Digital nomads contributed more than $23 million to economy – Minister
More than $23 million is thought to have been injected into the economy thanks to the work from Bermuda programme.
Jason Hayward, the Minister of Labour, said that 638 people took up the scheme and 206 families still lived on the island as a result.
The initiative was launched 15 months ago and allowed people from overseas to apply for a one-year residential certificate to work from home in Bermuda.
Mr Hayward said: “In the first year of implementation, the WFB certificate has had an estimated value-added of $23.3 million in Bermuda’s economy.”
He explained that the figure was reached by studying the “potential expenditure outlays” of certificate holders.
Mr Hayward said these included housing, food, basic amenities and utilities.
He added: “We looked at minimum expenditure for one to actually live in Bermuda.”
Mr Hayward said that other benefits of the programme included the enhancement of the island’s “brand” as an attractive travel destination or place to live.
The minister added that the scheme helped to boost the real estate market and presented “an opportunity for a short term stay to blossom into a long-term investment”.
Mr Hayward said: “As a result of the WFB certificate, various local business opportunities have arisen, creating needed economic activity and jobs.
“Additionally, one WFB certificate holder has been converted into an economic investment certificate holder, meaning the non-Bermudian has invested over $2.5 million into the Bermuda economy and has decided to make Bermuda their home.”
Mr Hayward said that 1,081 applications were received since the programme’s launch on August 1, 2020 in efforts to stimulate the economy amid the global Covid-19 pandemic.
He added that 937 were approved.
The minister said: “Thus far, 638 of the 937 WFB certificate holders moved to Bermuda.
“Currently, 206 families continue to reside here, and as of October 28, 74 WFB certificate holders were approved for a further one-year extension.
“I am encouraged that new applications are submitted on a weekly basis, and persons on WFB certificates continue to expand their families on the island.”
Mr Hayward said there was currently no limit on extensions to WFB approvals.
He said: “Through the work of the Bermuda Development Agency and the Bermuda Tourism Authority, the promotion of the WFB initiatives continue.
“Non-Bermudians are invited to work or study remotely in Bermuda, where life is tranquil, the weather is perfect, and the people are super friendly.
“This certificate presents a win-win for both the visitor and Bermuda.
“Attracting people to reside in Bermuda for durations of one year assists in boosting Bermuda’s economic activity.
“Additionally, the requirement that they can only be employed by businesses outside our country ensures they do not compete with Bermudians for jobs.”
The initiative was aimed at people who can financially sustain themselves and was also offered to students.
Mr Hayward said that WFB certificate holders reported having had an “enjoyable experience” when it came time for them to leave the island.
But he added: “Certainly, when we see an increase in [coronavirus] cases within Bermuda we also see a decrease in applications, so there’s a direct correlation between the safety of individuals on island and their willingness to reside.”
Mr Hayward said that the policy had “global reach” and attracted applications from North America, South America and Africa.
He added: “I think that Bermuda has always been welcoming to guests.
“I believe that this has demonstrated our ability to be hospitable but also it represents possibilities when we can actually leverage effective immigration policy for the betterment of Bermuda.”
It emerged last June that Afiniti, a data and software company that brought people to the island on the scheme, was relocating about 60 workers to Turkey.
My Hayward said: “I believe that decision came down to the ability to service one of its clients better from that particular jurisdiction.
“Afiniti still has plans to have a physical presence on the island, which is positive.”
Mr Hayward said that a separate programme – permission to reside on an annual basis – was “particularly attractive to globally retired individuals, dependents of work permit holders and owners of hotel and tourist accommodations”.
He explained that approvals for the scheme can be granted for periods of up to five years.
Mr Hayward added: “The Ministry of Labour remains entrenched in establishing effective policies that will foster the expansion of jobs and economic growth.
“The WFB initiative is in direct alignment with Bermuda’s economic recovery plan.
“Through our national economic recovery plan, the Government will take decisive action to restore consumer and business confidence and stimulate our economy, creating a clear path to growth and employment.
“The policies highlighted today aid Bermuda in minimising the adverse effects of the global pandemic.”