By Lindsey Turnbull
It is only a few weeks in, but already the Government’s Global Citizen Concierge Programme, which allows people of means to live and work remotely (for a business outside Cayman) in Cayman for up to two years, is being touted a success, thanks to the volume of applicants the programme is already seeing, with 60 applications so far.
Providing a hand-holding experience for people looking to make the Cayman Islands home for at least the next two years, the Ministry and Department of Tourism are overseeing the Global Citizen Concierge Programme, which means those applying do not have to deal directly with the Cayman Islands Airports Authority, WORC, TravelCayman or Cayman Border Control, which are the Government departments and entities that need to approve entry for such individuals. Instead, the GCCP processes all the paperwork and other requirements for applicants. There is a six-step process for applicants in all, ending with the individuals and their families eventually gaining temporary residence, once their application is approved.
Jane Scaletta, Deputy Director International Marketing and Promotions with the DOT, said that they had hoped for 50 applicants a month and that was how many they were currently seeing. As at 8th December, there had been 28,021 users visiting the GCCP website, 5,707 people had clicked that they wanted to find out more about applying and there had been 979 tickets on the programme’s help desk recorded. At the moment, the numbers are still relatively low as to how many applications have actually taken place, at 60 applications (114 individuals) since the programme was launched on 21st October. Out of that figure, 22 had actually been approved, with just three applicants and their families on island, one party out of quarantine and two parties still in quarantine, as at the time of writing.
With each application costing US$1,469 for up to two people and a further US$500 per dependent, if all 60 applicants made it to the Island, Government is set to make $112,640 in fees with $41,256 already collected. Balanced against how much the Department of Tourism has set aside to market the programme, estimated at around $100,000, this figure does not seem sizeable, however the average income of the main applicant of each application was $258,805, with average annual salaries of those applying varying from $100,000 per year to $4,000,000, therefore the DOT is anticipating far greater economic impact for the country once such individuals arrive on island.
The average age of applicants was 44.86 years and most came from the US, then Canada, the UK and also Australia, Belgium and Jersey. Out of those who had applied, 39 applicants and their families wanted to come this year while the remainder were happy to come by the first quarter of 2021.
Ms Scaletta said they were very pleased with the response to the programme so far and that her eyes had been opened as to the demographics of the individuals who had applied.
“I was really pleased with the response we have got. Being involved with Gary and the team has really opened my eyes as to the quality of the individual looking at Cayman. It’s been very exciting to see very well educated people [applying],” she stated.
Ms Scaletta said that with the income set at a high level for those wishing to apply ($100,000 and above p.a.), she had initially been concerned that those in that income bracket might already be too settled to move.
However, she said that American applicants were saying they did not feel safe in the US, and that Cayman had done a great job in keeping the Islands safe.
Gary Hendricks-Dominguez, Acting Manager of International Promotions and Events at the DOT, said that the programme showed how Cayman was able to change as the country needed.
The tone of questions coming in from the call centre had been one of the biggest eye openers for those working on the programme, with many people calling to ask as to how life was in Cayman.
“People ask: “What’s it like to walk around without a mask on?” That’s been the biggest draw for them, that we've done such a great job in managing the Covid situation,” he said.
Ayanna Victorin from the DOT’s New York office said it was something to be proud of and not something to take for granted.
The programme is set to end on 31st October 2021, when Government will assess the programme for its effectiveness.