CARICOM Special Visas Due Out Soon – Including Nevis

Following consultations between tourism ministers and the Cricket World Cup security planners, a decision has been reached to delay the implementation of the special CARICOM visa by two weeks, with a new start-up date of February 1. This came from Deputy Prime Minister and Chair of the CARICOM Sub-Committee on Cricket World Cup Security, Mia Mottley. She was speaking following a special meeting of regional tourism ministers at the Sherbourne Conference Centre yesterday. Mottley stressed that the CARICOM Heads of Government held a special meeting last Friday to discuss issues relating to security for the tournament.

The Heads at that Bureau Meeting agreed that the Single Domestic Space would now commence on February 1 and not January 15, which would allow us to work with the tourism ministers in a meaningful way to ensure that there is no dislocation from hosting visitors from places which would not have needed visas previously, but now need them. We also agreed that we should work with them to expedite the processing of the visas, as we believe while the outer limit, which has been set of 21 days, would avoid legal liability in regards to representations from the public, we believe that we can process visas, particularly for the charters and emergencies within three or four days, she stated. Following consultations between tourism ministers and the Cricket World Cup security planners, a decision has been reached to delay the implementation of the special CARICOM visa by two weeks, with a new start-up date of February 1. This came from Deputy Prime Minister and Chair of the CARICOM Sub-Committee on Cricket World Cup Security, Mia Mottley. She was speaking following a special meeting of regional tourism ministers at the Sherbourne Conference Centre yesterday. Mottley stressed that the CARICOM Heads of Government held a special meeting last Friday to discuss issues relating to security for the tournament. 

The Heads at that Bureau Meeting agreed that the Single Domestic Space would now commence on February 1 and not January 15, which would allow us to work with the tourism ministers in a meaningful way to ensure that there is no dislocation from hosting visitors from places which would not have needed visas previously, but now need them. We also agreed that we should work with them to expedite the processing of the visas, as we believe while the outer limit, which has been set of 21 days, would avoid legal liability in regards to representations from the public, we believe that we can process visas, particularly for the charters and emergencies within three or four days, she stated.
 
The Deputy Prime Minister insisted that the meeting was as a result of concerns which had been raised by tourism ministers about the visa requirements. Let me just say that the numbers which will be affected still only relate to between five to ten per cent of the arriving public, depending on the country and the region that we are referring to, over a three-month period. Ninety to 95 per cent of our tourists coming in will not need visas, based on the traditional patterns of arrivals in the region. Having said that, we recognise that five per cent places a disportionate burden on certain operators and certain hotels and therefore we will work assiduously to assure that there is minimal disruption, Mottley added.

It was also stressed that CARICOM Heads of Government had taken detailed steps to protect the region and visitors during the event. Those three platforms were the creation of a visa to allow for hassle free but safe and secure movement within the Single Domestic Space in the region; the utilisation of an Advanced Passenger Information System to allow us to do additional vetting on the basis of passenger manifests both from airplanes, cruise ships, yachts; [and] the establishment of a regional intelligence fusion centre at which we shall have located intelligence operatives, not just from the region, but from all of the cricket countries which will be in daily contact with their own intelligence agencies in their own countries.

The Deputy Prime Minister insisted that in the current global climate, it was critical that the region do all that was within its power to protect its citizens and others during the event. The combination of these three measures and others, which we have not made public, are absolutely critical, in order to keep that safe and secure environment. Unfortunately, the world in which we live in today is not the same one which existed ten years ago. When the Heads of Government of the region, for example, agreed to host Cricket World Cup, there was no 9/11, no war in Iraq or Afghanistan, the period of time which has gone since has significantly altered the nature of the threats which the world faces, she noted.

Children under 12 will be exempt from having to pay the cost of visas, but will still be required to have one. We will be making that recommendation to our other colleague ministers and, subject to their approval, we will operationalise that as a matter of urgency. We have also recognised that it is critical that we work with the airlines and tour operators & we need to ensure that there is a constant flow of information with the tour operators and we look forward to being able to create that continuous mechanism for dialogue, Mottley stated.

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