BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JULY 22ND 2013 (CUOPM) – The Denzil L. Douglas Cabinet in St. Kitts and Nevis has agreed to implement several measures to facilitate the free movement among OECS nationals and has endorsed the OECS recommendation to harmonise and liberalise visa policies.
The Post Cabinet Briefing noted that Governments of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) have agreed that one of the critical factors in promoting competitiveness and success in the tourism sector is the facilitation of free movement of people within the OECS sub-region.
Minister of Information, Sen. the Hon. Nigel Carty noted that Federal Minister of Tourism, International Trade, Industry and Consumer Affairs, Sen. the Hon. Richard Skerritt during the Cabinet meeting, insisted that harmonizing systems alongside reducing procedures at customs and immigration, is the biggest step that can and should be taken to facilitate the free movement of people among the OECS member states.
“Cognisant of the government’s responsibility to further grow the tourism sector to provide year-round business and employment opportunities for thousands of Kittitians and Nevisians – taxi drivers, hoteliers, vendors, hotel workers, farmers and more – and to earn foreign exchange for our country, government has agreed to the implementation of over a period of time, granting full OECS-wide clearance to visitors to the OECS at their initial port of entry, and not requiring any further unnecessary clearance as they move throughout the OECS,” said Senator Carty.
He said the St. Kitts and Nevis Government will also standardise information requirements throughout the OECS including using a single immigration and customs card throughout the entire OECS, reduce the requirements for departure clearance to speed up the process, reduce waiting times and improve visitor experience, share intelligence and standardise risk management systems pertinent to customs and immigration, harmonize procedures for the collection of departure taxes, improve airport infrastructure, facilities and conveniences, improve and standardize quality of service at airports and create and update domestics laws to facilitate the foregoing requirements.
“To further open up our OECS countries to visitors and to expand the tourism sector to our long-term benefit as a tourism destination, Cabinet has also endorsed the OECS recommendation to harmonise and liberalise visa policies to achieve the granting of tourism visa waivers to nationals of emerging tourism markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China and accepting from our visitors third-party visas that have been issued by the US, UK, Canada and the European Schengen Region,” said Information Minister Carty.