Jamaica Tourism Minister urges multi-entry visa regime

Written by Linda Hohnholz, eTN editor

Jamaica Tourism Minister Bartlett reiterated his call for governments in the Caribbean to implement a multiple entry visa regimen.

The Hon. Minister Edmund Bartlett, who has been a strong advocate for the move and has pushed for the establishment of a multi-destination tourism framework in the region, was participating in the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Caribbean Aviation Day multi-destination tourism panel discussion in the Cayman Islands today (Wednesday, September 14).

While underscoring the tremendous potential to enhance tourism competitiveness within the region, Jamaica Tourism Minister Mr. Bartlett said “governments must work closely to examine the issues of tourism costs, air connectivity, the harmonization of visa policies, airspace usage, and pre-clearance arrangements.”

He explained that “one possibility that can be effectively explored is that of adopting measures that would enable tourists to travel more conveniently to and among the countries within a region, such as visa waivers for select countries or a multiple entry visa.”

In reiterating his position and calling on regional governments to lead the charge, Minister Bartlett stressed that the establishment of such a visa framework, and by extension multi-destination tourism, would be beneficial to both citizens and tourists alike. He said: “Overall, more locals will become engaged in the tourism value chain.”

“Small- and medium-sized businesses will enter the market providing more goods and services, more persons will be employed, and more revenues will be generated for governments.”

Adding that several destinations in the Americas have already begun to explore multi-destination arrangements, he highlighted that “Jamaica currently has four multi-destination arrangements. These include arrangements with the governments of Cuba, The Dominica Republic and Panama and another in the pipeline with the government of the Cayman Islands.”

Meanwhile the Tourism Minister also called on the private sector to get involved, suggesting that “regional governments and the private sector will need to collaborate more closely to advance market integration by fostering and harmonizing legislation on air connectivity, visa facilitation, product development, promotion and human capital.”

Mr. Bartlett added that this approach would be a part of a broad-based strategy to boost tourist arrivals, noting also that incentivizing and organizing may also prove useful in bringing the multi-destination framework to fruition.

He said, “Governments are also urged to explore incentives and strategies to strengthen regional carriers; enhance intra-regional travel; and through joint airlift agreements, increase linkages between regional and international-based airlines as part of a broad-based strategy to boost tourist arrivals.”

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