Jamaica Calls for Introduction of CARICOM Visa

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The Jamaican Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, has called for the introduction of a shared CARICOM visa for Caribbean Community member states.

Barlett made the proposal during the inaugural Organization of American States (OAS) high-level policy forum in Montego Bay,  Jamaica in late July. The 2-day event saw the attendance of representatives from more than 50 countries across the Americas.

The Minister cited the huge economic potential for tourism recovery and development post-pandemic as a key motivating factor in the need for a CARICOM visa.

“A regional visa regime is something that we’ve been talking about. I think if we are to build Caribbean tourism, then we must recognise that as individual states, we are too small to grow and to benefit from the recovery of tourism as it now stands, but together as a region, we can grow and we can benefit,” Bartlett said.

He also stated that a CARICOM visa “provides a new skill set to be developed in the Caribbean area. What tourism will be doing is now saying we’re not just people who have bartenders, cooks and housekeepers, but we are into technology, aviation, logistics and procurement”.

Introduction of CARICOM Visa

Benefits of a CARICOM Visa for Caribbean Community Members

Barlett also outlined a number of other benefits of introducing a shared visa for CARICOM member states, including the establishment of a multi-destination tourism framework.

“A big advantage of this multi-destination is that it offers multiple experiences for visitors who are coming from long haul areas”, Bartlett explained.

The Minister further outlined his idea with an example. “So, let’s say you’re coming from China and have three weeks of vacation. You don’t want to spend three weeks in Jamaica alone, but you can spend a week in Jamaica, three days there, two days here, another day somewhere else and you come back to wherever the hub was”.

One fee, one package, one price and we all benefit from it together,” Bartlett explained.

He further emphasized that airlines flying into common airspace of CARICOM countries would only have to pay one fee, and that a shared visa would also facilitate pre-clearance arrangements.

“It will bring more airlines into our space because the turnaround time for the aircraft will be significantly reduced as a result. More rotations could be had, and thus more visitors can come in,” Bartlett asserted.

CARICOM Countries Explained

The Caribbean Community (also known as CARICOM or CC) is a political and economic union of states throughout the Caribbean that has the primary objectives to:

  • Promote economic integration and cooperation among its members
  • Ensure that the benefits of integration are equitably shared
  • Coordinate foreign policy

CARICOM is currently made up of 15 full members, 5 associate members and 8 observers. These are as follows:

Full Members

Associate members 

  • Anguilla
  • Bermuda
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Cayman Islands
  • Turks and Caicos Islands

Observers

All of CARICOM’S associate members are British Overseas Territories. The observers, meanwhile, are countries which engage in at least one of CARICOM’s technical committees.

Electronic Visas for CARICOM Countries

Some individual CARICOM countries have already taken the initiative to revise their visa policy to make it easier for foriegn tourists to visit by introducing simplified electronic visa systems. 

The following eVisas for CARICOM member states are currently available:

The development of a single CARICOM visa is only at the proposal stage and may take some time to be approved and implemented. Therefore, visitors to these countries need to continue to solicit individual visas for their destination at present.

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