there’s one takeaway from spending months quarantined at home, it’s that staring at the same four walls can grow old very quickly. More than ever, telecommuters are dreaming of shaking things up and escaping life for a little while. In fact, Barbados is banking on it.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley announced in a speech that the Barbados government is developing a 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp—a special visa for remote workers who want to trade home for island life for up to a year at a time.
The stamp is currently in the final stages of development. While further details are forthcoming, Mottley said in her speech that the visa would “allow people from the United States, Europe, and Latin America to come and do their jobs digitally for a couple of months and then go back home, if they feel they can work better in a more relaxed atmosphere such as next to a beach.” The proposal is a direct response to current COVID-19 travel restrictions, in which lengthy, mandated quarantines restrict short-term travel.
The prospect of working from a beach is more than tempting. Being by the ocean has been proven to boost your mood and your health—both of which can suffer under self-isolation. At the same time, the stamp would also help jump-start the island’s economy by bringing in additional tourism dollars for local businesses. Barbados is among the top 20 countries most dependent on travel and tourism as a source of GDP, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
It’s worth noting that this new opportunity to work remotely has appeal beyond cabin fever. As the Black Lives Matter movement grows across the U.S., Black Americans are increasingly looking to move abroad to escape the institutional racism and discrimination still so persistent in America. It remains to be seen whether Barbados will market this opportunity specifically to Black Americans to capture a portion of their massive spending power, but there’s no question that tourism boards play a large role in making travel more accessible and inclusive.
Luckily, interested parties won’t have to wait for long. While the visa is in the final stages of development, the Caribbean island will begin welcoming international travelers back on Sunday, July 12, when air travel to Barbados is expected to recommence. JetBlue and American Airlines are resuming commercial flights from the U.S. on July 25 and August 5, respectively.
Original article on cntraveler.com