JG - Easier clearance for airport users next month
Easier clearance for airport users next month
published: Sunday October 22, 2006
Janet Silvera, Senior Tourism Writer
From left, Director General of Tourism, Carolle Guntley, and Minister of Tourism, Entertainment and Culture, Aloun Assamba, respond to questions posed by the media during the Caribbean Tourism Conference in Freeport, Grand Bahamas, in The Bahamas yesterday. - Photo by Janet Silvera
As of next month, new procedures at both the Norman Manley and the Sangster International airports will allow for a smoother flow of visitors through customs, says Minister of Tourism, Entertainment and Culture, Aloun N'Dombet Assamba.
"Passengers with 'No Goods to Declare' (green line area) will walk through the customs hall without having to be checked or interviewed by a customs officer," the minister announced to journalists at a press briefing at the Caribbean Tourism Conference (CTC-29), which kicked off in Freeport, Grand Bahama in The Bahamas yesterday.
Equal opportunity lines
"The system does allow for random checks to be made in areas away from the designated location, in order not to disrupt the free flow of arrivals," she explained.
Currently, residents and visiting Jamaicans who reside abroad are directed to the 'Things to Declare' (red line area), and this has been a point of contention for many who use both airports regularly. However, the minister said the lines would be "equal opportunity lines" to both foreigners and Jamaicans with nothing to declare.
She noted that the initiative was part of the preparation for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, and falls in place with the US$80 million expansion plan at the Norman Manley International Airport and the US$125 million being pumped into the Sangster International.
The minister said the new custorm clearance initiative was necessitated by increased volume of visitors, already reflected in a 17.2 per cent increase in stop-over arrivals for the first nine months of 2006 over the same period last year, as well as the anticipated influx of visitors for Cricket World Cup.
In the meantime, Minister Assamba announced a new programme for the accommodation sector - the certification of 'Disabled-Friendly Hotels'. The programme is designed to assist the physically challenged in identifying properties catering to their needs, she said.
"The goal is to issue ratings for hotels providing facilities for the disabled, so that hotels with all specifically designated facilities will be certified as Platinum."
She explained that the graded ratings of gold and silver will be issued to properties that have fewer of these facilities.
The Caribbean Tourism Conference will be officially opened this evening by the Hon. Perry Christie, Prime Minister of The Bahamas.