Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, secretary general
for the Caribbean Tourism Organization, compared the recent decision
by the U.S. government to amend the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative to “a
category 6 hurricane” for the Caribbean region.The amendment delays the
implementation of the new passport requirements until June 1, 2009 for land
crossings at the Mexican and Canadian borders and for cruise passengers coming to
the U.S. from the Caribbean, Mexico, Canada or Bermuda but still requires all U.S.
citizens traveling by air to these regions to have a passport by Jan. 8, 2007.
Mr. Vanderpool-Wallace’s comments are as follows:
“Needless to say, the affected Caribbean nations are extremely disappointed with
this outcome because the potential economic impact on their business could be
catastrophic. We understand that some of those affected destinations will be making
their own statements and taking some specific action on this matter.
It is incomprehensible that the United States Government would approve an amendment
that excludes air arrivals from the Caribbean and thereby grant an additional
advantage to cruise lines in the Caribbean who already enjoy a significant
competitive advantage especially in light of the fact that the cruise lines
supported the inclusion of air arrivals also.
We know that all of the affected
Governments made their own representation through several diplomatic channels as
recently as last Wednesday prior to the final vote of this Bill. Because of the
potential far ranging effect of this action, there is nothing potentially more
devastating. This is a category 6 hurricane.”