Cayman is now accepting applications for its new Global Citizen Concierge programme, Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell has confirmed.

The programme is open to digital nomads who wish to visit the Cayman Islands on a long-term basis and be able to continue to work.

Kirkconnell,┬áin an interview with the Cayman Compass on Wednesday following the programme’s commencement, said he believes it is a safe, managed way of slowly allowing tourists back to the islands and getting money back into the economy.

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“Let’s say if it attracts a thousand people and they spend $5,000 a month, we have consumption taxation that would give us about $60 million a year in new income that we won’t get now. So we believe the programme has tremendous benefit to the economy of the country,” the deputy premier said.

The programme, which covers up to a two-year period of residence, is only open to individuals earning a minimum annual income of US$100,000. The application, for up to two people, annually costs US$1,469 plus US$500 per additional dependent. There is also a 7% fee for credit-card processing. Applications are made through an online portal.

With the official commencement of the programme, Cayman now joins Barbados, Bahamas and Bermuda in offering this option to individuals who wish to work remotely and reside outside of their home country.

Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell

Kirkconnell acknowledged that Cayman is a little late to the game with the launch of the programme Wednesday.

“I think it’s a very positive programme and we look forward to getting into the marketplace. Obviously, we are a couple of months behind some of our competitors with it, but we think we have a very good product offering,” he said.

Kirkconnell said government has not set a cap on how many ‘Global Citizen’ certificates it will be granting, but he said applicants will have to join the queue along with others who are authorised to enter Cayman under the reopening process.

“This is a niche market as we try to find the balance between what is acceptable to keep the country basically COVID-free and what is the best way forward for our economy, because it’s a tremendous balance to try to strike,” he said.

Kirkconnell said, under his tourism portfolio, thousands of people were out of work because of the border closures, but he is optimistic the programme can bring some relief.

“This kind of initiative creates the need for more taxis. It creates a need for more services, more events from the standpoint of tours. We know we’re not going to have our tourism industry back in the next 12 months. Basically, we don’t know what COVID is going to do, but we’re looking for opportunities for people who are willing to come quarantine, make sure that they are COVID-free and then take advantage of all the offerings we have here,” he said.

Kirkconnell said he believes Cayman has the digital capacity and resilience to support the additional people working remotely.

Under the terms of the certificate, individuals who are approved must come to Cayman within 12 months of the date approval is granted and can then come and go as they please.

The only requirement is that one must stay in Cayman for a total of 90 days within each 12-month period, and must follow all quarantine regulations in place at the time of travel.

Other than a COVID test, no medical tests are required, as is the case for work permits. Kirkconnell explained the programme works just as a tourist-entry visa, which does not require testing for diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis.

“What you’re doing is you’re getting an exemption that was signed off by the head of [Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman]. You have to do the COVID testing, you have to do the quarantine protocols, so you have to comply with all of that,” Kirkconnell said.

However, he made it clear that the WORC department would monitor those under the programme to ensure they are not working locally or job hunting, as that would be a breach of Cayman’s law.

Any breaches of the terms of the certificate will not be tolerated, he said.

“If you do that, you’ll be breaking the law and, in the same way that WORC and Border Control looks at people who are here illegally, you would become someone who broke the law in trying to work here,” he said.

The tourism minister said government is expecting the local accommodation market to benefit the most from the initiative, as a number of hotels have either closed or downsized operations.

“The market, we believe, that will attract them are private homes and the villa market, the condominium markets,” he said.

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