US State Department and Caribbean Tourism Ministers Discuss Pre-Clearance Facilities for American Visitors


Talks are underway between Tourism Ministers of the Caribbean and the United States State Department, for the placement of pre-clearance facilities in the region, which will allow for quicker and easier immigration clearance for American visitors to the Caribbean.
Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, made the announcement at a reception hosted by the Washington Post newspaper at its Washington DC U.S.A headquarters on Tuesday (June 9), for delegates attending the Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s 2nd annual tourism summit.
He said that, if approved, the measure will go a far way in improving the turnaround time for aircraft entering the Caribbean. In addition, he said, airlines would be able to avoid the heavy tax they currently pay, as well as make the Caribbean a more affordable vacation destination for American visitors.
Minister Bartlett, who was the keynote speaker, told the delegates that the discussion with the State Department also focussed on amendments to existing duty- free policies, which placed most Caribbean destinations at a competitive disadvantage.
He noted that visitors to Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands enjoy a duty-free allowance of US$1,000, while visitors to other Caribbean nations are allowed only US$500. He informed that Jamaica is now looking at amending the duty-free laws to allow incoming passengers to purchase duty-free items.
The Tourism Minister, in the meantime, said that the two-day tourism summit was “very successful”, noting that the meetings with representatives from the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank, regarding financing tourism projects in the Caribbean, were fruitful.
He noted that the Caribbean as a tourist destination needs to take a serious look at re-defining itself to meet the emerging global economic challenges.
“We need to start examining our own business model as we seek to create greater efficiency and improve the quality of service that we provide to our visitors. It is the enhanced visitor experience that is going to keep the Caribbean competitive,” he noted.
Stressing the need for destinations to modernise, the Tourism Minister said “This is vital within the competitive times as the industry will be looking for value, which is going to be the key word as prices become more competitive.”

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