The countries of the Caribbean are 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.
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.
? Nationals and Residents of CARICOM Member States (Except Haiti)
? France and Overseas Countries & Territories
? South Africa
? The Netherlands and Overseas Countries & Territories
? United Kingdom and Dependent Territories
? 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.