JAMAICA – The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) intends to pursue a number of initiatives to prevent a fall-off in tourist arrivals when the Caribbean phase of the United States (U.S.) passport regime comes into effect in January 2007.
Speaking at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House on October 9, Minister of Tourism, Entertainment and Culture, Aloun Assamba, said plans were in place to work with the United States Postal Service to establish sign-up stations to enable visitors to apply for passports.
“We propose to set up a number of coffee stations in major commuter terminals in the U.S. where we will hand out coffee in Jamaican-branded cups and have onsite passport sign-up desks in collaboration with the U.S postal service,” said the Minister.
Mrs. Assamba is also proposing a program called the ‘Jamaica First time, First Night’ which will involve the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association. The scheme, will offer credits to Americans who have passports with Jamaica as the first entry stamp.
In addition, the Minister said, a ‘Join me in Jamaica’ initiative is to be established. This will see well-known persons in the areas of entertainment, business, and politics acting as spokespersons to promote the new passport regime for Americans traveling to Jamaica.
There are also plans to capitalize on the island’s popularity as a wedding destination, to encourage Americans to apply for passports.
“We propose to do promotions, which will encourage brides in getting their passports as one of the must do items before their wedding, and as couples who are planning a destination wedding or a honeymoon in Jamaica, we will have an initiative which will be implemented to reimburse the couples for the cost of getting their passports,” the Minister said.
Under the U.S. Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (2004), by January 1, 2008, travelers to and from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico and Canada will be required to have a passport or other secure, accepted document to enter or re-enter the United States. This will be done in phases and will also affect certain foreign nationals who currently are not required to present a passport to travel to the United States.