Hotel Bookings Bounce Back Following New Visa Regime


Minister of Tourism, Entertainment and Culture, Hon. Aloun Ndombet Assamba, has said that hotel bookings have picked up steadily since last week, following a slowdown after the implementation of the CARICOM Special Visa on February 1.
Mrs. Assamba, who was speaking at the launch of Irish-fest yesterday (Feb. 20) at the Courtleigh Hotel in New Kingston, said the turnaround indicated that “it makes very little sense to cry foul when a new innovation comes on board”.
“As with any change, it takes a while to catch on and we are very happy that this reality has proven true for the CARICOM Visa,” she stated.
The Minister again fiercely defended the implementation of the visa regime, stating that the region could not compromise security in the interest of convenience. “I must admit I would have hoped that we would have had a longer time to prepare for it but we did not and we have had to make accommodations as necessary,” she pointed out.
Minister Assamba also praised all partners, who worked to ensure that the transition process was as smooth as possible. “I am pleased to say we worked one on one with tour operators and with travel agents. We worked one on one with visitors to make sure that this went as smoothly as possible,” she added.
Under the new visa regime, persons are allowed free movement within the region, which commenced operating as a single domestic space on February 1 as part of preparations for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007.
With the exception of the United Kingdom, United States, Italy, Germany, France, Ireland, Spain, Netherlands, South Africa and Canada, in addition to all member states of the Caribbean Community, except Haiti, all other countries will require a visa for entry during the period February 1 to May 15.
Some hotel operators had raised objection to the implementation of the visa, noting that it would result in losses through cancelled bookings.

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