As we publish the 20th Anniversary Edition of Business Barbados, the biggest trending news revolves around Brexit bound Britain, post-Trump America, Canada’s possible loss of NAFTA advantages, instability in the Far East, escalating terrorism, climate change and extreme weather – all of which could negatively impact the economy of Barbados. Yet, despite those external threats and our domestic challenges, I still believe that Barbados has a good opportunity to realize more of our ample untapped potential and, in doing so, bolster the economy sufficiently to trigger a phase of prosperous enterprise and national development.
The manner in which recent global events have influenced peoples’ mind-set and, in many cases, revised their outlook on life, seems to have aligned very neatly with the real advantages that Barbados can provide to international investors – ranging from long-term financial security to a happy and healthy lifestyle.
In this era of greater transparency, when businesses are more conscious of corporate social responsibility, people still want to maximize their profits by operating within a favourable tax regime, but without compromising their integrity. Barbados can provide that acceptable balance. After decades of being tried and tested by the world’s financial watchdogs, Barbados has repeatedly proven itself to be a clean jurisdiction that accommodates legitimate organizations with a substantive presence. Consequently, following the introduction of the OECD/G20 Base Erosion Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action Plan, an initiative essentially aimed at enforcing changes in the way that multi-national enterprises manage their corporation tax responsibilities, Barbados is well positioned to provide satisfactory solutions for all parties involved.
Barbados’ intent to remain above-board in international affairs is further evidenced in the country’s refusal to follow several of our neighbours down the slippery path of quick-fix Citizenship by Investment. Instead, Barbados has introduced a Special Entry and Reside Permit (SERP), which enables residency status in Barbados for qualifying non-national investors, plus their spouses and children, but does not include eligibility for a Barbadian passport. The entry-level qualification for a SERP is an investment of US$2 million or more in a home on the island. And, as Barbados offers tax residency status through investment, this means that qualifying homeowners have the opportunity to take advantage of the country’s extensive international double taxation treaty network. This obvious incentive to invest in a home in Barbados is enhanced by the fact that the real estate market is buoyant, with purchasers benefitting from the levelling-off and reduction of property prices in recent years.
Owning a home in Barbados is made all the more enjoyable by easy access to the plethora of recreational activities and leisure facilities that continue to make this island one of the most sought-after vacation destinations in the world. Several major airlines operate daily flights between Barbados, the UK, USA and Canada, with connections to major international hubs; while top-tier travellers can enjoy the world-class IAM Jet Centre, a purpose-designed facility, dedicated to servicing private jets, and ensuring seamless arrivals and departures for their passengers. The tourism sector is performing admirably, with 2015 and 2016 witnessing record visitor arrivals, and 2017/18 poised to do even better. Several well-known international hotel brands have expressed their interest in investing in Barbados, and major announcements are anticipated throughout 2018. In a similar vein, Barbados recently became just the 11th country in the world to attract the global, luxury lifestyle brand Nikki Beach, with the opening of a Nikki Beach club adjacent to the prestigious Port Ferdinand marina and residential resort.
It is no coincidence that the words ‘hotel’ and ‘hospital’ are derived from the same origin, which is why we refer to the ‘hospitality’ industry. In both cases, the ultimate goal is to provide a location and environment where people come to recuperate and leave feeling better. Based on that interpretation, it can be justifiably argued that the whole of Barbados is in fact a hotel/hospital, since it is a well established notion, frequently articulated by visitors to the island, that ‘Barbados is good for you’.
Barbadians have valued the island’s health benefits for generations – we have one of the highest numbers of centenarians per capita in the world – and many international investors have also concluded that Barbados is the best place for them to achieve a well-balanced lifestyle. During these times of global conflict, economic uncertainty and environmental susceptibility, more and more people are re-evaluating what they really want out of life, with the outcomes often focusing on the basic fundamentals of health, safety, short-term happiness and long-term contentment.
Instead of competing in the stressful ‘rat race’ world of bigger societies, and then spending quality time on vacation in Barbados to recover, successful people now have the option to reverse the situation by choosing to live and work here, where it is still possible to get as much quality time as needed, while still being able to run a business efficiently.
With the stars lining up favourably and pointing towards a bright future, there has arguably never been a better time to invest, purchase property, live, work and play in Barbados than right now.