A single Schengen-style visa is what Jamaica Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has proposed for the entire Caribbean. It sounds like something of a dream for those wanting to island-hop seamlessly. Jamaica Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says the implementation of a regional tourist visa regime among CARICOM nations has “huge economic potential.”
In short, the idea is that a traveler could clear customs in Jamaica and then be “domestic” across the rest of the Caribbean. Additionally, it would mean that airlines would pay a single fee when entering the region. “It will bring more airlines into our space because the turnaround time for the aircraft will be significantly reduced as a result. More rotations could be had, and thus more visitors can come in,” Bartlett explains.
Bartlett explains that the visa is something that is being “talked about”. The consideration a potentially huge step for the Caribbean islands.
In a statement Bartlett said; “The other element of importance is that it also provides a new skill set to be developed in the Caribbean area. What tourism will be doing is now saying we’re not just people who have bartenders, cooks and housekeepers, but we are into technology, aviation, logistics and procurement,” he said.
The reality of a single tourist visa for whole Caribbean
The Caribbean Journal reports that a similar visa system was trialed once already. During the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup, CARICOM treated the nine host countries (and Dominica) as a single domestic space. Travelers were able to enjoy this for near to three months.
Indeed the experience would allow for tourism in the Caribbean to take a new shape. Not only would it build the region economically but also provide a more accessible cultural experience for travelers. Experiencing the vast Caribbean cultures on a single visa may provide more opportunities for local, Caribbean-owned businesses to gain visibility. It also allows for reclamation of Caribbean tourism, resulting in a more authentic, Caribbean-centric narrative.