Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett says for real Caribbean integration to be achieved, there will have to be passport interconnectivity to eliminate restrictions within the region.
In an interview with the Jamaica Observer, Bartlett indicated that even though Jamaica is a desirable destination within the Caribbean, the tourism industry suffers greatly from the lack of air connectivity.
“[Air connectivity] offers a good opportunity for multiple destination activities in the Caribbean space, but for Caribbean integration to be achieved, we’re going to have to have a sort of rationalisation of the travel arrangements. This is something that we’re hoping will emerge in time,” Bartlett told the Sunday Finance.
“The region tried during the [cricket] world cup to eliminate visas or to have a single visa that takes you into the Caribbean if you have a Caribbean passport. While there is a Caricom passport now — as useful as it is, it does not allow everybody to be able to transit between borders seamlessly, so we need to take a further step of eliminating visa requirements and that will enable free access,” he continued.
He further added that a consolidation of aviation services is pertinent to such initiative, which he believes that this “will change the game in terms of the accessibility of the Caribbean and the cost to come”.
According to the minister, Jamaica’s tourism industry out-turned against its projection for the five-year growth targets.