The Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA) has released the findings of an economic impact study of the new United States passport regulation that will require US citizens visiting the Caribbean to be in possession of a valid US passport to re-enter the US, effective January 1, 2006. The study, conducted by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) on behalf of CHA, considered the market share of visitors from the United States to the Caribbean and the percentage of those visitors that do not use a valid US passport - and examined these figures against total visitor exports earnings in the region, which total US$20.7 billion. The study concluded that in the Caribbean, as much as US$2.6 billion of visitor export earnings and more than 188,000 Travel & Tourism jobs could be at risk. These findings were presented today at the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Board of Directors meeting in New York.
“CHA can appreciate US concern for its security, but cannot lose sight of the impact of the new regulations on Caribbean travel and tourism, which will be a permanent realignment of traffic, with spontaneous, last minute travel significantly reduced,” said CHA President Berthia Parle, MBE.
“Our position advocates an extension of time for the Caribbean to the same introductory date as Mexico and Canada, January 1, 2008, to allow the region’s tourism to prepare better.”
For his part, Jean-Claude Baumgarten, President of the WTTC said, “The United States’ new passport requirement for the Caribbean, Mexico and Canada is likely to change the nature of regional Travel & Tourism and cause significant hardship for several destinations that have grown to rely on a more open movement of visitors. Of course security is a major issue for nations around the world - and Travel & Tourism must contribute - but government officials must also recognize the economic impact their decisions are likely to make on economies far and wide. The US passport issue is one of those issues that must be clearly reviewed and discussed with Travel & Tourism leaders to mitigate the impact. We deserve no less.”
It is expected that this research will provide the national hotel associations in the Caribbean and their local governments with reliable data to support their lobbying efforts.