Working from home has become the new normal for many of us due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While some have struggled to adapt to this new working mode, others have come to the welcome realisation that their job requirements can be completed from anywhere and are beginning to explore their options.
As a result, a number of exotic destinations which have seen their tourism revenue pretty much vanish over the past few months are using the situation to their advantage by offering extended visas to remote workers in a bid to inject money into their economies.
From Anguilla to Barbados, here are five of the most alluring destinations currently vying for remote workers.
Renowned for its coral reefs and stand out beaches, Anguilla is a stunning place to visit.
Thanks to a new initiative, remote workers now have the option to live and work on the 90-square-kilometre Caribbean island.
The British Overseas Territory is offering up extended visas in a bid to lure “digital nomads” over.
According to the Anguilla Tourist Board, successful applicants will be permitted to spend between three months and a year in the country.
While anyone can apply, Anguilla, which has recorded just three COVID-19 cases and no fatalities, is giving priority to those from countries deemed “low risk” – where the coronavirus “prevalence” is less than 0.2 per cent.
Applications are currently being accepted from those who plan to arrive on the island by October 31.
Those who hope to arrive after this date can apply at the end of September.
The fee, which covers two COVID-19 tests as well as a digital work permit, is $1,400 (US$1,000) for individuals staying under three months or $2,800 (US$2,000) for those staying between three months and a year.
A family of four staying under three months will be required to pay a $2,100 (US$1,500) fee, which increases to $4,200 (US$3,000) if they plan to be on the island between three and 12 months.
Aruba is also offering itself up as a haven for those currently working from home.
However, its “One Happy Workation” program is specifically aimed at US travellers.
Open to anyone with a valid US passport, the newly launched program permits workers to live and work in Aruba for up to 90 days, while offering special rates at a range of hotels and resorts, with benefits such as free Wi-Fi and all-inclusive meals, concessions and experiential add-ons.
Although there isn’t a fee for the program which aims to “generate revenue for Aruban businesses and help boost the local economy”, candidates must book one of the accommodation packages for a minimum of seven days in order to qualify.
Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino, Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino and the Ritz-Carlton, Aruba are among the participating accommodation.
Applicants also need to be employed by a company or registered as self-employed in their home country and are not allowed to render services to and receive income from any Aruban company or individual without an additional work or business permit.
However, they will not be liable to pay income tax in Aruba.
Visitors to Aruba must adhere to the island’s COVID-19 entry requirements, such as purchasing Aruba Visitors Insurance, which costs around $21 per person each day.
The program has received a strong response since its launch, according to a spokesman for the Aruba Tourism Authority.
Barbados was one of the first Caribbean destinations to launch an attractive program for remote workers in the wake of the pandemic.
The “12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp”, announced in July, offers travellers the chance to transfer their home office to the beautiful island for up to a year.
“COVID-19 has changed the global business landscape as a larger number of people continue to work from home,” Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said in a statement.
“With this new visa, we can provide workers with an opportunity to spend the next 12 months working remotely from paradise, here in Barbados.”
The program is aimed at “anyone whose work is location independent” and applicants have the option to relocate with their family.
Interested applicants will need to fill out an online application form and provide proof of employment, as well as an income declaration of at least $70,800 (US$50,000) annually for the period they’re based on the island.
There’s a non-refundable fee of $2,800 (US$2,000) for individuals or $4,200 (US$3,000) for families, which is payable once the application is approved.
Those who are accepted will not be liable for Barbados income tax and workers who wish to stay longer than 12 months can apply for renewal.
“We have a mechanism that allows people who want to take advantage of being in a different part of the world, of the sun, sea and sand, and a stable society; one that functions well,” adds Mottley.
“Barbados is a perfect place for you to come.”
All visitors to the island, which had recorded a total of 185 COVID-19 cases and seven deaths at the time of writing, will be required to present a negative test result and undergo a health assessment on arrival.
A spokesperson from the Barbados Tourist Board confirms to CNN Travel that 1,363 applications had been submitted as of September 14.
Approximately 546 of those who applied were based in the United States.
Bermuda is also hoping to persuade remote workers to transfer their home office to its stunning shores.
The “One Year Residential Certification” program allows travellers to move to the self-governing British Overseas Territory – known for its sandy beaches and clear waters – to work remotely for a year.
Those with children are permitted to enrol them in the island’s private or public schools.
According to a statement from Bermuda’s Premier David Burt, the scheme is open to “remote executives, self-employed entrepreneurs and university students engaged in remote learning.”
“If you are working remotely from home, please take the opportunity to explore the option of working remotely from Bermuda for the next year,” says Burt, before describing the island’s COVID-19 testing regime as “the most stringent” in the world.
“No need to be trapped in your apartment in a densely populated city with the accompanying restrictions and high risk of infection; come spend the year with us working … on the water.”
As of September 16, the government of Bermuda received 362 applications, with 172 already approved according to a spokesperson from the Bermuda Tourism Authority. The application fee is $372.
Georgia isn’t the most obvious destination for remote workers to relocate to.
But the beautiful former Soviet country positioned between Black Sea and the Caucasus is extending one of the most flexible packages.
“Remotely from Georgia” allows remote workers from 95 countries including the US, New Zealand and the UK, to live and work there without a visa for at least a year.
Known for its snow-capped mountains and historic villages, Georgia had been experiencing a tourism boom before the pandemic, with five million travellers visiting in 2019, a seven per cent rise from the year prior.
While it’s been lauded for its successful coronavirus response, with just 1,510 recorded cases at the time of writing, its tourism income has been virtually wiped out over the past few months.
However, officials are now hoping Georgia’s considerable success at keeping the virus under control will convince remote workers to temporarily relocate to the country, which has a population of around 3.7 million.
“Georgia has the image of an epidemiologically safe country in the world, and we want to use this opportunity,” Georgia’s economy minister Natia Turnava said in a statement in July.
“We are talking about opening the border in a way to protect the health of our citizens, but, on the other hand, to bring to Georgia citizens of all countries who can work remotely.”
The program is aimed at freelancers, full-time employees or business owners who can stay in Georgia for at least 360 days, but all remote workers can apply.
Applicants must have a minimum salary of $2,800 (US$2,000) per month and agree to a 14-day hotel quarantine on arrival at their own expense.
Proof of health insurance for the duration of the stay is also required.
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