UNWTO welcomes Jamaica’s decision to waive visa requirements for Eastern European nationals and to extend indefinitely the current visa waiver system for some Latin American nationals. These important policy steps are in line with UNWTO’s call for countries worldwide to revise their visa regulations and procedures underscoring the close links between visa facilitation and economic growth through tourism.
The visa waiver for tourists from Russia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine visiting Jamaica for up to thirty days was announced on 6 March 2013 together with the indefinite extension of the visa waiver in place for nationals of Colombia, Panama, and Venezuela.
“We continue to make positive headway towards removing barriers to travel while creating ease of access to visitors from these new and emerging market frontiers” said the Minister of Tourism and Entertainment of Jamaica, Wykeham McNeill.
UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, welcomed the announcement by Jamaica. “Easing visa policies generates new opportunities for tourism growth and the consequent economic benefits that it brings. Recent UNWTO research shows considerable progress towards visa facilitation over recent years, although hurdles remain in several countries. Jamaica’s decision is encouraging and sets an example for the way forward”, he said.
The waiving of the visa requirement for visitors from Latin America in 2011 has proven a successful strategy, with a 50% growth of tourist arrivals from that region in the following year according to the Jamaican authorities, who expect a similar impact with the easing of visa requirements for emerging European markets.