Does Jamaica like tourists?
THE EDITOR, Sir:
As a German tourist and fan of Jamaica, I visited Kingston just a few weeks ago and saw The Gleaner's beautiful building. It has a well-designed architecture and nice colours. And often I find very interesting articles in your newspaper. You are a voice that is heard in Jamaica.
I would appreciate very much if this voice would help me to ask a question: Does Jamaica like to have tourists? (Sometimes I doubt it.)
After a stay of nearly three months, my flight back to Germany should have been last Saturday, April 25. My taxi to the airport stood two hours in a traffic jam reportedly because of a marathon. This road race turned out to be very expensive for me.
I arrived at Sangster International Airport 40 minutes before departure of the airplane. Forty minutes might be enough to enter the airplane. I could have travelled with my hand luggage only. But all the desks were closed. There was no one I could ask for information or help. The big hall was like an air-conditioned desert. This is the first reason for me to ask, does Jamaica like tourists?
My stay was limited until April 28. There would be no flight for me that would be in time. I needed a new flight, an extension of stay and, worst of all, a visa.
Normally, Germans travelling to Jamaica don't need a visa. But I was told that they need one when they stay longer than three months! The extension of stay cost J$10,000, and the visa, J$50,000! Perhaps you understand when I again ask, does Jamaica like tourists?
When I travelled to China, to Canada, to Russia, never has a visa exceeded the equivalent to J$5,000. And Jamaica charges J$50,000!
I have been in Jamaica now 18 times. Jamaica is a wonderful island. The people, too, are great. But everything that is 'official' (starting with the passport control at the arrival) is very often really unfriendly towards visitors. How could this be changed? Who can reach these people behind their desks?