Common CARICOM visa policy for CWC 2007 By Neil Marks

Guyana Chronicle
November 16, 2006

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CARIBBEAN governments have agreed to a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) visa policy for Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007 but are exempting citizens of countries that have ploughed significant investments into the region and those countries where the majority of tourists come from, Barbados Deputy Prime Minister Mia Motley announced last evening.

“This level of security is absolutely imperative if we are to show our citizens that in the creation of the single domestic space, we are not comprising their security in any respect,” said Ms. Motley, at Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown.

She heads a regional task force looking into security and law enforcement for the cricket tournament, effectively the largest event the Caribbean is undertaking collectively.

Citizens of Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Africa, Spain, Netherlands, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and all its dependent territories, will not be required to obtain the visas, which will cost US$100. Citizens of the Caribbean, associate member countries, or persons who are in the region and enjoying status as residents, or are on visitors visa, work permits, and student visas would also not be required to obtain the visa.

However, citizens of Haiti, which was shunned by the regional grouping following the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, but which is now regaining its status, would be required to obtain a visa, Motley noted.

Following the decision of CARICOM to designate all the host venues of CWC 2007, including Dominca, which wanted inclusion in the arrangements for the event, as a single domestic space, visitors to the region would be able to travel through the nine host venues without having their passports stamped.

Motley explained that once they would have entered one of the host venues, they would be able to travel on to others without the passport fatigue. For citizens in the Caribbean, their passports would also not be stamped, but she warned that Caribbean citizens should not refrain from travelling without their passport.

Arrangements for the single domestic space go into effect on January 15th to May 15. Motley said the four month time period, which starts way in advance of CWC, would allow time to correct any difficulties that may arise with this agreement coming in place.

She said apart from the visa requirement, there would be an advance passenger system, wherein airlines and vessels, such as cruise ships, would be required to submit passenger details before the arrival of the passengers. These would be checked against names on established international and regional databases to decide who should be denied entry into the region, she said.

For normal cruise ship passengers not staying more than 24 hours at any of the Caribbean territories, they would be issued with a CARICOM day pass.

However, those who will be staying on cruise ships, dubbed “floating hotels” for the duration of the games, would be required to obtain a visa unless their countries fall within those that are exempted.

Motley noted some Caribbean states have visa abolition agreements with countries whose citizens might now be required to obtain visas during CWC. She said such agreements provide for suspension of such a policy in cases of national security and other considerations, such as the visa requirement for the tournament.

Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad have been selected as the countries which would issue the visas on behalf of all the host venues.

Jamaica would issue the visa at its consulates in Miami, New York and Toronto. Trinidad would issue the visas at its embassy in New Delhi and would be making arrangements to set up a facility in Sydney, Australia attached to its Honorary Consulate. Barbados would issue the visa through its High Commission in London.

The visa will be issued from December, 2006. According to Motley, those who have applied for tickets for the venue will be made aware of the arrangements for getting a visa through a mass email which will be sent out in a few days. She said other public awareness exercise will be undertaken.

“We believe that this visa policy would allow us to adhere to one of our objectives in terms of ensuring a greater level of security within the single domestic space,” Motley stressed.

CARICOM Secretary General Dr. Edwin Carrington said the agreement on the visa policy marked an important day in the development of the integration process.

Caribbean heads of government are expected to sign the visa agreement shortly, Motley stated.

Motley led discussions among Transport Ministers of the Caribbean in Georgetown yesterday.

The meeting also saw participation from customs and immigration officials, as well as stakeholders in the regional tourism industry, including airlines.