Log on in paradise: The exotic destinations inviting remote workers
(CNN) — 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 realization 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 eight 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, and thanks to a new initiative, remote workers now have the option to live and work on the 35-square-mile Caribbean island.
The British Overseas Territory is offering up extended visas in a bid to lure “digital nomads.”
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%.
Applications are currently being accepted from those who plan to arrive on the island by October 31, while 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 $1,000 for individuals staying under three months or $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 $1,500 fee, which increases to $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 travelers.
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 accommodations.
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 $15 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 back in July, offers travelers 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 $50,000 annually for the period they’re based on the island.
There’s a non-refundable fee of $2,000 for individuals or $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 travelers to move to the self-governing British Overseas Territory, known for its sandy beaches and clear waters, to work remotely for a year, while those with children are permitted to enroll 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 or coding 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 $263.
The Cayman Islands is offering high-earning remote workers the chance to elevate “their work-life balance with sun, sand, sea and safety” by relocating to the British Overseas Territory for up to two years.
Shortly after reopening its borders to travelers, the Caribbean destination announced its Global Citizen Concierge Program (GCCP), which is open to digital nomads with a minimum annual salary of $100,000.
“Global Citizen Concierge provides the perfect opportunity for remote workers to live the life of their dreams on our idyllic shores and amongst our Caymankind people,” says Moses Kirkconnell, the islands’ deputy premier and tourism minister, referencing its Caymankind tourism campaign.
“Remote workers can now spend up to two years living and working in the Cayman Islands — reinvigorating their nine-to-five schedules with Caymankindness and elevating their work-life balance with sun, sand, sea and safety in Cayman.”
Those who plan to come as part of a couple must have an income of $150,000 a year, and those with a child need to be earning $180,000.
Applicants with children are required to enrol them in a local private school or homeschooling program.
To qualify, workers must provide proof of their earnings, evidence of employment with an entity outside of the Cayman Islands and a notarized bank reference letter.
A valid passport and proof of health insurance, or the means to cover any health expenses sustained during their time in the destination, is also required.
The non-refundable application fee is $1,469 for up to two people, while an extra $500 is applied for each dependent. There’s also a 7% processing fee for those who pay by credit card.
Launched in October, Dubai’s “one-year virtual working program” permits remote workers based overseas, as well as their families, to stay in the glamorous UAE emirate for up to twelve months.
To be eligible, workers must be earning a minimum of $5,000 a month, have valid medical insurance and a passport with at least six months’ validity remaining.
Those who are accepted will receive access to “all required services,” such as local bank services, while those with children will be able to enrol them in a local school.
Remote workers will also be able to benefit from the UAE’s taxation system — the sovereign state does not impose income tax on individuals.
“The global pandemic has changed how we live and work,” Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of Dubai’s department of tourism and commerce marketing, said in a statement.
“As multinationals and leading start-ups across the world accelerate their rates of digital adoption, the need to be physically present to fulfil professional responsibilities has been redefined.
“Dubai is uniquely positioned to offer a safe, dynamic lifestyle opportunity to these digitally savvy workers and their families while they continue to work remotely, whether it is for a couple of months or an entire year.”
The fee for the program is $287, plus a processing fee per person. Applicants will also need to purchase medical insurance with valid UAE coverage.
Although the scheme is valid for one year, remote workers can apply for a renewal towards the end of their stay.
Dubai reopened to international tourists back in July and the emirate has since introduced a “Dubai Assured” stamp, highlighting establishments that are complying with its safety and hygiene measures.
Georgia isn’t the most obvious destination for remote workers to relocate to, but the beautiful former Soviet country positioned between the Black Sea and the Caucasus is offering 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 travelers visiting in 2019, a 7% 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 released back 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.
To be eligible, applicants must have a minimum salary of $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.
Mauritius is joining the list of far-flung destinations providing attractive remote working packages for digital nomads.
But its upcoming Premium Travel Visa is slightly different to some of the other schemes, as it isn’t specifically geared towards remote workers.
Visitors, retirees and parents with children studying on the island can also apply, along with those seeking to live and work remotely in Mauritius for up to a year.
Applicants will need to submit proof that they plan to stay on the island for an extended period of time and have adequate and health insurance coverage and accommodation.
Travelers are not permitted to enter the Mauritian workforce during their stay, their main place of work and source of income must be from outside Mauritius.
At present, those who travel to the island, which has had less than 500 recorded Covid-19 cases, must provide proof of a negative PCR test taken no more than a week before they boarded their outbound flight.
They will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival and must take another test on day one, as well as day seven and day 14 of their visit.
Those interested in applying for the Premium Travel Visa, which can be renewed after a year, can fill out an online application.
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