Tax Consulting South Africa and Xpatweb visited the Isle of Man over the weekend of 23 September for the first-ever Saffas festival, where over 800 South Africans living and working on the Island were hosted.
The event was sponsored by Standard Bank and was organised and coordinated by Isle Settle in collaboration with the South African Chamber of Commerce UK.
The Mayor of Douglas, Councilor Natalie Byron, opened the festival with welcoming words of a long mutual relationship between the Isle of Man and South Africa; and further expressed their warmth towards the rainbow nation.
The Island, which is located in the Irish Sea between England and Ireland, is a popular relocation destination with a population of roughly 80,000 people – with as many as 8,000 (10%) being South African.
According to the festival’s info page on Isle Settle’s website, the festival welcomed everyone to taste, feel, and embrace the wonders of South African culture, food, and music.
“The Saffa festival is a testament to the blending of communities, an inclusive event intended not just for South African expats but for everyone – a celebration of ‘ubuntu’, a sense of togetherness and universal bonding,” it said.
The Deputy Chief Minister of Trade and Enterprise, Honourable Jane Poole-Wilson, addressed the Saffas, unpacking why the Island is so attractive to South Africans.
She firstly mentioned the constitutional relationship as a crown dependency of the United Kingdom rather than a constitute, which means they can be agile to the needs of the people and the economy.
She added that the island plans and economic strategy set out an ambitious vision for the future, and the Island has an economy that is exciting and hungry for more of the skills and energy that people and businesses from South Africa can bring.
Hon Poole-Wilson acknowledged that the people and companies at the festival were excellent ambassadors of this and highlighted that the Isle of Man is keen to build on these links.
She boasted her belief that the Isle of Man is the best place to live and work while quoting the HSBC expat survey, which confirms this by ranking the Isle of Man the ‘Best Place to Live and Work in the British Isles’, measuring the quality of life, access to education, and political and economic stability.
Sharon Constançon, Chairman of the SA Chamber of Commerce UK, a South African herself living in the UK for the last 20 years, echoed the sentiments of the Deputy Minister and showed support for individuals and businesses who are looking to relocate to the Isle of Man.
The Isle of Man continues to be a popular destination, actively attracting skills and talent across various industries, including financial services, technology and gaming, medical, entrepreneurship and innovation.
The country noted last year that it has actively been on the hunt for skilled professionals to boost the economy, with goals including a drive to increase the population to 100,000 by 2027, doubling the size of its economy to £10 billion and creating 5,000 jobs by 2032.
Other draws include favourable tax incentives, a short path to British citizenship, accessibility, and lifestyle, which are some of the factors pulling more and more South Africans to the Island.
South Africans are the Isle of Man’s “largest overseas population outside of the British Isles now”, according to Alfred Cannan, the island’s chief minister.
South Africa has witnessed a surge in emigration as security concerns and an economic downturn triggered an upswing in exits from the country.
The number of South Africans who emigrated from the country has surged by 87% in the last two decades, with more than 900,000 people leaving to go work and live in other countries.