Antigua Observer:-Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett has described as “unfortunate” the unwillingness of Caricom territories to embrace the travel rights of Jamaicans.
In an exclusive interview with OBSERVER media, Bartlett said that despite the treaties governing the free movement of people and trade throughout the region, Jamaicans are still complaining of unfair treatment at ports of entry in participating countries.
“I think that one of the reasons that the Caricom experience is not succeeding is the lack of the embrace of the right to travel and the access to each other’s [country]. We have locked ourselves into a feeling that immigration is a bad thing and that when people come they demean and reduce the quality of our offering and our standards, while the countries of the world that have grown and have strong economic development are countries that have embraced immigration,” Bartlett said.
Jamaicans visiting Antigua & Barbuda and other Caricom countries have complained about having to undergo additional security checks and interrogation that are not normally applied to other travellers.
They also complain of poor treatment from immigration and customs officials.
Bartlett said it was time for countries to embrace multi-destination tourism because it is a key component that will facilitate all visitors, and allow them seamless access to destinations.
He pointed out that the world’s strongest economies are of countries that embrace visitors and Caricom member states should operate as one, and encourage inter-regional travel.
“The United States is built on immigration; the world’s most powerful country on earth is based on that, the UK and much of Europe is based on that. What we are saying is that we need to smell the coffee in the Caribbean and start looking at each other as a single block of interdependent people, rather than isolated groups with passionate nationalism that will exclude others,” Bartlett said