JIS News

Strong representation is being made at several levels for an extension of the implementation date to meet the requirements under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), for Americans travelling to Jamaica to hold passports for re-entry to the United States as of January 2006.
This was noted by Industry and Tourism State Minister, Dr. Wykeham McNeill during his contribution to the 2005/06 Sectoral Debate in the House yesterday (June 29).
He told the House that while the sector sought to anticipate and plan for changes within the global tourism industry, the new US requirement was one development over which little control could be exercised.
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) will require all travellers to and from the Americas, the Caribbean, and Bermuda and Panama to have a passport or other accepted document that establishes the bearer’s identity and nationality to enter or re-enter the United States. This is a change from prior travel requirements.
Currently, US citizens and some citizens of other countries in the Western Hemisphere are not required to present a passport to enter or re-enter the US when travelling within the Western Hemisphere. The goal of the new policy is to strengthen border security and facilitate entry into the United States for US citizens and legitimate foreign visitors.
Dr. McNeill said while it was acknowledged that the regime would come into effect at some point, there was concern that similar requirements were not being imposed in respect of travel to Canada and Mexico until 2008, and that it was possible that the inconvenience and expense of securing the new passports would motivate some potential travellers to opt for those destinations or US territories like Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands.
The State Minister said in the meantime, efforts were being made to put in place the necessary steps for a programme to sensitize tour operators, travel agents and other travel partners on the new requirements, to ease or eliminate possible fall-out in the short and medium term.
Dr. McNeill said the change would affect the entire Caribbean, and the region was working together and lobbying as a whole to ensure a satisfactory outcome. The proposed implementation timeline is as follows: As at December 31, 2005 – passport or other accepted document required for all travel (air/sea) to or from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Central and South America; as at December 31, 2006 – passport or other accepted document required for all air and sea travel to or from Mexico and Canada; and as at December 31, 2007 – passport or other accepted document required for all air, sea and land border crossings.
This initiative is based on the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which mandated that the US Secretaries of Homeland Security and State develop and implement a plan to require US citizens and foreign nationals to present a passport or other appropriate secure identity and citizenship documentation, when entering the United States.