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Billionaire businessman Calvin Ayre is attempting to woo fellow well-heeled professionals to the country to take advantage of the government’s long-stay visa programme.

The ‘digital nomad’ initiative aims to attract high-net worth people looking to escape colder climes and work remotely in a safe destination.

Similar to schemes launched in Barbados and Estonia, applicants will pay a fee entitling them to live and work in the twin island nation for up to two years.

Barbados’ remote work visa costs US$2,000 per person or US$3,000 for a family. Figures released by financial advisory services firm Arton Capital suggest Antigua and Barbuda’s rates will be significantly lower at US$300 for the main applicant, US$200 for a spouse and $100 for each dependant.

Economic envoy Ayre says “being able to choose between 365 beaches for your morning jog and then working while overlooking the ocean” are just some of the perks of choosing his adopted home.

“Antigua and Barbuda has successfully and impressively managed the Covid-19 pandemic, limiting infection and spread to comparatively very small numbers,” a statement from the Ayre Group said.

“Further, its reliable and fast telecommunications network offers a unique setting to work comfortably in an idyllic setting. All applicants would be subject to due diligence and Covid-19 pretesting.”

Remote working has become the new norm for many people across the globe as countries battle on to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

According to the World Economic Forum, around half of “information workers” in the US are currently working remotely. One in five US workers who responded to a survey in April also said they were able to work from home and were doing so, according to statista.com.

“Antigua and Barbuda’s long-stay programme will allow persons and their dependents to reside in Antigua, enjoy the ease of working from a ‘Covid-controlled’, luxury destination, and also be able to enjoy all the wonderful amenities that the island has to offer,” the statement continued.

While the government’s handling of the crisis – and its dissemination methods of critical information – have come under fire from some, the country still has a significantly lower infection rate per capita than many of its regional neighbours. The Turks and Caicos Islands, with its 40,000-strong population, had 268 active cases as of Wednesday despite having tested similar numbers to Antigua.

Ayre, who heads his eponymous global investment group, is also luring applicants with the promise of “first-class accommodation, fully equipped with high speed internet” at private residences he owns in Jolly Harbour.

“He strongly considers the island as a prime location for high net-worth individuals to be able to live and work. It is his hope that others, especially knowledge-based experts, will in turn be motivated to invest and contribute to the diversification of the workforce, through a transfer of knowledge,” the statement said.

It added that the recent passing of the Digital Assets Bill further boosts skills sharing along with commercial prospects for existing local businesses.

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