Jamaica's Tourism Minister Wants Single Visa Regime Among CARICOM

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica’s Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, says a single-visa regime among CARICOM countries should be the next critical consideration in rationalizing entry protocols in the region as the island projects welcoming approximately 800,000 visitors for the this year’s summer period.

TMEBarTourism Minister Edmund Bartlett (File Photo)The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) said the summer period, late June to the end of August, could result in the destination earnings exceeding US$1.1 billion.

Bartlett said that the rationalization of the entry protocols “for touristic purposes and can be provided for visitors coming into your space for 30 days or three days”.

He said it could be “a simple platform that allows everybody and anybody to apply for a CARICOM visa that allows you entry into all the CARICOM countries”.

Bartlett said the region needs to adopt a new approach to air transportation and develop new ideas about collaboration, using the support of today’s technology.

“Multi-destination tourism is part of the principle of co-petition, where we can offer to visitors coming into our space, multiple experiences across borders. So, when you buy Jamaica, you can get Barbados and you can get St. Lucia and you can get Turks and Caicos,” he added.

He said the aim of the Ministry is to establish Jamaica as an aviation hub, “so that big planes coming from the far-flung areas can bring large numbers into our airports and they are distributed by airlines like interCaribbean across the Caribbean and elsewhere”.

But for this to become a reality, Bartlett is suggesting the establishment of preclearance arrangements within the Caribbean, so that arriving visitors in Jamaica are domestic in other countries of the region and vice versa.

Meantime, the JTB director of tourism, Donovan White, said the projected arrival figures represent 85 percent of the pre-pandemic (2019) arrival levels, and more than 90 percent in revenues for that year’s summer period.

“That will feed into our projections… at 2.2 million tourists for calendar year 2022. What is interesting about this is that… we have been able to re-forecast full recovery to September 2023, versus the first quarter of 2024 and that is a good thing,” he said, attributing the rebound of the industry to the work by the various stakeholders and diversification of markets.

White said another important component of the recovery process is longer stay by tourists.

“Our length of stays has now moved from 8 1/2 nights to 9.2 nights, which is about a nine percent increase, and we have also seen the spend per visitor, per day, increase from US$169 to about US$182,.

“What that means for Jamaica and our recovery is that our ability to have destination revenues outpace the recovery of visitors is a real fact and it is part of why we are so extremely bullish about bringing forward the recovery faster than planned.

“We have spent [a lot of time] in the marketplace ensuring that we are not only tapping into [traditional markets] but we are also tapping into new marketplaces and finding new partners to work with us,” he added.