Welcome Stamp: good idea but not Elixir

Submitted by Richard Petko

These pages have been inundated with comments concerning the Welcome Stamp (WS). I don’t wish to disparage the concept (with all respect to PLT), but the notion that Barbados can earn new amounts of foreign exchange from it or transition to a long-stay tourism/work model as opposed to regular tourism model are completely unrealistic.

The first point I wish to stress is the Welcome Stamp is no more than a 1 year tourist visa. A visa that costs $2000 USD for singles and $3000 USD for families. I mention these amounts because they have become a sore point for most of the people I have met.

As a foreigner living in Barbados I have had contact with over 20 WS families and a handful of WS singles. Why did they come here? The families arrived from Canada/USA/UK because they wanted their children to experience face to face schooling. In September private schools in Barbados offered this. As well there was a sense of adventure the families were looking for; but the over-riding reason was education. The singles I have met came for a year of fun and adventure. They did not know what the future would hold in their countries, so they decided to take the plunge.

We are now 9 months into the welcome stamp experience and I can share my observations of why the program serves a purpose but will never lead to an economic transformation.

Regarding the families, every single one is planning to go home as in-school learning is a reality in Canada, UK and the USA. In fact, I already know of 2 families that have left Barbados for Miami since January 6th when this government decided to shut down face to face schools. They now have their children attending classes in Florida. I know of only one family that is contemplating staying here another year, the other 19 are on their way out. Most of them have enjoyed their time here, but the reality is Covid pushed their decision and without Covid life shall return to normal for them.

When it comes to the singles, adventure brought them here, but after 1 year the adventure streak has passed. I feel this cohort may be one that the Welcome Stamp attracts in the future, but again for only one-year timelines.
Both cohorts tend to have the same negative experiences in regards to the program and living in Barbados.

The cost of the WS Program

It didn’t take long for these people to realize you can come to Barbados and stay for 6 months on a tourist stamp for free; then can extend your tourist visa for 6 months at a cost of $100 – http://www.immigration.gov.bb/pages/Extension.aspx. Needless to say all of them felt ripped-off by the cost of the program. I do not think the program can continue at its present cost because the word is out. Not to mention other jurisdictions also now have similar programs at lower price points. Now that a welcome stamp person knows they can extend a visa for $100 there is no reason to pay for the welcome stamp.

  • Other laments that I have heard, which are familiar to us all.
  • Cost of food
  • Cost of clothing
  • Hassles with customs department – One individual broke their iPhone, shipped it back to USA for warranty repair and had to argue for 3 weeks with customs when the phone was returned to not have to pay import duties on it.
  • For the singles, 4-5 nightspots. When accustomed to Las Vegas/Miami nightlife most places including Barbados come up short
  • Bad roads and lighting. I know of numerous women and men who simply refuse to drive the roads especially at night. This is an issue they don’t face in their home countries.

These may seem trivial but they are not. Not every welcome stamp family is one of millionaires. They are middle class families renting small houses on the south coast and a shopping trip to Price Smart is not a frivolous event for them. For the singles, breaking an iPhone or a iMac and then trying to find a replacement or have it fixed is quite crucial to their personal and business life.

The main selling point of Barbados is no doubt the weather, but warm weather and nice beaches cannot over-come major living issues. We have to remember Barbados is not in competition with just the Caribbean, it is in competition with Texas or Florida or California. People from the northern climates next year post-Covid will look at Tampa Bay or San Diego as a place to live for a year. In those locales they will have world class roads, shopping, food choice and entertainment options aplenty. For someone from Boston they will also not have to worry about visa applications or fees.

The Welcome Stamp is an idea that needs to be reviewed and optimized. If tweaked correctly It can offer a marginal stream of people and revenues to Barbados, but it is no magical potion to bring Barbados hundreds of millions of dollars.

112 comments

  • Black excellence, African genuis.

    J”elani Nelson recently completed his doctoral studies in the Theory of Computation group at CSAIL in MIT, where he also completed undergraduate studies in mathematics and computer science (2005), and received an M.Eng. In computer science (2006). Jelani’s research has mostly focused on the development of efficient algorithms for massive datasets, and especially algorithms that use little memory and require only a single or few passes over the data (so-called “streaming algorithms”). Jelani will spend the next two years doing postdoctoral work at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, Princeton University, and the Institute for Advanced Study before joining the computer science faculty at Harvard.”

    time to stop creating pimps and hoes, slaves and male prostitutes, sellouts and homeless people, beggars and thieves…that’s what dependency, racist, enslaving tourism does….have yall learned nothing, have you no shame or self-respect, common decency, self-confidence or self-esteem..

    .ya definitely have worthless leaders, that’s all they have or will ever be…running from pillar to post pimping awards, recognition, credit and pats on the head, while being ABJECT FAILURES as it relates to promoting, elevating, progress and wealth creation in Black/African lives..

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  • @ TLSN February 20, 2021 5:12 PM

    A very interesting, objectively written and highly informative article whose timely retrieval underscores the sound and wide-ranging knowledge and acute awareness of global events and trends that always support your erudite contributions to BU and which can make a big difference to the viability of the ‘struggling’ nation called Barbados.

    An article whose prescient contents the policymakers in Barbados ought to seriously take into account in making their preparations to face the ‘very challenging’ future of their own overly dependent tourism product.

    A future appearing on the horizon which does not bode well or sees a bright face for the existing model of sun, sea, sand (and sophisticated servitude which ex-blogger Bush Tea likened to “national prostitution”).

    The burning question of a major concern for a viable Bajan tourism product still remains to be answered if the industry -whose plants of accommodation have been turned into plague-fighting quarantine centres- does not want to ‘travel’ along the same route as its mono-crop breadwinner predecessor industry called ‘Sugar’.

    Which investors in their right profit-making capitalistic frame of mind would construct concrete high-rise structures to accommodate a ‘new-age’ environmentally-sensitive brand of clientele along some ecologically-vulnerable imaginary hotel corridor given the ‘foretold vagaries (both economic and environmental) which are about to ‘plague’ the world tourism market(s)?

    The below ‘extract’ from the same well-written article- with its prescient words of warning- reflects admirably what, just a few weeks ago, was drawn to the myopic attention of the goalkeeper-cum-fullback(s) wearing the permanently painted red jersey marked “Enuff” No 1, 2 & 3.

    (Quote):
    Ultimately, addressing the damage of global mass tourism requires taking stricter climate action against the aviation industry and encouraging more domestic and regional leisure travel. Introducing more fuel-efficient aeroplanes would simply reduce costs and increase demand.
    The urgency required to scale back emissions before 2030 means flying has to be phased out. The pandemic grounded flights; responding to climate change demands the same.
    The post-pandemic world must continue to keep air travel reserved for essential purposes, such as family reunification and repatriation. This is the only way to transition to a post-pandemic tourism sector that makes a serious effort to meet commitments to the Paris Agreement’s goals. (Unquote).

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  • time to stop creating pimps and hoes, slaves and male prostitutes, sellouts and homeless people, beggars and thieves…that’s what dependency, racist, enslaving tourism does…and the THIEVING, RACIST HOTELIERS…who rob the NIS and the Black hotel workers of their severance payments..

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  • Miller…the clowns are still talking about tourism, because they don’t have the intelligence to think any further…while it’s all dropping on their heads, they can’t even cause a ripple in any world market….and can only visit more poverty and slave like conditions on the population …but only if the people allow them and don’t use their ancestral smarts to avoid all the criminals out to use Black bodies to get rich and survive..

    “The World in 2021
    Covid-19 is up-ending capitalism
    A new type of creative destruction

    Nov 17th 2020
    BY PATRICK FOULIS: BUSINESS AFFAIRS EDITOR, THE ECONOMIST

    RECESSIONS ARE capitalism’s sorting mechanism. Weak businesses shrink or fail and stronger ones expand. But in 2020 the process of creative destruction did not take place in the typical manner. Because the downturn was the result of a health crisis rather than, say, a financial crash or inflation scare, there were some idiosyncratic corporate winners and losers: think of the boom in video streaming, or cruise-liner firms being wrecked. Meanwhile vast state handouts propped up companies around the world, masking the scale of the corporate carnage. In 2021 the toll will become clearer as stimulus tapers down and more firms fail. Healthy businesses will ramp up investment, giving them an enduring advantage. These top dogs will, however, face a new climate in which three tenets of modern business—the primacy of shareholders, globalisation and limited government—are in flux.

    Downturns tend to be infrequent and swift: since the second world war America has been in recession only 14% of the time. But they have a profound impact on the structure of business. During the previous three slumps the share prices of American firms in the top quartile of each of ten sectors rose by 6% on average, while those in the bottom quartile fell by 44%.”

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  • @ Miller,
    Once that magnificent bird called “Concorde’ became decommissioned; we have witnessed a dumming down of our tourism market. As can be witnessed in the steady rise of low end tourists who have become increasingly attracted to Barbados. That should tell you a lot. The industry has gravitated towards mass tourism.

    God, do I miss Concorde. It use to cut a swathe. I can recall when it would traverse over South London around about six in the evening. On a beautiful summer evening you could hear it before you saw it. And like a beautiful woman you would watch it pass until it was out of view.

    There are many beautiful and great destinations throughout the world. From Thailand, South Africa, Spain, Brazil and the rest. The Caribbean region should be a jewel in the crown; with its people, its smallness, its culture, its Caribbean vibe, its excellent climate and its beautiful beaches and wonderful temperate warm waters. It is clear that our tourism brand should be pitched at the high end of the market. With the USA as a neighbour, Barbados should be making a killing.

    That we are unable to generate a sizeable income from this industry is a terrible indictment on both our government and the business community. It is time for the government to concentrate on other industries to rebuild our economy. I would place the tourist industry in cold storage and only remove it once we fully appreciate its true potential and value to our country.

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  • “That we are unable to generate a sizeable income from this industry is a terrible indictment on both our government and the business community.”

    it can’t work when they PROMOTE RACISM and violations of BLACK HUMAN RIGHTS to prostitute and sell a blighted, cursed brand…it was bound to come down one way or the other.

    have you heard Barbados’ parliament rats speak out AGAINST sandy lane for what they did to Tiny Tempeh…have you heard them speak out AGAINST the inbred racist corbin for denigrating the whole Black/African population with his parasitc self….

    .well as long as Mia et al cannot DEFEND BLACK/AFRICAN HUMAN RIGHTS……dependecy racist tourism will be DOOMED..especially with all the information out there and more coming out. It’s not that people don’t want to visit the island but there is a big turnoff when the government promotes a racist, apartheid ideology that enriches everyone except the Black majority who are the targets of this evil….and refuse to DIVERSIFY the economy to promote equitable WEALTH DISTRIBUTION to encompass the majority because they cater and listen to MINORITY TRASH ONLY..

    they had a long run, TOO LONG…time for the FALL.

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  • …because they cater FOR and listen to MINORITY TRASH ONLY..

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  • Kinda off topic but.

    White as the snow outside my window. the violinist is pretty good.

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  • ok adding a little colouring and spice.

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  • Now scrolling through and seeing that Fake Observing’s only contribution to the blog is to take a swipe at me. And that pleased the liar and hypocrite Hal Austin so much that he just had to welcome him back.

    Steupse!

    Back to enjoying my happy island life!

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