JIS News

Minister of Tourism, Entertainment and Culture, Aloun Ndombet Assamba, has said that there should be no significant fallouts from the United States Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which takes effect in January 2007.
“We do not anticipate any significant fallout in terms of job loss and/or foreign exchange earnings,” she assured in response to questions posed by Opposition Spokesman on Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, in the House of Representatives yesterday (Nov.7).
Under the WHTI, which follows directly from the US Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, travellers to and from the Caribbean, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America as well as Bermuda, will, as of next January, be required to present a passport or other travel documents to re-enter the US.
Contrary to opinions that the passport requirement would deflect travel to other destinations, which require less stringent travel conditions, Minister Assamba said that in fact, “our tour operator partners were reporting strong forward bookings for the 2007 winter tourist season”.
In addition, she pointed out, many visitors from the US were already presenting their passports at the local international airports. “Data received from the Immigration Department in August 2006 indicate that a high percentage of stopover visitors from the United States had passports,” she stated.
Meanwhile, she informed the House that the government, through the Jamaica Tourist Board, had put a public relations campaign in place, targeted at United States citizens, including a passport rewards programme, which was developed in partnership with the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHATA).
The Tourism Minister explained that under this incentive programme, visitors, who travel to Jamaica with new passports after January 8, 2007 and have Jamaica as their first port of entry stamped in this new passport, would receive special incentives from participating hotels.
Furthermore, she told the House that a ‘Jamaican Morning Coffee Break’ programme was developed to educate the American public about the passport requirement in order to make the application process hassle-free.
Mrs. Assamba emphasised that she was “closely monitoring the industry to ascertain any negative impacts,” as well as continuing work with tourism industry stakeholders, especially the JHTA, to ensure that any negative impacts were addressed with remedial action.