Cricket pulling Caribbean together

The countries of the Caribbean are finally
beginning to come together to operate as a single nation and to make travel to and
between the various islands and nations easier than ever before. All of this has been precipitated by the hosting of the Cricket World Cup (CWC), the
third largest global sporting event, by 10 Caribbean countries and enabling those
visitors to move freely between those 10 countries during the time of Cricket World
Cup as if they were a single country.

This historic agreement which will be in effect between February 1st and May 15th
2007 (to cover the actual dates of March 5th to April 28th for the Cricket World
Cup) promises to make travel to and between Caribbean countries much easier for
cricket fans, other visitors and Caribbean nationals.

The 10 nations participating in this so called Single Domestic Space are Antigua &
Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia,
St Vincent & the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago.

This will mean that during the period announced, visitors to these countries, once
they have cleared Immigration & Customs at their first port of entry, will be free
to travel to and within all of the other nine countries as if they were a single
nation. This initiative promises to be a substantial boon for multi-destination
travel within the region even for vacation for purposes beyond Cricket World Cup.

All of this good news comes, however, with some unintended consequences. As with the
creation of the European Union, some countries that did not require a visa for
certain nationals to visit will now require those visitors to obtain a visa.

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That is a natural result of the protracted negotiations within the 10 countries on
their different visa regimes.

There is no question that overall, inconvenience to the travelling public has been
minimized as more than 95% of the current visitors to those 10 countries will be
able to visit without the need to get a visa.

Nationals of the following countries and their dependent territories do not require
a visa to visit the single domestic space for Cricket World Cup 2007 or for any
other reason.
á              Nationals and Residents of CARICOM Member States (Except Haiti)
á              Canada
á              France and Overseas Countries & Territories
á              Germany
á              Ireland
á              Italy
á              Japan
á              Spain
á              South Africa
á              The Netherlands and Overseas Countries & Territories
á              United Kingdom and Dependent Territories
á              United States and Dependent Territories

All other nationals will need to apply for the Special Caricom Visa to visit any of
the countries in the Single Domestic Space between February 1st and May 15th 2007.

Because travel and tourism are so important to the economy of the Caribbean,
officials will put an extraordinary number of initiatives in place to facilitate the
issuance of visas to those visitors that have been affected. Some of these
initiatives include a special web site (www.caricomimpacs.org) for the application
of visas including answers to frequently asked questions, a 24 hour hotline to
address any concerns, a three day turn around for requests for visas after receipt
of complete applications in a processing centre, waiving of visa fees for children
of age 12 and under and some special arrangements for emergencies.

This is a major step forward for the CARICOM group of countries to which all of
these 10 countries belong. CARICOM, a contraction of “Caribbean Community,” is
comprised of 15 countries but the 10 hosting Cricket World Cup which are in
relatively close proximity to each other have agreed to put this new arrangement to
the test.
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