Cricket fans from Australia and New Zealand planning on being in the Caribbean for Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007 can rest assured that they will be able to apply for the CARICOM Special Visa which is required for them and citizens of several other nations coming to the Caribbean for the period 15 January-15 May 2007.
This assurance has come from the Chair of the CARICOM Sub-committee on Security Issues for CWC 2007 and Deputy Prime Minister of Barbados, the Honourable Mia Amor Mottley.
“Yes we have hit a snag with the issuing of the CARICOM Special Visa in Australia but we are seeking to resolve the issue as soon as possible. I wish to assure our friends in Australia that this will be ironed out. We took the decision to establish a temporary physical consular presence in Australia to reduce the inconvenience to Australians and New Zealanders.”
“We believe that this is a gesture of good faith on our part in spite of the expense which we are incurring. This is especially since Caribbean people are unable to obtain a visa to enter Australia without sending their passports to Canada,” Miss Mottley added.
The CARICOM Special Visa is a critical component of the extraordinary security measures to safeguard both visitors to and residents of the Region that are being created for CWC 2007. The Visa is intimately linked to the Single Domestic Space that CARICOM Heads of Government following much consultation decided to create for the period 15 January to 15 May 2007. The exemption of countries from visa requirements has been on the historical and existing patterns of visitor travel and investment that have allowed for cooperation on security arrangements, often on a reciprocal basis.
Two of the other major security measures being undertaken are the establishment of an Advanced Passenger Information System and a Regional Intelligence Fusion Centre.
An official at the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) indicated that the visa requirement represents a tremendous investment on the part of the Caribbean, adding that there cannot be too high a price on security.
Any notion that this is a money-making venture was completely rejected since the revenue raised will barely meet the costs of the acquisition of this Secure Visa Issuance System. It was pointed out that the visa carries wide ranging security features which will enable the region to minimize the security threats which it may face during the games.
Deputy Prime Minister Mottley assured that the visa entry requirement is limited to the four-month period and that it will also facilitate hassle-free movement for the thousands who are expected in the Caribbean for CWC 2007. Once a person has arrived in the Single Domestic Space and is processed, then movement throughout the space may be done with ease as the person needs only to submit an E/D card when moving through Immigration.
“We want our citizens and our visitors to enjoy cricket in a safe environment which accounts for the extraordinary security measures. Any failure on our part to implement these plans to achieve this objective, given the current global environment within which we live and the magnitude of Cricket World Cup, would be highly irresponsible on our part. The complexity of the task of hosting global games today is compounded in this instance by the fact that we are dealing with nine different countries and all of their respective laws and systems” she emphasised.